Sunday, August 31, 2008

Leaving tomorrow

This blog will likely continue until the burial of the butt (barrel) at the end of the month, but this will be last post from the highlands. We had our final dinner tonight, which was nice, though it's very sad to be leaving. Jin and I drive to the airport tomorrow morning together and Ming leaves the following day. I found out tonight that his wife is expecting their first child, who was conceived in the cottage next to the castle, several weeks back. Martina will be gone by the time I return late September.

I will miss Andy most of all. Every aspect of the residency program here is fantastic, but his hospitality, knowledge, wit, etc. etc. elevates the experience to something truly memorable. I can't imagine negotiating my project with anyone other than him. He deserves a big fuckin' vacation at the end of all this.


I tend to sneak out the back door because I dislike goodbyes, so I'm gonna cheat here on my last day and quote from Kristin Hersh's blog from last week, about leaving Edinburgh:


"......This is not enough time to be in Scotland. Not enough time to love everyone we meet, not enough time to watch gorgeous dogs run on the green, not enough time to drink tea as strong as whisky and whisky as strong as god, not enough time to breathe clean meadow air, not enough time to gawk at real-actual-gazillion-year-old-no-fucking-kidding castles......"

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Last days


The above pic shows what remains of the massive bonfire from our barbeque last week. Tomorrow night we are all meeting up for one last dinner, and then I leave the following morning. My homesickness is in almost perfect balance with my reluctance to leave. For example:

Things I am looking fwd to:

More than one pair of (muddy) shoes to wear.
Clothes dried in a dryer.
Going to the cinema and eating popcorn (people look at you funny here if you ask for popcorn).

Things I will miss:

Rabbits in my front yard, cows and sheep across the street, and horses kept as pets.
Not having to lock my bike up, no matter where I leave it - in the middle of a forest or outside of a pub.
Whiskey that's as available as running water.

Strange Overtones

I downloaded the new Brian Eno/David Byrne collaboration a few weeks ago, but hadn't listened to it much, until today. I was worried that it couldn't possibly live up to the high expectations I would have for it, given that their previous collaboration (twenty-seven years ago) was the brilliant My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Compounding my fears was the first track made available on their website, Strange Overtones. The lyrics recount Byrne hearing a song by his neighbour, thru the thin apartment walls. Lines like "this groove is out of fashion, these beats are twenty years old" only serve to remind how unlikely this all is to work. Byrne also seems to be singing in a key just out of his range, again highlighting the strained/forced feel of the project.

It's easy to mistake the first song from the record as the 'single', but this isn't the case here at all. Strange Overtones is only the first song to be released, and given away for free. So perhaps unfair to judge the record by.

I listened to the entire album, twice, today while hauling rocks (less fun, even, than it sounds) and it's surprisingly good. As expected, it does not come close to the brilliance of their former collaborations, but it is better than anything they've put out individually for about a decade. It also made me think that if all the stadium bands smart enough to hire Eno as producer (Coldplay, U2, etc.) were smarter, they would get him to sing back-up. His voice is represented here less than I would've liked (I was hoping for an equal balance - like his collaboration with John Cale, Wrong Way Up) but it adds an amazing warmth to an already warm record, whenever it appears.

Update

The barrel for my whiskey was produced last week in the cooperage by Don Ramsey and Gordon Davidson. The contract I've written is awaiting a final proof from the legal department. The boxes are under construction and the label designed. The location in Warehouse 8 where the barrel will be buried has been chosen. Today I will walk a mile or two with my green wheelbarrow and collect stones from the Fiddich River (where our bonfire and pig roast was held last week). In anticipation of returning to Toronto on Monday I switched my desktop weather report back to the city, and then mistakingly read that today would be a warm sunny day in Dufftown. It turns out it's going to be 18 degrees and partly cloudy, which is lucky, because that is a warm sunny day in Dufftown.

Van Halen vs John McCain

It was reported today that Van Halen object to the use of their song Right Now by John McCain yesterday when announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate. The band released a statement saying "Permission was not sought or granted, nor would it have been given." Presumably McCain's handlers are more familiar with the song from it's use in a 1992 Pepsi ad, than it's origins on an album called F.U.C.K. The 1991 record's full title is For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which seems to champion rape or prostitution or some other form of illegal sex (perhaps sodomy, which was illegal in most states, even between a husband and wife, until 2003).

George W. Bush also used the track as one of his theme songs, often playing it at rallies during the 2000 campaign. When Van Halen reunited for a 2004 tour, they projected the Right Now music video, with the addition of an image of Bush and the caption "right now nothing is more expensive than regret."

Other songs McCain has used until he was asked to stop include Frankie Valli's Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Jackson Browne's Running on Empty, Chuck Berry's Johnny B Goode and two songs by John Mellencamp - Pink Houses and Our Country. Even McCain's self-professed favorite band, Abba, objected to his use of Take A Chance On Me. It's not only songwriters offended at the misappropriation of their work - Mike Myers recently demanded an end to the unauthorized use of the Wayne's World "We're not worthy" clip.

My earliest memory of musicians battling candidates over the right to use their music (and the implied endorsement) was when Reagan mistook Bruce Springsteen's anti-war song Born in the USA as a patriotic anthem, and Springsteen had to set the record straight. Last week the Democrats used the song, either with permission, or without complaint.

Friday, August 29, 2008

'Hockey Mom' for VP

I can't get over the cynicism of today's political announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain's presidential running mate. First of all, it is made less than a day after the Democratic convention wrapped up (hell, they were droping hints about it during Obama's acceptance speech) in a clear effort to steal thunder from the convention. Secondly, the crass move of choosing a woman, in the hopes of winning over disgruntled HIllary supporters, shows just what Republicans think of woman - that they can be bought very easily. Sure, they're angry that Clinton lost out to Obama, so they won't mind voting for an essentially unknown woman who believes that victims should be forced to have the offspring of the men who have raped them. She also believes creationism should be taught in school and that global warming "isn't man-made". Oh, and McCain has only met her once.

The bulk of Palin's experience comes from being mayor of an Alaskan town of less than seven thousand people. I've lived on city blocks with larger populations. Given that their campaign is all about painting Obama as inexperienced, this seems a strange choice for second-in-command. If the Republicans take the White House in the fall, the US could go from having their oldest president, to having their youngest, in a single (failed) heartbeat.

I suppose today was no worse than eight years ago when Dick Cheney was selected to head Bush's vice presidential selection process, and he chose himself.

