PART 1: In which our heroes call upon the dosed horn of John Coltrane, the open time slots of Fela Kuti’s studio, and the hallucinatory mojo of Kathy Acker to remove the barricades for to invoke a dance sigil in service of the psychic liberation of times square: hub of consumption, barometer of culture, shrine of empire. Use Your Feet For The Feat Of The Defeat Of The Demons Feasting On Your Future!
PART 2: In which comrade to the cause Nonhorse finds space amidst his beyond–mere–mortal–multitaskings to build a roomy nest of codified cassettery from which to deliver a highly prismatic and severely discorporating live tape manipulation set. Abridged here, the fulllll badass 2.5 hour tilthabreakadawn extent can be siphoned from the bountiful tank of the Newtown Radio archives. HEAVY
One of the many challenges of using both emerging technology and pre-industrial building techniques comes when the adobe architect, solar power installer or graywater recycler runs up against city codes that are either outdated, ignorant or designed to bolster the entrenched building supply and construction industry. The point being, as with so many other things in life, is that it’s a lot more fun to stand up to the bastards with a little help from our friends. Scientific American has a new blog called “60-Second Solar” where George Musser reveals the tips ‘n’ tricks of installing solar panels, and in this installment he turns the keyboard over to a dude from Washington D.C.’s Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative, who tells us how they got together, and how you can do something similar in your town.
“I figured we could get something going within a year. Boy, were we wrong. As we grappled with what was actually involved in making our dreams real, we spent two years climbing the solar power learning curve, and it was steep.
First of all, we hit the reality that solar power is relatively expensive, costing up to a third more than carbon-based energy sources. If we were going to do something, we had to figure out how to cut every cost possible. Second, the economies of scale that we envisioned simply don’t exist in residential solar installations; at least that’s what veteran solar installers around Washington told us. Third, the practical realities of going solar in a cost-effective way turned out to be fiendishly complex set of interrelated problems.
We learned, for example, that holding down the price of solar power depended, in part, on the implementation of solar-friendly practices such as “net metering” and “smart metering” by our local utility, the Potomac Electric Power Company, otherwise known as Pepco. But Pepco’s willingness to do right by solar customers depended on the views of the local Public Service Commission (PSC), a powerful but opaque body that moved with the speed and friendliness of a glacier. The PSC, in turn, looked for guidance from the D.C. City Council, a dozen elected officials from a majority African-American city, who were hearing complaints that a previous solar rebate program amounted to a handout to wealthy whites.
Amidst this welter of conflicting forces, our beautiful but innocent idea of neighborhood solar power was not enough. We needed expertise to give our project credibility with decision makers who could deliver real financial benefits for our members. So we scaled back our ambitions and started with smaller steps. We touted basic energy-efficiency measures to our members as the prerequisite for going solar. (Drafty windows and outdated appliances waste solar energy just as fast as they waste carbon energy!) We arranged for discounted home energy audits for our members. We bought compact fluorescent bulbs wholesale and sold them at cost to Coop members. And we started networking with City Council aides, national green groups, PSC members, and industry experts seeking advice about how to make solar power cheaper and more accessible.”
Oh my. Brooklyn’s night sky will be shimmering tomorrow from the combined fuzzy yellow and peach-colored summer vibes being sent out by Woods, Ducktails and Dungen playing at The Bell House in Gowanus. You’d better cancel this weekend’s beach vacation/camping trip/outdoor frolicking and high-tail it over there before you miss it!
Friday, August 14th – 8PM The Bell House 149 7th Street / Brooklyn, NY 11215 $15 (Bring an Animal Collective ticket stub and get in for $10!)
The first time I saw MV + EE was at the Arthurdesh benefit at 3A.M., where those who had stayed til the end shuffled out of the room visibly stunned after their full-on raw psychedelic performance. If you’re in Fishtown this weekend, take the advice of Baby Huey and get mellow one more time… then go to Kung-fu Necktie, where Matt Valentine and Erika Elder will surely proceed to blow your lid.
Sunday, April 26th, 8PM Kung-fu Necktie 1248 North Front Street / Philadelphia, PA 19122 $10
Just a few years ago, it seemed like the only work by filmmaker, photographer and installation artist Chris Marker you could lay your hands on were VHS tapes of his seminal film La Jetee and, if you were lucky, his equally awesome film essay San Soleil and maybe his film-letter to the late Russian filmmaker Alexander Medvedkin, The Last Bolshevik. The two former films were issued a year or two ago by Criterion as single disc, and then, suddenly, a flood of Marker’s work was become available just as he approaches his 88th birthday. Just in the past few months, the Wexner Center has issued (if I’m counting right) five more DVDs of Marker’s films as well as a several books and a couple of T-shirts (check out the pro-Obama shirt) and a gaggle of other stuff. His CD-ROM for MacIntosh computers, Immemory, has recently been reissued by Exact Change for more recent operating systems. And then, there’s his YouTube channel, demonstrating precisely how economical and direct his work can be. It’s overwhelming. Mercifully, there is a blog dedicated to all things Marker to help you keep tabs on the onslaught of material available by one of the sharpest minds in modern imagery, including the news that on Saturday May 16th, Marker (who does not grant interviews and does not disseminate photographs of him self) will give a live tour via his avatar of his gallery on Second Life and answer questions from two curators from the Harvard Film Archive.
