Heading West Part 3: Salt Lake City (did you really want us to say something about Mormons?)

2 Sep

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Let Salt Lake City speak for itself. Our visit was lovely yet very short. We thought it would be easiest to share images (with words) than just share a whole bunch of words. Also, we couldn’t molest statues while in Mormon Square, so now will indulge in obscene re-creations of the artwork found there.

Worth noting: The Mormon Corporate Building is shaped like a giant phallus with two globes as testes. This is how they spread their seed. The water fountains (bubblers) are designed in the same fashion. This was amusing.

TSC (not stoned enough edition): Piranha (2010) Dir. Alexandre Aja

30 Aug

So, normally these TSC entries account for Rik and I completely failing to follow the plot of the film and digressing into childish, or perhaps, snotty tangents. WE MET OUR MATCH.

First off, we need to defend ourselves: we had time to kill. Heading north from San Francisco we decided to waste 2 hours of a 7 hour wait-fest watching this unimaginable crappy film. Without any goodies we watched every last gory detail of the film with scrutiny, in a state of total sobriety. Well here it goes.

This film is THE most offensive fake B-movies we have ever seen. Before we discuss the mostly objectifying and grotesque nature of this summer 3-D blockbuster, we must examine how it was redeemed. Somehow the team behind this CGI bloodbath managed to get both Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) and Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws). HOW!?

The opening scene of the film we encounter Dreyfuss humming the tune from Jaws, “I’m tired and I want to go to bed. Had another drink about an hour ago and it went right to my head…” Did anyone else catch this campy-as-hell pun? We were laughing raucously by the time an earthquake frees thousands of ancient piranha in a Nevada lake in order to bring in the punch line and rip Dreyfuss to shreds. The man hasn’t acted in anything worthwhile in what, like twenty years? And comes back to do this? THIS?! A cameo in a gore flik with a standard Jaws joke. This could have been promising, actually. We were giddy for more camp irony. A big budget B-movie horror with somewhat intelligent pop culture humor would have been a lovely way to waste an afternoon.

Okay, on to the next star: Christopher Lloyd. Yep, he’s still crazy. But this time he’s crazy about fish–who would have guessed. A reprisal as the Doc but this time he knows everything about piranha in the Pleistocene era. Doc explains it all. These fish are freaking evil cannibals who stayed alive for 2 million years trapped in an underwater cavern. And then it’s back to people dying.

Of course the moview is another remake that claims to be spruced up for a new wave of predatory consumers. I recall watching the original, which is far tamer and contains a lot more fish made of clay, and thinking it was a bad ripoff of Jaws. I think the current 3-D film deserves a bit more attention though.

If you do decide to go and throw money at a cashier to see thousands of gallons of faux blood be thrown onto topless chicks then you should know a few things.

This movie has a specific demographic. If you are not a (white) heterosexual teenage boy who possibly has some extreme issues when it comes to violence against women, then this film is not made for you. You can still enjoy it if you want to see a young woman’s naked torso ripped from her lower half while paragliding. SERIOUSLY, this movie survives the box office on masturbation funds of 14-year-old boys who are ready to see tits. Possibly over a hundred pairs.

Are you a skeezbag, a sexist, a frat boy, a pervy old guy, or a creeper? Then good news: the humor is made for you. Now, we’re not two that enjoy judging the pleasures of others, but this film’s humor consists of old guys coercing girls into doing tequila shots then strip. They appear to be high school girls, also. Then they get tossed in the water and eaten. If you’ve ever seen a Girls Gone Wild special, then you understand the complexity of the narrative, oh, and the characters. Note: Lesbians might be sexually stimulated by all of this also, which is totally cool by us. But would most lesbians like seeing women portrayed in such a sexist manner in public, even if it is sexually exciting?

While we both loved how campy and disgusting the film was, there are some serious issues with the way that humans, and especially young women, are portrayed in the film. One could argue that the whole movie is super self-aware, which it is at some level, considering the damn thing is shot in 3-D for two reasons: holographic BOOBS, dude, and startling moments when fish swim quickly.

Skip to 1:03 min for trailer.

Okay now to the critique. I’m positive that producers of the film knew what they were doing when they ensured that every female character except for the Sheriff, whom I will address momentarily, was about as intelligent as a fishing pole and endowed with oversize bobbers. I cannot recount how many shots there were of just ass ‘n’ titties, then titties ‘n’ ass. Female objectification and sexualization to the maximum. No hot guys to be seen, unless you like douchey frat guys wearing Abercrombie shirts.

