Mark Allen's Top Eight for 6/13/05:
Art Superman...

1. Jim's first solo art show in NYC - Gavin Brown Gallery, July 7th - 29th, 2005
    UPDATE: View show/reception invite here.
    UPDATE: Here's a "nicey nice" version of the invite here.
    UPDATE: The opening party/reception/bar-b-q/blowout-bluegrass-jamboree (on the roof) for Jim's art show will be July 7th, 6-8pm. The reception and show and everything is an open one. Jim's show itself opens that night, and runs about a month. Contact gallery for more info.
    Pre-UPDATE info: so anyway, Jim has ended up with his first solo art show in NYC at Gavin Brown's Enterprise Gallery, this July. Everything Jim has been touching has been turning to gold lately. I'm considering following him around and capturing his breath in little glass jars and selling it as a talisman for good fortune. I mean jeezuzfuckinchristonnacraka'!
    His show will be a kind of all-over-the-place extravaganza, with "educational" interactive sculptures, and bizarre Coney Island-ish, carnival attraction-esque, interactive paintings by him in the gallery area (bring a camera!), and video projections of his strange homemade films on the walls. Come let yourself be hypnotized in person by the "Ro-Gina." And More! The opening night reception will be a party and bar-b-q, and feature a blugrass blowout jamboree with Jim and all his upstate hoe-down friends (all on the breezy, deliscious high roof of Gavin Brown's Enterprise). Prepare to be sizzled!
    See you there!


2. I now have my own show on
    I now have my own weekly show on WFMU, and I am vomiting rainbows - indeed. I'm thrilled to be on the zombie graveyard shift (spooky!) for the new WFMU Summer Schedule.
    Once again, I cannot tell you how shit-my-pants-fantastic-spazzed I am to be involved in what I consider to be one of the most important cultural institutions in our dimension, something I have been flat-face awed by for over a decade. And once again, I must tell you that every pore on my epidermis has been pried open, all of them gaping like little baby mouths (It's like 50 billion hugs for your skin) in reaction to finding the crew at the station to be totally great, warm and fuzzy... like a whole new kind of family.
    Since I know most people (or most people reading this) listen to WFMU on the web... the zany twilight hours won't matter as you will probably be listening to the archives... which I'm kind of designing the show for... somewhat. The show air time is late Wednesday nights, 2-6 AM. As each show occurs, you can see the playlists (which may go up as the show is happening, or if not, then maybe about 6 hours afterwards). You can activate the audio archives after each show occurs - they usually go up an hour or two after broadcast, and they stay up forever. I imagine most of my listeners, in this time zone at least, will be tuning in on Thursdays to the archive.
    WFMU site
    WFMU Summer schedule
    Mark Allen's show page (activate playlists, real audio or mp3 links)
    And if you're new to WFMU, browse around... I promise you'll be impressed. My fill-in shows leading up to this have been pretty conservative, just playing music and announcing it... as the studio is very intimidating. It's freeform, listener-sponsored radio so I can really do almost anything I like at this point.
    I have no idea what my show will be like. Just like I had no idea what this webpage would be like when I started it six years ago and it was just one little live cam image in the center of one page. Maybe...
    Did you ever ride the bumper cars at an amusement park as a kid? And maybe you were the first person out on the floor with your bumper car and you were all alone and just kept skeeting around the floor like an air hockey puck and you felt really free? And then all the other cars entered the floor and you started laughing and bumping into them? And your car started spinning... and then it started sliding towards the left side of the floor because you didn't see that large indent on the left side of the ride... and you keep trying to steer the car but it won't go the way you wanted... and then your car starts to swoosh at and angle down a slide that was hidden on the extreme left side of the bumper car floor... and *oh no!* you fall out of the bumper car and fall down a tunnel... and there's razor wire and barbs *ouch!* ...and you plop out of the tunnel onto sand and you stand up and realize you're alone in the middle of a vast desert ...and you look over and see growing out of the sand are all these little shrunken heads of old women with little Margaret Thatcher hairdos poking out of the ground like potatoes... and you know one of them is your mother but you can't figure out which, and then all the little heads start making out with each other, like french kissing, and then and a tumbleweed blows by .and you have an overwhelming sensation that your sphincter is suddenly made of gouda cheese ...and in the distance you hear a cellphone ringing and someone crying ...and then the sky opens up and it starts raining green blood?
    I don't think my show will be like that.

"The guys at work are against me, they want me out... and I don't blame them!
It's just the waaaay they're going about it... their eyes... and their little... games..."

