Monday, August 31, 2015

start the week correct:
Japan: Schooled about Stool
Osaka wows faecal-focused learners

this is insane.
While going to the toilet is often flushed aside as a crass topic for children's education, Osaka has warmly embraced the topic of toilet-tutelage, dazzling faeces-focused learners at the ‘Toilet? The exhibition is a faecal roll-coaster ride of stool-related information and attractions, giving guests the opportunity to slide down an over-sized toilet over three metres high, wear faecal-fashioned hats, and learn from singing, interactive toilets. People visiting the museum also get the chance to examine various types of excrement, both human and animal, in all their glorious shapes, sizes and smells.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Welcome to Dismaland: A First Look at Banksy’s New Art Exhibition Housed Inside a Dystopian Theme Park

the official website of DismalLand

and this from from Colossal

WESTON-SUPER-MARE — Inside the walls of a derelict seaside swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK, mysterious construction over the last month—including a dingy looking Disney-like castle and a gargantuan rainbow-colored pinwheel tangled in plastic—suggested something big was afoot. Suspicion and anticipation surrounding the unusual activity attributed to fabled artist and provocateur Banksy has reached a Willy Wonka-esque fervor. Well, if Banksy’s your bag, continue fervoring. If not, there’s more than a few reasons to continue reading.

The spectacle has since been revealed to be a pop-up art exhibition in the form of an apocalyptic theme park titled Dismaland (“The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction”) that will be open to the public for five weeks.

The event has all the hallmark details of a traditional Banksy event from a shroud of ultimate secrecy (the event area was plastered in notices designating it as filming location for a movie titled Gray Fox) to general themes of apocalypse, anti-consumerism, and anti-corporate messages. However there’s one major deviation: the emphasis of Dismalanded is largely on other artists’ work instead of Banksy himself.

So just what’s hidden inside the walls of this derelict seaside resort? A demented assortment of bizarre and macabre artworks from no less than 50 artists from around the world including Damien Hirst, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, and Espo. In addition, Banksy is showing 10 artworks of his own.

Dismaland also has artworks by numerous artists featured here on Colossal over the last few years including pieces by Escif, Maskull Lasserre, Kate McDowell, Paco Pomet, Dietrich Wegner, Michael Beitz, Brock Davis, Ronit Baranga, and others. From the event’s official brochure:
Are you looking for an alternative to the soulless sugar-coated banality of the average family day out? Or just somewhere cheaper. Then this is the place for you—a chaotic new world where you can escape from mindless escapism. Instead of a burger stall, we have a museum. In place of a gift shop we have a library, well, we have a gift shop as well.

Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus—a bemusement park. A theme park who’s big theme is: theme parks should have bigger themes…

This event contains adult themes, distressing imagery, extended use of strobe lighting, smoke effects and swearing. The following items are strictly prohibited: knives, spraycans, illegal drugs, and lawyers from the Walt Disney corporation.

In addition to art there are a few rides, completely impossible fair games, interactive artworks, random live performances and unexpected spectacles happening throughout the day. The entire exhibition is staffed by morose Dismaland employees who seem completely uninterested in being helpful or informative. Getting in requires an uncomfortably awkward NSA-esque screening, and even trying to find the exit required a near herculean effort.

I had the honor of helping curate a particularly fun part of Dismaland: a program of 24 short films shown on a massive outdoor cinema that will play on a loop day and night. Films include shorts by Santiago Grasso & Patricio Plaza, Kirsten Lepore, The Mercadantes, Ze Frank, Adrien M. & Claire B., Black Sheep Films, and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.

Dismaland is open to the public from August 22 through September 27th, 2015 and information about pre-booked and at-the-gate tickets is available here. There’s also a series of events including a show by Pussy Riot and Massive Attack on September 25th.

I think it goes without saying, but if you have the means, get to the UK.

I would love to go see this! - GEF

- This post originally was supposed to post last sunday, but there was a mix-up and it didn't go live till a few days later, so here's the rewind. Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

How Did the Beatles Get Their Name?

Saturday Mystery from NeatORama:

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website
I must have read, in my life, a fair estimate of around 500 or 600 books on the Beatles. I have read each and every one worth reading. I will give most any Beatles book a fair chance, but if I spot more than two or three errors or obvious mistakes, I will just stop reading it and go on to another book.

(As an interesting side note, of these hundreds of actual bios, autobiographies and memoirs, I have only found a handful that did not have some kind of a mistake, error, wrong date, or omission- at least one.)

Many questions involving their fascinating history are undisputed, but many are still debated and are a bit foggy, even to this day. One of these is: how did the Beatles get their name? Okay, let's go back to Liverpool, England in the mid-1950's and do some investigating.

In 1956, John Lennon, a loud-mouthed, but talented teenager, started a group called “The Blackjacks.” This original rock "skiffle" band consisted of John and a few of his close pals. Skiffle groups were groups who played on improvised instruments, such as tea chest bass, washboards, etc.

