Mark Allen's Top Seven Things for
September 22nd, 2003
Copyright 2003 Mark Allen
1. "A really good reality show for gay people would be five gay men dying of AIDS." - Julie Millam, executive director of MFC
A week or so ago, there was a predictable brouhaha over Julie Millam's (executive director of the Christian-centric Montana Family Coalition) comments in a press release about popular "reality" television shows that, according to her organization "...degrade abstinence and/or traditional marriage." Her comments about Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, not surprisingly, drew particular venom. Millam is quoted in the Billings Gazette as saying "To me, that's not a reality show about gay people ...a really good reality show for gay people would be five gay men dying of AIDS" (documented at The Advocate and kottke.org).
And soon therafter gay activists and journalists, naturally, zoomed in on her and the M.F.C. like hawks (or another kind of bird? Dodos?)
Millam later claimed her quote was being "taken out of context" and went on further to explain; "Unfortunately the 'reality' of homosexuality is grave with its sexual consequences. It is something that we must face and then warn our children about. Our point is that 'reality' TV is not reality, because it glamorizes a lifestyle and fails to warn of the grave danger people face. Whether it is Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, Elimidate, Temptation Island or any other television program that degrades abstinence and/or traditional marriage - it is offensive."
Although I find Millam's core reasons for her statements to be outdated and ultimately pointless, in a kind of warped way I agree with her about a reality show with five men dying of AIDS. I mean... could you imagine a show that followed five gay guys (or five, yawn... people of various races and orientations that correctly represent the current demographic of people with AIDS) who were going through various stages and treatments for AIDS? I mean ...WOW! I'd tune in that's for damn sure! And I don't want no real reality TV (see PBS's 1973 An American Family) either! I want a FULL-BLOWN, fake, overly dramatic, selectively edited, sex-crazed, totally FAKE reality TV reality show about five gay guys dying of AIDS.
I want dramatic music played over close-ups of tearful faces after bad medical test results...
I want beefed-up fights (egged on by producers) between visiting relatives who argue with each other over their sibling's morals - and shown to me with the most dramatic, phony, drama queen-pleasing editing possibly imaginable...
I want relentless butt, chest and crotch shots of male and female participants, from every angle, placed in every conceivable moment in the show, regardless of the body part's sex or health or skin condition...
I want the inevitable hot tub scene... no scenes... over and over again, every week...
I want endless coy flirting between doctors and patients in glamorously lit medical rooms...
I want a brain-less (and sexy!) host in front of a studio audience interviewing the show's participants (via live wheelchair/TV hook-up) and asking them the most enticing and sexy questions possible as the audience shouts "Oooooohhhhhhh!!" and "You GO girl!" after every double entendre'ed and saucy (scripted) answer...
I want cat fights over roommates who are fighting over who is the sickest or who has the most burdening ordeal... and I want to be left hanging at the end of each show so I'm sure to tune in next week to see which queen scratched which's other queen's eyes out...
I want to be reminded that I can do anything I put my mind to no matter my physical condition or HIV status, with (sexy!) montages of the show's participants climbing mountains and winning decathlons (staged by the producers) in skimpy outfits and with sometimes suspenseful music (will they make it?) but with a nice resolution at the end... I want to be reminded this over and over and over and over in the show as I sit on my couch and watch while eating Ben & Jerry's...
I want to see participants getting "revenge" on other participants for elbowing-in on their romantic interest... by secretly spitting in their drink! (then called-in to the private 'green room' via TV hook up to 'talk' about what they did to the audience and possibly reprimanded by the producers)
I want to see a five-minute "history" intoductory montage (complete with childhood photos floating past the screen and shots of them walking around alone in the daytime at the local gay strip in their hometown) as they look at the camera hooked up to an IV-drip and cattily recite "I'm just a normal guy... but... well, I do have what you could call a wild side!" or perhaps "Well I'm the kind of person who speaks his mind and if I have a problem with someone I will tell them ...some people may interpret this as being a 'bitch' but... well, that's their problem!"...
I want dreamy montages of skinny bodies hobbling along the beach in the sunset - cued to R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly"...
I want the studio audience to go "Whooooooooooooo!" as one of the participants turns his butt to the camera and lowers his low-cut tight jeans to reveal, no not a tattoo, but a kaposi's sarcoma scar...
But most of all I want to see... who WINS!!!! Y-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y!!!!!
...anything oh God please ANYTHING, anything AT ALL to deliver our starving souls from the boring drivel that is Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or Boy Meets Boy. Yuck.
2. "Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise." - Lewis Carroll
Neato! A Stepford Wi... oops I mean, good friend... from down South sent me these - he's mimicking Hans Fahrmeyer's old photos of me. I thought they were pretty great so I put them up. Thanks Tony!
3. Impromptu, improv, outdoor, free, free jazz skronk - every Sunday afternoon at Astor Place in Manhattan
Background noise has never been so in your face.
Almost every Sunday afternoon you can go down to the way-too-photographed Astor Place in downtown Manhattan and hear some really nice minimal free jazz by these two guys. I have caught them by chance a few times and I always stop and stand there for at least half an hour and listen. I snapped this photo last Sunday while down there looking for Daniel (I wanted to buy some more mazes).
The percussionist uses all kinds of weird pieces of scrap metal and plastic toys to beat on and scrape his drums... sometimes he likes to throw weird chimes and bells on the pavement next to him and stomp on them with his foot as he bang bang bangs away on his skins with his sticks. The saxophonist (whom I swear I have seen perform at Tonic and the Knitting Factory) is also a total pro at light-speed squeaky, bleating, beeping saxophone skill/abuse that floats effortlessly between baby-crying noise and note-crying bliss. Together they sound like a room full of tumbling furniture and creaking doors and coffee percolators and popcorn poppers - played alternately at 33 and 45rpm. Since it's all improv - you never know what kind of weird alien sounds they are gonna spontaneously fry up. What makes their music so perfect, in an almost cliché but nevertheless true way - is the setting it's surrounded by.
In case you've never been... Astor Place is the joining of two bizarre intersections in the heart of downtown... a wide open space (helped with a few parking lots) with lots of very tall buildings along it's wide parameter for sound to echo off of. Traffic is often plentiful and hectic... and foot traffic is always chaotic, loud and way colorful. The two guys play right at the exit for the 4,5,6 subway line at the Astor Place stop... so the rumbling underground trains growls beneath your feet every three minutes. The whole sensual situation will make you remember why Ornette Coleman used Jackson Pollock's "White Light" painting for the cover of his seminal 1961 album "Free Jazz"
...or... perhaps as you lean against a garbage can next to a fresh pile of dog shit and a discarded, wind-blown copy of The Anarchist, and take in all the oddly rhythmic sounds, disembodied vibrations, competing light sources and hot winds and voices and smells - Piet Mondrian's 1942 painting "Broadway Boogie-Woogie" painting will suddenly make lots of sense (thanks Herbert!)
