Archive for January, 2011




as staff photographer for The Village Voicehe captured the city that defined romance…”


James Hamilton has a romantic eye. A slightly sullen yet bemused gaze suggesting a smart and casual affair between subject and lens. He is a music lover, indeed a lover of all the sensual arts, but for my intention he is a man who lives by the charm of music. His heroes are the otherworldly: James Brown, Dinah Washington, Frank Sinatra, Smokey Robinson, Billie Holiday.

The hours, days, weeks, months I spent tiptoeing through four decades of James’s contact sheets I realized the soul of the artist gleans genuine respect and distinct recognition from a photographer who shares their emotions. The messengers of music, the “angels”—as Sun Ra would suggest—play for a timeless existence. To capture them with photography is to defy their elusive state, to steal them to common ground, as is the journalist’s duty. But like so few, James Hamilton solemnly suggests camaraderie, friendship, and shared artistry. His photo archive, not only of music genius, but of street life, politics, filmmakers, poets, authors, and artists is an astounding history of late-20th century New York City. A time when the downtown world below 14th Street experienced its ultimate existence as a true village of creative pursuit. One can still feel this last vestige of bohemia by taking a magic turn on any given street at any given time, but it is fleeting. And its vintage glamour has a wizened smile in the shadowy recess of a newly minted lifestyle.

We depend on history to recount what is vanished, missed, dreamed of, and mythologized. In James’s archive I encounter a universe of sweetness, of salaciousness, and a spellbinding grace and natural wonderment that keeps me coming back to the city that defined romance for me and so many others. The romantic eye as love, as music.

(VANITY FAIR  11.10.10)

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when his feet stop moving — the devil takes his soul…


So, what is it that’s got Hollywood and the cool kids so excited about Jesco White? Perhaps, you might argue, his Mountain Dancing – a kind of tap – affords some in the rarified confines of the big city the opportunity to make gentle fun of country folk and their traditions. But the hook, it seems, for writers Ed Moretti and Shane Smith are the lurid instances of murder, drug abuse, depravity and mental illness that litter White’s life story.

It may come as no surprise to learn that White’s known as “The Dancing Outlaw” – and this is certainly the angle Moretti and Smith, and the film’s director, Dominic Murphy, riff on most conspiuously. White Lightnin’ pitches itself hysterically between a redneckploitation flick and a 70’s horror movie.

This, then, is not your conventional music biopic. In fact, it’s increasingly hard to know what’s fact or fiction about White’s life as Murphy’s film unfolds. Certainly, it’s true that he was raised in grinding poverty, and that his father – Donte Vixen Ray White, or D Ray – was a legendary Mountain Dancer in his own right.

As a child, Jesco huffed petrol fumes, shot speed and spent time in and out of reform school. Jesco’s troubled, violent adolescence is soothed through Mountain Dancing and his father’s support. These sequences are all shot in flashback, Murphy using in a low-saturated palette that resembles a sepia tint.

Arguably, the two key events of White’s adult life are the murder of his father, in 1985, and an encounter with Cilla, an older, married lady who Jesco at first intends to rob but instead persuades to leave her husband and come live with him. Together with Cilla, he takes his Mountain Dancing out on the road, and the couple find stability, of sorts. But violence, it seems, is never an entirely distant proposition; one scene in a bar, where Jesco suspects a patron of hitting on Cilla, threatens to turn very nasty very quickly.

In fact, it’s this tension bubbling away through White Lightnin’ – enhanced by a dissonant, paranoia-inducing score from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s guitarist Nick Zinner – that channels the film towards a violent third act eruption. Which is where you start to suspect White Lightnin’ drifts away from the facts.

Jesco begins to believe he’s some Biblical force of vengeance and sets out to track down his father’s murderers, who’re still on the loose. Here, the film switches from the anti-Walk The Line into a gruesome revenge film. As a wild-eyed, scraggly and unhinged Jesco pursues the terrified killers through the dense Appalachian woodland, armed with hammers, chicken wire and razor blades, you might be reminded of the curdled hillbilly horrors of Tobe Hooper or Wes Craven.

But, unbelievably, it doesn’t end there. Jesco holes himself up in a remote cabin and begins to cut parts off himself, which he eats believing it will cleanse his sins. It’s shot in wild, hallucinatory jump cuts, and most closely resembles the more psychedelic moments of Jodorowsky’s films (who, incidentally, Dominic Murphy once made a documentary on).

In some ways, as the film hits its final stretch, it’s hard to tell quite what we’re watching. Is this a study of madness, or a bunch of snarky hipsters mocking hillbilly stereotypes? It’s certainly carried seriously enough by a formidable performance from British actor Edward Hogg, who arrives on screen in a whirl of sweat and delirium. You might detect, though, some sense of wry amusement as the film cartwheels towards its over the top finale from Carrie Fisher, gamely playing the over-sexed Cilla.

It reminds me, to some degree, of Nicolas Refn’s Bronson, from earlier this year – another film that took the life story of a seriously troubled figure and presented it in a deeply unconventional but no less thoroughly memorable manner.


“WHITE LIGHTNIN’” 2009 directed by Dominic Murphy




the return of Drinky Crow..!


Tony’s first cartoons — Maakies — were published in The New York Press (1994) and since then his work has graced the pages of The Village Voice,  The New York Times, The New Yorker, Seattle’s The Stranger, Dave Eggers’ Believer and many other alternative weeklies. His other projects include an animated series featuring his characters on the Cartoon Network‘s Adult Swim with “The Drinky Crow Show,” and other animation projects on Saturday Night Live.

In addition to his weekly comic strip, Tony continues to produce his comics and graphic novels featuring Sock Monkey (Dark Horse Comics), and Billy Hazelnuts (Fantagraphics Books) and has created cover art for Elvis Costello’s albums National Ransom and Secret, Profane and Sugarcane. He has been nominated for and won numerous Eisner and Harvey award for his comic book contributions.

(click to enlarge)

Tony’s artistic style incorporates the elegant forms of 19th and 20th century illustration with the bombast of underground cartooning of the 1960’s and 70’s. Highly detailed sea and landscapes coax the viewer into reveries that feel like folk tales spiked with intermittent doses of surrealism, Borscht Belt humor (complete with drum rolls and rim shots) and street corner prophesying. The cartoon animals, people, grotesques and cherubic demons that populate these stories move in an undertow of everyday events peppered with humor, wanting and loss, shocking violence, and stark lessons that mirror today’s world.



the 2011 OSCAR nominations…


sorting through…


Here are today’s major winners and losers, as I see them.


“The King’s Speech” — With 12 nominations, including best picture, best director for Tom Hooper and acting nominations for its three featured performers (Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter), this appealing yarn about George VI, aka Bertie, and his Aussie speech therapist will now be seen as Oscar co-favorite. I’m not buying it, at least not yet. I foresee a split ticket, with “Social Network” winning best picture and best director, but “King’s Speech” potentially winning two or even all three of the acting awards.

“True Grit” — The surprise chick flick of the season — and if you think I’m cracking a joke, you haven’t seen it — piled up a bunch of nominations, but most likely won’t win in any major category. In the upside-down star-system logic of Hollywood, Jeff Bridges was nominated for best actor in what is clearly a supporting role, while youthful star Hailee Steinfeld, who’s probably on-screen for 80 percent of the film’s running time, won a supporting-actress nod.

“The Fighter” — Yes, Mark Wahlberg’s quiet starring role as small-town palooka Micky Ward was passed over, which is kind of too bad. But with a best-picture nomination and supporting nods for Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams — all of whom were fantastic — this richly enjoyable yarn of downscale ’90s America may get a second look from viewers who stayed away the first time around. Bale and Leo are seen by many as favorites, but the “King’s Speech” upsurge may swamp them.

“Winter’s Bone” — Debra Granik’s devastating crime saga set in the Ozarks came out early in the year and did modest business. But critics didn’t forget it, and neither did the Academy, which delivered a best-picture nomination, an acting nod for young star Jennifer Lawrence, and a supporting-actor nomination for the menacing John Hawkes.

