In the days of analog videotape, gas lamps and horse-drawn carriages, before even dial-up internet had hit my household, musical recommendations came by way of schoolyard traded mix CD-Rs, older sibling hand-me-downs, and music video television.
The first CD I ever bought was a collection of James Bond theme songs, a faux pas swiftly rectified by my older brother with the handing over of a burned copy of The Slim Shady LP. Schoolyard recommendations of Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and Korn followed, from a friend who, despite this, remains one.
One good thing that can be said for those early days of musical discovery is the lack of stylistic prejudice, something that is lost almost instantly when the teen turf wars begin and genre allegiance must be pledged. It takes years of falling through staunch subculture affiliations one by one to get that freedom back, but with puberty and the development of actual, realized identities and self-esteem issues that it brings still on the distant horizon, every style was viable.
Us kids had yet to even encounter the term ‘genre’ and everything was just ‘music’. You could bang your head to ‘heavy’ bands like Linkin Park, rap along with Shady, dig Blink 182 and also secretly like that Celine Dion song from that chick’s movie you also secretly liked.
For “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott (August 20, 1966 – December 8, 2004)
Steve Collins was my primary school’s resident expert on all things parentally unapproved: punk rock, horror movies, Stephen King and Sid Vicious. The introductions he made for me in the sixth grade alone would have been enough of a negative influence as any one person could be expected to have, but after the post-primary school holiday he turned up on the first day of seventh grade sporting freshly shoulder-length hair, the ability to play a guitar and a Pantera shirt, and the downward spiral continued.
Every guy in our class went home that day and either dug out their parent’s or older sibling’s until-now ignored guitar or else begged their parents to buy them one, and as soon as they’d all mastered a few power chords Steve lost interest and moved on to the drums, which of course he was also a master at. From there it was on to singing (voice like a choirboy, naturally), and ultimately gangster rap, but back in those days Steve was the mascot metalhead, and if you caught him early enough in the morning before the teachers did, you’d have a new band to go home and check out based on whatever shirt he was wearing before he was forced to change.
The Victorian Blood Book was a part of Evelyn Waugh‘s personal collection of Victorian texts and manuscripts, and arguably the most curious – a scrapbook put together by a loving father for his daughter’s wedding day, this book is an amalgamation of engravings by William Blake, Christian and nature imagery, blood red ink and written text filling all the gaps in between. The text on the pages, hand written by its creator John Bingley Garland in 1854, has the tone of religious ranting, rife with Bible quotes, with phrases such as “Truth! springs out of the earth! and Righteousness! shall look down! from Heaven!” A lot of exclamation points, so many that when I read the text, I read it in the voices of the crazy bums I’ve met on the street trying to convert anyone and everyone to their visions of plague and fire. All I can say is, if my dad gave me something like this, I would question his sanity. But hey, this was the Victorian era, so this type of zealotry was as mainstream and normal as it is today in a Texas megachurch. The creepy element is in the blood dripping from everyone and everything on its pages. Hand drawn in red India ink are bleeding crosses, blood dripping from people, animals, plants and fruit. Literally everything is soaked in the blood of Christ. That’s it, I’m converted! You can look at scans of the full book here, plus take a look at some of my favorites below.
PostApoc, by Liz Worth.
Now or Never Publishing, 184 pages.
The underlying anxiety of disaster fiction always stems from the question, how would we survive if the engine of industrialized civilization were to irreparably break down? Toronto-based author Liz Worth’s debut novel PostApoc has at its core the nihilistic observation that, if there really were nothing left, then there would no longer be any reason to survive. As such, it’s appropriate that the story begins with an ending – albeit a complicated one – in which protagonist Ang undertakes a suicide pact with her inner circle of friends, then finds herself the sole survivor. In a world that increasingly resembles painter Hieronymus Bosch’s surreal vision of hell in The Garden of Earthly Delights, Ang finds that escapism is a healthy means of coping with the slow, nightmarish collapse of not only the world but of reality itself.
OK it’s time for me to get my fanboy/nerdbrain on! On sale now is a new book entitles Guillermo Del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections and Other Obsessions and I want it! I dig his movies, but his drawings are pretty fucking cool looking. It’s interesting to see how a character starts as a simple sketch and then becomes a creature that’s a part of your own imagination. You can get Guillermo Del Toro’s book here – plus check out the preview below!
What would happen if you saw a book filled with images that reminded you of what you saw when you were fried on acid? This is just the case when I first saw the pages of the Codex Seraphinianus. These are the kind of visuals that take over my imagination when I listen too much CAN. This bugged-out alternative universe was composed by Luigi Serafini in 1981, and it is full of otherworldly images that will have you scratching your head in awe. Wriiten in his own code language and with pictures reminiscent of a medieval medical text, this book looks like it should have been written centuries ago. But it also looks like a guide to the future, as if some 14th century scribe had a lucid dream of 4300 CE. Today CVLT Nation celebrates Codex Seraphinianus with a huge photo essay…I want this for my next b-day gift…hint hint to my wife if you are reading this!
