"My Conversation With the Secret Service" by IAN SVENONIUS (Arthur No. 15/March 2005)

Originally published in Arthur No. 15 (March 2005)

A Conversation With the Secret Service
Was I being investigated as a threat to the president—or as a potential hire for a sinister job?

By Ian Svenonius

I have a suspicion that the current president might be assassinated. How do I know? I was interviewed for it.

About a year and a half ago, I took a call from people who identified themselves as the Secret Service. They expressed an urgent desire to see me, which in their highly considered psycho-babble, was made to sound like a choiceless inevitability.

On the demand for an explanation, the agent, a woman, told me that they had intercepted an email which seemed to implicate me in a plot to harm the POTUS: that is, the President Of The United States.

I immediately surmised that her concern was related to a mass mailing I’d written in beat-prose to attract attendees to a night of record playing at a local club, called “Spilt Milk.” Thinking that my audience would enjoy the same amusements as myself, I had perhaps contained some reference to a dispatched leader of the free world.

The Secret Service’s responsibility was to check out every instance of a threat, no matter how far-fetched.

“We need you to come down to the office. It’s extremely important,” the woman insisted.

To get the initial sale, through, they used a female agent, knowing via a psychological assessment based on telephone and computer surveillance, that this would seem less threatening to me. Like a talented telemarketer, she was gentle but firmly coercive. In fact, the two professions are related, as the FBI and CIA’s inquisition techniques are lifted straight from Nelson Rockefeller’s bible for salesmen, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and feature the exact same mind control tricks. Of course, telemarketers don’t have the weight of state security at their disposal.

“I can’t come down, I’m really busy,” I told her, though my inbred instinct was to obey.

“We’ll come to your house, then,” she insisted, another offer I evaded.

After much back and forth, I agreed to meet “them,” the Secret Service agents, at a French bistro not far from my house. It seemed less likely that they’d kill or abduct me in a public setting.
Before I left my home, I alerted a few people as to the nature of my rendezvous and they agreed to witness the interrogation from afar, unannounced.

When I arrived, the officers were sitting in the outside cafe section under a sun umbrella which said “CHIMAY.” One was the woman I had spoken with on the telephone and she was accompanied by a man in a lowslung baseball cap with some rugged facial growth.

They looked drab and angry, respectively.

As the woman agent clasped the evidence and sat businesslike, her partner assumed the “bad cop” persona, searching me like a berserker and then scowling fiercely through the duration of the meeting. The implication was clear; if he were let off his chain, he would make quick work of me for god and country.

The purpose of this choreographed psycho-ballet is of course to draw the detainee into the maternal arms of the good cop so as to escape the paternal bad cop figure’s wrath. This psy-op cliche was immediately transparent, but it still worked; psychological reflex is at least as dependable as the blood-and-guts kind.

Meanwhile, my own spy witnesses had taken their anonymous positions, taking snapshots innocuously in case I were later dangled from a helicopter by these freak thugs.

When the waiter came by, I ordered a latte.

The mama character drew the offending email from a folder dramatically, like it was a bad report card. She read it aloud, slowly and haltingly as if translating from hieroglyphs.

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“Thus Sprach Peatzches”: Ian Svenonius interviews Peaches (Arthur, 2002)

Originally published in Arthur No. 1 (October 2002)

Thus Sprach Peatzches
Live from a Berlin beergarden: it’s the crotchtastic techno-dynamo Peaches, on the phone with the intrepid Ian Svenonius.

She rescues rock ‘n’ roll from its doldrums and self referential morass; she lassoes in the lost tribes and constructs for them a common language. She builds an Ark for escape from the downpour of vengeful judgment on a rock world damned for its irrelevance—but unlike Noah, she doesn’t discriminate against homosexuals. She straddles paradox with legs stretched across the sea of contradiction; legs which emanate from the crotch emblazoned totemistically on her breakthrough underground hit punk rock disco album Teaches of Peaches. She is the ferocious rockin’ techno dynamo Peaches.

For those poor souls living under a rock, Peaches has led the way for the most exciting underground Rock N Roll trend going; the feminist hip-hop/techno/ Punk Rock melange which has captured the imagination of artists everywhere. Her album, pulsing at better discos everywhere, was composed and played entirely by her with the help of a Roland MC 505 Groovebox which she calls her ‘MC5.’

Peaches originates from Canada, a country stuck halfway between US commercial vulgarity and old world conservatism. While providing refuge for expatriate artists Rick James and Funkadelic during Vietnam, Toronto was too comfortable to spawn the insatiable rock n roll animals which haunted the desolate southern shores of Michigan. Why and how then was Peaches chosen to be the innovating vessel for ‘electro-clash,’ the marriage of forms which is being hailed as a rock n roll revolution?