“Gasland” — Oscar’s documentary category often tracks closely with rising social and political issues, and this relatively obscure work from activist filmmaker Josh Fox explores “hydrofracking,” a controversial and destructive method of natural-gas extraction that has rapidly become a hot environmental cause in the Northeast.

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” — Is the debut film from shadowy British artist Banksy a genuine documentary or an artfully constructed fraud? I’ve never thought it was an interesting question — since the movie is hilarious, and poses the same philosophical questions about art and commerce, either way — and in delivering an Oscar nomination, I guess the Academy agrees.

“Dogtooth” – This dark and disturbing allegory from Greek filmmaker Giorgios Lanthimos looked like the longest of long shots for foreign-Oscar consideration. But persistent critical adoration put it on the map, and here it is. (I’m not the biggest fan — but I’ll deal with the intriguing list of foreign-film nominees in due course.)


“The Social Network” — Don’t get me wrong; I still think this is the best-picture favorite, and that David Fincher will also go home with the best-director statuette. But it received fewer nominations than either “King’s Speech” or “True Grit.” Jesse Eisenberg won’t win, and neither Andrew Garfield nor Justin Timberlake were nominated for their outstanding supporting performances.

“Inception”–  Despite a world-conquering box-office take of $823 million and the adulation of countless fans, Christopher Nolan again finds himself a bit player in the Oscar race. “Inception’s” nods for best picture and original screenplay are basically affirmative action for commercial cinema. I don’t think it will win in either category, and Nolan himself was passed over in the directing category. Various commentators are acting like a surprise — at this point, it’s more like a ritual.

“Blue Valentine” — Maybe that NC-17 controversy really did hurt. Michelle Williams was nominated for best actress, but costar Ryan Gosling was passed over, and Derek Cianfrance’s gritty marriage drama, despite all the critical raves, was otherwise ignored.

“127 Hours” — Sure, both Danny Boyle’s film and star James Franco were nominated. But a muddled critical reception, mediocre box office and the general sense that Franco is an overexposed hipster avatar have rendered this brutal, effects-driven freakout an Oscar-race afterthought.

“The Town” — Ben Affleck’s Boston bank-heist thriller was well reviewed early in the fall, but all along it was just a dumbass pop film that was slightly better crafted than others of its ilk. Jeremy Renner’s supporting-actor nomination is richly deserved, but Oscar otherwise gave the cold shoulder to this forgettable vanity project.

“The Tillman Story” — Amir Bar-Lev’s fascinating documentary about Army Ranger Pat Tillman, the former football star killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan — an idiosyncratic individual from an amazing American family — seemed like an obvious contender. I guess Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s “Restrepo,” a powerful you-are-there doc, filled Oscar’s war-movie quota.

read the full article here

(SALON.COM  1.25.11)

also see the 10 oscar nods that won’t happen but should…


the writers of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE…


an index of the last 35 years…

Lorne Michaels (1975-2010), Herbert Sargent (1975-1995), Al Franken (1975-2008), Tom Davis (1975-2003), Rosie Shuster (1975-1988), Marilyn Suzanne Miller (1975-1995), Tom Schiller (1975-1990), Alan Zweibel (1975-1987), Anne Beatts (1975-1980), Michael O’Donoghue (1975-1986), Chevy Chase (1975-1976), Albert Brooks(1975-1976), Gilda Radner (1975-1980), Dan Aykroyd (1976-1979), Walter Williams (1976-1979), John Belushi (1976-1977), Bruce McCall (1976-1977), James Downey (1977-2010), Neil Levy (1977-1978), Bill Murray (1977), Brian Doyle-Murray (1978-1982), Don Novello (1978-1986),  Brian McConnachie (1978-1979), Harry Shearer (1979-1985), Matt Neuman (1979-1981), Peter Aykroyd (1979-1980), Tom Gammill (1979-1980), Sarah Paley (1979-1980), Max Pross (1979-1980), Pamela Norris (1980-1984), David Sheffield (1980-1983), Barry W. Blaustein (1980-1983), Terry Sweeney (1980-1986), Larry Arnstein (1980-1981), Billy Brown (1980-1981), Ferris Butler (1980-1981), John DeBellis (1980-1981), Jean Doumanian (1980-1981), Nancy Dowd (1980-1981), Leslie Fuller (1980-1981), Mel Green (1980-1981), David Hurwitz (1980-1981), Sean Kelly (1980-1981), Mitchell Kriegman (1980-1981), Patricia Marx (1980-1981), Douglas, McGrath (1980-1981), Tom Moore (1980-1981), Mark Reisman (1980-1981), Jeremy Stevens (1980-1981), Mason Williams (1980-1981), Nate Herman (1981-1985), Bob Tischler (1981-1985), Eliot Wald (1981-1985), Margaret Oberman (1981-1985),

Dream Team '89-'91 -- Conan O'Brien, Mike Myers, Bob Odenkirk...

Mark O’Donnell (1981-1982), Tony Rosato (1981-1982), Terry Southern (1981-1982), Andrew Kurtzman (1982-1985), Robin Duke (1982-1984), Eddie Murphy (1982-1984), Joe Piscopo (1982-1984), Paul Barrosse (1982-1983), Ellen L. Fogle (1982-1983), Tracy Tormé (1982-1983), Brad Hall (1982-1984), Andy Breckman (1983-1996),  Kevin Kelton (1983-1985), James Belushi (1983-1985), Adam Green (1983-1984), Mary Gross (1983-1984), Michael C. McCarthy (1983-1984), Billy Crystal (1984-1985), Larry David (1984-1985), Christopher Guest (1984-1985), Rich Hall (1984-1985), Martin Short (1984-1985), Rob Riley (1984-1985), David Misch (1984-1985), Robert Smigel (1985-2009), Jack Handey (1985-2002), A. Whitney Brown (1985-1991), George Meyer (1985-1989), Phil Hartman (1985-1989), Lanier Laney (1985-1986), Carol Leifer (1985-1986), John Swartzwelder (1985-1986), Richard Rosen (1985-1986), Suzy Schneider (1985-1986), Bruce McCulloch (1985-1986), Mark McKinney (1985-1986), Bonnie Turner (1986-1993), Terry Turner (1986-1993), Christine Zander (1986-1993), E. Jean Carroll (1986-1987), Eddie Gorodetsky (1986-1987), Kevin Nealon (1986-1987), Marc Shaiman (1986-1987), Jon Vitti (1986-1987), Bob Odenkirk (1987-1995), Conan O’Brien (1987-1991), Greg Daniels (1987-1990), John Bowman (1988-1989), Shannon Gaughan (1988-1989), David Spade (1989-1993),Rob Schneider (1989-1992), Mike Myers (1989-1993), Tom Hymes (1989-1990), Adam Sandler (1990-1993), Dan McGrath (1990-1992), Andy Robin (1990-1991), Steve Koren (1991-1998), Fred Wolf (1991-1997),  Warren Hutcherson (1991-1993), Tim Meadows (1991-1993), Jill Bayor (1991-1992), Beth Cahill (1991-1992),

Dream Team '93-'94 -- Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, Mike Judge...

David Mandel (1992-1995), Ian Maxtone-Graham (1992-1995), Drake Sather (1992-1995), Bruce Handy (1992-1993), Dawna Kaufmann (1992-1993), Vanessa Middleton (1992-1993), Tim Herlihy (1993-2000), Steve Lookner (1993-1995), Lewis Morton (1993-1995), Dave Attell (1993-1994), Tony DeSena (1993-1994), Norm MacDonald (1993-1994), Jay Mohr (1993-1994), Sarah Silverman (1993-1994), Mike Judge (1993-1994), Ross Abrash (1994-1998), Norm Hiscock (1994-1997), Brian Kelley (1994-1995), Laura Kightlinger (1994-1995), Margo Meyer (1994-1995), Adam Resnick (1994-1995), Glenn Rockowitz (1994), Jim Emerson (1994), Steve Higgins (1995-2010), Paula Pell (1995-2010), Andrew Steele (1995-2008), Dennis McNicholas (1995-2004), Frank Sebastiano (1995-2006), Hugh Fink (1995-2002), Adam McKay (1995-2007), Lori Nasso (1995-1999), Cindy Caponera (1995-1998), Tom Gianas (1995-1998), Colin Quinn (1995-1997),  Peter Gaulke (1995-1996), Erin Maroney (1995-1996), T. Sean Shannon (1996-2006), Scott Wainio (1996-2006), Matt Piedmont (1996-2002), Robert Carlock (1996-2001), Stephen Colbert (1996-2004), David Breckman (1996-1997), Tina Fey (1997-2006), Michael Schur (1997-2004),  Michael McCullers (1997-1998), Louis C.K. (1997-2007), Michelle Saks Smigel (1997-2008), Tony Daro (1998-2001), Jerry Collins (1998-2000), Steven Cragg (1998-2000), Richard Francese (1998-2000), Ray James (1998-2005), Matt Graham (1998-1999), Tony Millionaire (1998), Jim Wise (1998), Kevin Brennan (1999-2000), J.J. Philbin (1999-2000), Ali Reza (1999-2000), Spike Feresten (1999), James Anderson (2000-2010), Erik Kenward (2000-2010), Ken Scarborough (2000-2004), Matt Murray (2000-2007), Melanie Graham (2000-2001), Jerry Minor (2000-2001), Barry Sobel (2000-2001), Jon

Dream Team '97-'04 -- Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Louis C.K...

