Roentgenizdat: Bone Music.

Example of an x-ray record (all photos courtesy X-Ray Audio Project/Paul Heartfield).

Example of an x-ray record (all photos courtesy X-Ray Audio Project/Paul Heartfield).

Several years ago, while poking around a flea market in St. Petersburg, musician Stephen Coates came across a record unlike any other he had ever seen. Rather than etched on vinyl, its tiny grooves were cut onto a medical X-ray, tracing shallow circles over the ghostly shapes of bones.

“I immediately knew I had to find out who made it, why they made it, and how they made it,” Coates told Hyperallergic in a recent phone interview. He soon realized that the 78 RPM he had purchased — a single of “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets — was just one of many strange, makeshift records created in the Cold War years of the Soviet Union. Produced and disseminated on an underground market to circumvent government control of culture, these flimsy sheets were known as roentgenizdat, or “bone music.”

Installation view of ‘Forbidden Music: X-Ray Audio in the USSR, 1946 – 1964’ at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Installation view of ‘Forbidden Music: X-Ray Audio in the USSR, 1946 – 1964’ at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Working with photographer Paul Heartfield, Coates has since established the X-Ray Audio Project, a multi-faceted endeavor to chronicle and share the history of roentgenizdat. The pair has released a book and documentary on their extensive research and have also organized a traveling exhibition. It is currently at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where examples of the decades-old transparencies are on view along with documents and other ephemera that together tell the technical, cultural, and human stories of this particular form of audio. Visitors can also listen to digitized recordings of the bone music, which, like homemade mixtapes, are far from crystal clear.

An absolutely fascinating subject! Humans are utterly amazing in their ability to circumvent control, and there’s nothing like declaring something forbidden to bring out the creative rebellion in people. You can read and see much more at Hyperallergic. I would love to be able to see this show, if you have the chance, don’t miss it!

Seductive Sins: 100 Years of Ads.

In this catalog of twentieth-century advertisements, Taschen has drawn together examples of advertorial seduction that were employed by liquor and tobacco companies over the past 100 years.

This colorful tome showcases an undeniably vibrant chapter of advertising history: highlighting trends — from the kitsch to the cliché and the classy — in drinking and smoking in America. 20th Century Alcohol and Tobacco Ads is as much a lesson in popular culture and pseudo-science as it is in advertising: see the pages dedicated to doctors testifying that smoking soothes the throat and liquor bring social success! With contemporary legislation in many countries moving cigarettes to plain packaging and alcohol advertisements to after hours on TV, the images in this publication seem almost closer to caricature than they do to real life.

You can see several more ads at iGNANT, and buy the book here.

The Bracero Program.

Blueprints for the El Paso [Santa Fe Bridge] disinfection plant, 1916 (image from Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez:1893-1923 by David Dorado Romo).

Blueprints for the El Paso [Santa Fe Bridge] disinfection plant, 1916 (image from Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez:1893-1923 by David Dorado Romo).

During the Second World War, with industrial resources bent toward the war effort, the US suffered a dangerous shortfall of farm and railroad workers. From 1942 to 1964, the federal government, in partnership with Mexico, oversaw one of the largest foreign worker programs in US history. It was called the “Bracero Program,” from the Spanish word for manual labor. Between 1951 and 1964, Rio Vista Farm, near El Paso, Texas, accepted more than 80,000 Mexican workers per year. The contractual time, wages, and transportation of workers were documented at these sites after they underwent medical and psychological examinations, which often included fumigation with DDT. Approximately 4.6 million braceros went through the system over a 22-year period.

Artist Adriana Corral, with assistance from the National Trust Foundation and historian David Romo, has spent several years preparing to erect a site-specific installation at the historic Rio Vista Farm, titled “Unearthed: Desenterrado.” The work, curated by Cortney Lane Stell and produced by the Denver-based traveling museum Black Cube, is composed of a 60- by 40- foot flag. On each side of its semi-translucent white cotton support, a single eagle is embroidered: the Mexican golden eagle on one side and the American bald eagle on the other, claws connecting. Artist Vincent Valdez, who collaborated on the idea and design, told Hyperallergic in an email:

The historic usage of the eagle as nationalistic and patriotic symbols are used to evoke power, aggression, invulnerability and triumph. In this case, two eagles caught dueling in mid-flight speak to the tangled love and hate relationship between the neighboring countries.

It symbolizes the monumental contributions made by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the US, and captures a neglected narrative in American history. Corral discussed the project with Hyperallergic.

Hyperallergic has an in-depth article and interview about this project, and the history of the Bracero Program, along with more images. Click on over to read all about it.