Recently my friend Molly pared down her belongings, stored what she couldn’t carry with her, and left Brooklyn for the fields of rural Missouri to help in the construction of Factor e Farm. The goal of the young farmer scientists who run Factor e farm is to create a replicable, modern, independent off-the-grid farming community or “global village.” So far they are constructing buildings with clay bricks made of the local soil, planting orchards and perennial vegetables, farming local fish, collecting rain water to drink, generating their own electricity from waste vegetable oil and solar power, and working towards creating a “Global Village Construction Set” that would list all the tools necessary to replicate their system once it is totally self sufficient.
The mind-blowing thing about this project is that anybody who wants to start a similar community can do so virtually for free on the outskirts of many cities in the United States. Right now, arable land is cheap. Hell, I heard that in North Dakota they are giving away land to anybody who wants it. I say to all those who are actually taking up this opportunity, all the power to you. The idea is, if you can generate the money to create the system, you will reap the benefits forever. This quote from Factor e farm pretty much sums up their vision:
We are after the creation of new society, one which has learned from the past and moves forward with ancient wisdom and modern technology.
I will be following the progress of this project as Molly sends updates from the farm. You can follow her blog posts here. Learn more about their cost-effective farming methods and plans for the future of the farm in this video:
Exhibition opening at Dabora, Brooklyn, NYC ( Map ) on Saturday, March 14th, 8pm-11pm. Complimentary absinthe so arrive early! Pam says “If you can’t make it to the opening, I will be at the gallery most weekends, so be sure to stop in and say hello. The artwork is stunning, and Dabora is a gallery like no other, with its opulent, gothic interior. Divine.”
Dabora Gallery and Phantasmaphile‘s Pam Grossman are proud to usher in the spring season with the group show “Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists,” on view from March 14th through April 12th, 2009.
In literal terms, a fata morgana is a mirage or illusion, a waking reverie, a shimmering of the mind. Named for the enchantress Morgan le Fay, these tricks of perception conjure up a sense of glimpsing into another world, whether it be the expanses of an ethereal terrain, or the twilit depths of the psyche. The artists of “Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists” deftly utilize the semiotics of mysticism, fantasy, and the subconscious in their work, thereby guiding the viewer through heretofore uncharted realms – alternately shadowy or luminous, but always inventive.
Yoko Ono recently said, “I think all women are witches, in the sense that a witch is a magical being.” Each artist in this show is a sorceress in her own right. Endowed with fecund imaginations and masterful craftsmanship, their work transforms the viewer: we become spellbound, bearing witness to their attempts to reconcile the desire for a diurnal beauty with the lure of a lush and riotous inner wilderness. The fantastical is counterpoint to the ferocious, the monstrous to the marvelous. Allusions to myth and metamorphosis abound, as these works channel their own heroine spirits and tell their own secret tales. Here, frame is magic threshold, bidding us to take a breath, and cross over.
A quite incredible 360º panorama by Australian photographer Peter Murphy of an equally incredible mirror room, Fireflies on the Water, by the great Yayoi Kusama. Anyone in Sydney, Australia, can see this work at the Museum of Contemporary Art until June 8th. For the rest of us, this panorama is the next best thing.
But in the unlikely event that anyone ever holds a gun to my head and demands to know, “who is your favorite musician in the city?” I’ve got my answer all ready: Susan Alcorn.
Alcorn is a Texas native who plays the pedal steel guitar. The journey from playing country and bluegrass and straight jazz to her mature style has aided by advice from Muddy Waters and Paul Bley. The wide-open ears, keen intellect, emotional sensitivity and rigorously-honed skill as a player that she has developed has brought her into collaborations with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Kowald, Eugene Chadbourne and Jandek among many others. But it’s her solo work as a composer, improviser and interpreter of songs, which are more aching sequences and clusters of crystaline sounds than tunes, that always blows me away.
With clarity and precision and a gift for invoking sweeping landscapes, Alcorn is able to perform arrangements of Curtis Mayfield or Olivier Messiaen highlighting both their structural and spiritual aspects simultaneously and then attacking the strings zen-slap-loud or hovering stained-glass mobiles of sound-clouds. Dreamy stuff, full of emotion and one of the more Universalist twists on Americana.
The way to introduce yourself to her work is to see her live and solo, if possible, or to track down a copy of her utterly superlative LP And I Await the Resurrection of the Pedal Steel Guitar, released by Olde English Spelling Bee a couple years ago (or, if you can, her Curandera CDR). But until she and her work are more readily available to more households, this short group of video excerpts from a solo concert in Baltimore earlier this month where she presented a musical autobiography will act as a sampler of her sound palate, if not the emotional arc, of her performances.