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Art

Where’s the Ear?

If you haven’t yet read the exciting news about MH8, please check it out in the post below this one before reading on….

One of the genuine joys of the internet are those lovely curios that you happen upon and can’t get enough for a few weeks or so, and then promptly forget about, only to pick them up again months later with a renewed zeal (like say, Vector Park or the achingly funny “sports crime” blotter that ran in the now-defunct New York Sports Express). My latest forgotten distraction suddenly picked-up-again-with-rediscovered-fervency is David Lynch’s daily weather report, available on the non-member section of his official website, www.davidlynch.com .

The report is a daily quicktime file of a now silver-haired and yet still-quite-hale Mr. David Lynch giving us the current weather conditions for the greater Los Angeles area. Each report features the director in his trademark white dress shirt, tightly buttoned up to the neck, sitting at a desk in either his office or perhaps his secluded LA home. After an initial greeting, he launches into a brief report that includes the current date and Los Angeles weather situation, the contents of which are almost verbatim from one day to the next (this being Southern California, after all. Sample report: “Here in LA: beautiful, blue skies. Golden sunshine. Quite still. Seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty-one degrees Celsius.”).

Clearly, Lynch has an artistic preoccupation with repetition. Consider his long-running (1983-1992) LA Reader comic strip, The Angriest Dog in the World, various low-res examples of which are available at a few different Lynch-related websites, such as here and here (if any reader knows of either a more comprehensive ADITW archive, or perhaps a published collection, I’d love to know about it).

The four-panel strip featured the exact same introductory text from week to week (“The dog who is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis.”), along with the exact same artwork: three panels of the dog, chained up in the backyard of a typical suburban dwelling, emitting a prolonged growl, 1 panel of the same scene, except at night, lit up only by the glow of the house’s window. The only change for each week’s strip was the dialogue captions of what are presumably the ADITW’s owners, emerging from the window of the suburban house.

But returning to the weather reports, what’s amazing to me is that these 30 second clips, and more importantly, the cumulative effect of viewing them day-after-day, function artistically as boiled down David Lynch films in that somehow they contain that same level of vaguely unsettling meta-realness and anti-coherence that Lynch’s full-length productions are known, lauded and sometimes derided for. Take for instance Lynch’s well-known gosh-gee 1950’s vernacular, here enhanced by the stilted formality of the setting and boilerplate verbiage of each report, which stands in direct contrast to what we know as viewers of the contents of Mr. Lynch’s films. That is, in a typical David Lynch film, any environment that seems relatively normal or cheery or stable is, upon closer inspection, not at all normal, cheery or stable, but is instead a rather transparent protective coating around deeper levels of complex and disturbing reality. See for instance Blue Velvet’s idyllic Lumbertown, or Twin Peaks’ Laura Palmer, or Betty’s hagiographic vision of Hollywood in the first half of Mullholland Drive. Which is why for me one of the single-most unsettling scenes from Lynch’s work is the opening segment of his G-rated, Disney-produced The Straight Story, where the camera languidly rolls from house to house through an idyllic Rural American Downtown in an echo of the opening minutes of Blue Velvet.

As a viewer, there’s that moment of anticipation—you’re waiting for the camera to pan down and find the torn-off ear lying in the grass. Which of course, there is no dismembered ear (i.e. horrifyingly complex and barely hidden layered underbelly of immorality, debasement and brutality) in The Straight Story, just as there is no ear in these little weather reports, but there remains the viewer’s steadfast anticipation of such, which makes these reports work both as unsettling bits of meta-performance-art and highly effective in-jokes (and really, is there a difference?). And plus, should you need a three-sentence overview of the day’s weather in Los Angeles, they’re good for that as well. All of this makes me increasingly certain that the true hallmark of a great artist is their ability to take a piss (see: Bob Dylan, Flannery O’Connor, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, etc).

Categories
Art

What We Talk About When We Talk About Syphilis

Here’s twenty anti-syphilis posters from the 1940’s.