Rosenfeld (2000-2001), Doug Abeles (2001-2010), Emily Spivey (2001-2010), Max Brooks (2001-2003), Charlie Grandy (2001-2008), Chadd Gindin (2001-2002), Michael Gordon (2001-2004), Leo Allen (2002-2005), Eric Slovin (2002-2005), James Eagan (2002-2004), Corwin Moore (2002-2003), Rich Blomquist (2002-2007), Scott Jacobson (2002-2007), David Wachtenheim (2002-2006), Kristin Gore (2002-2007), Daniel Powell (2002), John Lutz (2003-2009), J.B. Smoove (2003-2007), Liz Cackowski (2003-2006), Joe Kelly (2003-2005), Rich Talarico (2003-2005), Jason Sudeikis (2003-2005), Jordan Black (2003-2004), David Iserson (2003-2004), Alex Baze (2004-2010), Lauren Pomerantz (2004-2005), Perry Sachs (2004-2009), Matt O’Brien (2004-2007), Robert Marianetti (2004-2006), Colin Jost (2005-2010), Seth Meyers (2005-2010), Akiva Schaffer (2005-2010), Bryan H. Tucker (2005-2010), Jorma Taccone (2005-2010), Andy Samberg (2005-2009), Marika Sawyer (2006-2010), John Solomon (2006-2010), Bill Hader (2006-2008), Jim Cashman (2006-2007), Kent Sublette (2007-2010), Simon Rich (2007-2010), Rob Klein (2007-2010), John Mulaney (2008-2010), Jessica Conrad (2008-2010), Christine Nangle (2009-2010), Michael Patrick O’Brien (2009-2010), Jillian Bell (2009-2010), Hannibal Buress (2009-2010), Ryan Perez (2009-2010), Jessi Klein (2009-2010), Jonathan Krisel (2010), Heather Anne Campbell (2010), Patty ‘Gracie’ Aylward, Steve Bannos, Chris Cluess, Robert Cohen, Ian Edwards, Richard Goteri, Stu Kreisman, Tom Martin, Dennis Miller, Andrew Hill Newman, Lue Rennie, Mike Royce, Peter Tauber, Marc Weiner…





Dewanatron revives handmade electronica…


The Swarmatron is a handmade analog synthesizer that plays a chord of eight notes arranged around a single note. You can manipulate those eight notes so that they diverge further from the home note, creating swarming noises that become increasingly unsettling as the discordance mounts. The Swarmatron is a hot item among audiophiles, who will nod with admiration upon learning that it contains eight oscillators. You may have heard it, if not of it: Trent Reznor made prominent use of one on the soundtrack of “The Social Network,” the Facebook film. The DVD, out this week, includes a bonus segment in which Reznor talks about the Swarmatron’s “beehive-ish sound.” The sound of eight voices straining toward but not quite achieving a unity of pitch, the dissonance stretching like taffy, seems perfectly suited to these attenuated times.

Reznor, who, as it happens, discovered the Swarmatron on Facebook, fails to mention the names of the men who created it. They are Brian and Leon Dewan, first cousins once removed. Working under the name Dewanatron, they began making electronic synthesizers in 2002, for their own use. They made their first Swarmatron in 2004 and have since made nine.

Last week, before the snow hit, Brian drove down from his home, in Catskill, New York, to Leon’s house, in New Rochelle, to talk Swarmatron strategy. Leon was in the middle of building a new Swarmatron. They were anticipating a big uptick in sales, in light of the shout-out from Reznor. (A Swarmatron goes for $3,250 at Big City Music, in Los Angeles, their primary dealer and champion.) They were thinking that the inventory at Big City should go from zero to one. “The Swarmatron is a stable product line,” Leon said. “The Swarmatron is a gateway drug to other Dewanatrons.”

Leon’s front parlor was occupied by an armada of these others, most of them mounted on walkers, the kind used by the elderly. “Walkers are light, strong, collapsible, easy to get ahold of, and practically free,” Leon said. The Swarmatron, in the center of the room, had a pitch ribbon and a swarm ribbon, and an array of unlabelled knobs and switches, which Brian began manipulating in a way that produced something that your own first cousin once removed might recognize as music. Hanging from the walls were four “wall gins”—synthesizers, housed in various clocklike cases, that had been programmed to make random sounds at random intervals. Pings, squelches, and gongs rang out, submarine-movie-like, as the Dewans went from Dewanatron to Dewanatron. The Dual Primate Console, a two-person synthesizer, had a pair of old rotary-telephone dials and rows of obsolete vacuum tubes acquired in Russia. The Hymnotron, an electronic chord organ, featured calligraphic illuminations (“Depth,” “Width,” “Tempo”) made by Dorothy Dewan, Leon’s mother. As for the Coin-Operated Melody Gin (as in cotton gin, short for “engine”), Leon said, “For twenty-five cents you can have a four-minute avant-garde experience.” A visitor inserted a quarter, twirled some knobs, and had the sensation, partly real, of producing, with his ignorant hands, a marvellously unholy barrage of noise.

The Dewans come up with their ideas for instruments together. Then Brian designs the cabinetry and the controls, while Leon builds the innards—the actual machine. Leon led the way downstairs to the basement. He pulled a mangled contraption off a shelf and blew dust from it. It was their first creation, the Alphatron, which used a Texas Instruments computer chip that Leon’s grandfather had got for him at Radio Shack in 1978: the good ol’ SN76477, which produced the sounds in early video games, like Space Invaders. On a table, a Swarmatron casing awaited its guts. Leon demonstrated his apparatus for testing the circuitry. Speaking of the Swarmatron’s sound, Brian said, “All these notes packed together gives them a collective authority. It’s a means to a populist swarm of notes.”

read the entire article here

(NEW YORKER  1.24.11)




aka Project Iceworm…


Camp Century was a nuclear powered research center built by the Army Corps of Engineers under the icy surface of Greenland. It was occupied from 1959 to 1966 under the auspices of the US Army Polar Research and Development Center. Its climatically hostile environment was located a mere 800 miles from the North Pole. The site was chosen May 17, 1959. At 6180 feet above sea level, this flat plateau features a mean temperature of minus ten degrees Fahrenheit, recorded temperatures of minus 70 degrees and winds exceeding 125 mph. The average annual snow accumulation is four feet.  Construction started June 1959 and was completed October 1960. The completed project cost $7,920,000, which included the $5,700,000 cost of the portable nuclear power plant.

the camp floorplan…

Maximum use was made of snow as a building material. Camp Century utilized a “cut-and-cover” trenching technique. Long ice trenches were created by Swiss made “Peter Plows”, which were giant rotary snow milling machines. The machine’s two operators could move up to 1200 cubic yards of snow per hour. The longest of the twenty-one trenches was known as “Main Street.” It was over 1100 feet long and 26 feet wide and 28 feet high. The trenches were covered with arched corrugated steel roofs which were then buried with snow.

