Mark Allen's Top Six for November 29th, 2004:


1. Resistance is futile!
    My name is Mark Allen and I am a Cheez Doodle-aholic.
    They say the first thing you loose is your dignity...
    I have a drug problem and I'm willing to admit it. The plastic bag above contains this drug that I am shamefully addicted to... that I keep running down to my street to purchase every day, even though I tell myself I won't. The drug actually looks like little rocks, appropriately. It's lure over me is like a cackling, hideous bitch goddess... raising me high up inside a bubble of endorphins, only to prick that bubble with her long fingernail and send me tumbling down again... laughing all the while. Still I go running back for more. It's crinkling cellophane wrapper is like a siren call to me. It's hold over me is sick... depraved... made for the deepest recesses of one's closet (behind the skeletons).
    I keep telling myself that it's under control... but in my most tear-wrought, teeth-gnashing, hair-pulling moments... I know I am deeply mired in some stage that is probably documented in some twelve-step program somewhere, if there even is a category for such a thing.
    Oh what bleak futureworld is this?! Oh what an ironically hideous new world we live in! What other sick mutations do our "modern" fast food technologies have in store for us? BRING ME THE HEAD OF RAY KROC!!!
    The drug I am at war with is a cheap "food" product called "Cheez Doodles." Made in Berwick, Pennsylvania by the Wise corporation, it is shipped all over the country in 99 cent bags. The "crunchy" version of Cheez Doodles are my poison of choice (the 'puffed' version is a far inferior version, and does not posses the same properties - it may even be a placebo). Cheez Doodles are made of a dough-like substance, fried into these weird little crisp, crunchy, elongated little formations that look like little versions of the clubs that prehistoric cavemen always carried while saying one-liners in those black and white cartoons in The New Yorker magazine (which were often about prehistoric cavemen if I remember correctly).
    Or maybe Cheez Doodles look more like miniature versions of those fake boulders used on the set of the Sid & Marty Krofft show "Land of the Lost" - especially because they seem to be the same color of orange that was used often by their drug-crazed set designers. The powder covering the amorphously crunchy turd globs is velvet-like in consistency, like the slightly greasy caked substance found on the bottom end of a Revlon compact - if you were to dig your fingernails into it and start devouring it like some madman. It is an un-Godly orange, and is a combination of "real cheese" and salt and a bunch of other chemicals (some thiamin hydrochloride anyone?) This gives the product a very, very, very intense taste.
    Each odd-shaped rock Cheez Doodle has all kinds of crevices and tight spots and looser, wide surfaces.. like a complex meteorite or a cloud, and the cheese-flavored powder collects in different degrees on each one, causing a variety of shades. Each one is different... no two are alike... and each seems to be a universe unto itself. Needless to say, the irregularity of each one, combined with the difference in shades of orange, leads me to think I can actually "see" things in them ...like the way you start to see faces on a plaster wall when you zone out and stare at it.
    I wonder what other kinds of Rorschach foods there are? None beats Cheez Doodles.
    Trust me, I know all this because I have spent a lot of time looking at Cheez Doodles. Once I saw one that I thought was an exact creation of what George Clooney would look like if he lived to be 1,000 years old. Another time I saw one that looked like that famous painting of George Washington crossing that icy river in that boat with all the people... except all the people in the boat had become different versions of The Thing from The Fantastic Four. I crunch-ily destroyed both of these specimens in my eager, frenzied jaws, immediately after close examination.
    The packaging of the product is very clever. They use the same color scheme that hardcore porn companies use on the covers of their videos and DVDs. Gaudily splashed with eyeball-searing hues, the package pulls a pretty interesting optical illusion on the unsuspecting eye. It saves the brightest color on an already retina-popping design for the actual food itself... which you can see through the clear window on the front - it stands out in screaming contrast. And if you are familiar with the product's taste... this is what draws you in. Seeing the color. It sends a signal to your brain.
    Remember William Hurt's character in "Altered States"? In one of those scenes where he was glowing a million different luminous colors and radiating energy and shape-shifting form all at once? All writhing and yelling and glowing while banging around in the hallway? If he were to urinate during one of those bodily transformations, this is the color that his pee would be. Radioactive orange. It is a healthy plutonium shade of unearthly-ness.
    A lot of people don't realize that foods that taste good to you, especially fatty, salty, luscious foods... are actually triggering a primal brain chemical reaction in your body. It's not just certain types of food hitting your tongue and you being like "...oh that tastes so good!"  It's all about endorphins and chemicals swarming around your brain. The reason you love to eat fatty, salty, cheesy, sumptuous foods is because every time that substance hits your tongue... immediately you gray matter becomes immersed in hormones that tell your motor functions; "Yes! Yes! Eat more" - this is a left over from evolution, it's an instinct for survival. It's the same signal that tells a cougar to keep eating alive a baby gazelle that is screaming in horror. It will make it survive. We still have this strong process in our bodies, even though we have evolved as a species far, far away from the primal, carnivorous animal. But the trigger is still there. This is why you see so many women on the upper east side walking around eating frozen yogurt out of those little cups with those little spoons... with looks on their faces like they've been transported back to the bliss of the womb. They're addicted to that feeling.
    Companies that try to manufacture fat-free foods should study cooking with neuroscience, not cooking with chemical additives. Actually, they probably already do that.
    I guess I'm going off on tangents because I'm having a hard time facing up to my addiction to Cheez Doodles. So anyway... here I am, craving bag after bag after bag of Cheez Doodles. I'm up to one bag a day. No... I'm not joking. The other day I emptied my kitchen trash bag and spied what must have been at least five or six crumpled-up empty Cheez Doodle bags. I always eat them alone, and if anyone confronts me about my Cheez Doodle consumption, I lie. I often eat them to escape reality (the brain endorphin rush they cause is quite intense).
    Wise brand Cheez Doodles sell for much cheaper than the popular Cheetos brand... which is much more expensive and widely popular. The Wise company (which makes a wide variety of cheaply-priced snack foods) has made a shrewd marketing move in keeping the price on this package low. The portion is quite large. The bag is 10" tall and about 6" wide.
    The top of the stack of Cheez Doodles inside the package reaches just to the top of the clear window - the rest is air. Typical, but the product is so dense, and there is so much of it (way, way more than a single serving bag), and it packs together tightly (like pieces in a Tetris game). If you're looking for fried dough in the shapes of little caveman clubs, with nuclear orange powder all over them, you definitely get your money's worth here, if not more.
