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the beautiful destruction

Thursday, March 30, 2006


HBO screening room for Kazaam
Pictured: Photo retrieved after typing "HBO" into Google's image search.

Winter in Pennsylvania—which is extremely long and usually cold enough to cause your nipples to snap right off your chest—is the perfect time to hibernate, whether you're a bear or a human. However, since humans cannot sleep for six months straight like our dirty, picnic basket thieving, cave-dwelling counterparts, we (the citizens of Pennsylvania) are forced to remain wide awake during this bleak, neverending season. The aforementioned weather, as well as my current disgust with eking out a 9 to 5 existence, are the reasons I've become a shameless entertainment whore (no, I'm not stripping at middle-aged womens' 40th birthday parties or hustling my "wares" for cash to crackheads downtown, though now that I mention the idea...). What I mean to say is, television has been my salvation this winter.

While I've previously confessed my love for TiVO, trash TV, and countless films in my posts, I currently have a grievance to file with my new arch nemesis: HBO. That's right, the folks responsible for such addictive television as Carnivale, Deadwood, and The Wire have really shit the bed when it comes to providing quality movies (or as they calll them, "Feature Presentations"). You see, I pay for DirectTV to be piped into the living room of my fortified woodland compound. Honestly, I'm happy to pay for it. I've got access to some great channels like IFC, Sundance, Cartoon Network, and oodles of others. However, I also have eight different HBOs. EIGHT DIFFERENT HBOs! All of which suck extremely bad.

Last night, after working late, getting home late, and eating dinner late, I decided to unwind by watching a bit of tube (this was the more responsible alternative to drinking myself to sleep). After flipping channels aimlessly for about 10 minutes, I decided to see what HBO had to offer. Now, as many of you know, HBO often plays the same two or three movies in heavy rotation. For example, last month, Ocean's Twelve played more times than I urinate in a 30 day period. Sure, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, I see the appeal of the beautiful people. But come the fuck on, why am I paying $12 a month for HBO when I could have rented the cursed movie for $4?

Which leads me to the current source of my rage. While flipping through my multiple HBOs, I stumble across a movie where a bizarre-looking and rather forgettable child actor is being followed around by a goofy and oddly animated Shaquille O'Neal. What the fuck is this shit? I think to myself. So I click the "info" button on my remote, which tells me the following:

Kazaam (1996). Starring Shaquille O'Neal, Francis Capra, and Ally Walker. Being a lone young boy in the "hood" is dangerous and unpleasant. This is what Max experiences when he fools a gang of local toughs who cornered him at school. The gang finds out that the key he gave them is of no value in committing a robbery, and they chase him through the streets of his neighborhood, bent on revenge. He tries to escape by slipping into the open door of an old warehouse, but they follow him there, too. While running from them through aisles filled with all kinds of stuff, he bumps into an old boom box. By doing that, he manages to release Kazaam, a genie who has been held captive for thousands of years. In order to stay free, Kazaam must give Max three wishes.

This is un-fucking-believable. I'm watching a terrible movie with Shaquille O'Neal that is a decade old and possibly the worst piece of shit I've ever seen, and I'm paying for this? HBO really needs to look at the big picture here. Why go to the effort of investing in all of these great original series just to subsequently shit on top of it all by playing tripe like Kazaam? Please HBO, stop the madness.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Love is free and always will be

Christopher Cox is an art director and graphic designer whose currently doing some incredible work under the guise Changethethought™. I've had my eye on his work for some time now, always curious as to what his next step will be. I'm particularly digging the Black Sabbath t-shirt designs he recently did as well as his beautiful editorial illustrations for Rockpile magazine.

Mr. Cox recently updated his online portfolio, employing a rather stunning new design. Check it out by clicking here or the artwork above.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Ghislain Poirier

This month's installment of Freshbaked™—our monthly column reporting on all things fresh in music, art, culture, politics, and in between—comes on the eve of our one year anniversary. So, with that said, we've baked up an extra special edition for you, our loyal readers. We hope you enjoy.

