NEW SPIRITUAL MUSIC: Daniel Higgs "Hoofprints on the Ceiling of Your Mind"

Above: Daniel Higgs – Waggon – Offenbach, Germany – 2009-10-20 | © Laurent Orseau

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Download: “Hoofprints On The Ceiling Of Your Mind”—Daniel Higgs (mp3) (twenty-nine mb)

From Say God, available now from Thrill Jockey on double vinyl and double cd. More info here.

Arthur Radio Transmission #19 w/ live set by The Beets

Above: This week’s collage with artwork by Matthew Volz

Swimming out from the Subterranean Melodic Fancifalities Exploratorium onto dry land, amorphous and amphibious flaneurs Hairy Painter and Ivy Meadows find the Newtown Radio garden has sprung us The Beets! We catch Brooklyn’s noble busybodies – not to be confused with The Beets, nor The Beats, The Beat, Beat, or The Beatles – in a brief hometown interlude betwixt their South North American (with German Measles) and North North American (with The Mountain Goats) tours, with just enough time for them to stomp us up some radio gold. The live set – abundant with garage harmonica, amp humping, flute solos, toy theremins, sing alongs, set-up banter, and a newly balanced gender distribution – is then followed by a bonus set of the band spinning recent favorites from the road into the wee small hours. Viva!

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Download: Arthur Radio #19 w/ live set by The Beets 5-23-2010

A portion o’ playlist awaits beneath…
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Mall as Organic Greenhouse
“Shopping malls may be on the brink of major reinvention and adaptive reuse…as farms. The Galleria Mall in Cleveland, Ohio is leading the way by growing organic food for mall patrons and local restaurants. The mall has transformed the lost retail space within its glass-top confines into a gigantic, organic-food greenhouse. The idea sprouted when the mall’s marketing and events coordinator Vicky Poole teamed up with Jack Hamilton, a business owner in the Galleria. Together they began operating Gardens Under Glass, a hydroponic garden in the Galleria at Erieview in downtown Cleveland. The project is funded by a $30,000 start-up grant from the Civic Innovation Lab. Gardens Under Glass at the Galleria will start with lettuce, spinach, peas, tomatoes, and herbs, and, if successful, add fruits, more vegetables and edible flowers. Food will be raised hydroponically, aquaponically and in organic soils through a combination of raised beds, vines and vertical structural supports. The plan also includes composting and using nutrient-rich waste from aquariums to nourish the plants. The duo hopes that the project will be a model for sustainable farming, while bringing additional visitors or curious onlookers to the mall’s stores. If successful and implemented at the mall on a larger scale, Gardens Under Glass could help extend Ohio’s short growing season and increase the amount of food dollars spent locally. It could also serve as a case study for communities struggling to figure out productive uses for otherwise underutilized or abandoned shopping malls. The adaptive reuse of the space is not without obstacles. For example, even though the glass ceiling provides ample light and the interior location significantly reduces possible pests, the mall was not built to be insulated and heated like a typical greenhouse. So, hardy crops need to be selected. Another challenge — and opportunity — is finding people to tend the mall’s gardens. For now, the workers will be volunteers, but one can easily imagine a future where farmers are hired to work inside the mall. It’s predicted that shopping malls and other “single use” structures will slowly disappear over the next thirty years. That could be the extreme pressure required for positive reinvention.”

Food Court
“Millions in Cleveland have passed through the Galleria at Erieview, sun glinting on its barrel-shaped glass roof. But it took a nurseryman’s granddaughter to look up and think: This place looks like a giant greenhouse. Now Vicky Poole, the Galleria’s marketing and events director, who worked on her grandpa’s farm as a child, expects that by late spring or early summer, there will be fresh tomatoes for sale among the shops and galleries at the downtown Cleveland mall. Very fresh — as in vine-grown in bags and troughs hanging from steel stair banisters and ceiling beams in the shopping center that stretches between East Ninth and East 12th streets. “I know of no other urban garden in the country like this,” said Hamilton about Gardens Under Glass. Poole got the idea last year when she spotted a photo of dozens of plants growing on a two-story window grid in a New York cafe. “I said, ‘That’s our food court.'” They dream of hosting school groups and teams of volunteer urban gardeners eager to work beds of herbs and greens and vine systems raised hydroponically, aquaponically and in organic soils. On Thursday, Poole gave a presentation to the Cleveland chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, composed of professionals and students. “One of the students came up to me after and said, ‘Have you ever considered growing aereoponically?’ ” said Poole. “I invited him to come in and help me set up a system.”

