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"Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show."
(Passagenwerk (1927 - 1940) - Walter Benjamin)

2005, Jun 12; 15:43 ::: Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (1999) - Richard Davenport[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

SIPs: rococo gothic, gothic film, gothic imagination, gothic aesthetics, gothic imagery (more on SIPs)

From Publishers Weekly
Though separated by time, place and vocation, Neapolitan landscape painter Salvator Rosa, English novelist Mary Shelley and American filmmaker David Lynch all belong to the same exclusive club. So argues Davenport-Hines (Auden), often persuasively, in his sweeping examination of modern Western culture's fascination with the dark side. Davenport-Hines holds that a coherent antirationalist tradition can be traced through the work of figures as diverse as Francisco Goya, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Byron, Theodor Adorno and 1980s rock singer Robert Smith of the Cure.

He deftly situates the gothic broadly defined here as a nonconformist sensibility marked by a morbid fascination with death, decay and the uncanny.

In a history that includes the barbarian invasions of Rome and the nature-defying hubris of medieval European architecture. Of course celebrated gothic novelists such as Ann Radcliffe, Matthew "Monk" Lewis and Horace Walpole receive treatment, but more interesting is the author's identification of gothic elements in the work of artists seldom placed in the gloom-and-doom tradition, such as Alexander Pope's carefully planned, and to the 20th-century eye almost kitschy, gardens.

The book's efforts to make spiritual confreres of figures as apparently unrelated as Pope and Ian Curtis, the suicidal frontman of gloomy rock group Joy Division, accounts for much of its appeal. And, indeed, the clear delight Davenport-Hines takes in making bedfellows of poets and pop stars, philosophers and splatterpunks, indicates his own penchant for the bizarre and subversive. Although his definition of the gothic becomes at times too elastic, this richly illustrated survey is no less enjoyable and informative for its author's ambition. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal
The enduring interest in Gothic and macabre images and stories has drawn the attention of contemporary scholars and critics. Departing from recent volumes that analyze the Gothic in contemporary culture and arts, British critic Davenport-Hines (Auden, Pantheon, 1996) has produced a comprehensive survey of Gothic themes in art, architecture, literature, and film since the early 17th century.

Arranged in a sometimes disjointed combination of historic and thematic exposition, the book traces the Gothic imagination: its roots, the 18th-century "Gothic revival," the 19th-century classics (such as Frankenstein and Dracula) that epitomize the genre, the American Gothic, and manifestations of the Gothic in popular culture and film. The level of detail is sometimes excessive, and some chapters seem to lose their focus, but overall, this work provides an informed and readable survey of the genre. Unfortunately, the notes are difficult to use, and the in-text citations are not always clear or explicit. For larger public libraries. --Julia Burch, Cambridge, MA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. --via Amazon.com

see also: gothic - excess - horror - evil

2005, Jun 12; 15:27 ::: The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (1994) - Matt Ridley

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (1994) - Matt Ridley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

SIPs: left more descendants, monogonont rotifers, asexual ones, organelle genes, male ornaments (more on SIPs)

From Publishers Weekly
Why do we have sex? One of the main biological reasons, contends Ridley, is to combat disease. By constantly combining and recombining genes every generation, people "keep their genes one step ahead of their parasites," thereby strengthening resistance to bacteria and viruses that cause deadly diseases or epidemics. Called the "Red Queen Theory" by biologists after the chess piece in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass which runs but stays in the same place, this hypothesis is just one of the controversial ideas put forth in this witty, elegantly written inquiry. Ridley, a London-based science writer and a former editor of the Economist , argues that men are polygamous for the obvious reason that whichever gender has to spend the most time and energy creating and rearing offspring tends to avoid extra mating. Women, though far less interested in multiple partners, will commit adultery if stuck with a mediocre mate. In Ridley's not wholly convincing conclusion, even human intellect is chalked up to sex: virtuosity, individuality, inventiveness and related traits are what make people sexually attractive. Photos. BOMC and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. --via Amazon.com