The music of Ghislain Poirer (pictured above) is currently keeping me happy. The Montreal native pushes a beat-centered, cut and paste, sample-heavy sound, reminiscent of contemporaries like Prefuse 73, but with a whole new spin on things. Check out Poirier's latest LP, Breakupdown on Chocolate Industries when you have a chance. You won't be disappointed.

Artist David Choe, possibly best known for his surrealistic books Bruised Fruit and Slow Jams, always puts out beautiful and unorthodox work. Whether pencilling comic books, painting large installation pieces, or scrawling his larger than life spraypainted whales on California streets, Choe keeps things progressive and raw. If you haven't heard of this fella by now, you're missing out.

ARKITIP just dropped its latest installment, the Jose Parla issue.

Finally saw Capote this weekend and it really killed. I was enthralled by how interesting a time period this must have been, particularly as a writer. The birth of the nonfiction novel (i.e. In Cold Blood) and the technical difficulty of "fly-on-the-wall" reportage was truly brought to life with Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Capote.

Big Love, the new HBO original series centered around a Utah polygamist, is really holding my interest right now. It features an incredible ensemble cast: Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Harry Dean Stanton.

Well, that's all for this month's installment of Freshbaked™. Stay safe and enjoy the week.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston

Before I saw the pictures, and before I read the artist's statement, I figured this must be a hoax. A "pro-life" sculpture depicting Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug? You're fucking with me, right? No, I suppose this is serious—at least for artist Daniel Edwards it is.

While Britney Spears has become a punchline for late night television hosts' monologues, a steady paycheck for paparazzi (snapping photos of the pop star eating Ding Dongs, talking on her cell phone, and smoking fistfuls of cigarettes while driving), and an undying fixture in American pop culture, I'm not sure that justifies Edwards' decision to cast her in clay and proclaim her likeness be the silent spokeswoman for the pro-life movement. However, art is intended to encourage the expression of raw emotions and ideas, with each artist looking at life through a different, um, point-of-view, right? Also, as a personal aside, the look of this sculpture greatly echoes the work of art visionary Jeff Koons. But I'll leave that observation to the real art critics.

Titled “Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston,” Edwards' sculpture will be unveiled during an opening reception at Capla Kesting Fine Art in Brooklyn, New York on Friday April 7th. Described as an "idealized depiction of Britney in delivery," the sculpture shows the: "Natural aspects of Spears’ pregnancy, like lactiferous breasts and protruding naval, [complimenting] a posterior view that depicts widened hips for birthing and reveals the crowning of baby Sean’s head."

Yeesh, Edwards' even took the time to include a detail like "crowning" in the sculpture? This guy is intense (mainly with regards to details that will haunt viewers). Now, if he would have sculpted the face of Kevin Federline peeking out from Spears' tattered birth canal (as an homage to K-Fed's dependency on his pop star ladyfriend) and added a Big Gulp and pack of Parliaments clutched respectively in each of Spears' hands, I'd gladly endorse this pro-life pop culture clusterfuck.

Capla Kesting Fine Art
Press release about the sculpture

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Autograf  Peter Sutherland

Peter Sutherland’s photographs offer candid glimpses inside lives and subcultures that fascinate and intrigue us. Whether shadowing New York City graffiti artists for his book Autograf, or capturing the trials and tribulations of NYC bicycle messengers for the documentary film Pedal, Sutherland always has his ear to the street and heart in the game. We took a moment to chat with a jet-lagged Mr. Sutherland earlier this year, after his return from a trip that took him to Australia and New Zealand.

Q: Please introduce yourself and tell the folks at home what it is that you do.

Hi, I’m Peter Sutherland, I shoot photos and make films.

Q: What initially attracted you to photography?

I always thought photography was useless as a kid, but I really liked motion pictures— movies are what really attracted me to photography. I grew up watching skate and snowboarding tapes, and movies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I would watch the VHS tapes until they started to turn funny colors. As I got older, I started to make my own videos—that inspired me to do photos. The first thing I ever tried to photograph was a swarm of gnats in my mother’s front yard in Colorado, I got some alright shots back and that was enough for me to get really into it. I was about 22 years old then.