Because of Ohio’s short growing season and the fact that the Galleria will not be heated to greenhouse temperatures, Poole is focusing on easily raised greens, herbs and tomatoes. That is good news for the manager of Sweetwater’s Cafe Sausalito, a long-established Galleria restaurant. He sells a lot of salads at lunchtime. “I’m very excited about the project,” said Chandrababu, who has already given a list of the herbs the restaurant uses to Poole. Michele and Mark Bishop, who operate Urban Organics from their Brunswick farm, will soon provide Sweet Peet, an organic mulch, as well as organic soils to Gardens Under Glass. Meanwhile, Poole, 57, and Hamilton, 44, have collected products from other such vendors to grow the plants they are purchasing with grant money. “So far, we haven’t had to pay for a thing,” said Poole, who is also searching for a composting system that would take care of scraps from the food court. Within two weeks, two portable 6-by-12-foot beds will be installed on the first floor of the Galleria, where passers-by will watch greens grow. “We’ll be propagating seeds for that this week,” said Poole. By summer, she expects lush banister mountings of greens and tomatoes. “It will be beautiful.”

Vicky Poole & Jack Hamilton
e-mail : gardensunderglass [at] yahoo

Seed Libraries
“SPROut is based on gardeners taking only the seeds they need for the plants they’re really going to grow (one doesn’t need a whole packet of seeds of broccoli when they only have room for 5 plants) and bringing back at least one seed of that type of plant. The more gardeners who participate, the more diverse the seed library becomes as members contribute the plants that they enjoy the most.

“Many co-ops, from purchasing ones–people who pool together resources to buy in bulk–to agricultural ones, have reported positive or at least even sales through the recession. Why? Perhaps at least partly because the public has grown more hospitable to cooperative values. Cabot Creamery, an agricultural cooperative that sells dairy products nationally, hasn’t suffered during the recession. The people there believe it’s because of customers’ affinity for their brand, which stresses its ownership by farmers and its stewardship of the land. Most U.S. farmers don’t own the brands under which their goods are sold; they’re just atomized commodity producers. At Cabot each farmer can participate democratically in running the co-op. That and their shared ownership gives them great loyalty to it. Cabot’s strengths have kept it financially healthy even as households have cut back on spending.”

Farmland in Trinoma’s center lobby

SPADES & HOES & PLOWS by David Wrench

SPADES & HOES & PLOWS is the third solo album by Welsh producer, pianist and songwriter David Wrench, and was commissioned for Julian Cope’s Black Sheep by Cope and Fat Paul. The album presents four traditional folk themes from the British Isles, all performed in an eerily upfront and cadaverous manner, reminiscent of such late black metal as Furze, or perhaps a radical hybrid of Andrew King and an acoustic Khanate. But this is hardly a radical new course for Wrench, whose obsessions with cultural marginalia began as long ago as the late 80s with Nid Madagascar, his Welsh language acid house band. In 1997, Wrench released the turbulent BLOW WINDS BLOW, a dark set of songs influenced by Peter Hammill and John Cale. As the co-leader of the short-lived glam-sleaze duo Bubblegun, Wrench grabbed the ear of Julian Cope, whose particularly enjoyed the earnest electro-ballad ‘Beautiful Cunt’. David Wrench’s next solo album was THE ATOMIC WORLD OF TOMORROW, a horny melange of politically charged hi-energy synth pop. As an Engineer/Producer and Mixer, he has recently worked with Caribou, mixing most of the new album Swim, and previous album ANDORRA, engineering the Mercury prize nominated TWO SUNS by Bat For Lashes, WHEN THE HAAR ROLLS IN by James Yorkston, and producing the critically acclaimed albums GOODBYE FALKENBURG by Race Horses, GOTHIC ROAD by Jackie Leven, MIRACLE INN and BORE DA by Euros Childs, and THE QUICKENING by Kathryn Williams. He recently was awarded the BBC Radio Cymru C2 award of Producer of the Year for the 3rd time. He joined Julian Cope’s group Black Sheep in 2008, performing vocals on their 2009 album KISS MY SWEET APOCALYPSE 2.