Pope vs Kippy

Following a politician's hunger strike, the Pope has apparently weighed in on the Martin Kippenberger controversy and called his crucified frog blasphemous, and requested its removal.

According to the New York Times, the board of the Museion Museum decided by a majority vote that the sculpture, would remain in place for the remainder of the exhibition.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Very Short History of Slow Cinema

l was asked the other day about the origins of elongated time in my work. The short answer is a few influential audio works of epic length (La Monte Young's work, Rodney Graham's Parsifal, some interpretations of John Cage scores, Brian Eno's Discreet Music, etc.) but when I think about it I can trace it back to a movie I saw in my mid-teens. I can't remember the name or even content of the film, but just past the mid-point a couple in front of me got up and walked out. The film wasn't particularly bad and I don't think it could be deemed offensive to anyone (they weren't protesting onscreen nudity or violence, for example). The thing that struck me was that before leaving they looked at their watch, as though they had somewhere else to be. The film, though, was also not particularly long, so it's not like they found themselves running late accidentally and had to get back to the babysitter or another engangement.

I remember thinking how great it would be if there was a type of very long cinema that you could come and enjoy for a time, but leave whenever you wanted, not when the credits rolled and ushered you out the door. Shortly afterwards I learned that such films did exist, and had for decades.

Recently I've been hoping to curate an exhibition of Slow Cinema for my friend's animation festival in Ottawa, but given that I bailed on them this year (as juror and curator of a small show) to come here, that ship has probably long sailed. The festival is quite adventurous and I thought it would be funny to screen the following films, which are about as un-animated as you can get:

Tree Movie (1961). Fluxus artist Jackson Mac Low, inspired by a La Monte Young score that called for a note to "be held for a long time", wrote a script for a film that that requires a camera to film a stationary object, for an indeterminate amount of time (see below).

Probably the most famous durational cinema, Andy Warhol's Sleep (1963), was likely inspired by Tree Movie, though Mac Low routinely denied this. The five-and-a-half hour, silent black and white film features poet John Giorno, sleeping. The film cheats a little, looping some footage, which was possibly either a financial or practical concern. A year later Warhol shot Empire, which is eight full hours of continuous, real-time footage of the Empire State Building.

Glasgow artist Douglas Gordon made his name with the 1993 film 24 Hour Psycho, which slows down Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho to last a full day. Less well known, and perhaps conceptually tighter (though maybe more of an one-liner?) is his 1998 follow-up Five Year Drive-By. This work takes John Ford's western The Searchers and slows it down to match the epic quest of the characters in the John Wayne classic. The frame changes approximately every 23 minutes.

Perhaps my favorite of all is from the early seventies, but has been rediscovered recently. Tony Conrad, still best known as an electric violin player and almost member of the Velvet Underground, created Yellow Movie by demarcating a black frame on a canvas or wall, and painting it white. The paint stands in for the emulsion of film and the 'action' of the 'movie' is its eventual yellowing.

I'm particularly fond of this because of my interest in cameraless films. Pop Quiz, TV Sweater, and Super Infinity were all made without a film camera.






Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TV

Today I drove with Andy to Aberdeen to pick up some journalists visiting from Taiwan. It's about a two-hour ride there and back, but given his hectic schedule, it was the best way to catch up with him on a few things. We finalized a few details regarding the project, and then talked about British Television. Much of it was familiar, and I realized that more than just about anything, my family used to bond over imported TV. We watched Fawlty Towers, Monty Python, Not the Nine O'Clock News, Black Adder, etc.

Andy reminded me of a show called Comic Strip Presents Bad News, which I had seen when I was in the country in 1987. The Comic Strip was a series which featured comedians who would go on to form French and Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous, and The Young Ones, amongst others. Bad News is a pre-Spinal Tap mockumentary about a failing rock band, featuring characters not dissimilar to the ones the same actors portrayed on The Young Ones: singer and lead guitarist Vim Fuego is played by Adrian Edmondson with a similar seething rage to Vyvyan Bastard; rhythm guitarist Den Dennis by Nigel Planer is as thick-headed as the hippy Neil; and Colin Grigson on bass, portrayed by Rik Mayall is pretentious and effete like his Young One's character Rick - the "people's poet" sociology student/anarchist.

Presented as a fly-on-the-wall rockumentary, the half hour show parodies the format itself, as well as the incompetence of the band, at the height of vacuous British hair metal. The film-makers follow the group to a gig in which performing to four people and a dog does nothing to minimize their delusions of grandeur:

"We'd be as rich as The Rolling Stones if we'd sold as many records as them"

"I could play "Stairway to Heaven" when I was twelve. Jimmy Page didn't actually write it until he was twenty-two. I think that says quite a lot."

The show was produced by Channel 4, who now produce the excellent Peep Show, but the calibre of programming I've seen here on the channel (one of four I receive) is better indicated by this evening's programming:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tree Rings, Dark Days



I've always liked how the tree trunk's storage of data was similar to that of vinyl records (a comparison made many times, see below) and how they serve as the perfect way to illustrate timelines. The scene in Hitchcock's Vertigo (and explicitly referenced in Chris Marker's La Jetee and Terry Gilliam's remake of it, 12 Monkeys) perhaps best conveys the wonder of contemplating inter-generational time thru a single object:

MADELEINE: How old?
SCOTTIE: Oh... some, two thousand years, or more.
MADELEINE: The oldest living things?
SCOTTIE: (Nodding, as he watches her, wondering, as she looks about thoughtfully) You've never been here before?
MADELEINE: (Shakes her head, lost in thought as she lets her gaze wander among the trees)
SCOTTIE: What are you thinking?
MADELEINE: (Searching) Of all the people who have been born... and have died... while the trees went on living.
SCOTTIE: (Agreeing) Their true name is Sequoia Sempervirens: always green, ever- living.
MADELEINE: (Flatly) I don't like them.
SCOTTIE: Why?
MADELEINE: (Simply) Knowing I have to die...
..............
EXT. RED WOODS - (DAY) - CLOSE SHOT We see the two profiles: Madeleine staring at the tree, Scottie staring at Madeleine. She raises one gloved hand and almost idly begins to trace a finger up along the white line that is marked: 1776 DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. And as the hand moves a little to the left, Madeleine begins to speak, almost vacantly, oblivious of all but this piece of tree, and herself.
MADELEINE: Somewhere in here I was born... and here I died and it was only a moment for you... you took no notice...


