Mark Allen's Top Ten for March 29th, 2004:
photo of Courtney Love at Plaid (left) by Eva Chavela - evachavela.com
1. Drug-addled, hyperactive, mentally unstable, compulsive lying, siezure-ly schizophrenic, attention-ravenous, uber-fake human face-punching machine and Oscar/Grammy-nominated sociopathic destructo-bot pummels her way into into New York City like a plane on 9/11 ...and makes me fall in love with humanity, my life, love, the city (and her), again!
You know the way a domesticated dog will instinctively take full advantage of all feeding opportunities and will eat all the food placed in front of it even if it isn't all that hungry? And will just keep eating enthusiastically even as it is throwing up the food it has just eaten... and then will eat the throw up? And won't complain one bit? I'm fascinated with the way Courtney Love seems to be able to do the same thing with booze, pills and attention.
Those of us living here in New York City on this recent weekend of March 19th seemed to almost be embracing imaginary, bored hands in our collective yearning for something exciting to occur in our urban maze. City life was starting to get very dull. Every subway car was filled with what looked like hired extras playing watered-down versions of formerly kooky city characters, every predictable cocktail party filled with glorious-smelling clones who worked in media was just yearning for some scuzzy hippie to show up and knock over a salad or throw a drink in someone's face. Every art or theater opening had you cursing that you had forgotten to bring a flame thrower or loaded gun. Every walk down a pristine, mall-like street had you praying... begging for another 9/11... another blackout... anything... anything at all that could combust in our own backyards and simultaneously ride the rails of local and world media. The lack of action was almost sending us into "boredom-rage" (I coined that term thank you very much) as we were constantly on the lookout for something to remind us that we didn't live in a city who's title "The Most Exciting City in the World" grows more and more suspicious every year. We needed something to break up the creeping, political and dollar-fueled monotony that threatens to swallow our metropolis like that black slime creature from "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster."
Well, we got a little something. It was a blindingly enthralling/annoying blast of rock and roll tantrum razzmatazz, an edge-of-your-kiddie-seat, rail-jumping, sick/glam, drug/blood/lipstick freakazoid exploitation theater puppet show... but it was something after all. I know I, personally, was enthralled. You can tell the impact an event has on the city by the way it dominates the old local media like newspapers, and the new location-less media like blogs. Then you can tune into world media and see it kind of bleeding in here and there.
Courtney "fists'n elbows" Love and her 48-hour prank/stunt-a-thon was hardly the impact of a world event... but it was a blip... a boost... a drop of excrement ...oops, I mean... a drop of excitement on our parched tongues. I know it felt like one on mine. I got so excited reading the string of stories as they unfolded and getting phone calls from friends "...who were actually there" ...that I snapped out of the handicapped fog that had been engulfing me for weeks and actually got inspired to do some laundry. (New York Post - The New York Times - NYDaily News - Fox News "Witch Hunt" - naked photo outside Wendy's - Village Voice - Stereogum.com blog entry - strange tit-sucking/rapping aftershocks... it even effected me! ...and these are hardly a pill bottle full of the stories generated)
Courtney has one apropos line in her often remarkable library of lyrics... I forget which song it is... but it starts off softly with her crooning "You've always wanted to see a cripple dance... pay your money baby, now's your chance."
Don't get me wrong... I'm a big, big fan of Courtney Love and everything she creates around her. What's so weird though is that more than a week has passed since this event (it just took me that long to write about it). Already I'm really sick and bored of thinking about it.
So let's make the natural segue to:
2. The squeaky wheel gets the lithium
In the evolutionary world of survival of the fittest of the mentally unstable... the prolific, productive and most obnoxious paranoid schizophrenics in our society will end up out-living the quiet, isolated ones. Between the different characteristics of those with commit-able mental conditions, it's a madcap war between A) the screamers/tinfoil-wearers/nonsensical-sign-creators and B) those who hole up in a dark apartment under the refrigerator. It's a screwball game of "he who adapts best wins" ...or perhaps the phrase should go "he who creates the most and best insane photocopied flyer and puts them on the most car windsheilds wins."
Those paranoid schizophrenics who scream their fear-based theories on crowded sidewalks, create and distribute Xeroxed flyers warning fellow humans of impending metaphysical doom, or create highly detailed webpages listing important signs of the Apocolypse ...these are the ones who get noticed. This attention-starved disposition towards material creativity of their own inner world acts like a waving flag or blinking neon sign for fellow non-nut humans. It's a way for the non-reality challenged to spot the schizophrenics from a distance. A man who has removed all his teeth and eyelashes and who stands on a street corner in a tinfoil hat distributing flyers and screaming about the insectoid features of unseen perverted demons on the FM radio waves... or the woman at the local folk festival who paints her bald head like the planet earth and slowly bangs a drum made from stretched condoms and an old coffee can and chants in Inuit songs about menstrual blood... these outward characteristics are instinctually recognizable signs for fellow humans that seem to say; "Don't touch!" We understand them prenatally. These characteristics are akin to a porcupine's quills, or the swaying poisonous arms of a jellyfish. They may look mesmerizing... but something deep inside our collective conscious says "beware" or "retreat."