    The bag's size is oddly uncategorizable too. It sits somewhere between the size of a giant bag of crunchy Cheetos (which would sell for about $3.50), and a small-serving bag of the same brand (which would be 99 cents). The package is so weird in size that it's portions inside are really unclassifiable, and this ambiguity leaves interpretation wide open. Is it single serving or family size? It's as confusing as trying to figure out if Danny Divito is a midget or not. You can eat the entire Wise brand in one sitting and still keep reminding yourself that it's a small portion because it's kind of close to the small size bag of Cheetos... even in price.
    The Wise brand is also much greasier and I think even saltier than Cheetos. I don't know why I like it better, despite it being an "inferior" product by traditional consumer standards.
    It's kind of like the Latin "La Salle" brand of ice cream that they sell in the delis in my very Latin-heavy neighborhood. LA Salle ice cream is to Ben & Jerry's as Wise Cheez Doodles are to Cheetos.
    I may as well admit that I am developing an addiction to La Salle ice cream as well. It sells for only $1.99 for the same-sized container that Ben & Jerry's comes in (which is almost $5 now in any Manhattan deli)... and I feel the La Salle ice cream is far superior to Ben & Jerry's. They make certain Latin-ish flavors like Dolce de Leche... which is dark vanilla ice cream swirled with hot fudge and caramel and bits of crunchy brown sugar... I mean a lot of caramel... like an oil spill - oh my God is it good. Ben & Jerry's makes nothing like it.
    I sometimes will buy one of those tall little bags of salted peanuts and pour it into the Dolce de Leche ice cream after is has melted a little bit, and then mix it all together and sit on my couch and pretend to watch TV as I looked down at the swirling mass of ice cream and caramel and salty peanuts as I spin my spoon around and around the cardboard cylinder... anticipating the moment I will begin to devour it. I imagine it's the same way a spider probably feels as it looks down at it's newly captured prey while furiously enshrouding it in a spinning a web ...anticipating the moment when it will soon suck out it's juices.
    All for $1.99! Can you believe that? The "$1.99" is even part of the design on the package... so you KNOW that's what you are going to pay for it!
    The La Salle brand also makes this amazing cherry vanilla flavor... which is cherry ice cream that is literally loaded with gobs of cherries (you know, those kind of marinated ones). Eating it is this fantastic experience... kind of crunchy and gooey, the whole thing the color of Pepto Bismol. I recently tried Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia flavor to compare... and was shocked at how bland and tasteless it was compared to La Salle's cherry vanilla - which is like this sensual explosion of cheapness and intensity.
    Where was I?
    Oh yea... my unhealthy addiction to Wise brand Cheez Doodles. So anyway... like I said, I am literally to the point where I am eating one bag of these a day. Yep. I'll admit it. That's how addicted I am. The other day I actually woke up in the morning and started craving them immediately, like... for breakfast or something. This was before I'd even had coffee. Would they be so bad for breakfast? Would they?
    I have a massage client who is also addicted to them. One day we were laughing and sharing stories about our struggle. I joked that during his next session, since his face is down in one of those doughnut-shaped head rest cushion things on my table... I should attach an open bag of Cheez Doodles onto the bottom of it, like a horse feed bag. While he is getting his massage he could then eat the bag of Cheez Doodles... maybe even sucking the ones on the bottom up with a big straw or something. He said it would be the ultimate massage for him. We laughed and laughed at the joke. At least I think we were joking.
    When I eat at fancy restaurants, I'm almost disappointed when they bring me a big, gleaming white plate with a $35 steak on it... I almost wish the chef would open a bag of Cheez Doodles and pile them onto my plate and the crisply-dressed waiter would sashay it out to my table and place it in front of me and everyone would go "Aaahhh!" Magnificent!
    I don't know what's in this product, but it has otherworldly powers. The powers to mutate cells and transform living beings! There are squirrels in my neighborhood that will literally walk up to you on the sidewalk and stare up at you looking for food. One day I fed one of these squirrels one of these Cheez Doodle things and the next time I saw this squirrel it jumped right onto my face and started clawing away for more. It was actually screaming the words "Cheez Doodle!" in a tiny, high-pitched, raspy voice. I still have the scars to prove this incident!
    If the deli in my neighborhood that I usually get my Cheez Doodles from runs out, I literally ask the guy behind the counter when their next shipment will arrive... which I then mark on my calendar. The guys that work down there see me go in there every day and buy them. One day, when they were obviously out of them, and I was shuffling through all the other bags of chips and stuff in a sort of low-key panic. This one guy that works there (that doesn't speak a word of english) said out loud "Don't wooorrriieee... we out but weee have lots moooore cheeessies fooor yooou!" He literally talks like Speedy Gonzolas. When I looked up to ask what day they would have more "cheesies" for me, as if I wasn't mock-worthy enough all ready, I saw that this guy had a huge shit-eating grin on his face (as did his friend standing next to him, also looking at me). And this guy doesn't even speak english at all! He was able to say that phrase as if this is something all the english-speaking employees taught him to say. Like they all mock me for my addiction when I'm not in there. I'm the neighborhood Cheez Doodle-addicted joke. Bastards.
    Am I being paranoid and narcissistic?! NO SIR!! They are the ones with the PROBLEM!!!
    I walked up to the counter, with my head held high, eyelids slightly closed and eyes straight ahead, nose turned slightly upwards... and asked what day they were going to be getting "...more cheesies for me." The guy's smile softened and his friend said "Tuesday." I thanked them both and walked slowly out the door. They're not the boss of me. Cheez Doodles are.
    It was really cold and windy outside. I wandered the empty streets looking for a similar type deli that might stock the Wise brand 99 cent bag of Cheez Doodles. I finally found one a few blocks away. It was one of those places that has products arranged oddly in the front window, and the inventory is really strange... the kind of place that is usually a drug front. I found the wire cage of chips and started looking through it with busy hands and hungry eyes... hoping to spy that familiar blue and yellow.
    After what must have been five minutes of searching... I couldn't believe I did it! I found a bag! I was so excited! They were waaaaay on the bottom, in the back of the last row. The bag was badly crushed, and since it was so near the floor... and exposed at the back of the cage... it looked kind of... dirty, dusty. There was a kind of brown stain that had dried on the bag and was a little crusty.... a stain from the nightly mop? There was also another stain on the bag... this one white like doughnut frosting... but it smelled like Pine Sol and raspberries. It was pretty vile. No... really vile. Hmmmmm... it was also pretty late... I wasn't sure I would be able to find another place open that might have them, or even stock them. This bag might be my last chance.
    I crumpled the old bag in my hand... looking for those tell-tale little holes in the plastic that signified a rat had clawed through the cellophane and munched away. I didn't find any, I don't think. Oh wait... there's one, maybe. Vile.
    I looked inside the package again. The contents were pretty badly damaged, but intact enough to consume. The powder was all still there, even if it was mostly collected at the bottom of the crumpled bag. God knows how long they had been down there at the bottom of the shelf. Especially in a place like this.
    I bought them.
 