From Library Journal
This is a fascinating book filled with lucid prose and seductive reasoning. Freelance science writer Ridley reaches into the literature of genetics; molecular, theoretical and evolutionary biology; ecology; sociology; and anthropology to weave an extraordinary tale of the evolution of human nature, beginning with the evolution of sex. Using Lewis Carroll's Red Queen (who runs as fast as she can to stay in the same place) as a metaphor for evolution, Ridley shows how sex was the result of an evolutionary arms race between hosts and their disease-causing parasites. Ridley covers so much ground that transitions may be abrupt or unclear, particularly in the last two chapters; also, his review of human homosexuality is thin. His occasionally pompous style (including his immediate dismissal of those who do not believe in evolution) may offend some readers. However, Ridley clearly explains many complex and remarkable concepts for a wide audience. Highly recommended. --via Amazon.com

see also: biology - sex

2005, Jun 10; 14:02 ::: Lee Perry's Black Ark studio

Lee Perry's Black Ark Studio (Photo by A. Boot)
image sourced here.

Lee 'Scratch' Perry at Black Ark Studio during the early 70's, photocredit unidentified
image sourced here.

The Black Ark was the recording studio of legendary reggae/dub producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, located in the yard of his family's home in the Washington Gardens neighboorhood of Kingston, Jamaica. Although the studio itself was somewhat rudimentary in its set-up and particularly basic with regard to some of the dated equipmentment employed by Perry, it was nonetheless the breeding-ground for Jamaica's (and arguably the world's) most innovative sounds and recording techniques.

Innovative Musical Techniques
An example of Lee Perry's inventive style was his ability to overdub layers of sound effects and instrumentation on each recording track of a basic 4-track machine, with such precise timing and in such a way that the resulting sound would destroy the competition from Jamaica's other top producers using the latest 16-track mixing consoles. Perry once buried microphones at the base of a palm tree and thumped it rhythmically to produce a mystifying bass drum effect; his drum booth at the Black Ark was for a time surrounded with chicken-wire to further his distinctive sound; many of his songs are layered with a variety of subtle effects created from broken glass, ghastly sighs and screeches, crying babies, and a mooing cow children's toy. These and other notable recording techniques helped define the Black Ark sound, as well as Lee Perry's creative legacy.

Musicians and the Black Ark
In addition to providing pioneering sounds for such reggae stars as Bob Marley and The Wailers, Junior Byles, and Max Romeo, Lee Perry and his studio were formative in creating the highly innovative reggae sub-genre called Dub, in which the producer/engineer becomes the focus of the music, manipulating a pre-recorded track and creating something entirely new using his or her mixing console as nothing less than an instrument.

The End
In 1978, following years of increasingly bizarre and erratic behavior, Lee "Scratch" Perry set fire to The Black Ark studio, effectively ending an era during which much of Jamaica's most delightfully creative sounds had captured the world of music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Ark [Jun 2005]

According to "People Funny Boy" Scratch used
these in the early days of Black Ark (1973-75):

- Alice mixer (Scratch: "They weren't professional machines they were only toys")
- Grantham spring reverb
- Roland Space Echo RE201
- Marantz amplifier for instruments
- AKG drum mic for vocals
- Teac 3340 1/4 inch 4-track recorder
- Teac 2-track recorder for mix down

In 1975 he added some new equipment:
- Soundcraft mixer (replaced the Alice)
- Mutron phaser (an early demo model)
- better mics

- Around 1979 he was given a Teac 1/2 inch 8-track recorder but he didn't like it and almost never used it.