Of course... these characteristics also get these types of mentally balanced people noticed and perhaps maintained, or cared for. Even if we proceed with caution... we look... we listen... we take note... and in a lucky case, if they can be strapped down... we perhaps intervene and get them on some kind of chemical program to get their brains back to a "balanced" state, or commit them to an institution to get watched, cared for and perhaps "cured." Does this mean that these types of schizophrenics who get noticed stop being schizophrenic? No! It just means they survive and are allowed to spread their DNA into the human gene pool. They get our attention and, perhaps if they're lucky, it means they get more and more chances not to die of starvation while hanging upside down wrapped in copper wire in the back of a closet in an RV parked in the middle of nowhere because they were hiding from brain-erasing magnetic waves and were too timid to tell anyone.
Of course you could make the argument that the quiet, reclusive, keeps-his-craziness-to-himself schizophrenic survives too. He doesn't let on. His hidden secret allows him to *GASP!* slip into normal society unnoticed and function with the rest of us... slowly rotting society from the inside. But of course that would never happen now would it?
Someone named Melody over at SomethingAwful.com recently collected a highly-detailed and photographed documentation of her years-long experience with a very extroverted schizophrenic woman obsessed with "...the abuse of psychics on non-psychics." Melody's neighbor, known only as "Tammy," left an endless series of signs and ephemera outside on her lawn... containing information that apparently she felt the world needed to see. Then she wrote a long kind of photocopied book (apparently part one in a series of five) that was intended for "police and lawyers only" but that anyone could buy for $100. I couldn't find the original at SomethingAwful.com, but some wonderful person at Retrocrush.com has recreated it for the world to see.
See how the chain of survival works? God speed Tammy.
3. One small step for my mind, one giant leap for all the millions of other minds that live inside my mind...
Another schizophrenic fish attempts to walk on land! Save him!
Designer Bill Dugan, over at his site, has documented another series of outward characteristics of someone in the schizophrenic DNA strain. Apparently he encountered these signs on a road trip in Oklahoma in 1992. Just like above, these highly detailed and fascinatingly cryptic road signs, and their documentation, is akin to the first four limbed creature attempting to walk upright thousands of years ago.
And speaking of...
4. Roly-poly bugs and where they come from
I remember, as a small kid growing up in the Jacques Tati-esque suburbs of Plano, Texas... a large portion of many a spring/summer evening was spent playing with the literally thousands of insects that would collect under the massive fluorescent streetlights at every residential street corner. The circles of light cast onto the hot, white concrete sidewalks under these light fixtures at suburban dusk were like giant petri dishes teaming with chthonic, daemonic nature... profoundly contrasted with the sharp, hard lines of our sanitized urban surroundings.
If you were to look at each streetlight as a "layered" diorama of the natural, starting from the ground and moving upwards, it would go as follows: the first layer on the hot, white sparkling concrete (still warm from the day's sun) were the roly-poly bugs (sometimes called 'potato bugs' or 'pill bugs'), snails and translucent white centipedes that would bravely venture out of the rim between where the sidewalk ended and the manicured trimmed edge of someone's green lawn began, taking chances amongst our shuffling, crushing, sneaker-ed little feet. The next layer in the circle were the beetles known as "junebugs"... with their deep maroon, peanut-like shells from which sticky, softly pointy and clinging legs protruded. These junebugs collected mostly at the base of the light's metal structure... and even made comical attempts to "fly" upwards toward the light with their often inept wings. The next layer was us drooling and screaming kids who came to gawk and play with the bugs (an analogy I'm not even going to touch). The next layer was the metal pole of the streetlight itself... thick and echoing when you hit it... it often had a wagon-train of quiet "daddy longlegs" spiders walking up and down it. And the final layer, above our heads and directly below the beaming head of the lamp... were fluttering moths and gnats. I suppose beyond that layer... in the peripheral circumference... were also smatterings of fireflies.
It was grand, mesmerizing, un-parental supervised, gross fun. The whole complicated circus of bug species were there for us as toys... slime trails, bites, rashes, germs and all. The junebugs' legs and the way they could stick to you was fascinating (I remember many of the girls in our group clamped one to each ear and then paraded around like they were earrings)... and the way the daddy longlegs spiders would quietly dance down the length of your arm, if you could mentally keep yourself from freaking, was a blast. I remember playing tiny "bowling" with the itty bitty rolled up roly-polys (which rolled up into a ball if threatened). It was fun to hold a balled-up roly-poly in your hands and stay really still and watch it's instinctual fear subside as it slowly unfurled and then began to apprehensively crawl around your hand. There was of course the initial fear anyone has of bugs... but, much like drugs later in high school, the peer pressure of seeing your friends having so much fun with them... you soon found yourself sitting there with a big grin on your face as five species of insects festered all over your skin. Of course the whole thing would inevitably end when our parents would call us in the house at the onset of deep night... inside to wash our hands and eat dinner and watch TV and then bed. Considering that at that age you bathed only every couple of nights... god knows what germs we were tracking onto our Star Wars bed sheets... ugh.
Well... as per this recent discussion on the Hinterlands discussion board, it turns out that even though the roly-poly bugs might have been the most endearing of the bunch because if their size and vulnerability and general cute-ness... recent discoveries along the ocean's deep, deep, deepest depths have uncovered a great ancestor to the roly-poly. These giant isopods live under water and are crustaceans (just like the roly-polys... which are not necessarily part of the insect family). Turns out there really is no difference in these giant isopods and the roly-polys we all played with as kids... just size (and living environment). These giant ones roll up into a ball as well... the size of a bowling ball.
