Archive for March, 2007

Sociopaths… they’re gonna make it after all! (pt. II)

Any self-help guru will smile and tell you that life is a game where everybody wins. The game itself is the reward. Some see the game as a board game, like Candyland, Monopoly, Mouse Trap or Hungry Hungry Hippo. The sociopaths amongst us keep playing life’s game, perhaps a game of Snakes ‘n Ladders (lots of snakes, actually), while maneuvering, clawing and scratching for that brass ring. And they’re getting ahead faster. Just look all around you! Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, entertainers, leaders, school teachers, pastors, television personalities, and self-help gurus …are the sociopaths of today! Many are shunned by our admittedly sociophobic society. I say embrace the sociopath! They’re role models! Let’s place the sociopath on a pedestal and raise our crutches to them, by reviewing several characteristics, and then celebrating two recently documented sociopath cases who’ve made it to the top:

Looking at my original essay “Sociopaths! They’re Gonna Make It After All!” …let’s review, in brief, the six distinguishing characteristics of a sociopath:

1. “What? Me evil?” Sociopaths do not see themselves as evil. They see everyone else around them as evil.

2. Sociopaths expect a payoff due to their complicated sense of entitlement. They aren’t slugs. They have goals.

3. Social graces! Social graces are nothing more than the learned ability to conceal. For a sociopathic “go-getter,” the primitive predatory instinct to stalk, hunt and kill translates into the ability to imitate, infiltrate and annihilate within the civilized social circles that hold things they want.

4. Sociopaths have a predisposition towards “hair-brained schemes.” True sociopaths share as much in common with Genghis Khan as they do with Lucille Ball.

5. For the sociopath: life is a stage!

6. If while reading this list, you’ve thought to yourself “Wow, these characteristics really fit several people I’ve known. I had always suspected those people were crazy,” that means only one thing: YOU’RE THE SOCIOPATH!

Case example: “Andre Roper”
Check out this semi-recent, edge-of-your-seat, oh-my-god-I-don’t-believe-it Village Voice story, written by Felix Gillette, reporting the case of “Andre Roper,” a broke, 300lb, flamboyantly gay, black cell phone salesman who seduced his way into the life of an young Upper East Side woman, and several others’ lives, to the tune of millions of dollars, penthouse views and transatlantic flights - all before he hit the age of 21.

Case example: Rachel Marsden (skip flash ad to view article)
Take a gander at this week’s article in Salon concerning recently ascending FOX-TV talking head, and Ann(Coulter)wannabe, Rachel Marsden, who hails originally from the Great White North and now lives on the airwaves. Salon reporter Rebecca Traister assembles a virtual “red flag” casserole, adumbrating zero about Marsden’s past sociopathic tendencies (although they’re hardly a secret). A fun, (maniacal)-laugh-out-loud read.

Currently, one is in prison and one is on TV.

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Have Asperger’s syndrome? Also an obsessive hatred of continuity errors in movies and TV shows?

Do you suffer from Asperger’s syndrome? Do you have an obsessive hatred of continuity errors in movies and TV shows? Well dear Viking of mistake-pointing-out, your Valhalla has arrived! NitPickers.com is a massive, anybody-can-contribute database filled with documentation of the kinds of mistakes that most people don’t care about, or giggle over. But not you! Justice can finally be served as you bitch proudly for the world to see! In excrutiating detail! Here’s a random heading of one of the site’s entries, in the TV section:

The Munsters: special effects: I SEE MORE WIRES!!! C’MON PEOPLE!!!”

GRRRR!! One can imagine that the members of this site take this kind of thing very seriously. Popular movies like The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars have zillions of entries (which can also be refuted by members - often by those which occupy the site’s ‘Top Ten Nitpickers’ list… *shudder*). Often, much less popular fare gets massive attention, especially if the film’s subject is of historical importance, whether directly like Pearl Harbor;

“Rosevelt’s eyeglasses have a reflection that is tinted green. The green tint is caused by an anti-glare coating on the eyeglasses. Anti-glare coating for eye glasses was not invented until recently, and should NOT have been in a movie that took place at the beginning of World War II!”

…or indirectly, like The Mummy

“…the pyramids were not stuccoed!”

There’s the occasional surprise; Showgirls only has only four complaints, Plan 9 From Outer Space has only 35. So if you’re boiling mad after being up late and watching a 2:30 AM rerun of Designing Women where you saw a character’s coffee cup on a counter change color after the camera cut away, don’t let that abomination go unchastened!

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It’s a Homo’s Devil Machine!

Homo's Devil Machine

Confused? Probably not.

(note: found this image on a random Google image search and can find no information about it).

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Using GoogleEarth to find famous film locations: Economist Plaza, 25 St.


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Anita Pallenberg on Performance


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Some old photos and stories…hitchhiking naked on Avenue A

Mark Allen naked on Avenue A

Here is a picture of me hitchhiking naked on Avenue A in Manhattan in 1991. Some friends and I came up with the idea, and shot it right outside the Pyramid Club on a Saturday afternoon. I remember it was a clear day. We huddled inside the club, wrapped a sheet around me, lifted the security gate of the club and ran out, I threw the sheet off and stood there - he snapped the shot. One take. Not bad for chaos! The photo was taken by our friend Merritt. The only reaction I remember was some little kids across the street screaming “Yeaaauuuu-eeek!!!? otherwise people just looked or drove by with wide eyes and blank faces. But this was downtown NYC after all, a long time ago. The East Village was very, very different back then - it was kind of like the American wild west. At that specific time, the Pyramid Club was known mostly for a Wednesday night psychedelic drag theater night called “Channel 69,? thrown by pioneering My Comrade publisher Linda Simpson. The club is amazingly still standing (and so is Linda). This photo was used for some NYC flyers, and even made into some giant posters for a Canadian event, which I have a roll of in my attic.

The picture was done before Madonna’s Sex book came out, which had this photo in it. Not that the same image hadn’t probably appeared decades earlier in countless Swedish porn magazines, or Tom of Finland illustrations, admittedly. I mean, a naked person hitchhiking? It’s like deciding to paint a bowl of fruit. I thought the background in this shot seemed really dull, until I realized the background in the Madonna’s was just as bland.

The boots I was wearing belonged to DJ Craig Spencer (sigh…), who weirdly actually ended up in Madonna’s Sex book, on page 33, helping Tony Ward rape Madonna in a school gymnasium, and then licking his ear.

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In a similar vein, I was recently contacted by some old friends from Act Up, letting me know about their recent 20th anniversary demonstration in Times Square. I couldn’t make it, but I saw some photos from the event. It was somewhat sparsely attended, but they must have anticipated that fact, in organizing a street demonstration - which seemed to be one small component of a larger strategy. This is the age where PR-soaked media/internet-tangled prankery grabs every spotlight. Larry Kramer’s gritty speech the night before was rather interesting. Usually I can’t get to the end of one of Kramer’s write-ups without my face contorting into a moldy, winced grapefruit (to protect my eyes?)… but I actually found this text by him to be very moving, and would recommend reading it to anyone.

It was nice to see some old friends in the recent Act Up demo photos. It prompted me to rummage through my rolodex of photos, and dig up this one below, which was snapped by Scott Walker at Act Up’s successful 1991 Kennebunkport action, which was not sparsely attended. The quaint little town was a second home to George Bush Sr., and on that particular weekend (while he and family was there) it was, quite literally, invaded by Act Up groups from all over the world - to protest his administration’s inaction against the world-wide epidemic at the time. Days later, Bush had to address the protest, and subsequent questions, during a nationally broadcast press conference. This photo was taken where the final march ended, a police blockade at the end of the long gated driveway leading to his home. It’s me, in front of a line of authority figures, making a funny face.


These types of photos, in the later part of the 20th Century, are all mock-ups of this iconic series of 60’s protest pictures, which have found eternal life in being done to death. Now it seems you can’t turn sideways without bumping into pictures of this sort, on people’s websites and things - like one of a girl flashing her boobs at a camera while a line of cops stand in a line behind her unaware, or a pic of some kid with his pants down mooning the front of a corporate headquarters building while flipping the camera the bird. The impact of this type of imagery has long-ago been smothered by the sincerest form of flattery, and mutated into reckonable commodity - which is probably why you still see it so much. So, again… here’s me in front of some cops, in 1991, mocking what they stand for with a goofy face and a thumb out pointing at them like I don’t care about them. I’m sure the world has never been the same since.

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Speaking of cigarettes hanging out of mouths as a tired-but-true photo prop device in pictures that are copies of other pictures, there are these two pictures (definitely not copies) of me in 1993, by the excellent shutter guy Hans Fahrmeyer, story here:

These were were copied, intentionally, a few years ago by Tony, who has a blog over at LargeTony.com:

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Missionary encounters extremely bizarre skin condition in Eastern Europe

A friend of mine has a relative who is a missionary in Eastern Europe. He recently shared photographs and the story of a man he is caring for, who has an extremely bizarre skin condition. The man has keratin-like matter growing out of the skin on hands and feet, which started when he was young, and very slowly continues to spread and grow. The areas begin as skin lesions, and the matter sprouts from those spots. The growths are very difficult to remove, and the man has so far just had to learn to live with it. There are a few medical precedents to this man’s case, but nothing is certain until more tests are done. In the meantime, the missionary is helping to make life easier for the man. Scroll down for more photos. He writes:

“I found this man, and other than his hands and feet, he looked and seemed in good health. As best as I could gather these growths began when he was 14 years old, and began in the area of his wrists. The skin on his wrists and the back of his hands resembles that of a hedgehog - hundreds of spike like growths. The problem is much more severe on his palms and fingers where the growths resemble very much that of nails infected with a fungus. The growths have that same texture, smell and feel. I cut a number of the largest growths off, most of witch did not bleed. Some of the smaller growths did bleed a small amount and he seemed much more sensitive to the cutting of the smaller growths. I soaked his hands first in 3 WEA (phenyl mercuric nitrate) and then began. The 3 WEA did help to soften the growths but they still took time to cut through, or sand down, but it worked just as it does with these types of nails on normal hands or feet. I was able to pull many of the smaller growths off applying steady pressure and slowly pulling. But after 1.5 hrs there was not a noticeable change as there are hundreds and hundreds of growths. There was also quite a bit of dissolved material in the bucket of 3 WEA after we finished.

On his feet I did not cut anything, but tried two different solutions of salicylic acid, one a bit weaker than the other, and also a freeze spray wart remover.

I met his mother and brother (they all live together) and their skin looked very normal. They all eat the same foods and he and his brother sleep in the same bed.

It has grown slowly but steadily but has not spread to other parts of his body, just a bit below his knees on his legs. He has other skin growth (many would be skin tags) on his face, and some moles on his chest. The growths are not as bad on his feet but I was told that more than 10 years ago many we cauterized off his feet, and they did not return. I think with repeated soaking and cutting most could be removed but other parts will I think need to be burned away in some form.”

I emailed the missionary a few more questions:

Is there a medical term for this man’s condition?
Doctors here have called it Lewandowsky-Lutz, though I have not been able to find any pictures of this condition to compare.

Has any analysis of the matter growing off of his skin been done?
There was 18 years ago, when they came up with the name of what they thought it was. He has not been treated since then.

When do you understand that this started with him?
He is now 38 and it started when he was 14, on one wrist. He never returned for treatments as he felt the first cauterizing was effective in that the growths did not return to that area, but felt they grew more quickly in other areas.

Does the man have any other unusual symptoms?
He appears healthy other than the growths. He has 15 skin tags on his face, and a wart in one ear.

Have there been any theories about this man’s past, something he might have done, ingested, or places he’s been to… that may have caused it?
As he says he did not do or eat anything his brother did not do or eat, and his brother appears to be perfectly normal, not yet. I am currently showing the pictures to veterinarians, as I am also considering that maybe this is something he got from an animal (pig, sheep, cow).

Does it look like the man’s condition is treatable or curable?
Curable, I don’t know. But with ongoing thorough cleaning, creams, soaking and cutting - it will be much better for him.

More photos (click for larger view):

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Ron Howard’s “Cotton Candy” (1978)

Ron Howard's

1970’s made-for-TV movies about high school teens embroiled in rock band drama have formed a sub-genre that holds immeasurable hypnotic powers over a lot of my generation. Worn videotapes and DVD-r copies of these types of movies are often traded amongst fans like rare gold (or drugs), usually years before they are officially re-released on DVD, or even widely known at all.

One rarely seen example in that particular library is Cotton Candy, a made-for-TV film directed by Ron Howard in 1978. The film spins the pimple-ridden rhapsody of a group of high school misfits who form a good-time bubblegum rock band, named Cotton Candy, and are thrown into direct, vicious competition with the “cool kids? crowd; their classmate’s popular hard rock act Rapid Fire. The awkward-years war reaches it’s apex during a “battle of the bands? competition, sponsored by a local mall on a Saturday afternoon, in scenes filled with screaming high school girls in designer jeans and winged-hair (perhaps the first concert film footage alternated with cutaway shots of Orange Julius and Spencer Gifts signage). Cotton Candy makes the “teen revenge enacted at the climactic talent show? formula its own by hemming it with overproduced, generic 70’s riffs and ham-fisted rock cliches (Rapid Fire’s performance actually features KISS-like explosions on the stage - right there in the a mall dude!). Ron Howard made the non-sterpiece (roughly his fifth) on his way to becoming a now respected director. The project was originally intended as a pilot for a television series, and it shows. Overcompensating for the usual weak plot mechanics and erratic editing of all boob-tube features - every line of the film is shouted, every action over-hashed, every sequence directed for maximum, squishy, melodramatic exploitation… a la Aaron Spelling. These characteristics have probably played a small hand in the fact that it has never been released on video or DVD, especially when you consider that Howard is now part of the Oscar vortex.

But that’s no problem for bedroom-dwelling connoisseurs of such stuff! Fans of Out of the Blue, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, and Over the Edge have been trading blurry VHS copies of Cotton Candy for years. But don’t get your hopes up too much. Cotton Candy is the lo-cal version of those films, but it tastes the same. Imagine if Rock ‘n Roll High School had been rated triple-GGG. If Over the Edge is angst apocalypse… Cotton Candy is aw’shucks after school specialness. However, if you’re a fan of those 70’s gems, you’ll find Cotton Candy extremely entertaining at the very least.

The songs in the film are no surprise, delightfully so. Cotton Candy have a few numbers that wouldn’t sound out of place on a bad Carpenters LP, or a great Bugaloos episode. Rapid Fire seem to only play one song, a version of Eric Clapton’s I Shot the Sheriff that is so bizarrely inept, it sounds like it could have been crafted by The Flying Lizards.

The film features Ron’s brother Clint Howard (my other favorite film of his? Ice Cream Man of course!), as the band’s earnestly nerdy manager. Charles Martin Smith stars as the band’s scrappy, frugal lead (’…we’ll buy our drums out of the Sears & Roebucks catalogue!’) and Leslie King is of course great as the band’s female drummer. All of them look a little too old to be high school students. The lead singer of Rapid Fire is played by actor Mark Wheeler (how 70’s is that name?), but the actors who play the actual band of Rapid Fire were the members of a local Dallas band called Quad Pi, which was an early incarnation of the now fondly-remembered Dallas-area outfit Lithium Xmas.

Cotton Candy was filmed in my hometown of Dallas, Texas. The school scenes were done at Lake Highlands High School, and the mall scenes were shot inside (the now redesigned but still there) Town East Mall - one of the Dallas area’s first (of eventualy 1,000,000) malls. I have a vague memory of when the filming actually happened. I was in grade school, and one day our teacher announced that one of our classmates had something to share. She made him stand up, and he told the story of how there was a production company making a movie in Dallas, and how he had been chosen for a part of the film. As he told the sappy story about how the filming was scheduled to take place the following weekend and how excited he was to be chosen, all the other kids yawned, fidgeted and picked their noses. But not me! I listened to his every word with my eyes the size of basketballs. I was in AWE! He was going to be in a …movie? Like a for real movie, like the ones that they show in theaters and on TV, and that there are articles written on and pictures of in Dynamite and Bananas magazine and stuff? Ohmygod… can’t… breathe… I remember I started secretly stalking this kid for a few days. The Monday after the reported filming took place, I immediately gawked to see what he would look like when he walked into home room. I guess I thought he would come into school with a new face lift or something. He looked the same. I approached him and asked him to tell me everything, he seemed really cross. He said “They paid me $25 to dance around like an idiot all day and my mom’s real pissed? or something like that. Then he huffed away like he was angry and embarrassed that I even asked. Apparently they only needed him as one of the countless extras in the mall concert scene, which I guess had some little kids in the crowd. My Hollywood dreams, smashed at five years old.