Prefabricated wood work buildings and living quarters were erected in the resulting snow tunnels.  Each seventy-six foot long electrically heated barrack contained a common area and five 156 square foot rooms.  Several feet of airspace was maintained around each building to minimize melting.  To further reduce heat build-up, fourteen inch diameter “air wells” were dug forty feet down into the tunnel floors to introduce cooler air. Nearly constant trimming of the tunnel walls and roofs was found to be necessary to combat snow deformation.

The camp was staffed year round, with population peaking at nearly 200 over the summer months. Most of the supplies came via Thule Air Base, an arduous one hundred and fifty miles to the west. Thule Air base is the US Air Force’s northernmost base. The water supply was produced by pumping steam deep down into an ice well. This “Rodriguez Well” produced over 10,000 gallons of fresh water daily.  This fresh water supply had fallen on Greenland as snow nearly two thousand years before.

The successful 4550 foot core drilling was accomplished by utilizing a thermal drill to 1755 feet followed by an electromechanical drill. For the first time, continuous ice cores representing over 100,000 years of climatic history could be studied. It would be years later that the true value of the ice cores would be widely realized. Much has since been learned from studying the ice geology below Camp Century. The data has been revisited most recently in studies of global warming and as well as research regarding past Earth strikes by meteoroids and comets.

the ice well…

With the advent of long-range bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, it was inevitable that military attention would be drawn to remote but strategic arctic regions. Camp Century may have also been a pilot project for a network of proposed missile sites under the ice sheet, code named “Project Iceworm.”  During this period of the Cold War, the US Army was working on plans to base newly designed “Iceman” ICBM missiles in a massive network of tunnels dug into the Greenland icecap.  The Iceworm plans were eventually deemed impractical and abandoned. No missiles were ever known to have been based at Camp Century.

The US Army Nuclear Power Program was created to develop small nuclear power reactors for use at remote sites. Most were based on existing US Naval reactor designs. Eight reactors were built in all, and six of the eight produced useful power.  The nuclear reactor at Camp Century was the first of the US Army’s portable reactors to actually produce power.

Camp Century was designed to have a useful life of at least ten years with proper maintenance. However, due to unanticipated movement of the glacial ice, it essentially became a summer camp in 1964.  Maintaining the tunnels at Camp Century required time-consuming and laborious trimming and removal of more than 120 tons of snow and ice each month.  Camp Century was abandoned for good in 1966.  The Greenland icecap, in constant motion, would completely destroy all the tunnels over the course of several years. Today, it is likely that most of Camp Century has been reclaimed by the ice.

much more about Camp Century here





reflections from the tip of the spear


The Avengers founding member and drummer Danny Furious has lived in Sweden for the last 19 years.  He introduced himself at a Vectors gig in Stockholm and we set this interview up. It was done through email in December 2004.

KARL BACKMAN: You started the Avengers, tell us a bit about how that came about? Originally Jonathan Postal (later voc w/ the Readymades) played bass?

DANNY FURIOUS: Well , I was born in Los Angeles California, but my family soon migrated to Orange County, just south of L.A. Fullerton to be precise. Anyway, I moved to San Francisco to further my education in the fine arts. I was a wanna-be Jackson Pollock. I heard the RAMONES were playing at a North Beach club, the SAVOY TIVOLI, close to the San Francisco Art Institue. I went alone as no-one was interested in coming along ‘cuz no one knew who the Ramones were except me! It was autumn ’76 and my little brother had played me their first album just a few weeks before and I was curious as hell . So I paid my buck- fifty or whatever and together with about 10 other people had the sonic life changing experience of a lifetime! they were amazing and I couldn’t believe they could put so much energy out for like 10 fucking people and DEE DEE was something else! I was so stoked at the idea of another band that I immediately phoned Greg and he too was good to go. I decided I didn’t want to sing this time, but instead concentrate on playing the drums. San Francisco consisted of only 2 interesting bands who were — more or less, although I didn’t know it at the time — the remainder of the Ramones audience that night. These were the NUNS and CRIME. We instantly became the third! all we needed was a singer and a bass player. I was totally floored with this “Marilyn-type red head” who also atended the SFAI and she would dress in these vintage 50’s clothes in stark contrast to the other painters at school. she seemed the perfect candidate for the job of singer. Plus I was totally in lust with her. She was the most fascinating girl I’d ever seen! so I made a play for her and popped the big question. “do you want to sing in our band?” she said “No, I wanna be an actor. I know nothing about rock and roll.” perfect!! we set a mike in front of her, turned on the P.A and left…. when we returned she said “Yea, I’ll be your singer. My voice sounds so great this loud!” We had ourself a singer but still needed a bass player. Penelope suggested this other student at SFAI named Jonathon Postal. OK, we had ourselves a band now so we started to rehearse in my loft which I shared with 3 other painters and so our first gig is credited to have been played in my warehouse, actually it was just one of our many parties but this time we provided the enterainment. we did covers of early STONES and a few STOOGES numbers. Penelope still looked like a red headed Marilyn Monroe and we didn’t have a name. I credit Jonathon with our name. We dicked around with different names like the Refrigeraters, Vomit, and the Open Sores until Jonathon came up with the AVENGERS stating it would be the name everyone could understand. Jonathon never fit in the band and he had very definite ideas of what we were to be that did not jibe with ours. for one, he had long curly hair and fancied himself Gary Valentine, bass player for BLONDIE at the time. This was NOT what we were, so his days were numbered from the git-go. when Penelope and I met Jimmy in july ’77 we knew he was our boy! Jimmy used the line from JAILHOUSE ROCK where ELVIS says in essence “I can play guitar (bass) better ‘en him!” Jimmy was hired on the spot, right in front of City Lights Books. The problem was how to get rid of Jonathon. He refused to go! We had to physically evict him and he went kicking and screaming and swearing revenge! Jonathon in fact got us our first real gig at the MABUHAY in june ’77 playing an all nite party for the NUNS who had opened for BRYAN FERRY at WINTERLAND. That show established the AVENGERS as the “new kids on the block”. the AVENGERS were the first REAL punk band from San Francisco!

KB: The Avengers’ debut gig was at your warehouse party?

DF: The Warehouse gig was, as I said, one of our huge party’s where we happened to be providing the entertainment. We were getting our “chops” down and showcasing our “singer”. I remember thinking that it was cool Penelope sang “I WANNA BE YOUR MAN” in the same way PATTY SMITH did “GLORIA”, that cross- gender kinda thing. We also played “THE LAST TIME”, and “MERCY MERCY” by the STONES’. the audience were young artsy-fartsy party people. you know, friends! I think it’s important to note that our first real show (at the MABUHAY 6-11-77) was the showcase gig for the AVENGERS and we played ONLY original material. this was partly due to PENELOPE taking a trip down to Hollywood and kickin’ it with the SCREAMERS for a few days. PENELOPE was from Seattle where the SCREAMERS (then known as the TUPPERWARES) were also based. She had been their “body guard” in Seattle prior to her moving to San Francisco and they were good friends. upon her return from Hollywood (where the SCREAMERS were the darlngs of the fledgling Hollywood scene-AND RIGHTLY SO!) she announced that — “we must have our own songs!” we agreed. Problem was no one had ever written a song before! So we set about trying to write some. I believe it was me who wrote the first 5 or 6 songs as I had no problem trying! mabey they weren’t the ultimate in PUNK ROCK compositions, but they were at least ours! The songs included “I WANT IN”, “FUCK YOU”, “VERNON IS A FAG”, “MY BOYFRIEND’S A PINHEAD”, “TEENAGE REBEL” and” CAR CRASH”. 4 out of 6 songs written entirely by your’s truly. We ended the set with me (ego nutcase) doing a typical rendition of “SEARCH AND DESTROY”. This was after we had finished our set as the AVENGERS. Needless to say, we were the highlight of the evening, it now being 4 in the morn! DIRK DIRKSON, the proprioter and M.C. was duly impressed and asked us back the following week even though half the time GREG was playing one song and PENELOPE was singing another! definately the way to begin any punk-rock career!!! The audience was made up of R&R enthuseists and displaced freaks and young gays out to have a bit of fun. They fuckin’ loved us! and we them! we shut ‘em all down! PUNK ROCK HAD FINALLY ARRIVED IN SAN FRANCISCO! and PENELOPE was the FACE! screw the NUNS and CRIME!