Turns out the roly-poly bugs I played with out in the yard before my parents called me back into the house were just kid roly-polys themselves playing on land before their huge-mungous parents called them back into the sea. I'm glad I didn't know all this information back then.
5. Even worse... parasitic isopods who eat the tongues of larger fish and then take the place of the missing tongue
Yep... also in the same isopod family are these little parasites who invade the mouths of large fish, slowly eat the tongues of the fish... then replace the missing tongue with their food and nutrient and taste-mooching bodies for the rest of the fish's life. My head is swimming with so many gossip analogies I don't even think I have enough time in the world to write them all down. Here's a link... oops, I mean, no... here's one. And another.
Why whaddya know... that leads to...
6. The delicious homo-centric news slant of DrudgeReport.com
No the above images are not clips from gay porn films or photo re-enactments of Tom of Finland drawings.
The reason DrudgeReport.com is the loading page on my browser is because I've never seen a gayer slant on the news ever. Stories about Barbara Streisand and Cher and Courtney Love just barely take second place next to important stories about President Bush and world events. And any story with a strange kind-of gay porn fantasy subtext... gets a photo right next to the Pope or Saddam or whoever is at the top of the news. I mean, just like muckraker extraordinaire Matt Drudge himself... I want to know about world events! But ohhhhh... yes... I want to know about that bizarre transsexual silicone pumping party in Miami ...and YES I want to know about Prince William's cheek-y romp in his underwear and... oh YES use that awesome photo from 10 years-ago of Madonna in Victorian drag for the story about her suing Warner Music this week!!! Oh God she look FABULOUS!!! No room? Okay then kick off the story about Bush's speech to the nation...
These three images above, all linked on Drudge's front page, got top billing for almost 24 hours each. They had to do with this story (about a 16 year-old Palestinian boy in the West Bank who had bombs strapped to his strapping young body and was forced by uniformed police in boots and guns to strip to his underwear and crouch down before them in submission) and this story (a college kid was found in his underwear, wrapped in Saran Wrap, tied to a tree and covered in whipped cream and chocolate sauce as part of a hazing stunt by his athletically bodied fraternity brothers).
DrudgeReport.com is a wonderful source of scintillation ...oops, I mean information, I can't start my porning... oops, morning without it. I can't type straight because my hormones are in such a tizzy from the day's world events!
7. Alice through the movie screen - a fake ad for an imaginary product blows me away
KDLab, a "multidisciplinary studio focusing on design, direction and production" has produced a fantastic fake advertisement about an imaginary product, which recently won the Autodesk I-Design award. The fake product, an imagined "iPod 3" - allows users to inhabit virtual realities based on popular movies. If you love film... and love to theorize about the imagined spatial projections and false memories it's images can imprint in our heads... by all means allow this quicktime movie to load into your browser, turn the volume on... and click here and watch this film!!!
Also interested in Stanley Kubrick's films and career? I highly recommend this fine collection of great Kubrick resources and links, provided by Coudal Partners (coudal.com).
8. I watched "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" through (over) the head of Lee Ranaldo
This last weekend I went with a friend to the super pre-fabricated and always spookily empty United Artists Battery Park Stadium 16 movie theater (literally across from 'ground zero') to see the much talked-about Charlie Kaufman/Michel Gondry film "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." While we were sitting in the massive, arena-like and very empty theater on the zillionth floor... waiting for the film to start... in walked Lee Ranaldo and some unidentified woman. Amongst the way too many empty seats... Lee ended up eventually sitting right directly in the seat in front of me. Despite my illustration above, Lee's head was well below my sight line. But nevertheless... I got to watch the entire film through the silhouette of Lee's spiky, salt-and-pepper hair. Being a huge fan of Sonic Youth... this was of course a huge treat.
I actually enjoyed the film a lot more than I thought I would. It should be noted that I enjoyed, but did not love "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation." I think the New York Times summed my feeling about those films exactly when it sad (referring to 'Sunshine...'); "You respect the inventiveness of them, but don't love the films..." or something like that. I found "Eternal Sunshine..." on the other hand to be a damn fine film. I respected the inventiveness and also enjoyed the film immensely. The film is subtle and weirdly mind-blowing... and is all about the value of memories and how they shape your perception. I found if to be far and above "...Malkovich" and "Adaptation" and I would recommend the film to anyone. Jim Carrey, whom I've always found kind of annoying... was almost unnoticeable as his celebrity self, which I think means he did a great acting job.
Part of the end of the film, which shows two characters deciding to get romantically involved while audio tapes play in the background of them being interviewed about when they dated previously (and had the memory of said relationship erased) in which they venomously spout everything they grew to hate about the other one, is brilliant (don't worry I didn't give anything away). The film also has very simple and ingenious dream-like images which it achieves with very subtle and hardly noticeable CGI graphics.
