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Graffiti artists reclaim the commons and obscure subway ads
10.06.2014
05:58 am

Topics:
Activism
Advertising
Art

Tags:
graffiti
NYC
subways


 
For what New Yorkers pay to ride “public transportation,” you’d think the MTA wouldn’t feel compelled to sell every square inch of subway car to bloodsucking corporate pirates—much less that aesthetic villain, Dr. Jonathan Zizmor. M.D.. But where there is a square inch to monetize, “public” space will never really be public. Two anonymous artists, going by SKI and 2ESAE, have decided to take the commons with some slick guerrilla tactics.

Now defacing ads is nothing new, and their messaging might be a little platitudinous (“be who you are don’t be sheep”), but the project itself is a kind of a cool ad campaign against ads. While the duo’s traditional idiom is graffiti, the plastering of polished “ad copy” is a subtler, more formal approach to anti-advertising protest—you have to look twice, something straphangers almost never do for a scrawl of Sharpie or an artless tag in spray paint. While very few people probably saw the installation itself (I’ve been on the J train at 3AM—it’s pretty dead), the folks at ANIMAL videotaped it for posterity—YouTube is the last town square, I suppose.

I’d hope actions like this might take off, but the MTA has already announced plans to put cameras in cars... you know… for safety.
 

 
Via ANIMAL

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Shock Value: New York’s underground ‘Cinema of Transgression’
09.26.2014
07:47 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Punk

Tags:
Lydia Lunch
NYC
Richard Kern
Nick Zedd

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There are times in life when it seems that certain things, events, people or books have been strategically placed for our benefit. For example, I read Nick Zedd’s Totem of the Depraved which ends with the filmmaker homeless, on the streets looking for a place to stay when I was homeless, wandering streets, sleeping rough, and getting by however I could. The book was apposite and Zedd’s words kept me company through some uncomfortable nights. And of course, there was the inspiration, the small luminous epiphany—if artists like Zedd could get by, stay sane, live and create, then so could I.

Self-styled “King of the Underground” Nick Zedd was the pioneer and major player of New York’s Cinema of Transgression in the late 1970s and 1980s with his films They Eat Scum, Geek Maggot Bingo and Police State. Knowing that “History is whoever gets to the typewriter first,” Zedd edited the Xeroxed and stapled together zine The Underground Film Bulletin and wrote (under various aliases) reviews for his own films. In 1985, he composed the Cinema of Transgression Manifesto:

We who have violated the laws, commands and duties of the avant-garde; i.e. to bore, tranquilize and obfuscate through a fluke process dictated by practical convenience stand guilty as charged.

We openly renounce and reject the entrenched academic snobbery which erected a monument to laziness known as structuralism and proceeded to lock out those filmmakers who possesed the vision to see through this charade.

Zedd (writing under the pseudonym Orion Jeriko) described his comrades as “underground invisibles” and named them:

Zedd, Kern, Turner, Klemann, DeLanda, Eros and Mare, and DirectArt Ltd, a new generation of filmmakers daring to rip out of the stifling straight jackets of film theory in a direct attack on every value system known to man.

And announced what they were going to do:

We violate the command and law that we bore audiences to death in rituals of circumlocution and propose to break all the taboos of our age by sinning as much as possible. There will be blood, shame, pain and ecstasy, the likes of which no one has yet imagined. None shall emerge unscathed.

Since there is no afterlife, the only hell is the hell of praying, obeying laws, and debasing yourself before authority figures, the only heaven is the heaven of sin, being rebellious, having fun, fucking, learning new things and breaking as many rules as you can. This act of courage is known as transgression.

We propose transformation through transgression - to convert, transfigure and transmute into a higher plane of existence in order to approach freedom in a world full of unknowing slaves.

 
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Filmmaker and photographer Richard Kern described the Cinema of Transgression as “a loose coalition of people who just joined together in order to have a movement.”

Along with Zedd, Kern was one of the was the group’s main players, making short brutal (some might say “depraved”) films like You Killed Me First (1985), Thrust in Me (1985), The Right Side of My Brain (1985) and Fingered (1986). These films teetered on the wire, and were so personally demanding (mentally and physically and in drink and drugs) that Kern eventually left New York City for a while for the sake of his health. 

