Friday, December 19, 2008

cryin' shame

Junior Wells performing with Buddy Guy and David Myers in the movie Chicago Blues, 1970.

dedicated to matt.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

anything is impermanent

In his set of lithographs entitled Neo-Ruins, Japanese artist Hisaharu Motoda portrays vivid and exceptionally detailed scenes of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. The images exude a sense of silence, an absence of human life, and an alarming vulnerability of the places we think to be invincible. Motoda says: “There is a Japanese saying ‘anything is impermanent’... I feel beauty on such fragile things, and would like to express it in my work.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

speaking of abandoned places

Read about the emptied prairie in North Dakota.

"In the early 20th century, railroads lured settlers into North Dakota with promises of homesteads. Towns were planted everywhere. Houses rose from the sweep of the plains, many, like this one, with a story no one can trace. People believed rain would follow the plow. But they were wrong."

[from National Geographic]

frank zappa hates coughs

Award-winning commercial for Luden's cough drops, featuring a soundtrack by the one and only Frank Zappa.

antarctica is a popular place to abandon

The Ghosts of Antarctica: Abandoned Stations and Huts
[dark roasted blend]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

from our mouths a perpetual light

the neverending search for perpetual motion.

Monday, December 1, 2008


"those who live, live off the dead"

- antonin artaud

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

moon and sand

meet me children meet me
meet me at the top of the sky
all i want for you to do
is take yourself a little higher

(image via life: mojave desert lava cave were technician is testing a space suit for apollo flight)

when languages die

"A new book by K. David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore, titled When Languages Die, looks at what we lose when languages disappear. Unusual ways of counting. Unique landscape names and calendars. Specialized vocabularies for the natural and agricultural world. Fantastic rarities of grammar, such as the suffix -sig in the Siberian language Tofa that means "smelling like." Examples come from dozens of languages from all over the world. He even illustrates with his own adventuring among nomads in Siberia and Mongolia, hunting down the last speakers of atrophied cultures.

But what caught my eye was this claim by Harrison: "Languages can package knowledge in radically different ways, thus facilitating different ways of conceptualizing, naming, and discussing the world." Elsewhere he calls languages "packaged information." In systems of kinship terms, for instance, which vary dramatically among different cultures, each one is "the result is a highly compact, highly efficient system of knowledge that packs multiple bits of information into small spaces."

In other words, languages are design objects."

Love it. Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


ballad of a crystal man

Illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren, from an extremely rare 1923 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales.

daito manabe: electronic facial contortionist

Daito Manabe’s newest art piece uses a machine that translates music into electrical pulses. Through the electrodes taped to his face, these pulses cause the muscles to twitch and jerk into contorted expressions along to the beat of the music.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

it was a bluff and it turned into an art

Speaking of Lithuania, Vilnius is also the site of a world-famous Frank Zappa memorial statue, whose national public support was rounded up by a world-famous white lie. At the opening ceremony, Zappa surely would have been smiling as he looked down upon a formerly communist military orchestra playing his anti-establishment tunes.

rollingstone has the full story.

soviet bunker theme park

(image from azillphotos)

"When confronted with the issue of what to do with an ex-Soviet bunker in the countryside, an enterprising Lithuanian decided that some things should be left the way they are…

Welcome to 1984: Išgyvenimo Drama, otherwise known as Survival Drama in a Soviet Bunker.

Built near Vilnius in 1980, when Lithuania was still a part of the USSR, the bunker’s past life includes protecting a television transmitter and acting as a secure outpost for Soviet troops. Encompassing 4,000 cubic meters and buried 5 meters deep, the bunker is a remnant of Soviet occupation, which the Lithuanians have found more difficult to get rid of than the army.

Instead of letting the building fall into complete disrepair, some lucrative Lithuanians decided to put the bunker to some use, so, concerned about young Lithuanians lack of understanding about their country’s past, producer Ruta Vanagaite was prompted to create a re-enactment project, demonstrating the experiences of the previous generation.

Išgyvenimo drama opened in early 2008 to some controversy. Tourists pay 120 LTL ($US 220) each to step back into 1984 as a temporary USSR citizen for 2.5 hours. On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker.

Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.

The Soviet Bunker is not a theme park for the faint-hearted; all of the actors involved in the project were originally in the Soviet army and some were authentic interrogators, however there are performances tailored specifically for school groups so they know when to cool it, too.

Before heading back into the real world, participants are treated to a shot of vodka. They leave with a better understanding of life under Soviet occupation and, no doubt, a new respect for their elders past."

- from environmental graffiti

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dia de Los Muertos

Catrina, in a 1913 zinc etching by Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada.

The word catrina is the feminine form of the word catrín, which means "dandy". The figure, depicted in an ornate hat fashionable at the time, is intended to show that the rich and fashionable, despite their pretensions to importance, are just as susceptible to death as anyone else.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

banksy's pet store

a leopard napping in a tree, chicken nuggets sipping on BBQ sauce, fish sticks swimming in a tank, and a surveillance camera nurturing its young. your typical west village pet store.

(thanks, Matt!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

lau nau

In 2006, I hopped on a plane and flew to Helsinki on a mission to find the roots of this foresty psych-folk coming out of Finland. I was utterly fascinated by the sound. It wasn't just that I wanted to buy records - I wanted to breathe the air and see the light that was causing such a sound to be created.

Lau Nau, short for Laura Naukkarinen, is one of the more famous artists hailing from the way north. I was lucky enough to catch her performance at the Knitting Factory on 9/19/08, and lucky enough to have Matt there to film it since I was too busy being carried off to strange worlds by her songs :)

If you like her sound, be sure to check out Fonal Records. Along with some of Lau Nau's stuff, they're responsible for putting out Kemialliset Ystavet, Islaja, and Paavoharju, artists you may have heard of since they're gaining popularity nowadays (yes!!). Just be sure to support them, since I don't know what would happen to my music life if they ran out of money!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008


Jacob Kirkegaard is an artist with an interest in the scientific and aesthetic aspects of resonance, time and hearing. His performances, audio/visual installations and compositions deal with acoustic spaces and phenomena that usually remain inaccessible to sense perception. With the use of unorthodox recording tools such as accelerometers, hydrophones or home-built electromagnetic receivers, Kirkegaard manages to capture and explore "secret sounds" - distortions, interferences, vibrations, ambiences - from within a variety of environments: volcanic earth, a nuclear power plant, an empty room, a TV tower, crystals, ice... and the human inner ear itself.

A graduate of the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne, Germany, Kirkegaard has given workshops and lectures in academic institutions such as the Royal Academy of Architecture in Copenhagen and the Art Institute of Chicago. During the last ten years, he has been presenting exhibitions and touring festivals and conferences throughout the world. He has released five albums (mostly on the British label "Touch"). Among his numerous collaborators are JG Thirlwell, Ann Lislegaard, CM von Hausswolff, Philip Jeck and Lydia Lunch.

the conet project

"Static. Faint voices. Seven slow, monotonous tones. A pause. Suddenly, you hear music--one of those wind-up songs played by a child's toy. The melody repeats three times. A pause. Suddenly, you hear a female voice counting off the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 in German. A pause. She repeats the numbers. A pause. The children's toy melody returns."

"So begins The Conet Project, perhaps the greatest collection of found art ever produced. This is not only a monumental work; it is also a monument, a testament to 50 years of Cold War espionage, a living document of the world's most secret agencies. That most of these agencies are still around today merely enhances the importance of this work."

"...Numbers stations transmit coded messages through shortwave radio. These messages are transmitted from places all over the world, yet the basic numbers station message is remarkably uniform. It usually consists of a voice (most often female) reading off a series of numbers. On many occasions, this reading of numbers will be preceded by a song--usually familiar (like the English folk song, "The Lincolnshire Poacher") or distinct (the weird children's toy music I mentioned earlier, which is called "The Swedish Rhapsody"), though there are signals without music and signals that simply transmit Morse code messages. Above all else, one thing remains constant: nearly every transmission begins on the hour, lasts between ten and fifty minutes, and is almost invariably repeated several times over a 24-hour period."