It was really interesting to watch a film that had so many weird similarities to a Lee Ranaldo spoken word/noise piece... over the top of Lee Ranaldo himself. The film dealt with dreamy memories and how we perceive them and how they shape our reality... a common theme in Lee's work (I'm thinking of 'Notebook' from his Amarillo Ramp: for Robert Smithson CD, much of Dirty Windows and the entire Outside My Window The City Is Never Silent: A Bestiary CD... amongst others). I wonder if Lee liked the film or not?
9. Sonic Youth's forthcoming new album "Sonic Nurse" - out in June, 2004
Out in early June of this year. Produced by Richard Hell (sort of but not really). Cover by Richard Prince (really - from his recent paintings based on 60's pulp romance novels about nurses). According to sources, the LP is longer and more complex than, but nevertheless a natural extension of, their previous album "Murray Street." Thurston has said in interviews that it's a cross between Fleetwood Mac's "Bare Trees," and Black Flag's "Jealous Again." Track listing is:1. Pattern Recognition (6:45, voc: Kim)
2. Unmade Bed (3:57, voc: Thurston)
3. The Dripping Dream (8:00, voc: Thurston)
4. Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Creme (5:20, voc: Kim, w/ barely-there backing vocals by Lee)
- title was changed from "Mariah Carey and..." due to copyright infringement
5. Stones (7:10, voc: Thurston)
6. Dude Ranch Nurse (5:57, voc: Kim)
7. New Hampshire (5:17, voc: Thurston)
8. Paper Cup Exit (5:57, voc: Lee)
9. I Love You Golden Blue (7:00, voc: Kim)
10. Peace Attack (6:08, voc: Thurston)
10. I'm re-reading Chaim Potok's "My Name is Asher Lev"
I'm re-reading Chaim Potok's excellent book "My Name is Asher Lev" ...again! I found this spanking old copy at a used bookstore in Brooklyn, oddly on a street that is a repeated setting in the book. I have probably read this book about eight times now. I think it's spectacular. It has one of the most beautiful closing paragraphs of any book I know (but you have to read the entire book to understand it's context).
Mark Allen's Top Four for March 8th, 2004:
1. Tonight, Dear Readers... It's Going To Be All About Not Being All About Me.
You know, lover, according to my web statistics... hits to my website have been climbing steadily since January.
I was going to write in this week's "Top Ten" all about me, again. I was going to tell you some things about myself, I was going to not tell you some things about myself... but then... I looked out my window and saw a pigeon lovingly commingling with a rat in a sort of inter-species dance of forbidden love, and I said to myself; "I love my readers" We BELONG together! I LOVE you. Each and every one of you. So tonight dear readers... let's put everything aside. I want to know and thank and caress and LOVE each and every one of you. I don't want any precious microsecond wasted on ME. I want to know all about YOU as I sit here and type on this HTML page that doesn't allow you to communicate in any way, shape or form with me. That's right. Tonight, dear readers... it's going to be all about not being all about me.
I love you. Each and every one of you who are reading this right now. Do you know what it is to be loved? Do you? Have you ever felt the warm glowing touch of someone whom you admire nonjudgementally braising the back of your neck with their breath as you sit in front of a computer screen? Have you ever felt the toxic warmth of a CPR dummy's plastic lips that have been manually warmed in microwave to simulate body-warmth realism? Have you ever felt the loving vibes of fingertips that have traced down your boyfriend-who-lives-upstate's phone number and that continually call him and hang up? I have... and it feels wonderful. And now it's time to give back. You're the only person in the world who really understands me. That's right, YOU. YOU who are reading this right now. Whatever your name is... I'm sure you have a million individual names. A million different faces. A multiple amount of personalities.
Pull up a pillow. Shhhhhh... hush hush hush. Don't worry. Now fluff up that pillow. Go ahead... punch it. HARDER! Now... isn't that better? Let's just sit here in front of the fire on this snowy night and I'll tell you all about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke. Oh but wait... no... that's right, I want to hear from YOU. It will show how much I LOVE each and every one of you. My READERS. My LOVERS. Boy... if Jim ever got jealous about me writing about other guys (and girls)... well he's gonna go ballistic tonight. But hush... hush, hush, hush.... put his gorgeous face and body, winning personality, superior intellect, Hollywood smile and big punching-your-face fists OUT OF YOUR MIND. Because this is all about you...
I just don't know where to start. I want to listen to everything. I want to hear all about you... everything.
You know, in Martin Scorsese's excellent film "The King of Comedy" ...the Robert Deniro character of Rupert Pupkin (who wants desperately to appear on 'The Jerry Langford Show' as a stand-up comedian) has a giant black and white blow-up photograph of the Jerry Langford in-studio audience on the wall of his Brooklyn basement apartment. He stands in front of it... his imaginary friends... fans... and rehearses his act. Sometimes I picture this same exact scenario when I am sitting in front of my computer and writing on my website. A sea of looking faces, little personality-less dots growing daily by the web statistics meter. Me talking to them all as a whole.
In "The King of Comedy", the photo mural on Pupkin's wall has peculiar characteristics according to how close you are standing to it. Seen from afar... his fans as a mass audience seem like a friendly, loving bunch, swooning admirer's filled with LOVE. But... when Scorsese's camera pulls in close up on an individual in the crowd photo... their grainy, caught-in-mid-guffaw, photographed face looks kind of... distorted, twisted, monsterous... frightening even. From a distance the crowd fills Pupkin with pride... but up close... on the one-on-one basis, as if he were to meet each one on a personal basis, the fan looks terrifying and scary.