And, to see how far public service design standards have fallen in the past 60 years, here’s Phil the Sore, Los Angeles county’s recently discontinued anti-syphilis spokesore:

To see this trend in a less venereal-based format, just consider and compare the art deco overpasses along Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway, built by the WPA during the Great Depression, with any modern highway overpass. Of course, nowadays, you’re much less likely to contract polio or the smallpox or to get yourself lynched, so I ain’t sweating it too hard. But still, it would be nice if Congress would pass some kind of “Make Things Look Cool Again” legislation.

Categories
Art

Scary Monsters and Super Creeping Fault Zones

Google Earth helps me prepare for my own death

I live in a strange and shabby stretch of north Oakland. I’m not far from a BART station, an over-priced coffee shop with poor feng shui, a decent Peruvian restaurant and a bar that would be pretty okay if the proprietors would just turn down the lights and maybe get some new booths. But the neighborhood feature I’m most concerned about isn’t blight or gentrification or all the burnt out passive aggressive hippies, it’s an immense and ancient rift in the earth’s crust that’s slowly pulling this section of California in the general direction of Japan.

Westward across the bay, the San Andreas Fault gets all the press, but any self-respecting Cassandra knows that it’s the Hayward Fault, which runs north-south along the bottom of the Berkeley Hills, wherein the doom of the Bay Area lies. The last major quakes on the Hayward fault were in 1836 and 1868, as opposed to the San Andreas’ 1906 quake and the 1989 Loma Prieta shaker. In high school, we learn that the plates that make up the earth’s crust move about an inch a year. That may be true in some places, but here at the Hayward Fault we have what’s called strike/slip motion, meaning it builds up pressure and then “slips,” making up for the 150 odd years it’s been sitting put. Meaning that once the quake hits, local photographers will be pondering their Pulitzer acceptance speeches as they document the Worst Disaster in American History.

This has all been brought home to me of late by that greatest of time-wasters, Google Earth. The United States Geologic Survey, perhaps tired of being ignored by the eager beavers of this thriving NorCal economic sector, despite the fact that they’ve released figures predicting a 67% chance of a major quake along the Hayward fault before 2020, have put together a nifty little Google Earth helicopter tour of the fault. Now, East Bay residents can see how close their homesteads lie to this giant grinding crack in the world. This is kind of like if the citizens of Pompeii had vases graphically illustrating their eventual sudden mummification by boiling ash.

So why, oh why do I live here? In John McPhee’s excellent book, The Annals of the Former World, he quotes several geologists discussing a human emotional condition known as “the principle of least astonishment.” Here’s McPhee quoting Eldridge Moores: “People look upon the natural world as if all the motions of the past had set the stage for us and were now frozen. They look out on a scene like this and think, it was all made for us—even if the San Andreas Fault is at their feet. To imagine that the turmoil is in the past and somehow we are now in a more stable time seems to be a psychological need.”

So there. See you on the other side.

Categories
Art

Zachary Flagg Baldus

I haven’t seen much of the talented Mister Zachary Baldus since he began his wide, Odysseian wanderings across the globe a few years back, but I keep up with him through frequent trips to his website, which is chock full samples from his professional and personal portfolios. Zach has recently redesigned, retrofitted and rejiggered his site. There’s plenty of new work to look at, as well as old favorites. If you’re looking for inspiration or hoping to hire a top-notch illustrator, check it bra .

Categories
Art

Meathaus Wants to be in Your Top 8


If grandparents, long-defunct hardcore bands, hip-cat twelve-year olds, sports bars and pornstars can have Myspace pages, why can’t we? We here at MH HQ West spent a bit too much time this afternoon uploading pics, writing cutesy tootsie blurbs and thinking of all our friends’ bands. So c’mon, social network the crap outta us at our exciting myspace page. Accept no imitations.

Categories
Art

Tuesday! NYC! Roger Human Being and Paper Fleet!

Roger Human Being will open your eyes with rock. Paper Fleet (featuring Meathauser Jim Campbell) will staple the rock to those very same eyes, and the two outfits will then combine forces to metaphorically strap you into an Eric Roberts sex chair and take you to the clouds and the rain.

I won’t be at Sin-e in the East Village tomorrow night to see this show because I live three thousand miles away and currently have less than three digits in my bank account. But for the rest of you jet setters and five-borough inhabitants, you better bring it.