Stan Lee theorizes: “Perhaps, in a freakish confluence of college radio signals, the music of the Stooges and DJ Assault were combined in a piece of crystalline mist which floated from Detroit across the frozen waste of Lake Erie. Maybe this bit of matter entered Peaches’ brain through her earhole and transformed her into the inspired, Frankenstein synthesis of the two encapsulated artists who would meld the primal urge of rock ’n’ roll with the new technology of software and itty bitty circuitry…”

Whatever the case, Peaches would soon boast autonomy through the fusion and mastery of these formerly opposed forms, but like a hybrid mutant, she would be stronger than either. Peaches wouldn’t work in the derivative manner of the usual rocker but neither would she be condemned to the computer coldness which would dog so many of her electro-enabled peers. Live, with her dynamism and assuredness, she came to resemble a young Tom Jones.

Peaches makes her home in Berlin. Appropriately, the city is a symbol for liberation and conquest. It stood for western decadence within Stalinist sparta; for metropolitan menshevism against Hitler’s bucolic Bavaria, for Spartacists and Dadaists in the midst of Prussian autocratic militancy. The gateway either to western decadence or to Slavic exoticism. The Berlinese tradition of resistance and conflict is woven within Peaches’ music but is now aimed against the repression and hypocrite morality of her bourgeois nemesis.

Rock and Techno. America and Europe. East and West. Past and Future. Peaches straddles these worlds and contradictions with ease and grace; a template for artistry, even a candidate for cloning; but woe/whoa to the scientist who attempts a scraping, for Peaches is a wildcat dynamo live, like perhaps nothing you’ve seen. I talked to Peaches from a biergarten in Berlin as she enjoyed a summer Wheat Beer with a bit of lemon. She sat with her proteges Electrocute enjoying a brief vacation from her fairy tale life of constant touring and festival performances.

I was concerned that she wasn’t capitalizing on her pioneer status within the “electro” movement which she’s done so much to instigate into being…With her killer debut Teaches already two years old, the attention deficit will forget their debt to her….remarkably, she doesn’t care.

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ARTHUR'S ASTROLOGY by Ian Svenonius (Arthur 10/May 2004)

by Ian Svenonius

first published in Arthur No. 10 (May 2004)

Once, Man looked on the natural world for his metaphors and archetypes… your people were dubbed ‘the ram’ for that animal’s stubborn ferocity. Today the Ram is nearly extinct, an abstraction to the modern techno-child. People are alienated from “nature”; most couldn’t tell you what a ram was, let alone its characteristics. Because astrology, like all other things, must change with the times, you are now Aries—“The Ram”—but named after the pick-up truck by Dodge, hailed by its adherents as “Ram Tough.” This means your astrological qualities now include:
1) Whopping big four-way disc brakes for much better stopping power
2) A frame with hydroformed parts for less vibration
3) A more friendly interior, with more storage space and facilities for child seats and extra passengers
4) Four new grilles, one for each body style, the most muscular going with the Sport model
5) Another 40 horsepower in the base V6 as a result of the swap from the 318-based 3.9 liter to the much more modern 4.7-based 3.7 liter engine. Congratulations!

“The Bull.” You’ve ruled the roost for a while now, epitomizing toughness, rutting pompously about and snorting at those who defy you. Unfortunately, due to newly perfected cloning techniques, you’ve been rendered redundant—there is no need for the bull anymore. Your sperm is irrelevant; they’ve got Elsa’s uber-bovine DNA in the lab. Soon, there will be no Taurus astrological column, because there will be no bull. You will be a picture on the Sierra Club’s wall, toasted by donors at environmentalist fund raisers, your name accompanied by tremulous piano plonking. As everyone relates their stories, praising your noble character, only I will have the guts to say you were an asshole.

They say that twins often dress the same, act the same and even can use telepathy to communicate with each other. Can you please use that special power to tell what’s-his-face to shut the hell up?

As a Cancer, you have a deeply poetic sense which is integrated with a mild form of Tourette’s: You always say something brilliant, yet offensive in public. This leaves a tangled web of wounds and shaken pride in your wake. You are usually oblivious to the carnage, focusing instead on the tiniest problem of your own. This works out fine though, as you surround yourself with masochists who await your next acrid pronouncement with barely disguised glee. Your tiny problems are enshrined by these followers and tended in a garden as their own. These maladies never need disappear, therefore, but can be revisited during assigned “periods of nostalgia.”