Artist, writer, actress and performer, Lydia Lunch appeared in many of Kern’s movies and saw the Cinema of Transgression as a way to “show the ugly fucking truth the truth. Period.” Around her were artists like Joe Coleman, who began his career by biting the heads off mice, and became an alchemist—turning pain into gold.

While much of the Cinema of Transgression is now mainstream or like Kern’s photos suitable for the fashion shoot or cat walk, Nick Zedd continues to plow his own visionary path as artist and filmmaker. I, at least, now have a roof over my head.

Angélique Bosio’s documentary Llik Your Idols captures the excitement, thrill and power of the Cinema of Transgression, interviewing Nick Zedd, Richard Kern, Lydia Lunch, Joe Coleman, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and others.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Performance art? Drugs? Both?
09.24.2014
06:24 am

Topics:
Art
Drugs

Tags:
NYC


 
So the folks over at Bowery Boogie seem sure that these four anonymous citizens are partaking of hallucinogenic drugs, but I’m not totally convinced. In these trying times of flash mobs and Improv Everywhere, one cannot discount the possibility of a staged event. Or perhaps it’s just a misunderstanding?

One could argue that the stretching lady is just doing some early-Monday-morning calisthenics! And the lady staring at the pillar could simply be quietly reflecting. The person shaking the chains could be testing their structural integrity, and the guy humping the trash can…well… nevermind, they’re probably just all on drugs.
 

 
Via Bowery Boogie

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Moving 1960s short interviews the ‘Bowery Bums’ of old New York
08.28.2014
01:34 pm

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
1960s
NYC
homelessness


 
Despite former Mayor Giuliani’s highly successful war on the homeless, the destitute faces of “Old New York” remain some of our most recognizable mascots. One of the misconceptions about present-day NYC is that the streets are now “scrubbed” of the homeless, but nothing could be further from the truth. The post-Giuliani policing of the poor was however, an unmitigated success when it came to dispersing indigent bodies—in other words, busting up homeless communities. Simply put, it’s not illegal to die in the street, it’s just illegal to fraternize with your fellow undesirables.

The video below, shot in 1960 and 1961, doesn’t dig deep—it doesn’t have to. Men are quick and open about their lives. The tragically predictable culprits of addiction, prison, disability and the lack of work brought them to the Bowery, and they’re rightfully resentful of their grim sanctuary. Still, it’s an odd thing to be wistful for a time when the homeless were at least able to commiserate fraternally in New York City. Like the gentlemen say, “misery loves company.”
 

 
Via Bowery Boogie

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground’: The best book yet on the dawn of punk rock

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Early band shot of Blondie

In the now long line of endless punk rock history cash-in books being pumped out from every corner of the world it’s shocking to find the one book that’s not like the others. Paul Zone’s Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground published by Glitterati Inc. is a coffee table book brimming with amazing, unseen photos and the life story of Paul and his brothers Miki Zone and Mandy Zone and their bands The Fast and later, Man 2 Man. What makes this book different is its author and the time frame it takes place in.

There was a short moment when everything was happening at once, no one knew or cared and the only band that had an audience or a record deal was the New York Dolls. As early as 1974 Patti Smith was playing, as was Television, Wayne County, Suicide and Blondie. The Ramones were starting to play at CBGB (opening for a drag show that starred Tomata du Plenty later of Screamers fame), KISS was pretty much in this same scene playing to about five people with many bands like The Planets And Paul’s brothers The Fast were playing alongside of them. At one point, sub-culturally speaking, all the cards were thrown up in the air and no one knew where they were going to land. It was a very small group of friends almost all of whom would, in a few short years, become icons of pop culture,
 
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Johnny Thunders, early 70’s

At the time, Paul Zone was very young. Too young to be in a band, but not too young to see a band or be snuck into the back room at Max’s Kansas City. And not too young to document this exciting time in his life by photographing everything. There are very few photos of this period when punk rock was actually occurring in the midst of the glitter rock scene. When the up and down escalators of rock ‘n’ roll infinity met and EVERYONE was hungry on the way up AND on the way down. There was change in the air, excitement and confusion.