If you want to see Scratch working this stuff at Black Ark get the video "Roots Rock Reggae" from
Shanachie. And the book "People Funny Boy" by David Katz is a must also. In the course of telling Lee Scratch Perry's life story he tells the whole story of Jamaican music. The best book ever on reggae.
--http://www.interruptor.ch/cgi-bin/discus/messages/1/32.html [Jun 2005]

see also: reggae - music - dub - Lee Perry - studio

2005, Jun 10; 11:23 ::: Under-the-counter

Transacted, given, or sold illicitly. --AHD

Secretly, surreptitiously, as in I'm sure they're selling liquor to minors under the counter. This expression most often alludes to an illegal transaction, the counter being the flat-surfaced furnishing or table over which legal business is conducted. It was first recorded in 1926. --AHD

Under-the-counter word sample from jahsonic.com [Jun 2005]:

Pauline Réage
... This mask of anonymity for a book with a strange title found for sale more often than not 'under the counter' was bound to create an aura of mystery. ...
Pauline Réage

The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959) - Russ Meyer
... typically distributed "under the counter" in 16 mm black and white movies, or naturist pictures, openly displayed in specialized movie theaters, ...
The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959)

Jay A. Gertzman
... he had run a library of classic under the counter titles for which wealthy patrons ... and adventure fiction with above and under the counter erotica. ...
Jay A. Gertzman

... Initially sold in white boxes under the counter, adult cinemas (who up until now had only dared show nudie-cuties) began screening split-beavers as a ...

See also: illicit - illegal

2005, Jun 10; 11:23 ::: History of Men's Magazines: Post-War to 1959 (2004) - Dian Hanson

History of Men's Magazines: Post-War to 1959 (2004) - Dian Hanson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Open your notebooks, sharpen your pencils, and get ready for a history lesson like none you’ve ever experienced. Yes, that’s right: you’re about to learn everything you could ever want to know about the world history of men’s magazines—not sports, not fashion, not hunting or fishing or how to build a birdhouse in ten easy steps, but those titillating periodicals embracing the subject dearest to all heterosexual men’s hearts and other organs: the undraped female form. A twenty-five-year veteran of the genre, former men’s magazine editor Dian Hanson traces its development from 1900 to 1980 in six massive and informative volumes.

Volume I explores the period from 1900, when sexy magazines first started to appear in France and Germany, through the decades of subterfuge and censorship up to the great global change wrought by WWII. Along the way the USA, England, Argentina, and many other countries join the publishing fun.

Volume II starts in the post-war period of the 1940s when the US surged ahead in magazine production while the rest of the world rebuilt and recovered, and ends in 1957 when censorship at last began to ease.

Volumes III and IV cover the short but crucial transformation period of 1958 to 1967: ten years in which the world and its men’s magazines changed out of all recognition to anything that had came before. Volume III begins with the redefinition of American obscenity laws and follows the flowering of mass distribution, or newsstand, men’s magazines around the world. Volume IV traces the roots of "special interest" and under-the-counter publications during this same period, ending with the Scandinavian sexual/social revolution that resulted in the repeal of all obscenity laws for most of Northern Europe.

Finally, in Volumes V and VI you’ll find the years 1968 to 1980: the post-sexual revolution era of sudden publishing freedom. Volume V covers the newsstands of the world, showing everything from homemade hippie ‘zines to periodicals for big bottom fanciers.

Volume VI, the final word in this encyclopedic series, is reserved for the most daring and extreme edges of the publishing field. Here you’ll peek inside the adult bookstores of Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the US and Japan to see what sexual freedom really meant. --via Amazon.com

From the Publisher
Each volume contains over 400 pages and 15 to 20 chapters, profiling important or quirky publishers and their magazines, single countries in a given era, distinctive genres such as swinging ("Suburban Sin") or spanking ("Spank You Very Much!"), top models, and those back-of-the-magazine advertisements for male girdles and X-ray spectacles. Most importantly: while the books are amply supplied with fascinating and educational text, they are also chock full of magazine covers and photos—a whopping 5000 images in all! Who knew learning could be so much fun?--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. --via Amazon.com

see also: men - magazine

2005, Jun 10; 10:45 ::: The Valley (2004) - Larry Sultan

The Valley (2004) - Larry Sultan [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Since 1988, Larry Sultan has returned time and again to photograph on porn sets in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley--the Silicon(e) Valley of the porn industry. But The Valley is by no means a documentary on porn filmmaking. Rather, it is a dense series of pictures of middle-class homes invaded by the porn industry.