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Hey Leo! The Army has got great benefits and college opportunities. You just have to kill some people. Yes, you could get college money by killing people other ways; being a “hit-man” or murdering the rich, but these options would be against the law and, have you considered the logistics? Trying to figure out a dead man’s bank card number? When you join the Army, all killing you do is legal AND counts toward college credits. ARMY: “It sure beats trying to figure out some dead guy’s PIN number.”

The time you spend on the toilet is legendary. Here is a ballad written around this epic rite: “The time you spend on the toilet seat is certainly no mean feat if you had a bed in there I’d think it’s where you sleep. When I pass the door I hear the moans and innutterable sounds of a soul left hanging before god as his best work drowns.”

If Libra were a car, it would be a classy little number, not vulgar but with an engine that meant business. If Libra were a film, it would be foreign, but with a sense of humor—not inscrutable. If Libra were a food, it would be a pasta primavera or something else elegant but suitable for a cafe and with a touch of freshness. Unfortunately, Libra is a person and they are absolutely insufferable.

Some of your subjects seem to suddenly realize they are without what you might call “complete autonomy.” They realize their actions have been guided as from enormous strings from on high, and that you hold the strings. Only, there are no strings. Just a series of mnemonic symbols and repetition-induced brain control as learned via an operative from the CIA. Soothe their fears. Tell them that they’re on a “secret operation,” that brainwashing is just “another kind of cleaning.” People wash their hands—don’t they?

The great Sagittarian martyrs, Jimi, Jim and Janis, all died from wretched excess. They are admired for their art, but imitated for their bachannalian imbibements; every night young acolytes strive to ingest as much as they did, in deferent homage. The poseurs! They think it’s a matter of choice. They don’t understand that it’s a kind of a curse to be Saggittarius, “the patron saint of consumerism.” It gets tiresome embodying the culture’s endless pursuit of youth, sensation and desire, living as the market’s role model. There can be no rest for you though, this is your destiny. Show these tourists how to “super size” their order!

You are toughest, when it comes down to it. Your resolve always trumps everyone else’s fancy plans. When things get tough, remember the Capricorn Stalin against the Nazis; he could not be defeated! The Capricorn Mao against the imperialist running dogs—“sometimes a retreat can ultimately be an advance”! These are the examples of dogged resistance in the face of almost absolute negative odds you must recall when things seem hopeless. Just don’t think about the Capricorn Nixon, who got set up by his own party with “Watergate.” Ouch! Or Howard Hughes who flopped with that “Spruce Goose” and then became a weird recluse and CIA asset. Wotta loser. Or Bautista…his whole army beaten by twelve guys in the jungle. Don’t think about those Capricorns though; focus on the winners!

You are a spoiled sultan splayed out in the sun, eating “dolmas” or grape leaves. You’ve handpicked the eunuchs and the harem and you’re ready to ravage the latter but you, being “Aquarius,” want to be evenhanded. You will spread your sensual generosity evenly among your sexual slaves without regard to their gender or lack thereof. Bravo! Eunuchs need love too.

You are the fish. Few people realize that we are living through the “fish holocaust” right now. That, because of people’s faddish proclivity for sushi and fish in general, combined with the terrifying efficiency of modern fishing trawlers, your kind don’t stand a sporting chance anymore in the wild. To combat your complete eradication in fact, you must enlist the help of the sleeping Leviathan which lies nesting on the floor of the Atlantic. This thing is a monstrous creature, it’s exact size can’t be speculated, but it is quite beyond imagination. The KGB and the NSA are aware of its existence but no one dare speak its name, because a slight tumult on its part would send tidal waves crashing absolute ruin onto “civilization.” Your mission must be to awaken the beast and destroy mankind. The problem is simple logistics. As it is, fish are stratified by level; this is not unlike humanity with their class system, but with fish it is quite literal. Different fish at different levels rarely communicate with one another or even see each other. The lowest fish, the ancient sturgeon and prehistoric glowing fish must be your messenger. The problem is: they don’t understand the gravity of the situation, being so far away, near the bottom and removed from the slaughter of their brethren. Therefore, you must show them this astrology column! Subscribe them to ARTHUR. I will be your messenger!

Ian Svenonius is vocalist for Weird War, whose latest album is If You Can’t Beat Em, Bite Em.