"What are these messages? Well, no one has ever come forward to prove that these stations are linked to spy networks, but almost everyone who has ever studied the signals believes that they are. But why would a spy network like the CIA or the KGB or Israel's Mossad or Osama BinLaden's Al-Qaeda--with all their money and resources--bother transmitting messages through something like shortwave radio, a cheap technology that would allow anyone in the world to listen in? There are two reasons. First, shortwave is not only cheap but also common, meaning a spy can easily carry around a good shortwave radio without attracting any attention whatsoever. Second, the messages use what is called a one-time pad, which is generally considered the most secure cipher ever created--provided that the sender and the receiver are the only ones in possession of the key to unlock the message."

comforts of home

domestic UFO detection of John Shepherd, who set up this station in his grandparents' living room in the mid 1970s.

(from Jacques Vallée's Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults)

the australian lyre bird

it can imitate cameras, car alarms, and even the sound of chainsaws cutting down its home.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

rock medicine

Paul Devereaux on archaeoacoustics:

"Canadian rock art interested us because of a traditional Algonkian Indian belief that manitous – spirits – lived inside rocks and cliff-faces, and that shamans in trance could enter the rock surfaces and meet with them in order to exchange tobacco offerings for supernatural power, usually referred to as “rock medicine”. (If the shaman failed to carry out this operation correctly, though, it was said he could become trapped in the cliff or rock he had spiritually entered and never return to his body outside. In our terms, he would die or go mad.) We wanted to test the hypothesis that such rock art marked venerated, magical places where the spirits could be heard; perhaps places where echoes were unusually strong. Had the Indians, like the ancient Greeks, believed echoes to be the sound of spirits calling, mimicking human-made noises to do so?"


"Man eating plants, most frequently inhabiting the jungles of Africa in popular fiction, may have been based on initial reports of plants that could trap and kill mammals, such as Nepenthes rajah.

However, there are unconfirmed reports, primarily from Latin America, that allege the existence of still-undiscovered species of large carnivorous plants. The most comprehensive compilation and discussion of such reports currently in print can be found in British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker's book The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003)."

(from wikipedia)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


referred to as the trees of life, the upside down trees, and in antoine saint-exupery's le petit prince, the trees that could split small planets.

they held prisoners inside their trunks.

one bush legend has it that the god Thora took a dislike to the baobab growing in his garden and promptly chucked it over the wall of paradise; it landed below on earth, upside down but still alive, and continued to grow.

in another, the gods got so irritated by the vanity of the baobab, as it tossed it branches, flicked its flowers and bragged to other creatures about its superlative beauty, that they uprooted it and upended it to teach it a lesson in humility.

swimming cities of switchback sea

part floating artwork, part performance, part mobile utopia.

"Swimming cities of Switchback Sea is a flotilla of seven intricately hand crafted vessels that will navigate the stretch of the Hudson River between Troy and the New York harbor this August 15th - September 7th. Imagined as a hybrid between boats and bits of land mass broken off and headed out to sea, the Switchback vessels will make stops in towns along the river bringing performances and music. Over the course of three weeks they will make their way toward their home port - an invented landscape tucked into a niche along the East River in Long Island City, Queens.

The Swimming Cities is designed and organized by printmaker and installation artist Swoon. Collaborators include playwright Lisa D’Amour, the band Dark Dark Dark and circus composer Sxip Shirey." (from

(photos from nytimes)

Friday, August 29, 2008

robert fludd's musical instrument illustrations

"These ingenious illustrations are from the book De Naturae Simia written by the very controversial physicist, astrologer, philosopher, and mystic Robert Fludd (1574-1637) who was first to discuss the concept of blood circulation. Maybe this is why so many of his instruments seem to involve hydraulics." (from oddstrument)


"Sunrisescape is the sound of the sunrise. You listen to the day getting brighter and brighter. From the time before the sun starts to rise over the horizon to lightens up the sky until the sun have risen high enough to give a more constant daylight. The lightwaves from the sun are translated into audible soundwaves with the help of light sensors and two oscillators producing sinewaves."

