Longtime Future Shipwreck favorite Matt Furie and Michelle Devereux currently have a fantastic show on display at New Image Art. It’s called The Goblin Universe and it lives up to its name, laying claim to a slew of cosmic creatures, steaming slices of drool-worthy pizza, alien beasts and graph paper. Check out photos from the opening:
Last Thursday, I pulled up to the Ukrainian Cultural Center at 7:01pm, and just as expected, I saw a woman in white waiting outside. My boyfriend, Ricardo, rolled down the window. “Is this for the…?” he asked, as we still had no idea exactly what this was going to be. The woman in white took a step forward. She seemed uncertain how to respond.
“We’re coming!! Wait for us!” I said and she smiled. Yes, she realized, we were here for the viral marketing campaign. We turned the corner and looked for parking in front of Scoops. I couldn’t have been more excited.
Brit Marling, the star and co-writer of of last year’s Another Earth and Fox/Searchlight’s soon to be released The Sound of My Voice, is proving to be a powerful cinematic voice. Another Earth is a hauntingly beautiful sci-fi film about a bright young 17-year-old girl in Conneticut whose life is irrevocably altered on the night a new planet that looks identical to Earth appears in the night sky. It’s a thoughtful and subdued film that takes a great sci-fi concept and explores the emotional possibilities of it with Bradbury-esque poetics.
So I was excited when I heard the first twelve minutes of Marling’s new film, The Sound of My Voice were streaming online. I was even more excited when I discovered the film had an interactive component: every couple of minutes, some detail– a line of dialog, a prop, a bar of soap– prompts an annotation to appear on the screen. Each one takes you to a different relevant concept on YouTube, Wikipedia, Tumblr– sources ripped from the fabric of cyberspace, and some delicately placed there by the filmmakers. Not only was this a fun experience, it also excited me about the future of narrative filmmaking. Sorry, Oscars: the movie theater will always have its place in the way we consume visual narrative, but the watching shit online has its merits too.
For instance, instead of a linear experience where you enter a movie theater, watch a movie, and then go home: you can watch the first twelve minutes online, and then go join the cult from the movie. The sixth annotation at in “The Sound of My Voice” takes you to a YouTube video uploaded by the cult from the movie (which has no name – their YouTube account is 4twentyseven2012, the release date of The Sound of My Voice). It stars the woman in white, who I met outside the Ukrainian Cultural Center:
Annotation #8 takes you the cult’s website, www.4272012.com. The site features a vaguely ominous video about the cult called “The Future Is Now,” and an invitation to join their meetings every Thursday at 7pm, at the Ukrainian Cultural Center on Melrose Ave, a five minute drive from my house. So of course I went to check it out!
Ricardo, a fellow named Scott Little from North Hollywood who showed up, and I were the only ones who ventured out last week, and we were rewarded by an hour’s worth of mysterious banter with “Mel,” the woman in white (Scott later discovered the personal website of the actress who played Mel: Christy Meyers, who you may have seen on All My Children). We did an amazing eye contact exercise where we stared at each other for a few minutes, and then she told us about hydroponic apples and the pain we all carry around, while searching for enlightenment or whatever.
It was awesome! Internet-based mysteries tied into independent films about cults are my favorite things! When Scott showed up, he asked “Mel” about the movie, and she reacted with confusion. A P.A. stepped out from a door and told “Mel” to pick up her phone, and someone on the other line gave her new instructions. I told Scott we should just play along with the narrative without breaking the 4th wall, and see where it goes.
We didn’t learn much about the inner workings of the cult, but Mel invited us back next week to learn more– even implying that we could graduate to different “levels” of knowledge. I plan on returning this week to find out more! Duh! I’m hoping to get to at least OT III by the end of this game. I invite everyone to come out with me and hang out with Mel. It’s like a murder mystery weekend! Where do I sign up to join Brit Marling’s cult??
Gay manga–or “bara” as it’s referred to online–is awesome. Unlike the much more well-known “BL” genre (yaoi), no one has published gay manga in English. Die hard fans of “bara” in North America must order the untranslated books overseas or hunt down bootleg scans on the Internet.
When my friend Blake Besharian invited me to make a series of prints on his letterpress, I decided to pay one of my favorite gay manga artists homage. I collaged disparate panels from Seizoh Ebisubashi‘s manga My Hometown Hospitality into disjointed visual narratives, emphasizing the transitions, exteriors, and moments of stillness that establish the subtle mood and tone in Ebusibashi’s artwork.