ARTHUR'S ASTROLOGY by Ian Svenonius (Arthur 9/Mar 2004)

by Ian Svenonius

first published in Arthur No. 9 (Mar. 2004)

Question: Why are you, an air sign, “the water bearer”? Answer: Air “bears” water during rain, I suppose. A drag… no one likes rain. Except for Ronnie Specter, who enjoyed “Walking in the Rain.” This was probably because the umbrella provided anonymity and she was embarrassed to be going out with a psychopath like Phil Specter. I guess John Lennon professed that he liked the rain too, in the Beatles song “Rain.” And… Yoko Ono is an Aquarius! Wow… Astrology is true.

Pisces is the Fish. Fish supposedly developed before mammals in the primordial muck and then slowly clambered onto land in the form of tadpole-type creatures which eventually grew legs and started slithering about until they developed into “man” who, through the cumulative labor of hundreds of thousands of years, created what we know as “modern civilization.” Pisces: I just wanted to say that, through that entire time and all through those changes, I think it’s awesome that you stuck to your guns and stayed a fish!

The Ram. In popular American songcraft of the twentieth century there is a mythical creature evoked, called Rama-Llama; half Ram and half Llama. This is, for a particular sect, the spiritual rebuttal to the Buddhist’s head honcho, the “Dolly Llama,” who is the merged progeny of a llama and a kind of push cart. The Rama-Llama sect is called “Aries.” A trivial part of the world’s population, I’m happy to note. To the Aries: playtime is over. Stop trying to convert the world to your personal vision of Shangri La. Who but you would feel entitled to poison the water supply? Congratulations anyway, it’s more than anyone ever thought you would achieve. Maybe all that acid will free our minds and end the war.

The Bull. There is a legend of a bull in a “China Shop.” The bull charges about the china shop and destroys precious commodities therein, which can’t withstand his legendary girth. This is supposed to illustrate the clumsiness of your breed in gentile and rarified circumstance. It is evoked usually as an insult, but perhaps it is an allegory. Maybe the “shop” is capitalist or colonial China and you are the peasant army, smashing it to pieces under the guidance of Mao! And maybe this legend is just another insipid bourgeois slight against revolutionary movements.

You are, at times, tautological and inane. When you speak, the world feels like a character from Edgar Allen Poe: they can’t believe the thoughts that creep into their minds! Do you see them reaching for their knives? As you speak, each word sounds like a deafening tom-tom drum in the jungle, being played by cannibals. They are hypnotized into a state of frenetic fear driven blood lust! For your own sake, maybe you should take a vow of silence for about a million years… Or at least until the cannibals are done eating.

You’re always whining about what’s on the TV. Well, most of the TVs I’ve seen were equipped with a knob that switched channels; even one to turn it off. Maybe you should go to some uncharted island where they don’t have soap and razors.

I guess your species must be going extinct cause you’re trying to procreate with an old dessert mix. In your imagination your genitals are crown jewels… best displayed on Liz Taylor’s bosom. In reality they’re like Nazi gold in a Swiss account: laundered, but with a sordid history.

You are always kneeling on beans and ruminating about matters spiritual and ontological. It’s OK; just tell god you were “researching” all that internet porn.

The Scales. You’ve been thinking about just closing up shop and shutting down for good. You feel that your sign hasn’t been given a fair shake. That maybe it was an afterthought, tacked onto the astrology wheel just for the sake of symmetry. You are the only sign which is an inanimate object for, example, while the other signs are wild animals or heroes or hybrid creatures out of myth. Cosmologically, you feel like the kid who was picked last for the team; just standing at the fence for eternity. Don’t worry though, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. When the inevitable nuclear holocaust occurs and the oxygen is pried from every living thing’s lips in a ghastly storm of fire and ash, non-breathing objects will have the only chance of surviving. Then you will have your day!

When you enter hell, there will be two doors. Behind the first, there is an IKEA and behind the other there is a mega mall featuring a Pannera, a Starbucks, a Crate & Barrel and other such shops. The doors will be marked accordingly, and I suppose your choice will be determined by what you’ll need to make your stay there most comfortable.

Though you are a centaur, you’ve really gotten into Brazilian-style hot-wax treatment on your entire lower half. So, instead of being half-horse, you’re more half-dinosaur. You should collaborate with Steven Spielberg, who loves dinosaurs and other creatures he can cast as enormous metaphorical phalluses. There’s apparently a lot of money in blockbusters and I think it would be better than running around with a bow in the woods trying to fornicate, but be warned: your character will probably be a metaphor for a penis.

The sea goat. You should be given an award, or made king of the world. I always thought you were just a poseur, a put-on, that you’d gotten your persona from watching some dumb Scorsese movie. But when you had your chef executed just for using cumin, I had to give you props. You are totally real.