Quilts: Tools For Resistance.

Yaneli Martinez, “Inequality 4 All”.

Yaneli Martinez, “Inequality 4 All”.

Jaquie Gering, “Veer”.

Jaquie Gering, “Veer”.

PASADENA, Calif. — “SHUT UP and Listen,” proclaims a quilt in bold, red letters. It shows a muted American flag, hung upside down on its phantom flagpole. The aggressive “SHUT UP” is rendered in darker red fabric, like oxidized blood. But the message softens with the word “Listen,” looped in beautiful script, using sweeter reds and an assemblage of floral, plaid, and paisley fabrics. The quilt is willing to have a conversation if I’m willing to hold my tongue.

Jessica Wohl’s quilt was just one of many beckoning calls to action at QuiltCon 2018, the Modern Quilt Guild’s annual convention, held at the Pasadena Convention Center late February. The guild launched in 2009, after quilters making innovative, nontraditional works began forming connections online and realized they weren’t alone in their experimentation. The guild has established chapters internationally, in which quilters come together and show their work, workshop new techniques, and build a community.

Embedded in this year’s quilt show, which featured over 350 works, were acts of protest. They carried messages like “strong women taught us to quilt…and to fight,” “rise up, resist,” and simply, “oh no.” Others depicted difficult, but insightful, interpretations of mass incarceration, police brutality, school shootings, and acts of terror. The need quilters have felt to channel their frustrations into their craft during Trump’s America was palpable. But the members of the Modern Quilt Guild are also continuing a very old tradition of using the quilt as a tool for resistance.

You can read and see much more at Hyperallergic. I wish I could have seen this show.

NO.

It seems today is yet another fucking special ‘holiday’, “National Love Your Pet Day” which is unofficial, thankfully. This mania needs to bloody stop. A very small sample:

Baby Grace.

Doll & Jayne.

Barnaby Jones & Sullivan.

I have had pets all my life. There has never been one godsdamn day I have not loved them and cared for them. Much like my feelings for V.D., my answer to such fucking nonsense is NO. What is this but yet another way companies have to push insanely overpriced goodies and treats, and to guilt you for being a rotten pet owner if you aren’t spending a ton on junk for them? NO. If you need a day to remind you to play with your pet, dig around in the treat drawer, go for a walk with them, or whatever, then you should not have a bloody pet in the first place. All responsible owners love their animals, they mean the world, and they would do anything for them already.

Besides this being a greedy capitalist’s wet dream, this is also yet another burden on all those people who have lost their beloved, no matter what type of animal. Back when I kept koi, I about collapsed when I lost my beautiful Guin when he was yet a babe, I’d had him for 16 years. Whatever being it might be which captures a human heart, we already care. We don’t need yet another stupid manufactured day. This sort of “special day” thing needs to die. In a fire.

The Map of European Culinary Horrors.

Map created by Yanko Tsvetkov from Atlas of Prejudice 2: Chasing Horizons.

Map created by Yanko Tsvetkov from Atlas of Prejudice 2: Chasing Horizons.

I have to say, this made me laugh. One of my great grandmothers had a great love of blood based dishes, but I never did develop a taste for them. Out of all these, I don’t think Kyselo sounds bad at all, and that’s coming from someone who is not a fan of cooked mushrooms.

While European food has a very positive international reputation, it’s not all steak frites and pasta. As the map above shows, the continent also has its fair share of disgusting dishes and culinary horrors.

The map is the work of Yanko Tsvetkov and appears in Atlas of Prejudice 2: Chasing Horizons (also be sure to check out his first book Atlas of Prejudice: Mapping Stereotypes, Vol. 1)

You can see a linked list of all the foods in the map here, if you’re looking for more culinary info. Interesting reading all the way around! One thing is absolutely certain – there is absolutely nothing which would induce me to try maggot cheese. There are just some lines not to be crossed. :D

Black People Excited About Black Panther: BAD!

A dude by the name of Ben Shapiro is all manner of upset about people being excited about Black Panther. Naturally, he misses the point, by a whole damn universe. Most of his screeth* seems to be a lament over the lack of gratefulness being displayed in this excitement. Black people should be grateful, dammit, for all the great and wonderful things white people have done for them! On your knees, slaves! Oh, er…stop being so excited! I’m not going to be able to get everything in, it’s a fairly long screeth, so full of wypipo gone wrong that it’s extremely difficult to take, and that’s a serious understatement. Shapiro is one of those fucking idiots who make you ache for the ability to reach through your screen and smack him into last Sunday. And I’ll just add that I’m over the top excited about Black Panther m’self, but I can hardly share in the excitement born of such outstanding representation, because I’m not black. That said, I don’t have any problems understanding The Excitement.