Seeing Alan Vega of Suicide performing in a loft in 1973 with a huge blonde wig and a gold painted face is unbelievable. The years the photos in the book span are 1971 to 1978. Most are snapshots of friends hanging out when everyone was still on the starting line. The Fast were one of the more popular of these bands who let their new friends Blondie and The Ramones open for them in small New York clubs.

Early photos of The Fast show them amazingly in full glitter regalia with KISS-like make up (Miki Zone has a heart painted over one eye, etc.) but this was before KISS! There are a few photos of icons of the time like Alice Cooper (watching cartoons in his hotel room), Marc Bolan, The Stooges, etc. (a good one of KISS with about three people in the audience, as mentioned above). Most are of friends just hanging out, having a ball, not knowing or caring about the future and without that dividing line in music history called “punk rock.” It is truly a treasure to see something this rare, and even better, 99% of these photos have never been seen before.
 
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Wayne County long before becoming Jayne County

By 1976 Paul Zone was old enough to join his brothers and became the lead singer of the version of The Fast that made records. Sadly due to poor management decisions The Fast got left behind that first punk wave and watched as almost all of their buddies become some of the most famous faces in music history. How amazing that all of these people were friends just hanging out, broke and creative going to see each other play, talking shit and influencing each other in ways they didn’t even realize?
 
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Joey Ramone eating dessert at Paul Zone’s parents house at 5 am

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Linda Ramone, future design icon Anna Sui, Nick Berlin and me, Howie Pyro (The Blessed) at Coney Island 1978

After a few years of struggling, The Fast trimmed down to just brothers Miki and Paul Zone and some early electronic equipment. They finally let go of the name The Fast and became Man to Man, one of the first Hi-NRG electro dance music groups, recording with the likes of Bobby Orlando and Man Parrish. They had huge hits worldwide and here in dance clubs like “Male Stripper” and “Energy Is Eurobeat,”
 
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Suicide’s Alan Vega, early 70’s

This book is three quarters a photo book and one quarter autobiography, cutting to the point and perfect for this modern, short attention span world. It is packed with so much amazing first hand information in such a short amount of text that no one will be disappointed. Playground was co-written by Jake Austen of Roctober Magazine, with a foreword by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. The book is available here
 
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If you are in the Los Angeles area this Saturday, June 28th, there will be a book release party and photo exhibit (with many of these photos printed HUGE) at Lethal Amounts Gallery at 8 pm.
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
David Lynch’s scary public service announcement about NYC’s rat infestation
01.27.2014
07:34 am

Topics:
Environment

Tags:
David Lynch
NYC
rats


 
I’m not really afraid of rats. But while I personally tend to abide by a pretty “live and let live” code where vermin are concerned (as long as the creature in question keeps out of my apartment), New York City has an absolutely insane density of rats. It’s not as bad as in years past, but it’s a rare subway ride when I don’t see at least one varmint happily waddling over the tracks, and I cede to that. We’re in actual underground tunnels—rats are simply the wildlife with whom we must share that subterranean space.

Above ground however, they begin to become a health hazard, and while the city tends to favor the idiotic approach of lacing every garbage-filled and/or overgrown area with poison (poison that presents its own health hazards), the best way to deal with rats is to create an inhospitable environment. Mowing empty lots and removing debris would certainly fix a lot of the problem, but all of that is futile if you’re just going to throw your delicious edible garbage in the street. And that’s where David Lynch comes in.

In what is quite possibly the coolest anti-littering public service announcement ever, Lynch gives viewers a phantasmagoria of rat horror. Frederick Elmes (the cinematographer for both Wild at Heart and Night on Earth) was director of photography on this 1991 anti-rat opus, and it’s a pretty masterful little bit of messaging—the rats are mere beasts, but littering assholes, THEY are the true monsters!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Dude literally sells boxes of rocks as a ‘piece of Brooklyn’
09.22.2013
03:26 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Amusing

Tags:
New York City
NYC
Brooklyn

box of rocks
 
There’s clearly some sort of secret propaganda campaign underway, intended to portray Brooklyn as nothing more than a tub of wealthy, cosmopolitan, white hipster kids with dumb taste. That has to be it, because some dude is selling little boxes of rocks (or gravel, really, let’s be honest), as “pieces of Brooklyn,” and I can’t imagine why some one would do such a thing without suspecting conspiracy and/or foul play. This is the tactic of a vacation beach town, where the locals sell bottles of sand as souvenirs, host wet t-shirt contests, and margaritas are poured into your mouth by girls named “Amber” (thanks, mom!).