When they were playing this Sunday... this TOTALLY GREAT overweight black woman got off the bus and was instantly drawn to them. She was dressed in full church regalia - super-snazzy blue polka-dot tent dress, hat with vail, flower corsage, not a gray hair out of place in a neat bun, white gloves, patent leather purse and big giant black sunglasses. She looked to be about 60. She walked right up to the edge of a pile of old newspapers and instantly started bopping and tapping her hands and feet to the weird rhythms... with a big smile, and the occasional shouted "Oh yea!" or "Thazzz right baby! Play it!" She was great... I really should have taken her picture rather than just this one of the guys... oh well. I get a little intimidated sometimes because people can be weird about having their photo randomly snapped.
Whenever I'm in the area on a Sunday I check them out. I thought the percussionist was the guy on this recording... but as soon as I got home and looked at the liner notes on my copy I realized it wasn't - but he's just as skilled and unpredictable. I know I've seen the horn player around town before (he's pretty hot too - sexy nose). I guess when I snapped this photo I should have bothered to ask their names. I'm such a bad reporter. If anyone knows who they are - please email me!
Otherwise... if you're in the area - check them out and let it all sink in.
4. Kenny G and Vicki Bennett's sensory deprovationist radio experiment on WFMU.org - this Wednesday - (link here)
The kind of handicapped people you are "allowed" to laugh at (unironically of course).
This Wednesday, September 24th, from 3-6pm EST (on the fearless WFMU.org) the pathologically unclassifiable Kenny G will be joined in studio by the sultry Vicki Bennett (of People Like Us) as they attempt to dutifully perform the traditional duties of three hours of free-form radio while bound and gagged to each other, with no help from anyone but their limbless, eyeless, mouthless, siamese twin-ed selves.
Here is a link to the possibly boring madness of Kenny and Vicki's "Bound and Gagged" show. Hear CDs accidentally flung across the studio by spastic legs... hear records cued with toes... hear muffled commentary. Even though it will be not really that contrastable to Kenny G's usual agenda - I highly recommend tuning in over anything else that is being played on any other radio, anywhere on the globe, at that specific time slot. Tune in and be sure and call in! Lots!
While at WFMU.org... if it is your first time listening to Kenny G's show... I also highly recommend tuning into the shows of Pseu Braun, Brian Turner, Thomas Edison's Attic, Fabio, Monica, Terre T and countless others depending on your mood(iness), (possibly questionable) taste(lessness) and (multiple) personality (disorder).
5. Dokaka - (link here)
Speaking of 'FMU... which I am weirdly addicted to, I think it was there that I first heard of Dokaka. I heard him a couple of times on there but could never remember his name right. I was recently sent a link to an entire MP3 stream of this guy's work (thanks Amy!) If you haven't heard Dokaka - he's a Japanese guy that does complete acapella version of popular rock songs (even the instruments!) - specifically black metal and grindcore and the odd pop cover. He does them with multi-track recording machines... in effect cloning his spastic, retarded, yelping vocal cords into an army or annoyingness. You've honestly never heard anything like this
Here is the link to Dokaka's various MP3 stream page. Check it out... this sound link is entirely suitable for work. Turn your speakers in your cubicle up really loud too... as the MP3s are uh, kind of quiet.
Oh that's great!
Full disclosure on his new mushroom pad coming soon.
Mark Allen's Top Ten Things for
September 15th, 2003
This week's "Top Ten" is just gonna be a normal one. My part 2 to the story about the time I was protested against (see last week's - below) will go up next week... as it's turning into an epic tale. Also because someone got in contact with me since seeing it - and is sending me yet another videotape they took of the event (how many people had cameras that night?) I want to take stills of the video. Also, I've gotten quite a few emails about it - a few written with poison pens (keys) - thanks for both. The full end closure story of what happened will be disclosed next week.... in the meantime enjoy these:
1. Current defacing trend of NYC electronic stop walk signs
I saw this childishly clever defacing of the new "hand" and "walking man" walk/don't walk electronic signs in Brooklyn about a week ago. I stared at it's strobing-pulsed redness like Kate Reid looking at test samples in The Andromeda Strain... then I woke up and snapped this photo. It's imagery really struck a cord with me... it spoke to my soul as a New Yorker. After 9-11... New York needs something like this to remind us of our purpose in life... as a global conversation piece/irritant/jealousy spawn for much of the universe.
Since then I have noticed it on several intersection signs in Manhattan. Gregory informed me that almost all the signs along Avenue A have had this done to them with black tape, and he thought it was great (and Gregory hates graffiti). What a great idea. What a refreshing, life-affirming blinking reminder of the human spirit.
Let's see... Manhattan has approximately 3,000 intersections... and that's eight... count'em eight of these signs at each one... so that's 240,000 chances to turn Manhattan into one big blinking performance art piece. In every borough... every class... every neighborhood, denomination and skin color... all clicking in rhythm to the pulse of one harmonious message. Wouldn't it be weirdly stimulating to walk around town with a million blinking "bird-flipping" signs flashing in your face? I mean... who needs coffee? Or crack?
If any police stop you in mid-graffiti... point them to the direction of my webpage and tell them I told you to do it.
2. The miracle of life can be so embarrassing...
Ever been so mortified that you wish the Earth would just crack open and swallow you whole? Thanks to Bill W. for sending me a link to this amazingly surreal account in The Boston Daily Globe of a poor woman's apocaplytically traumatic childbirth on a Boston train during morning rush hour. According to the article... the woman had a shaky mental history... and her reaction to the inevitable miracle of birth (out of her own womb) on a crowded train shows steel-y determination in the denial department. Set face to "stun" and read on.
Note: this article was published July 31st... and has already been filed away from the newspaper's online archives... the above link is a Google cache... if it goes dead let me know and I'll post the whole article.
New, 9/20: the link is now dead... so I have cut and pasted the article below (plus here's a link to another place the story ran - thanks Andy!):Refusing help, woman gives birth aboard T train
By C. Kalimah Redd and Mac Daniel, Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff, 7/31/2003
A 42-year-old Braintree woman gave birth to a baby boy while standing on an inbound Red Line train yesterday morning, refusing help from stunned passengers who heard her moan and seconds later looked down to find her baby on the floor.
Witnesses told police that Joyce M. Judge, a former nurse who later said she was on the way to a Boston hospital, kept quietly refusing help during and after the delivery.
'' `Thanks for your concern, we're OK,' '' she said, according to Chris Chin of Duxbury. Standing 4 feet away from Judge, Chin said, he saw her tie the umbilical cord in a knot and wrap the baby in a silk scarf. ''She cradled the baby in one arm and grabbed the handrail with the other and continued to ride the T and stare out the window.''
Bill Mahoney, also of Duxbury, watched the scene unfold: ''It was simply surreal.''
Transit officials said they received a call from the train operator for medical assistance and had an MBTA official waiting at the JFK-UMass station on the platform when the train arrived. But Judge refused help and sprinted up a flight of stairs toward the turnstiles, MBTA Lieutenant Gary Fredericks said. She then grabbed some newspaper to wrap up the baby, ran across the platform toward Morrissey Boulevard, and hustled up another flight of stairs to the Columbia Road overpass.
MBTA police intercepted her and took the baby boy, who was breathing and kicking but not crying. As two officers examined the baby in the front seat of a police SUV, Fredericks said, Judge pounded on their backs and screamed: ''Let me see!''