“Everyone in the media is talking about the most important thing that has ever happened in the history of humanity, or at least since Caitlyn Jenner became a woman—a transgender woman—and that, of course, is the release of ‘Black Panther’. It is so deeply important,” Shapiro said, mockingly.

No, not one single person is talking about the movie as if it were the most important thing ever in the history of humanity, you sniveling dipshit. Black Panther is deeply important – look at how damn long it’s taken to get a mainstream movie comprised of a mostly black cast, especially when no one is able to say that tokenism has gone out of Hollywood.

“We’ve heard it’s deeply important to millions of black Americans, who after all were not liberated from slavery 200 years ago and liberated by the civil rights movement with federal legislation, have not been gradually restored to what always should have been full civil rights in the United States. None of that has mattered up till they made a Marvel movie about a superhero who is black in a country filled with black people. ‘Blade’ was not enough. ‘Catwoman’ with Halle Berry, no. OK, Wakanda is where it is,” Shapiro said.

He continued sarcastically, “This is the most important moment in black American history, not Martin Luther King, not Frederick Douglass, not the Civil War, not the end of Jim Crow, none of that, not Brown vs. Board—the most important thing is that Chadwick Boseman puts claws on his hands and a mask on his face and runs around jumping off cars in CGI fashion—deeply, deeply important. Black children everywhere will now believe that they too can be superheroes who jump off cars in fictional countries.”

Oh my. Hey, sniveling dipshit! You left a little something out – all those things? They wouldn’t have been necessary if white people deciding that forcibly kidnapping people and putting them into slavery hadn’t been done in the first place. You don’t get fucking points for taking centuries to correct your massive mistakes. As for the the movies Blade and Catwoman, you wouldn’t have noticed that outside the main characters, most of the cast was comprised of white people. That’s because you expect to see white people, as far as you’re concerned, that’s only right and proper. What a fucking surprise that people of colour would like to see themselves reflected in the same way, and not always have to settle for tokenism.

“We heard this about Barack Obama when he was elected, too. ‘Now that Obama has been president, black Americans will feel like they too can be presidents. It’s a transformative moment.’ Yet, all we hear now is that America is deeply racist and that black people are still systemically discriminated against and that black people are still victims in America society. So, it turns out it didn’t mean anything,” Shapiro said.

Yes, it was a transformative moment. Just like the portraits too, because generations of children to come will be able to read about a black president, and they will see black people represented in the sea of white in the white house. (White, white everywhere.) Having such transformative moments in regard to representation and the hope of future achievement is not a magic fucking wand, you wannabe Voldemort. Whitemort? Yeah, I’ll go with that one. It does not magically erase systemic racism, localised bigotry, or victimisation. Those are still with us, and unfortunately, with the Tiny Tyrant, we’re seeing a vicious, cancerous rise in hatred. The difference such transformative moments make cannot be accurately estimated; they represent hope, strength, and change. They represent inclusion and acceptance, and you just have to try and take that away, by demeaning black people in every way your tiny, atrophied brain can come up with. You aren’t worth spitting on, Mr. Shapiro.

“Sorry to break it to you folks, Wakanda is not a real place,” Shapiro said. “It does not exist.”

Well, thank you ever so much for that whitesplaination, Mr. Shapiro. I’m ever so sure that not one black person could possibly figure that one out minus your help. What a flaming doucheweasel.

You can read the whole thing, and watch video at RWW.

*Screeth: screed + froth.

Illustrating Carnival.

Spider costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — <a href="https://digitallibrary.tulane.edu/islandora/object/tulane%3A4878" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Source</a> (some potential restrictions on reuse).

Spider costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“D for Dragon” float design by Bror Anders Wikstrom for the “Alphabet” theme, Krewe of Proteus, 1904: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — <a href="https://digitallibrary.tulane.edu/islandora/object/tulane%3A4382" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Source</a> (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“D for Dragon” float design by Bror Anders Wikstrom for the “Alphabet” theme, Krewe of Proteus, 1904: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“U for Unicorn” float design by Bror Anders Wikstrom for the “Alphabet” theme, Krewe of Proteus, 1904: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — <a href="https://digitallibrary.tulane.edu/islandora/object/tulane%3A4382" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Source</a> (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“U for Unicorn” float design by Bror Anders Wikstrom for the “Alphabet” theme, Krewe of Proteus, 1904: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

Coral Polyp costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — <a href="https://digitallibrary.tulane.edu/islandora/object/tulane%3A6278" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Source</a> (some potential restrictions on reuse).