3. My unstable, insular, socially retarded, way unhealthy obsession with the film "The Machinist"
    I have of late been completely obsessed with the totally great film THE MACHINIST (dir: Brad Anderson, 2004 - website here). I saw the film in the theater when it came out last year, and liked it a lot. I had actually gone to see he picture to witness actor Christian Bale's remarkable physical transformation from his normal body weight to that of a human shell. Amazing! I discussed all this before I even saw the film, here (scroll down - Top Ten for October 11th, #2).
    But now that my first viewing is in the past, and it's out on DVD, I have the ability to up-root and re-seed those original memories as I watch it in the embryonic confines of my living quarters, where nobody ever questions me, I have no human interaction (read: conflict), am always a hero and everything revolves around me and resolves itself into nifty little packages of perfection. I find great works of art, when experienced alone, can only enhance the insular sense of bliss one achieves from solitude (that is, for people who enjoy solitude - read: dorks). I have probably watched the film now about 18 times, and each time it's even better. I get lost in it, and when its over, I'm sad... not because of the end... but because it's ending. The film possesses elements that are akin to a virtual/electronic embryonic fluid for me, and does something that church, art, love and books are supposed to do but often never achieve: rectify, resolve and inspire (and teach).
    Nuts? Me? Yes... but only on the outside.
    Who are you?
    You know that experience when you go through a brightly lit revolving door made of glass and chrome, on a bright sunny day... and when you go through the door and it goes *whish!* *swoop!* *whish!* ...and if the light hits it just right, you catch all these multifaceted, mirrored reflections of yourself in the glass and chrome ... and you see your own image looking in a million different directions, just for a fraction of a second ...and as you go through the door all these images refract into your retinas and get processed by your mind and nervous system... and your id goes "Ewww..." at one of the reflections of yourself, and then maybe "Oh my ears look good from the back!" about another one of the reflections of yourself from another angle ...and the other 998,000 reflections are all seen (even though witnessing some are more obvious to your conscious mind than others), and are processed really fast, subconsciously ...and to be honest you didn't like most of what you saw of yourself ...and it was a little painful, but it was all very thrilling in this micro-second inner-world way... and whether you like it or not in that one split second you feel just a little bit re-born as you step out of the revolving door cylinder and into the air-conditioned hotel lobby, or wherever you just entered, maybe to greet other civilians, which you can't have id-like expressions around... and the whole thing was like having gone on a little itty bitty re-birth journey? That's what a good film does. Each time I watch it.
    My obsession with my DVD copy of THE MACHINIST is really getting out of hand. I have only been speaking in lines from the movie to people for the last several days (this is particularly interesting in bed with Jim) and the film's entire plot line has been refracted in my day-to-day experience to a wince-inducing level.
    Who are you? Who am I? I know who you are! I'm the guy loudly quoting film lines at a party or social gathering, no matter how inappropriate or ridiculous... that's who you are! Or is that... that's who I am?
    Sounds dreamy!
    I had a similar experience a few years ago when I purchased the DVD of FIGHT CLUB, I literally sat watching it in my apartment, over and over and over... with the blinds drawn, wrapped in a blanked with just my head poking out... alternately sobbing and laughing hysterically and talking to the screen. I got over the immediate insanity and simply worked the long-term neurosis into the fabric of my everyday life. My day-to-day coping mechanism in a nutshell.
    Is THE MACHINIST a great film? It's a pretty damn interesting one. Whereas FIGHT CLUB (which I think it's kind of related to) was an epic, this is a mini-epic. The sum of it's whole is the equivalent to one of the sub plots of FIGHT CLUB. It's a "Twilight Zone"-like story expanded to film length, with the usual Polanski/schizophrenia overtones.
    And the script (written by Scott Kosar) - brilliant! Subsequent viewings have revealed the perfection of the economical dialogue, which all fits together like the pristine pieces of a puzzle, and must be viewed both from the front and from behind, in order to catch all time-stepping references and meta-references signified within the picture's reality, forwards and backwards.
    I'm so obsessed with the film (and see no end in my repeated viewing of it), that I was thinking of building a giant headset that has a rectangular perspex shield extended about a foot in front of my face, and held in place small poles attached to a neck brace. This would be connected to a white motorcycle helmet (like those siamese twins babies wear) that has headphones in it next to my ears, and a tiny digital projector on the top of it that would run a DVD of the film onto the side of the perspex shield that is facing me, allowing me to be able to watch and hear the film but still be able to see through the perspex shield so I could go about my day to day existence and still be a normal person.
    That would a good look for Summer, don't you think? For walking around the sunny sidewalks of Manhattan? "Giant Passive-Aggresive Luminous Cinema Head." What better way to usher in the season than another fashionably excruciating development in my quest to escape reality by obnoxiously (aggressively) drawing the attention of strangers while simultaneously (passively) being forced to not have to interact with them?
    But then again, don't get me on the subject of the difference between fashion and style.