Tree-rings (or 'annual rings') are also now helping to rewrite history, chart weather patterns, determine what year ancient volcanoes erupted, forecast fire systems, etc. etc.

Earlier this summer tree-rings solved a mystery that was two-and-a-quarter centuries old. In New England, on May 19, 1780, in the middle of the day, it was dark as night. Many thought judgment day had arrived. Abraham Davenport, a member of the legislature of Connecticut, famously announced "I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face, No faithless servant frightened from my task, But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls; And therefore, with all reverence, I would say, Let God do His work, we will see to ours. Bring in the candles."

Known as New England's Dark Day, or Black Friday, the event has long been the subject of speculation, but with little scientific consensus. Some suspect it might have just been a particularly bad overcast day, but records indicate that there was less than one-tenth the sunlight one would expect on a cloudy day. People reportedly ate by candlelight, animals behaved strangely, and night birds came out to sing. Another suggestion was that massive wildfires were the cause, though this was quickly dismissed as 'simple and absurd.' Limited long-distance communication at the time prevented colonists from verifying their hypotheses.

But in June of this year researchers at the University of Missouri used tree rings as "ecological artifacts" to determine that fires in Canada were likely the cause. Large numbers of trees in the Algonquin Park in Ontario were found to have scars indicating a massive wildfire occurred in 1780, strong enough to have caused atmospheric conditions hundreds of miles away.







Sunday, August 24, 2008

Help

Okay, after disapproving of blog posts that plead for help, I'm going to do it again.

The boxes for the A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead) edition are currently being manufactured. They will be hinged caskets held together with rare-earth magnets, with foil embossing on the front mimicking a heat brand. The verso will have a printed label with some information about the piece that isn't included in the contract. I want to use this image, but I can't find a version at a decent enough resolution. I've come across the picture on three different sites, but always at 288 x 363. It's perfect for so many reasons but I need a crisper, larger image.

Does anyone happen to recognize it? Know what terms one might search to find it (beyond 'dendrology')? Know of a program or a search engine that lets one search using an image as a starting point? (the technology exists, I just don't know where).




When I read that part of the Hitchcock script where Madeleine and Scottie are among the redwoods, she touches the tree rings and says, “Here I was born and here I died. It was only a moment. You took no notice," I got goose-bumps. When it came to shoot that scene, I had goose-bumps. Just touching that old tree was truly moving to me because when you touch these trees, you have such a sense of the passage of time, of history. It’s like you’re touching the essence, the very substance of life. I remember taking my father to see the redwood forest once. He wept and so did I. He ‘got’ it in the same way as I do. We never talked about it. That scene in Vertigo I felt more than any other.

- Kim Novak

And so all you observers
In your scrutiny
Don't count my scars like tree rings


- Vic Chesnutt, Panic Pure

Rosetta

I've been reading for three days now about the Nuclear Waste Marker project. I thought that the Clock of the Long Now was the most 'forward thinking' project (10,000 years) outside of Science Fiction (which, despite my father's large collection, I've never had any interest in reading). But this project needs to consider the possibility that future generations beyond this time span (quite possibly post-humans) might intrude upon a deadly nuclear waste site. It therefore requires a marker that is not limited to language, and that is more offputting than it is curiosity piquing.

Heading up the project, Greg Benford asked a "computer-whiz friend" how he thought the site should be marked. He quickly replied "Scatter CD ROM disks around. People will pick them up, wonder what they say, read them - there you go." Benford laughed out loud at the ridiculous suggestion and his friend replied in a puzzled, offended tone, "Hey, it'll work. Digitizing is the wave of the future."

Actually, it's the wave of the present. But these suggestions are not uncommon from the desperate-not-seem-out-of-touch. It's the Faith Popcorn Futurists equivalent to "think of the children". I've been to Artist-Run-Centre conferences where guest speakers have rattled on about automating various Human Resources tasks, oblivious to the fact that most centres represented in the room had two to four employees. Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino launched a website a few years ago to crack down on, uh, graffiti. I'm sure it was effective.

CD Roms (are they even still called that?) are notorious as a poor medium for long-term storage and even if they weren't one would have to constantly migrate data from one dying medium to the next. I have old interviews and other texts on floppy disks but can't be bothered to track down an external reader to move the data onto my laptop. There're also probably stored in a word processing package too old to read, at least without some serious formatting revisions. So I'll probably never see them again.

A project began 8 years ago (and expected to take no more than twelve months) was finally launched a few days ago. It involves a translation of Genesis into 1500 languages, non-digitally, and it fits onto a disk that is only three inches in diameter. I believe that the bible was chosen as the source material, not as some evangelical pursuit (thought it may have helped secure funding) but rather because it is already translated into most of the world's 7000 languages. Also included on the disk are pronunciation guides, lists of common words, etc.

Titled The Rosetta Project (after the Rosetta Stone from 196 BC), the project aims to make these languages - some of which are spoken by less than a thousand people - available to future generations. Globalization and the prevalence of English (as a tourist I feel a little ashamed at how infrequently I have to make an effort to be understood) means that between fifty to ninety per cent of the world's languages might disappear by the end of the century.

On one side of the disk the eight most-common languages spell out the introduction: “Languages of the World: This is an archive of over 1,500 human languages assembled in the year 02008 C.E. Magnify 1,000 times to find over 13,000 pages of language documentation.” On the verso, in pure nickel, is 13,500 pages worth of etched text which requires a 750-power optical microscope to read. The disks are hand-crafted at a cost of $25,000 and are expected to last at least 2,000 years.

An earlier prototype was sent into space in 2004, similar to the Golden Record aboard the Voyager in 1977. In six years it will land on a comet, where it will orbit the sun for millions of years.

Weekend


I just realized I have exactly a week left in Dufftown. I am a little homesick, to be sure, but it will be very difficult to leave here, also. And not only because I have many unfinished things to resolve.

Yesterday Andy and the Glenfiddich team organized a nice BBQ for about forty people at the 'beach' (mostly rocks) where I had been encouraged to collect pebbles (rocks) for the burial of the cask (which is actually called a butt, but...). They had a pig on a spit and lots of whiskey, gin and vodka to drink, followed by an enormous bonfire made up of wood from trees that had to be removed from the site, staves from old barrels, etc. It must have been at least 20 feet high. Martina took this shot which comes closest to capturing the strange purple smoke it was emitting.