Q: You just got back from Australia. What was it like and what took you there?

Australia was amazing. I was there to do an exhibition of the Autograf book at Someday Gallery in Melbourne. Someday is owned by Perks and Mini, or PAM, a super talented creative duo. Check them out, they make amazing clothing, books, fine art, and toys. The people there were very cool because they had an enthusiasm that made me feel welcome. Melbourne feels like a very young town, lots of universities and creative people. I also got to do a little road trip around New Zealand with my girlfriend Diana. It’s funny, many of the tourist maps are based on Lord of the Rings—watch out for the Orcs or whatever.

Q: Your photography is very people-based. What attracts you to a particular subject ?

When I originally started shooting I didn’t often use people as subjects, I was more into depressing landscapes and situations. As I’ve gone on shooting for the last few years I notice myself shooting people all the time. I’ve realized that one thing I really like about photography is access to a subject; it’s the personal, documentary, and voyeuristic stuff that I get really into. I tend to do projects about youth culture stuff; I think the individuals within a group are the most fascinating part of the group. There are always people that shine and become influential. I guess I find them the most interesting and inspiring to photograph. I like the challenge of photographing people in a way that compliments them or what they do.

Autograf  Peter Sutherland

Q: Last year, you released the book Autograf—a collection of portraits of New York City graffiti artists. Can you tell us about the book and the experiences you had while putting it together?

I had many unforgettable experiences. I met over 50 active graffiti artists. I went out one night with a [graffiti] crew to photograph them painting and we were arrested as a group and [spent the night] in holding cells in Brooklyn. I ended up getting three days of community service after being found guilty of criminal mischief. Being locked up for 18 hours opened my eyes to how much freedom I have and how lucky we all are. It also gave me insight into what graf artists deal with. Now I appreciate graf that much more and I know how risky it really is.

Q: Are you planning a follow-up to Autograf?

I have several projects planned or in-progress—some I'll finish, some will get shelved. The next thing to come out will be a book/DVD package called Road Work. It is a documentary project about bicycle messengers. The photos were taken at the 2005 World Cycle Courier Championships here in NYC and the DVD is a film I made called Pedal. Pedal is a documentary I made about NYC bike messengers; it came out in 2002, played at some nice festivals, and aired on the Sundance Channel from 2002-2004. This will be the first time it will be released on DVD, so I’m excited.

Autograf  Peter Sutherland
Q: What has caused you to gravitate toward documenting subject matter like graffiti and outsider art?

I look at what I’m interested in naturally. I like heavy metal, rap, soccer, cycling, graf, and so on. I feel like I could take any of those interests and make some sort of visual project from them. For me it’s a way to get deeper into something I am already fascinated with. I grew up with very specialized interests—I got really into stuff, I think this is genetic. Both of my parents seem to have addictive personalities and I think they passed that on to me. My mom once told me about how she started smoking cigarettes—she no longer smokes. She bought a pack of cigs, sat down in a diner with some friends to eat, she smoked one cigarette, then she smoked 19 more in the same sitting and then she was a smoker for the next ten years. My brother is pretty focused also. I can see the addictive qualities in him. I think a lot of the youth culture and outsider art stuff is created by people with special interests and refined sensibilities about what they are doing and that is forever interesting.

Q: I know you also work in film--specifically documentary-style projects. When did you become involved with filmmaking?

I moved to NYC in 1998. I didn’t know anyone. I was bored and lonely, girlfriendless, and working at a sucky restaurant. I really needed something to put my energy into. Mini DV was a big craze then and everyone was talking about how you could make your own films with these new cameras. I bought a Sony VX 1000 and started shooting skateboarders downtown. I did that for about six months and then started becoming interested in filming other things, which led to me shooting docs.

Autograf; Peter Sutherland

Q: Before we finish, do you have any closing words or sage advice for our readers?

If you want to do something, it’s up to you to do it.