Sultan's lens focuses on pedestrian details--a piece of half-eaten pie, dirty linens in a heap, "actors" taking a break--that offer clues to a bizarre other-world. The lush and intricate images adroitly play with artifice and reality, adding up to rich, elliptical narratives that circle around the concepts of "home" and "desire." These images of homes and gardens, porn actors and film crews, studio and location shootings are an ambiguous meditation on suburbia and its trappings, family and transgression, loss and desire, the utopias and dystopias of middle-class lifestyle.

The Valley and its many-layered photographs outline the complexity of domestic life at the beginning of the 21st century, opening up new perspectives for photography through its innovative combination of staged and documentary photographs.

In 1998, an English magazine asked me to go on a porn set. I flew down to Burbank Airport with my wife, and we went to the house they'd given me the address of. It was a dentist's house on Van Alden. That name had all kinds of connotations when I was in high school. Because the Valley is so haunted for me by the ghosts of childhood, all of these street names have Proustian connotations. All I have to do is to say: Havenhurst, Van Alden, Vineta, Dubois, and a flood of associations comes back to me. [...] After the first five minutes of the strangeness of it all, I started to look around, going to the bedrooms, wandering through the house. It felt like a permission to go into a house in L.A. and to imagine how someone would live their life in this house. I made the pictures for the magazine. I left and thought, "This is it, this is what I have to do." --Larry Sultan via Amazon.com

see also: photography - erotic photography

2005, Jun 10; 10:45 ::: X Pose (2005) - Peter Jirmann Jr

X Pose (2005) - Peter Jirmann Jr [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Acclaimed photographer Peter Jirmann’s focus is the female nude but his pictures reveal as much about emotion and personality as they do the contours and surfaces of the human body. His images capture his subjects’ ironical outlook on the world. Jirmann meticulously plans each shot before he actually takes the picture—the camera angle, the pose, the setting—so that nothing is left to chance. His are intensely erotic images of devastatingly beautiful women, each masterfully composed in a way that tells a story and becomes the basis for dreams. --via Amazon.com

From the Publisher
Intensely erotic images of women by acclaimed photographer Peter Jirmann. This collection reveals as much about emotion and personality as it does the contours and surfaces of the human body. --via Amazon.com

see also: photography - erotic photography

2005, Jun 10; 10:45 ::: My Erotic X-Files (2005) - Jean-Paul Four

My Erotic X-Files (2005) - Jean-Paul Four [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

see also: photography - erotic photography

2005, Jun 09; 23:32 ::: Retro-futurism

gratuitous image

Drawing by Étienne-Louis Boullée (1728 - 1799)

Retro is a contemporary term used to describe things from a bygone era. It is often used in a positive sense, referring to quirky or attractive products that are no longer available. For example, "Retro fashion" or "Retro Chic" may consist of outdated styles, such as tie-dyed shirts from the 1970s, or poodle skirts from the 1950s. A love of retro objects (things from the past) is called retrophilia. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retro [Jun 2005]

Future studies
Future studies (also called futurism, futurology, and futures studies) is the study of the medium to long-term future, by extrapolating present technological, economic or social trends, or by attempting to predict future trends. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_studies [Jun 2005]

Retro-futurism describes the return to the fanciful depictions of the future produced many years ago called futurology. These may be based on a lack of scientific knowledge and a great deal of imagination and speculation. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retro-futurism [Jun 2005]

See also: nostalgia - science-fiction - architecture

2005, Jun 09; 23:32 ::: The Hot House (1984) - Andrea Branzi

The Hot House (1984) - Andrea Branzi [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Hot House is in part a manifesto and in part a noncanonical history of the most progressive and heretical experiments in the applied arts and design. Covering two centuries of avantgarde designs, but concentrating on the 1950s to the present, the book looks at architecture and urban design as well as graphic, interior, exhibit, industrial, and fashion design. It discusses the role that such magazines as Casabella, Domus, and Modo have played on this lively front, and provides an insider's view of such figures and groups as Alessandro Mendini, Gaetano Pesce, Alychmia, Global Tools, Michele De Lucchi, Ettore Sottsass, and-the design world's hot new movement-Memphis. It also elucidates such concepts as banal design, soft design, radical architecture, and color cultures, and relates these and other design developments to social and political issues.