Miraculously it didn't rain us out until almost 11 o'clock. Cycling home in the rain and wind and mud was particularly hard when tired and tipsy, but mostly so because it gets pitch black here at night. In certain areas you can't see your hand in front of your face. By 'certain areas' I mean most of the 15 minute ride home.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Balvenie Castle


Originally known as Mortlach, Balvenie Castle was built in the 13th century (or 12th century, according to Wikipedia. I think they mean 1200's) for the Comyn earls of Buchan. The castle changed hands several times, but reportedly never saw battle, and was abandoned after the suicide of its owner William Duff, in 1724. It was unroofed a decade later and fell into ruin. Twelve years ago it was bought by a Coca-Cola executive, though managed by Historic Scotland.

It is five minutes from my cottage, and five seconds from one of the other artist cottages, which is about a hundred feet away.

Here are some pics which include the back of Roula's head in the foreground so that they don't look like generic postcard images, like the one above.

Are there any good documentaries about contemporary artists?


I try to resist blog posts as 'poll' but I'm truly at a loss here. The other night we went for drinks at Mike's place and got to talking about the dearth of good art documentaries, probably as a result of my complaining about Strange Culture, which I detested. Both Mike and I are fans of Ray Johnson, but found How to Draw a Bunny pretty underwhelming, which is remarkable given the artist's fascinating life.

Good music documentaries, by comparison, are plentiful. We talked about the Half Japanese doc The Band That Would Be King and The Devil and Daniel Johnston (both by Jeff Feuerzeig), the Fred Frith film Step Across the Border, the Lennon doc Imagine, etc. Even Some Kind of Monster, about Metallica (who I've never had any interest in) was excellent. Two films I've been desperately trying to find online this summer are both music docs - one about children and the other about the elderly. Young@Heart documents the New England seniors choir of the same name who perform songs by the Ramones, Sonic Youth, Neil Young, Radiohead, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, etc. (their rendition of the Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday is heartbreaking). Girls Rock! is a film about a rock camp for young girls. I've only seen one clip, but I've seen it a hundred times and never tire of it.

I realize that art production is often a solitary event and music making is generally social, but for a scene so dependent on documentation it's incredible that there are so few great art documentaries. In terms of bio-pics, I don't mind Julian Schnabel's Basquiat, except for that awful scene where Schnabel himself (portrayed by, ah, none other than Gary Oldman) is lovingly dancing with his daughter to a song by, well, Julian Schnabel. But where's the biopic for Fluxus impresario George Maciunas? Even Warhol is reduced to a supporting role in cinema (Basquiat, I Shot Andy Warhol). Films about artists mostly tend to be films about troubled lives taken too soon, more often than stories about art. Last year's My Kid Could Paint That was good, but is more about ethics and responsibility than it is art (should parents push their children? should the filmmaker betray the trust of his subjects? etc. etc.)

There's little in the way of good television coverage, too, though I have a friend who is trying to correct that (which is no small task).

By all means, if you have suggestions (better yet, links) please leave them below.

Friday, August 22, 2008

40 000 years past, 40 000 years future

It pleases me to no end that some of the oldest artworks on the planet, and the one furtherest from it (and presumed to last the longest) are sound works.

Recent studies suggest that Upper Paleolithic people, who lived from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago, created cave drawings with a direct relationship to sound. In 90% of the case studies, cave drawings existed in areas of the cave with maximum resonance, indicating that the artists liked to sing or hum while painting. In some instances it is even suggested that the paintings and petroglyphs represent animals whose sound the echoes best mimicked. Scientists hypothesize that the Upper Paleolithic people also used their voices in the low light caves as a kind of sonar, to help them navigate.

As of 2006, the spacecraft Voyager 1, launched in 1977, moved beyond our solar system, making it the furthest man-made object from earth. It contains a golden record compiled by Carl Sagan, intended to be intercepted by other lifeforms, as a greeting and document of life on earth. The record includes both sounds and images, and instructions on how to play it. The audio includes greetings in 55 different languages, sounds of earth (footsteps, heartbeats, laughter, monkeys) and music (Bach, Chuck Berry, Blind Willie Johnson). The disk is constructed of gold-plated copper, with an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238 electroplated on the cover. Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.51 billion years. The Voyager is not expected to reach its destination for 40 000 years, but the disk itself is designed to last a thousand million.

The graphic artist who designed the disk, Jon Lomberg, lived in Toronto at the time. He is also responsible for the Nuclear Waste Marker project, which requires a marker that will indicate to up to 500 future generations that the site is unsafe. He used the example of the Airman's Memorial (below) on University Avenue as a reason to avoid a symbolic marker. Designed to honour Canadian pilots, the sculpture is mostly known as "Gumby Goes to Heaven."

I can't find up to date information about the project online, but I've just ordered Greg Benford's book on the subject, Deep Time, and Lomberg (now in Hawaii) has agreed to be interviewed. I hope to start work on a film this fall called Sounds That Say Hello, Sounds That Say Surrender, that will look at the sounds used for interstellar communication, and those used in warfare. A baby crying, for example, is used to illustrate humanity on the Voyager record, but is also employed as 'non-lethal' torture at Guantánamo Bay.




More Nice Mail

Oliver from vvork sent me a nice parcel today which includes a copy of Lodown Magazine, for which they contributed a little curated project of work about clocks, particularly fitting as I wrap up my 'time' piece here this week. I'm gonna save the magazine for the plane, but it looks an interesting read. There are features on Arthur Russell, Black Metal and Errol Morris' documentary Standard Operating Procedure. I thought the film was weak but the press Morris did for it was good. He told a story about journalists excited that he was taking on the subject of Abu Graib and who kept asking him "Have you found the smoking gun?!?" which he notes is the wrong question. We've all already seen the smoking gun. Abu Graib is the smoking gun.