There are only two ‘real’ or believable female characters with some semblance of depth. The girlfriend-type, who is seemingly innocent; she drinks too much and vomits. Totally lame, by the way. And the mother; she is also the Sheriff who must rescue her misguided horndog of a son who did not babysit his siblings (whom are also in danger) as their boat sinks. Typical. Just typical. Most of the victims of the ferocious fish are shirtless young women, all ready for a zombie-inspired Playboy shoot. And the only female character that has human emotions or sentience is in charge with cleaning up the mess.

I'm ready for my close-up.

Well, if we could use Piranha (2010) as a cultural artifact of the late naughts, we could come to some serious conclusions. Everything is in fucking 3-D because the economy is failing and people want nothing more than a spectacle. Women are simply young boobs and pussy (on one end) or Mommy-figures–especially when they are being ripped apart by carnivorous fish.

Something tells me a BDSM lesbian into objectification was not in charge of making this one. Some men must get off on watching naked women die in horrific ways.  Especially director Alexandre Aja, a member of the “Splat Pack”–a list of directors famous for making extremely gory horror including Rob Zombie and others. Aja, this was nowhere as scary or fun as High Tension [Haute tension] (2003). Us queers see the camp inherent in the film–camp so thick it’s like rubbing chum on a blackfaced drag queen dressed as a mermaid with a thyroid problem. But considering how biased this film is to a specific male audience who may sexualize screaming bleeding women, what does the rest of the audience see?

Misinformed idiot rants about feminization of America

26 Aug

I got wind of this article and decided to destroy this poor argument and suggest some alterations of her analysis of gender roles since the beginning of the feminist movement. Sometimes, and only on occasion, one must troll.

Enjoy her logical fallacies. Then engage in the discussion to encourage people not to take this woman’s words at face value. Flood her with commentary. Update her thinking. Try to remain positive (although sometimes shade must be thrown).


Heading West Part 2: Ft. Collins (it’s OK to follow people into alleys)

22 Aug

Roadside Attraction

The small cactus on the antenna persistently waved at the horizon. As the setting sun blinded us for the next hours we cruised mindlessly into the seamless battle between the gold fields and the blue sky.

A word of advice: don’t expect to be entertained in Kansas. Yet, Nebraska is somehow worse. So we chose Kansas.

Roadside Attraction

After hours of the most boring Yellow Brick Road in the US of A, we reached the border of Colorado. With childlike excitement and giddy anxiety we began scanning the sky for the looming shadows of mountains. However, they were still hours off.

We would soon be informed that this portion of the state is known as Kansa-rado.

As night fell and the sky began turning shades of orange and red, we reached Ft. Collins. Let us tell you, kind reader, that Ft. Collins is one of the most easy-going cities we have ever visited. Everyone drives the speed limit (30 MPH). It’s set on a grid. Parking is free. Free!

We pulled up to David’s house, where we would be staying, and were immediately struck by the contrast between this destination and our former stop, Kansas City. Instead of being under an aqueduct in a near abandoned industrial building, we would be sleeping in a quaint, and ostensibly white upper-middle class, neighborhood. Personal safety was never an issue, but at least we didn’t need to worry about our bikes.

Our hosts could not be more different either. Gryphon, a kinky dandy artist : David, a Christian grad student in Mathematics. Gryphon’s studio, covered in S/M images, thrifted fine apparel, and erotic artifacts: David’s house, clean and uncluttered, Bible quotes in the bathroom, and a garden out back. The contrast was invigorating and helped to fuel our sense of adventure, alluding to the infinite possibilities ahead of us.

David, another wonderful host, decided to take us out on the town. After a short drive now on the more populated city streets, we decided to walk to a local watering hole. Everything seemed orderly, like a well-designed suburb that avoided suburban sprawl, yet the streets had the feel of a city–a condensed pocket of environmentalists, nature-lovers, hippies, and Liberals. Differential class and racial divisions did not mimic those in larger urban areas, such as Kansas City or Chicago. If there was poverty in Ft. Collins (and undoubtedly there is in this economy) then it was not visible on the streets–seemingly absent of cigarette butts, litter, and the homeless. Makes you wonder where the the poverty is when you don’t notice it. Hopefully it’s because the city has well-funded programs.