Protagonist of many of these experiments, Andrea Branzi calls for a theory and practice in which the old methods and instruments - pencil, square, and compass - are rendered obsolete, and the formal commandments of modernism - comfort, function, and style - are banished. If Branzi's vision of the new domestic landscape bears any relation to the future home, the places we live and objects around us are on the verge of being radically transformed.

The Hot House dramatically expands the theoretical and operative limits of design. While precedents to Il Nuovo Design (The New Design) can be found in everything from Art Deco to De Stijl to Pop Art to California funk, Italy is the center of this new phenomenon and the "hot house" of its most intense activity. Beginning in the 1960s, there emerged a number of design studios that went by names like Archizoom, 9999, Superstudio, and UFO; their products redefined the basic architecture of furniture and clothing and polemicized an entire discipline.

Andrea Branzi, architect and designer, has been a leading force in Italian design since the 1960s. As the founder of Archizoom Associates and member of the experimental design collective Global Tools, he is responsible for many of the experiments described in this book. He lives and works in Milan, where he is Educational Director of Domus Academy and Editorial Director of Modo. --Amazon.com [Jun 2005]

see also: Italy - design - Andrea Branzi

2005, Jun 09; 23:23 ::: One night in Bangkok (1984) - Murray Head

Clicking the image will play part 1 of Louise's debut video One Night In Bangkok, link found via Exploitation Retrospect, video's source here.


Bangkok, Oriental setting
And the city don't know what the city is getting
The creme de la creme of the chess world in a
Show with everything but Yul Brynner

Time flies -- doesn't seem a minute
Since the Tirolean spa had the chess boys in it
All change -- don't you know that when you
Play at this level there's no ordinary venue

It's Iceland -- or the Philippines -- or Hastings -- or --
or this place!


One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky then the god's a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me


One town's very like another
When your head's down over your pieces, brother


It's a drag, it's a bore, it's really such a pity
To be looking at the board, not looking at the city


Whaddya mean? Ya seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town --


Tea, girls, warm, sweet
Some are set up in the Somerset Maugham suite


Get Thai'd! You're talking to a tourist
Whose every move's among the purest
I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine


One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me


Siam's gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a
Muddy old river or reclining Buddha

And thank God I'm only watching the game -- controlling it --

I don't see you guys rating
The kind of mate I'm contemplating
I'd let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

So you better go back to your bars, your temples, your massage
parlours --


One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

--http://www.80smusiclyrics.com/artists/murrayhead.htm [Jun 2005]

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Head [Jun 2005]

See also: popular music - 1984

2005, Jun 09; 23:00 ::: Exploitation Retrospect

About Exploitation Retrospect: The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Started by Lou Goncey and Dan Taylor (that's me), Exploitation Retrospect debuted in the fall of 1986 with tons of reviews and an interview with the legendary John Waters. (You can read that first interview here on their site.) Unknown to us, there was an entire drive-in film zine movement afoot and we quickly became familiar with publications like Steve Puchalski's great SLIMETIME, Craig Ledbetter's influential EUROPEAN TRASH CINEMA, Jeff Smith's brilliant WET PAINT and other great examples of B-movie fandom.

Originally intended as a quarterly publication, ER made the jump to a more frequent distribution schedule with issue #3. The review zine format stuck and though not published as often as I would have liked, ER did make it into the hands of our subscribers on a regular basis.

By the mid-1990s, the drive-ins we frequented were gone and it was getting harder and harder to find diamonds in the cinematic rough. We'd tackled such weighty issues as The Guide to Klaus Kinski (also reprinted here), Women in Prison Films, and other junk film topics, but found the zine drifting into offbeat pop culture coverage (like horror movies made into Atari 2600 games) as well as music reviews. Subscribers were often confused about the publications direction, especially those who had loyally followed the zine since its blood-spattered debut.