 

After Channel 69 closes let's go to Veselka...

2. Resistance is fun!
    I'm usually the annoying turd who plays devil's advocate when people talk about the over commercialization of downtown NYC, and how it's become like a mini-mall and there is very little culture and it's way too expensive now. I usually point out how everything happens in cycles, and that bohemians are always outlaws and change is inevitable and blah blah blah ...and I just keep yapping until someone throws a drink in my face.
    NEVERTHELESS! I cannot underestimate the glorious "Escape From New York"/"Mad Max"/"King of Hearts"-like vibe that was the East Village when I moved here in 1991. The memories of the neighborhood back then, which was literally like the wild west... a bizarre, law-less, dangerous kaleidoscope wonderworld maze filled with excitement, intrigue and hepatitis ...it's adventures will forever be burned into my subconscious. It was like a giant art college campus full of drugged out weirdos who never had to go to class, a Fellini-like "Mortville" version of the Spahn Ranch that was more vivid than your most unrealized, LSD-induced faggy dreams ...and was also your parent's worst nightmare. Living here meant that you might get lynched, tortured, mugged, raped, crucified, disemboweled, framed, enslaved, beheaded, run over, stabbed, burned or poked... but it would have all been worth it. But... even back then there were people in their thirties going to me "Oh it was so much better in the 80's" and I was all "Whaaaa-zaa-whaa?" - so you see? There IS hope!
    Where was I?
    Oh yea... just one of the slivers of beauty in the vast spectrum of intrigue that was downtown NYC back then was a little apocalyptic gay fanzine called MY COMRADE. It was waaaaay ahead of the curve and was totally subversive and hysterical. It existed outside the hollow mainstream that Outweek sort of wanted to be and Out eventually became and HX and Next sort of straddled. It was even started long before the influx of "zines" became a really big thing in the early 90's ...so if you are saying to me "Oh there were lots of revolutionary, subversive gay fanzines in the 90's!" then wrong-o stupido! MY COMRADE was the first of it's kind because it started in 1987! And guess what? There were even ones before that in the 60's and 70's in places like San Francisco... so I guess I'm the stupido! See how I said everything goes in cycles?
    One of the reasons MY COMRADE was so wacked was because it was created and published by the terminally brilliant Les "Linda" Simpson. If you know Les, or even "Linda" - you know what I'm talking about. MY COMRADE was the first place I saw Valerie Solanis' "SCUM Manifesto" put to good use through murderous lesbian office revolution, the first place I learned about "Gays In the Millinery," the first place I read the confessions of a lesbian sex slut at the Dinah Shore Golf Classic, the first time I ever saw a (totally serious) interview with a member of NAMBLA, and the first place I learned about British photographer Ben Thornberry... whom I later stalked.
    So anywho... after a long hiatus, a much needed breath of fresh air is wafting from behind your shoulder... as Les Simpson has pulled yet another geriatric "hi-jinks" and brought MY COMRADE back! Yes! And you only thought you knew what it looked like from the front!
    This item will soon be hoarded by nerdy fags everywhere... so get them fast! Push over old people in the stampede to the newsstands! Step on a yuppie! Trample a "hipster!" Just please don't trample on Les (or Linda).
    The new issue of MY COMRADE is now available in the East Village at: Love Shine (543 E 6th St., between Aves A and B), Mod World (85 First Ave., between 5th and 6th Sts), St. MarkÝs Bookshop (31 Third Ave at 9th St). In Soho at: Hotel Venus (382 West Broadway between Broome and Spring Sts). In Williamsburg, Brooklyn at: Catbird (390 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St), Love Shine (249 Grand St between Driggs and Roebling Sts),  Rabbits (120 Havemeyer St at Grand St) and  Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers (218 Bedford Ave., between North 4th and North 5th Sts).
    Read anything and everything about MY COMRADE, including all about the brand new issue (above) at the rag's website (where you can also order it and have it delivered to your home, if you're like in an iron lung or something).
 
 

Rise above!

3. Resistance is fussy!
    So once again I must thank Vice magazine for making me aware of something months before anyone else. Adorable, 12 year-old twin sister folk singing duo (Lynx and Lamb) make up Prussian Blue. They play guitar and violin, and sing and perform cover versions of songs by white supremacist bands like Screwdriver. They also perform their own material, and play at folk events sponsored by white supremacists and other events that are not. They often alter their material slightly depending on what would be appropriate for the crowd. They are reportedly very talented, and are also very articulate in interview. They have out two CDs, one self-titled, and the other called "Fragments of the Future." The name "Prussian Blue" comes from their German heritage, as well as their eye color, and is also a veiled reference to Zyklon B residue. They believe that more pure white babies need to be born, and that young people need to stop wasting their time partying and trying to get attention by dressing sexily. They are big fans of Avril Lavigne, Green Day, Cut Throat, AC/DC, Final War and Alison Krauss. Their mom still makes them clean their rooms.
    A friend also emailed me about them, and sent me this link.

    NOTE: Although only slightly related, for some reason Prussian Blue reminded me of Robin and Crystal Bernard's "The Monkey Song" and "The Ecumenical Movement" - from the 1972 LP "Dr. Jerry Falwell: Feudin' Fussin' & Frettin' (Fret Not)" (Thomas Road Baptist Church records). Robin and Crystal were  two young Baptist girls in the 70's corralled into singing about the ridiculous notion of evolution, and utopian concepts about organized religion (mp3 of a 70's live recording of both songs can be found here). Crystal Bernard later went on to act in TV shows like "Happy Days" and "Wings."
 
 

Long live the new flesh!

4. Resistance is being raped by cephalopods!
    I've written about this famous 1814 painting by Japanese artist Hokusai before.
    It actually turns out there was a film made about Hokusai's life... and of course it includes and octopus sex scene (here are some stills). Entitled "Hokusai Manga" (1981, dir: Kaneto Shindô), it apparently falls directly into the B-movie category, and is pretty hard to find. I'm trying to hunt down a copy. Of course it's ALL about the octopus sex scene. Here is a nice summation of the film.
    Here is a BoingBoing.net link with all kinds of info about Japanese octopus and tentacle erotica.
 
 

Just trying to help your drugs kick in!

5. Resistance is pointless to interpretation!
    You've probably already seen this as it's being linked all over the web. I have NO IDEA what this is... or why... but maybe that's it's point. This is titled "Mariko Takahashi's FITNESS VIDEO" (totally big-ass MB Quicktime movie) and is directed by someone named Nagi Noda. In some circles it is being referred to as the "EX-FAT GIRL" video.
    You know that movie "Videodrome"? Where those guys pick up that horrible snuff TV show from a satellite in Malaysia where those girls are whipped and forced to touch an electrified clay wall and then strangled? And when they try to find out where it's coming from they watch it more and more, because they can't take their eyes off it, and they finally learn it's being beamed from Pittsburgh and is actually emitting rays that make whoever watches it develop a brain tumor and be able to make Debbie Harry ooze and explode out of their TVs and have guns grow out of their hands? Like the whole thing is being controlled by some subversive underground organization trying to force the human race onto some kind of new evolutionary stage? I think that's what this may be. Maybe I just want it to be.
    Actually... if you Google "EX-FAT GIRL video" you may find some answers.
 