About the astrologer: Ian Svenonius is the acting chairperson for the Rock N Roll Comintern and an auxiliary member of the group Weird War.

ARTHUR'S ASTROLOGY by Ian Svenonius (Arthur 8/Jan 2004)

by Ian Svenonius

first published in Arthur No. 8 (Jan. 2004)

Predestination; a concept older than free will and borne out by recent scientific elucidations on historical dialectics, genetics and chemical psychology. Each of us is caught in a tangled labyrinth of circumstance and cosmic programming, acting out our grotesque fate in an awful, ignorant manner.

The restless contractions of the astral bodies affect us in a profound way; each offhand movement of a planet can have enormous repercussions for humanity and our various client species, via magnetic fields, space dust and thoughtless lunar alignment. The moon can likewise be an irresponsible entity, tumbling through the sky carelessly, without regard to the tidal waves it may or may not cause. A correlation could be drawn to our own unthinking rearrangement of ant life or microscopic organism culture. This column is a transmission then, not only to the Arthur readers (who have star signs), but to the stars as well, an attempt to get them to understand that even their nonchalant actions have repercussions…

Your good taste and “attention to detail” is your cachet. Recently however, everyone seems to have good taste. It’s a veritable “Age of Capricorn” with the whole of society engaged in conspicuous collecting of obscurant minutiae. These poseurs are like a race of mushrooms who’ve blossomed overnight, and they’ve seemingly rendered you redundant. Or maybe not. Legend has it that there’s still a backwater region, somewhere in New Guinea, where no one knows about the particular labels and sub-trends which are your passion. Go there now and take your rightful place as their inscrutable aesthete.

You’re tired of the simplistic astrological characterization which has dogged you ever since the hippiexploitation musical Hair. You dug all the attention at the time, but now you’d like to dissociate yourself from those fabulous furry freaks of yesteryear. You’ve found yourself pigeonholed; you find it hard getting jobs as a butcher or a Pentagon military contractor, for example. It’s time for everyone to know that Aquarians aren’t just well-meaning free-thinkers living in schoolbuses and teepees. That nazis like Ronald Reagan and slaveowners like George Washington were Aquarians too. That Aquarians are tough mothers like Rollins and rabble rousers like John “Rotten.” And that if this millennium is indeed the “Age of Aquarius,” it’s a bloody epoch featuring war and nuclear proliferation; not just food co-ops. Your work in expanding social consciousness about Aquarius’ versatility is absolutely crucial for the people of your sign.

You are the sign of the fish. Fish travel in large groups, called “schools,” but you hate school, which makes you an unusual fish; a romantic, loner, James Dean-style fish. Part of a new “me generation” in the fish world, wary of social conventions—such as egg laying and gill use—and intent on individual freedom. It’s a very American outlook and one which many in the fish world resent. They see your insistent individuality as selfish and bad for the survival of the species, especially if you represent a turning point in evolution. You on the other hand, see them as conformist drones, bound by stifling tradition. Make a civic gesture toward them to allay their fear; tell them you haven’t given up on school altogether, you’re just taking a year off to find yourself.

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ARTHUR’S ASTROLOGY by Ian Svenonius (Arthur, Nov. 2003)

first published in Arthur No. 7 (Nov. 2003)

by Ian Svenonius

Predestination; a concept older than free will and borne out by recent scientific elucidations on historical dialectics, genetics and chemical psychology. Each of us is caught in a tangled labyrinth of circumstance and cosmic programming, acting out our grotesque fate in an awful, ignorant manner. The restless contractions of the astral bodies affect us in a profound way; each offhand movement of a planet can have enormous repercussions for humanity and our various client species, via magnetic fields, space dust and thoughtless lunar alignment. The moon can likewise be an irresponsible entity, tumbling through the sky carelessly, without regard to the tidal waves it may or may not cause. A correlation could be drawn to our own unthinking rearrangement of ant life or microscopic organism culture. This column is a transmission then, not only to the Arthur readers (who have star signs), but to the stars as well, an attempt to get them to understand that even their nonchalant actions have repercussions…

You are armed with scales in the one hand, and a sword of justice in the other. Also, you’re blindfolded. Everyone you meet is weighed and then sliced accordingly. You often slice the wrong portion because of this strange voluntary eye impairment. As with many handicapped people though, your other senses have become hyper-attuned. This means that, while justice is blind, it can smell and hear very well. According to Marshall McLuhan, this puts you at odds with society because, since the introduction of the Guttenberg press, people are much more sight-reliant now than in previous historical epochs. Due to your alienation from the hegemonic eye-based world, you enact harsher sentences than you normally would. But that’s okay; they deserve it. Keep on slicin’!