KB: You supported the Sex Pistols on their last show on January 14 1978, what do you remember about that night?

DF: What I remember most is a rainy afternoon and I’m on stage completely alone, setting up my drum kit for a forthcoming sound check. Winterland is a huge cavernous former ice skating rink taken over by BILL GRAHAM (another absolute scum bag and enemy of the people) in the sixties to cash in on the hippy thing. So I’m setting up and who do I see sitting and staring out into the empty arena not 5 or 6 feet from me but the one and only JOHN ROTTEN ! Well, thinks I to myself, nows your big chance, fuckin’ say something fool! but the scowl on that boys face is enough to scare the shit outta, I would think, anyone so I’m trying to work up the guts to introduce myself prepared for the dissing of a lifetime when who bounces up to me grabbing my t-shirt, but SID VISCIOUS! Sid simply says “I gotta have your t-shirt mate! ” I’m wearing a home made hammer and sickle flag t-shirt belonging to the Dils so it ain’t mine to give away and so I reply” I’m wearing this shirt tonight and it doesn’t belong to me” and he gets real pushy saying “Come with me I’ll trade it for one of mine” and I say “no thanx” still wanting to talk with Rotten and not this spoilt brat and he says “fuck you mate” and fucks off and naturally Rotten finds this all so distasteful and he too fucks off shaking his head in disgust. So I never spoke to Rotten. The AVENGERS were in their dressing room, the NUNS in theirs and the PISTOLS had their sorta v.i.p. room, shielded from everyone so we did not mingle with them. The nuns were into heroin and SID, who’d been carefully guarded during the whole tour was let loose to fuck himself up as he pleased and the NUNS who were into smack were only too happy to help SID get his dope and they got high together and you all know the story of what essentially happened to him after the last show in San Francisco — he O.D’d that night, was hospitalized, flew to New York and never really recovered, rapidly spiraling downhill to his death a little over a year later. I wasn’t at the party after the show with the elite junky punks (we were essentially a drug-free band) but several “friends” were and the reports were sordid and disgusting. This was NOT what PUNK was about for me. I’m not saying the AVENGERS were goody two shoes, because I soon found myself a hopeless addict lost in my own downward spiral of misery and junk. More on that later. Back to the show — the PISTOLS came on stage and performed a lack luster show, SID being high and JOHN cynical and disgusted about what was happening to his band, the first and possibly ONLY true punk band. I was fascinated. They sounded terrible and SID was trying to be JOHN. John had given up and didn’t seem to care any longer. So they finish their set and come out for their one encore which is NO FUN and then JOHN’s true colors came out. I have NEVER (nor will I ever again) witness a performance so real, so honest and so full of desperation as that encore. I always liked ROTTEN but now I really knew who he was and what was so different about him and every other performer before him. His performance gave me chills. It was the best live performance I have ever seen. It was so moving and real and terribly depressing and the bravest thing I’d ever witnessed. I suddenly really got it! What it was that made this punk thing so different and it was JOHN ROTTEN. I credit JOHN LYDON with being the originator of what I believe punk is (or should be) and that is to say, absolute honesty. or as close as one can get we being mere mortals and all… and I thought about that young man up there in front of the world fronting what was at the time the NEXT BIG THING and it was all falling apart around and inside of himself and he put everything he had into that one stupid song and it was so fucking real and beautiful! And perhaps this sounds a bit melodramatic or whatever but I was truly moved by his performance and I have had nothing but the highest regard for this man ever since. You can take all your definitions of what punk rock is and who started it etc., etc… but the truth is I knew without a doubt that night exactly what punk was and the truth is punk is nothing more then assets and deficits in equal measure. We had witnessed the death of the individual and punk was simply the last true scream of defiance at the witnessing of this death. So-called punk rock music and punk are really two very different things and what I believe punk is to me is a belief I will live and breath and carry till the day I die. Not self-destruction, but true love of oneself. Well now I’ve gotten preachy and boring and I will not mention this stuff again in this interview. So take it or fucking leave it, that’s the truth as I live it… and the fucking wisdom to know the difference!

The Avengers ’77 (l-r) Penelope Houston, Danny Furious, Greg Ingraham, Jimmy Wilsey by Marcus Leatherdale…

KB: Why did the Avengers break up?

DF: Jimmy was leaning towards his “fave” music rockabilly, and had aspirations to play guitar, whilst I was sorta interested in being the DIL’s new drummer as they were , once again drummerless, and that left Penelope trying to keep things together after Greg’s departure. and as previously mentioned, Greg’s exit left us a tad depressed, as he simply split without even saying good-bye really. We started to disintegrate, so Brad’s new role in the band was to inspire us to stay together and that is too much to dump on one individual – but he tried, he really tried! In fact we managed to hold out another 5 months but those months are kinda blurry and the end felt imminent.. we finally called it a day in june of ’79.

KB: What is your fondest memories from your early punk days?

DF: The fondest memories are most definitely the whole experience. The beginnings of PUNK was a unique point in time for all involved and the feeling of “this is exactly what must be done and we’re gonna do it” was pre-imminent. It was a righteous feeling! and I’m very glad to have been a part of the whole thing. There are many funny and not-so-funny anecdotes to tell but… just getting a chance to see so many great bands back in the day was incredible. the DILS, the SLEEPERS, the ZERO’s the MUTANTS. the WEIRDO’s, NEGATIVE TREND, ALLEYCATS, X, GERMS, CONTROLLERS (Mad Dog Rules!), LIARS, DEADBEATS, D.O.A., the SCREAMERS, MIDDLE CLASS and early DEVO are amongst my favorites. what can I say, I fuckin’ love good music and believe it – PUNK was great music! The brilliant thing was that at the onset all the bands had their own sound and style. and women were very much a part of early PUNK. That was a BIG plus and as much as PENELOPE and I have our differences I am very proud of her accomplishments and I know she has influenced countless young women to follow suite. BELINDA CARLISLE, when we first met her, wanted to start an AVENGERS fan club. instead she started the GO GO’s, a far superior project. One of my favorite memories was driving up to Vancouver for the first time in early ’78 to do a show with D.O.A. (think we were the first Cali band to play Canada). Anyway, we’re driving around looking for the venue and we finally find it and park our van, and standing there to greet us is this very tuff looking biker-skinhead dude who extends his hand to shake ours and announces very seriously “Hi, I’m Joey Shithead, welcome to Vancouver!”. Fucking brilliant! we had a blast playing Vancouver. That night after the show we all drove to Burnaby to party and jam in this house with no walls, a candle atop Jimmy’s amp burnt down and set fire to the speaker cabinet but that didn’t stop anyone from playin’. Almost burnt the place down! Loved playing Vancouver. Great fuckin’ town!

KB: You were the original drummer for Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, before they moved to New York, right?