No, it says "How To Cook For Forty Humans"

4. I've translated your franchise... IT'S A COOK BOOK!
    Most Hysterical Photographs Of The Year Award goes to The Billboard Liberation Front, who yesterday altered a billboard in San Francisco to feature an obese child (probably a leftover from The Maury Povich Show) in sick Ronald McDonald make-up, an alien, a McDonald's golden arches logo, and the words "TO SERVE MAN." The clincher was the animatronic Ronald McDonald feeding a cheeseburger to a mannequin of the enthusiastically wide-gomped fat child, both sitting right in front of the billboard. The perpetrators then dressed as screaming versions of Ronald McDonald and Hamburgler, and celebrated with chants and helium balloons of Ronald's head. Turns out the plan for McDonald's take-over of the eating habits of the planet was nothing more than an extraterrestrial domination and enslavement plan lifted right out of a "Twilight Zone" episode. After the celebration in the park (in which some great photos of gasp-inducing Ronalds being cuffed and hauled into squad cars were taken) the BLF then moved... like an undulating sea of yellow, red and white vomit... into a nearby McDonald's location, where the nightmarish reverie commenced. These photos literally had me laughing so hard I spilled my piping hot morning McDonald's coffee into my lap and I'm getting my lawyer on the phone right now!

Eat your mail! EAT IT!

5. Letters! I get letters!

Re: your posts
-hi mark. i've noticed your top ten is now usually just your posts on the wfmu blog reposted onto your site. and these postings are sometimes just rewritten or expanded writings from your site itself. what gives?
-xo stan
    Dear Stan: the only thing "giving" here is me (and I mean that in every way it can be interpreted, fucker lover).

Fell on black days... and roofs...

6. "...a somber shower"
    I don't know why, but this article about a giant bridge in Cleveland that has been a constant magnet for suicides (and the community who's target-like rooftops are directly below it), had my laughing hysterically. Am I a horrible person? Who are you?

"You're probably so illiterate you can't even hear me! You illiterate!"

7. We had joy, we had fun, we had pages blinding our eyes in the bright sun...
    Before you read this you should know that people bragging to you about what they're reading lets you know that they want you to know what they're reading and maybe that's all they want you to know and may not have anything to do with actual reading. See how so much bragging... I mean reading ...has helped my wordsmithian super powers?
    Do you think I should read more books? Well guess what three books I'm in the "process" of reading right this very minute? The latest translation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground," Alex Zwerdling's "Virginia Woolf and the Real World" and Eric A. Johnson's "Nazi Terror; the Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans." Great, sweltering, sweaty, woozy Summer reading! All three were loaned to me by a very nurturing friend.
    I was reading the "Nazi Terror" one (which has a big red and black cover) on the train the other day and this group of black kids in baggy T-shirts started talking to me about Nazis and video games... which is weird because the distance between black kids and older white people on the subway is usually an ice wall one thousand years wide. After I stopped clutching my purse (rude!) they just continued talking me up about Hitler and some video game that was about hunting and killing the Gestapo. It's like an appreciation for the history of fascism was melting the racist ice wall! Then after that, we all went outside up onto the street and bought ice cream cones (flavor: beige) and fed them to each other while sitting in Sheep's Meadow in Central Park... then we hugged and danced until rainbow lasers came out of our eyes and we farted waterfalls of lilting daisies, then our skins all melted together into one light brown color and we all melded into a hovering ball of flesh that was perfectly in tune with the universe and rose over new york like a tan ball of sunlight that shot rays of hope and love into all the five boroughs. Then Dick Cheney exploded.

8. Abu Ghraib - is it torture or is it art? You decide! (see also here)


Conceptual surrealistic photography through the ages:
(left, figure 1.a) U.S. soldiers make a point by photographing themselves with naked Iraqi prisoners' bodies stacked in the form of a human pyramid, Iraq, 2004. Contrast this with (left, figure 1.b) famed photographer Philippe Halsman making a point of complimenting Salvador Dali with naked women's bodies stacked in the form of a skull, in his portrait "Dali's Skull," New York, 1952.


Photo documents of avant garde performance art through the ages? 
Case in point (left, figure 2.a), a photograph of U.S. soldiers psychologically torturing an Iraqi prisoner with crazy costumes and imaginary electricity, Iraq, 2004. Compare this with (left, figure 2.b) an early photograph of Dada-ist Hugo Ball psychologically torturing audience members with crazy costumes and imaginary poetry at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland, 1916.


United States government funded homoerotic, sadomasochistic photography through the ages?
Consider the controversial photograph (left, figure 3.a) of U.S. soldiers urinating on an Iraqi prisoner, Iraq, 2004. Placed next to (left, figure 3.b) a photograph of two men urinating on each other, as documented in Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial "Jim and Tom, Sausalito, 1977."


U.S. government funded performance art depicting symbolic forms of perverse degradation and exploitation, through the ages?
Take this document (left, figure 4.a) of U.S. soldiers smearing an Iraqi prisoner with his own feces and parading him around in front of them, Iraq, 2004. Next to renowned performance artist Karen Finley (left, figure 4.b), smearing herself with chocolate and parading herself in front of everybody, New York, 1982.

Government clampdowns on inappropriate subject matter through the ages?
Is it redundant to mention the controversial 2005 Newsweek reportage (left, figure 5.a) of the flushing of the Koran in toilets at Guantanamo by U.S. interrogators, and Marcel Duchamp's controversial, riot-causing 1917 sculpture "Fountain" (left, figure 5.b)?


Copyright 2005 Mark Allen

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