Coral Polyp costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

Darwin as an ass costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source.

Darwin as an ass costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source.

Oh gods, these are beyond fabulous! I am so in love with the Coral polyp costume. Also in love with the bat, so cheerful!

On March 6, 1889, the New York Times breathlessly reported on the recent Carnival spectacles in New Orleans. The Krewe of Rex’s pageant, themed around “Treasures of the Earth”, included a “Crystal” float “attended by figures in gorgeous costumes and prisms by the thousand”, and a “Diamond” float featuring “a rocky diamond dell” through which flowed “limpid streams where nymphs sported and played with the gems”. The Krewe of Proteus, meanwhile, dazzled with their “Hindoo Heavens” pageant, where in one scene appeared Agni “God of Fire” riding a ram that “strides the flames, attended by the fire sprites.” This opulent, and highly exoticized, interpretation of South Asian religion concluded with a tableau where “Vishnu, under the guise of a horse with silver wings, shatters the earth with his hoof and rises to the celestial abode.”

The modern American Mardi Gras owes much of its bombastic revelry to this late nineteenth-century “Golden Age” of Carnival design. From the invitations to the costumes to the hand fans carried by spectators, artists designed entire identities for each Krewe (a group that organizes a Carnival event).

[…]

Mythology, literature, religion, and history, as well as nineteenth-century book illustration and turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau, were remixed into an eclectic excess. Up to the early 1900s, the main Krewes were Rex, Comus, Proteus, and Momus, each with their favorite artist collaborators. The names of these individuals are now obscure, but artists Jennie Wilde, Bror Anders Wikstrom, Charles Briton, Carlotta Bonnecaze, and others now anonymous all influenced the embrace of the fantastic that endures into the present. The greatest publicly accessible resource of their art is the Carnival Collection, part of the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) at Tulane University and supported by a bequest from the late journalist Charles L. “Pie” Dufour. In 2012, Tulane marked the completion of a two-year digitization project that put over 5,500 float and costume designs in the Carnival Collection online.

You can read and see so much more at The Public Domain Review, every single piece of artwork is utterly amazing and delightful! You can see all the images at a much larger size at the Tulane University source site. If you’re someone always on the lookout for inspired costume design, you cannot afford to miss these.

No V.D.

I don’t do Valentine’s Day, never have. I prefer a V.D. free life. If you’re a happily romantic or sentimental person who thinks it is just grand and wonderful, sure, celebrate it to your heart’s content in any way you see fit, but do everyone else a favour, and leave it there, please. Don’t foist it or your ideas about it on other people. From where I sit, it’s a burden of expectation, yet another thing you don’t dare forget or you’ll have a pissed off partner[s], and it’s a serious burden on those who are not in a relationship, or just come out of one.

The history is a very old one, and it’s based on the martyrdom of christian saints. Like so much else, it’s now turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise for everyone except those who celebrate it. Perhaps instead of piling money into the pockets of those who don’t need it, you could do something simpler for a partner, a thoughtfulness based on your actual lives, rather than hearts, flowers, candy and an expensive dinner somewhere. Just a thought.

Or just shed the ‘celebration’ altogether. I don’t need an assigned day to tell my partner I love them, that happens all the time. ETA: Right now, my partner is acting as my primary caregiver in regard to my cancer, they could hardly express their love more than that, which makes me loathe the superficiality of V.D. even more.

Feminist Movies: The Mark of a Dying Civilisation.

Kevin Swanson, professional lunatic, was recently ranting about the absolute horror of The Shape of Water, a movie which spelled the end of civilisation as we know it. It seems that wasn’t emphatic enough for Mr. Swanson. There’s another civilisation ender: The Last Jedi. I haven’t seen it, because SW isn’t my thing, but I’ve certainly read enough about it, and I was pleased that at least in this installment, there were women who did more than run after some dude, or end up chained in a bikini. Good for them. That is decidedly not Mr. Swanson’s viewpoint.

“The feminists are head over heels in love with this one,” Swanson lamented. “It’s a bit of a feminist fest with very little artistic story telling involved … It was a great vehicle to continue to educate the world towards feminism, and feminism is ultimately the individuation of the family, the destruction of the family, and the violation of the biblical ordinance that the husband is head of the wife. So that is fundamentally being eroded in the minds of our 13-and 14-year-old girls as they watch these movies.”