 

And if that didn't work...

6. Resistance is aegist!
    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! I have never laughed so hard in my life! This is my new obsession - switching babies and old people's heads in family photographs (make sure to hit the 'next page' arrow at the bottom - at SomethingAwful.com).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mark Allen's Top Eight for Nov. 22nd, 2004:

1. A night of goody ultra-violence
    Two Saturdays ago, I found myself eating dinner at the downtown Cipriani, placing expensive and delicious food awkwardly into my mouth in a place that looks like a cross between a faded millionaire's mansion and any set from the Home Shopping Network. What a sight it all is! The exclusively tight quarters of the glamorous joint gently bear-hugs a glutted sea of over-styled, over-enthused patrons... there's barely room to breath! But since no one is really eating (or maybe even breathing), it's a moot point. I doubt they need a heater in winter as so much friction is generated by the festering masses inside ...emitting nothing but warmth no doubt. The gaggle of hungry-eyed gobblers masticates and spot-checks so animatedly, the entire room quickly plays like a living Hirschfeld cartoon, or maybe a Charles Adams.
    The food always leaves me flabbergasted. Everything you order is totally superb... almost unbelievably so (OK the apple pie is kind of ordinary). I usually have the steak, which comes cut in a tall cylinder, about four inches high, and is so tender it's like pudding. The formal decor is betrayed by the desire to go into the corner and devour your food like a wild animal because it's so savory.
    This particular evening I was having a post-election gastrointestinal "adventure," so I decided to eat light and go for the pasta with pesto (washed down with Bellinis). Wow... what freshness! What fantastic ingredients! What balance of flavor! I had forgotten that Pesto was actually a leaf and not a powder mix. I'll let you know if "once you go over-priced but blissfully superb Italian pasta with pesto - you never go back to containers of oily goo that ferment on the shelf at Gristedes" proves to be the same as "Once you go black you never go back."
    But despite wild animal instincts and racial stereotypes... one can't really get over the mood of Cipriani. It's an arena designed to rock the faithful and enliven the cynical. I guess this is what  Spiro Agnew meant when he said "an effete corps of impudent snobs," and dining on fabulous food at Cipriani makes you realize what a compliment that timeless mantra has become.
    The men in attendance at Cipriani seem very powerful, but mostly neutral, it's the women who act as the lightning rods of your sideways glances ...pulling chaotic, magnetized rays of awe, fawning, submission, debasement or derision ...all careening from your peripheral - right to their skulls ...sucked in like a black hole. Women with tit jobs up to their nostrils, and nostrils propelled backwards into the back of their craniums via nose-job oblivion are a species seen often amongst the foliage, depending on your perspective. But the crowd is not without it's surprises, a few people looked really great from behind, only when they turned around it was kind of like that scene at the end of "Psycho" when the granny skeleton with the wig spins around in it's chair. The women who dine at Cipriani are so skinny, generally, that I think the NYFD should give the establishment a special break on their "maximum occupancy" limit, since it takes about three of them to count as one person (does that include brains too?) Oops! I'm turning into an impudent snob... but how can one not amongst such complicated heights of beauty and amazingly simple but mind-blowing foodstuffs? It's enviable... oops, I mean inevitable in a place like this! I've always thought that those who are rewarded with the perfection of eternal afterlife in Heaven eventually become raging cynics because of the boundless perfection all around them, it's the damned in Hell that end up the cheery optimists.
    Summed up? Cipriani is like the Cub Room scene from "All About Eve" ...but in raging Technicolor and with Satanic back-tracking subliminal messages being played over the background sound system. At one point someone at my party said the word "atmo" ...I thought they said "ammo." Eek!
    On previous expeditions to this drome, I've spied famous people like Donald Trump, Yoko Ono and Beyonce, and probably a few thousand other similar types that I was too brainwashed to notice... so, not surprisingly, the den of the dining damned delivered once again. This time around it was the "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"-ish silhouette of Paris Hilton that began to materialize into my line of sight on about the 1,368,034th time I secretly surveyed the room, slowly peaking through the glare caused by my gleaming white plate.
    Dressed in some kind of pink and tan, suede and fur, mish-mash ensemble that was skin tight and I must admit very impressive, she seemed to be floating like a plastic tree angel hung from strings and pulled by puppeteers through the slithering Hades set that was the main floor. One silver cell phone attached perpetually to one ear (to match the silver purse). The look in her make-up enveloped eyes? Pure outer space. Her hair? Pure plastic-yellow ...extended and weaved into a long, complex mass that trailed down her back and seemed to be crunched like candy thunder. It was like a bird of rarest spun heaven metal ...or like silvery wine flowing in a space ship, gravity all nonsense now. It looked as if she was arriving with other travelers of the night, previously playing hogs of the road. Then it was the old surprise visit, for a real kick and good laughs, and lashing of the ultra-violent.
    I was then, as I was looking up from my table, that I noticed a change... I felt as if a straight-jacket had been bound around my torso.
   "It's called Murano style. It's Italian." a friend whispered in my right ear as he tightened a strap and corrected my comment that the chandelier looked like it has melted Saran Wrap all over it.
    As I gazed forward, I felt, and saw, four tiny little clamps being placed under each of my eyelids, itty bitty ones, holding them open so I could watch what was before me without the interruption of blinking. My gulliver was strapped to a headrest with like wires running away from it. Then they clamped like lidlocks on my eyes so I could not shut them no matter how hard I tried. It seemed a bit crazy to me, but I let them get on with what they wanted to get on with.  I saw out of my peripheral vision, an attendant in a white lab coat with a tiny plastic droplet container, squeezing drops of moisture onto my eyeballs so they wouldn't dry out from being constantly open.
    Oh Cipriani was Heaven! O bliss, bliss and heaven, oh it was gorgeousness and georgeosity made flesh! The sights and sounds were a real horror show. You could slooshy the screams and moans very realistic and you could even get the heavy breathing and panting of the tolchocking malchicks at the same time. It was beautiful. It's funny how the colours of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on a screen. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!
   Now all the time I was watching this, I was beginning to get very aware of like not feeling all that well (maybe it was the pesto), but I tried to forget this, concentrating on what I was seeing (and eating). This seemed real, very real, though if you thought about it properly you couldn't imagine lewdies actually agreeing to having all this done to them in a restaurant, and if these restaurants were made by the good, or the State, you couldn't imagine them being allowed to have these restaurants, without like interfering with what was going on.
    When it came to the sixth or seventh celebrity, leering and smacking and then going past, I began to feel really sick. But I could not shut my glazzies and even if I tried to move my glazballs about I still not get out of the line of fire of this picture. I also noticed what indeed was being played over the Cipriani sound system...
    I noticed in all my pain and sickness what music it was that like cracked and boomed. It was Ludwig Van's 9th symphony, 4th movement. It was him! Playing over the restaurant's loudspeaker!
    "I'm gonna be sick! Get me something to be sick in!" I rasped at the attendant who had been moistening my eyes all this time. He did nothing.
    "What's all this about sin?" a woman in a white lab jacket and a clipboard yelled at me from somewhere near the back. I veddy well began to see what was going on!
    I began to scream....
 