DF: I joined JOAN JETT’s new band in january of 80 after quitting my gig with JORMA KAUKONEN (of HOT TUNA and JEFFERSON AIRPLANE fame) whom I’d been playing with just for the bucks together with my best friend DENNY DEGORIO who was the bass player and who got me the gig and said it’d be a good laugh! Well it wasn’t too funny really so after a tour in the fall of 79 of the eastern seaboard (Vermont to Jersey) Denny and I both gave notice. Gary called and said he’d got the roll of new bass player and that Joan wanted an AVENGER in the band and would I audition once again stating we’d have a good laugh so I went down to Hollywood and got the gig. ERIC AMBLE was the guitar player and he was dead serious about hitting the big-time so he was constantly in a rage over Joan’s drunkeness and my getting high. Denny’s constant insistence to try some heroin finally paid off in New York City after our tour with Jorma and I was entering my honeymoon period with the sleaziest of drugs. I was hooked from sniff one and soon started shooting the shit. My mind was definitely NOT on being a pop star! I spent most of my 3 months in hollywood as Joan’s drummer fucking rich teenage punk groupies and shooting dope with DARBY CRASH who lived across the street with his “girlfriend” Michael. By the way it was me who named the band the BLACK HEARTS. I had a fuck-band that encompassed various members of other bands whatever, and that is where I met GARY RYAN who was dating LORNA DOOM, the GERM’s bass player. I really didn’t like the music Joan was playing nor did I like her management.. in fact aside from Gary and Joan herself, I didn’t like anything about being in this band. But soon we were off to England and I couldn’t skip the opportunity having never been to Europe so in May 1980 we left for England. I was truly excited and loved England immediately. We rehearsed in the WHO’s studio in Battersea and I got to play one of KEITH MOONS drum kits. We were soon off to Holland to do a festival thing with MOTORHEAD and we got on great with them even being invited to Philthy Phil’s home when we got back to London for drinks and a night at their fave club the Nashville where the Pistol’s once played. we did a show at the MARQUEE opening for the BOY’s and we met JIMMY (sham) PURSEY. I also met a couple of girls who took me to their squat in south London and made me feel very much at home, they also being into smack. none of my pursuits in London went over too well with the rest of the band outside of Joan whom we never saw, her staying in Posh hotels while we were slumming it Joan being the star and all but no matter ‘cuz I had found my London connection so who cared! I promptly gave notice, agreeing to do a 3 week tour of the Netherlands before calling it a day with Joan and Co. Whilst in Holland Joan stayed in Amsterdam and the band stayed in a terrible Motel in a town called Apeldorn. Such fucking shit! Joan was… how should I say, a complete asshole for treating her band so badly and I have no regrets for quitting although I have no ill feelings towards her. In fact I’d love to see her again as we had some good times together. We’d pick up girls together… she being the “shy” lesbian.

KB: Do you follow today’s punk scene at all? And if you would compare the old and the new, what’s the difference?

DF: Those are challenging questions at best BUT, easy as hell to answer; it’s absurd and asinine to compare or make comparisons with what’s happening now, and what took place nearly 30 years ago. It would be like trying to compare what CHARLIE PARKER and DIZZY GILLESPIE laid down in New York City back in 1948, changing forever what people percieved as music, and the outrage they caused, litterally inciting people to walk out mid-song (and I am sure we did the same), and what is accepted as jazz music today… there is simply NO COMPARISON! This isn’t to say, however, that what young bands today are attempting to accomplish is in any way invalid… quite the contrary, PUNK ROCK is more valid today than ever, so fucking get out there and make some noise people!  Start your own band and do something that means something because the reason the whole thing began in the first place was that we were sick and tired of paying our hard earned cash to see some 40-50 year old farts playing their geriatric bullshit (no ageism  — just FACT!) when we fuckin’ knew that we could do it ourselves, and so much better…  with a vengence!

the entire interview — lots more — here



hybrid animals…


genetic mash-ups…


Though they rarely occur in nature, individuals from different but closely related species do occasionally mate, and the result is a biological hybrid — an offspring that shares traits from both parent species.

Beefalo: (above) Beefalo are the fertile offspring of domestic cattle and American bison. Crosses also exist between domestic cattle and European bison (zubrons), and yaks (yakows). The name given to beefalo might be the most suggestive, since the breed was purposely created to combine the best characteristics of both animals with an eye towards beef production. A USDA study showed beefalo meat, like bison meat, tended to be lower in fat and cholesterol. They are also thought to produce less damage to rangeland than cattle.

Cama: A cama is a hybrid of two animals from different worlds — camels from Asia, and llamas from South America. The two species exhibit many differences, but camels and llamas are both camelids descended from a common ancestor that evolved in North America during the Palaeogene period. Camas were produced via artificial insemination to create an animal with the size and strength of the camel, but the more cooperative temperament of the llama. The unlikely fertilization was a success, but the result wasn’t quite what breeders had hoped. Camas exhibit a camel-like temperament, but they are attracted to female llamas.

Grolar Bear: The offspring of a grizzly bear and a polar bear, a grolar bear is one beast you don’t want to meet in the woods. Interestingly, unlike many hybrid animals, grolar bears are known to occur naturally in the wild. Some experts predict that polar bears may be driven to breed with grizzly bears at an increased frequency due to global warming, and the fact that polar bears are being forced from their natural habitats on the polar ice.

Liger: Ligers are the cross of a male lion and a female tiger, and they are the largest of all living cats and felines. Their massive size may be a result of imprinted genes which are not fully expressed in their parents, but are left unchecked when the two different species mate. Some female ligers can grow to 10 feet in length and weigh more than 700 pounds. Ligers are distinct from tigons, which come from a female lion and male tiger. Various other big cat hybrids have been created too, including leopons (a leopard and a lion mix), jaguleps (a jaguar and leopard mix), and even lijaguleps (a lion and jagulep mix).

Sheep-goat: This cross between a sheep and a goat is rare because goats and sheep each belong to a different genus. Though matings between the two are known to occur, the offspring most often is stillborn. Even so, live births have occurred, the most famous of which happened in Botswana in 2000. Called the Toast of Botswana, the animal was infertile but it had an active libido — so active, in fact, that it earned itself the nickname of “Bemya”, meaning rapist.

Wholphin: A cross between a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, wholphins are hybrids that have been reported to exist in the wild. There are currently two in captivity, both at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. The wholphin’s size, color and shape are intermediate between the parent species. Even their number of teeth is mixed; a bottlenose has 88 teeth, a false killer whale has 44 teeth, and a wholphin has 66.

Zebroid: A zebroid is the offspring of a cross between a zebra and any other equine, usually a horse or a donkey. There are zorses, zonkeys, zonies and a host of other combinations. Zebroids are an interesting example of hybrids bred from species that have a radically different number of chromosomes. For instance, horses have 64 chromosomes and zebra have between 32 and 44.





“there’s nothing more dangerous than a car tire in love…”


Under the blazing sun of the American Southwest, a creature prowls aimlessly, driven solely by an unquenchable thirst for vengeance. Its family and friends were savagely massacred. The world at large will pay for this unforgivable crime. Nothing will escape the rage of this psychopathic car tire that… uh, hold on. A serial killer tire? That’s right, you read correctly. Now follow along—this tire with a bloodlust wanders the Arizona desert, leaving behind it a trail of dead, victims reduced to puddles of gore. Thanks to its powerful telepathic abilities, it makes every living thing it crosses, from little bunnies to unlucky motorists, literally explode. The tire is consumed by fury, kills without pity and nothing will sate its rage—except perhaps the gorgeous young woman (Roxane Mesquida) with whom it has fallen obsessively in love. It crossed her path on the road and has since been invaded by unfamiliar emotions. Recognizing at last some sense to its existence, it follows her furtively, awaiting a propitious moment to make its approach. Its newfound sentiments, however, haven’t softened the tire as it continues to blow apart anyone in its path. There truly is nothing more dangerous than a killer car tire in love.

It’s hard to imagine a freakier film than RUBBER. Buñuel himself would have been confounded by the off-the-charts oddness of this lurid salute to low-grade B movies. The moment you see the tire—named Robert, by the way—up on the screen, you’ll be sold on this absurdist black comedy that spits out wild ideas at a machine-gun pace. Those familiar with director Quentin Dupieux in his guise of electronic music sensation Mr. Oizo will know all about his singular creative knack. Here he is at the top of his game with a twisted hybrid of loving trash-cinema pastiche and the out-there experimentation of Charlie Kaufman. Initiating an amusing, Brechtian game of layered self-reference, Dupieux delivers a preposterous slasher film with an improbable killer gleefully going all Grand Guignol. Around it is a splendid cast delivering larger-than-life performances, notably Stephen Spinella, a winner in his role as a nutbar sheriff. He has the honour of opening the film with an unforgettable monologue about cinema, one of the funniest in years. The high-voltage RUBBER a brilliant and hysterical postmodern rethinking of the genre film that turned heads at Cannes just a couple of months back. Goodnight, Freddy—here’s Robert!


“RUBBER” 2010 directed by Quentin Dupieux

screening friday 1.21 at Cinefamily




Staten Island’s legendary resting place for boats…


Active since the 1930s, the old Witte Marine Equipment Company — now Donjon Marine Company — is unique not only for its continuous marine salvaging but also for the number and variety of vessels that have been pushed into the muck. The rounded bridges of wooden tugboats, soaring bows of warships, and even the broad decks of old ferries can be seen along the water, sinking in slow motion.