Mother and child were doing fine yesterday at Boston Medical Center, authorities said. Officials from the state Department of Social Services are investigating.
Clutching the faded pink and beige silk scarf, Judge sat in her hospital bed and told a reporter how she woke up at about 5:15 a.m. yesterday and began vomiting. She decided to go to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton and left her two other children, ages 15 and 11, at the Motel 6 in Braintree, where the family has been living for the past year.
But once she was on the train in North Quincy, she felt the baby coming. ''It wasn't too painful, it happened so fast,'' Judge said. ''The contractions were from 1 to 2 minutes apart. I said, `Let me get off this train.' ''
People, she said, started screaming. When asked why she refused help from other passengers, Judge said: ''They couldn't do anything on the train so I thought it was better to get to the hospital.''
Passengers, many of whom responded to a Boston.com announcement seeking witnesses and were then contacted by phone, said they were startled by the chain of events.
After the train left North Quincy, while crossing the Neponset River around 7:20 a.m., passengers reported hearing a muffled groan. Judge, dressed in a pink velour top and matching skirt, stood in the middle of the fourth car. Suddenly, her water broke.
''At first I thought someone spilled coffee, but it kept dripping,'' said Chin, 32. ''But she stood staring out the window . . . I started doubting what I saw.''
About 90 seconds later, Chin said, ''I saw a head, then full baby fall out from her skirt, hit the floor sideways and slide the length of the doorway, stopping when he bumped up against the next row of seats. Still she stared out the window. Either she didn't know it happened or didn't want to acknowledge it.''
Judge bent down, picked up the baby and wrapped it in her scarf, Chin said.
As passengers slowly realized what had happened, witnesses said, the train rallied around the new mother. People offered sweaters and implored her to sit or lie down. Still, Judge refused.
''I'm fine,'' she repeated throughout the trip. ''I'm fine.''
With the JFK-UMass stop still three minutes away, passengers, some of whom vomited in the wake of the bloody birth, inundated State Police with cell phone calls. Dispatchers told passengers to ask Judge if she had passed the placenta. Passengers yelled back that she had not. Dispatchers asked if the baby was breathing. Others yelled back that they weren't sure.
At one point, Judge took some nearby newspapers and placed them on the floor to soak up the blood. Some witnesses heard Judge apologize for the mess.
After leaving the train and heading for the stairs up to the station's main lobby, witnesses said, the placenta fell to the platform. Judge turned around, grabbed the afterbirth, put it in her shoulder bag, and headed upstairs.
''She just literally picked it up with her hand and put it in some kind of bag she was carrying, and this was in mid-stride . . . It was the craziest thing I've ever seen,'' said Robert Busby, of Weymouth.
Lisa Judge of Rhode Island, who visited her sister yesterday, said Joyce Judge didn't realize how dilated she was. ''She said she thought she could make it'' to the hospital, Lisa Judge said.
Lisa Judge said she has taken in her sister's children at times when she has had ''spells, she would turn inward and wouldn't talk to anybody.''
Marie Judge of Roxbury, said her daughter seemed stressed recently and admitted she was pregnant only when Marie Judge confronted her a month ago.
DSS, which has no record of any prior contact with the family, placed Judge's two other children in temporary custody yesterday. Denise Monteiro, a DSS spokeswoman, said the baby will not be released to Judge, who said she works for Boston Public Schools in food and nutritional services, unless the agency is convinced she can care for the child. The hospital is conducting a psychiatric evaluation of Judge, Monteiro said.
''We're trying to find out what prompted this behavior,'' she said. ''It makes us concerned about her and it makes us concerned about her baby.''
Michael Rosenwald and Farah Stockman of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 7/31/2003.
© Copyright 2003 New York Times Co.
3. George W. Bush collage made out of tiny pictures of assholes by ArtOfResistance.org
While it's been one of my life's goals this last four years to never be pigeon-holed as a George W. Bush "basher" - you have to agree that this is pretty clever.
Butt... before I get to the "Bush Asshole Mosaic" - I have to explain, or explore... what I remember being perhaps the ultimate "fuck you" architecture moment in art history. A dream of something... or what really happened in collage? I can't remember the details unfortunately... maybe someone else can. I remember in my art/architecture history classes... learning at one point about a famous, ancient (Greek? Roman?) architect who at one point wanted to build a two-story structure and have only four columns support the top story... one at each corner... and have the ground floor be totally open. The city planners, or fund-ers or whatever (I think... THINK this was ancient Greece - may have been another time) refused to let him do this because they didn't believe just four columns could support another story... it hadn't been done before. But the architect insisted that his design was structurally sound... he fought and fought with them... in the end he had to relent if he wanted his building built. He built the structure with four columns supporting each corner of the second story... with also many columns in the center as per request by the city planners... heartily and reassuringly supporting the second story without and fear of collapse. A century later, when cleaning the structure of something... workers discovered that he had built the center supporting columns with 1/2 inch of space between them and the ceiling... so the four corner columns had been supporting the structure all that time just as he promised they would. This was not see-able by the naked eye from the ground. Talk about having the last irrefutable word. Is this somewhere in architecture history? What was the architect's name and the building? Am I nuts? Was my art history professor lying? Do you remember this? Does this ring a bell? *ding-dong-ding-dong*? If so please email me!
Well... my point in telling this example of me not paying 100% attention in college or perhaps imagining the whole thing... is to lead up to ArtOfResistance.org's "Bush Asshole Mosaic" - very clever piece indeed (link below).
Although... could you imagine... if this artist, who created a picture of Bush using that miniature-photo pixilated method (but the minature-photo pixels are actually photos of assholes)... imagine if he or she was somehow a White House-appointed portraiter who created this picture under the watchful eyes of George W. Bush's puppeteers? The artist would do the smiling portrait exactly as told to... but would do so using even smaller... unbelievable small... totally microscopic even... pictures of assholes as a color medium. All unbeknownst to anyone but themselves. And then what if the portrait hung somewhere prominent in the White House... maybe was even printed up on currency... or flags! Or on the sides of tanks or airplanes or oil drums? Time would move forward... generations would pass. Then one day... the portrait would be studied somehow... only to be revealed later (with the help of highly scientific equipment) that the President's most famous portrait had been made up of nothing more than a thousand points of assholes...
For a directory of all the different sizes you can choose from (at the ArtOfResistance site, and mirror sites) and download (or order a print of) click here.
(I discovered this through the EverlastingBlort site)
4. Hi-LAAAA-ree-us prank phone call that John Hargrave (of Zug.com) pulled on the R.I.A.A.
Had me crying... this crank call is almost as funny as the RIAA itself has been in these last six months. Except John's prank is "Ha ha" funny... not pathetic funny. Read the transcript of the phone prank here.
5. "Lgnaague is a vrius form otuer sacpe." - Wliialm Brurhguos
Very interesting study, or perhaps just idea, about text/word sight recognition. This has already been passed all over the web... but if you haven't seen it ...check it out. According to somebody... if you scramble the letters in single words... excluding the first and last letter... the words are still recognizable. Crossword puzzle solvers and pre-teen cell phone text messengers have known this for years. Jamie Zawinski has even written a perl script to scramble text in this way.