When I moved to Pittsburgh in the fall of 1995 I figured on putting ER to rest, at least as a print publication. This web site had been launched that spring and the idea of being able to distribute via the Web became more attractive financially and personally.

But some zines refuse to die. Friends and felow publishers Larry Kay and Leslie Goldman approached me with an offer that I couldn't refuse. For as long as I wanted, they would publish ER as a supplement to their excellent art/music/smut/westling mag CARBON 14, online version here. That arrangement stuck for seven more issues and the decision was finally made to let ER go. Issue #50 marked its final installment as a print-based publication.

With nearly 20 years of b-movie coverage under my belt, I'm proud to say that ER attracts more and more visitors each month. We've added some new contributors, the Kinski Guide grows bigger and better all the time, and it's safe to say that my love for junk cinema will never end.

--Dan Taylor via http://www.dantenet.com/er/about/index.html [Jun 2005]

See also: b-movie - magazine - exploitation film - euro trash films - John Waters - Klaus Kinski

2005, Jun 09; 21:42 ::: Modern architecture died in St. Louis

Pruitt-Igoe, 1955
image sourced here.

Pruitt-Igoe, 1972
image sourced here.

“Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3:32 pm when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grace by dynamite.”
-- Charles Jencks

The Pruitt-Igoe housing project, originally built in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, has been regarded as one of the most infamous failures of public housing in American history.

Designed in 1951 by architect Minoru Yamasaki (who would later design the World Trade Center), it consisted of 33 11-story apartment buildings on a 57 acre (230,000 m²) site, totaling 2,870 apartments, and was completed five years later. The project was commissioned as part of the post-WWII federal housing program, as an attempt to bring people back to the city, but within a few years it quickly fell into disrepair and disuse, heavily vandalized by its own residents. -- [Jun 2005]

The beginning of postmodern architecture
[I]t is significant that the beginning of postmodern architecture is not considered to be the construction of any great building, but the
destruction of the modernist Pruitt-Igoe housing project. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism#The_development_of_postmodernism [Jun 2005]

See also: architecture - modern architecture - postmodern architecture - 1972 - Charles Jencks

2005, Jun 09; 21:42 ::: Modernism's relentless hostility to mass culture

"Pop in the broadest sense was the context in which a notion of the postmodern first took shape, and from the beginning until today, the most significant trends within postmodernism have challenged modernism's relentless hostility to mass culture." -- After the Great Divide (1986) - Andreas Huyssen

See also: pop - modernism - postmodernism - mass - culture - 1986

2005, Jun 09; 16:18 ::: Mannerism

Vertumnus (1590-1591) - Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Mannerism is the usual English term for an approach to all the arts, particularly painting but not exclusive to it, a reaction to the High Renaissance, emerging after the Sack of Rome in 1527 shook Renaissance confidence, humanism and rationality to their foundations, and even Religion had split apart.

Like "modernism", the term is one of the few style designations whose label was self-applied; it comes from the Italian maniera, or "style," in the sense of an artist's characteristic "touch" or recognizable "manner."

"Mannerism" was initially a contentious stylistic label among art historians when it resurfaced before World War I, first used by German art historians like Heinrich Wölfflin to categorize the seemingly uncategorizable art of the Italian 16th century, the style that introduced the Renaissance to France in the Fontainebleau schools and to Antwerp in quite another "manner", styles that were neither Renaissance nor Baroque. Mannerism is not easily pigeonholed; it scarcely affected the popular arts, and no definitions survived much examination, in the views of English art historians, partly perhaps because they already had sufficient local categories: "Elizabethan drama," "Jacobean architecture and furniture." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannerism [Jun 2005]

See also: art - 1500s

2005, Jun 09; 16:05 ::: Palais Idéal, France

Palais Idéal (1879 - 1924) - Ferdinand Cheval
image sourced here.

Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924) was a French postman who spent 33 years of his life building an Ideal Castle.

Ferdinand Cheval lived in the Hautes-rives region of the Drome department of France. He had left school at the age of 13 to become a baker's apprentice but eventually became a postman.