Former owner John J. Witte was famous for chasing the curious away from the 24-acre property. Witte — who passed away in 1980 — refused to let ships brought in be dismantled, and at one point the boneyard held some 400 vessels, some over a century old. According to Witte’s son Arnold, who now runs the yard as part of a larger dredging company, at least 100 craft rest there now, retaining the yard’s bragging rights as one of the largest gatherings of historic ships like it in the world.

“Many if not all of the vessels you commonly see transiting the water ways of New York and New Jersey come to final resting place there — or have over the years,” Says Witte, 72, who began his career in marine salvage and wreck removal at the yard as a 12-year-old. “It’s closed off for public safety reasons. Some of the current wrecks are so deteriorated that it would be rather insensible to suggest it could become a tourist attraction.”

That hasn’t stopped some visitors. Artist Bill Murphy, a native Staten Islander and artist who knows his borough’s coastline well, first braved the threat of John “Old Man” Witte’s wrath in the 1970s. “The very first time I ever went down there was probably the scariest time I ever had,” says Murphy. “I actually got onto Witte’s property and I was on an old coal barge. My foot went right through a 12-inch wide plank and I went right down — my right leg went all the way down past the knee.”

Scores of etchings, paintings, and sketches later, Murphy continues to scour the coastline for decay — he says the natural progression of the ships’ slow disappearance below the waterline, and the process of discovering the skeletons of New York’s harbor history, is intoxicating. He’s not alone either. Photographer Shaun O’Boyle has made several trips to the yard, putting some of the photos into a book: Modern Ruins, Portrait of Place in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Another set of shots, particularly spooky in black-and-white, can be found online at a Web site called Opacity.

One artist, John A. Noble, made it his life’s work to document the slow obsolescence of sailing and steam vessels along the Arthur Kill — the body of water separating Staten Island and New Jersey. Noble died in 1983, but his studio, built on a barge in a New Jersey Port Johnston boneyard now laid mostly to rest under water, survives at the Noble Maritime Collection at Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

(WNYC  10.30.10)

read the entire article here…




an interview with Abel Ferrara


CINEMA SCOPE: Speaking of the Wooster Group — you got a really effective, almost theatrical performance from Willem Dafoe.

ABEL FERRARA: We wrote the part for Walken and Chris never really got it. Willem and I had worked together in New Rose Hotel (1998). We had our differences but he’s now also living in Rome, and when he read it he got it. If you’re gonna have a film where someone’s got his name on the cuff of his shirt, that’s a pretty big ego you have to play. And he got it, he did it, he sang. It’s so sad he wasn’t there that night, but he’s shooting this movie [Paul Schrader’s Adam Resurrected] where he’s playing the head of the Gestapo or a concentration camp. Willem understands the idea with entertainment, that the show must go on, from a theatrical point of view, and he made it happen. We’ve been trying to make this film for seven years, but we never really had the guy.

CS: You wrote Go Go Tales before Mary?

AF: I wrote it way back: Mary, Go Go Tales, and the King of New York prequel that I’m trying to do next—they all kind of came together. You never know when the inspiration is going to come. We were here in Cannes seven years ago, trying to get money for Go Go Tales.

CS: Has the film changed much since your original conception? I assume you were planning to shoot in New York to begin with.

AF: It’s different in that I’m different. And yeah, in terms of how we were going to film it. We were going to shoot on Wooster Street—we had a three-story townhouse and we built almost the entire set, but obviously not like we ended up doing at Cinecitta. We did a reading with Harvey Keitel and a lot of the actors; it was very low budget. But I’m walking down Wooster Street one day and I see my set being tossed out into the middle of the block. We didn’t pay the rent. We didn’t have the money. The financiers backed out. But there’s a time and a place for everything. This film took me so long to make, and there’s so much gratification from it. It was something I’d really wanted to do and couldn’t but we never gave up on it, and then it came together so beautifully in Italy. It was so odd, Matthew Modine, one minute he’s playing Jesus Christ [Modine plays the director-star of a Jesus movie in Mary] and then the next minute he’s playing the greatest beautician in Staten Island. That’s probably a Christ-like character too.

CS: Is the Paradise based on actual clubs you used to go to?

AF: There’s a film I made that I actually almost forgot called Fear City (1984) [set largely in seedy Manhattan strip clubs]. There’s an up-and-down wave of these go-go clubs. Sometimes they’re so in fashion—you go and there’s limousines parked down the block and Hollywood actresses are jumping up onstage. But sometimes you go and they’ve closed down. I remember going to this one and Leonardo DiCaprio was there and I remember going with Matt Dillon and, you know, it was a classy club. I’ve got to be careful what I say because this is such a litigious society. If you mention somebody’s name then they’ll sue you for saying they really directed and wrote it, send you storyboards. But yeah, it was on 20th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues and the Limelight was around the corner, and that club was in the middle of the block. It was when we were making Bad Lieutenant  (1992)—I know exactly when it was. I know the day, I know the minute, I know the hour. The Limelight was rocking, and that street, everywhere we went we got drinks for free, New York was beautiful, but it was bad too. You had the crack epidemic and people getting murdered, Drugs were a nightmare. But when 9/11 came down, that put a stop to it.

CS: But things were already changing under Giuliani.

AF: It might have been, but 9/11—that was a knife in the heart of our city. To me, life is before and after. I’d never imagined at the time, that was a golden era for New York.

CS: Did you move to Rome right after 9/11?

AF: No, we hung out for as long as we could. It became very hard to make films, it became very hard for me to even want to make a film. I didn’t want to leave New York. Most of my films are financed as much in Europe as in the United States, so it’s not a big deal for us to come and shoot in France or Italy—you can see how people react to me here. To leave New York when it wasn’t the right time would have been too hard. I grew up there and there was that independent film thing, Jim Jarmusch and Spike, there was a world of films and filmmakers, and then all of a sudden it became… I still have a problem dealing with all this, you know. What was the response, the political response, as a New Yorker, not as an American. As an American citizen, Iraq is Iraq, but as a New Yorker, what about Osama bin Laden? Where is he?

CS: Would you say this is the most personal or most heartfelt film you’ve made?

AF: I hope not. I mean, I hope it is. Absolutely. It’s my most heartfelt film. But what’s that saying about the other ones? They were my least heartfelt films? But all kidding aside, you make these films about the characters, and you’re not always the characters, you know? I’m not that egomaniacal. Ray Ruby could have his name above the marquee and he could have his initials on his cufflinks, but I’m not wearing cufflinks, I’m not wearing fucking Ruby buttons. You need to be true to the characters, that’s really what it’s at, for me and the actor. And the actor and I have to be close to each other to really understand how we’re going to create that guy. Willem’s not Ruby and neither am I, but we know who Ruby really is. And we nail him, and then we’re him too. But I don’t think I want to be too much like Ray Ruby. With the white tuxedo and the singing, and all these girls with no clothes on day and night. I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

CS: Have you had to adapt much to working conditions in Italy?

AF: I’ve been there for about two-and-a-half years, so I understand the political structure, but underneath that there are some of the greatest filmmakers, greatest actors. The cinema to me is Pasolini, Rossellini, Fellini—if you work at Cinecitta, the ghosts are all there, the spirits are alive.

CS: You mentioned 9/11, but in terms of New York changing, what was the turning point for the film industry? When did it start to get harder to be a certain kind of American filmmaker?

AF: There was that period in the ’90s when all these guys sold out—Harvey and all that. When every studio had an independent branch, it was the wrong way to go, 100 percent. You’re either going to battle them on that level or be a change on that level. You’re going to say, oh right, being a part of Disney is going to help independent films? That’s fucking bullshit, man. Who are you kidding?

CS: You’ve managed to avoid working in digital thus far.

AF: I want to make a feature film that’s pure digital. It’ll be a modern-day version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I want to do it like in [William Gibson’s 2003 novel] Pattern Recognition, where they put these short segments out on the internet. Just put it out there on the Web and try to create that world that William [Gibson] was talking about, where you can bypass them all. With the internet, and going to Europe, I feel like I grew up. You’ve got to be like a Wall Street broker, especially with the internet and digital, watching that tape every minute to know how the film business is going. There’s going to be a way, for the people who want to see my films, where I can go right to them with it.