As a group, you look great... up close you look crazy. Isn't love crazy?
I love you.
Context is NOT meaning and meaning is NOT context! No! No! Stop saying that!!! Oh you can be so cruel... but sometimes you hurt the one you love. But enough with the analogies and sweet sentiments. I don't want some kind of fantasy relationship with you, something based on a movie. I want a REAL relationship with you.
I want my image of you to be big enough to where if I look at your individual head, I can see your expression clearly. I like looking at your face frozen in mid-laughter, seizure or orgasm. People look funny that way. It makes them look silly and I end up feeling superior... which is how I think you should feel about an audience of people that are paying undivided attention to you; that they rely on you for their happiness and you are their superior.
So come on... let me get my video camera out in our imaginary room here in front of a fire on a snowy night. Let me back up a bit and look through the camera's viewfinder at you. Ohhhhh... you look great. Let me capture your face unawares, in mid-stride... when you think I'm not looking. Oh that's good... make a face like you just stepped on a tack. BRILLIANT! You look hideous... I feel great. Oh you really DID step on a tack? Oh I must have accidentally placed those there on purpose two minutes ago and forgotten about it. I'm sorry. How could I do that to one of my readers? My fans? Tonight... my LOVER? Just put it out of your hilarious little head. Go ahead and make another face... no a more embarrassing one. That's right... that puddle by the potted plant in the corner is electrified. I'm sorry I must have lied when I told you it wasn't. Oh that's a great face. Now twitch. You look great on camera and I feel fabulous. Entertain me...
I don't mean to torture you into entertaining me. Come here. Let me turn off the camera... let's sit in front of the fire again... in embrace. Let me rub Neosporin on your burns. I NEED you tonight READERS. I LOVE you! Each and every one of you! Not just the whole... but the grainy, twisted and distorted photograph of the individual. You look so good in close-up. Closer... closer... crawling... closer... ever closer...
Don't let my love for you cast me into a maelstrom of ambivalence that ultimately thrusts me into a black hole of irrelevance. And in turn, don't let your love for me cast you into a black hole of irrelevance that ultimately thrusts you into a maelstrom of ambivalence. Tonight... let's reverse the roles...
I don't want to spend another night in my apartment, in the dark because I'm too poor to afford blinds and too proud to put up a sheet or tin foil over the windows... fumbling around the room, my headphones on, listening to old Carpenters tapes, gulping down French Pastis 51 (minus the recommended 5 to 1 water alcohol ratio)... crying tears of rage as I crash my outstretch arms through my computer screen to try and embrace you. So now that you're really here let me caress your wounds with my bandaged hands.... shhhhh.... shhhhh...
You don't think this is funny? C'mon... laugh at what I write! God knows I laugh when I read what you write! Oh... oh I'm sorry... that just slipped out. Put it out of your mind. Just knock it right out of your skull.
I knew you and me would end up in front of the fire like this together... alone... eventually. It was destiny. Like the way you subconsciously plan a big dump for later as you are sitting down to a huge meal. I knew it would come to this.
I feel like getting to know you right here and now is like... like... like a, oh... I don't know. Like a cornucopia full of the fresh fruit of newness and experience! I feel like the unseen little cranberry all the way at the back of that giant cornucopia... the one way, way, way at the back... smashed up inside that pointy little inside way at the rear, while all the big, picturesque fruit that is YOU gets to sprawl out the front... all seen and beautiful. By the time they see me, I'll be a little maroon raisin... but it's not about me. It's about YOU! You BANANA! You MELON!!!
I get so tense when I think about not being with you. I start to think I'm going CRAZY! Why if the knots in my back got any knottier I could make macramé outta them. Why I could even make a little hanging plant thing outta them and hang a little fern plant inside it's bloody, sinewy, knotted craftiness... just hanging next to my desk right here as I type... dripping blood onto the keyboard. You mace me... opps, I mean make me so happy.
I was thinking of changing the title of my website from MarkAllenCam.com to "My American Cousin"... but, I don't want to make you wait in the hallway right outside my balcony seats all night... I want you front and center... under the spotlight. Right here in front of me. IN LOVE and TOGETHER ...ONE-ON-ONE.
I just can't put into words how I feel about you. Yes YOU. YOU the person reading this right now! My feelings are ineffable! You've caused me to have contralateral neglect of my own heart, and that's okay. My anosagnosia of my own heart has caused constructional apraxia of an adequate ego loop in my quest to deduce a healthy life plan... which now suffers from crippling acalculia. The way you gaze into my eyes is giving me optic ataxia!
I think getting to know you will stop me from looking over my shoulder and having to go to that court building downtown to get so many restraining orders. The judge tells me that if I show up one more time to get a fake restraining order against a stalker who doesn't really exist he's gonna get a restraining order against me! But what does he know. He's not YOU. Please don't restrain yourself from me as I hold you in front of the fireplace and listen to you talk about you... everything must be in order. Me giving and YOU taking. That's it.