Also included is issue #22 of Used Future Magazine, which is an artist periodical began in 2005 and up to nearly 40 issues now. The vvork issue takes the same approach that makes www.vvork.com one of my favorite websites: it includes several artists' projects with no accompanying text beyond their website address. It is loosely curated in the sense that it lets the works themselves suggest the projects that follow, which hold together in subtle and smart ways . The booklet reads a little like Maurizio Cattelan's Charley Magazine. It includes two artists that I'm working with for Nuit Blanche (Michel de Broin and Jacob Dahlgren) as well as some other faves like Erwin Wurm, Santiago Sierra, and Jeroen Diepenmaat, whose site I found on vvork two years ago and which I have bookmarked for potential future curatorial projects. It also includes the piece I did two years ago for the CCL1, Untitled (for William Tager).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mail from Harry Ruhe


Harry Ruhe is a publisher, writer and curator in Amsterdam, who specializes in Fluxus, conceptual art and artist multiples. In 1979 he founded Galerie A where he exhibited work by Al Hansen, Yoko Ono, Ulises Carrión, Günter Brus, Sol LeWitt, George Maciunas, and many others. In 1979 he published one of the earliest, and perhaps most important books on Fluxus. Titled FLUXUS, the most radical and experimental Art movement of the Sixties (a phrase that features in virtually all biographies of Fluxus), the book featured loose leaf pages in a three ring binder. I remember the library at my school had a copy and I had to really restrain myself to not steal it. Despite working for bookdealer Don Lake and artist bookstore Art Metropole, I have not handled another copy subsequently. Following this he published a memoir of his time as a publisher and dealer called Multiples (1991). The Best of Wim T Schippers from 1997 is the first (and only that I'm aware of) book on the Dutch artist with loose ties to Fluxus and Bas Jan Ader, who also voices most of the characters on the Dutch Sesame Street. The publication brilliantly dealt the problem of dual-language art books by coming with two coloured acetate overlays that allowed the Dutch and English to be printed overtop one another, in red or green. A glassine envelope of ephemera was also included.

Books on Stanley Brouwn, George Brecht and Lucio Fontano followed. Ruhe continues to operate Galerie A and www.multiples.nl.

Earlier this year he contacted me about buying a copy of the Jonathan Monk postcard Picture Postcard Posted from Post Box Pictured, and we decided to trade instead. He has sent me several packages loaded up with his excellent publications - works that he either published or distributes, including many rare and out of print titles. Roula just got home from her trip here and a large parcel was waiting for us at the house of our neighbour, who was kind enough to collect our mail and tomatoes while we were gone. This was the first parcel I've ever opened over webcam. Roula cut thru the carefull packaging and then held up each item to the camera one by one for me to see. The parcel included Lawrence Weiner, Fluxus and Joseph Beuys postcards, books on Nam June Paik, Ulises Carrión, Lucio Fontana and a record by Henrik Hakansson.

Art Parade

On Saturday September 6th, Deitch Projects, Creative Time and Paper Magazine will host the fourth annual Art Parade. The parade will begin at 4:00 PM and travel along West Broadway, and will include floats, balloons, placards, portable sculptures, performances and street spectacles. There are nearly a hundred projects in total, including works by Yoko Ono and Michel de Broin, both of whom are contributing to my Zone C project for Nuit Blanche.

Michel's piece is Shared Propulsion Car, which we exhibited at Mercer Union last fall. Here is video of our first time taking the pedal car out on the road.

2108

In Feburary of this year the History Channel announced the winners of their national City of the Future contest. Participants were asked to imagine what their city would look like in 2108. The winning entry was from DAW, BNIM, Praxis 3, and Metcalf & Eddy in Georgia. Below are images of their vision of what the city of Atlanta will look like in a hundred years.






Balvenie Tour


On Tuesday Roula, Mike, Martina and I were toured thru the Balvenie Distillery by Jonathan, one of the many guides here. He showed us the process from barley to whiskey and we drank directly from a cask, using an instrument called a Whiskey Dog, appropriated from thieves who would smuggle spirit out in their pant legs. Before the casks are married together the alcohol level is 60%, vs the 40 - 43% one finds in stores. Even still, it was very smooth.

Here are some pics.

Tomorrow, more cows.

Habib Mian, RIP

As part of my research here, I've been looking into lifespan and learning that there is little international consensus. Apparently the longest unambiguously documented lifespan is that of Jeanne Calment of France (1875–1997), who died aged 122 and a half years of age. The next ten longest authenticated lives range from 116 years to 120 - five from the United States, three from Japan, one from Ecuador and the Canadian Marie-Louise Meilleur. Meilleur was 117 years old when she died in Ontario in 1998, then considered the oldest living person on the planet.

There are many claims to longer lives, but The Guinness World Records consider them unsubstantiated. Ma Pampo of the Dominican was said to have been 128 at the time of her death in 2003, but the documentation has been called into question.

Today it was announced that Habib Mian of India died Tuesday morning after a brief illness. He was reportedly 138 years old. Mian was recognized as the oldest living man in the Limca Book of World Records 2005 edition, but the Guinness Book of Records claim this cannot be verified. He is pictured above, on his last birthday.

The oldest living animal is a clam found less than a year ago in 80-metre-deep water off of Iceland. Researchers determined that the ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) was 405 years old, besting the previous record (by the same species) of 220. The oldest living thing is a Norway Spruce (Picea abies) tree in the mountains separating Norway and Sweden, thought to be 8 000 years old.

Guerrilla Mix CDs


My friend Matt, inspired by the marketing strategy of Toronto indie band Craft Economy, proposes making mix CDs and stapling them to hydro polls, as a way to share music and avoid prosecution. John McCain recently revealed his technology platform and it includes a statement of intent regarding a crackdown on piracy. Obama (surprisingly, given the Democrats ties to the Entertainment industry) offers only a vague statement about rethinking copyright in the 21st century. But either way, music fans should expect it to get harder to share music online in the future. Plus there's something nice about taking virtual models and finding real-life applications. It reminds me of another friend, Lise, who was once offering a service where she would bring you the song of your choice, via her car stereo. If you had a planned date or 'special moment', for example, and wanted to hear 'your' song, you could pay her a small amount of money (five or ten dollars, I can't recall) and she would show up with the track at a pre-determined location, roll down her window and turn up the stereo.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Photos


A few more pics added to the Flickr page here, mostly cows.

Hey Jude


I have collected about two hundred Beatle covers over the years. None hold a candle to this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgrrQwLdME8

Spiral Jetty


Fox News reports this week that an Alberta firm is still hoping to drill near Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. Pearl Montana Exploration, the Calgary-based company, drew protests earlier this year from art fans and environmentalists, led by Smithon's widow, artist Nancy Holt. Keith Hill, the company president, said that they are addressing shortcomings in their previous applications, in regards to water rights as well as cultural and environmental impact. He predicts millions of barrels worth of oil could be found beneath the lake. With gas prices rising, even the Democrats are rushing to reverse their previous opposition to over-drilling, so the Spiral Jetty may be in jeopardy. Hill says that once the permits are approved, drilling could begin in six months.