CS: So you’re pretty optimistic about the future?

AF: There are so many ways to work, I want to try them all. I remember seeing 2001 (1968) at the Ziegfield in the afternoon. There were 30 people, I’m sitting there eating popcorn by myself. In 70mm, Dolby Stereo, super wide screen, it was unbelievable. But I also remember during a snowstorm one time, they showed it on TV, my friend had an 11-inch black-and-white television, and it was the same experience. Films play on every level. But you need the freedom and you need the respect. In New York there was always respect for movies. Jim Jarmusch is respected on the street. I don’t know how respected he is at Spago’s, or if he even exists. You know, I can’t take it any more. At a certain point, you have to have respect for the work. Just because you can afford the Mona Lisa doesn’t mean you can put a mustache on it. In the end, having the courage to leave New York—once you do that, you find places. You find they want to shoot films in Shanghai, Korea. As long as you’re making films, it doesn’t matter, I don’t know if you even need language. There are a lot of ways to go. But the only way is where you’re working with people who respect what you’re doing.

read the entire article here


“GO GO TALES” 2007 directed by Abel Ferrara

screening 1.17 and 1.18 at the Anthology Film Archives as part of the series “Abel Ferrara in the 21st Century”…


UFO drawings…





see PART 2 for more…




“the kind of film that makes top ten lists, that film nerds read about years before they get to see — the kind of film that affects all who see it…”


Combining the gripping, unpredictable tension of a prime Polanski thriller, the perfectly-executed production design of a Wes Anderson contraption and the dangerous freaky-deakiness of a David Lynch nightmare, Dogtooth is easily one of the most unique filmic creations of the last few years, spinning forth from the dark imagination of new Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos.

On par with Antichrist and Enter The Void for sheer audacity, this hyper-stylized, intoxicating mixture of physical violence and verbal comedy is the story of three teenagers perpetually confined to their parents’ isolated country estate, and kept under strict rule and regimen — an inscrutable scenario suggesting a warped experiment in social conditioning. Terrorized into submission by their father, the children spend their days devising their own games and learning an invented vocabulary (a salt shaker is a “telephone,” an armchair is “the sea”) — until a trusted outsider brought in to satisfy the son’s libidinal urges starts offering forbidden VHS tapes(!) as a key to the outside world.

Fully utilizing every last inch of onscreen space, Lanthimos paints the blackest of portraits here using austere, antiseptic visuals, and elicits total warped commitment from his entire cast, resulting in an indelible immersive experience into a claustrophobic emotional netherworld never before seen.

(CINEFAMILY  1.5.11)

“DOGTOOTH” 2009 directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

catch the L.A. Premiere at Cinefamily 1.7 – 1.13




the Swiss Alps project will be the longest…

the drill machine “Sissi”…

from AP

The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is seen as an important milestone in the creation of a high-speed transportation network connecting all corners of Europe.

First conceived in 1947 by engineer Eduard Gruner, it will allow millions of tons of goods that are currently transported through the Alps on heavy trucks to be shifted onto the rails, particularly on the economically important link between the Dutch port of Rotterdam and Italy’s Mediterranean port of Genoa.

The tunnel also aims to reduce the damage that heavy trucks are inflicting on Switzerland’s pristine Alpine landscape.

Some 2,500 workers have spent nearly 20 years smashing through the rock beneath the towering Gotthard massif, including the 8,200-foot Piz Vatgira (Vatgira Peak).

When the $10 billion tunnel opens for rail traffic in 2017, it will replace Japan’s 33.5-mile Seikan Tunnel as the world’s longest – excluding aqueducts – and let passenger and cargo trains pass under the Alps at speeds of up to 155 mph on their way from Germany to Italy.

Swiss voters, who are paying over $1,300 each to fund the project, approved its construction in a series of referendums almost 20 years ago.

European transport ministers watched the breakthrough ceremony live from a meeting in Luxembourg, conscious that Switzerland has set the bar very high for future cross-Alpine rail projects. Two further tunnels – one connecting connect Lyon, France, to Turin in Italy, and the other replacing the Brenner road tunnel between Austria and Italy – are still a long way from completion.

Swiss engineers are hoping to complete the rail tunnel even sooner than planned – possibly by the end of 2016 – but its first high-speed trains could be delayed by protests in Germany and Italy, where local opposition to new tracks and budget constraints have become an issue in recent months.

The protesters in Stuttgart oppose plans to move the city’s station underground, viewing the €4.1 billion ($5.7 billion) project as a waste of money. Supporters say it will free up the city’s packed center and help shorten journeys across Europe.

(CBS NEWS.COM  10.15.10)




photos of an unknown…


When John Maloof bid on a box of old photo negatives at an estate auction in 2007, little did he know he was stepping deep into the mystery of Vivian Maier.

Maloof, then a real estate agent, was looking for images to use in a book about the history of the Portage Park neighborhood. Instead, what he found were 30,000 images by Maier, who spent much of her time wandering Chicago and the world as a street photographer with a keen eye for capturing compelling images.

Since then, Maloof has amassed an archive of Maier’s life and work. Stashed in the attic studio of his Portage Park home are her cameras, 2,000 rolls of film, 3,000 prints and 100,000 negatives, as well as many 8mm movies and audiotapes. Stacks of old suitcases, a steamer trunk of clothes and scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings are stacked against one wall.

“When I bought all this, I had no idea what it was,” Maloof said. “I’m a third-generation flea market seller and could have easily just sold it all to someone else.”

Maier’s photographs and life story are gaining attention, including at the Chicago Cultural Center, where the exhibit “Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer” opens Friday.

“There weren’t many women doing street photography in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Lanny Silverman, chief curator at the Cultural Center. “So this is very interesting and noteworthy. Beyond just the story of her life, I think she’s quite a good photographer.”

Maloof and his longtime friend Anthony Rydzon are co-directing a documentary about Maier. A book, due out later this year, also is in the works. For some time now, they’ve been stitching together the details of Maier’s life and trying to fill in the blanks.

The details of Maier’s life are slowly lining up, according to Maloof. They’ve contacted several local families that employed her as a nanny and talked with employees of Central Camera, where she had film developed. But as of now no direct relatives have turned up.

Maier was born in 1926 in New York and spent much of her childhood in France. In 1951, she returned to New York and in 1956 came to Chicago to work as a nanny for a North Shore family. Maier, who was a private person by all accounts and a bit of a character, always had a Rolleiflex camera around her neck. She dressed in oversize coats, broad-brimmed hats and stout shoes.

“First thing in the morning on her day off, the camera would be around her neck, and we wouldn’t see her again until late at night,” said Maren Baylaender, whose husband employed Maier to care for his disabled daughter. “I remember her as a private person but one who had very strong opinions about movies and politics.”

Maier was a theater and movie buff. She was a hoarder and a bit of a recluse, but she wasn’t afraid to walk the street with her camera and engage people, some of whom she interviewed on audiotape. She seems to have been somewhat obsessed with her “second job,” documenting the world around her.

“She was a true artist and followed her dreams and what she wanted to do in life,” said Rydzon, 31. “She didn’t let anyone or anything stop her.”

Maier’s work is the purest form of art; none of it was done for any commercial reason. Her images lean toward women, children, the old, the poor, the abstract.

Silverman sees influences in her pictures ranging from the abstracts reminiscent of Institute of Design greats Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind to the styles of Diane Arbus, Lisette Model and Helen Levitt, and he wonders: “Was Vivian very sophisticated and able to do this or was she a tasteful lifter of those who came before her?”

At one point, Maier spent nearly a year traveling around the world to exotic and out-of-the-way destinations with her camera as her only companion. Another mystery is how she could afford such a trip. There is some evidence of an inheritance, Rydzon says.

Maloof and Rydzon are looking for the answer to these and many other questions about Maier’s life and work. The results of their detective work will be unveiled in the book and documentary film “Finding Vivian Maier.” They are raising funds for the film on (search for Vivian Maier). As Maloof scans in more of her photos, he posts them at

(SUN-TIMES  1.2.11)

many, many fine examples of  Vivian Maier’s work here

“Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer” on view 1.8 – 4.3.11 at the Chicago Cultural Center


year two…



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