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Red Goo, Paper Cut-Outs and Conscious Digressions: MIKE MILLS on Henry Jacobs' handmade absurdism

Originally published in Arthur No. 26 (Sept 2007), (available now from the Arthur Store for $5), as a companion piece to Joel Rose’s profile of Henry Jacobs

Red Goo, Paper Cut-Outs and Conscious Digressions: Mike Mills on HENRY JACOBS’ handmade absurdism

The Fine Art of Goofing Off
Three 30-minute episodes, 1971
Dir. Henry Jacobs
Available on The Weird World of Henry Jacobs DVD/CD (Important, 2004)

“Well, ‘goofing off’ is not really being what you’re really supposed to be doing.”
—boy’s voice in Episode 1

Each show begins with the same image: a gallon of paint thrown onto a black and white target. Red gooey paint, probably the worst tool for the job a target suggests—hitting the center and the center only, and all the competition, judgment, and evaluation therein. There’s no specificity, linearity, no ability to pierce—just thick gooey amorphous wrap-around-everything-non-solidness.

And so the game begins, The Fine Art of Goofing Off, or as I mistakenly remembered it “Taking Goofing Off Seriously.” Glad I’m not in charge of remembering, but there’s something to my mistake. Under all the home-made/hand-made qualities of the show, the claymation, construction paper cut-outs, the felt pen animation, and the rambling structure, under the constant humor and seeking of fun is a deceptively serious mission—to derail oneself from “what you’re supposed to be doing” (or as the genius of the kid mistakenly put it, “not being what you’re supposed to be doing”). Goofing off is the giving up of all things Western Civilization worked so hard to make soul crushing: progress, work, betterment of self, basing everything on the future and linear time and the always wanting that time to be faster and more convenient. Not to mention the primacy of the plot and drama at all costs in storytelling, the anything-less-than-success as shameful construct, and the sadness as failure feeling, and the exploitation of any and all substances you can gather to ease all the worries us European-descenters are so prone to.

Yes, this is what this kid show addresses. And this little confrontation was happening on public television, broadcast across the airwaves in 1971. It’s handmade absurdism was mixed in the airwaves with Nixon, the Vietnam war, with the Weather Underground bombing the U.S. Capitol in protest of the invasion of Laos, with Apollo 14 landing on the moon, with Willie Wonka’s theatrical release, with Evan Goolagong winning Wimbledon. The Fine Art of Goofing Off was pushing its gooey red paint into antennas, and the imaginations of children/adults.

We won’t dwell on how impossible this show would be now, but actually we will for just three small points: 1. The great contemporary tendency to protect children from everything would not allow something so “dangerous” and “adult” to be on the air. 2. Our cleaned-up “professionalized” visual culture would never allow so much felt-tip-pen animation out in the world. 3. The positivity-openheartedness-vulnerability expressed in this show would be mocked by most mainstream and counter-culture makers of today. Softness is so easily beaten-up. But this is a digression, and really, how scary is it to digress, to not know what you’re doing, or what’s going on, or what’s next, or worse, to not have anything next. But this is the space Goofing Off was trying to make, the rich and conscious digression from what we’re supposed to be doing.

The end of episode three has a thank you list which includes: Walt Disney, Sigmund Freud, Leonardo DaVinci, The Beatles, Ray Bradbury, Federico Fellini, Marcel Marceau, Rene Magritte, Dali, Picasso, Alfred E. Neuman, Krishnamurti, Marshall McLuhan, John and Yoko, D.T. Suzuki, Jacques Tati, Benito Mussolini, Oral Roberts, Buckminister Fuller, The Eames, Corita Kent, Charlie Chaplin, J.R.R. Tolkien. What a party that would be. And while this list is playfully implausible, part of the magic of the whole show, it’s funny to see how many of these people thought of a different world, or, our world differently. Freud, populizer of the unconscious as the real source of all our actions. Marceau, the mime that explained his art as “documentaries” of human behavior mirrored back to us so we can transform. Suzuki and Krishnamurti (still trying to finish those books). The utopian popular modernism of Fuller-Eames-Kent. Alfred E Neuman’s scope of satire, nothing was beyond Mad’s reach. Disney, the maker of “the happiest place on earth,” maybe the most powerful shaper of “childhood” for any of us born after the Fifties. Henry Jacobs, Bob Mcclay, and the community that made this were playing at influencing imaginations on this big scale while not falling for the seriousness that turns revelations into rules. They disguised their insurgency in felt-tip pen and construction paper cut-outs. The revolution will be funny, inventive, unprofessional, small-scale, for children/adults and televised.