Sometimes I tell that angry judge downtown that maybe I'll start walking around Manhattan wearing a motorcycle helmet. Just in case someone wants to bash me over the head somewhere on the streets of Manhattan. You know in the early 90's there was some woman who lived around St. Mark's Place who always walked around outside with a white motorcycle helmet with a black opaque face guard over her head. She was quite the talk of the town, yet in turn she never talked to anyone (how could one hear her?). No one could figure out who she was or why she wore that helmet 24/7 outside. Maybe, just maybe... she was me in the future... coming back through time to give me glimpses of my own tomorrow as I walk around the city protecting myself from the waves of love I know you all have for me.
Maybe I'll compliment my survival/helmet look with an aluminum baseball bat. I'm sure one of the Latin kids in my neighborhood will loan me one of theirs. That way I can walk around New York feeling really confident. Last year I walked all over New York in my Ultimate Disguise and no one was the wiser! No one dared approach me! Maybe I'll gussy-up my helmet and baseball bat look with a Vampire cape and fake handlebar mustache. I'll put the mustache on the outside of the face guard. Wouldn't that be cute? Maybe you can wear one too. Imagine the two of us... sitting in front of the fire... both wearing our motorcycle helmets, bopping each other gently on the heads with our baseball bats. The video camera rolling, the electrified puddle of water in the corner, tacks on the floor. They say true love comes from things you aren't expecting. Like a black bat flying around in the sunny daytime... or a levitating taco. It's unexpected!
I like the motorcycle helmet idea here in front of the fire. Lautréamont says "Wolves and lambs look not on one another with bedroom eyes" and tonight it couldn't be truer. Let's keep the helmets on.
I feel so impulsive right now. I feel like anything can happen. Now that it's just you and me in front of the fire. I just want to take all my clothes off and dance around the room in my helmet... swinging my baseball bat at you like a pinata... trying to burst open your sweet candy insides. I really just want to let go with you. I want to have FUN. I want to LOSE CONTROL. I want the impossible to occur. I want to be BLACK.
My doctor says "No Mark you can't have fun! You need to be in control!" but you know what I LIKE being in control! Tonight I want to be out of control! Wouldn't you just love to see me outta my head!? I know I'd love to see me OUTTA MY HEAD!!! WOULDN'T THAT BE GREAT!!!!?!?!?!? WOULDN'T THAT BE FABULOUS!?!???!?!?!?
I'm really having fun here tonight with you. Fun is my middle name.
Boy I really worked up a sweat dancing around the room nude in my motorcycle helmet and swatting the bat all around myself in jittery terror over you. But you have that effect on me... dead... oops, dear reader. Lover. Let me sit down in front of the hot fire and cool myself off. A blanket? For me? From you? Why thanks! And rope too? Why thank you. A blindfold and mouth gag and Diet Coke with rohypnol ? Oh stop!
You know... we may sit here all night in front of the fire and play little games and you may tie me up knock me unconscious and transport me to a shallow grave somewhere buried alive three feet under the ground with a tiny straw sticking out of the ground that I can breath through while you are watching me miles away from a live video feed... but let's face the facts. Can two people EVER TRULY get to know each other? To you... I'm but a tiny little white dot floating off in the distance of cyberspace. I'm a minuscule man desperately treading water on the surface of a vast, vast ocean. An immeasurably gargantuan ocean so many miles wide it STILL cannot come close to representing that gap that keeps me so far from you and you so far from me... yet, draws us closer, closer with every passing second. I'm just treading water here in the most remote area of the Atlantic ocean. I'm a microscopic blip undulating on a piece of driftwood being gently rocked by the sea's shapeless surface... for beneath me lies a dark and mysterious sea... so many miles deep and wide and black and bottomless... I am a mere dust speck on it's grand, dark, galactic universe. Who knows what icy peril and nefarious creatures await beneath my freezing feet as I cling to my driftwood... every moment that I fight to survive, saying to myself "just a few more seconds... just a few more strokes of my aching and frozen hands and feet to keep me above the surface... just one minute more of life..." Every moment that I repeat that to myself, who knows what slithering, black-eyed creature awaits beneath the surface to pluck my feet off at whim. My feet are so numb in this frozen ocean... perhaps it has already happened and I just don't feel it. Is the malicious creature... it's hideous mouth with it's frieghtening, shredding teeth several hundred miles beneath my dangling feet? Or a few inches? Do I have seconds? Minutes? Hours? A lifetime? I put on a chattering grimace and pray to God that everything will be okay. They say that bearing a hopeful disposition in a land that has you whipped is a sign that you are praying to the gods in your own head... the last refuge of a scoundrel. The logistical dimensions and dark vortices of such a lightness and oxygen-less abyss like the one below my feet are a mystery to me. The monsters that could possibly do me terrifying peril, on a mere whim, are navigating within a cognitive reality that is known instinctively to them only. They hold all power, as all information is at their disposal. I do not know... I'm like a desperate beggar with a smile on my face... hoping, despite all evidence to the contrary, that everything will be okay. YOU are the one in control. What I don't know about you leaves me making unwise or desperate decisions.
If you were to draw a picture of how I see it all, it would look something like this. Of course... from your perspective... it looks like this.