(discovered through the BoingBoing site)
6. Scientists recognize the "sound" of a black hole - deepest conceivable note in the known universe
Ever hear that theory that says that small animals can become "depressed" while traveling in cars because the low "hum" created by the car's engine and subsequent refraction inside the car has an effect on their small bodies? Well it turns out that we may be the pets and the universe itself is the Volvo. Scientists have discovered evidence that black holes emit "sound" - that travels across the universe and is quite possible the lowest "note" ever... the unhearable-by-the-human-ear sound is somewhere around 57 octaves below middle-C (in a B-flat pitch - if that's imaginable). Read about it here. And then here is a kind of interesting discussion about it on the WFMU message board.
7. www.JewishCheerleaders.com is back online
The two personal websites I check on the most... about as much as Carol Kane checked the children in When a Stranger Calls... are Sam Stern's JewishCheerleaders.com and Jennifer Sharpe's Sharpeworld.com. They are the only two personal sites that I look at regularly... or at least every day. They are like kids to me (the sites... not the creators) ...I need to know they are well. So when both... count'em both sites decided to go on hiatus for the Summer... I about went Andrea Yates bonkers. As of a few days ago... JewishCheerleaders.com is back! And it looks to be sufficiently regenerated and reborn.
Counting down the seconds to Sharpeworld.com... filling the bathtub...
8. Seth Green's portrayal of James St. James in the film Party Monster
I finally saw Party Monster. Actor Seth Green's portrayal of James St. James was hysterical, remarkable and right on target. A great performance that stole the show and was readable even through several inches of blue face paint, glued-on plastic flies, giant green false eyelashes and three pig noses. Every time he opened his mouth on screen I spit out the popcorn I was stealing from Gregory's lap.
9. The ongoing saga of Jim's new Evil Dead-ish cabin in the Catskills...
Wait until you see it... photos and stories coming soon...
Mark Allen's Top Ten Things for
September 8th, 20031. One thing you should definitely have happen before you die: have an organized protest against you - PART 1- video stills by Blass
When I was a kid growing up in Texas, I used to watch John Waters' hysterical film Polyester over and over. It was one of my favorite movies. Among the many sub-plots in the "odoriffic-ly" filmed black comedy... was the constant protesters marching in the front yard of the Fishpaw's lush, suburban home. In the film, the characters Francine (played by Divine) and her husband Elmer were simultaneously thrilled and aghast that there were Christian activists with signs and chants (and tomatoes) in their front yard, day and night, marching and ranting against Elmer Fispaw's local porn theater - which the protesters felt was corrupting the morals of the community's youth. The sleazy, adulterous Elmer was thrilled at all the "...free publicity!" and the overweight, fawning, doormat of a wife Francine was horrified at what her husband had caused, and angry at his encouragement of it because "...now the local women won't speak to me down at the shopping mall!" At one point, she actually goes outside to plead with the protesters by yelling through tears "...please leave me and my family alone! We're a nice family! We haven't done anything to you! Please!" only to be met with an onslaught of jeering and splatting, rotten tomatoes.
Trying to figure out exactly which character I was secretly dreaming of being as I let the film subconsciously seep into my brain over and over is hard to figure. Which did I identify with the most? The hen-pecking, snobbish, overly-moralistic protesters... forcing their value system on the entire world in lieu of saving their children's morals? The opportunistic, corrupt, toupee-wearing Elmer - who couldn't have cared less about any children (including his own) and was stubbornly and bombastically thrilled at all the attention he was getting? The entire-cake-eating, alcoholic, pathetic, Francine... who pleaded for peace... and wanted to avoid conflict in the name of her reputation, naively wanting everyone to "...please just get along?"
Despite that film portraying a kind of surreal comic reality... I nevertheless saw this kind of thing happening all around me. Especially in America. I always wondered "What would that be like?" To be protested against I mean... to have something you did rub a group of people so the wrong way that they went to the trouble to organize and carry out a formal expression of dislike towards you - with rabid flyers disseminated about you... marching in circles in front of your home or place of work... signs with your name in dripping blood letters and a picture of your head on them and a big red circle and "cross-out" sign over your face... screaming people shouting "Shame!" at you and pointing their finger as you walked past... threats left on your answering machine... rhyming clever chants about how bad you were shouted over and over... people in tears, pouring their hearts out in front of television cameras about how they hated you... print ads recruiting people to organize against you... lobbed fruits or vegetables... an effigy of you strung up and jeered at... the works. What would you feel? Would you be thrilled? Angry? Scared? Freaked out? Annoyed? Happy? Sad? One thing I was pretty certain of: you would probably feel was that you were right and the protesters were wrong.
I found out all this information... from both sides.
First, from the side of the protesters:
My first foray into the world of organized protests and activism came in the form of ACT-UP, which I enthusiastically joined some time in 1991, when I first moved to NYC - starry-eyed and empty headed. ACT-UP (The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) was formed in 1987 by a handful of determined visionaries who wanted to try and wake America up to the growing AIDS epidemic (which was seemingly being intentionally ignored under Presidents Reagan and then Bush) by speaking through the media via direct, ballsy actions... bullshit-less, radical, often humorous protests and clever forms of civil disobedience. The often brilliant organization, who's motto was "Silence = Death", was highly successful in it's beginning... and partly so through it's middle period. Unfortunately it peaked in the Winter of 1989, during a demonstration at St. Patrick's Cathedral when a single protester questionably threw a communion wafer on the ground and stomped on it. That marked a turning point, and ACT-UP... which had by that point spawned cells all over the world and was indeed serving it's purpose... ever so slowly, bit by bit, descended into a kind of low-grade dysfunctional madness... as every pennynickle radical and shallow, Che-reading anarchist within a three-brain radius glommed onto the group and anchored it down into a maddening, nonsensical merry-go-round of old, old-school feminism, tedious racial issue witch hunting, police brutality conspiracy theorizing and warmed-over hippie anti-war charades - in other words; the fetid, fascistic Hell of P.C. group think. By 1995, ACT-UP's New York chapter was indeed a popular and constructive community of close-knit friends and social networks (just like a Star Trek convention), but it's political and social relevance to the still growing AIDS epidemic was an embarrassing joke. Many of the original core member jettisoned from what had, in effect, become a ship of fools... and ACT-UP sailed off as a ghost ship into unknown seas.
When did I jump on that particular bandwagon? My history with ACT-UP was roughly over a year, the period from 1991-92... and even though the group as a global force was in it's Autumn years... it still had a lot of potential, and did a lot of good... and spawned a lot of fantastic memories for me.