Entrepreneur Floyd Hayes, however, thinks it’s is a bully idea for our little hamlet, as well! Selling each… box, for four dollars, Hayes manages to make you not totally hate him by giving a dollar of proceeds to the Brooklyn Arts Council. Years in non-profit actually taught me that people are more likely to donate small amounts of money if they get some swag in return, but come on, Floyd! This isn’t a serious philanthropic venture, and we both know it!

A man claiming to be Floyd has popped up in the comment section of Brokelyn, saying:

Thanks for the post. I think you have a fair angle. I’ve sold 20 of them now, to 11 customers. I’ve emailed them all to say thanks and had some good responses back. One guy bought 10 – told me it was a super cheap xmas gift for his family who are spread out all over the states. Another customer is based in Ohio, she used to live in Brooklyn and wanted something to put on her desk to remind her of good times. A Canadian and a Parisian also bought some, thinking it was “just funny.” I guess people have their reasons, I don’t think it’s a case of “a fool and their money.” As long as people get some sense of enjoyment from it then I’m happy really.

Floyd! I don’t wanna knock a good hustle, but you are killing me! I know you can’t send bed bugs or police brutality through the mail, but you could at least throw in some artisanal dirt! This is Brooklyn, dammit!
 
Via Brokelyn

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
NYC Mayor Bloomberg discovers root of chronic homelessness: cushy, inviting shelters
09.26.2012
06:51 pm

Topics:
Class War
Stupid or Evil?
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
NYC
politicians

Forbes' photo of Bloomberg
 
For the latest in totally out-of-touch bazillionaire rich people ragebait news, renowned altruist Mayor Michael Bloomberg is struggling to back-track after commenting last week that NYC homeless shelters had become a “much more pleasurable experience,” and therefor did not properly incentivize the homeless to make use of their frayed bootstraps.

Bloomberg notoriously gutted aid to homeless and housing programs last year, citing budgetary constraints. Now I’m no fancy-pants big-city economist, but Bloomberg is worth somewhere between $22 and 25 billion dollars (but really, who’s counting?), and there are over 44,000 homeless people on record in New York (about 18,600 of them are children); maybe he could just, I don’t know, use some of his own money for those programs? He wouldn’t even miss it. Or maybe we could all storm his penthouse and dangle him over the Gowanus Canal? Naw, let’s go ahead and keep setting records for the highest rate of child homelessness in NYC since The Great Depression.

In his defense, he did just ban the sale of sodas over 16 ounces so us dumb poors don’t high fructose corn syrup ourselves to death. So really, he’s got our best interests at heart, right?

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Man takes moisturizing regimen to the extreme on NYC subway
02.22.2012
02:48 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Pop Culture

Tags:
NYC
Subway
Vaseline


 
You know what? A daily moisturizing routine is really, really important and can work wonders for the skin. This guy knows what I’m talking about.

YouTuber George Twopointoh who captured this brilliance says, “One morning, while riding the C Train through Brooklyn, I witnessed a terrifyingly hilarious ball of confusion so intriguing that I rode an extra subway stop to film it for y’all. You’re welcome.”
 

 
Via Animal and Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
NYC subway skating
11.09.2011
09:40 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
New York City
skateboards
NYC
skateboarding


 
Great skating, wonderful video. Enjoy!

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Skating in Christchurch, New Zealand after 2011 earthquake
 

 
(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Empire State Building struck three times by lightning last night
04.13.2011
12:32 pm

Topics:
Environment

Tags:
NYC
Empire State Building

 
Thrice or more apparently. Blogger NYCisMyMuse posts on YouTube:

I caught three direct strikes to the Empire State Building lightning rod after midnight on 4/13/11 during a severe thunderstorm. I actually saw a fourth direct hit, but sadly wasn’t filming at the time. I’ve never seen so many hits on the ESB in one night. It was ridiculous! But so much fun to watch.

Whoever said lightning doesn’t strike twice was wrong. :)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Small Hamster Rides Small Subway
11.26.2009
12:01 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
NYC
Hamsters
Subway
Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment