Mark Allen's Top Eleven for June 28th, 2004:

1. Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911"
    I saw Michael Moore's cleverly titled new film "Fahrenheit 911" this weekend, and loved it. It's a thorough, everything (cleverly) explained documentary of the type that are usually compiled decades after a historical scandal or cover up. The film's sensation lay in it's weird ability to escape the lobotomizing effect of the passage of time. Because what you are seeing on the screen is happening in the here and now, it's impossible for you mind not to pick things out of the film and compare notes with your day to day experience. It's megawattage power feeds off it's ability to plug directly into your memory of just last week when you clucked your tongue and shook your head, just last month when you shrugged your shoulders... just four years ago when you dropped your jaw and looked around wide-eyed that something like this could possibly be happening in the 21st century. "We''ll never know because we weren't there" isn't an option in a historic event that greets you, once again, right as you walk out of the theater.
    I liked this film a lot more than Moore's "Bowling For Columbine," which I actually disliked. I thought the most striking part of that film was the actual grainy Columbine security cam footage itself (which Moore simply showed in it's entirety in slow-motion over an ominous soundtrack) and I think Moore botched the meeting with Charlton Heston at the end, low-balling it to the lowest common denominator by parading the photo of the little girl in his face rather than letting both of them verbally duke it out.
    "Fahrenheit 911" never resorts to that kind of emotional manipulation because there isn't a need. It's lapidary phrasing, slow storytelling and carefully chosen images (letting go of the nauseating hyper-editing and MTV soundtrack of 'Bowling for Columbine') simply spell out something that is far more gripping. The goof ball stunts shown in the previews (Moore riding in an ice cream truck outside of Congress reading the Patriot Act over a loudspeaker for the benefit of it's members) are kept to minimal time length, and are about as long as they appear in the TV ad. The rest of the film is a slow parade of information that mercilessly (and selectively) highlights the lesser know details of the dark side of the Bush administration, and the history of those who are counted among it.
    Moore has continually admited in interviews that his intent is to change voter's minds by making the Bush administraion look bad as he and much of the country believes they are... couldn't the exact same be said about other media mogel's attempts to smear Democrats? At least Moore is (a bit more) honest in his zeal. Even the most staunch Bush supporter can't ignore the fact that Moore has a whole lot of very concrete material to work with in his quest to highlight the worst parts of an administration that he believes is bumbling, greedy, arrogant and capable of implosion.
    Is the film "the truth?"
    As we were walking out of the theater, I was telling my friend that I loved the film... but that parts of it were obviously constructed in the traditional genre of propaganda. He insisted I was wrong, and explained to me the fine line between propaganda and the polemic. We argued about it a bit, and he had me convinced... sort of. I still think many elements of Moore's picture are propaganda-esque... but even those are mere drops in the bucket of a propaganda that is so sorely needed right now in America. Republicans and the the right-wing just seem so good at creating an entire universe of smoke and mirrors around themselves... and left-wing liberals seem so lame at it (this is usually because they're pussies). I consider Moore, obviously, a liberal... and it's nice to see someone finally stand up amongst so many colleagues that are telling them to sit down and show some respect, and just blurt everything out.
    Is the film "smart?"
    Not as much as it's smartly crafted, inside and off the screen (the hype surrounding Mel Gibson's 'Passion of Christ' is something Moore no doubt salivated over). At the end of the day, after thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion that "Fahrenheit 911" was superb. The film is not a "documentary" as much as it is a work of art that is created with every facet and angle of the modern world carefully kept in mind. It's a highly entertaining gem cut out of the chaotic media bullshit age we live in. The inevitable barbs and criticisms this film will attract will reflect and glide effortlessly off of it's carefully sculpted edges, and fall out of sight.
    I'm still not totally convinced that the film does not have at least a handful (if not a bucketful) of half truths and convenient comparisons... however, upon seeing the film you will undoubtedly note that this is the smaller of criticisms in what is otherwise a fine, modern and remarkable work of art. This film's carefully edited smirks, convenient placings and well-timed jabs are small potatoes in the face of a much larger, and far more important hunk of meat: a truth that will eventually stare down at you bald-faced from the screen as you mentally sift through what Moore is being truthful about and what he is exploiting. It's an honestly entertaining documentary that will hopefully intellectualize, and strengthen the clumsy voice of, a huge and ever-growing half of the American population who could tell something was there, but didn't know how or what to call it. It will electrify the minds of millions of Americans who strived to believe something was disastrously afoul with the war on Iraq and the administration behind it, into those who strive to know.

    Robert in nature

2. My friend Robert Feinstein is looking for someone to hire twice a week in Brooklyn, part time, as a casual helper
    My friend Robert Feinstein, who I met when I interviewed him a few years ago as part of my "Disability Interviews" (see interview here) suffered from a mild heart attack a few weeks ago (he's fine now). He had a helper take care of him while he recovered at home for the first week.
    After he was okay, I went over and helped him out for four days, but it was just too impractical for me to continue.
    Now he is looking for someone to come over and help him two days a week, for about three hours each day. He is totally fine, so all you need to do is walk him around the neighborhood, sit on a local park bench and talk with him for a bit, buy him some stuff from the local grocery store, read him the labels of things so he can type them into his Braille label-making machine and stick them on, read him his mail, and maybe watch an episode of "Bewitched" or two and describe to him what is happening. It's very simple and the hours are totally flexible. He can only afford $50 a week because he's on Social Security now (Medicaid isn't an option for him and believe it or not there aren't really services like that for the blind in NYC), but it's very easy work, he's a very nice guy and certainly interesting (they were certainly four of the most interesting days I've ever spent in Brooklyn). Also if you know of any leads of volunteer services or organizations that may be able to help him out, please let him know. You can contact Robert here. He lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn (reachable by the Q, B, F or N trains).

    "Into each stylized ear I put a lapel electret microphone."

3. "It's a strange world after all" - automated music instrument/musical robot historical database and archive
   "Bart, be quiet! Lisa, drink the water!" - Selma Bouvier at Duff Gardens' "It's a Duff World After All" ride (episode [9f11] of The Simpson's: 'Selma's Choice')
    Did the "It's a Small World After All" ride at Disneyland terrify you as a child? Did a visit to Munich, Germany leave you pee-ing your pants? Do you picture the ninth layer of Hell populated by animatronic singing children with yarn hair and glass eyes? Then face your fears at the *BRILLIANT*  Automated Music Database.
    Look through the seemingly endless picture gallery (each picture has a lengthy description), go listen to the tons and tons of sounds, look at the histories, and auctions. Hours of non-human fun.

    Wacky Pack, "Ram-a-Liar Syrup"
    from Topps original series #16 (1976)

4. Cell phone lying enabler's club
    Technology serving to enhance, not burden, our lives. Here's the link.

Don't ask?

5. Ernie and Bert at home
    I have no idea who created these images... I found them on some random Friendster profile that I can't seem to find again. If you know who created them email me so I can report them to the police.
    Ahhh... someone found their source! Here (thanks Brent!)

    In the bathroom... no one can hear you scream

6. A brilliant Freudian/Sartre "No Exit" Heaven/Hell
    Follow this link to find out what I mean.

    I remember this record album cover from when I was a kid

7. "That's not funny, that's sick"
    Researchers conducting studies that seem to uncover the fact that the part of the human brain that make us actually laugh, and the part that makes the decision whether or not something should make us laugh or not... are in two entirely separate lobes. Lesbians everywhere are still scratching their heads. Here's the link.


8. The jerk they called the "lord"
    "Because this is Kali Yuga, the age of ignorance, you were most likely conditioned, mind controlled and coerced by well meaning or evil parents, when you were young.  Between the ages of 4 and 8, they would have led you to believe an absolute load of crap, about death and dying, religion, science, geology, grave robbing archaeology, medicine, diet and every other subject you could think of asking them about. So, unless you have taken lots of mind expanding psychedelic drugs or been touched by an 'angel', you probably have not been able to extricate yourself from that early mind controlling conditioning."
    I will never, ever get tired of looking at websites like this. Here's the link.

    A thrilling rut

    Title tells all.
    "Welcome to the gathering place for people who like to see cars get helplessly stuck, bogged, mired or trapped in gooey mud, thick muck, slippery clay, deep snow, soft sand, or slick ice! My preference is for big, powerful, rear-wheel-drive cars that are stuck in slick mud. I like to see the driver struggle to get her car free, to no avail. I have my own big, powerful, rear-wheel-drive car that I like to get stuck in the mud, too. When it snows, I can't get up hills, and I get stuck in icy parking lots or by the curb. Some people like sand, gravel, trucks, buses, whatever, but we all share one thing: we want to see those wheels get stuck!"
    Here's the link.

    Delicious ouches

10. Neck Brace Art Appreciation Club
    Again, title tells all.
   "Welcome to NBAK. Born October 19, 1996 NBAK started out as a small but dedicated group of regular folks who share a common interest in 'recreational & artistic' neck and back bracing. Over the years, NBAK has grown to thousands of dedicated fans from across the country and around the world. To date we have logged well over 1,000,000 hits and have been written up in several magazines as well as having a few interview offers from both Radio and Television."
    Here's the link.
    Hahaha! ...and someone just sent me this.

    This is the WFMU logo

11. I'll be recording another WFMU "Listener Hour"
    I was honored to be invited down to the hallowed halls of WFMU to record another "listener hour" this week. The actual air time of the hour will be next Saturday, July 3rd at 9am EST (gasp!) but fear not... WFMU is now, of course, entirely archived. So when it does air, I will make an announcement somewhere on my site, and you can either wake up at the crack of oblivion and listen to it whe it first airs, or go to the station's site and stream it entirely at your convenience... at a more ear and brain-friendly hour.
    The last one I did (over two years ago) was with my friend Gregory, and we did all kinds of weird stuff. 'FMU didn't archive the Listener Hour back then, so it's lost out in space (although I do have a tape of it). I have no idea what I'm going to be doing this time around. I was planning on walking around the city making all kinds of recordings of strange sounds (see # 2) and I was going to do an hour-long mix-down of all the tapes overlapping each other. But after a while I realized the tapes I was making were too haphazard and hissy to do anything interesting with, so I scrapped that experiment. I actually have no idea what I'm going to do. I'll probably just show up with a bucketful of weird records or CDs or old phone answering machine tapes of ex-friends drunk dialing me in the middle of the night or things I've found in the trash or valuable antique Marcel Duchamp records that I stole from uptown galleries I worked at (after hours) and took home and made a recording of and then took back the next day and careful placed back in their display cases before my boss or security looked - and make it the most interesting hour I can! Who knows what will happen! It will be magical! WFMU's totally god-like Brian Turner will be joining me in the studio to engineer my session, so of course I will be quaking in my boots. I'll let you know when it's up!

Mark Allen's Top Seven for June 14th, 2004:

1. Dan Quayle ...I can see clearly now
    With the political atmosphere coming to a heated, chunky froth all around me, and the propaganda being flung like poo from all directions ...all imploding into an unpredictable black hole come this November... one can't help but feel a little overwhelmed.
    Recently, I achieved some clarity by thinking back to the early 1990's, when Vice President of the United States, the Republican approved and appointed Dan Quayle (under President George HW Bush), kept America in stitches with his heart-warming and whimsical antics well as keeping America assured that it would be safe in his arms, lest something happened to George Bush Sr. during his one term as President of the United States. Dan Quayle was truly an American icon, and his legacy represented many important things about our country. So... if you're finding the current political climate unbearable, look to Dan Quayle I say! I honestly don't know why Republicans aren't bringing this great Vice President's legacy up more often, especially after the way they cannonized Ronald Reagan.
    Here is a very helpful link about Dan Quayle's legacy... filled to the brim with useful information about this great Vice President. Lest we not forget!

First Lady Barbara Bush comes to the aid of President George HW Bush after he vomits
in the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiich, January 8th, 1992, deja-vu anyone?

2. Staging a "vomit-in"
    In this day and age of really, really lame protests, and ridiculously stagnant uses of "freedom of speech" to get one's point across... one wonders if a street protest, even an ingenious one, can make any point whatsoever these days besides being a parody of itself (or perhaps painfully parody-proof). The absurd political climate (see above)... which continues to grow in the face of a public too distracted with the ease and comfort of it's lifestyle to notice or care, perhaps has breech birthed a group of protesters with a very good idea; a "vomit-in." This actually happened a year ago. This is ingenious.
    Here is a link. Here's a kind-of debate.

Winston Smith's design for the Dead Kennedy's "In God We Trust, Inc." (1981)

3. The art of Winston Smith
    Speaking of still having an impact... remember the great album covers that the Dead Kennedy's had? Remember the political climate of the Reagan years? Remember when there was an actual underground? Remember when images could be shocking and have a serious impact without using words? Am I getting old?
    Artist Winston Smith designed the Dead Kennedy's most memorable album covers, including "Kill The Poor," "Plastic Surgery Disasters," "In God We Trust, Inc." (above), "Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death" and "Frankenchrist" ...among others. I remember I had a copy of the original Alternative Tentacles vinyl pressing of "Plastic Surgery Disasters" as a kid, and I used to spend hours looking at (and then copying) the dizzying 12-page, full-size booklet of collage art that was issued with it (which he also painstakingly designed). He did a lot of other work during that time, and has since then. All of the information you could ever need about this artist can be found at Winston Smith's website.
    I particularly love this silly one for some reason.

12 images from the infamous "Paul Lynde Halloween Special"

4. "The Paul Lynde Halloween Special" (ABC-TV, 1976)
    Recently, I was lucky enough to see a bootleg DVD-R copy of one of the greatest American television moments since the first moon landing... that's right; "The Paul Lynde Halloween Special" which aired on ABC in 1976, and was never heard from again, save for a very small but retarded cult following. It has been written about in various places on the web (ironically, on a lot of KISS websites) and bootleg versions are traded quite a bit (it's almost as hot a commodity as equally gonzo 'The Star Wars Christmas Special' which aired on CBS two years later). Here's a Film Threat link and another about the legendary TV spectacle. Here's Michael Musto's enthusiastic take on this "very special" TV special (which was shown at a Two Boots screening room festival in NYC in 2002). Here's a Paul Lynde website which makes numerous references to it.
    Upon viewing, I too found myself pulled into it's sickening splendor I watched it about three times in a row. I nearly memorized the whole 51 minutes (as you'll see below). Do you ever wonder what I do with all my time?
    The "secret" to the success of "The Paul Lynde Halloween Special" is it's shamelessly complicated and infinitely lopsided mish-mash of 1970's culture. It just takes everything it can grab that was popular in 1976 (and some things that maybe weren't) and just piles it on without looking back (or maybe without even looking at all). All it's missing is Roman Polanski on roller skates reading aloud from the "Necronomicon," or maybe Dorthy Hamill sitting in an orange kneeling chair doing a "chisenbop" hand dance routine along to the Starland Vocal Band, or even Linda Blair attempting swimming ballet in a giant vat of pea soup (although I'm sure all three were considered). And, it's even more shameless references to Lynde's not-so-secret gay identity were way ahead of their time. The special's end freeze-frame image of Lynde french kissing an obviously ambushed Margaret Hamilton (in full 'Wizard of Oz' Wicked Witch regalia) is one of the most powerfully iconic gay rebellion images since the Stonewall riots.
    Since chances of getting your hands on a copy of this thrillingly wince-inducing, cathode ray "trip" are rare (although an actual trip to The Museum of Radio and Television might unearth a viewing), I am going to do what the reviewers haven't: run down for you the entire "plot" of the show in my own words (I even snapped the photos above). Believe me, this is not some twisted fever dream you are about to read, THIS REALLY HAPPENED... on television no less!
    "The Paul Lynde Christmas Special" from beginning to end:
    Open with Paul Lynde at "home," dressed in a Santa Claus suit and decorating a Christmas tree. He turns and guffaws at the camera, wishing the viewers a "Merry Christmas."  In walks Margaret Hamilton, playing his maid. She informs him that it's not Christmas... but another holiday. Cut to Lynde in a giant, fuzzy bunny suit... hiding colored eggs from a large basket around his home. The stern Hamilton enters the scene once again to inform Lynde that he's wrong again. Cut to Lynde relaxing on his couch in a sequin and velvet dinner jacket complete with ascot, singing "My Funny Valentine" to an oversized heart-shaped box of candy. Hamilton corrects him once again and tells him that he knows deep down inside what holiday it is... but that he's avoiding it.
    Cut to opening credits flashed over an orange neon jack-o-lantern: "The Paul Lynde Halloween Special" starring: Paul Lynde. With special guests: Margaret Hamilton, Billie Hayes, Tim Conway, Florence Henderson, Roz "Pinky Tuscadero" Kelly, Betty White, Billy Barty, KISS ...and a special appearance by Donny and Marie Osmond.
    Cut to Paul's leering head inside the nose of a giant cut-out jack-o-lantern. Lynde emerges from behind to welcome viewers and deliver an opening monologue.  On the typical 1970's-style variety show stage, complete with backlighting, globe lights and roll-away stage partitions... Lynde delivers lines like "I was very fat as a child and we were very poor... my mother had to buy my Halloween costume at the five and dime... it was a shower curtain! It still was too small so my mother let it out and I went as the Hindenburg was a di-s-a-a-a-a-a-a-ster!" while surrounded by waves of treble-y canned laughter. Hamilton enters stage right and reminds Lynde that kids will be ringing his doorbell this evening expecting candy. The music cues and Lynde, with an unmistakable look of discomfort in his eyes, sing/speak/sneers a bouncy version of  "Kids" from his role in the musical version of "Bye, Bye Birdie" as dancers in sequined devil costumes and pitchforks with streamers on them dance around him. The routine ends with Lynde jumping into a trash can as a heavily-sequined and shockingly young-looking Donny and Marie (in the same shtick from Lynde's appearances on their show) sneak up from behind and shut the lid on him. The trash can then explodes in a plume of smoke... and a burnt Lynde finally emerges to sing the closing punch line of the number, with the dancers freezing into position behind him as he does. Cue roars of treble-y canned applause as stage darkens and camera pulls backwards towards the ceiling.
    Cut to Lynde and Hamilton driving in a car with a moving scrim back projection. Hamilton informs Lynde that she's taking him to her sister's house to get away from all those troublesome trick-or-treaters. Lynde and Hamilton arrive at the front gate of what looks like a haunted mansion. They notice a live vulture that barks like a dog, Hamilton informs Lynde that the vulture's name is Rover. Billie Hayes (in her full 'Witchipoo' get-up from 'H. R. Puffnstuff') nosily answers the door and lets them in. The set is a lavish, two-storied foyer/living room of a haunted mansion, complete with wrap-around balcony. Lynde figures out that both Hayes and Hamilton are witches. Hamilton transforms into a recreation of her Wicked Witch of the West costume from "The Wizard of Oz," complete with full green make-up on her face and hands. Hayes' spastic, cackling delivery is an odd contrast to Hamilton's slow motion, aged monotone.
    Betty White magically appears at the top of the staircase dressed in a white fairy tale "good witch" outfit. She has won some sort of interplanetary witch beauty pageant and has come to collect her prize; a date with Paul Newman. When the two witches inform White that the only "Paul" they could conjure up was Paul Lynde, a disappointed White and Lynde exchange poison-tipped insults, and White gets the last word in before she disappears into thin air. Hayes and Hamilton then inform Lynde that they will grant him three wishes this Halloween. His first wish is to become a "real trucker on a convoy."
    Cut to Lynde hanging on the outside of an 18-wheeler as "The Rhinestone Trucker" a short blond wig and white Liberace/Elvis-style trucker pantsuit outfit (complete with wide bellbottoms, wide collar and white leatherman cap... all glittering with rhinestones). Lynde enters the truck and begins driving in front of a moving scrim back projection. He gets on his CB radio and summons all truckers to meet him at a particular roadside diner where he is driving to meet his "girlfriend." Cut to a split screen where Tim Conway is driving his own truck in the opposite direction and talking on his CB radio. The two exchange "CB lingo" jokes before they figure out they both are going to the same diner to meet the same girl.
    Cut to truck stop diner set where Roz "Pinky Tuscadero" Kelly (as she is relentlessly referred to during the special) is dressed in a pink waitress outfit. The customers hit on Kelly and she throws plates of food around and quips saucy one-liners back to them. Billy Barty, on a stool, slings hash in the background as the cook. Conway arrives at the diner first and claims Kelly as his woman. Kelly informs him that her heart belongs to another trucker. Lynde's truck then come crashing through the wall of the diner and Lynde emerges to fight for his girl. Lynde wins her (it's not much of a fight), and the two decide to run off and get married and produce an X-rated film together called "Deep Truck." Barty, despite his size, is able to push the giant truck out of the diner with one hand.
    The diner set rolls away and the music starts up as Lynde, Kelly, a priest and backup dancers break out into an ear-splitting, countrified, ho-down version of "Hail To the Bride." Kelly dons a wedding veil and bouquet over her waitress costume and Lynde keeps on his white leatherman outfit. They become married over the course of the number, and end the routine by freezing into place, raising their arms and shouting "10-4!!!" Cue roars of treble-y canned applause as stage darkens and camera pulls backwards towards the ceiling.
    Cut back to the mansion as Lynde informs Hayes and Hamilton of his next wish: to be Lawrence of Arabia. Cut to a desert tent set with Florence Henderson sporting a riding crop outfit and an upper-crust British accent. Lynde enters in a sheik outfit, with a very large gold hoop earring. He claims he has the earring because he is "...a chic sheik. That's why they call me Florence of Arabia!" Henderson demands to know why she has been kidnapped and held prisoner. Lynde says that he is going to force her to marry him. Henderson coldly refuses and her frigid nature is able to turn a goblet of wine into ice as she sips it, much to the uproarious delight of canned audience laughter. Lynde is finally able to convince Henderson to marry him by giving her a (stuffed) parakeet. Tim Conway enters the set as a bounty hunter and demands to haul Lynde into custody. Lynde is able to bribe Conway by giving him the parakeet instead, claiming Conway wanted it because " gets lonely in the desert at night!"
  Cut back to mansion set as Barty, as the witches' butler, is told to put the cat out by Hamilton. Barty enters a hidden area of the foyer and loud tiger noises and crashing sounds are heard. Barty emerges covered in claw marks with his butler uniform torn to shreds. When Hamilton asks him whether or not he has put the cat out, he tells her ", but I have put your mother to bed!" to the uproarious delight of canned audience laughter. Lynde reappears and demands his final wish; another song. Hayes and Hamilton promise to conjure up their favorite minstrels that sing wonderful bedtime lullabies. They wave their wands and KISS appears (making their historic television debut). The band performs "Detroit Rock City" amongst stage pyrotechnics and flashy camera work. The canned audience roars and cheers with excitement.
    The host and two witches then exchange more jokes before Hamilton re-introduces KISS singing "...their new top ten hit." Cut to Eric Carr of KISS (in full costume and make-up) singing "Beth" at the mansion's piano while the rest of the band gather around and solemnly bow their heads. KISS them walk over to Lynde, Hamilton and Hayes. Hamilton introduces each band member to Lynde (she knows all their names!) Lynde exclaims "Oh great! Four kisses on our first date!" as the band looks away uncomfortably. When Gene Simmons approaches Lynde to tower over him menacingly, Lynde exclaims "Why don't you push the down button on your elevator shoes mister!"
    Cut to Hayes and Hamilton sitting in the living room reading copies of  William Peter Blatty's "The Exorcist" and Ira Levin's "Rosemary's Baby," which causes them to laugh a lot. Lynde enters and thanks them for providing Halloween wishes. The witches ask for a wish from Lynde in return. They confide in Lynde that they have never been able to go to one of the "Hollywood discos" that they have heard so much about. Lynde takes Witchipoo's magic wand and waves it to transform the mansion into a disco, complete with lit floor, strobe lights, smoke, neon bats and dancers in flashy costumes with pink afro wigs. Lynde, Hamilton and Hayes (all still in costume) are lowered down in the elevator onto the flashing dance floor. They look around excitedly and thanks Lynde for finally letting them experience a disco. They all dance amongst the others and exchange dance move-themed jokes like "Paul was just on the dance floor doing the frog! Until the frog bit him!" and Lynde eventually reveals to the audience that discos are "...a great place to hustle without getting arrested."
    Hamilton, her green make-up now covered in a glistening layer of sweat, then introduces Florence Henderson, who emerges at the top of the stairs in a long, black sequined gown. Henderson belts out (with total showman confidence) a very off-key and nauseatingly disco-fied version of "That Old Black Magic" as she descends the stairs and the dancers twirl and flail around her. An unexplained teenage boy in normal clothes (save for some tinsel in his hair) is sitting on the set's couch, stage center... clapping along to the music as his lower body stays strangely motionless. At song's end, Henderson freezes in place, relentlessly smiling and way out of breath. Cue roars of treble-y canned applause as stage darkens and camera pulls backwards towards the ceiling.
    KISS is then re-introduced inexplicably for a third time (ratings booster?) who perform "King of the Night" inside the disco-transformed haunted mansion, as Simmons breathes fire and the canned audience screams in ecstasy. Afterwards, all the guest cast (minus Donny and Marie) emerge in their own disco outfits and dance and sing a horribly choreographed version of "Disco Baby" each with their own vocal solos, as KISS looks down from the balcony disapprovingly. Haley, Henderson and Barty (all still in costume) do a line-kick dance amongst the strobes and smoke (Hamilton is a bit slow). Lynde and Roz Kelly do the swap-hands-from-knee-to-knee move in unison while doing the disco Charleston and also telling jokes as the canned audience yelps with approval. As if in some sort of coke-haze, Henderson wafts from dancer to dancer in a trance, obscuring her own face with an obliterating smile. Betty White is somewhere in the background I think.
    The music stops and a sweat-covered Lynde takes stage center. He thanks all the guests by name (in an obviously unscripted moment, Roz Kelly inexplicably raises her hands and cheers 'yea!' in the background when her name is mentioned, the rest of the guest cast stare at her oddly when she does this). Then with a strikingly serious look on his face, Lynde sincerely thanks the canned audience and almost seems to plead "I'll see you soon?"
  Roll credits and music as everyone breaks out into disco dancing again. The unexplained boy is still sitting on the stage's couch clapping his hands enthusiastically to the disco beat (is he some handicapped kid who was granted an appearance on the show by the Make-A-Wish foundation?) At credit's end, camera freezes on the very disturbing image of Lynde french-kissing a very startled Hamilton right smack on the lips.
    We now rejoin our scheduled programming day...

Jim's report from the outer limits...

5. Another report from Jim on the road
    Jim is down south still, recording and touring. Yet another fascinating tale from the road. apparently he stayed at the house of the Appalachian music band who were used on Malcolm McLaren's "Duck Rock" album (who are apparently still around doin' their thing):
    "We played the Bluff Mountain festival yesterday  and a club called the Jack of the Wood the night before, for 4 hours! It was insane. At the festival there was a band called the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers who are really great and local. A woman plays the washtub bass. Hey remember that Malcolm McLaren early 80's rap 'Buffalo Gals' thing- 'Buffalo Gals go 'round the outside...'? Well, he was down here looking for real hillbilly musicians, and they were that band he got to record the music. And when the Sex Pistols were on tour down here, they stayed at the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers house for a week! Now wait'll you see pictures of them. This is WAAAY back in the mountains. Apparently Boy George stayed with em at some point too. they said the Sex Pistols were really nice and I think the Pistols covered a couple of their songs live!  We're recording today and Neko [Case]'s in town tonite, so I think we're gonna see her play. Last night after the festival we went to this guy Charlie Brophy's house. It was so beautiful there. It looked like Lord of the Rings. The mountains were all misty cause of the rain. We ate burritos and drank moonshine from a jar and played music on his front porch till about 1 am."
    Jim and I have been going together for over three years now. It's love! I guess our semi-long distance relationship is working out, it seems stronger than ever. We talk every day and see each other every few weeks. But this time, he's been away a long time ...and I miss him a great deal. He's retreating so far back into mountain country territory that I'm afraid the next message I may get from him may be via smoke signal.

left: warning sign from "The Happy Mutant Handbook"
right: Godzilla's foe Hedorah (Smog Monster)

6. Gray goo
    In case you still aren't hip to nanotechnology, I highly recommend reading Eric Drexler's excellent and fully online "Engines of Creation," or perhaps visiting his recently new website for an even brief-er overview (the Foresight Institute's website is also helpful).
    Eric Drexler recently co-authored a paper (with Chris Phoenix of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology) on the subject of fears regarding self-replicating molecular machines growing out of control and replicating until a massive gray goo envelops the universe (hey... it could happen). Even though I haven't finished the whole thing, I'm finding it to be a fascinating read. Find it in all it's forms here.
    (discovered this through

"And do you know what I'm gonna do the next time I spy those two little beady eyes of yours? I'm gonna walk right up to you and pound on that monkey skull of yours until it rings like a Chinese gong!"
 - machinegun-mouthed reporter Rosalind Russell in Howard Hawk's "His Girl Friday" (1940)

7. My second piece came out in The New York Times
    Even though every morning when I wake up I say to myself; "This is probably the closest chance I'll ever get to inhabit a life-size recreation of my favorite 'Twilight Zone' episode, in this lifetime and on this planet at least" ...and every night before I go to bed I say "Dear God, please help me to shut my eyes and slip right into unconsciousness so this day of a thousand deaths can end" ...I find there are still good days and bad days. So I guess on the bad days at least I can look in the mirror and say to myself "I was published in The New York Times." I guess that's some sort of accomplishment. Right?
    My new piece is in the June 13th, 2004 edition of The City section. The online versions are nice... but I think the printed versions look stellar. You can find my first story here.

Mark Allen's Top Eight for June 7th, 2004:

1. "Deep End" (1971, director: Jerzy Skolimowski)
    If you're old enough to remember repertory movie theaters in the 1980's, and how they usually had a rotating schedule that consisted of sometimes two or more different films a day... then you probably remember the great, two-color monthly calendars they used to print up and hand out at the concession booth. They usually folded out pretty big, and on a normal calendar-grid, each day had a box with the title of the film (or films) showing on that date, with a little description of why it was relevant as a "film lover's" picture... and often a little graphic or photo. Taken as a whole they were cinema fetishist's version of a Hustler centerfold. They almost always ended up on people's walls, and were often never thrown away once the month was up. People collected them.
    There was a great repertory theater in Dallas called The Granada that I used to actually ride my bike to it as a kid first exposure to countless films that I had read about with awe in my dog-eared, drool-smeared copy of Danny Peary's great book "Cult Movies." The Granada calendars hung on the inside of my closet in my room... lining every inch, and I would stare at them all the time. They and the theater are now long gone (it's a concert venue now) is, I'm afraid, the great repertory cinema house tradition as well.
    I got to see a lot of great movies in those early 80's years... if I remember correctly, the ticket price was very low. Certain films brought out certain moods or appreciations in me. Some were surreal European comedies... some were bizarre underground shlock-fests... some were silent-era gems... others were un-categorizable, but all were fascinating. I was able to see R and sometimes even slightly X-rated films at The Granada. Back then, the fag hags working behind the pay window at artsy theaters couldn't be bothered to card me and my pubescent friends... because we were seeing important films! It was just like the fag hags working behind the pay window at the local gay bars... they couldn't be bothered to card us either... because, well... we were pubescent boys!
    There were however, certain pictures that, beyond being fascinating, struck a weird heart chord with me. Something akin to suddenly being nostalgic about something you knew was coming up in your future. Does that make sense? It was like, after seeing the pictures,  I knew that I would experience things like I had just seen portrayed eventually in life for real, and seeing grown-ups in films going through all the dramatic machinations of these (fictionalized) life episodes made me kind of figuratively look back over my shoulder towards the future... imaginatively. Naive cinematic dreaminess? Or the mark of great art?
    The films in particular that created that peculiar weird flux in my head were (don't laugh): Hal Ashby's "Harold and Maude" ...François Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" ...Philippe de Broca's "King of Hearts" ...Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blow Up" ...Mike Nichols' "The Graduate" ...Allan Moyle's "Times Square" ...Gillian Armstrong's "Starstruck" and later Bruce Robinson's "Withnail & I" and Lasse Hallström's "My Life As a Dog."
    Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski's "Deep End" was one that I missed (I actually remember seeing it repeatedly listed on the calendar). I wish I had seen it back then... because it's strange, late 60's, working class London coming-of-age story so echoes my own states of mind around that time - I think it might have been a revelation for me... or at least a whimsical thrill. The pic of the main character on the 10-speed bike (my 10-speed!) in the lower right still (above) is such a dead ringer for what I was like at the time... it's creepy. "Deed End" echoes the same energy I felt and obsessed over when seeing the films listed above, because I saw past and future selves withing it's character's transparent layers... and more. It's weird seeing it now for the first time, and realizing retroactively that it's impact on my naive mind would have been profound... is a strange imagined trip back in time, to a narrower emotional spectrum.
     Speaking of creepy spectrums...
    John Moulder-Brown plays Mike, a fifteen year old who gets a job in a less-than-stellar public bathhouse in a not-so-swinging-60's London. He is naive, awkwardly curious and clumsily energetic. He soon becomes enamored by his twenty-something co-worker ...the icy, bored and gracefully manipulative Susan (played by a stunning Jane Asher). Susan quickly explains to him the real reason middle-aged women come to the baths asking for a male attendant if a female one isn't available... and thrusts naive Mike head-first into the worst possible introduction of the opposite sex (and big tits... oops, I mean TIPS!)  This leads to one of the funniest female-on-male sexual harassment scenes ever captured on film (above photo, middle), as a buxom bleached-blond woman in a towel (veteran British bombshell Diana Dors in a hysterical performance) obnoxiously grabs, fondles, prods and frottages a flailing, pleading Mike.
    As Mike becomes more comfortable with the somewhat seedy arrangement with the older women at the baths... his mental space is cleared and his interest in Susan becomes more obsessive. Is Susan really happy with her older fiancé? Why is she also spending time romantically with a married swim coach (who used to teach Mike in school)? Is she being more than just "friendly" to the male clients at the baths? Mike's naive perception of Susan's sexual experience, and the world inside his own mind, drives Mike into one wrong situation after another (which Susan subconsciously feeds). He begins following her to porn theaters where her fiancé inexplicably takes her to see raunchy films (eventually getting kicked out by the cops after Susan spots him in the darkened theater and entices him to a french kiss, only to rat out on him once her fiancé comes back with popcorn). He stalks them at a snazzy private club of undetermined nature, located in a sleazy section of Soho.
    In one great, long scene, he gives chase to cops after he spies a life-size, cardboard cut-out of what he thinks may be a nude photo of Susan (it just might be!) outside a stripper joint and ends up stealing it. With the cardboard cut-out in tow, Mike takes refuge in the first red door he comes across in an alley, which leads into a handicapped prostitute's lair - who lies in bed and operates everything around her flat (the door lock, the record player, the mood lighting) with an ingenious series of levers. Cornered, Mike hides from the police outside as he fights off the advances of yet another sexually experienced and perusing older woman inside (who, even though she is immobile, can operate the very space around him with the mere flick of the wrist - his worst nightmare!) with a flimsy, two-dimensional representation of the girl of his dreams as his only ally. Once he escapes the tangle... he catches up with Susan on the subway home, and uproariously confronts her (and the rest of the passengers) with the cut-out of herself... only to take the cut-out to the bath house swimming pool after hours and creepily make love to it underwater in the swimming pool (or was that a dream?) All in all a typical thrill... and an average evening well spent for Mike.
    Mike's snowballing klutziness in the face of his sexual naiveté and imagined worst fears are portrayed with hearty humor and painful loose ends in Skolimowski's film. Yet, they achieve a surreal humor at their apex that would be impossible in the real world... making Mike's character a hero in the viewer's own dramatically imagined struggles.
    The film's end finds he and Susan at the bottom of the deep end of the empty swimming pool (above, left) on an afternoon when the baths are closed. Lugging bags of dirty snow from outside, an electric tea kettle and her pantyhose as a sieve (tediously looking for the diamond that fell out of Susan's engagement ring when she slugged him for slashing her tires as a 'joke'), Mike awkwardly takes all his clothes off and makes his feelings for Susan open. Always aware, and unsure herself, she strangely accepts his advances and disrobes herself. Everything's well and good only until his inexperience at what to do when alone with the three-dimensional naked version of the girl of his dreams in the bottom of an empty swimming pool kicks in... his insecurity causes him to blow it by obnoxiously probing her about her secret life. With weird timing, the attendant in another part of the building then obliviously turns the valve to fill the pool ...and the water begins to pour in. With Mike's maddeningly chaotic but controlled-by-him space filling quickly with the uncontrollable and unknown murky deep... Mike persists his probing of Susan even harder as she attempts to escape him and the rising tide. Then, in a stupid split second... tragedy strikes.
    In the desire to gain experience, Mike's character is constantly painting himself into the corner of an odd space which seems highly charged with sexual symbolism, and then flails about when forced to fight or flight because of his naiveté... half-assing both routes. The weirdly sinister, claustrophobic end of the film (hinted at in the opening credits and in the cardboard dream sequence) surprisingly wraps the picture in a macabre final. As far as male adolescent coming-of-age films go... "The Graduate" or even "Risky Business" this is not.
    Nevertheless, with much of the film seeming to occupy Mike's fanciful imagination... it's hard to tell exactly how Susan ended up. Was it all yet another wet dream? Upon some thought... I find this film to almost be a weird kind of male adolescent parallel to François Ozon's recent (and equally unclear) "Swimming Pool."
    The acting style in the picture is obviously highly improvised amongst the leads. One scene in particular, when Susan playfully rips the head off an anti-abortion poster with a photo of a man portrayed as pregnant, and makes Mike wear it... seems almost like an adolescent home movie. In the scene at the end in the pool, at one point for no particular reason, Susan blurts out almost as if to an off-camera crew member "God! I'm so hungry!" (a blooper?)
    The film is also littered with odd cameos... Diana Dors mentioned above, and also a young Burt Kwouk (Kato in the 'Pink Panther' films) as a Soho hot dog vendor.
    The cinematography in "Deep End" is also noteworthy (by Charly Steinberger); using a relatively steady hand-held camera... which often carefully circles the actors in long takes without cuts. This, combined with the general low-budget feel of the picture, gives the story's more surreal moments an extra punch.
    And of course, the soundtrack is one of the oddest film score pairings of all time. Cat Stevens worked with krautrock legends Can on the film's music (although how closely they collaborated is unclear). Stevens has one song that kind of frames the film; "If I Died Tonight" (which give the picture an even more 'Harold and Maude'-like energy). And one of the long nightclub/Soho street scenes makes excellent use of Can's brilliant "Mother's Sky."
    The film is unfortunately long out of print. I was lucky enough to find a burned DVD bootleg for rent at my cine-snob East Village video rentery. Creaky old video stores might have an old VHS copy still for rent (if you spot it, check it out). Otherwise I think it occasionally airs on specialized cable stations (if it does... don't miss it).
    You can find links about the film here, here, here and here. You can also, oddly, find the audio of every point in the film that contains any music score by Cat Stevens ('If I Died Tonight' and all incidentals) all strung together in one mp3, at a Stevens site here (click on title).

2. A guy builds a hole in his backyard
    Here is the link.
   Why? Just because he wants to. In my opinion, this is an interesting analogy of ...something. A modern, parallel Garden of Eden maybe? This guy builds this "womb-like" hole in his backyard, to get away from his pregnant wife. Sometimes he hunts game from the hole with his rifle. Along the way, he catches a snake (and then kills, cooks and eats it - with full photo documentation). Then the last series of photos shows the family all together, with the child born and wandering around the yard... the hole long discarded, covered up and filled with embryonic fluid... oops, I mean rain water.
    This guy is awesome. Visit his main site to see the homemade robots he's constructed.

3. The fascinating world of helper monkeys!
    It's like evolution gone horribly wrong! Darwin is spinning in his fucking grave. Here is the link. I need a helper monkey to help me write about this.

4. BellTowers, Streams, Ponds, Big Frogs and Orange-booted Rubbermen! Leather Oaks!
    I know I've linked Mr. Blow Up and Female Mask Galleries pages before... but "Leather Oaks" rubber enthusist (above) ...has a brand new bag! This man will undoubtedly be reincarnated as a garden gnome.

    (I actually found this link on another blog, but now I can't remember where I bookmarked it from)

5. - click here if you dare
    Okay... here's the thing. I have no idea who or what this person is. It seems to originate from somewhere in Los Angeles and it frightens me. I have seen this site linked and talked about on and but have never dared to talk about it myself for fear that whatever dark forces it navigates in might hone-in on and envelop me forever. But here goes anyway. Check all grips on reality with the hope-check lady. Here is the link.