“Bara by Letterpress” is a limited edition series of six prints. If you’d like a set, here’s your chance! Post this video on your blog/Tumblr/Twitter and then leave a comment below with a link to your site. Next week, I’ll randomly select one commenter to receive a set of all six prints! (Note: The whole series have been given away to FS readers. Thanks everyone!)
Here are some links to help you investigate gay manga on your own:
“Bara” Resources: Bara – Wikipedia article. G-Men – G-Men is the foremost magazine that publishes gay manga. Site mostly in Japanese. Japanese Gay Art – Australian fine art blog that features gay manga artists including Gengoroh Tagame and Jiraiya. G-Project – Japanese store that allows international orders of gay manga. Seizoh Ebisubashi – Tubmlr for the artist, including sketches of works in progress. Gengoroh Tagame – Mixed Japanese and English site for the legendary Tagame.
In addition to his thriving career as a cartoonist, Matthew Thurber moonlights as a musician whose manic stage energy allows him to actually fly. Here he is at Family, performing a short set of bizarre and amazing vaudeville tunes about balloons, furniture and cats.
Look, I’m going to try and display some restraint here. If I’m not careful, I could easily scare you away with the ocean of magniloquent praise swelling inside me. So let me be delicate in my wording– calm, cool and collected to help you understand the unparalleled beauty of Matthew Thurber‘s 1-800-Mice.
It’s an epic mystery about the moment in our future-history when human-tree marriage is on the cusp of social acceptance. An intersex mouse named Peace Punk roams the world seeking the entrance to Valhala, evading a trio of angry assassins through an underworld of never-ending hardcore festivals and viral video production palaces. A tightly wound mouse detective goes undercover amongst a pack of nihlistic terrorists, confronting his own criminality in the process. And a cog in the machine at 1-800-Mice (the world’s fastest courier service) learns the grisly truth behind a mysterious drug made of dead trees.
If that sounds like a lot, it is! There’s a whole Universe behind this story, and it feels like something dreamed by Henry Darger and Alajandro Jodorowsky after a night of getting stoned, prank-calling Marilyn Manson, and watching Monty Python. But don’t worry about keeping up with all the details: readers of 1-800-Mice will learn to truly appreciate a sudden nosedive into the surreal. Each panel says a lot, even when the narrative speaks in tongues.
Thurber’s particular poetry is a web of jokey stand-up observations, noirish voice-over, drifting existential questions, imaginary buzzwords, playful puns and casual dick jokes. He constructs a foreign language with familiar associations and unexpectedly deep capacity for humanity (even in interspecies characters). You’ll be reading a goofy exchange between a death cultist dentist and his vampiric assistant, and suddenly you’ll tap into a quiet sense of melancholy embedded within the panel. It’s an interplay that grants Thurber’s gonzo fantasy a surprising scope of emotional depth. Plus, heads explode, reality collapses, and you have a new message on MindBook.
1-800-Mice is published by the awesome PictureBox press, and it looks beautiful. The hardcover feeels really special, and it has pretty colors on it. Plus, there’s an endorsement from Matt Groening on the cover! Check it out at one of Thurber’s upcoming readings!
Mike Mills is one of my favorite multi-hyphenate creative people, and has been for a long time. Back in the era of my tidal obsession with Air’s Moon Safari, I read up everything I could on the band, and Mills– the designer who’d crafted their rad cover art. I watched as many of his music videos as I could track down with the middling assistance of dial-up internet and my primary pre-YouTube rad video source, the late great RES Magazine. Ever since then, Mike Mills’ creations– in print, feature filmmaking, documentary, graphic design and music video have only grown successively more and more awesome.
His latest endeavor is his most intimate and most emotionally evocative work yet, the film Beginners. It tells the story of a sad graphic designer (Ewan McGreggor) learning to love (Melanie Laurent) late in life, and his elderly father (Christopher Plumer) who comes out of the closet in the twilight of his life. It’s a simple story but its scope is epic: it’s about mortality, growing up, the unchangeable nature of historical circumstance and seeking connection in a disconnected family. As heavy Beginners‘ themes are, Mills juggles story and concepts with significant grace, blending melancholy and humor in a way that somehow manages to reveal the intimate inner lives of his characters.
Beginners is in theaters now, and I strongly urge you to check it out on the big screen. And luckily, since Mike Mills can’t be confined to one medium, he’s released a companion book to the film called Drawings From the Film Beginners. It’s full of funny and charming sketches that relate to the Ewan McGregor’s character in the film, who also designs album covers for a living.