Though this was the group's very first name, the briefly-named Blackjacks never performed under this name. Lennon soon changed his group's name to “The Quarrymen" (in honor of his current school Quarry Bank High School.) It was as The Quarrymen (sometimes spelled as Quarry Men) that John Lennon and his band actually started singing in public.

This was the band Paul McCartney watched the day he met John on July 6, 1957. This is the band Paul McCartney joined in October of 1957. On February 6, 1958, another local lad, George Harrison, also joined the Quarrymen.

The Quarrymen

It was during this late 1950's period that name changes became frequent. Once, all the members of the group showed up in different colored shirts, so they called themselves “The Rainbows.” At a talent show the boys entered in 1959, they dubbed themselves “Johnny and the Moondogs.” In May of 1960, John and Paul did two small shows by themselves and dubbed themselves “The Nerk Twins.”

In 1960, reputedly, John and his best friend at art college, Stu Sutcliffe, came up with the name “The Beatles.” The story goes that the band loved Buddy Holly and his group "the Crickets.” So the two went through several insect names and finally arrived on “Beetles".

Stu thought of “The Beetles,” but then John, who loved puns and wordplay, thought of changing the spelling to “Beatles,” as they were a beat group. As John was to later elaborate in a 1964 interview: “It was beat and beetles and when you said it, people thought of crawly things, and when you read it, it was beat music.”

Ironically, Paul recalls everyone telling the band what a lousy name “Beatles" was and urging them to change it. Paul himself says he remembers John and Stu running up to him and anxiously telling him how they had thought of the name “Beatles" the previous night.

In the interim, during the first half of 1960, from officially deciding on the Beatles, the group morphed through "the Beetles,” "the Silver Beetles,” "the Beatals,” "the Silver Beets,” and "the Silver Beatles" -in no particular order. John recalled once being introduced onstage as “Long John and the Silver Beetles.”

(Historical note: in May of 1960, the group did their first tour, a brief series of gigs in Scotland. It was during this tour that the boys changed their individual names: Paul became “Paul Ramon" and George became “Carl Harrison.” John was reputed to have changed his name to “John Silver,” but he always denied this and his version seems to be correct. “I always liked my own name too much,” explained John.)

The “John invented the name Beatles" version was accepted for decades, but two other explanations were to surface after his death in 1980.

In the 1995  documentary Beatles Anthology, George explained that the Beatles came from the 1953 Marlon Brando film The Wild One. In this film, Brando plays a character called “Johnny" and he has a motorcycle gang called "the Beetles" in it.

Beetles. Johnny. Get it? A perfectly logical fit.

This sounds good, except that the film The Wild Onewas banned in England until 1968. This would seem to discount this much-after-the-fact revisionist theory. Curiously, although George first mentions The Wild One genesis theory as early as 1975 in an official interview, he is on record many times in the '60's being asked the question about how the group got their name and he never once mentions the Brando film.

As I see time after time in studying the Beatles, one of the biggest sources of false data in the Beatles' history is the Beatles themselves. Incredibly, in his later years, George once cited the wrong date for his own birthday.

Later, an obscure beat poet named Royston Ellis came forth and claimed he had thought up the Beatles name. Ellis had spent the night hanging out with John and his friend Stu in June of 1960. The fact of this get-together is confirmed and undisputed. On the night in question, during a chat, Ellis asked John about his group's name and John replied “The Beetles.” He asked john how he spelled it and john said “B-E-E-T-L-E-S.”

According to Ellis, he thought of the changing of the spelling to "B-E-A-T-L-E-S" because he was a "beat" poet, beatniks were the rage at the time, and John and Stu fancied themselves part of "the beat scene.”

When John wrote a 1961 comical article for a local paper about how he came up with the name “Beatles,” he jokingly said, “It came in a vision- a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them 'from this day on you are Beatles with an a’.”

Even this explanation gives rise to debate, because Royston Ellis further claims that the night he gave John and Stu the name Beatles, he heated them a chicken pie for dinner, and the pie caught fire in the oven. Thus, Ellis was "the man on a flaming pie.”

Royston Ellis with the Beatles in 1963

Now, John Lennon was well-known to put actual autobiographical occurrences into his songs and his writings throughout his career. Could Royston Ellis actually be the guy who thought of the name the Beatles?

The band went to Hamburg, Germany, to do several months of shows in August of 1960. It was there that they "officially and forever" changed their name to the Beatles.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention one final Beatles name-derivation theory. John's wife, Yoko Ono, claims that john actually thought of the name completely alone, without anyone else's help. According to Yoko, John literally "had a vision of the man on a flaming pie" and that he, alone, thought of the name from this alleged incident.

Which theory do you believe?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

DEVO becomes public art, streets of Akron, Ohio are overrun with Booji Boys

from Dangerous Minds:
DEVO becomes public art, streets of Akron, Ohio are overrun with Booji Boys


On Saturday August 15, 2015, Akron Ohio’s finest post-rubber export DEVO were honored in their hometown with the dedication of a piece of public art. The iconic 1978 Janet Macoska photo of the band in full stage uniform in front of the late, lamented hot dog stand Chili Dog Mac was colorized, enlarged to life size, and placed over that onetime landmark’s former facade next to the Akron Civic Theatre. This dedication is the first part of a planned renovation of that entire block, which has become a bit rundown and suffered vacancies despite having an anchor in the popular theater.

