the best zine on the planet releases the new book “Objects Also Die“…
“Observe its honesty, dignity, and moral courage; it’s drawn all the necessary conclusions from its own total loss of function. Objects also die my friend. And if they also must die, then that’s it, better to let them go. It shows far more style, above all. Don’t you agree?” So says Micòl Finzi-Contini. Grappling with that question and the necessity of letting go is the motivation behind the panegyric essay “Objects Also Die,” Doug Magnuson’s filmic memorial of the same name, and the two combined along with extra material that makes up Objects Also Die. Designed by Myron Hunt and built in 1920, Los Angeles’ The Ambassador prevailed at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard through innumerable guests, two Oscar ceremonies, one assassination of a presidential hopeful, and countless unrecorded collective and personal histories before being demolished to make way for a school in 2006. Through the prism of the hotel itself, San Diego’s El Cortez and Estes Park, Colorado’s The Stanley, this compendium explores the loss of the Ambassador while delving into the conundrum of dealing with the death of inanimate things that have taken on a life of their own. The draw at The Ambassador was communion with unknowable bygone times and that special stillness pervading rooms no one had been for a long time, a kind of mildly illicit romantic exploration of seductive ruins. Magnuson’s elegiac, calm, dry-eyed yet poetic nineteen minute documentation is accompanied by George Draguns’s affecting and occasionally spooky soundtrack, and the pages herein include Greg Magnuson’s haunting photographs of the beautiful decrepitude that defined the hotel in its last days. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (and the bungalow they set fire to), the Cocoanut Grove, the Venetian Ballroom are all included, as well as ephemera and mementos related to its seventy-year run, along with special guest appearances by Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Charles Manson, Alice Cooper, Norma Shearer, Art Nyhagen (the hotel’s doorman from 1946-89), and Dominique Sanda and Helmet Berger in Vittorio de Sica’s adaptation of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
New Wave Theatre was a television program broadcast locally in the Los Angeles area on UHF channel 18 and eventually on the USA Network as part of the late night variety show Night Flight during the early 1980s. The show was created and produced by David Jove, who also wrote the program with Billboard magazine editor Ed Ochs. It was noted for showcasing rising punk and New Wave acts, including Bad Religion, Fear, The Dead Kennedys, 45 Grave, and The Circle Jerks. Peter Ivers, a Harvard-educated musician with a gregarious personality and a flair for the theatric, was the host for the entire run of the show. The format was extremely loose, owing partly to the desire to maintain the raw energy of the live performances and partly to the limited production budget. The program was presented in a format dubbed “live taped”, in which the action was shot live and the video was then interspliced with video clips, photos, and graphics of everything from an exploding atomic bomb to a woman wringing a chicken’s neck.
The show started with a montage of clips from punk/new wave acts while the title appeared and the theme song, an abrupt mixture of Fear’s “Camarillo” and The Blasters’ “American Music”, played. Ivers would appear at the beginning and end of each show wearing dark glasses, spouting a stream of consciousness spiel about life, art and music. Besides the top-billed music acts, short skits were shown, including Sri Maharooni, a chain-smoking Indian fakir speaking about the meaning of life, and Chris Genkel (played by actor Robert Roll), a pitchman hawking bizarre products for “gherkins” from his company, Genkel Wax Works, in Adonai, Illinois. Celebrities, including Debra Winger and Beverly D’Angelo, were known to show up at NWT’s tapings. New Wave Theatre came to an end in 1983 when Ivers was found bludgeoned to death in his LA apartment. Rhino Video released two volumes of the best of New Wave Theatre in 1991 (Rhino Video numbers RNVD 2903 and RNVD 2904). Both are out of print, but used copies are not hard to find.
more public access television — PART 1…
through july 30 in Manhattan…
Tony Bennett unsuspectingly coined a new term of surprising relevance when he once said he liked what Oskar Kokoschka did “along the peripheter.” Though meaning the perimeter and periphery in the painting itself, he innocently zeroed in on a murky netherworld away from the formal where success and failure, acceptance and indifference, and Tony Bennett and Oskar Kokoschka meet. Like these two disparate personalities, the artists in The Peripheterists elude the standard definition of outsiders to form a diverse and unaligned but oddly complimentary non-scene that doesn’t really register with either the hoi polloi or the intelligentsia. In many cases low-key and unsung though prodigiously gifted, all are fairly unconcerned with and unknown in that rarely satisfying milieu known as “The Art World.”
The Peripherterists examines the wide-ranging connections, affinities, and allusions amongst works that posses the popular appeal often absent at the your typical white cube. That luck, social standing, ladder climbing, and a multitude of other variables determine who gets fêted is not news by any means, but it does give rise to an urge to address that vexing situation with a gathering of mostly uncelebrated rare birds. A few encounters amongst many will have Mark Hubbard’s fantastical diagrams for actual skateparks, Gloria T. Park’s expressionist wig designs, and Jim Nieuhues’ paintings that are the basis for ski area maps consorting with Sereno Wilson’s glittery Nubian goddesses, Nicole Andrews’ paper cutouts of ennui-suffused suburbanites, and Stu Mead’s poignant, troubling, and very funny depiction of sexually active adolescents. This is not a polemic but an excursion into parallel realm of wonderful art that combines the fiercely individualistic and unorthodox with the accessible, and brings up old-fashioned but eternal questions about what art is and why people bother.