David then proposed, “Do you want to see my favorite alley?” It must have been a joke. We laughed. Rik giggled, “What?” “Do you want to see my favorite alley?” David replied nonchalantly. We nodded. Images of “Stranger Dangers” and that dark derelict alley through which we were told not to walk at our old place in Chicago filled our heads.

Thin as a street in Amsterdam, the alley was laid with bricks. There were gutters, too, but no trash was in them. In fact, there was no rubbish to be seen. A large electrical box was covered with mosaic-inspired abstract art. We were informed that this street art was municipally funded.

After walking through the alley that must have been Hoovered clean, we headed to a local pub for a few rounds. It was late and after Kansas and Kansa-rado, sleep was imminent.

The next day we decided to accompany our host to a local break fast joint, Lucille’s Creole Cafe. We highly recommend the biscuits.

We were about ready to leave town and head through the Rocky Mountains toward Salt Lake City but we had one more stop. On orders to deliver some home-canned salsa for a friend, we stopped at a local marijuana dispensary. Our acquaintance was not in his shop, but the staff were friendly enough to show us around. Finishing the tour quickly (as we don’t have medical cards) we decided to chat up the staff. They had a lot of positive things to say about their job and the policies in Colorado concerning medical marijuana. It was a pleasant and informative introduction to the realm of legal weed.

The staff was about to order in lunch and invited us to stay. We were still stuffed full of Cajun breakfast so we had to decline. They told us about a local chain called Cheba Hut, which caters to a niche market of stoner clientele and anyone who loves stoner humor. Their sandwiches are named after infamous strains of bud in clever sizes. Although we didn’t get a chance to try them out, next time you have the munchies in Ft. Collins please do so and let us know the results.

Not much interesting to say about our trip out of Colorado, through the Rockies and into Wyoming (another horrible state to drive in–high winds). Instead look at some pictures.

Heading West Part 1: Kansas City (it’s hard to be a dandy in a pink $, blue colla’ industry)

16 Aug

The road out west began with a stop in Kansas City, Missouri. We followed roads dutifully past St. Louis toward the next Midwestern metropolis. We were planning to meet Gyphon, an artist friend of Dr. Jones, at his loft downtown. As voyagers hitting a modern-age westward trail we were armed with a tire iron and our Google maps. The atlas, which had been tossed into the back seat after much anxiety on Jareth’s part after glancing at the distance we had yet to cover, was of no use as we approached The Labyrinth. The sun reddened the city and it’s ribbons of concrete shone as we attempted, with hands to our faces, to read oncoming traffic signs.

Traffic thickened, became faster and more aggressive, and thinned again. The entry and exit ramps whirled off of Rt. 70, snaking implausibly above then below ground and twisting around supporting columns that rivaled those of the Parthenon. Without much worry we were able to follow the Google maps somewhat circuitous directions to arrive at what we considered to be a terrifying part of town. It seemed no buildings were still in use. The fact that it was dark as hell didn’t help that every street is a one-way and street signs may or may not be present. Calling Gryphon we were informed that our directions had brought us to the wrong side of town.

Industrial Wasteland, Kansas City

We took off heading back to the highway that spread out like the roots of a tree, feeding from the industry at the heart of a city permanently under construction. After making at least three, possibly four laps of the city we decided that our directional senses, even though also armed with a compass, were no match for The Labyrinth. Tempers rising and eyes beginning to droop after wandering the endless bows and knots made of asphalt, we carefully listened to every word of Gryphon’s third attempt to rescue us.

Back onto the highway, then an exit on the right, quickly to the left now. Back to the right! Under that viaduct (yes, we went under massive archways filled with black expanse–very Gotham City). And just beyond there is the parking lot. Behind a graffiti covered industrial space, a post-econo-apocalyptic wasteland of empty storehouses house generations of Midwestern artists who work in what seemed to us a decaying urban landscape.

After unloading our bicycles and suitcases from the top of the car–Gryphon informed us, and thus insisted, they were safer indoors–we loaded our loose belongings onto the freight elevator. A large building, from a time when Kansas City was an industrial hotspot in the Midwest, now housed a number of artist lofts and Gryphon’s studio.

All fears of staying in what appeared to be a deserted building under a viaduct on the west side of Kansas City immediately subsided as we saw Gryphon. Charming, kind-eyed, and at 6 foot 5, to say the least, we were relieved. Gryphon, the man who rescued us from The Labyrinth was no David Bowie. With a bald head, bushy but freshly clipped beard, and a perfectly centered nose ring, his black boots could have tromped Bowie in a heartbeat. Little did we know his dandy inspired wardrobe, thrifted from the best places in town, rivaled Bowie’s elaborate costumes and get-ups.