Thanks to Focus Features, I’m stoked to announce that we’re giving away a copy of the book, as well as a dropcard that will let you to download the Beginnerssoundtrack for free. Comment with your favorite work by Mike Mills and we’ll choose a winner at random this Friday!
Naked Kids, aside from being a phrase you probably shouldn’t Google, ever, is the garage rock sensation of the summer. It’s official, I’m calling it now. In your face, other garage bands! Their electrifying debut record Fresh Meat is the scintillating soundtrack to a hazy day at the beach, cruising on your beach cruiser– or a humid night at The Smell stumbling florid-faced around a mosh pit with the raddest 15 year olds punks ever.
My friend (and occasional leather bar wingman) Nik Johnson is the creative force behind Naked Kids. He sings and scribes the band’s immediate, agile tunes and executes them with effortless grace alongside Siobhan Kelly and Jason Hanakeawe. In honor of Future Shipwreck premiering Naked Kids’ first official music video, “Thugz,” I asked Nik some questions about music, boys and odors, and then took some photos of him with his head in the sand. Watch “Thugz” below and read on to get the skinny on Naked Kids’ upcoming weed BBQ!
What are your songs about? What inspires you to write music?
I dunno, they seem to have a social and political edge to them. I write lyrics in layers. So like take “Thugz”: face value, you can say its about wanting to be a better person. Like, everyone can vibe on that, but when you get into the layers of it, it’s about a number of things. One layer is talking about how we are all going to die, potentially at the same time. Another layer’s about why people are who they are today and what the fuck happened to end up like this. I get inspired by lots of things. Everything from the behavior of people, paranoia, how rad my dog is, getting dusted, cute guys, friends, even cool music, but that’s rarely the case.
What’s the first album or cassingle you ever owned?
I can remember getting KISS’ Destroyer when i was a toddler. I used to love KISS. I remember when I stole my older brother’s Suicidal Tendencies and Metallica tapes, too. I grew up in the south Chicago suburbs in the 80s and Metallica was so huge. All the heshers wore jean jackets and Metallica shirts. Pretty tight. I got really into Nirvana and Green Day later. I didn’t really buy singles until I was older. I think the first single i got was a maxi-single. That song by Paperboy, “Ditty“. I bought that and my little brother got Da Brat’s “Funkdafied“. I eventually stole that shit from him.
What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Dark eyes, dark hair, smells like Alec Baldwin.
Is there an odor that brings your happiness?
Whiskey breath and weed. Sometimes I smell like Fatburger too… that usually makes me smile.
What would happen at the ultimate Naked Kids show? Where would it take place?
Prolly the L.A. Forum with Nirvana and The Shaggs. Or maybe at our practice space. All my friends would be there with a pound of weed on a BBQ. Clam-bake that shit out, even the peeps who don’t smoke would be DUSTED. You should go, I’ll make it one of our “secret shows”!
Watching L’amour fou, the documentary about the art auction conducted by Pierre Bergé after the death of his partner of 50 years, Yves Saint Laurent, is a little less inspiring than watching Herb & Dorothy, the 2009 documentary that’s also about art collecting (and then unloading late in life). But I’ll get to the reasons why in a minute, because first I want to praise this movie for what it gets excellently right:
1. You get to see a tiny amount of very intimate, loving footage related to the relationship between YSL and Bergé. Bergé’s eulogy for his deceased husband is as moving a moment as you’ll see in theaters this year. And, earlier, some vintage one-on-one conversation footage where YSL playfully tells his man that he enjoys male “body hair” and that he wants to live in “a large bed, a full one,” should clear up any clueless viewer’s ideas about them being strictly business associates. Bergé was YSL’s daddy bear.
Left: Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Right: one of YSL’s Mondrian-inspired dresses.
2. Bergé is not the kind of guy to waste time mourning the past. His clear-eyed approach to the dismantling of the couple’s astonishingly large art, furniture and rare object collection is a study in not being attached to things when it’s time for them to exit your life. Besides, he had plenty of time to mourn while YSL was alive and trying to simultaneously drown himself in booze and snort up all the cocaine on the planet. During that time Bergé stood by and took care of his clinically depressed, sickened, addict partner and kept all the paperwork in order so that YSL could design clothes and then hermit himself in a private room, put on a caftan and inhale a small pyramid of blow.
3. You get to see a healthy amount of Loulou de La Falaise and Betty Catroux, YSL’s muses. One light and warm (de la Falaise), one dark and swaddled in black leather (Catroux), they are cool injections of French womanhood into YSL’s insular gayness. Catroux, especially, is like something a writer would invent, never without her sunglasses, even at night.
