Archive for January, 2011

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JAMES HAMILTON…

01/31/2011

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

by THURSTON MOORE

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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“WHITE LIGHTNIN’”

01/29/2011

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

by MICHAEL BONNER

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.

(UNCUT)

“WHITE LIGHTNIN’” 2009 directed by Dominic Murphy

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TONY MILLIONAIRE…

01/27/2011

the return of Drinky Crow..!

from SCOTT EDER GALLERY

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.

(SCOTT EDER GALLERY)

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the 2011 OSCAR nominations…

01/26/2011

sorting through…

by ANDREW O’HEHIR

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

WINNERS

“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.)

LOSERS

“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…

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the writers of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE…

01/25/2011

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…

(IMDB)

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the SWARMATRON…

01/23/2011

Dewanatron revives handmade electronica…

by NICK PAUMGARTEN

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)

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CAMP CENTURY…

01/21/2011

aka Project Iceworm…

by FRANK J. LESKOVITZ

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

(SCIENCE LEADS THE WAY via BLDG BLOG)

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