Strange Culture

I've been waiting a long time to see the film Strange Culture, about Steve Kurtz of the Critical Art Ensemble. I followed the story of his arrest, including the film, on Mercer Union's blog here, here, here, here and here. Kurtz is a professor of art at the University at Buffalo and a founding member of the CAE, whose work for the last two decades has explored the intersections between art, technology, and political activism. The projects they were working on at the time of the arrest were critical of the bio-genetic food industry, and patents on living organisms that would allow incredible food monopolies in the future.

In May 2004 (or 5/11, as it's called in the film) Kurtz awoke to discover that his wife of 27 years had died in her sleep. He called 911 and when the police arrived they discovered materials they considered suspicious and alerted the FBI, who quarantined the block and searched his home in hazardous material suits. At a time of deep mourning, he was detained for 22 hours and questioned about arabic texts, petri dishes and tin foil covered windows. He was prevented from returning to his home for a full week, during which his cat (who had been locked without food or water in the attic by the agents) nearly died as well. His wife's body was twice moved and autopsied without permission.

The Commissioner of Public Health for New York State determined that nothing in the home posed any sort of threat to public health and that Hope Kurtz had died of natural causes. Two months later a grand jury rfused to bring any "bioterrorism" charges against the artist. However, presumably to save face, he was indicted on federal criminal mail fraud and wire fraud charges. It is, as is pointed out in the film, likely the first time someone has been charged with fraud, where no party feels defrauded. A judge threw the case out last year, but the film was made while Kurtz was awaiting trial.

It's an utterly compelling story, with incredible political implications for all of us, and the film received a 94% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. But it may be the worst documentary I have ever seen. Tilda Swinton was brought in (for what looks like an afternoon of shooting, presumably as support for the artist) to play Hope, Kurtz' wife. Thomas Ryan Adams (probably the reason I hated Hal Hartley's Henry Fool so much) plays Hurtz himself in a few dramatic recreations. It's difficult to play a living (even somewhat) public figure, but even moreso when the actual person is interviewed in the film, extensively. Kurtz' lawyer had suggested that there were certain areas he should not discuss, so the filmmaker switches over to Adams for these scenes, all of which are about as believable as an after-school special.

The film would have been quite watchable if it were a straight interview with the artist. He tells some great stories including the fact that he covers his window with tin foil to help him sleep (a trick he learned from Elvis) and that the arabic writing found in his home was on an invitation card for an Atlas Group exhibition at the MASS MOCA. Best of all is the time he was approached by FBI narcs who first tried to buy drugs from him, then attempted to goad him into admitting he wanted to kill the president.

The New York Times called it, I note in the poster above, "a near perfect alignment of subject and form." This couldn't be further from the truth. The music, by the Residents, is appalling and obvious. The actors portraying the students, moralizing about our responsibility to stand up and do something, feel worse than an after-school special. They feel like the after after-school special, where the actors try to open up a dialogue with the viewers about what they've learnt. Even the choice of newscast footage was misguided - the film opens with Keith Olbermann (the left's answer to Bill O'Reilly) discussing the story on MSNBC, his voice dripping with its usual vitriol, as a kind of pre-indignation for the viewer.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kristin Hersh

As with Genesis P-Orridge, I first met Sonja Ahlers at one of the Cocktail Fridays we held at Art Metropole. My girlfriend and I at the time both enjoyed her book Temper Temper which featured doodles, collages, snippets of text and drawings of bunnies. She started rifling thru the CDs I kept at work and got excited when she found the Throwing Muses. "I love Kristin Hersh, she said, and began to tell a story of a concert she attended a few years prior. "It was so good," she said, "that I cried and cried all the way through it". This sounded a little familiar but I couldn't place it. "Then afterwards I went up and told her it was the best show I'd ever seen". I then realized that I had heard this story before, but told from another point of view. It was an introduction to a song on a live bootleg cassette. Hersh found it odd that she could cause such loud sobbing, and then be thanked profusely.

Sonja's response might seem like an over-reaction, but it is not uncommon. Hersh's music can inspire simultaneous sadness and gratitude. Roula choked back tears all the way through her performance the other night, and then remarked that it would stay with her as a positive memory for years to come. We saw Hersh together in June of 2001, as our first 'date'. She hasn't been back in Toronto to perform since, and we were grateful to learn that our stay in Edinburgh coincided with a weeks worth of performances of her new show Paradoxical Undressing. Better still, her husband and manager Billy put us on the guest list when all we requested was a way to book tickets in advance.

Hersh still performs as a member of the Throwing Muses, with her more recent power-punk band 50 Foot Wave, and as a solo artist - sometimes accompanied only by her acoustic guitar, other times with guest musicians or string players. This evening, though, was a series of readings, punctuated with short snippets of songs from throughout her career (Fish, Hook in Her Head, Hysterical Bending, Your Dirty Answer, Cartoons). Hersh read from a forthcoming memoir, based on her diaries that were lost in a recent flood.

I remember a Kids in the Hall sketch where Bruce McCulloch is in a hospital bed after attempting suicide, indignant that his friends hadn't read his rather lengthy suicide note. Mark McKinney says "Look, I just skimmed it, looking for my name. I'm sorry." This is my general view of other people's diaries - that they're like other people's dreams - only of interest to me in the places where they intersect with my own life. Exceptions are few and far between and the phrase "a young girl's diary" is almost shorthand for self-indulgence. This is far from the case with Kristin Hersh, though. Beyond her ability to bring them to life on stage, Hersh's entries are profoundly compelling, extremely well written and with a self-awareness that belies her young age. Her storytelling is bravely candid, charming and frequently very funny.

The diary focuses on a single year from her late teens, but it was an eventful year - the Throwing Muses were signed to the influential British label 4AD, she was diagnosed as bipolar, and she became pregnant. She describes harrowing hallucinations, extreme poverty (living in squat made available when the owners died), and performing in clubs which she was too young to be in. Perhaps the most fascinating stories involve her relationship with the Hollywood actress and singer Betty Hutton, star of Annie Get Your Gun. The actress had fallen on hard times and returned to school where she befriended Hersh. Hutton would attend Throwing Muses concerts with her priest and then offer 'show-biz' advice to the band.

I've seen Hersh perform a dozen times, with and without the Throwing Muses, as far back as 1989. Even the weakest show (the Limbo tour, maybe) was still excellent, and this evening surpassed all of those performances. I can't recommend it strongly enough. A weeks worth of shows begin tonight. Ticket info here: www.theedgefestival.com and Ticket Master 0844 999 990

Also, Here's a five star review from the Guardian.