Memories? I distributed clean needles to drug users in Tompkins Square Park. I went to public meetings and helped shout down and disrupt speakers (who were there to help people) because their kind of AIDS research and service wasn't politically correct. I got sprayed with mace and had to spend the night in jail with blurry vision because I lost my contacts. I was hilariously tapped lightly with police batons in what seemed to be a surreal attempt by police to not be perceived as using excessive force (at an impromptu demo in front of a police station where an arrested member was being held and supposedly 'tortured' by maniacal police - or so the wild rumor went). I got practically beaten up by normal pedestrians that were infuriated that they couldn't get through us after we tried to halt commuter traffic in Grand Central in a "Day of Desperation" demonstration that's purpose I'm still trying to figure out. When we couldn't stop commuter traffic at that particular demo... we went out and sat in the middle of 42nd street during rush hour - and all 300 of us were one-by-one plucked from the street and hauled off to the pen (I think it was almost midnight by the time they got to me). I finally got to make out with a guy I had had a crush on for months - in the back of a moving police van with both of our hands handcuffed behind our back (how romantic!) and was then heartbroken when they put us in different group holding cells. During a hellish stay in a Nutley, NJ jail (after being arrested with a group that chained themselves under trucks to block the entrance to the Hoffman IaRoche drug company)... I was confronted with a firework (that emitted colored smoke) I had been carrying for the group in my bag that we thought might come in handy to create a "dramatic" effect during the demo... I happened to have it in my bag (lucky me!). During that subsequent trail a month later I had to pay a fine (paid for by, weirdly, someone from Greenpeace) and received an official one-point terrorist record in the state of New Jersey (it's still on file!). I helped install a giant, yellow, inflated condom over Jesse Helms' Arlington, VA home that said "Jesse Helms: Deadlier Than the Virus" and then rather than getting arrested had to spend the afternoon trudging all over D.C. in a rented van as the core members of the group tried to get interviewed on CNN (I would have gladly spent a week in a Medieval torture chamber instead). Helms decided to not press charges since we politely took it down after the press left (I had a nice time re-arranging his front flower bed after one of the tether wires uprooted some tupils), plus he wasn't home at the time (but his maid was). I had a sign I had drawn (depicting Bart Simpson with his pants down and a condom over his penis) yanked out of my hands by a member of Donald Wildmon's American Family Association group and smashed over my head during a sit-in at the Board of Education to try to get condoms distributed to high school students in NYC (the incident resulted in me inviting the member of Wildmon's group to be a guest on a gay-themed radio show I was a part of on WBAI 99.5FM and debate the issue... the person agreed and I scheduled them to appear - only to have my request to debate the person angrily halted a day before the airing - by a feminazi member of G.L.A.A.D. who worked at WBAI). I proposed demos and working group ideas on the floor of ACT-UP meetings and heard members of the assembled chant "Act up!", "Fight AIDS!" all through the hall when they heard something I proposed that they thought made sense (a haunting memory that to this day reminds me of what people in the congregation of churches in my Southern Baptist upbringing did when the pastor spoke of salvation - except they said 'Amen!' not 'Fight AIDS!'). I ended up on 60 Minutes for about sixty seconds - shown being man-handled by Virginia police who were snatching a walkie talkie out of my hand and cuffing me into a police car ('Hi mom!'). I helped cause low-key havoc at George Bush's Kennebunkport, Maine vacation home during a week of protests there... and ended up getting laid more than anything else. I remember sitting inside the Astra drug company waiting rooms chatting with nice secretaries about our favorite television shows while I was helping "shut down" the offices they worked in... all while being handcuffed to the arms of seven other people (under white plastic piping we had our hands clasped to each other in - we were bluffing). I spent countless nights in the NYC police holding system... sometimes getting out almost instantly... sometimes spending a grueling 48 hours. Well, it wasn't countless... I think about six or seven times in NYC and other parts of the upper East coast.
It's strange how all my memories when I was writing this just now tended to involve getting arrested, being in jail, going on trial, the mad rush of excitement, etc... over the cold hard facts of what exactly I was doing and why. At the time I seemed to know... but now, those memories are not the ones that stuck. The names, the companies, the reasons. I literally had to look at an ACT-UP time line on the web to get all the dates and drug companies' names correct.
Nevertheless, in ACT-UP I had made some great, intense friends... and realistically, also some enemies. I felt like, at the end of it all, I had contributed to some great work in "greasing the wheels" of AIDS research and attention... and as time goes on and the AIDS epidemic still grows... having an even bigger world-wide impact now more than ever before... I feel I definitely did something positive.
But also... looking back, and especially being older and wiser... I cannot in all consciousness say that it all was part of some great cause. Much of it was indeed... but a lot of it wasn't. Don't get me wrong... the organization was filled to the brim with dedicated and brave people who worked tirelessly and diligently... many driven by the desperation of dead or dying loved ones... or perhaps their own looming mortality. But also...
The most troublesome (or is 'puzzling' the right word?) thoughts about it all? I remember protesting against people who's story I didn't really know 100%... situations that I hadn't researched thoroughly but that seemed to me nevertheless worthy of being "shut down." Some situations I didn't know at all... I just joined the fight. I remember hating drug companies because I was told to. Screaming "Shame! Shame!" in politicians faces because everyone else was. Anyone who was deemed an enemy... for whatever reason was a target for the whole group... and they'd better not mess with us... because we were WATCHING YOU! Anyone who opposed us? They were picked apart and jeered... we wanted to see them humiliated and taught a lesson... people's lives were at stake and we were fault-less heroes with big sticks whom you'd better not cross. The point of political activism seems to be to disrupt your target's routine to the point where they have no choice but to confront you and listen to your ideas... but when we got people's attention - all they probably saw was our red, screaming tantrum faces yelling "Me! Me! Me!" By the end I remember getting arrested for political actions that seemed like dramatic ego-projection more than anything else. Huge, sweeping demos that seems cooked up from a high school boy's rock star dreams more than from a seriously contemplative and determined mind with a serious goal - one that carefully analyzed and weighed all political and social ramifications of cause and effect - the kind of thinking that started the organization.
And so in the end this was how a once-great ACT-UP, which in the beginning was true strength in the face of the abyss, and a true and pure positive force... became an abyss of a different sort, and eventually rotted in the face of man's ego. But it's no surprise, as studies of most activist movements (or any organizational government) have shown similar patterns.
Despite it all, I often wondered at the time about the people I was protesting against. What was going through their minds? I mean specifically... on a personal level? Did they think we were good? Evil? Courageous? Right? Wrong? Did they think we were waking them up to something they really needed to see? Did they see us as egotistical retarded bullies having a fit? Did they feel we were their conscious? I mean... regardless of whatever was true (or not) ...what were the thought processes going through the minds of the people we protested during our actions?
In 1995, I found out first hand:
By 1993 ...my days of political activism were over.- video stills by Blass
I had moved way on. What cause did I dedicate myself to to replace AIDS activism? Why... the very important world of NYC nightlife!
Trust me... in the early 1990's (and even more so in the 80's)... NYC nightlife was definitely a "world". A world of fake power, fake fashion, fake fame, fake press, real drugs, fake friends, fake escape and sometimes fake happiness ...but also a place of real music, real community, real talent... and yes, real culture. Ideas, ideas, ideas and fun, fun, fun. Any cultural historian with half a brain who can get one eye open can't ignore the traceable lines that lead from many large global cultural trends of the 70's, 80's and 90's back to where they spawned - in underground gay clubs all over the world.