In April 2011, Steve Ignorant’s “Last Supper” tour received a contentious welcome in San Francisco. Ignorant fronted the seminal English anarcho-punk band Crass until their disbandment in 1984, but decided to tour the group’s early material once more in 2011.
With no original members but himself, the decision pitted fans vehemently against each other. On one hand, the San Francisco date sold out. On the other, a cadre of indignant detractors in the city organized an opposing show nearby and protested what they perceived as Ignorant’s calculated scheming and exploitation of Crass’ identity. They stationed a school bus outside the concert venue Slim’s and encouraged attendees to defect and attend a guerrilla show organized down the street. In an age of music squabbles annexed to the Internet, the street-level tactics were refreshing, bold, and resembled the clever subversive activities Crass itself engaged in during the late-70s and early-80s.
Upon formation in 1977, Crass vowed to break up in 1984 as a nod to the Orwellian totalitarianism it likened to England under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The catalog numbers on Crass records even counted down to the year. Despite rising to prominence amongst the so-called “anarcho-punk” scene and arguably releasing its best work late in the band’s lifespan, Crass followed through with its promise. More so, Crass’ activities as an art collective, political pranksters, record label, and group of roommates living communally outside London at Dial House reflected the venom for authority, militarism, and consumerism asserted in lyrics and artwork.
Via. World’s Best Ever
Imagine a pill designed to redefine human motivation and endurance, ridding its taker from both fear and the need of sleep. Such a pill has been the subject of science fiction movies (don’t think I forgot about you, “Limitless”), but what if modern man actually created it? At one point in time, such a pill was believed to be invented, and the group it behind was so strongly convinced in its efficacity that mass production came within inches of happening.
Who else would be behind the creation of a substance that rendered its user both mindless and tireless all at once than the 20th century’s most reviled organization, the Nazis? The year was 1944 and the war, unbeknownst to the depraved experimenters, was nearing its end. It was common knowledge that troops all over the Western front had been using and abusing a synthetic amphetamine called Pervitine to keep them going through long days of combat – some say it not only stimulated the soldiers but transformed them into fearless heroes in the face of gunfire and chaos. But as the drug grew in popularity, so did the young soldier’s resistance to it. Supplies could barely keep up with demand and the Nazis knew they needed to come up with something stronger to give them that extra push against the advancing enemy.
GG Allin has always been an easy target. For most, he was just the nutball who ate his own shit. The world at large knew him only as a complete scumbag, a dirty secret, from the underbelly of society, here to steal your teenage daughter and burn your house down. Some of that is true, actually most it is true, but its only part of the GG Allin appeal. Whether complete rock n’ roll rebel, or master pitchman, the real appeal of Allin was what he represented. Prior to his untimely death, GG Allin was the closet thing we had to the living embodiment of uncontrolled rock excess.
In the civilized world, no matter how rebellious our rock stars seem, GG Allin was the next evolutionary step. He didn’t care, at least not about the common idea of musical debauchery. In music, art, or spoken word, Allin seemed to care mostly about taking the train off the rails. Everything needed to be a speeding Mack truck, with no brakes, rocketing towards a busload of orphans. However, as much as Allin exposed himself (see what I did there) we never got to step inside his brain and walk around for a while.
Cue My Prison Blues, a gorgeous new hardcover from Aggronautix. Within these pages, is something that brings us closer to the GG Allin thought process, than anything since the documentary Hated. Prison does strange things to a man, and Aggronautix has complied what it does to Allin. Through journal entries, drawings, letters to his brother Merle and a correspondence with John Wayne Gacy, My Prison Blues strips a lot of the legend away from Allin, and leaves us with just the man and his thoughts.
The comic 2000 AD in August of 1983 gave us Sláine Mac Roth, the feral warrior who fought ancient demons and demigods. The stories are all loosely based around Celtic mythology, so are full of primeval gore, guts and bloody axes. With of course strong elements of Robert E. Howard’s ‘Conan the Barbarian’ in there too. At the start of the series Sláine was a wanderer, banished from his tribe, the Sessair. He explored the Land of the Young (Irish Tír na nÓg) in the company of an unscrupulous dwarf called Ukko (Finnish for “old man”, and the name of the Finnish pagan Thunder god), fighting monsters and mercenaries in the fantasy tradition.
To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Sláine, 2000AD are running a brand new Slaine series, ‘The Book of Scars’. Which reunites the most well known original artists Simon Bisley, Mick McMahon, Clint Langley and Glen Fabry.