Loulou de La Falaise and Betty Catroux
4. Their lives were an orgy of luxury and shopping. They bought houses, art and more houses and more art. “One fine day a Mondrian came into our lives,” says Bergé, like it flew into their window and decided it was happiest living next to that Picasso over the fireplace. And then, when it was done, Bergé sent it to the auction house, a place he describes as “the undertakers of art.”
5. Thrill to the head-scratching vagaries of the art auction secondary market where an Ensor fetches more than a Degas.
6. This sort of thing:
And if, in the end, it’s all a little less inspiring than Herb & Dorothy, it’s because of that wealth. Extreme capitalism, even when it’s predicated on the work of a design visionary like Yves Saint Laurent and subsequently used in the service of building an awesome art collection, is sort of automatically less interesting than going on a journey with two extremely ordinary, working class collectors like Herb and Dorothy Vogel, whose lives revolved around living on her librarian’s salary and amassing crazy amounts of conceptual and minimalist pieces (when no one else wanted them) on his postal worker’s income. It’s easy to see a Brâncusi and say, “I’ll take it,” when you’re swimming in cash, or getting a Warhol piece for free because you hang out with him and he decides to photograph you. It’s way more dangerous to risk your retirement savings on work you love just because you love it, become Christo’s cat-sitter and then later donate all of it to various museums without asking for anything in return.
But again, this isn’t meant to harsh on these guys. YSL backed up his decadence with a legacy of his own amazing art worn by fancy ladies the world over. The planet needs people like him, people who live their lives exactly as they please. And if that life involves getting high with Mick Jagger and flying around France in your own private helicopter and asking Betty Catroux what she wants for dinner and she says, “Cigarettes,” then that’s cool, too.
Grape soda is my all-time favorite drink, but it’s not what I need when I wake up in the morning. And I’m not a coffee guy for reasons that are too gastro gross to go into here. I want tea upon waking. Lots of tea. And once I’ve had a couple of cups of green (the roasty variety, not the tastes-like-wet-lawn kind), I’m ready to move on to something darker and more difficult. That’s where Occulter comes in.
Occulter is the ongoing project of Derrick R. Cruz, art guy behind Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons. Its brick-and-mortar location is attached to An Choi, a Vietnamese restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side. There, you can thoughtfully consider purchasing a giant scrimshaw-adorned straight razor, a replica of a human jaw cast in silver or, less expensively, a rubber-sealed copy of The Anatomy of Melancholy. And luckily, for people living in cities where there’s not already a store full of excellently weird lifestyle accessories, Occulter is also an Internet destination. And they sell “Black Honey.” So I ordered some, along with a couple bags of their “Black Smoke” and “Sun-Withered White” tea. Finally, my friends would stop calling me a lesbian about my tea consumption (even the lesbians) and would bow to my heaviness and doom.
Now, in the wrong frame of mind, you might dismiss what arrived at my front door as simply smoky Lapsang Souchong, some dried white tea leaves and a very strong-flavored, deep purple buckwheat honey (although it is, admittedly, often known as “black honey” by bee nerds). But design matters, even with food. Would you eat a Pop Tart if it was called “Dry Square Crust Filled With A Stupidly Thin Ribbon of Fake Strawberries?” No. You want a happy talking toaster on the box and bright colors jumping into your face to make you think of real fruit ready to burst out when you tear it open. And I’m a huge fan of design that caters to my niche tastes, so when my tea needs showed up in a cloth sack with the Occulter label silkscreened on the outside, I was already halfway to happiness.
Then I looked inside the sack to find teas and honey covered with the Occulter logo sticker, Dymo-style morgue-black embossed labels and, mysteriously, an empty black plastic resealable pouch. I decided it was a body bag for the remains of deliciousness and I’m saving it for when all this stuff runs out. At that time I will conduct a midnight funeral downstairs in my building’s recycling bin.
Until that stormy evening, I’m drinking this great tea and this difficult honey (note: true to its suggestive name, it’s heavy stuff and if you use too much it’ll overpower even the burnt-offerings quality of the tea, so spoon it lightly) with drawn shades and some Wyndham Hill-meets-Gorgoroth mood music from Tomb Of…
“SUMMER JAM, SUMMER JAM, SUMMER JAM, BITCH I’M GONNA GO TO SUUUUUUUMMER JAMMMMMM!!!!” SAID HEATHER TO SHA’KNEEKA “BITCH I WANNA GO TO SUMMER JAM TOO!” SAID SHA’KNEEKA TO HEATHER., 2013 by Devin Troy Strother