You’re proud of your designation as the cosmological fornicator; and you are good…maybe too good. People are starting to resent you. Didn’t you know that God hates sex? This month take a self-imposed dry spell; go to your pal the Dalai Lama’s house and mow the lawn or read a book. You’re starting to smell the place up.

You like to give people rides on your stout equestrian torso. Recently though you’ve been fined for defecating on the sidewalk. The double standard is clear; while the mounted police are allowed to spread feces everywhere, you and your beast man brethren are fined and flogged. Though this oppression is maddening, remember that these modern day chevaliers are mere jealous pretenders while you, Sagittarius, are the real thing. They attempt animal fusion through fancy gear but at the end of the day (in the words of Conway Twitty) “it’s only make believe.” Otherwise they would understand the difficulty of straddling a toilet with an ungainly horse bottom.

Recently you’ve taken time off from fondling your impeccable record collection and turned your gaze outward. Like fellow sea goats Nixon, Stalin and Mao, you’re compelled to commit mass murder in the name of some political theory. The same idealism unites the two seemingly disparate urges of course; perfectionism can be a harsh taskmaster. Remember: just as you should allow that late-era Fleetwood Mac album to sit in your bin without fear of a purge, so you must forgive humankind of their foibles and let them live.

You’re angry and rightly so. What’s the use of being the water bearer when everyone has their own personal bottles of the substance these days? In fact, aspersions have been cast as to the quality of your particular stock. Apparently it’s not from a “reputable enough” source. Don’t worry though, this poseur shit will die and you’ll be there with the water when no one else has it anymore. And they won’t miss you til that well runs dry. But in the meantime it seems important to expand your repertoire. Perhaps it’s time to bear something else for awhile, like pizza or insulin.

You are a fish or a pair of fish swimming toward one another. The fish bowl is a drag for the likes of you, the fishbowl inhabitant. The redundancy of the route and the ammonia levels in the water are getting you down. Plus the fact that you eat those flakes made of ground-up fish entrails and worse. That’s pretty degrading. In the old days, before fish food, people just fed their fish leftovers, such as the crust of a peanut butter sandwich or an old lasagna. Due to the bogus animal food industry though, you have this sicko soilent green food factory crap. You’ve gotta break out of that bowl and go get a fish filet.

You’ve sliced through the enemy shield wall and you’re covered with their chopped up arms and legs. Now it’s time to burn the church and take all the precious items back home to your cold and brutal kingdom. But you’re tired of this life of conflict. You want to settle down and maybe colonize this burned up battleground. Do it! Follow that dream! These people can be your new subjects. But don’t betray Odin to the Christian gods or he’ll turn his wrath on you.

You’re feeling smug. As though you’d figured it all out. But as usual you’ve turned a blind eye to the exploitation which has befallen your archetype/namesake. Did you know that in thousands of cowboy bars across America the bull’s backside’s likeness has been reproduced in mechanical form for riding in a latently erotic display? That grinning, self satisfied cow people are using your facsimile as an enormous crypto-vibrator? Isn’t that disgusting?

This month, strangle your twin in his sleep. she/he’s holding you back! You’re the real star and they’re not pulling their weight. Aren’t you sick of dragging that idiot around with you, while every good deed turns to naught due to their constant nagging and naysaying? Their doubt has wreaked enough havoc on your life! At least have him /her clean out their desk and leave the premises. And don’t listen to the tears; it hurts you as much as it hurts them.

Your big claw isn’t very good for doing fine tuned tasks such as drawing or splinter removal. Meanwhile your small claw isn’t good for scaring away predators. You’ve got a bad case of dyslexia and you keep getting confused with which claw to use. Also, people think you’re coy since you inadvertently walk sideways when they approach you.

You’re interested in changing your title. King/Queen of the jungle doesn’t speak to you, jungle inhabitants don’t pay taxes and besides, you’ve never even seen a jungle! Maybe you should rule a tony stretch of Manhattan or a monied subdivision in Maclean. You could be: “Queen of Central Park West” or “God of Fondlewood Court.”

You’re treating your inborn repression as a license to work with some unsavory elements like Opus Dei, The Vatican Bank and CIA-mafia types. If you don’t get with it, Jesus won’t give you a golden cookie when you die.

