Monday, October 31, 2005

Rat Fink, Rag Mop, Rat Pfink


The Misfits are a straight ahead pleasure that hit me in the gut hard, solid and real like beer and friend chicken -- uncomplicated, simple, elegant, but no basis for a steady, healthy diet. They're great any time of year, but Halloween is pretty much the best time to feel their gothic punk vibes.

Check this tune out.

It's a simple, rocking chant -- pure fist-waving, lyrical minimalism.

Now check this tune out: "Rag Mop" by the Ames Brothers. The song was one of the greatest hits of 1950, sung by a swell bunch of fellows who were all a bunch of "outstanding athletes and good students" according to the link above. They look like this:


A pretty far cry from the Misfits' carefully cultivated personae as thug ghouls from beyond a grave in New Jersey...

But check this out: the Misfits version of that Ames Brothers tune is itself a reference to a fantastically crappy film called "Rat Pfink A Boo-Boo." Here is the theme and a few snippets of dialogue and music.

The film was made by a filmmaker named Ray Dennis Steckler who accidentally made some of the most twisted films you could ever hope to see. "Rat Pfink A Boo Boo" is imbued with a subtle yet inarguably crappy magic, like a low-priced, slow-release psychedelic that totally sucks and gives you a headache but makes you smile at the same time. The protagonist is a low-rent Batman who wears a ski mask, a cape, and his shorts on the outside of his pants as a costume. Here's a photo:


The film also features a character named Ko-Gar the gorilla. Although meant for children, the film is so accidentally twisted YET G-RATED that it is not safe for anyone under sixteen, or prone to troubling dreams.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I Couldn't Risk Strangling That Maniac Cabdriver

The cabbie ranted, sweat flying from his blubbering lips as he craned his neck around to steer. The crazy sonofabitch was accelerating us backwards down one of Sydney's main thoroughfares, utes and passersby blurring into an cursing metal rainbow. We careened and caromed down car-lined streets, a four-cylinder pinball headed fast for guardrail flippers and off the Bronte cliffs and into the ocean. There would be no multi-ball...That bad motherfucker was going to kill us both.

I couldn't risk strangling him, as his death throes would make him mash the gas even harder -- but we had to slow down somehow. Quickly, I flung both rear doors open to try and get a bit of wind resistance to slow us somewhat, buy me some time or maybe let me risk a leap out of the speeding car. The doors sparked and smashed against cars on the highway, each impact slowing us a little more until the doors ripped off. We plummeted into the ocean all the same.

I braced myself for the impact and swam like hell out of the sinking cab before the grill even made it below the surface. I could feel slippery, muscular mollusk flesh caressing my shoulders and legs as I splashed to shore, cold slimy arms with thousands of living nubs tickling the gooseflesh on my cold shoulders.

I felt heavy and imbalanced as I climbed out upon onto the rocks, panting with exertion and adrenaline. Something was definitely off. I staggered into the nearest Hungry Jack's to comport myself in the restroom, and that's where I saw it...

A giant, black starfish had settled itself onto my back and shoulder. Its thick arms pulsed with activity, ripples moving along the exposed nubs under the sides of its five arms. It must have weighed at least twenty pounds, but I couldn't feel a thing.

I marched straight into the nearest doctor's surgery, where the nurses shrieked. One of them tried to calmly explain that the starfish had latched itself onto my back very tightly, and was gobbling the flesh off of my back with its sharp beak. Its saliva, she explained, contained a powerful numbing agent that guaranteed I wouldn't feel a thing until its beak started to scrape bone.

I snatched up a can of spraypaint from a nearby cart and shook it menacingly, trying to threaten the vampiric mollusk off of me. No such luck. I sprayed and sprayed, covering the beast with a candy-apple metallic color, the paint and my blood commingling in rivulets as the vicious beast prised itself from my back and fell to the floor, writhing in agony.

Then I woke up, had a piss and stayed awake until three a.m. What could that have even meant?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Night Was Fierce and Fabulous


I'd never been to a drag show of any sort before last night, and in the glittery aftermath of the event, it's hard to recall what my expectations were for this year's Miss Adams-Morgan pageant. I can tell you this, though: those expectations were decimated by the screaming glittery pink reality of the night, a raucous, naughty and hilarious costume party that upstaged the actual drag pageant at every turn.

To the uninitiated, the Miss Adams-Morgan pageant is DC's largest private event, a party that began among a handful of close friends in the 80's and has since snowballed into a tremendous, thundering costume party that sells out every year.

It's closed to working media, but apparently there is no such ban on small-time bloggers like yours truly. I spent the night with two drinks in one hand and a camera in the other, and MAN did I get some pictures. Check these out, but you can see the whole set here.

According to the Washington Blade, the pageant is closed to media in order to protect attendees that might be in the closet or uncomfortable with being seen in drag. I respectfully disagree. I think it's fine to have a "no media" policy, but it seems a little ridiculous to say that it's protecting anyone. There were hundreds of people at this event, most of them carrying digital cameras. If you don't want the world to know how you look in drag, it's probably not a good idea to get geared up in front of a thousand people on Halloween. Also, one's presence at the event does not actually connote a certain sexuality. I'm straight, as are some of my friends and coworkers that attended-- and apart from a few well-meant but mistaken passes, there wasn't much mistaken identity there.

Here's the pageant winner, Miss Myrtle Beeyotch from South Carolina:

This guy dressed up as the ultimate all-American closeted hero:


Somehow all of his chest hairs were perfectly painted so that they didn't fuzz out the lines of his chest makeup at all. <--- I never thought I would write that sentence.

Condaleeza Rice was there, humping random butts in the audience all night in an all-too-real reenactment of the political buttfucking she's been helping to give the world for years:


It was incredibly difficult to get these candid photos. Not because the participants were resistant to being photographed...quite the opposite. Everybody was so stoked on being photographed that they kept leaping up to pose as soon as they sensed my camera:



The scene in the bathrooms was just nuts, no pun intended. My friend Danielle reported that the ladies' room was just chaos, people bumping into each other and drunkenly stumbling on their high heels. One queen shouted in a loud, bass voice: "Alright, which of you bitches is real, for God's sake!" The men's room was a total party, crowded and louder than the men's room at a WWF match but really friendly and hilarious. This guy definitely needed his time:


At one point things got a little hairy, though. Again, no puns intended. I was photographing a guy and his partner, in drag, and his rowdy partner started grabbing my package over my pants. I wasn't overly worried about it, because I knew he was just playing...I thought. Then he started yanking my shirt out of the way and jamming his big, calloused hand down the front of my pants! I quickly grabbed his wrist and squeezed it HARD, saying "Dude. I'm friendly, but I'm not on the team." His friends screamed with drink-spitting laughter.

This guy was my favorite queen of the evening, hands-down:


He looks like he's going to go clog up the toilet at the hairdresser's and then fix somebody's carburetor.

As a straight white guy, I am very rarely in the minority. While I was very definitely in the minority at the pageant, it was really no big deal at all...everyone was really welcoming, warm and friendly. The party was one of the most naughty, shocking and over-the top spectacles I've ever seen, and it kind of made me jealous.

I realized halfway through what an honor it was to be invited by my coworker. I'm new, and he doesn't know me that well...I could have showed up with a pistol in one hand and a Bible in the other, for all he knows about me. It's a rare and amazing person that gives some guy from work an all-access pass into their private life and lets the cards fall where they may.

If gay folks DID recruit like Pat Robertson says they do, they could have snapped up a bunch of people last night. The pageant was bound with this electric current of community, like everyone there was part of something special and strangely elegant, as though they got a joke that everyone outside the club could only smile at politely.

When straight people get together for a party, it's just a party. There's just some booze and some lame pretzels or something and everybody just hangs out feeling kind of awkward. Half the time I make up some excuse and check out early to go read at home...I couldn't bear to miss a second last night.

To this outsider at last night's pageant, gay life looked like an laugh-filled adventure, like a golden ticket into a subculture where everybody knows your name. The organizers and the participants put in lot of hard work and passion, and for one liquor-fueled, glitter-soaked night, they made it all look easy...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Did you know that when a caterpillar enters its chrysalis to become a butterfly, at one point its entire body is completely liquid? For real! It is still living and metabolizing, but the entire thing liquefies while it is reassigned into a new creature based on its old lifeform.