Lastly, a selected discography, with a quick rating system, coz I like to put numbers besides things.


Solo

Your Ghost EP 9.8
Hips and Makers 9.5
Strange Angels 8.5
The Holy Single** 7.5
Sky Motel 6.8
Murder Misery and Then Goodnight 7.6
Sunny Blue Border 9
The Grotto 6.9
Learn to Sing Like a Star 7.5

**Hersh's idea of a Christmas EP is to cover Big Star's Jesus Christ (haha).

Throwing Muses

Untitled 10
House Tornado 8.5
Hunkpapa 7.4
The Real Ramona 9.2
Counting Backwards EP 9.5
The Curse (live) 7
University 8.9
Limbo 7
Throwing Muses 6.5

Wallinger, Collis, Rosen


The best venue we visited in Edinburgh during the lousy festival was at the Ingleby Gallery, who were showing work by Mark Wallinger, Susan Collis, and Kay Rosen (a longtime fave, and high on my list of artists I'd like to publish). Wallinger's contribtuion was the above billboard, which I liked better when I thought it was by Rosen. Collis played with the fact that the gallery has just relocated by presenting a room that looked half-installed: there were tiny holes in the wall, drips on the floor and a paint-splattered broom rested in the corner. The trompe l'oeil at work is that the screws in the wall are solid gold and the paint on the floor is mother of pearl. It's a pretty effective trick, and plays into my empty gallery fetish, but I fear it also exploits the preciousness of the expensive materials. Roula likes it more than I do but the local Edinburgh-born artist certainly holds her own against the Turner Prize winning Wallinger and the well respected Rosen. Rosen had the top floor, which consisted of framed works and wall paintings, most of which were pretty great, but despite being text-based, are hard to describe and do justice to. The are simple without being simplistic, somehow. I wish I had thought to take photos.

Funding Cuts


As was easily predicted, as soon as the Harper government saw their poll numbers rise they began pursuing arts funding cuts. If an election were called now they would would stand a stronger chance at a majority, with further cuts inevitable. The brilliant way to facilitate this is to highlight a pending economic downturn and focus on a few projects that are not controversial, but sound as though they might be. Take for example, the Toronto indie rock back at the centre of the story.

They formed in 2004 and in four short years have amassed a pretty impressive bio: they have toured with M.I.A., Wolf Parade, Mouse on Mars, and Cornelius; they are nominated for a Juno and shortlisted for the Polaris prize; and they have played many of the world's leading music festivals including Coachella, All Tomorrow’s Parties, Lollapalooza, and the Glastonbury Festival. Not bad for a band from Toronto. The problem is, they are named Holy Fuck.

Similarly, Bill C-10, which was introduced a few months back, proposes that the Canadian conservative government could retroactively strip tax credits from films deemed "offensive or not in the public interest". The film Young People Fucking was held up as an example of the misuse of our tax dollars. However, only about forty thousand people have seen since it was released several months back (probably a smaller number than those who are currently sitting down to watch The Dark Knight). The film is a romantic comedy with less edge than an HBO sitcom, but its title allows it to appear that the Canadian Government is supporting child pornography.

The recent Globe and Mail poll illustrated above shows that the strategy has worked. As a business paper the Globe may lean to the right politically, but is generally considered the best daily paper for arts coverage. I imagine a poll of Toronto Sun readers would lead to a much more unanimous conclusion.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Preston

My talk in Preston was amazingly well attended, about fifty people in total, most of whom drove in from neighboring cities and towns, some as far away as two hours. They put my diligence to shame - I rarely make it out to events in Oakville or Mississauga, which are only twenty-five minutes away. The talk was hosted at Pad Gallery, at the invitation of Pest Publications and sponsored by Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, one of the oldest artist-run venues in the country. They seem to have some pretty interesting programming, including a recent exhibition by Cory Arcangel called A couple thousand short films about Glenn Gould. The director Kwong Lee told me about a Spanish artist that they are working with named Manuel Saiz who is working on a project not dissimilar to my Glenfiddich piece. He is announcing an exhibition to be held in sixty years time, which the gallery is contractually obligated to host.

I was hoping that Michael Corris would be there, but he ended up having other commitments. He wrote me a few weeks prior, saying he was planning on attending, and inviting me to participate in a project he's organizing in Texas in November '09. Corris is a writer and artist, and was a prominent member of Art & Language. He also started the influential artist publication The Fox. Would've been nice to meet up.

After the talk we went out for a fast drink and then a late dinner at an Indian restaurant. I was particularly grateful for the latter, given my steady diet here of pasta and pot noodles.

Genesis P-Orridge and Lady Jaye

The current Radar magazine has a fascinating article about Genesis P-Orridge and Lady Jaye, who were so in love they decided to become one person, and then one of them died. Their stated goal of Pandrogeny was both romantic and conceptual. They were not adhering to pre-conceived notions of beauty (or even gender), nor were they attempting to become twins. They were challenging the nucleic acids that contain the building blocks of all life. "We replicate as much to perpetuate DNA as to perpetuate our species" said P-Orridge, who views DNA as an evolutionary parasite, with the human body as the host environment. Matching haircuts and clothes were followed by breast implants for both, nose jobs, eye surgery, a chin implant, collagen lip enhancements, etc. - all in order to better become one another.

I met P-Orridge and Lady Jaye a few times, at the weekly Cocktail nights we would host at Art Metropole. My colleague Jordan was introduced to him at the Basel Art Fair and invited him to contribute a project to our Bootleg series, and after that he'd drop by whenever he was in town performing. I think the last time he was there he had already had the breast implants. I was surprised at how soft-spoken he was, gentle and elegant, given his reputation and history, including the title "wrecker of civilization" (which he was called in British Parliament). I remember I was playing a This Mortal Coil record and he very excitedly told me about the obscure folk artist (I can't remember which one, now) who wrote the original song that was being covered. The pair were clearly deeply in love and walked around as though tethered.

Jaye died a little less than a year ago, and I heard that P-Orridge was inconsolable. People would bump into him around NYC, but he was just a wreck. The Radar piece confirms this: apparently he still wears her clothes and uses her cellphone, keeping her outgoing message active.