Cheval began the building in April 1879. He claimed that he tripped on a stone and was inspired by its shape. He returned to the same spot the next day and begun to collect stones.

For the next 33 years, during his daily mail route, Cheval carried stones from his delivery rounds and at home used them to build his Palais Idéal, the Ideal Castle. First he carried the stones in his pockets, then a basket and eventually a wheelbarrow. He often worked at night in the light of an oil lamp. Locals regarded him as a village idiot.

Cheval spent the first two decades building the outer walls. The Castle is a mix of different styles with inspirations from the Bible to Hindu mythology. Cheval bricked the stones together with lime, wire and cement.

Cheval also wanted to be buried in his castle. When French authorities forbade that, he proceeded to spend eight years building a mausoleum for himself in the cemetery of Hautes-rives. Cheval died August 19, 1924, more than a year after he had finished building it.

Just prior to his death, Cheval began to receive some recognition from the luminaries like André Breton and Pablo Picasso.

In 1969 André Malraux, the contemporary minister of culture, declared the Castle as a cultural landmark and had it officially protected. Cheval's castle is open every day except Christmas Day and New Year's Day. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Cheval [Jun 2005]

outsider - art - architecture

2005, Jun 09; 00:01 ::: Michael Pacher (1430–1498)

Altar piece at Brixen, South Tirol - Michael Pacher (1430-1498)

Altar piece at Brixen (detail), South Tirol - Michael Pacher (1430-1498)

Featured in Les peintres du fantastique (1996) - André Barret [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

2005, Jun 08; 16:33 ::: The Deuce

gratuitous image of actress Alice Arno
image sourced here.

From an interview by Dan “Dante” Taylor With Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford at:

Dan Taylor:You stopped publishing Sleazoid Express in 1985 at a time when there was an explosion of exploitation movie zines... what prompted you to stop publishing at that time?

BILL: The Deuce closed and the "explosion of zines" were copies of SLEAZOID. My heart was broken when The Deuce closed and the copycats repulsed me. To them it was a trend to follow, to me it was my life and my friends and I were affected by its closing. I had long ties to people in Times Square, and we all didn't know what to do next, we could hardly believe it was shutting. When the theaters were open it was a place you not only worked, you socialized, figured extra ways to get by with co-worker/co-conspirators - and then all of a sudden it was just crumbling. Not just theaters, but a certain lifestyle, was ending.

Mainstream publishing/magazines had no interest in SLEAZOID because of the Deuce being sanitized. SLEAZOID was a reminder of the decadent past not wanted during the peak AIDS wipe out. Mags wanted stories of the clean up not the history being destroyed. I was relegated to a man writing about the past. I wasn't timely. You couldn't see these films I was writing about. Video was so new then - even as high as in the $80-$100 per tape range, financially inaccessible to many. --http://www.dantenet.com/er/chats/interviews/landis/landis_clifford.html [Jun 2005]

(In print in Carbon 14 Issue #22; online at Dan Taylor’s Exploitation Retrospective).

Bill and Michelle: This interview ranks among the best we’ve ever participated in; highly recommended for both neophytes to the SLEAZOID and METASEX universe and longtime fans. --http://www.metasex.org/about.html [Jun 2005]

Cleaning up the Times Square area
In the mid-1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (1994-2002) led the effort to clean up the Times Square area, including closing up sex shops, increasing security, and opening more tourist-friendly attractions. The cleaning process began when the local government issued an injunction against the tight clustering of the porn shops in the 42nd Street area. Many of the sex shops closed or moved to industrial areas in Brooklyn or Queens. More recently, such establishments have been shut down and more up-scale establishments have opened there. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Times_Square [Jun 2005]

Related link: http://hmkino.ld.infoseek.co.jp/main-home.htm

See also: 42nd Street - Bill and Michelle - grindhouse

2005, Jun 08; 16:33 ::: Palazzo Vecchio, Firenze, Italy

Palazzo Vecchio (1299) , Firenze, Italy

Palazzo della Signoria was the original name of the Palazzo Vecchio, before the government of the Republic of Florence was moved to the Uffizi under Cosimo I de' Medici. The Signoria was the standing ruling body of the Republic of Florence. Although much of the building is now a museum, it remains the seat of the local government. The mayor of Florence has his office there to this day. This building is the only building that used to hold the first nude statue of David that Donatello created. Piazza della Signoria is Latin for "Plaza of the City Council". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_della_Signoria [Jun 2005]