 
 

Absolutely Fabulous

2. I saw "The Machinist"
    So I finally saw the film "The Machinist" (dir: Brad Anderson) and I am finally owning up to the fact that, at a height of 5'9" and a weight of 165lbs... I have a serious weight problem that needs addressing.
    The film itself was a kind of Kafka-lite, stylish dream sequence of a movie ...like a half-good "Twilight Zone" episode strung out over the expanse of a whole film (I kept expecting Rod Serling to walk onto the screen at the end and be all 'So here we had a man... a simple man... who found himself caught up in...')
    But there was something I loved about the film... something that had to run around in the shower to get wet. No, it wasn't the movie's odd sense of location (the industrial setting was location-less and context-less) or the "Eraserhead"-ishness aura of the picture ...or even the retro/spooky/B-movie-ish, theremin-y score by Roque Baños.
    Nope... it was SEX APPEAL! Christian Bale's 130lb frame was SMOKIN'! Bale apparently ate one can of tuna and one apple a day to achieve the look... going down from a dangerous 190lbs to a wonderful 130lbs in just months! I know anorexia is a problem in females but it sure IS NOT in males! *pant!* *pant!* YOW-ZA-GODDAMN!!! AIN'T NOTHIN' WRONG WITH THAT... HO-BOY!
    Christian Bale doesn't just give RIBS in this picture... he gives CAGE! And FEMUR and CLAVICLE and SPINAL BUMPS!!! *swoon* In fact, it was really kind of nauseating looking at his walking-cadaver-of-a-body, which is good because he has served as a real inspiration in my new quest to get down to a normal weight. The sight of his skeleton may put me off my food (yay!), but Bale's bones make my boner explode!
    I wonder if when Bale gets a boner his veins collapse? Fabulous!
    The rest of the film is cast with other dangerously normal-weighted actors, who obviously have no concern whatsoever for their health... or their appearance!!! What a bunch of gastropods! They obviously have low self esteem, and a compulsive need to be accepted. Isn't it amazing that these co-stars can take up so much screen space with their monstrously normal-sized frames, and still seem to hardly be there at all? *sigh*
    There is one endearing sequence throughout the film where the AMAZINGLY SKELETAL Bale repeatedly goes to an airport diner to flirt with a waitress who he has a crush on (she could really stand to count a few calories - sorry it's true!) He smiles in that boney-teethed way at the waitress every time she sets his coffee and pie in front of him... and every time he did it looked like the Grim Reaper himself was smiling at her. *gasp!* I'm drowning in my own saliva! Of course he NEVER TOUCHES THE FOOD that the waitress serves him ...THANK GOD! How disorderly it would have been for him to eat!
    There is one scene at the very end of the film where Bale appears in his normal weight (apparently they had to wait two months to film the end so he could gorge and sloth his way towards his normal body weight - horrible!)... his beautiful skeleton then hidden under normal fat and muscle and skin... and just like that his AMAZING, MIND-BLOWINGLY SEXINESS disappears into fat air.
    I wonder if my local porn store sells blow-up skeleton dolls? Hmmmm... maybe I could just get a regular male blow-up doll and just not inflate it... wrap it around a broom stick or something.
    When my mind isn't weak from eating nothing but a can of tuna and an apple every day, I talk about my new image goal inspired by Bale in "The Machinist" with my support network. I was talking about the whole phenomenon of Christian Bale's BRILLIANT weight loss and it's UNBELIEVABLE SEXINESS with my friend Gregory. We decided that the reason I find Bale so sexy at this skeletal, deathly weight, and I DON'T find gay men who have AIDS and have wasted to this thin-ness (more in the 90's) as sexy, is because there are very small subliminal signifiers hidden in the skinny face of Bale and the skinny faces of those that I have wasted from AIDS. Those signifiers, which are impossible to map, but that my subliminal mind picks up nevertheless, read "healthy" (healthy = healthy mind, good mating material) in Bale's face, and "unhealthy" in those suffering from AIDS (unhealthy = diseased, perhaps diseased mind, bad mating material). It could be the micromillimeter curvature of a shallow cheek, or the supple wan of flesh webbing between the shoulder and arm pit - all of it giving me gut instincts on whether to get a boner or not in my un-normal homosexual brain. One is a green light that says "go!" to my hormones, the other is a red light that tells them to slam on the brakes. I can't see it... but my instincts do.
    Hey don't get mad at me! It's just billions of years of human evolution doing their job making sure the human race survives!

Sincerely,
Hitler
 
 
 

Norman Bates is putting on his wig and dress, and getting his knife!

3. RoboDump
    So anyway I found myself with a corporate gig this week... back to working in an office, sort of. It was a blast actually... but I was reminded about that weird dynamic that the bathrooms on each floor of an office setting emanate from their white, bright walls. You know what I'm talking about... that uber-awkwardness that exists in the little room that contains usually about two or three stalls and a little row of urinals (for the men) in tight, quiet, cramped quarters... the kind of quarters that echo sounds amazingly well.
    It's that whole "hope-to-God that no one is in there right now because God do I have to take a dump and it's really hard to comfortably squirt and fart out some hot snakes when someone I know or work with in a cubicle next to me is a mere few feet from (perhaps doing the exact same thing)" feeling. *shudder!* Separated by a mere thin wall of aluminum - the two of you not saying a word. Eek!
    Personally I think office settings should make "poo-ing privacy" a must... hence worker happiness. The way it is now... you get traumatized every time you have to go #2! Every time you enter those four little walls and your sphincter starts dilating you are reduced to Janet Leigh in the shower scene in "Psycho" ...PURE UNRELENTING HORROR AND PANIC AND TERROR!  What would Freud say about that?!
    I mean, and that's just at that moment... what about later? You meet a new co-worker and you're shaking their hand and it's all "Oh yea I heard your turds sliding out of your asshole and plopping in the water a few minutes earlier in the stall next to me... remember?" Bleeeegghh! Just because you work in an office doesn't mean you have to aurally and olfactory-ily be reduced to the status of driven-to-madness bathroom attendant. Anyway... I was lucky the few times I had to poo at the job, thank God. But the stress in hoping that no one walked in... unnecessary! Counterproductive!
    Can't they have those totally enclosed-in bathroom stalls with solid walls and doors and fans in them, like they have in all those public bathrooms in Europe? You know, the ones all the junkies shoot up and fuck and sleep in?
    Anywho... RoboDump, and ingenious art/robot thingy, has been invented by this genius guy named Kevin Kelm. There's no other point than to ad brevity and absurdity to an already absurd situation - and why not? There's even a little sound clip you can listen to.
 