I had already been working in clubs during the time I was with ACT-UP... so it had been there in the beginning. I'll skip over all kinds of things that are obvious... all the adventures and non-adventures and wild times and boring times and sometimes big money and I can say with honesty "sharp fantastic-ness" that was generally my life from around 1991 - 1995. I'll just say that I started out go-go dancing after being spotted at a club by Marc Berkley (also an on-again, off-again member of ACT-UP) and slowly developed a network of friends and then ended up having my own nights at clubs and hosting other events, I got to travel all over the world, do low-key acting and low-key modeling, become kind of "famous", make a lot of money... by the end I had climbed so high that I looked out from my mountain top of "NYC nightlife scene" success and do you know what I saw? I saw the ankles of all the people living in the real world. Seriously.
That's what I saw. In other words: it was a total, total, total blast and, even though I was removed from the real world at the time... I wouldn't have traded that bubble I was in for the real world itself... ever.
How appropriate is that then... when so very ironically... things kind of came full circle from my activist days and I found myself the target of political activists because of the title of an event I was having at one of my clubs in my "in a bubble" nightlife world.
To show you how completely removed I am from the bawdy, hedonistic playground that was NYC nightlife in the mid-90's... I must express to you that I cannot even put into words the degree my face is wincing and my eyes are flipping back into my skull as I type out the words "The Sucking Off Puerto Rican Drug Dealers in the Bathroom Contest" on the keyboard right now - which was the name of the event that sparked the melee. My face isn't turning into an alum-soaked lemon wedge because I think the title is racist or whatever... which was the point of the protesters (I'll get to that later)... it's just because it's so childishly raunchy and ridiculous... potty humor from a deranged five year old who lives in a sewer. But... like it or not... it was a reflection of the world I lived in at the time. Ugh...
I had a Wednesday night club at Webster Hall called The Male Room. It was a gay night... and was notorious during it's 6-month heyday for having bizarre stunt-themed events and homoerotic "improv" theater... as well as hot guys roaming all over the place (which is why people go out - duhr). I think I was trying to mix The Roxy with an art gallery... trying to mix Jackie 60-style brains with guys cruising for each other brainless-ness. I know that sounds completely moronic... but trust me... back then that was a serious goal.
I came up with all the events and shows... pulled in the crowd... hired the dancers, DJs... doormen... guest list... etc. I was in charge of the advertising... blah blah blah. I did all this with a very cool guy named Reign Voltaire. Reign ran the bigger nights at Webster Hall (Friday and Saturday) and ran the Wednesday party with me (his more club kid-centric party was in the main ballroom while my event was upstairs). Webster Hall itself is run by a very colorful, large Italian family... and they were always incredibly cool with me. They are really fun people (I always said someone should make a movie about them) and they definitely got the humor of what I was doing with The Male Room.
One of the most popular events I had there was called "The Hustler Run" - where me and three contestants would split into two groups and leave the stage at a certain time... and the first one to return to the stage with the hottest real male hustler (usually picked up from Port Authority or a well-known hustler bar in Times Square) would win a prize... sort of. It usually ended up with me just paying the hustler to entertain the crowd on stage... nothing sexual... just stripping and having people come on stage and goof off with him... maybe have the two we had picked up from the different teams "compete" to see who could whip the crowd into more of a frenzy. All this as I stood there in my underwear (my humiliating costume for every single night) and with a microphone nonchalantly asked them question after question about what it was like to have sex with gross old men for a living. The hustlers that got picked up for the show were indeed real... trust me... some were pretty scary. This added authenticity to the whole thing which really fascinated people... like they were seeing something kind of illegal. It was surreal and hilarious... and the crowd ate it up. And the money rolled in.
The Male Room... for it's first six months... was a great success. I didn't even have to try to get people to show up... they came in droves... and I and the club couldn't have been happier. But... club life being the fickle thing that it is... six months didn't last forever. Things in club land tended to flare up... burn white hot... and then disappear. The crowds on Wednesday nights started dwindling more and more... people around town started copying my ideas and pulling people into different spaces... we got distracted and lazy with the shows and events... people eventually started going elsewhere. I had other events happening at different clubs at the time so I didn't worry about it too much. Webster Hall started paying me a flat fee rather than a cut because the money stopped coming in truckloads. People still came... but it wasn't a mob... every week Reign and I would be like... "Well... should we do it again next week?" The conclusion would always be "Yes! Run some more ads in HX and Next magazines! Hire different DJs! Come up with crazier events! Advertise free booze! Have (yet another) Hustler Run!" ...and we would go through the motions once again. Reign and I should have canceled the whole thing right then and there and moved on... but we decided to draaaaaag it out... hoping that we could somehow make it happen again and again and again. For another six months it dragged on like this... it was still fun... but showing up every Wednesday to a half-full or semi-full party was starting to feel like the graveyard shift.
That's when it happened.
Back up about two weeks:
I was in a Theater Couture play at the time; The Final Feast of Lucrezia Borgia... and was backstage getting ready. As I was getting into my Shakespearean frilly top, codpiece and medieval tights... I was multitasking! Hahahaha! No, but seriously... I was also on the phone with Reign and we were trying to figure out what text to put on the new Male Room ad... which was due to the magazines that afternoon. Someone within earshot (I think it was Mistress Formika - who was always teasing me) said something like "...oh what are you going to have this time Mark? The sucking off Puerto Rican drug dealers show?" Everybody laughed... and then, right from her mouth to my ears and then out of my mouth into the phone and into Reign's ears and out of the pen in his hand onto a piece of paper and into a brown envelope and into a messenger's hand and to the offices of HX Magazine went the text for a full page ad for Wednesday night at The Male Room that said "The Sucking Off Puerto Rican Drug Dealers in the Bathroom Contest" (wince... groan...) Reign asked me, as he was writing it down, what we thought the contest should be. I told him I didn't know. The shows there by this point were ridiculously stupid... weird improv stuff I would do on stage with audience members to a room 1/3 the way full. No sex or anything like that... just bawdy, in-joke theater. Total silliness.
And that was that. HX Magazine (who's motto on the cover of every issue, at the time, was 'The totally biased, politically incorrect party paper') ran the full-page ad for two weeks... and the second week it ran right on the very back of the magazine.
This was a mistake on my and Reign's part (HX really isn't to blame - they were probably too busy to even notice... and, finding themselves in a new and had-never-happened-before situation, acted swiftly and appropriately when the whole controversy exploded - in favor of both sides). The words "Sucking Off Puerto Rican Drug Dealers in the Bathroom Contest" (cringe) belongs just where it spawned from... in the dark, illegal-ish, outlaw, after hours gay clubs of the East Village... where over-the-top outrageousness and alcohol and drugs rule the value system and debauchery and general decadence aggressively encourage an atmosphere where there is no such thing as "bad taste". The art/freak/gay people who gather at these downtown events thrillingly embrace such a value system... and egg on performers and themes that try to out-do each other... brimming over into a kind of apocalyptic cultural meltdown where nothing at all is sacred and everyone is screaming with laughter... that is the world that these people feel warm, centered and at peace in. Conclusion: the words belong in that space and world, and do not belong on the very back of a magazine that is distributed all over five boroughs... in big black and white letters where just anyone's eyes can pass across them. The phrase (and resulting ridiculously lame show) "The Sucking Off Puerto Rican Drug Dealers in the Bathroom Contest" (wince... ugh...) is nothing compared to some of the language and stuff that went on in downtown clubs in the mid-90's (and still does today). And the people (on the whole) that frequented these establishments and were part of that gay world wouldn't even begin to question the humor in such a title.