The article is fascinating, though perhaps a little over the top. I suppose it's difficult to state the importance of P-Orridge's influence without making some dubious claims. Saying he was a performance artist before the genre was named is a little spurious, as it implies pioneer status. 'Live Art' can be traced back to Dada Poetry readings from the beginning of the last century, but is generally considered to have begun in the early sixites, when P-Orridge was still pre-teen. The Viennese Actionists, Fluxus events, Happenings and Body Art were all well established by the time he relocated to London in the early seventies. The term 'performance art' has been used at least as far back as 1974, when the NYC venue The Kitchen included it in one of their brochures. P-Orridges contributions to the genre are usually spoken of in terms of sexuality and self-mutilation, and the similarities to Vito Acconci and Chris Burden. But Acconci's Seedbed (where he masturbated in the gallery) and Chris Burden's Shoot (where he had himself shot) both took place in 1971, so at most P-Orrdige could be seen as having made parallel efforts.

Biographies like this also often cite him as the originator of Acid House, which is a little unlikely. You'd think it would be enough to have started Industrial Music (which, unlike the Acid House claim, is undisputed). P-Orridge (then Neil Megson) founded COUM Transmissions as a performance art collective in Hull, Yorkshire, in early 1970 and they then morphed into Throbbing Gristle (Hull slang for an erection) in 1976. Their debut album was released on their own imprint, Industrial Records, which named a genre of music that spans from Einstürzende Neubauten and Laibach thru to Ministry and Skinny Puppy, all the way to pop cross-overs like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.

The article, titled Strange Love (quite an understatement) is here. It's a sad and fascinating story.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This week

My sweet but small Edinburgh B&B has wireless internet, but it comes and goes, so my blogging will likely be sparse for the next coupla days. The National Post reheats some earlier entries, which can be read here, all week.

In Defense of Vaudevillians


Cartoons

This war's Ok
In a sweet old fashioned way
Like a game we play

Guilty of something we forgot

I wasn't staring
I was just looking far away
Dazzled by something I forgot

Here, drink this down we've been here way to long
Acting this way is a craft
I'll shut up soon then we'll go home
Covered in band aids and casts

(Kristin Hersh)




Two Reelers

A lot of people love that Jerome
Did you know he missed his comb?
All his life was in pain
Made us laugh he never did complain

Brother Sam was more than OK
Returned once more to save the day
Slicked-back hair he did keep
Making a heep, heep, heep, heep, heep

If all you see is violence
Then I make a plea in their defence
Don't you know they speak vaudevillian?
And for what it is hear what my theory is
Some gibberish it is so serious
What we need is more silly men

Though underrated all the time
Louis was so very fine
Without him, imagine
Did you know he could play the violin?

Most important was brother Moe
He was the one who made it so
He got a Joe and another Joe
He would not quit, he would not quit

And Mr. White heard bad report
And so it ends the two reeler short
Cause you cannot do what you can't
And Mr. White heard bad report
And so it ends the two reeler short
Cause you cannot do what you can't

If all you see is violence
Then I make a plea in their defence
Don't you know they speak vaudevillian?




(Frank Black)






Merriment

an old woman in a wig
and a mule eating a fig
caterpillar on a twig shouldn't flitter
fella hanging from a clock
someone falling from a dock
little ripple showing stock and then we titter
chubby kid upon a trike
opened up the dyke
she nearly lost her water
heals a haggard soul
reflex to cajole
bust your ass to soothe his cancer
then the tragedy within
gets the audience to grin
so you stop to start again but it's ending
shooting one's self in the foot
catch one's self with a fishing hook
elementary textbook comic devices
for the common good
take a little nug
who's to say we should or should not giggle
bless the idiot
that makes us split a gut
roses for the butt of our merriment


(Vic Chesnutt)

Fringe

I didn't come to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, and I haven't invested much time in it, but my first impressions are that it's fucking terrible. It brings in flocks of people to crowd the street and obscures the beauty of the city (see video). It's everything you hate, all together, all at once. There're jugglers and face painters and balloon benders and earnest dance acts, feigning death. There's sub-Shakespeare-in-the-Park calibre Shakespeare, without the park but with McDonalds Drive-thru headsets. There're barbershop quartets and jive-bands performing in front of a banner that reads Say Yes to Life and No to Drugs. And down the main street the crowds hustle you off the streets into oncoming traffic (coming from a direction you're not used to). It looks like a bad mardi gras parade except everyone is dressed up to advertise their performance and pleading with you to come to their their gig. I turned down more handbills in one afternoon than in my entire life before this day. It's like being chased down by a thousand mimes.

However, this evening we went to see Kristin Hersh's performance, which alone would be worth the train ride(s) into town. More on this soon.


video

Monday, August 11, 2008

Post Pic



I've just been sent a scan of the National Post piece from today. When shooting this pic the photographer said "pretend you're a disinterested back-alley amputee" and I did my best to oblige.

Post


The incredible PR company here got me 5 days in the National Post, beginning today.

I was asked to keep a travel diary of my time here, and these are excerpts. If they seem familiar it’s because all of the content has been pillaged from this blog, or from emails I sent home about my trip, coz I had nothing else to say, let alone remember.

To make it more interesting for myself I took their 250 word limit very literally, and each of the 5 entries comes in at exactly 250 words.

(They write the headlines).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kidnapping, cloning, etc.

WFMU are pitching the life of Joyce McKinney as a story idea for a film by the Coen Brothers. If you haven't seen it in the news, McKinney was an Appalachian Mormon soft-core porn model and former Miss Wyoming, who, after failing in her bid to woo one of the Osmonds, got together with Kirk Anderson, a 19 year old Mormon classmate. Wracked with guilt over their (apparently plentiful) pre-marital sex, he left her and became a missionary. She hired a private detective, tracked him down to London, and kidnapped him. He was held in a cottage for three days and chained to a bed, where he was repeatedly sexually assaulted. During the sensational trial she had this to offer: "I loved Kirk so much that I would have skied down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose."

At the time a woman couldn't be charged with raping a man (her counsel apparently quipped "me thinks the mormon doth protest too much"- yeesh), but McKinney faced kidnapping and other charges. She jumped bail and fled to Canada in 1978 and was sentenced in absentia to one year in prison, but was never heard from again. Until this week.

A "Bernann" McKinney made headlines a few days ago for becoming the first commercial dog cloning customer. A laboratory in South Korea charged her fifty thousand dollars to create five puppies cloned from the ear of her recently deceased pit-bull Booger. The company, RNL Bio, reportedly offered a reduced rate if she assisted them with publicity. Little did they know.