 
 

McJap + McLSD = McBoner...

4. Japanese McDonald's advertising executives drop acid and get weirdly hip
    Much like Christianity in America (it's seemed so outdated and irrelevant for so long, yet it stayed inexplicably persistent enough to come full circle and seem kind of relevant by way of relentlessness), Ronald McDonald has remained the faithful, stubborn, nightmarish visage of the McDonald's restaurant corporation to the bitter, bitter end. Leave it to the Japanese to (once again) take the leap of faith out of the black hole of irrelevance and move something forward into the future... regarding something we created in the first place.
    This month, McDonald's Japan debuted two new mascots that are weird, youthful, surreal, street fashion model-y, variants on the very traumatizing Ronald McDonald. They seem, unsurprisingly, gilded from the pattern of Japanese street fashion "fruits" that everyone loves to photograph and publish magazines about so much.
    Ironically slim and fit, the models are obviously targeting a youthful brain-wash mode in their goth/emo/OzMunchkin looks. They also have that weird dynamic where they are for a Japanese market, but are obviously western models ...of the pale and slightly ever-so asian faced (or asians that have had that operation that w-i-d-e-n-s their eyes).
    You can view a clip of the female's ad here and the male's one here (WindowsMedia only).
    Did you know that in the whole goth scene, apparently the colors are kind of like karate belt colors? Like you rise from the level of black... upwards? Black is the lowest, poser-level goth color... and after that... after you've paid your dues... you can obtain the level of white. And after that... if your really rise through the goth scene, and you really know your shit... then you can obtain the level of pink. "Pink" is the ULTIMATE goth level, that supposedly very few people ever get to. So... I guess if you haven't earned it and you're a goth newbie and you brazenly show up at The Batcave in pink hair and pink lace and pink gloves and latex... all the other goths are gonna kick your ass? Like in those girl gang things in LA where they kick another gang mamber's ass and re-arrange her face for wearing her colors on their turf?
    I bet if you showed up to The Batcave in the above ensemble you would blow the goth's minds so much you would be like, elevated instantly past the level of pink and into the stratosphere of ultimate goth Demigod-dom. Other goths would slash their own throats just for the honor of standing next to you for five seconds, and you'd be all "Please don't get blood on my red and orange and white outfit... I have to go stand under some fluorescent lights and eat some fried beef with shredded lettuce and Thousand Island dressing on it now, la la la..."
 
 
 

"Oh my God! Oh my God! Isn't this the best thing ever! Look at her neck!! Aggghhh!!"

5. Cristina - a brilliant and beautiful hag to your latent fag
    So any-whoodles, when I was a faggy little kid in Dallas, Texas... I remember one of my friends, who at the age of twelve was already like the gayest guy on earth, he was holding up the cover of Cristina's "Sleep It Off" album in his bedroom (as it played in the background) and was screaming "Oh my God this is the best album EVER! Aaaggghhh!!! Oh my God! Oh my God!" he went on to tell me about how it had titles on it like "Don't Mutilate My Mink" and how the singer dead-panned lines like "At go through your pockets at night looking for money... and if you notice... I lie..." and he was, like, having a conniption fit right there going "Oh my God! Oh my God! Isn't this the best thing ever! Oh my God! Look at the cover! Look at her neck!! Aggghhh! Aghhhh!!"
    Indeed he actually had good reason to throw a dramatic, ditzy, spitting, spazz-out... as Cristina was this kind of under-the-radar genius of the 80's in the same way SCTV was, who is now being recognized in certain circles for her high-art pop career - which lasted only about five years and never cracked the cerebral ceiling of mass consciousness. Her aesthetic was a woozy mix of Sartre, Nietzsche and Jacqueline Suzanne ...set to the beat of Prince and the Go-Go's. She was aiming for mass notoriety but got noticed by the fringe populace only... and and of course any fag who's bottle of poppers in front of their faces kept them from finishing Tama Janowitz's "Slaves of New York" all the way to the end, but who's ears were still functioning.
    She did a hysterical, drunken, ranting version of Peggy Lee's hit "Is That All There Is?" where she added lines like "...if she feels that way about it why doesn't she just slit her throat and SHUT UP?! Oh no... I'm not ready for that kinda come down!" and "Then I fell in love with the most beautiful boy in Manhattan, he beat me black and blue and I LOVED it!" and  replaces "Let's break out the booze..." with "Let's break out the 'ludes..." This version got her all kinds of recognition from people like Dudley Moore and the bands Blondie and Siouxsie and the Banshees... but she had to pull the track off the shelves after the original songwriters threatened to sue. She admits today that she didn't know enough about the law at the time to know she could have fought it and won, on the basis that it was a parody.
    The first album, "Doll In The Box" is waaaaaaayyy too disco-y to enjoy ...all strings and whistles and cowbells overload... I dunno how much I can listen to it before my ears start to implode. But this CD re-issue version includes "Is That All There Is?" and there is one funny song called "Disco Clone" that is hilarious. She overdubs her voice to sound like an army of glamazons chanting "I'm a disco clone I'm a disco clone!"
    The second one, "Sleep It Off" is the best over-all. It was produced by the Was Not Was guys, and has a nice complex, pop sound... but still does sound really 80's-ish ...kind of Trevor Horn-y even though he had nothing to do with it. But it's the lyrics and Cristina's deadpan droll that are the best things here. On the original 1980 press release, it said things like "Cristina is rich and lives in France with her father who is a psychiatrist. She studied at Harvard, where she won the History and Literature Prize in her sophomore year. She's acted in plays and reviewed them for the Village Voice. So you can see she's smart. She likes reading and pear-shaped diamonds, MDA and valium, Balzac and I Love Lucy. Since she is also very beautiful, she gets what she wants." The newer press releases have quotes from people like Richard Strange that say things like "In a sassier, brighter, funnier world, Cristina would have been Madonna."
    Surely the image of Cristina performing on "Solid Gold," lounging on a leather psychiatrist's couch, in a Chanel blouse, tweed skirt, pearls and too much make-up and tousled hair hanging over her reading glasses, with a microphone in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other... screaming the words "Bang-bang goes the school Maitress! Here's to good breeding, here's to Jean S! DEB BEHIND BARS! DEB BEHIND BARS!!!" ..would have probably drawn nothing but quizzical, blank stares from prime time audiences of 1981.
    I uploaded the best tracks from "Doll In The Box" and all of "Sleep It Off" onto my iPod, and was walking around wintry-ish midtown NYC, listening to 80's-era Cristina droll out the lines of a ballad about the dysfunctional relationship between a fag hag and a fag; "You're too bitchy for my notions of a man, and your arms are far too slender...  we do things very well, making such a stylish hell... all that disdain spiked with mutual acclaim" ...thinking about how it all made so much sense. I kept walking around, listening to more and more. I listened to Cristina's cheery, heartbreaking crooning of the lyrics to "Smile." I felt an awakening as I walked around and the fall Manhattan wind blew through my hair, and Cristina's world fed into my iPod-ed ears... the Tennessee Williams in me snuck another drink, the Richard Simmons in me cried yet another tear, and the Michael Greer in me somehow rose above it all again.
    Both CDs being re-released by Ze Records and Forced Exposure.
    Here's a page about Cristina.
 