artists: Nicole Andrews Brandes, Natascha Belt, Dave Bevan, Dwayne Boone, Gerardo Castillo, Rick Charnoski, Edward Colver, Ale Formenti, Renée French, Joseph Griffith, Thomas Hauser, Mark Hubbard, Chuckie Johnson, Gary Kachadourian, Taliah Lempert, Doug Magnuson, Alfredo Martinez, William McCurtin, Stu Mead, James Niehues, Gloria Park, Daniel Pineda, Randy Turner, Dennis Tyfus, Unidentified Cameroonian barbershop painters, Sereno Wilson, Jesse Wines, Jason Wright…
“Mardi Gras Indians are secretive because only certain people participated in masking — people with questionable character. In the old day, the Indians were violent; Indians would meet on Mardi Gras, it was a day to settle scores…”
Mardi Gras is full of secrets and the Mardi Gras Indians are as much a part of that secret society as any other carnival organization. The Mardi Gras Indians are comprised, in large part, of the blacks of New Orleans’ inner cities. They have paraded for well over a century…yet their parade is perhaps the least recognized Mardi Gras tradition.
“Mardi Gras Indians–the parade most white people don’t see. The ceremonial procession is loose, the parade is not scheduled for a particular time or route… that is up to the Big Chief.” – Larry Bannock, President, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council
Typical Mardi Gras organizations will form a “krewe.” A krewe often names their parade after a particular mythological hero or Greek god. The ranking structure of a Mardi Gras Krewe is a parody of royalty: King, Queen, Dukes, Knights and Captains…or some variation on that theme. Many more established Krewes allowed membership by invitation only.
Few in the ghetto felt they could ever participate in the typical New Orleans parade. Historically, slavery and racism were at the root of this cultural separation. The black neighborhoods in New Orleans gradually developed their own style of celebrating Mardi Gras. Their “Krewes” are named for imaginary Indian tribes according to the streets of their ward or gang.
The Mardi Gras Indians named themselves after native Indians to pay them respect for their assistance in escaping the tyranny of slavery. It was often local Indians who accepted slaves into their society when they made a break for freedom. They have never forgotten this support.
In the past, Mardi Gras was a violent day for many Mardi Gras Indians. It was a day often used to settle scores. The police were often unable to intervene due to the general confusion surrounding Mardi Gras events in the city…where the streets were crowded and everyone was masked. This kept many families away from the “parade,” and created much worry and concern for a mother whose child wanted to join the “Indians.”
“‘I’m gonna mask that morning if it costs me my life!’ That morning you pray and ask God to watch over you, cause everybody is bucking for number one.” – LB
Today when two Mardi Gras Indian tribes pass one another, you will see a living theater of art and culture. Each tribe’s style and dress is on display…in a friendly but competitive manner, they compare one another’s art and craftsmanship.
The greeting of the Big Chiefs of two different tribes often starts with a song, chant, ceremonial dance, and threatening challenge to “Humba”–the Big Chief’s demand that the other bow and pay respect. The retort is a whoop and equally impressive song and war dance with the reply, “Me no Humba, YOU Humba!”
“You know when you’ve won, you see it in their eyes.” – LB
Although there was a history of violence, many now choose to keep this celebration friendly. Each Big Chief will eventually stand back and, with a theatrical display of self-confidence, acknowledge the artistry and craftsmanship of the other’s suit.
Before the progression can continue, the two Big Chiefs will often comment privately to one another, “Looking good Baby, looking good!”
“After Mardi Gras, you thank GOD that you made it.” – LB
Mardi Gras is no longer a day to “settle scores” among the Mardi Gras Indians. Violence is a relic of the past. It is now Mardi Gras tradition and practice for the Indians to simply compare their tribal song, dance and dress with other tribes as they meet that day. Each Indian has invested thousands of hours and dollars in the creation of his suit, and is not willing to risk ruining it in a fight. This tradition, rich with folk art and history, is now appreciated by museums and historical societies around the world. It is a remarkable and welcome change from the past.
the exuberant art of the cursed…
Born in Libya in 1934, Mario Schifano moved to Rome as a young child and lived there until his death in 1998. Artist, provocateur, filmmaker and rock musician, Schifano epitomized “la dolce vita.”
Early in his career he worked as a restorer, which led to his making his own paintings, which he began exhibiting in 1959; by 1961 he had signed a contract with Ileana Sonnabend and had shown collectively with Twombly and Rauschenberg.
As part of the historic 1962 “The New Realists” show at New York’s Sidney Janis Gallery, Schifano exhibited with fellow Romans Tano Festa and Mimmo Rotella, along with Warhol, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Dine and Segal. In 1964, his work was presented at the Venice Biennale.
This artistic exchange between both sides of the Atlantic fomented what is now known as the “Scuola Romana,” which has been shown by critics and artists alike to have been a prescient movement of its own, independent from American art.
Rome’s eclectic energy and august antiquity were the perfect background for this creative revolution. A vital presence in the Roman art scene, Schifano’s longtime drug habit brought police persecution and numerous arrests, a circumstance that led the artist to refer to his career as “maldoto,” or cursed.
Schifano and his contemporaries, Franco Angeli and Tano Festa, are still little known to American audiences. Andrea Franchetti, art collector, Tuscan winemaker and close friend of the artist, remembers, “Schifano was a very prolific and exuberant artist who did a lot for everyone. At the time the work was made, it was a consolation and a stimulus to see.” This is still true.
“UMANO NON UMANO” 1972 directed by Mario Schifano