The event was a stone hoot. DEVO’s bassist/co-mastermind Jerry Casale and photographer Macoska were present, free chili dogs were available to all assembled, and the event began with a surreal and hilarious stunt, the Running of the Booji Boys. A couple dozen revelers in identical Booji Boy masks and blue jumpsuits danced in the middle of South Main St while a DJ pumped out DEVO music. The masks, not incidentally, are recreations by Akron’s SikRik Masks. DM has told you about them before. (All photos are by Ron Kretsch except where noted.)











Rick “SikRik” Fisher of SikRik Masks, in a sea of his handiwork. Photo courtesy Fisher.


Following this wonderful bit of insanity, we were treated to reminiscences from Casale and Macoska, a longtime music photojournalist who’s been honored with a retrospective at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (to which, ironically and bafflingly, DEVO themselves have yet to even be nominated, let alone admitted), and her work has been the subject of the books Jews Rock: A Celebration of Rock and Roll’s Jewish Heritage, It’s Always Rock and Roll, and the brand-spankin’ new All Access Cleveland. She spoke first:

Hello spuds! I’ve got to say that when we did these photos, the guys from DEVO and myself, we were all just starting out. I was 23, you guys [addressing Casale] were probably about the same age, and this was true collaboration, this is when there’s no barriers between artists and we had fun… “Iconic,” I’m not sure how it turned out that way, but I’m so thrilled, 37 years later, to see this have another life, and to pay tribute to our Akron hometown band, international superstars DEVO!

Casale, possibly the most fan-friendly major figure in pop music history, and certainly among the most thoughtful, reminisced at edifying length about the circumstances that colluded to produce the familiar photo.

This photograph by Janet was taken on a break from filming at the Akron Civic, when we were filming the video to “Satisfaction.” That’s why we have the guitars and gear and everything straight off the stage. We were filming a mock performance as one scene from the video, and we had just returned from Germany, from just recording our first record with Brian Eno as producer. We were back and we were on a break preparing to go to California, to move there to kind of police our label Warner Brothers Records, our domestic label—you had to be in proximity back then when there was a real record business. And we got a desperate call from Virgin Records, which was our European label, that our song “Satisfaction” was getting airplay, and they needed a video. They offered us fiiiiive thoooouuusand doooollars, [crowd laughter] which was actually, in ‘78, a big hunk of money for a starving band. And we were still starving, we were still a cult band, nothing had happened yet…

So we got busy and Mark [Mothersbaugh] and I quickly came up with an idea and fleshed it out. I filled in all the storyboards with a shot list and a description, he put the drawings in. We called Chuck Statler, who had moved to Minneapolis—he had done our film with us in 1976, “The Truth About De-evolution,” that kind of put us on the art crowd map because it went to the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and we thought “let’s keep the team together, let’s keep doing this,” and we brought him in from Minneapolis to produce. It was crazy. Everything was do-it-yourself, no permits, this-and-that. And we came out here on a break, with Janet, on the street, while we were changing camera angles and stuff, and started shooting and having fun just coming up with things to do around here. And of course Chuck Kozelski, Chili Dog Mac, was a MUST, we all said “we have to take pictures in front of Chili Dog Mac!” That day, the filming produced a wealth of photographs in a lot of locations here on this street, but this one out of all of them became the one that kind of stood the test of time, because it’s so incongruent that these five guys that looked like they got plunked down from another planet, from a spaceship, stuck on the street in font of this populist hot dog joint.


L-R: Bob “Bob 2” Casale (RIP 2014), Jerry Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob “Bob 1” Mothersbaugh, Alan Myers (RIP 2013)


Photographer Janet Macoska with Jerry Casale


Takes guts to draw comparisons to your young self on a good day four decades ago…


After the ceremony and audience Q&A, the assembled mob of fans took turns posing for photos with the life-sized artwork, and Casale joined in on that action as well. Later that afternoon and evening, the annual DEVO convention/fan gathering DEVOtional was being held a quick hop up I-77 at Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom, and Casale made his seemingly annual appearance there, as well, signing memorabilia and taking more questions. (His Q&A was brutally frank and pretty amazing, though regrettably I can’t reproduce it here, as the organizers of the event only permitted recording on the condition that said recordings not be publicly shared, a condition I’m perfectly happy to honor.) But before his Q&A, Casale joined the Georgia DEVO tribute act DEVOMATIX onstage for their encore, and to the surprise and delight of a full house of assembled DEVOtees, he sang the songs “Beautiful World” and “Be Stiff” with the band. At age 67, the man is still a spry and engaging performer.







Seems fitting to end this one of my all time favorite DEVO clips—VERY old film of the band performing “Satisfaction” in 1977. The differences between this early version and the one you know are HUGE.