2. Wallace Langham on NBC's "The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels'" (9PM est, 3/8/04 - tonight!)
I have learned that when writing about artists or celebrities that you admire, it's best not to use phrases with words that might incriminate you later in court when you arrested for stalking. In other words, don't say things like "When Wallace Langham is going to be on TV tonight, I am going to be so motionless on my couch as I tune in... I'll look like a corpse!" or even worse; "If I had to be somewhere else tonight when Wallace Langham is going to be on TV tonight, I would remove my eyeballs and tape them to my TV screen while I'm away so I don't miss on single second!" Not using murderous and torturous words like this can make all the difference in you explaining to the jury that you just happened to be jogging in Mr. Langham's alley and you tripped over his trash cans and got trapped in them for a few hours and that NO you were not digging through his trash! So I promise NOT to use words like "corpse" and "remove some eyeballs" and "spine-severingly brilliant" or even "comedy that will break and enter into your funny bone!" while talking about Wallace Langham's performance as agent Jay Bernstein tonight on NBC's TV dramatization of the drama surrounding the TV show "Charlie's Angels." Heeeeeyyyy.... maybe I should get a job writing those little movie review quote blurbs for movie posers!
The totally excellent Wallace Langham appears this Monday (3/8/04) on NBC's snazzy and trashy TV movie "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels'" playing Jay Bernstein (a legendary/notorious agent and career strategist for many 70's mega-stars, and the man responsible for turning Farrah Fawcett into a marketable icon). Langham is actually reprising his Bernstein role, as he played him last year on the same network's "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Three's Company'" (Bernstein also managed Suzanne Sommers).
I think I'm obsessed with Wallace Langham's craft and career in the same way that people become obsessed with actors like Christopher Walken, Crispen Glover and Don Knotts. He's a hysterically unique comic actor with a really surreal screen presence ...when he's on screen you can't help but notice him because he stands out so much. I wish he was in more stuff. He's had a long career in some big films and some small ones (I highly recommend checking out his bizarre performance in 'The Chocolate War') and mostly he's known for television (his role on the renowned 'Larry Sanders Show' is of course great). In a film or TV show, if there's a really odd character in a production, too edgy or creepy... he'll be the one who takes the part. In the movie "Soul Man" he played a white college kid who did nothing but tell racist jokes to his friends all day long. Every time the camera cut to him it was all "Hey everybody, how many blacks does it take..." and of course he got his ass kicked in the end. On the otherwise typical sitcom "Veronica's Closet" he played an ingenious character who was gay and everybody knew it but him, which of course had lots of comic potential. I tune into "C.S.I." almost every Thursday just to see him in his odd, small, semi-weekly role as David Hodges, a disliked lab technician who's always putting his foot in his mouth. It's the most mesmerizing 30 seconds of each episode. Strange, effective, memorable performaces of really edgy characters seems to be his specialty... intentionally or not.
I get quite a few emails about my embarrassingly obsessive "Wallace Langham Daydream", from people asking me when I'm going to finish it (I have the whole thing in my head, I just have to type it out... it gets really wacky and surreal by the end). Some people email and tell me they like him as well and wonder why he isn't in more stuff, etc. ...he definitely has fans. I actually have received two separate emails from people saying that they though Langham would have been perfect in the role of Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant's much talked about remake of "Psycho."
I feel kind of bad because I did a Google search for Langham recently and my "...Langham Daydream" piece pops up as one of the top links. So anyone who wants to look him up on the web eventually stumbles upon my gonzo ravings of a madman. Oh well... I hope it somehow gets him more recognition.
I'll be tunnel vision-ly tuned into my rabbit-ear antenna-ed TV this Monday (March 8th - today!) on NBC at 9pm EST and will probably have a relapse in my obsession and start going to the video stores and hunting down his old movies to watch (again). My friends at Kim's Video joked that they are going to make a Wallace Langham section in the store just for me. Good. It will be more evidence for the jury in stalking court that NO it wasn't me and that YES, it could have been another one of his fans that rang his doorbell in an ill-fitting Girl Scout disguise with a camera hidden in the wig, trying to sell him cookies and take secret pictures of his foyer. It very well could have been ANOTHER person in what appears to be a small, growing Wallace Langham cult following.
3. Bill Morrison's film "Decasia" (2002)
I remember when I was a kid, I was watching that old kid's TV show "Zoom" (boy I'm giving away my age here). They had one "arts and crafts" section of the show where they would always stand there in front of the camera in their striped shirts and bellbottom jeans and make some wacky art thing together and then fall all over each other complimenting each other's work. I remember even as a second grader, sitting there on the living room floor watching and going "Uhhh..." Anyway, on one show, they came up with this idea to get blank roles of 8mm film that had been developed so they were totally clear. They then pulled the film off the spoils and drew all over the frames with colored felt markers. Just scribbled patters all along the long spools of plastic. They let them dry, then rolled them back onto the spools, turned out the lights, and projected the drawn-on film through a projector. You can imagine the results... scribbling frenzied colored lines popping and wavering all over the place in a psychedelic strobe pattern. They all sat there watching each other's drawn-on film going "Ohhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhhh!" and telling each other how "pretty" each other's was. Then I think they started complimenting each other in that "yubba dubba frubba" language I could never get the hang of. It seemed like a good idea for kids to do, but the end result was terrible! They all looked the same! No one tried to do anything to their drawn on film that took any creative effort at all. They just scribbled away. I remember sitting there in my Batman pajamas, watching the whole derivative spectacle, my mom handing me Pop Tarts and reminding me I had to get on the school bus for 2nd grade homeroom in 20 minutes and I scowled and yelled at the TV screen in between bites of chocolate frosting pastry "Stan Brakhage was doing that 20 years ago you stupid MORONS!!!"