Yeah, no. It’s not at all a bad thing, recognizing that the people who make up a family are all individuals, with their own minds and personalities. That’s a healthy thing, because thinking that a ‘family’ is the property of a man is not at all a good thing, and that kind of thinking generally leads to bad acts and a hell of a lot of dysfunction. As for artistic story telling, you think “hey, man owns everyone” is good storytelling, and boy, do I have news for you, Mr. Swanson, that’s a bad story. We’ve had centuries of that plot, and some of humans who happen to be women, we’re damn tired of the same old song.

Who gives a shit if it “violates” a biblical ordinance? That’s only so to a percentage of christians, and as I’m not christian, why would that bit of idiocy matter to me? The bible is one very bad pastiche of very bad stories, many of them stolen and mangled, and I find it beyond silly that I’m supposed to care about anything it contains. All young women do not belong to you, Mr. Swanson, and it’s beyond creepy, this sense of ownership you put out. If you have 13 or 14 year old daughters, then you can use “our”. If they aren’t your children, then no, they are nothing to do with you.

“You can thoroughly expect the unraveling of the Christian family in the years to come if the Christian family is sitting their children at the feet of feminists and receiving the messages,” Swanson said, as he railed against the film for featuring several female characters in lead roles “defending the universe from the bad guys.”

“Friends,” he said, “this is what the last movies produced by a dying civilization look like.”

Hmmm. So it’s much better for the universe to go to utter hell and misery than to have women save the day. That’s ever so nice, Mr. Swanson. What a lovely message you’re sending to young women: you’re good for absolutely nothing except being a baby bakery and obeying a man. Why you’re surprised a lot of young women aren’t interested in that little message, I don’t know.  A movie which features women as full human beings does not spell ‘dying civilisation’. It spells growth and progress, and those are good things, Mr. Swanson, in spite of your desire to regress back centuries in time. We’re moving right past your anachronistic ass, and can barely bother to spare a glance at you.

The full mess is at RWW.

Have An Apple Tree? Get Out Your Toast!

Toast swinging from an apple tree. Richard Gillin/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Toast swinging from an apple tree. Richard Gillin/(CC BY-SA 2.0.

I do have an apple tree, so I’ll have to get some bread toasted, have some nice cider to pour and drink, and make a lot of noise.

After the New Year’s champagne is drunk and the Christmas tree is set out on the curb, the holiday season feels emphatically over. But in many apple-growing regions, there’s still one last celebration in January. Instead of champagne, the drink is hard cider. And instead of decorating a chopped-down pine, revelers tromp into apple orchards to drink and encourage a good harvest.

Apple wassailing, which has origins in southeast and southwest England, features a procession to the best apple tree in the orchard. There, revelers sing to the tree, decorate it with slices of toast to feed good spirits (and birds), and shoot rifles to scare away demons. Christmas-carolers may be familiar with the term “wassail.” An old Anglo-Saxon term for “Be in good health,” it became shorthand for both carolling and a spiced hot drink, made with either ale or cider. While pouring cider around tree roots, everyone usually shares a fanciful bowl of wassail.

You can read more about these apple tree traditions at Atlas Obscura. They date back about 500 years, and no need to worry about having missed it:

Often, it’s celebrated on January 5, which is Twelfth Night, the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. But Twelfth Night used to be on January 17. When the British switched from the ancient Julian calendar to the Gregorian system, though, in 1752, many counties kept the tradition on the old date. (If you live in an apple-growing area, you can celebrate twice.)

Anti-Clericalism in Medieval Persian Poetry.

Standford Lecture Handouts.

The above reads:

Better be a beggar than king, better practice vice

And perfidy than be a bigoted, pious puritan;

Better make love with many mistresses in the street

Than make piety and abstinence in public show.

– Amīr Khusraw Dihlavī (d. 725/1325)

I couldn’t agree more.

The dominant attitude of the anti-clerical rhetoric in Persian poetry is permeated by criticism of judges, lawyers, aesthetics, spiritual advisors, and authority figures of that nature. This is one of the reasons that makes this poetry still relevant. A lot of people today can’t read Milton, because anti-clericalism is no longer part of the normal vocabulary. In the West, we live mostly in a secular society, so the conflict between clerics and anti-clerics does not exist. But that is not the case in the Middle East at all, which makes this conflict very relevant.

Dr. Leonard Lewisohn is Senior Lecturer in Persian and Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter where he teaches Islamic Studies, Sufism, history of Iran, as well as courses on Persian texts and Persian poetry in translation. He specializes in translation of Persian Sufi poetic and prose texts.

This is fascinating, and I learned a great deal. The lecture is below, and the Stanford Lecture Handouts for Anti-Clericalism in Medieval Persian Poetry are here.

Via Medievalists.