6. Report from Jim from the road
    Jim is down south working on Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops new album, and also doing some shows at outdoor bluegrass festivals with the band. Bluegrass festivals are filled with, uh... characters (unlike NYC which is totally normal now). These festivals are kind of like old Grateful Dead shows mixed with Science Fiction conventions followed by a KKK rally chaser ...but with bluegrass music! Jim often tells me the story of the only other gay man he ever met who played in a bluegrass band, who would only speak to Jim through a hand-puppet duck that was attached to a child's umbrella he always carried (huh?). Then there were the octogenarian tap-dancing midget twins who made real squirrel meat pies in their basement. Here is Jim's latest report from the road:
    "I just got back from the Mount Airy old time festival. They had all kinds of contests but the best was the dance contest! People were clog-dancing and looked like epileptic puppets. It was great. I was camped next to people who stayed up singing till 5 this morning and finally had to wrap my pillow around my head to get some sleep. I bought an ancient kazoo from an old bearded mountain man who had one of those throat voice things on account of he had some throat cancer. He said I could replace the plastic diaphragm in the kazoo with a piece of cellophane from a cigarette pack. I said 'Well I guess I'll have to start smoking then, haha.' And he kept going 'No no no...' with his robot voice throat device, and pointing to his throat." - Jim

7. Beam of pain
    You know that old Sting song "Beam of Pain?" Oh... wait, no... that was "King of Pain!" Anyway...
    Here is the link. Here is another. And what is this?

8. "Combover: the Movie" (not yet released, dir: Chris Marino)
    Here is a link. Brilliant?

Mark Allen's Top Eight for June 1st, 2004:

1. Cindy Sherman's latest show at Metro Pictures
    To know an artist's work well, and to anticipate experiencing a new batch of it, is akin to the psychic tension that is created in one's mind when returning occasionally to a favorite restaurant to eat a favorite meal prepared by a favorite chef. Or... for that matter... a favorite value meal at any Burger King. Every time you ingest it, you savor it's familiar smells, tastes and textures ...always the same yet always the slightest bit different. The word "slightest" being key... it allows just that extra inch of space on each side of your expectations to allow for the wanton thrill... hunger even... for the unexpected. The mass of familiar and the peripheral of adventure are just the right amount to satiate your minuscule need for variety within a universe of familiar pleasure (which is the state most are in when anticipating work of the familiar ...and liked artist). We walk out of the restaurant, or fast food joint, satiated and planning to return again when we feel the need for a similar sensual concoction of matter and nerves and emotions. The same meal prepared by a different chef (or vice versa), or the same cheeseburger by a different fast food chain, would have disappointed our expectations.
    And so... I walked into Metro Pictures gallery this last Friday to see the latest work by artist Cindy Sherman... awaiting all the visual signifiers that make me so often stare at her work for hours and hours and hours. I knew it was going to be yet another lurid, warped, thrilling, ineffable, voyeuristic, judgmental, reflectively subconscious and subconsciously referencing game of dress-up, exhibited in over-sized rectangles held behind glass fronts hung on pristine white echo-y walls ...and later to be bendable within the pages of overpriced photo books in downtown shops. I let the glass doors of the gallery close behind me as I entered and my mind fired off a bazillion neuron connections flaming across my frontal lobe because I knew that, once again, I was in the zone... in line for a fantastically conservative thrill-ride for the tradition-loving art gallery connoisseur... a new Cindy Sherman show... a new bag of tricks with no surprises. Bliss.
    This time around, the familiar ingredients that inhabit Cindy Sherman's weird omelet are frapped in a familiar blender and poured onto the walls of Metro Pictures gallery in this configuration: clown photography (I did find this interesting collection of slideshow photos from Tate magazine online, which shows her amidst in her studio, creating some of the series).
    The details of Sherman's large photos are the key... the thing that makes you stare. The edges of the props and prosthetics and make-up Sherman uses are a photo stylist's worst nightmare (or wet dream). In the photographs, no edge or seam or surface or arrangement of costume or prop or prosthetic on or around her body is left un-scuffed, un-slightly off centered, un-smudged, un-wronged. Many of the pictures employ cheaply psychedelic, computer-generated background scrims that are so flawlessly gilded (electronically) onto the back of each figure, that it becomes the one trait in the work that no art bean-counter could find any detailed "fault" with... (when the flawless becomes a 'fault' you know you're dealing with postmodernism). The very idea of computer graphics, or even airbrushing techniques, on a Cindy Sherman photograph is fresh, unfamiliar food for though indeed... and it's blunt contrast in these works is unsettling.
    Looking at the large images on the walls of Metro Pictures gallery, I was oddly reminded of something I hadn't thought of in years. The loopy images, particularly the ones with the computer-generated backgrounds, pay a perhaps unintentional homage to those awfully designed "club kid" flyers that used to litter the sidewalks in midtown NYC in the mid-1990's (particularly around the Limelight club). A universal design trend that was obviously not just centered in NYC... but followed wherever Quark and similar early Macintosh design programs first fell into the hard drives of just anyone... produced nevertheless an obnoxiously vomit-like pattern of multicolored design for countless nightclub promotions at the time. In NYC, these particular half-size cardboard leaflets, with their cult-of-personality photos of haggardly costumed club fixtures, set against a hastily assembled and garishly lazy computer-designed mess of backgrounds and fonts, were a memorable eyesore at 6AM as you stumbled out of a club and into a cab.
    But where as the NYC club kids of the 1990's (who's get-ups often resembled clowns in many ways) were attempting an outrageous surreality and celebratory madness, their courage and balls almost always lacked in one important ingredient: original ideas. The NYC club kids more often than not seemed like pale imitations of British club/performance/surreality lifestylers like the brilliant Leigh Bowery (who's peculiarly complex and unique oeuvre I've always felt was bonded to Sherman in a kind of transcontinental mind-meld). And it is that half-baked, watered-down attempt to follow the rules and traditions of a celebratory costume and disguise tradition, that Sherman achieves here... intentionally. Club kids attempted Leigh Bowery and failed despite themselves, Cindy Sherman successfully creates clowns attempting clowns and failing despite themselves. In one photo, with an almost all-white face, jewel-encrusted bowler hat and series of white leather piano-key belts around her waist... Sherman looks a dead ringer for Michael Alig.
    It is this energy that has always made Sherman's work so compelling (particularly in this 'Clown' series, and also her 'Historical Painting' works). The power of her work is it's emotional manipulation... we love the characters Sherman creates because we are endeared by their hopefulness and oblivious awareness of a failure that we, as the voyeur, seem to only be aware of (Charlie Chaplin himself said 'People are funniest when they don't realize they're being funny' but then again he also said of photography; 'Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage'). It's Sherman's successful creation of the energy of looking at oblivious failures, that keeps manufacturing our unresolved respect of Sherman's vision in our own minds. The details that are so endearingly off-center, that in turn frame the peeking eyes of that same hopeful artist, hidden behind of whirlwind of warped fantasy dress-up (with Sherman as actress, director and cinematographer), are what keeps her fans coming back time and time again. This still image, simple communication of the meak-minded personal, leaking unintentionally from behind what it's hiding behind and holding up for us to see instead of itself (which is it's flawed, realistic attempt at something grand) = the human condition in a nutshell.
    Speaking of...