Slap and Tickle, Kansas City

The next day Gryphon was having a show at a local gallery-space. Before hitting the road we were offered a sneak peak of the show as it was still being set up for a party that evening. After loading up all of our gear atop the station wagon, we followed Gryphon, carefully and tediously, to the gallery.  There on the wooden sign above an unassuming door was a flying pickle with the gallery’s name–Slap and Tickle. We were greeted by the gallery owner and her furry little animals. There was a main gallery area with the Art-o-mat, an old cigarette vending machine that dispenses art with the purchase of a five dollar token. To try and narrow our focus with all the art surrounding the gallery, Jareth decided to ask a few questions as Rik pointed his camera at anything and everything.

Jareth – First of all, what is the title of your show and what does it have to do with the concepts your are exploring?

Gryphon – The show is called re : vision quest Well, there are something like thirty-nine pieces total and they are all self-portraits taken digitally, but printed on vintage fabrics and collaged with various found images or objects, such as door knobs and doilies–so, I would say that each piece is a re-invention of myself as this dandy character.

Gryphon van der Hole, Cthulu

Jareth – Why the dandy?

Gryphon – After a bout with cancer, I wanted to document the changes in my body (image) and style. Growing up I always thought of myself as a fat kid, when in reality, I was just proportionately larger. Being a bit of a hoarder, over time I came across some nice vintage suits. And would you believe? Fine dandy suits that seemed to have been tailored to fit me were hanging on the bargain coat racks at the local Salvation Army. As my collection of vintage garments increased, my kink slowly became less leather and more dandy.

Jareth – How long have you been working on this show?

Gryphon – I have been documenting the transformation of my body and style for about three and a half years now, and only recently working with incorporating these images and found objects into some of my two-dimensional pieces.

Jareth – Do you mostly work two-dimensionally?

Gryphon – Yes, I traditionally have worked on illustrations, but like to use some of the junk that I have collected to add design elements and texture.

Kinky Sugar Cookies

Rik, after tiring of taking pictures sat down next to Jareth and Gryphon on the couch as they unpack kinky sugar cookies and nail borders to some of the final artworks.

Rik – I really like the three images of you dressed up as different masculinities. Can you touch on these pieces?

Gryphon van der Hole, Masculinity Revisited, 2010

Gryphon – They are a series called Masculinity Revisited. I find that “pink dollar” gays take too much effort trying to look blue collar. Well, I work at a bindery. I work next to and with these blue collar men everyday and I’ll tell you what: a lot of them are bigots or homophobes. Why are we gays trying, and spending so much money on, looking like those that don’t support us or our communities? I wanted to play with the archetypes of masculinity that many gay men fetishize–the construction worker, the cowboy, the mechanic. I wanted to assume the masculinity of these icons so that they are no longer sexually charged in a blindly positive way, but critically. I felt like I should queer them up a bit–put my ‘girly dandy’ into these sexualized masculinities.

Rik – Can you talk about the materials used for the borders?

Gryphon – Sure, the border on the construction worker is obviously a ruler, the one on the mechanic may be a bit less obvious. Last week the serpentine belt went out on my Cadillac. Having it replaced sucked, but I was left with a belt the exact size of my frame. It is kind of funny how things just work their way into my artwork.

Rik – How else?

Gryphon van der Hole, Masculinity Revisited, 2010

Gryphon – Most elements to my pieces are a bit of luck and a bit of intuition. I have been working as an artist for quite sometime now, so, sometimes I just allow for things to happen and that is all part of the art–the process. For instance, some of my favorite image transfers appeared that way out of happenstance. The image is a bit messed up, but looks intentional.

Jareth – Oh, one more question. Five words that best describe you?

Gryphon – Hmm. That’s a tough one. I would have to say…  dandy, artist, blue collar, freak.

After a wonderful time at the Slap and Tickle talking with Gryphon it was time to leave. We still had to find a way out of The Labyrinth and make it to Colorado later that evening. With a wave and wishes for wellness and luck, we rode off to slay the next monster–Kansas.

If you wish to find out more about the Slap and Tickle or it’s showings please contact April, at daydReamsfree@yahoo.com

For more about Gryphon or to see his artwork check out his Flickr