As an homage to this event, I will relate to you a fun little anecdotal artifact about long-time Meathaus friend, RHB. Roger invented “punch it in.” And by “punch it in” I mean the following: you and a good buddy have just finished work and are walking down the street or sitting in the local public house or eating a burrito. And but so you begin talking about your plans for the evening. Different options of varying excitement are presented and it’s finally decided you will retire to friend A’s house after dinner to watch some form of filmed entertainment, let’s say for instance, Tommy Boy.

And so, you say, “Allright man, Tommy Boy, your house. I’ll cruise over there after I pop home and drop off my bag.”

And your friend says, “Punch it in.” and raisies his fist like a cocked punch ready to fly. You follow in suit, and the fists meet in a symbolic explosion of camaraderie.

Yeah, Roger invented that. Many years back, the preferred co-worker greeting at our long lost mutual place of employment, Angelica Kitchen, was “grip it!” This greeting/camaraderic gesture was used in very much the same way as “punch it in.” A hand was extended, and it was gripped with a percussive slap. One day, after watching Heathers the night before, just as “grip it” began to grow a bit stale, Roger came in and asked someone to punch it in. The gesture took on a life of its own and is now one of the most used greeting in the United States, second only to “what’s your twenty?”

Roger Human Being and Paper Fleet at Sin-e: 150 attorney st @ stanton 10002 212-388-0077

Categories
Art

Brandon Graham Talks: “I’ll be drawing lots of elephants.”

Seattle’s own Brandon Graham, the portfolio-toting, nonstop comic-making mastermind behind Escalator has an interview up at that depository of all things comic-related, Newsarama.

Brandon talks about his penchant for rocking chairs and tweed jackets, and King City, the 150-page graphic novel powerhouse he’s working on for Tokyo Pop. Along the way, we get his thoughts about art, graffiti, “kissing-on-the-mouth relationships” and eroticism in comics. It’s a fun, fascinating read, although perhaps not as interesting as a barbarian revenge magazine.

Categories
Art

Our friend Mu is a master of, well, you name it


I think about our good friend Mu a lot. Not only does he know where to get the best soup dumplings in America, but he is also an artist and cartoonist of serious merit. Mu has been a Meathaus contributor since the early days and that tradition will continue with his very excellent offering that will appear in Meathaus issue 8, Headgames (which, word on the street is, will be available very soon).

Mu graduated from Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts some years back, and after toiling away in the flash animation dungeons for a while, he wisely decided to return to SVA for some post graduate work. Over the holiday, I had the opportunity to visit Mu’s studio at SVA and was blown away by some of the large-scale, highly realized paintings he’s doing, like the work-in-progress seen above.

Should you meet Mu, he will also be able to recommend good books to you, like this one. But regardless, you should check out his site, http://www.mupan.com/.

Categories
Art

Neil O’Brien Art

One time, many years ago, Neil, Spencer, Olivia and I were sitting down to watch The Last Waltz at Olivia’s apartment. Neil stared happily at a painting Olivia had done and said, “Geez Olivia, you really rendered the shit out of that.” That’s my character note for Mr. O’Brien: funny, honest and complimentary. As far as I know, Neil is also the only person to ever get a ticket for riding his bike down the wrong way of a service road in Stuy Town (that’ll be included in a later blog entry: Stuy Town stories. We all got em…)

On my kitchen wall, I have a painting of a can of Schlitz that he rendered the shit out of a while back:

Neil also plays the drum kit in two high-class rock outfits: the Jersey-based Ribeye Brothers and The Butterflies of Love. His website has a gallery of art and contact information. Get into it.

Categories
Art

The BBC Talks with Chris McD

Any international news organization that would give the late great John Peel free rein is allright by me. And now, the BBC is even more allrighter by me since they’ve written a feature on the Meathaus. MH head cheese Chris McD spoke with the BBC’s Collective: Interactive Culture Magazine earlier this month, and the results are now online for the world to read. Tear it up!

Artwork pictured above by the very psychedelic Rob Donnelly