Mike Mills is a filmmaker and graphic artist living in Los Angeles. His latest graphics can be seen at

Friendship, as designed by a systems engineer

From “Faux Friendship” by William Deresiewicz:

They call them social-networking sites for a reason. Networking once meant something specific: climbing the jungle gym of professional contacts in order to advance your career. The truth is that [David] Hume and [Adam] Smith were not completely right. Commercial society did not eliminate the self-interested aspects of making friends and influencing people, it just changed the way we went about it. Now, in the age of the entrepreneurial self, even our closest relationships are being pressed onto this template. A recent book on the sociology of modern science describes a networking event at a West Coast university: “There do not seem to be any singletons—disconsolately lurking at the margins—nor do dyads appear, except fleetingly.” No solitude, no friendship, no space for refusal—the exact contemporary paradigm. At the same time, the author assures us, “face time” is valued in this “community” as a “high-bandwidth interaction,” offering “unusual capacity for interruption, repair, feedback and learning.” Actual human contact, rendered “unusual” and weighed by the values of a systems engineer. We have given our hearts to machines, and now we are turning into machines. The face of friendship in the new century.

Entire article: The Chronicle of Higher Education

One Man Goofing: A visit with legendary Zen humorist Henry Jacobs

This article was originally published in Arthur No. 26 (2007), available now from the Arthur Store for $5, alongside an appreciation of Henry Jacobs’ The Fine Art of Goofing Off by artist/filmmaker Mike Mills. With the very welcome news that a) a new Henry Jacobs release is on the way (Around The World With Henry Jacobs), and b) the extremely highly recommended The Wide Weird World Of Henry Jacobs/The Fine Art Of Goofing Off cd/ & dvd set is finally back in print, we thought it was time to brush off the dust from this piece and offer it online for the first time. Here goes…

One Man Goofing: A visit with legendary Zen humorist Henry Jacobs
by Joel Rose

Once a week, Henry Jacobs drives to a community center near his house in Marin County, California to play ping-pong with his neighbors. But it’s ping-pong with a twist: Jacobs, a natural righty, insists on playing with his left hand. “I don’t know if I’m as good,” he says. “But I sure have a lot more fun, because I can surprise myself. With my right hand, I never surprise myself.”

The 82 year-old Jacobs has been playing left-handed ping-pong every Monday night for the last seven years. At first, he says, the neighbors were skeptical. But they’ve gradually come around and started playing with their off-hands, too. Jacobs recently started filming interviews with his fellow left-handed ping-pong players for a documentary. “I envision it mainly for the Third World,” he says, and for a second it’s hard to tell whether he’s joking or serious. “The motive is to try to clean up the rather ugly image [of Americans] in the last 50 years or so,” culminating with the present conflict in Iraq. Jacobs says he wants to offer an alternative view of American culture, and ping-pong is the perfect vehicle because of its popularity around the world. “The economics of it are pretty basic. A paddle which you could make out of banana leaf or whatever,” he deadpans. “It’s not about wiping out the planet. It’s about a simple activity called ping-pong.”

Jacobs sees the new documentary—which doesn’t yet have a title—as a kind of sequel to The Fine Art of Goofing Off, the series of animated television programs he worked on in the early 1970s. He says he’s filmed eight or nine interviews so far. Instead of shooting them head on, Jacobs had his subjects invent tasks to perform. (“One guy is fixing an electric lamp. Another guy is diddling around with some paintings.”) The point, says Jacobs, is they’re involved in what they’re doing, even while they’re talking out loud about ping-pong. “They’re not forced keep trying to remember all the points they wanted to make,” says Jacobs. “They can stop talking and get the screw-driver in the right place. It takes the pressure off to constantly be producing something useful and intelligent.”

And of course, “all this will be edited mercilessly. So you’ll only get little pieces of anything.” This, says Jacobs, was point of The Fine Art of Goofing Off: “Never do something so long as to bore someone.”

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