I've been feeling a bit liquid myself over the past few months. Now that I have the dream job, I've felt very syrupy, actually. It's the old adage: once you get what you want, what the fuck you gonna do with it? I am realizing that so much of my relentless self-promotion and creative energy over the past say, ten years, has been to get a job where I'm adequately compensated for doing my thing and being my damn self. Now that I have it, I've been beating myself up on the regular for not writing, blogging, photographing and making art with the same frequency. After a long day behind two computer, I haven't been able to be bothered getting behind my own to do more.

But then I started listening to Slayer and Fantomas and the Melvins in these massive quantities and it just awakened this need in me to be a part of something wild and weird -- and it came to me in a fever dream last week. I am totally obsessed with antlike office sociology and cubicle culture, and I wanted to make something that shook that up and also encouraged discussion, interactivity and participation. I am also amazed at how nuts normal adults go over a free peanut butter this all sort of commingled into the following display:

These pictures are less than ideal, but essentially what you are looking at is two pink stuffed animals that have slit a gorilla's chest open to get at his sweet chocolatey guts. I set this up in my cubicle and took a window out so that passersby could reach in and enjoy the gorilla's candied innards...the computer and desk surfaces in the cubicle has been carpeted with Astroturf as well to create a plastic forest feel.

They slaughtered the sleeping gorilla for his chocolate guts


I felt positively electric while assembling this. It felt so awesome to be a part of something wild and fucked-up, something real that flew right out of my head -- like I was remembering a part of myself long-lost that was waking right back up. The butterfly might not be back out of the cocoon yet, but he's definitely got a new spine...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Our Grandchildren Will Rule All They Can See

New York City, 2150

It's official: by 2150, the seas will have risen at least 18 feet, covering most of the world's populated areas. Man has drastically accelerated natural fluctuations in the earth’s climactic rhythms like a bull elephant give a toddler on a swing a mighty push. Click here for the scientific evidence.

Here's an excerpt...BoingBoing readers will recognize this, but it's the best pull I could find...

The ramifications of a transition to this new system state would be profound. The deglaciation of Greenland alone would cause a substantial (up to 6 m) rise in sea level, resulting in flooding along coastal areas where much of the world’s population resides. Shrubs and boreal forest will likely expand northward, further decreasing the albedo. Less certain is the fate of vast stores of carbon previously frozen in the permafrost. Would they be exhaled as carbon dioxide and methane, further accelerating warming?

The change appears to be driven largely by feedback-enhanced global climate warming, and there seem to be few, if any, processes or feedbacks within the Arctic system that are capable of altering the trajectory toward this “super interglacial” state.

I haven't been quite the same since I read this earlier this week. I've gone to work, come home, eaten, laughed with friends...but in the back I've had this gnawing, empty feeling that I can't even describe. It's not just loneliness or unmedicated depression, both of those are old guests in my head now. It's just the feeling that it's all over. That even if mankind does survive the floods, we don't deserve to. At the very least we are plunging toward another Dark Ages and maybe something on the level of climate change that took the dinosaurs out.

I keep looking at things and seeing how flimsy and shabby they are. I know this is ridiculous, but I keep saying goodbye to each moment, listening to music and visualizing the rotting corpses of Delta bluesmen being nibbled at by crabs as CBGB's and the MOMA wash away on a rotting carpet of 21st century flotsam created by a naive and beautiful love of excess.

I was driving over a bridge yesterday in the pouring rain thinking...this may never stop. In one hundred years, a torrential downpour will be the driest day that DC can even remember. The river below seemed like a surly, emotionally abused foster child, lying complacently until some unforeseen and misunderstood event in the future, when it would rise to kill us all and hit the road to hang with its friends.

I fell sick and unsettled. Nothing feels safe or permanent, everything bobbing out of reach on a tide of time. I know there's all these real and gift-shop pop Buddhist adages that preach the suffering that comes from attachments to things and how you have to let it all go to be happy...but I'm not ready. I like thinking that my hometown will be there in a hundred years, and I like thinking that my grandkids will be able to see some of the sights I've seen instead of hunting deer in the deciduous forests of New Mexico.