So when it finally aired on TV, it was kind of a community thing. Everyone watched so they could see the inside of Town East Mall in a movie, on a TV screen, for real. My family and friends all watched, and we all gasped “Oh my God there it is!? when we first saw the mall’s trademark “futuristic? tower - a gargantuan glass and steel monolith that towered over the outside roof, spiraled into the interior, and then gracefully segued into the ground floor food court. “The guy from Happy Days walked by that!? we all shouted at the TV. Can’t… breathe…

As stated, Cotton Candy isn’t available on DVD, or even video. I caught a showing of it on late night TV a few years ago, and found it to be just as fun as I remembered, if not a little more hollow. Someone named Robert (aka: Raunch77) has some very lengthy clips from Cotton Candy over on his YouTube page. Apparently he and his band are from the Dallas area, and are big fans of the film. By all means go check it out!

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Prince Eddy: a festoon

Cruising through life unassisted by the velvety trappings of normalcy can be a double-edged silver spoon. This is Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, Duke of Clarence and Avondale (1864-1892). As my crazy old friend Robert used to say “Whadda Dandy!!!? The man obviously could not tolerate a bad photograph of himself. Of course this was back in the day when people had to stand real still and googly-eyed like in photos, so the lengthy exposure could capture them - and no doubt Prince Eddy relished the opportunity. In the 19th century, Prince Albert Victor was the oldest son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and was second in line to be king, but the crown instead went to his younger brother, Prince George (King George V), who is the grandfather of the Queen we know today.

The bigger story is that Prince Eddy was like a giant, decorated ferry ship, floating in full view down the bluest of blue blood rivers and… on the occasion when he started to sink, lets just say that most of those in The Family didn’t exactly rush to save him. He was considered a weak link, and was systematically passed over for the crown, obviously. As a youth, Prince Eddy apparently developed a reputation in his studies (under royal tutelage) as being slow-witted, even retarded. However, deeply researched books written about his life recently claim he was anything but - reportedly he expressed the kind of imaginative and intuitive smarts that didn’t run along the grooves of the family tree’s roadmap, and that his critics were interested in drawing the contrast to fertilize the future throneage of his brother.

Several attempts to meld Prince Eddy with a royal bride went (surprise!) nowhere.

In 1889, he was involved in the (then Uber-shocking) Cleveland Street scandal, the raid of a gay male brothel in London, which caught several prominent aristocrats in it’s sweep, and greenlighted a progression of sinister cover-ups. The infamous event brought the homosexual underworld into the horizon of the public’s attention. The extent of Prince Eddy’s involvement is still unclear, but it’s certain he was fingered to steal attention away from other public figures who were involved, and had everything to loose.

All the while Prince Eddy continued to parade around the regal zone in a waxed mustache, canes, gloves, fur head wraps, jackets dripping with baubles, shoes that looked like Faberge eggs with chandeliers attached to them, and a face that 1970’s gay porn star Al Parker would have died for. Visually, he was a genius.

Today’s common male genital piercing, the “prince albert,? is (according to most records) named after him.

Eventually, his harshest critics went from trying to portray him as a moronic lush, to claiming he was simply insane.

Even after his death, he possessed the power to draw pointing fingers like a magnet. During the 1960’s it was theorized that he had been none other than the real Jack The Ripper. Serious Ripper-studies dismiss the idea of his involvement as rediculous, though to this day he remains on “the list.?

He died in 1892 of pneumonia while traveling. Though those that didn’t like him will tell you he expired in a mental hospital, howling stark raving mad. His tomb, located at Windsor Castle (and designed by Alfred Gilbert) is considered one of the best examples of Art Nouveau sculpture in Britain.

Go here for some galleries of pictures of Prince Eddy.

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