Victor in all his glory

2. Skinny "Victor" on -  total genius
    Having lived, and sometimes believing I ruled, at the black hole of irrelevance center of the gay "scene" in NYC for many years during the 90's... I can tell you from first hand experience that the worship of chiseled muscle bodies and gorgeous faces was in full effect amongst the dimmer set of the community (about half). Does the worship of the body still rule, and the acceptance of the true self still drool, in the gay scene in New York? Well... it's gotten a lot more complex, or maybe I'm just getting old. Nevertheless much like hippies and punks ...that particular subculture still exists despite the rest of the gay world moving on.
    So it was with great pleasure that I first looked at Victor's online gay personal ad on It was sent to me by a friend who is often sending me "interesting" gay ads filled with freaks. I saw Victor's unusually skinny frame, I smiled and chuckled. I passed it on to someone else.
    But, something kept making me want to revisit Victor's ad again and again. Something about the look on his face, and the fact that he was so slim compared to the thousands of other ads of muscle-y and want-to-be-muscle-y guys on the sites. I mean really slim. And the fact that he didn't care... seemed to single-handedly hammer the last nail in the coffin of some dumb, tired tradition... what exactly I don't know... but whatever it's effect was, it was positive. I kept looking back again and again... I don't know why exactly I found it so inspirational. I soon discovered that Victor had other ads on other sites. You can look at them here and here. I think it was his seeming confidence and lack of any pretense. Victor states in his ad; "People Think I Look Ugly But I Don't Care What They Think Or Say About Me I Think I'M An AlRight Kind Of Person. Thank You For Stoping Bye."  He even shows off parts of his body (biceps) in close-up and shows himself working out on his home gym. This guy is a GOD!!! Suddenly all the other ads on BigMuscle looked like they weren't even there.
    You know that old saying "You can wear anything and as long as you wear it with confidence you'll look like a million bucks?" Well here it is in all it's simple and unconquerable glory.
    Victor is a FUCKING GENIUS. He has taken the one thing that most people wouldn't DARE show on sites like and just smiled and shown it off. Do you know what this means? Victor is going to SCORE and I means SCORE BIG!!! This man is BRILLIANT!
    So for all you gay guys who think you're too skinny or too fat or too ugly or too short or too bald... and think others treat you poorly because of this and say things like "...oh I don't go into gyms because the guys there have too much attitude and are rude to people like me..." or even worse; "I think it's unfortunate that the gay community places so much emphasis on appearance" as you look over your shoulder in your darkened room with damaged lying eyes, and munch on a single potato chip... well a big whopping  BULLSHIT has been called on you and your sad, shallow, lazy LIE. Read it and weep WIMPS!! Victor is now KING of the mountain and you guys are sitting on the fucking sidelines (still).
    So with Victor being my #1 new HERO OF ALL TIME. I decided I need to know MORE! MORE!!! I contacted him for an inside scoop. It took a little persistence... but I eventually got a hold of him and found him to be friendly, open and... as I expected... lacking in any sort of pretense or defeatist attitude whatsoever:

Me: Were you always this slim? Even as a child?
Victor: Yes Why?

Me: Well, I mean, is your skinniness natural, were you born that way? Or was there a certain medical condition that made you so slim? Are others in your family that slim?
Victor: I Had Some Wieght On Me When I Was A Baby When I Got Older I Loss It All.

Me: Do you feel a bond with other skinny people?
Victor: Yes & No, I Stick To My Self.

Me: Do you consider yourself confident?
Victor: Yes I Do.

Me: Do you consider yourself an exhibitionist?
Victor: Yes I Do.

Me: Even though you have an extremely slim body, why did you place yourself on a web site with a bunch of muscle guys?
Victor: Because I Wont To Get Bigger Muscle.

Me: Do you think your particular body type within the gay community, garners you special attention?
Victor: No Because People Think I Look Ugly To Thim.

Me: Do you ever go into public gyms?
Victor: No I Have My Own Gyms.

Me: Why do you smile so big? You seem really content. Do you consider yourself happy?
Victor: Yes And No.

Me: What does the phrase "If you've got it, flaunt it!" mean to you?
Victor: I Don't Know. *

*the perfect answer!

Cindy Sherman's "Untitled #122" 1983

3. Skyscraper daydream - by Mark Allen
   She reached up to brace herself on the beige leather couch. The glass embedded in the palm of her hand stung hard as she pressed it against the squeaking cushion, squeezing pink, watery trails of blood out from between her swelled hand and it's surface... which glistened in the overhead ceiling fluorescent light fixtures. She pulled her trembling body up... wobbling. She stretched one arm all the way back behind her, and then, without hesitation, propelled it around her half circumference at full speed, bending the elbow slightly. Her rushing fist met with her face right between two already black and reddened eyes, slapping and popping her own head back ...her body followed suit and crashed backwards onto a cherry oak bookshelf, sending it crumpling and cracking into several large splintery chunks, which tumbled all around her like puzzle pieces as her body moved through it and to the floor. Several of her ribs broke. A crystal glass figurine that was resting on the uppermost shelf fell last, and wonked her on the forehead, leaving an instant welt and a small drop of blood.
   She thought of beautiful posing puppies dressed in dog angel costumes, gently growling and yapping and playing inside a pile of cashmere blankets amidst carefully posed mink teddy bears with diamond collars. She saw beautiful, slim models holding dolphin-shaped glasses filled with cranberry and peach fuzzy drinks in one elongated, moisturized arm, and with the other ...gentle hands with rainbow-glittered, manicured fingernails gently clasped curly blue ribbons attached to translucent strawberry and lime colored helium balloons wafting above their heads. They giggled and tittered and played with the puppies the high-pitched twee of a photographer's battery lights recharged and role after role of film captured the entire warm moment, which would be immortalized lovingly between the perfume-scented pages of a gloriously airbrushed, exciting and optimistic magazine.
   She backed up against the white drywall behind her desk, her navy blue business suit making a whizzing sound against the surface. She grabbed her rolling desk chair and began to pull it into her body as hard as she could, right below her breasts, over and over if a car were ramming her into a brick wall, then backing up and doing it again over and over. That's what she wanted it to feel like. What she wanted it to be. With each thrust, she was able to move the chair closer and closer towards her body, popping plastic buttons on her suit jacket, and breaking a few more ribs. The pain caused the air to exit her punctured lungs. Trails of blood-filled saliva trailed out of the pink lipstick-smeared mouth, embedded with tiny glass fragments, and trailed down the minuscule bridges of peroxide platinum hair that were now wet with sweat and blood, and wrapped around her wounded head like a collapsed spider web.
   She thought of a smiling, yellow sun reaching down from the blue sky with it's glowing arms into a kitchen in a house with no roof to pour chocolate milk into a bowl of blueberry cereal for a little girl in pink sock-feet pajamas who's just woken from her morning slumber. She imagines a koala bear in a butler suit and roller skates leaping out of the oven to pour her a cup of hot green tea with lemon and a candy orange slice. The bear hands her a pillow wand with glittering silver lame streamers... then hops up and does a disco dance on the table with his roller skates as the little girl claps and laughs. The bear then glides off to the floor on a blue neon water slide that magically appears on the side of the table amidst a sparkling of little animated stars that are accompanied by little bell sounds. The bear takes the girl's hand and waltzes her around the magic kitchen while the sun looks on and smiles. The little girl is delighted.
   She persisted. With the last final thrust she cracks the drywall behind her and sends a framed, glass-fronted art print that had been hanging a few feet above her down off it's hook ...smashing onto the back of her blood wet head. The force of this causes a gush of red saliva and one and a half teeth to propel forwards out of her ripped mouth onto the paper calendar desk mat laying on the top of the desk in front of her. Her body itself too then follows this arched motion and rotates forwards over the chair, further... over the front of the seat and then down around... down to the floor. Her body stops moving when her head hits the carpet space between the front of the chair and the back of her black oak desk, bending her neck to make a slight cracking sound. Her body telescopes slightly and her upside down legs, the pantyhose now a web work of runs, bend at the bloody, glass-encrusted knees and slam the back of her calves onto the pink, soggy desk calendar mat, causing one of her black high-heeled shoes to dislodge from her foot and go flying across the room.
   She thinks of Paris. She sees winding, beautiful streets with shop windows framed in gold, holding inside them gorgeous Faberge eggs wrapped in white silk lit under halogen lights. She sees whimsical wagons being pulled by pink-colored ponies wearing plastic wobbly glitter antenna hats and giant sunglasses. She sees little frogs in top hats and canes dancing on the cobblestone streets while monkeys dressed as little cowboys play accordions and flutes and a belly dancing gorilla in a yellow sun hat parades down the street. She pictures hushed babies asleep in the upper floors of the buildings behind closed shutters, under music-box mobiles with clown faces, dreaming of swirling raspberry rivers flowing between mountains of marshmallow, underneath peppermint sunrises.
   She dislodged herself from the awkward, upside down position wedged between the chair and desk... looking a bit like a wooden puppet that had been thoughtlessly flung across the room. Her legs now trembled, she attempted to pull herself along the carpet with her bloody and bruised arms. She dragged herself along the obstacle course surface scattered with all the remnants of the carnage. The overturned lamp casts strange textured shadows across the blood, lipstick and hair piles on the floor, interplayed with strange reflections off galaxies of broken glass and modern office supplies. She momentarily noticed a black high-heeled pump that had oddly shot off of her foot and landed miraculously across the floor, exactly on it's back... it's long skinny heel parallel to the floor and it's pointed toe pointing directly up to the ceiling. Her engorged eyes searched past the web of hair and blood that caked her swelled face... she searched the debris for something... anything... a weapon of any kind she could use on herself. All she found was a stray stack of office memos, which she quickly grabbed and began to savagely crumple into a tight ball. She stuffed the wad of paper into her own mouth, pushing it as far back into her pulsating throat as she could. She then grabbed another memo paper and did the same thing. She did it over and over with more and more memos... ripping and crumpling the paper with such force that several of her nails broke off right at the cuticle, one seeping blood. She jammed more and more wads of paper into her mouth until her cheeks ballooned up and her engorged face, red and pulsating... suffocated desperately for precious oxygen.
   She could picture little pink and blue bears in little silver space suits, floating out in space ...jettisoned to a UFO shaped like a giant chocolate ice cream cone. She sees the bears landing their craft on a smiling, green moon... and greeted by a unicorn with a wise old beard made of Christmas tree silver icicles, sitting on a clear plastic three sectional love seat... who greets them with macaroni and cheese and Kool-Aid served by blue hamsters levitating in tiny rocketships that spit little clouds of perfume-scented cotton candy out the backs of their motors as they put-put along through the air. They all dance and sing to bippity techno music coming out of little bubblegum-scented transistor radio wrist watches... and then have glorious dress-up parties where they parade around in lavish Italian couture and put on gobs of expensive department store make-up... laughing and cheering with glowing fire flies late into the space moon night.
   She was unconscious for a short time but now she was awake.The sickening wad of bloody paper memos was now spit out beside her, and her raw lungs gasped for air intake. She awkwardly stood... tilted. Her nervous system was now basically on the outside of her body, but it was hard to tell. She grabbed a manual letter opener from the desk and held it with a trembling hand outward, pointed at her eyes... her own precious eyes. Her other hand rested on an electronic letter opener on top of the desk. Her fingers push into the sliding electric razor edged blade of the opener just enough as she leaned onto it to activate the device, which sent the blade from left to right, chopping off the very tippy tips of her manicured fingers. Her fingers remain clasped inside the device as the unexpected pain shot through her arm and caused her to yank her growling head forwards into the other waiting outstretched hand with the sharp manual letter opener pointed right at it... which was rigid with anticipation, as if it somehow knew beforehand. The silver tip penetrated her ragged forehead and plunged effortlessly through crisping bone and sizzling gristle into the smooth maw of her brain matter. Her bloody eyes became suddenly crossed. As if strings had been cut, her body dropped forward.
   She thought of gorgeous, pre-pubescent boys with golden hair, riding shirtless on tops of velvet-skinned pregnant horses who wore fluorescent-colored feathered Indian headdresses over their manes. The horses have purple glass eyes that shoot rainbow-colored lasers, and guide the boys' way as they shoot bows and arrows at mean rain clouds that then heave and burst forth lollipops all around and cause glittering red paper poppy flowers to grow where the lollipops land, and then swarms of friendly fuzzy bumble bees dance out of their centers and flirt with the boys.
   She was still in motion moving fast downward. Her body slammed into the large glass window at an obtuse angle, causing her spine to crack slightly as her head lunged forward. The rattling sound of her body hitting the plexiglass shook the whole office room. The handle of the manual letter opener, which was protruding perpendicular out of her forehead, scraped and dragged like nails on a chalkboard along the glass as her body made it's quick final trip downwards. The handle became quickly wedged in the black rubber padded rim of one of the window's edges as it squeaked it's way down the glass, riding it down like a track and holding her head forward. This was despite the fact that the rest of her body, already twisted backwards because the tips of her fingers were still stuck in the electronic letter opener, which was now pulled off the desk, and the cord plugging it into the wall was now taught and the motor blade was still robotically moving back and forth and was still slicing at her fingertips and holding her fingers in place with the oddly wide clamps that were normally used for thin paper but had accepted her fingers because they were jammed in there with such force. Her head was now twisted completely around, her neck snapped and her body turned the other way, resting with it's back against the window that her face was looking out of. Her body vibrated softly as the electronic letter opener whirred and whirred, sending wave-like motions that traveled along her outstretched arm, and still slicing little bits of fingertips off her fingers... the flesh of which tumbled to the floor. Her face looked out into the dark night from the upper floor office. Even though the space between her eyes was obscured by the black rubber rim, which the handle of the manual letter opener was stuck good and tight in, and held her head in this position looking straight out, and even though she had become cross-eyed when the manual letter opener had penetrated her cranium, she could still ...out of the bloodiest, concussion-hindered, out-of-focused peripheral vision... see out into the starless, rainy cityscape night... it's barely-there pattern of distant lights and perhaps a yellow headlight or two on the horizon flickering in the wet, pre-dawn blackness. Her life ended right before the moment that the air vent, which her face just happened to land on top of, kicked in the central air conditioning, and sent the long blond hair that wasn't matted down with blood and matter out into a full-blown circle that, underlit by the overturned lamp on the other side of the floor, radiated and undulated around her head like a luminous halo.
   Her last thoughts were of beautiful, rare, multicolored butterflies, scented with ginger oil, casting shadows on the bright green grass surface of a Swiss mountainside, as they fluttered and frolicked amongst floating dandelion seeds in the warm, springtime sunlight.