So then whole thing blew up. I remember when an oblivios-to-what-was-to-come me first got a call at home from an ex-boyfriend (who was Latin) who told me "Mark... these people... this group... they've been calling me a lot because they know I know you... and... I'm really scared... they are gonna show up at your house... they... they want to have you arrested... they are gonna have a protest at Webster Hall... they are calling City Hall to try and get a case against you to have you thrown in jail..." You could hear the awkward fear in his voice. I was like "Wait... wait... now what are you talking about?" He explained to me, shakily, that he had been receiving calls from some people he knew peripherally in a group called The Gay and Lesbian Coalition Against Racism... that were trying to mobilize the gay and lesbian community of all colors to have a demonstration at my club, have the club shut down, have me arrested and put in prison, and force me to make a public apology to the entire gay and lesbian community and communities of color before hauling me off to the slammer. I was like "...huh? Wait... repeat all that again?" He explained it to me again and I think I got the point.
It's hard to put into words how... but at the time I was soooo busy with my life... that it hardly even phased me. I had an event to either go host, or perform at, almost every night of the week and I guess I just didn't have the mental room to process all the information. Hence... I practically ignored what he had told me. It sounded like some wacko prank call that had rattled a friend of mine. I literally forgot about it.
Boy was I in for a (nostalgic) jolt...
I believe that the best thing for me to do is to share my horrible past to help others avoid the same path.
I like offending people! It's how I fight society's bull. Call me obsessive...
"Oh we thhhooouuught yyyooouuu would be caaalllllllliiinnng u-s-s-s-s-s-s!!!" he said with the same sort of tone and inflection The Joker used whenever he lured Batman and Robin into one of his diablical traps.
Angrily draw battle lines with crayons.
Having a bunch of activists have a full-blown protest against you in front of where you work may look exciting from the outside but, much like winning an Emmy Award ...or being nailed to a cross as The King of the Jews... the boring, doldrums reality of such an esteemed position, once you are no longer on the outside looking in... the view from the ivory tower is not so exciting or glamorous.
I soon learned that Francine and Elmer Fishpaw getting picketed or pelted with tomatoes for peddling porn to toddlers wasn't as glamourous or exciting as it seemed... they were just actors shouting lines and doing slapstick pantomime in an outrageous comedy... and I now knew exactly how they felt.
...PART 2 coming in next week's "Top Ten"
- video stills by Blass
Mark Allen's Top Ten Things for
September 1st, 2003
Okay you! There's actually a 10-ed "Top Ten" this week (gasp!) No part III to My Wallace Langham Daydream (yet - I'm working on it) but here is this instead. It's kind of a lazy one... it's mostly links to other things... some (long) stuff to read. Some of this stuff I have talked about before. One of the entries is a literal cut-and-paste from a previous "Top Ten" that I felt got lost in the mess (can you figure out which one?) Nevertheless... here it all is... The first three entries are kind of inspirational... inspiring that there are actually people out there like this. Am alone in saying that people like this make me feel like there is even more hope for the human race? Don't you think people like Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla would have been delighted to hang around people like these?
1. I am woman! Hear my (muffled) roar!
Click here for the latest in old English grandpa dudes who like to wear their wife's clothes and hot creepy plastic female masks over their sweaty, suffocating faces. Gregory and I have been fascinated by this a-peel-ingly twisted subculture ever since we discovered it a few years ago. These men are generally "old school" cross-dressers who, instead of faces full of make-up, wear plastic and latex masks that represent every possible variation of the "beautiful" and "female" face... everything from Barbie Doll to serial killer and all stops in-between. The new generation of gender-fuck political lesbians from Williamsburg and the LES would probably shoot these men dead on sight (or would they love them?).
These female mask lovers have conventions, parties, clubs, etc... but mostly seem to enjoy making and wearing their masks and photographing each other doing ordinary womanly things while wearing them. And the photos they take belong in The Louvre. On this website, you'll find that after the tenth or eleventh photo of some guy with a wig, dress, heels and an ovablastic mask on his face... you'll have to get up and go outside and look at trees or something. It's not sick or disturbing... like Marie Osmand's new plastic surgery... just odd and thought provoking. It makes you think about what life means like in that way you saw your first dead kitty on the side of the road as a little kid.
If Artforum was to put just one of these amateur photos on the cover of one of it's issues it might actually cause something interesting to happen in the art world. The pics are amazing and, remarkably (or is that refreshingly?) there seems to be no (or very little) overt sexual activity involved in their "world." At least not the tedious S&M or pansexual variety usually (lazily) associated with such behavior. It's just all about putting on women's clothes and wearing a hot, sweaty mask that looks like it came out of Mary Kaye's worst nightmare over your constricted face ...and just being. La... la-la-la...
This entry then leads me to the next two...
2. Mr. Blow-Up
3. Julie the Clown's Messy Slapstick Website
Oooookaaaaayyyyy... Click here for Julie the Clown's Messy Slapstick Website. Hoo-ray!
Click here to find more Gunge and Wet and Messy (WAM) websites. Good clean fun by people with obviously proportional cerebral fortitude! Oops!
4. The unbelievably wacky science fiction novels of Lionel Fanthorpe
If any of you keep up with my webpage at all (like you should you will-less SLAVES!), you'll know my affection for mystery "web-work" novelist Harry Stephen Keeler. Well, thanks, once again to Richard Polt, founder of the Harry Stephen Keeler Society, I may have discovered another slightly different but no less loopy author - Lionel Fanthorpe. He wrote a zillion novels for various quickie sci-fi publishing houses - particularly in the 1950's (often under many pseudonyms). To keep up with the grueling deadlines (sometimes having to finish a 158 page novel every 12 days) he would often just speak his novels into a reel-to-reel tape recorder (hiding under a blanket so as to keep his writing 'secret' intact)... then send the tapes off to a transcriber who would write everything down (with a wide-eyed, blank look on their faces as they typed no doubt). The trouble with this method is that Lionel often would re-introduce characters that had died chapters earlier, forgetting they had expired... or get plot lines twisted and weaved based in his hall-of-mirrors, overactive imagination and memory. But the most interesting characteristic of this method of working was Fainthorpe's amazingly colorful tendency to just go on and on and on in bafflingly complex detail about whatever his characters were doing...
