Should Be More Famous, Volume 1: Dylan Moran

Dylan’s been around for years as a stand-up comedian and actor, and he’s gotten his share of accolades, sure. But he’s virtually unknown in America STILL, although his howlingly hilarious “Black Books” is now in late-night PBS Britcom syndication, so the notoriety dividends from that should be paying off…approximately never. But nevermind! Dylan’s one of the funniest people on the planet, even if the whole of his oeuvre is not available in Region 1. Look him up on the YouTubes; you’ll not be disappointed. Oh, yes, and Black Books is on Netflix streaming.

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Kony 2012- The New Face of Christian Evangelism

By now you’ve probably seen the slickly produced and obviously well financed video called “Kony 2012”. When you first see the video, it’s hard not to be moved by it. But what is never discussed amid all of the heartstring plucking is that “Invisible Children“, the group who produced the video, are financed in part by the National Christian Foundation, the very same group who funds anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family and The Family Research Council. This article in The Advocate has a deeper analysis and I thought this portion of 10 O’Clock Live with Charlie Brooker was also insightful on the subject.

All of this could have never prepared me for the completely surreal and ironic turn of events within the last day or so. The seemingly angelic director of the “Kony 2012” video, Jason Russell, was detained by the San Diego police Thursday for being publicly naked, masturbating and obviously drug-induced (although his business partners claim it was stress related). The video is NSFW, so I will link to it and you can watch at your own discretion.

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Jac Mac & Rad Boy

All this talk about Nite Flights got me thinking about memories of a certain television show by a similar name.

If it was the mid-1980’s and you were up late and bored on a Friday night, you could probably find something interesting on Night Flight. I’m not going to go into specifics about the show here, but I think it’s a goldmine for forgotten film shorts, music videos, interviews… and way-out animation such as this:

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Bowie Falls To Earth On “Nite Flights”

Whenever I talk about David Bowie, the observation that Bowie is “a god among men” usually follows within the first two sentences.  But a couple of things in the past few weeks have forced me to re-examine this nugget conventional pop-culture-meets-counter-culture wisdom.  The first instance came when I re-watched Labyrinth with my son two weeks ago.   I loved it when it came out, but unlike the Bowie himself, the film has not aged well.  At all.

The second instance came while I was perusing the youtubes for any Walker Brothers footage circa their 1978 album, Nite Flights.  I found none, but I did find the above video for David Bowie’s cover version of the title track.  It’s no secret that Bowie has long admired– some may say imitated– Scott Walker’s vocal style.  But he somehow manages to drain all the life out of the song.  It’s so bad he nearly falls asleep at the keyboard.  Let’s not even talk about the people moving the lights around for super special shadow effects.  It’s just bad, bad, bad.

Here is the original for comparison:

Nite Flights is not the best Walker Brothers album, but it’s certainly the weirdest.  The band had split up in 1968 only to reform in 1975. In the intervening years, Scott Walker recorded several solo albums, including his masterpiece,  Scott 3.  If you stop to think about just how drastically pop music changed between 1968 and 1978, it’s easy to see why Nite Flights is so different from the early Walker Brothers albums.  It’s even very different from their other two post-reunion records.  But if you listen to Nite Flights in the context of what was popular in 1978, it sounds remarkably ahead of its time.

The Walker Brothers and some dude in a psychedelic tangerine jumpsuit circa 1967.

While the Walker Brothers were crafting their hit-and-miss  album, David Bowie was a year into his staggeringly awesome Berlin Trilogy.

Few things will affirm that Bowie is indeed a god among men like listening to LowLodger, or “Heroes”.  But let’s jump forward another decade to the aforementioned Labyrinth and accompanying Never Let Me Down LP.  I bought it went it came out and count myself fortunate to have seen the Glass Spider Tour, but I never fell in love with the album.  Bowie himself was displeased with the effort, even though it was his best-selling record up to that time.  In fact, it was this album and tour that drove him insane enough to start the ill-fated Tin Machine.  I saw Tin Machine on tour and remember thinking that this was a band nobody would buy tickets to see if it wasn’t for the fact the singer was a god among men.

Now, fast forward a decade on from Nite Flights and what do we have?  Scott Walker’s output has slowed to the agonizing crawl that would come to define his work in the last 30 years.  Since 1984, Walker has released one album every 11 years.  And with each album, he goes further and further out, pushing boundaries and making what can only be called art.  In the same span of time, Bowie has recorded 10 albums (including the two Tin Machine LPs) none of which are worthy of even lesser deity status.

To put a point on it, in the last 10 years, David Bowie has done this:

While Scott Walker has done this:

I know which one I’d rather listen to now and it will probably be as interesting and challenging in another 10 years.  The other will not.  If you haven’t seen the documentary about Scott Walker, 30 Century Man, do so.  It is streaming on Netflix.  In the meantime, this BBC interview from a few years back will catch you up with what he’s all about.

If past is precedent, the Next Scott Walker album will be out sometime in 2017.

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Soviet Spaceships

I really like the concept art for these alternate-history Soviet Union spaceships made for Dawn of Victory,  a mod in the works for the video game, Sins of a Solar Empire.  I had  never heard of it before now, but looking at some of the gameplay videos makes me wish I was 15 and had piles of homework to ignore while I waged war across the galaxy.

The mod looks like it will be an epic Soviets against Germans battle for intergalactic supremacy.  The concept art for the German ships is not up yet, but I can’t wait to see it.

I found these images while trawling the amazing Concept Ships blog.  It’s been an incredibly inspiring resource for ideas as I ponder my next scratch-built spaceship.  But beyond that, there is some amazing artwork over there as well.

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Supersilent 10.8

It was a year ago today that the 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan causing the resulting tsunami and disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Soon after watching the devastation in Japan unfold, I remember coming across this video where someone paired the hauntingly beautiful song,”10.8″, by Supersilent with footage from the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco. I remember being floored by the video because of the parallels with what was going on currently in Japan and being helpless to do anything about it. I posted the video in my own blog and here is what I wrote about it a year ago:

The footage is from the aftermath of the San Fransisco earthquake from 1906. It kind of puts a historical lens on things that are currently happening in Japan and how catastrophes like this are viewed from those of us who are looking at it through the eye of the camera…

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The Artist Who Cut a House in Half- Gordon Matta-Clark, Splitting, 1974

Both my sculpture and my painting have always been influenced by architecture, but my first exposure to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark changed the way I think about architecture fundamentally. His sculptural work was not only about architecture, but it used existing architecture as its medium much like a stone carver used a block of marble as a medium to carve a statue from. For Matta-Clark, the house itself was the medium to be used to create the work.

For some reason, my brain has always thought in terms of architectural spaces and I think that Matta-Clark’s rupturing of those spaces exposes a lot about the psychology of the public and the private. In all of the apartments I have ever lived in, I’ve realized that the layout had a utilitarian purpose. The bathrooms line up with other bathrooms because of the plumbing and the bedrooms line up with other bedrooms for sleeping purposes. That means that in your apartment, on the other side of your bedroom wall, you may very well be sleeping literally two feet away from someone you don’t know, which has always been something I’ve had to tell myself is perfectly normal when I still think it’s creepy.

Although this video is filmed in silent Super 8, it does capture the hard work involved in cutting an actual house in half and then lowering the back half a few inches so that the entire thing opens up.

Another thing that I find interesting about this piece is  the fact that he cut the four corners out of the house before it was finally demolished… The major point of the entire artwork is the fact that it existed outside the museum, but these were the the few things that the museum could keep as souvenirs, or possibly the “scalps” of the house that was to be demolished within weeks of the completion of the work.

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