 

"Everybody told me it was senior wig day!"

6. Politics get uglier and uglier... dragging two nepotistic dart boards straight down to Hell with it
    ...and that "Hell" I'm referring to is the "snooty" New York City that exists only in the imaginations of everyone in the world (even in the imaginations of some of the people who live here... amazingly). Reported at Gawker.com - the incident involving the Bush twins at the very trendy restaurant Freeman's (who's intentional air of mystery I have typed about on these cathode ray pages before) was originally sent into the "Gawker Stalker" section of the site here (second item down, names in bold).
    Whether it's an urban legend in the making or not remains to be seen (or not). Some ridiculous discussions about it are already unfolding here. If this hits the big papers, expect absurdity levels to reach an all-time low.
    UPDATE: The chilly, stupid aftermath.
 
 

Think about it

7. The imagined physics of sex...
    Finally! An advice column I can use! Found here.
 
 

yes it's real

8. CookingWithCum.com
    I am literally speechless. And no, I don't want to try any of these recipes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mark Allen's Top Seven for November 3rd, 2004:

1. A night at the opera
    At last Friday night's City Opera performance of "Dialogues of the Carmelites," someone's cell phone fell from the upper balcony onto the head of the woman sitting next to us, right as the opera was starting, literally *klunk* on her Jackie O hair-do, and the UES woman just picked it out of her lap, got onto the phone (it was on) and said "They're unavailable right now."  What a beginning!
    There was this one scene in the performance (which was about nuns during the French revolution who eventually meet with a beheading) where a nun was standing on the back of the stage for a long time while some other characters were singing away. The nun was just standing there doing nothing, for like ten minutes... waiting for her cue. She had her head down and most of her body was covered by her huge nun's habit. I started to imagine her holding a baby under her habit, taking care of it while she just stood there collecting her check from City Opera for a role that just had her kind of standing there. What if she had a baby, and she couldn't find a sitter and tried to sneak her baby on stage with her under her costume... and it started crying and stuff, and she tried to work while trying to quiet the baby into her performance? "I'm sorry I couldn't find a sitter!" she would shout to people in the front row as everyone boo-ed her on her last night in the performance. What a night at the opera it would be! These are the kinds of thoughts that were running through my mind during the French opera, which was performed in English (with English 'supertitles' projected on the stage above). I would have preferred to have seen it sung in French.
    Before the second intermission, I began to imagine ways to make my experience in the audience more interesting. I decided I could put on a trench coat and a big 1940's fedora hat with a place card in the band that read "Harvey Havemeyer - Mysterious Spacecraft Headquarters Correspondent" and sit in my seat constantly looking up at the horrible light fixture thing on the ceiling and scribbling notes. Somebody call Major Gatlin and Sergeant Fitz! (best obscure pop culture reference ever!)
    Maybe I could then disappear before the third act, and come back in the exact same outfit, except this time the trench coat would be made out of silver lame... and my place card would read "Harvey Havemeyer - Mysterious Spacecraft Headquarters Correspondent - FROM THE FUTURE!" and instead of a little cardboard place card in my hat, it's a little red and black electronic blinking sign, not a card... because I'm from the future. And this time instead of looking up at the ceiling, I start paying really close attention to the opera and scribbling notes frantically ...why? Because I know something THEY don't... BECAUSE I'M FROM THE FUTURE!
    Maybe I could show up dressed normal, but exageratingly paint the inside of my nostrils jet black, like Herman Munster... and see if anyone notices. And if they do, how they react. You can't get candy apples from a lemon tree!
    I found the opera to be mostly morose, bleak, stiff and barren, except for the maddening bed death of the old nun) - I think it was needlessly mechanical and restrained - BUT that led to a very intense and powerful and moving last fifteen minutes that sent true chills down my spine and was remarkably sweet and endearing.
    What an ending!
 
 

LEFT: Bully Edie Harley (Natalie Blalock) takes an open seat between Pol Pot and Charles Manson
MIDDLE: Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) and Mr. Jellineck (Paul Dinello) recollect what they learned this week
RIGHT: Hard-ass Mr. Tidbits joins Principle Blackman in the teacher's lounge before laying it on the line for Mr. Jellineck
 - pics courtesy Tony Lagarto's "Strangers With Candy" site.

2. The episode "Bully" from Strangers With Candy
    It was the second-to-the last "painfully special" episode of "Strangers With Candy" and it was one of the best ever in the series. I've been watching this episode on my DVD a lot for some reason recently... it's oddly menacing tone (thanks to superb performances by guest actors Natalie Blalock and Ross Bickle) has really plugged into my fear-of-the-apocolypse this week ...maybe because of the election.
    46 year-old ex-junkie whore high school freshman Jerri Blank stands up to a new girl in school named Edie Harley (played by Natalie Blalock - who literally looks like the gene-spliced clone of Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna) after Edie harasses one of Jerri's "sweet young" friends. The neanderthal-ish Edie then targets Jerri and plans to kick her ass in the school parking lot... menacing and threatening her at every step of the way. With the clock ticking until the end of the day, Jerri tries to think of everything she can do to prepare for the rumble, or every excuse she can to get out of it, including developing a shattered trachea and acute fractured vertebra after trying to bench press too much weight in the school's gym "Yep... back in the pen I used to be in this thing called the heavy metal cub... we lifted for jungle juice and cigarettes, the white supremacists vs. the racists... I lifted for both teams" and lifting up her thong up to take a dump on a sculpture of the school's mascot so she can get expelled (to which Principle Blackman punishes her even further by making her stay in school just so the new girl can beat whatever crap is left out of her).
    Meanwhile, new history instructor Mr. Tidbits (played with hard-ass accuracy by Ross Bickle - a one time husband to Loni Anderson in real life), fills in for the regular instructor Mr. Noblet, after Edie's first day in his class frightened him into quitting. Mr. Tidbits refuses to teach about "homo Socrates" on his first day, and asks his students; "Does the fact that the Athenians in the 5th century B.C. condoned man on boy love, diminish the olympian heights this civilization achieved? Yes. So there is no reason to study the Greeks..." concluding with "OK then... onto the Turks! You think you'd be on safe ground with these mad muslim bastards, but, go in any bath house and I'll tell you something..."
    Practicing pacifist "I pass-a-fist... get it?" and art teacher Mr. Jellineck proves to be a perfect target for Mr. Tidbit's suppressed rage. In the teacher's lounge, after Jellineck prances over to Tidbits and welcomes him to the school by inviting him to potluck Friday; "Let's see... we still need a creamy vegetable or a leafy dessert. What can I jot you down for?" Tidbits replies "Are you a faggot? You seem womanly to me, which leads me to believe you are a faggot." Everyone in the lounge stops dead in their tracks upon hearing something they all knew but never spoke of, spoke of with such newness (best play on words ever!), and they all stare as Jellineck trembles "Uh... I'm sorry... what's happening?" Tidbits let's Jellineck know where he stands; "Listen skirt... I'm not into that scene. I find your lifestyle offensive, it has no place in a house of learning. So I tell you what, you have two choices. One, do the right thing and resign today, or prove to me you're a man by fighting me after school!" Jellineck tries to turn the other cheek, and resolve the conflict with higher-ups in the administration ...but his fruity ways bear no fruit.
    After watching Edie tear the head off a live squirrel and splashing some water on her fear, Jerri ultimately decides that "I've gotta follow the code of the street... I've been called out. I gotta show up and fight!" but Mr. Jellineck teaches her the ways of pacifism ...and both protagonists then show up to deal with their respective bullies. I won't tell you how it ends, but I do recommend watching the episode... of which the ending isn't as revelatory as the things that happen leading up to it are. Pacifism works like a charm, as long as you "button" it at the end (with a eyewitness-less car running-over, or a surprise beating with a metallic peace medallion).
    The meek shall rape the Earth!
 