Check out this passage about a woman deciding to brush her teeth in his novel "Dark Continuum" (the cover of which I used in the above entry #7):She screwed up the securing diagram and was overwhelmed by a sudden desire to clean her teeth. It became the be all and end all of existence for a few seconds. The desire to clean her teeth grew absolutely compulsive, she could have no more resisted it than she could have flown unaided between two planets.No Wonder she has a flying eyeball pestering her. And all this inside a science fiction novel! Check out this passage from "Return of Zeus":
Moving quickly from the radio to her living quarters, she squeezed a little water into a plastic container and put a few dabs of toothpaste on her brush. She slipped the brush into her mouth and pressed the small button in the end which activated its electric motor. The bristles-soft, gentle bristles, guaranteed not to damage the enamel or the gum-moved swiftly against the teeth. She began with the top left molars, worked round to the bicuspids, and came round again from them to the incisors, the canines, the laterals and the centrals. Once she had reached the front of her mouth, she-changed her grip on the brush so that it moved round to the top right, travelling over the bicuspids and molars as it moved. Coming down the sides of her teeth, she paused and took a deep breath, placed a little more paste upon the brush and moved it round again this time beginning with the actual chewing surface of the upper right molars, coming round and cleaning again between the crevices until she had worked round to the left-hand molars.
Once more she put paste on the brush in this same elaborate ritual and concentrated her attention now upon the inside of the upper left molars, the inside of the upper left bicuspids, round across the incisors and so back to the right-hand masticators. She rinsed the brush, reapplied the paste and repeated the whole ritualistic process with the lower teeth. She cleaned the brush very carefully and then, in a set way, put it back and moved back towards the radio set.
She had taken barely a dozen paces when she was assailed by a horrible thought that she had not cleaned the top left inside molars. She stood in an agony of uncertainty for five minutes, then went back to the bathroom area of her living quarters, recharged the brush and carefully cleaned again the top left molars on their inside surfaces. She looked at her reflection in the mirror; it foamed back at her like a rabid dog.
"This time I have done them all," she said. "What about the bottom inside molars?" asked her reflection. "I have done them all," said Marian firmly. "If you have forgotten them the bacteria responsible for dental caries will get in," said the voice in her mind. "It is no good being clean on the outside if you have forgotten the inside. Are you sure you have done the left inside?" "Yes, I have, I have." Marian picked up her toothbrush and flung it savagely across the dome; it bounced from the thick plastic glass and broke on the floor.The co-pilot was right. Even with the eyes shut a blueness was still everywhere. The world had suddenly turned into a vast blue phantasmagoria, a panoply of blue that was everywhere. A vista of blue desert, of blue twilight. A blue glitter, a blue sparkle, a coralescing, scintillating blue that seemed to have no end and no beginning. There was no escape from it. It was an inevitable blue, an unescapable blue. They could smell it now, it seemed to be penetrating their nostrils, their lungs, the pores of their skin. It was seeping into their bodies as thought they were immersed in a bath of it. They felt that it was invading them, that somehow it was penetrating to the innermost depths of their souls, their minds and their bodies. There was no stopping that blueness.Or this passage from "The Girl From Tomorrow":She hurried to the tiny bathroom and splashed rather than washed; flying upstairs again she dressed with breathless haste and flew through into the kitchenette of her minature flat. Cornflakes spilled into a Swedish-modern plastic bowl like coins from a perverted Mint. Milk drenched the gold, dissolving it into a miry bog of gooey, yellow white mud. Sugar descended like badly thrown artificial snow in a provincial pantomime. It sank as snowflakes sink into river banks where there is not quite enough frost to freeze ugly mud and provide a safe anchorage for the miniature white stars. Estelle's spoon dipped into the milk-sugar-grain sog and her even white teeth made some sort of pretence at catching the mouthfuls as they went through. Any relationship between the frenzied gulping and normal mastication was purely co-incidental.Are all the characters in his novel's stoned out of their minds 24/7? Fanthorpe was, and still is, a very skilled and unique writer... it's just that his technique lead to a sometimes style that often falls into the "bad writing" category in the same way that Ed Wood's films fell into the "bad filmmaking" category. Same with Harry Keeler. The similarity I see with Harry Keeler here is the phenomenon of the mind working much too fast and "big" for the hands and typewriter (or keypad). Keeler and Fanthorpe both seemed to lay down their words as their brains leapt forward at light speed... and their hands (or the hands of a transcriber) scrambled to keep up. The fact that Fanthorpe spoke many of his novels onto tape and then had perplexed transcribers type them for him makes a lot of sense... one can almost hear him speaking in a William Shatner monotone, under a blanket, into a microphone... going on and on and on... lost in his own thoughts but still keeping up with the story... censoring nothing. Where as most writers would censor themselves and "trim the fat" so to speak... Keeler and Fanthorpe wrote (or spoke) EVERYTHING down. Hey it's all good!
Unlike Keeler though, Fanthorpe is still alive, still writing... and keenly aware of his cult following. While I am ever so slowly still adding titles to my Keeler collection... I have yet to lay my hands on a Fanthorpe novel. But for now... I'm content trolling around the Lionel Fanthorpe homepage (see what he's doing today) or the very informative other Fanthorpe page (be sure to sample their excellent random Fanthorpe quote generator) and sampling little hord'erves of his writing. Hors d'oeuvres that are spicy... yet quaint... with a quaintness that almost defies... by their definition... their spiciness... as my saliva glands ooze their natural juices... juices that echo a process spanning back years in the evolutionary history of our universe of cruel dog-eat-dog... as I stare at the literary hors d'oeuvres like a salivating dog, but actually a human looking at words (is there a difference I wonder?) and boldy choose one based on the quality of it's all wheat cracker base... pondering the evolutionary connection... unable to look back... a God in my own universe of choices and words and crackers...
5. Jorge Luis Borges' The Library of Babel
Have you read it? It's fantastically laborious and thrilling-ly tedious but pretty interesting.
6. Tom Wright... the artist who created all the oil paintings for Rod Serling's Night Gallery
All the creepy, psychedelic horror paintings that rod Serling used to introduce each story in his 1970's show Night Gallery were done by a painter named Tom Wright. Tom Wright did not die a poor, broken man (like Van Gogh)... he is now a very prolific and successful network TV director. He did the paintings in oil on canvas for the series' first season... then switched to acrylic on masonite for all the following seasons. Apparently there is quite a following for these paintings (they show up at auctions and sometimes actual forgeries are discovered). You can read all abut it here (click on 'The Paintings').
7. Camille Paglia's Cults and Cosmic Consciousness: Religious Vision in the American 1960's
Read it yet? Click here for a .pdf file (opens in Acrobat Reader) or here for a more html-friendly version. I don't know if she will ever write the "part II" to Sexual Personae that she has promised for so long (kind of)... this makes it look like she's getting in gear to though.
8. The Surrealist Compliment Generator
Click here for instant Butthole Surfer lyrics.
9. The Compendium of Lost Words
Mash here for the Compendium of Lost Words. I have accepted the eveniency that the acrasial, amarulent and apanthropinization tone of my usual "Top Ten" uglyography will finally be exipoticated by a cloakatively of another flosculation. One more thing: although I am not a philargyrist , I am indeed a phlyarologist... and did you know that at one time my friend Gregory was an epalpebrate? Although he has told me that he often needs an odynometer to get through one encounter with me.
10. Jim's new house
Details coming soon...
Copyright 2003 Mark Allen
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