Recorded November 2004 in Helsinki:


Thursday, August 28, 2008

languages die, but not their last words

From a Sept 2007 New York Times article by John Noble Wilford:

"Of the estimated 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, linguists say, nearly half are in danger of extinction and likely to disappear in this century. In fact, one falls out of use about every two weeks.

Some languages vanish in an instant, at the death of the sole surviving speaker. Others are lost gradually in bilingual cultures, as indigenous tongues are overwhelmed by the dominant language at school, in the marketplace and on television.

New research, reported yesterday, has found the five regions where languages are disappearing most rapidly: northern Australia, central South America, North America’s upper Pacific coastal zone, eastern Siberia, and Oklahoma and the southwestern United States. All have indigenous people speaking diverse languages, in falling numbers.

The study was based on field research and data analysis supported by the National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. The findings are described in the October issue of National Geographic and at

In a teleconference with reporters yesterday, K. David Harrison, an associate professor of linguistics at Swarthmore, said that more than half the languages had no written form and were “vulnerable to loss and being forgotten.” Their loss leaves no dictionary, no text, no record of the accumulated knowledge and history of a vanished culture.

Beginning what is expected to be a long-term project to identify and record endangered languages, Dr. Harrison has traveled to many parts of the world with Gregory D. S. Anderson, director of the Living Tongues Institute, in Salem, Ore., and Chris Rainier, a filmmaker with the National Geographic Society.

The researchers, focusing on distinct oral languages, not dialects, interviewed and made recordings of the few remaining speakers of a language and collected basic word lists. The individual projects, some lasting three to four years, involve hundreds of hours of recording speech, developing grammars and preparing children’s readers in the obscure language. The research has concentrated on preserving entire language families."

"Many of the 113 languages in the region from the Andes Mountains into the Amazon basin are poorly known and are giving way to Spanish or Portuguese, or in a few cases, a more dominant indigenous language. In this area, for example, a group known as the Kallawaya use Spanish or Quechua in daily life, but also have a secret tongue mainly for preserving knowledge of medicinal plants, some previously unknown to science.

“How and why this language has survived for more than 400 years, while being spoken by very few, is a mystery,” Dr. Harrison said in a news release.

The dominance of English threatens the survival of the 54 indigenous languages in the Northwest Pacific plateau, a region including British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Only one person remains who knows Siletz Dee-ni, the last of many languages once spoken on a reservation in Oregon.

In eastern Siberia, the researchers said, government policies have forced speakers of minority languages to use the national and regional languages, like Russian or Sakha.

Forty languages are still spoken in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, many of them originally used by Indian tribes and others introduced by Eastern tribes that were forced to resettle on reservations, mainly in Oklahoma. Several of the languages are moribund.

Another measure of the threat to many relatively unknown languages, Dr. Harrison said, is that 83 languages with “global” influence are spoken and written by 80 percent of the world population. Most of the others face extinction at a rate, the researchers said, that exceeds that of birds, mammals, fish and plants."

photos by richard evans schultes

"Richard Evans Schultes, an explorer and botanist, spent much of his career penetrating remote reaches of the Amazon, where shamans taught him the healing properties of plants often unknown to science. In his pursuit of natural pharmacopeia, he imbibed strange brews and snorted potent snuff to personally test the effects, often donning traditional costume and participating in tribal ceremonies. By the time he died in 2001 at age 86, Schultes had documented 300 new species and cataloged the uses of 2,000 medicinal plants, from hallucinogenic vines to sources of the muscle relaxant curare." (from smithsonian)

slime is cool

watch slime mold and mushrooms grow in time-lapsed video.

Monday, August 11, 2008


2008 Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing. 2008 drummers countdown to the start of the games on 8/8/08.

88 Boadrum. A Boredoms-conceived performance taking place in both LA and NY on 8/8/08, beginning at 8:08 pm, lasting 88 minutes, and including 88 drummers.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

os gemeos paint kilburn castle

with Nina and Nunca, completed June 2007.

Friday, August 1, 2008

creeping on toward totality

Solar Eclipse - August 1, 2008

and a previous eclipse, viewed from space:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

the madman is a waking dreamer

Thoughts on dreams, borrowed from James Hughes' Altered States:

The Greeks built temples to Hypnos, the god of sleep, where sick people would sleep, hoping to be cured by dreams.