VENUS AND MARS: Ian Svenonius talks astrology

By Ian Svenonius

first published in Arthur No. 6 (Sept. 2003)

Predestination: a concept older than free will and borne out by recent scientific elucidations on historical dialectics, genetics and chemical psychology. Each of us is caught in a tangled labyrinth of circumstance and cosmic programming, acting out our grotesque fate in an awful, ignorant manner.

The restless contractions of the astral bodies affect us in a profound way; each offhand movement of a planet can have enormous repercussions for humanity and our various client species, via magnetic fields, space dust and thoughtless lunar alignment. The moon can likewise be an irresponsible entity, tumbling through the sky carelessly, without regard to the tidal waves it may or may not cause. A correlation could be drawn to our own unthinking rearrangement of ant life or microscopic organism culture. This column is a transmission then, not only to the Arthur readers (who have star signs), but to the stars as well, an attempt to get them to understand that even their nonchalant actions have repercussions…

Your sign has been seen by you as a prison cell, a life sentence, an inhabited hell on earth. At birth (or was it conception?) you mourned your fate, sensing destiny’s cruel joke on you. A quick survey confirmed that indeed, you were superior to everyone; you had no peers. You attempt to help the sheep with their painful inadequacy. Still, the burden of being an almost-alien talent/beauty/intellect is poignant, and typically leads to self-induced disfigurement (Michael Jackson) and/or willful mental retardation (Gene Simmons, Bruce Springsteen, Chrissie Hynde) so as to mollify the resentment of the flock.

As the perfect VIRGO, the key to overcoming this self-destructive pitch toward mediocrity is to ponder the twin bromides: “nobody’s perfect” and “practice makes perfect.” Though paradoxical, each venerable maxim is as correct as the other one (a=b). Seen as a simple arithmetic, one concludes from the computation of the two truisms “practice makes perfect” ( x2 = p) and “nobody’s perfect” (n=p) that x squared=n (practice makes nobody) meaning that 2/n=x (nobody divided by 2 equals practice) so x or practice=yob or don, which denote an English commoner and an Italian man of stature respectively and which also = p and so even the commoner is shown to be amongst the perfect, a revolutionary sentiment and a stop order to your own disgusting habit of self-denigration.

You are the Judge, your bizarre paradox held in the balance of your symbolic scales. A self-righteous gourmet, a fist-shaking hedonist; like an anointed emir whose finger foods and harem are presumed god given, you should be a target of outrage—but somehow, through cosmic arrangement, you’re charming and delightful. Stunning even. And above reproach. Because cosmology appointed your vile hypocrisy, it stands as a beacon to the impossibility of a common standard for all mankind. Therefore, like your astrological brethren, Nietzsche, Bolan, Bardot and Coltrane, you are absolved of a frail and petty nature. Your pious sanctimony actually shines a light toward mutual acceptance and you are encouraged to “keep on keepin’ on.”

You are magic when we are alone. The fluid extension of my own thoughts, our communication is as easy and lucid as a fevered dreamscape. But when others intrude, you become strange, distant, perverse and sometimes rude. I grow accustomed to meeting you only in your domain; you rule a dark grotto, the underworld, an interior place through which only two can travel. When circumstances become socialized and introduced into a casual commonality, you rebel, rend and destroy the self-satisfied banter of consensus. This disarming characteristic must now be utilized as a revolutionary weapon to awaken the culture from its fascist monologue. Inject your scorpion’s venom into the one-sided conversation and cause the pundits to wither!

You feel lost now; your man beast posture was feted in other eras but now has been deemed irrelevant by the moralistic arbiters who rule us. They have a new consumerist hedonism they are propagating and your animist and thoughtful rutting doesn’t fit their beer commercial scheme. Your philosophical meandering and polymorphous perversity have become marginalized as anti-social factors, leaving you to roam the shrinking forest with the displaced fauna. Don’t run into the road with the other critters though; you’ll end up roadkill like fellow centaurs Jim and Jimi and so many badgers and possums, driven to death by technocratic despotism. Stay in the woods now (remember M-26-7 in the Maestra or the VC; waiting is half the battle).

You have built a wonderful kingdom and yet you are not sated. It is your noble will to attain the highest perch, but when you get there, to the top of grand old Everest, you find it crowded with snowboarders and school groups. You must reconfigure your aims, this banal race is unedifying and already lost. It will lead you to the conclusion: “While you will never be the first to climb Mt. Everest, you could still be the first to explode it with a nuclear device.”