 

"There's a planet in my kitchen..."

3. Siouxsie and the Banshees' b-sides 4CD boxed set, "Downside Up" - out this November
    Read about it here and here .
    With tide after tide of punk/new wave and 80's music nostalgia still relentlessly lapping the shores of popular culture, like an oil-soaked Chenega Bay Beach in Prince William Sound ...I spy something drifting up with the surf that looks like a true gem (best analogy ever!!!)
    The semi-defunct Siouxsie and the Banshees finally pulled together something their legions of fans have been griping about for eons: a 4CD boxed set of every single b-side ever in their entire career.
    Entitled "Downside Up," it contains 55 tracks, all non-album b-sides (from singles) only, which span their entire two decade-long reign. Back in the (pre-digital) days of yore, English pop acts often released two consecutive singles from forthcoming albums, in 7" and 12" vinyl format, that included non-album tracks on the b-sides. Obviously, a band would feel less constrained to stick to the rules, and could be a little free-er on the one-shot, flipside-only works. For a band like The Banshees, who were already very interesting and quirky, it meant that their b-side works were even more odd and surreal than the "official" songs. This immense collection contains inarguably some of The Banshees' best work ever, and comes encased in a drool-proof plastic covering. The whole thing will be released in late November, overseas and probably in the US at some point thereafter.
    Why do I have such a high opinion of all this? You know, in case you haven't already figured out... I was a real ...uh, misfit in high school in the 80's. I mean a misfit amongst other misfits. A lot of my friends who were straight(er) were hardcore punk snobs who refused to listen to anything that didn't get snobily reviewed in Maximum Rock'N Roll magazine. My friends who were gay or a fag hag or just nuts (most likely all three), they were probably into bands like The Smiths and The Cure and Depeche Mode. Then there was me. Even though I owned records by all those artists, I was really (I mean really) into Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Flying Lizards and The Residents and a lot of 4AD stuff as well... and was always comparing and contrasting how much more "talented" and "deep" and "experimental" I thought The Banshees were compared to acts like The Cure and The Smiths, who my ecstasy-popping pals all agreed on.
    I would just go on and on about these subjects as my poor friends sat there helplessly, listening to me drivel on and on about "room mic-ed" recording techniques and "challenging album cover design" and "conceptual purity" and other stuff that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had no idea at all what the Hell I was talking about. I was like a 14 year-old version of Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons" crossed with Joanna Barnes talking about stepping on ping pong balls in "Auntie Mame."
    I would sit in my bedroom and listen to my huge collection of Siouxsie and the Banshees vinyl albums and 12" singles (which I still own today) and stare at their vivid cover design (by the excellent British design troupe DeGamma) ...reading copies of NME and The Face. I would  obsess over recordings of Siouxsie's droning, hiccuping croons, layered over slapping bamboo sticks and backwards sounds of faucets and be saying all "Oh my God it's a masterpiece!" ...all the while while the hot, healthy, Texas sun beat on the suburban windows right outside.
    Sometime between the release of the "Hyena" and "Tinderbox" albums (right about the time the band's creative intensity just started to wane), I graduated from high school (literally and figuratively), got some sort of life, and stopped paying attention to Siouxsie and the Banshees' work. But I was always haunted by the feeling that they should have somehow collected all of those great b-sides (which fans like me had been making on mix tape collections for years) into one format.
    Aged, overweight, bald art class heroes and geriatric goths everywhere next month will decide if their cash should go towards their Propecia and Lipitor... or the boxed set's hefty $75 pre-order price. NERDS REVENGE IS SWEET(ly nerd-y).
 

...on a downward spiral towards inevitable karoshi

4. ...on a downward spiral towards inevitable karoshi
    Totally great gallery of Japanese businessmen literally falling asleep in the streets or on subways from working too hard. Did you know there is a phenomenon in Japan called karoshi and means "death from overwork."
    ????????? ????????????????????????? ?????????????????? ??????? ????????? ??????????? overwork." ??? ????????? ????????????????????? ?????? ??????? ??? ??????? ??? karoshi ?????" death; (best English-to-Japanese translation ever!)
 

weird signs inside the gold mine

5. Push... push... in the shrub (best obscure disco song political jab tie-in ever!)
    Robert Smigel's "TV Funhouse" this last weekend on SNL was one of the best I've ever seen... dealing with John McCain's internal trauma over becoming a public supporter of the Bush campaign - totally hilarious. You can download a 10MB clip of it here.
 

You don't want to be on the side that the other side says that the side you are on isn't the one that they think you shouldn't like... (best sum-up ever!)

6. Black is white! Night is day! Ping is pong! You're a terrorist supporter!
    Uuuuuggghhh... is this what journalism has been reduced to? Shamelessly surreal reverse psychology mind-fuck bias insanity? Bleaugh... totally unreal. It's tomorrow's parody-proof propaganda today! The NYPost, which is often notoriously republican-biased... got frantic and desperate a day before the election. This is the kind of thing that will be looked back on decades from now just like those old soap commercials from the 1940's that said "Buy the soap that Hitler hates!" They should take the text from this article and replace the red and white stripes of the American flag with it and hang it high over a nation of shame (best analogy ever!)
 

"Look...OK!? Can I finish please!?"

    (best photoshop of Camille Paglia over Tippi Hedron ever!)
7. Camile Paglia's latest interview/rant in Salon
    The election is over... which this interview/rant is mostly about, but as always with Paglia - it's a great read.
    UPDATE: Paglia has an 11/4/04, post-election commentary at Salon here (second item).
 
 

Copyright 2004 Mark Allen

go to past "Top Tens"

go to back to MarkAllenCam.com