The Romantics fed on the irrational dreamworld for their art, preferring it to the certain rationality of the Enlightenment. Some used drugs such as laudanum, opium, and hashish to bring them to these places when their rational minds could not.

Freud said that dreams are our repressed sexual and aggressive urges. In most of us, the ego censors these urges during conscious states. Since the ego loses much of its control during sleep and thus cannot block these urges, it must make them “acceptable” by disguising and distorting them.

Carl Jung saw parallels between psychotic delusions and ancient myth and theorized that below the personal unconscious in all of us lies a collective unconscious, shared by all of humanity. This could explain why many of the same dreams and mythological themes appear in otherwise unconnected cultures. He viewed dreams as gateways to this collective unconscious.

Shamans and yogis act consciously in “dream bodies” which can take them to other locations and other worlds.

Dutch physician Frederik van Eeden was one of the first in the Western world to record an account of lucid dreaming, noting that the dream worlds in which he traveled “cleverly imitated” the real world but with “small failures.” Like shamans, he described being able to slip into his “dreaming body” and believed that flying in a dream often indicated the onset of a lucid dream.

While for most people, dreams are considered an altered state of consciousness that is different from a normal conscious state, in some people the line is blurred. Psychotics do not appear to need to dream during sleep to the extent that non-psychotics do. It is believed that this is because psychotics dream while being awake.

Circle on a Bus in San Francisco

Best guys, on and off stage.

tonight I listened patiently to broadcasted silence on the radio

Elbow-Toe in Impose Magazine.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Son House - Death Letter Blues

reverence in the songs, reverence in the numbers

Blue notes: flat third, flat fifth, flat seventh.

The number 3: The perfect divine number, the holiest of all numbers. Golden Triangle. The highest deities are in threes: Babylon had Anu, Bel and Ena; India had Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; Greco-Roman Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, and the Christian Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Carl Jung said it represented the merging of the will with the heart and the soul. The ancient Babylonians and Celts said it represented creation being born out of the union of the number 2. It is associated with Hecate, the Goddess of the Crossroads.

The number 5: Pythagoras said 5 represented man in perfect balance with the universe and contained the sum of the male and female elements. The five symbolizes the individual (one who defies the natural order). Five fingers on the hand. Pentagram. Four elements of earth, air, fire, and water surmounted or united by spirit. The Chinese believe the number represents the 5 elements that are used in the divination oracle The I Ching: earth, air, water, fire and metal. Consists of two unequal parts, 2 and 3, two obtuse and one acute golden triangle. The diversity supposedly brings evil and misfortune.

The number 7: Spiritual perfection, completeness. Age of reason. Renewal. Seven levels of hell, seven evil spirits, seven capital sins, seven virtues, seven sacraments. The apocalypse consists of seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. Babylonian Ziggurats had seven steps (Tower of Babel), as did the Temple of Solomon. The angle of the Great Pyramid is that of a seven-sided polygon. A heptagon (7-sided polygon) cannot fit evenly into a circle - the angles are an infinite number. Rome was built on seven hills. Buddha seeks salvation for 7 years before achieving enlightenment. 7 days in a week, seventh day is holy and for rest. Fields were to be left fallow every seventh year as a means of allowing the earth to regenerate itself. The number 7 is God's number.

Bill Monroe - Wayfaring Stranger

Gives me chills.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Talking Drums

The Yoruba , the Akan, and many other African peoples speak pitch-tone languages in which a single syllable or word has several meanings, and one indicates the desired meaning by speaking at an appropriate pitch level, usually high, middle, or low. Among these people, speech has melodic properties, and the melodies found in music suggest words and sentences. By using generally understood correspondences between pitch configurations in speech and in music, musicians can make their instruments talk. This is the secret of the celebrated West African talking drums, which literally drum up trade for merchants by announcing wares and prices and can also send messages, announce visitors, and flatter or revile public figures.

- Robert Palmer, Deep Blues

New York City Breakers

Mr. Wave is my hero.


From the animated cartoon "Samson og Sally" by Jannik Hastrup.