Autograf is currently available from powerHouse books. For further information about Peter Sutherland’s work, visit www.petersutherland.net.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Zachary Flagg Baldus

For this latest installment of Made You Look, I'll keep it brief. Zachary Flagg's work really speaks volumes, so there's not much need to ramble on and convince you to dig deeper. His illustration is truly something to behold. Check out the link to his website below, or just click the artwork above. There's oodles of beautiful work to peruse. Enjoy.

Zachary Flagg Baldus
Meathaus profile

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


With the one year anniversary of this blog fast approaching, I've decided to up the ante: High quality posts on a regular basis. Yes, I've said it before and faltered. However, I'm hoping to make good on the promise this time around. In anticipation of this anniversary, look for a collection of new material, greatest hits, and subtle design changes in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out this killer video* I stumbled across during my Internet travels. You have to watch this with the sound on.

*Sniped from Newstoday.


Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin
Pictured: Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin; circa 1980s.

For their last album (the rather disposable St. Anger), Metallica attempted to attract old school fans by saying they'd returned to their roots and by having longtime artistic collaborator Pushead handle illustration duties for the album sleeve. Personally, I had no faith that the album would be good. The sound was stripped down and boring, much like everything Bob Rock (the architect of Metallica's commercial success yet critical downfall) has produced for the band. And, for the most part, I've not cared about a single Metallica album since And Justice For All.

With that said, I must admit my interest was piqued when I read that Rick Rubin is being brought on board to produce the band's next album [click here for the article]. While Metallica's decision making and artistic skills have been hindered for more than a decade, this could very well be their smartest choice since kicking out guitarist Dave Mustaine.

Rubin's vision as a producer is impeccable. While his choice of artists is not always to my liking (i.e. System Of A Down, etc.), the signature sound that he coaxes from his artists is a feat I've always admired. His most critically-acclaimed work in recent years had been his collaboration with the late Johnny Cash. However, he's also produced albums that have been overlooked by the mainstream music press. Of most recent note was Saul Williams' Amethyst Rock Star, released on Rubin's own American Recordings label in 2001.

Let's just say I'm cautiously optimistic about this new pairing. I just wonder why it took Metallica so long to consider working with Rubin. Slayer has known that Rubin is the cat's pajamas for the past 20 years.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Mia and Maxx, relaxing
Pictured: Mia and Maxx, relaxing in the sun.

Michelle and I recently convened a family meeting, as we had some changes and official business to discuss with our feline housemates. We decided it would be best to meet in the living room, since the seating is to our liking and the choice of location would raise the least amount of suspicion. Maxx curled up in his plaid cat bed on the far chair, and Mia of course joined Michelle on the couch, tucked neatly on her lap. At first, both cats stared at the television, but soon realized we weren't looking to entertain ourselves with the usual medley of sitcoms and trash TV. No, they realized something else was afoot.

"We called this meeting to discuss some news we have," I said, my knee nervously bouncing up and down. Michelle looked at me, her eyebrows raised, urging me to continue. "You see, your mother and I have been, for some time now, talking about expanding the family." Mia's gray and white speckled ears perked up at this point, her head tilting slightly to one side. In contrast, Maxx began snoring, as he's usually not interested in family business and viewed this as yet another opportunity to nap. Undeterred by Maxx's poorly-timed laziness, however, I continued.

"We always said that we wanted to see Europe before starting a family, which we kind of did this past September when we went to Germany and The Netherlands. But, after we got back, your mother and I discussed having a baby." Mia, obviously distressed, lowered her head and rested her chin on Michelle's knee. At the same time, the pink of Maxx's nose popped up from behind the cushy plaid of his bed and he glared at me for a moment with a look of concern, then fell back asleep.

"Come on people, what's the matter with you, this is exciting news I'm trying to tell you. You'll soon have a [fleshy] little brother or sister!" Mia stood up, stretched, yawned, shook, and hopped down from the couch. Maxx stayed sleeping. Michelle and I just looked at each other.

"I thought they'd be more excited," I said.

"They are cats," Michelle said.

"Right, right."