4. Burned Beets

Dear Jim,

I wanted to share this with you:

I always liked beets pretty much... but I NEVER knew how to prepare them properly. Much like Pierre and Marie Currie discovering radium by accident... I have accidentally discovered HOW TO PREPARE BEETS. At least how to prepare them so I'm not gagging as I eat them.

Slice the skin off. Cut them into small-ish slice/wedge/chunks. Boil them in water for just a few minutes. You are actually "BLANCHING" them, but I didn't want to use the word "blanching" because I didn't want to sound like some dim-minded status-obsessed fag. In a separate frying pan, heat up on medium heat about a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and cracked pepper. After you've blanched the beets... oops. Anyway, you then drain the semi-boiled beets and place them in the hot sizzling pan. Toss them around a bit to get them covered with all the oil, salt and pepper.

Now... this is where I fucked up. I got so preoccupied with my brown rice and steamed kale, that I covered the beets in the sizzling pan and sort of forgot to check them. They were in there for a good five minutes sizzling in the oil on medium/high heat. I pulled the top off when I remembered (hearing a loud sizzling sound) and pushed them with the spatula to discover... oh no... THEY WERE BURNED BLACK ON THE SIDES THAT HAD BEEN TOUCHING THE PAN! BURNED CHARRED BLACK ON ONE SIDE!! Sob! They were ruined! As the smoke kind of cleared... I noticed the most WONDERFUL smell filling the kitchen... like that of delicious, hot sweet potato wedge fries, or yummy squash and pumpkin pie with caramel. It smelled like Christmastime at your crunchy lesbian vegan grandma's cabin in Vermont. I ALMOST tossed them out, thinking I had ruined them. But I put a fork in one, one of the blackest and most burnt ones (one side only) and put it in my mouth. I might as well have taken a bite of a methadone omelet because... it was like a bazillion shots of heroin IV-dripped right into my hypothalamus gland all at once! Turns out the burnt black sides were caramelized sugar (endorphin magnet!) that is naturally in beets. I quickly assembled the kale and rice and and placed the jumbly pile of burned beets on the side of the plate... and proceeded to INHALE them. Afterwards I felt that everything was going to be okay in the world... for  while at least.

My newest favorite food: BURNED BEETS.


5. Here comes the neighborhood -
    Here is a link. Join the ranks!
    " is orchestrating the move of 50,000 or more Christians to one of three States for the express purpose of dissolving that State's bond with the union. The three States under consideration are Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. The exact destination will be chosen by vote of our membership. Our move will commence when the federal government forces sodomite marriages on our local communities or once we reach the 50,000-member mark, whichever comes first."
"More than fifty-three million people voted for pro-abortion, pro-gay candidates in the 2000 presidential election. That number will undoubtedly grow each year as Hollywood, MTv and universities turn out liberals faster than our churches can produce converts..."

(Thanks to the great Bill W. for sending me this one!)

6. A sneezing fetishists' diary
    Here is the link.
    Perverts! Better watch out for states inhabited by Christian Exodus...

    Here's the link.
    The "" phenomenon spreads unchecked. Now this?

8. I expose invisibility technology because currently invisibility technology is neither used for the interests of national security (investigate spy, and terrorism), nor used for fighting crimes. Instead it is used by involved police, government agents and recruited operatives (non-lethal weapon users) to commit crimes and unlawfully control the lives of all Americans (see Part I-B1)!
    Here is the link.
    Great endless reading... really endless...

Copyright 2004 Mark Allen

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