Your revolutionary fervor has always been mediated by an underlying conservatism which makes you popular at dinner parties. The balance is important, so as to ensure proper digestion. It’s time now to reverse the equation and underpin tradition with insurrection; the tradition of violent destruction a la red terror and Robespierre. This splendid flip-flop is what has rewarded Aquarians through history with the mantle of memorability…which is the bedrock of tradition after all.

It’s true the world is against you. Despite your amusing crankiness they want to wipe you out. It’s a stone age urge, to destroy what they can’t conceive of. Like a Confucian on Madison Avenue, you are despised. Tonight should be spent sharpening sticks and covering them in urine.

You are the eternal Warrior. You come from the land of ice and snow…where the hot winds blow. Your life has been tattooed by controversy because of a propensity to spring to arms and vengeance when others would mediate or passively burn. Reared in chainmail diapers, hacking with a rusty sword, the stars allotted you not a home, but a trench, encrusted with barbed wire. Even in victory, you were often feared and shunned. But now you are vindicated, because the sheet is torn off and the world is revealed to be in a constant state of violent struggle; classes, nations, races, genders perverted by the money god and wrapped in a state of vicious tumult. Your particular, unequaled passion is needed now like important Aries’ in the past (V. I. Lenin). You are not the problem, but the solution. You must rise to be… Overlord.

It’s difficult to be held up to such esteem. The namesake for your archetype; respected, feared and therefore slaughtered by a matador for the amusement of a crowd… A sense of this exploitive, patronizing theatre is what fuels your famous rage at the most mundane circumstance. But a rearrangement of perspective invites your mind to India where the Bull is revered and even sacred, an untouchable agent of harmony. An occasional trip to the sub continent via meditation will keep you balanced as you walk through the “china shop” of life.

You’ve always identified with the loser. It is the Gemini’s “twin” nature to see through the eyes of the hapless and ennobled sufferer (a la Morrissey and Ray Davies). This has graced you with a sympathetic manner which grants you access to the inner sanctums of the most exclusive backyards and basements. Yet, at a certain point, it’s no longer enough to commiserate with victimization. To identify with the loser predestines loss and you can no longer afford to lose. Losing means Camp X-ray or worse and eventual mass extinction for everything worthwhile. Read Mao’s VI. IMPERIALISM AND ALL REACTIONARIES ARE PAPER TIGERS for “winning” inspiration.

Your sidestepping style is the template for all future endeavors. With our linear mode of thinking discredited by the impending armageddon, we see that lateral movement is really the “way to go.” You must proselytize the fine points of this crustacean manner to those laboring in the illusory “race.”

Dear LEO,
Your mane is looking bedraggled of late as you see your “jungle kingdom” under new governance. Due to the deficit, the International Monetary Fund have been established as interim rulers and they’ve decided a rearrangement of the economy is in order. The jungle will have to be clear-cut so as to establish a “special zone” without labor laws for the textile industry. You can either stay and work on Tommy Hilfiger tank tops for nine cents a day or flee into the hills with your AK-47. I know you’ll make the right choice.

Ian Svenonius: facebook

TEN OUT OF 5: A comprehensive guide to the MC5’s recordings, for the curious, the enthusiast and the hopeless completist (Arthur, 2004)

photo: Leni Sinclair

This guide was originally published in Arthur No. 9 (March 2004) as one of a set of articles on the MC5 in that issue that ran over several pages (see two of the section’s two-page, 22×17-inch spreads above.)

A comprehensive guide to the MC5’s recordings, for the curious, the enthusiast and the hopeless completist by Seth “The Seth Man” Wimpfheimer, James Parker and Ian Svenonius

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CELEBRATION, profiled by Ian Svenonius (Arthur, 2007)

cover photography by Stacy Kranitz; cover design by Molly Frances & Mark Frohman

With all the hubbub around Celebration this week (see their exciting new future-vision here; check out the crystal-manifesting video for “Evergreen” here), we thought it’d be a good time to re-post frequent Arthur contributor Ian Svenonius’s cover feature profile/interview of the band published in Arthur No. 27 in late 2007. You know, we thought we’d posted it online already but boy were we wrong. Today, we make amends.


Sidenote: the ever brilliant Svenonius, pictured above and on track for a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2011, has a new rock n roll band—Chain and the Gang— and a new record, Down With Liberty … Up With Chains, out this spring. He’ll be co-headlining a two-month tour with the sainted Calvin Johnson and the Hive Dwellers band starting April 8. Details on all of this activity at the Chain and the Gang’s myface page.

Okay, here’s the story after the jump…

Not All Humans Are Bad
Field notes on the rock ‘n’ roll band Celebration by Ian Svenonius
Photography by Stacy Kranitz

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