OK that never really happened.
A friend recently loaned me a DVD copy of Bill Morrison's experimental film "Decasia" (2002). Morrison compiled the film from a warehouse of abandoned black and white stock footage discovered in a high state of decay. Many of the rolls of film had melted, the emulsion had done strange things, the film had warped, mold had set in, whole sections were flaked or falling apart. He somehow was able to spool them through a projector and piece them together enough to show what they look like now when treated like normal film. He set the whole thing to a *totally brilliant* score by Michael Gordon (a 55-pieced basel sinfonietta littered with de-tuned instruments, intentionally off-kilter timing and treated pianos). Sound boring? I thought so too. That is until... one night when I couldn't sleep, I looked up on my shelf and saw the DVD case. I had avoided watching it because I thought it would remind me of that "Zoom" episode that traumatized me over twenty years ago.
I was surprisingly blown away. Fifteen minutes into the picture, which I watched with all the lights out, I was propped up in my bed staring into the screen with my eyes slightly squinted and my mouth open, totally rapt. In this day and age when computers can do almost anything to film and video, and kids on a TV show can scribble magic marker onto film and totally rip off Stan Brakhage, it turns out that nobody can alter film emulsion in the way that nature can. I can honestly say I've never seen anything like this. Oh yes, the film (70 minutes long) is far from perfect... parts of it drag, but these only seem to be padding for the most mind-scrambling parts. Odd footage of 20's flappers siphon off and bleed onto the edges of the screen like they're getting sucked into a black hole, footage of parachuting soldiers dropping slowly in a field is spotted and ripped to the point where it looks as if they are dropping into a landscape of hundreds of atomic bombs constantly going off, footage of a man walking through a field bubbles and wavers like he's underwater, seizure-inducing flashes of emulsion decay bombard your eyeballs and resemble a Japanese watercolor landscape eventually giving way to footage of a camera slowly panning across a Japanese landscape. All set to Gordon's apocalyptic and spellbinding score... the film is nightmarish, mesmerizing, sensory overloaded, and may give you seizures (the DVD box actually says 'WARNING: This film is not recommended for individuals prone to photosensitive seizures').
I highly recommend this picture if you're in the mood to watch what is a really good interpretation of a waking human fever dream and have your subconscious pummeled and your neural floodgates gush out all over the floor. It will confuse that survivalist gland in your mind that makes you always forget your dreams the next morning so you don't remember their surreal nature as a real memory and go insane.
It turns out that Brakhage and the Zoom kids can draw and manipulate film all they want and it remains a interesting oddity. But if you let the naturally chaotic events of the universe itself alter film emulsion without being touched by the hands of man... the watched results can change from a conceptual pose to a totally mind-bending, ineffable, brain-blower. Proving that nature is the greatest deconstructualist of all. OK I know that argument has as many holes in it as the film Morrison used. Brakhage worked a lot with letting film's emulsion decay naturally (and his work is undeniably phenomenal), and Morrison did edit this "Decasia" stuff together and have it brilliantly scored, and parts of it are dull. Nevertheless... I recommend "Decasia" watched with the lights out and the volume turns all the way up. Especially if you are prone to seizures. I'm sure places like Kim's video in NYC will have it, check the "experimental" section. It's right next to the "Wallace Langham" section.
4. "Mark... Sam Stern's website is down, do you know what he's up to these days?"
Why yes! I do! I also get a lot of emails from people asking me what Sam Stern is up to, since his brilliant site is down. Well here is the update: he still lives in California, he is going to grad school for writing and now working sometimes as a massage therapist, he was doing a mind-seeringly wacky radio show on campus for a while, he had bleached blond dreadlocks for a period, he is always looking for a girlfriend, he loves to appear mysteriously under different pseudonyms and characters in unknown places from time to time, he produced and recorded his "What Ever Happened To You?" CD that I told you about here (#2), he may be working with Ashley Blue on a film documentary about girls in the porn industry, and he has a lot of other projects he is working on. And there's even more! Let me just let his email explain it all to you... how? By showing you his latest email (we correspond from time to time and the emails are often long and rambling, so in the interest of space just this latest one from him will suffice):From: Sam Stern
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2004 14:01:31 -0800 (PST)
To: Mark Allen
Subject: Re: Hello from Mark
I have my next documentary project set. In a nutshell, it's going to be me and ten girls in a hotel room - the last girl to fall asleep is going to win a thousand dollars. I am meeting with applicants now . . . most are agreeing to appear at least partially nude, or in their undies. Is that sexist? Who cares. I am including some ugly people. I have been watching the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis, trying to get my exploitation covered. It is a large body of work though. And I am just beginning.
I also am working on a comic book -documentary on the males of the porn industry. It's going to be short - 18 pages or so - and formatted a la a zine. I'm going to call it "Woodsman's Digest, #1" and I think it's going to be neat. It's going to be a hit! I know that much. I 'll send you some stuff as i go . . .
Here's a photo of me (above). My blonde dreadlocks are gone. This is from early 03 - but whatever. If I find some newer photos i'll send those along . . . take care.
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