2005, Jun 08; 14:59 ::: Arabesque and grotesque

Papier peint en arabesque, manufacture inconnue, France vers 1785.
collection privée, tirée du livre "les papiers peints en arabesques", Bernard Jacqué, Editions de la Martinière, Paris et Musée du papier peint de Rixheim, Rixheim --http://www.meublepeint.com/arabesques.htm [Jun 2005]

Les arabesques sont employées sans interruption du XVI° au XIX° siècle. Elles puisent leurs sources dans l'Antiquité romaine, notamment avec les découvertes archéologiques de la Domus Aurea de Néron.

Dans le XVI° siècle naissant, arabesques, rabesques, grotesques désignent alors les mêmes formes d'enchaînements décoratifs dont les Loges du Vatican de Raphaël sont l'exemple le plus abouti. Ces fresques inspirent les ornemanistes italiens et néerlandais qui contribuent au succès permanent de l'arabesque de Raphaël par la diffusion abondante de leurs gravures.

De déviation en déviation, un genre nouveau se dessine intégrant les modes récentes pour les rinceaux, l'acanthe et les entrelacs. La référence n'est plus l'Antiquité mais Raphaël qui avait introduit la représentation humaine. Au XVII° siècle l'ornemaniste Berain réinterprète l'arabesque sous forme d'un réseau dense ou allégé d'enroulements, véritable jeu de bandes. A l'intérieur de ce cadre en décors d'arabesques, des scènes s'organisent dégageant une figure centrale plus importante. C'est avec Watteau au XVIII° siècle que la scène centrale va devenir primordiale : l'entourage arabesque est alors détaché d'une quelconque relation stylistique avec la scène centrale. La rocaille et le rococo prennent toute leur mesure. --http://www.meublepeint.com/arabesques.htm [Jun 2005]

Grotto in the Bomarzo gardens, Italy

Murals of the kind described by Vitruvius first came to light around 1500 in the course of excavations in Rome. From grotte (Ital. 'caves', thus by extension 'excavations') came the adjective grottesco and the noun le grottesca, denoting the kind of painting discussed above. The word grotesque occurs in French as early as 1532, and is used in English as well before being replaced around I640 by grotesqueEarly usages of the word in English are restricted to the antique paintings and to the imitations of this style which became popular in the sixteenth century, particularly in Italy (cf. the grotesques of Raphael). The extension of the word 'grotesque' to literature and to non-artistic things took place in France as early as the sixteenth-century (Rabelais uses it with reference to parts of the body), but in England and Germany only in the eighteenth century. With this extension 'grotesque' took on a broader meaning. In particular its association with caricature—a topic much discussed by eighteenth-century aestheticians led to what Kayser calls a loss of substance in the word, meaning the suppression of the horrifying or eerie qualities of the grotesque and a corresponding over-emphasis on the ridiculous and bizarre. --The Term and Concept 'Grotesque': A Historical Summary from Philip Thomson, The Grotesque. Methuen Critical Idiom Series, 1972. via http://mtsu32.mtsu.edu:11072/Grotesque/Major_Artists_Theorists/theorists/thomson/thomson2.html [Mar 2005]

Image copyright Mitternacht, sourced here.

Arabesque n.

  1. A ballet position in which the dancer bends forward while standing on one straight leg with the arm extended forward and the other arm and leg extended backward.
  2. A complex, ornate design of intertwined floral, foliate, and geometric figures.
  3. Music. An ornate, whimsical composition especially for piano.
  4. An intricate or elaborate pattern or design: “the fluctuating shapes of a cloudscape, the complex arabesque of a camera movement, the blink of a character's eye” (Nigel Andrews).
--http://www.answers.com/arabesque [Mar 2005]

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