Saturday Afternoon Video Club: Dock Ellis on LSD + Stalin's Bunker Tour

New thing, folks. Pretty self-explanatory. First up, an excellent animated tour through Dock Ellis’ LSD-infused 1970 no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then, cool off with a tour through the House That Stalin Built: a bunker under Moscow meant to keep Russian officials alive just long enough to guide a nuclear counterattack and end the world. Thanks to my man Gorilla Face for the heads up.

Boris Rose, King of the Bootleggers

Sucker for buried treasure that I am, the story of Boris Rose, jazz bootlegger supreme caught my attention as I perused Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays [preview] Around 1940, Boris began dubbing 78RPM records to 10-inch red vinyl disks with hand-written white labels.  He would sell these dubs of Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and other great early jazz musicians to anyone interested in buying them…. Over the years Boris captured thousands of hours of recordings that likely did not exist anywhere else — his was easily the largest private collection of its kind anywhere in the world.  Eventually Boris began recording every sort of broadcast imaginable — he even recorded the soundtracks of entire movies as they were broadcast over television. What Rose became known for is the bootleg LPs of these recordings from old 78s and live jazz radio broadcasts.  He sold these records commercially, […]

Haiti: Humanitarian Invasion

A hotly debated aspect of the global response to the Port-au-Prince earthquake has been the role of military forces in providing aid and security.  Several dominant narratives have emerged: The always popular ‘They’re looting! What savages!’  This can be used as either a justification for one’s indifference to the situation or as a call for an aggressive posture.  Pretty standard media response after any disaster that affects a non-wealthy demographic.  (Just once I’d like to see CNN helicopter footage of Tori Spelling looting in a burned over Malibu neighborhood.) The “How dare you say they’re looting!” The BBC’s Matthew Price assures us that no one in Haiti would dream of getting violent over food and water and instead are peacefully expiring in the streets from the fumes of Western paranoia, arrogance and stinginess. The U.S. hegemonic invasion line taken by Chavez, Cuba and the usual gang of disgruntled European political […]

What Haiti Looks Like From Far Away

Now, finally, the world looks at Haiti.  The typical disaster storylines are served up, readymade from the bin previously marked “Hurricane Katrina” or “Kashmir Earthquake” or ‘Tsunami ’04”.  There’s the first wave of shock and speculation, an awe of the tragedy’s magnitude and not a little voyeuristic jolt of seeing such a terror from a safe remove.  The actuaries run the numbers and give ranges of deaths and tallies of expense while satellite photos are shot for before and afters.  Then, come the survivor stories and amateur footage from the apocalypse’s dress rehearsal, bookended by grimacing news anchors and wrapped in the networks’ scrolling ribbons of text. As I write this, we’re wading into the judgment stage where the horrors are put into context and the axes that have been grinding all along are revealed.  Survivors become ‘looters’, the victims are ‘impatient’ and the powers who gather with gifts begin […]

Founder of Taco Bell, Dead at 86

Amidst a million other things going on this week, I thought I’d take a moment to note the passing of the man behind Taco Bell, Glen Bell, Jr.  I grew up waiting with barely contained excitement for taco night, which in my gabacho household meant the ritual spooning of meat, colby-jack cheese and lettuce into a crispy tortilla.  Later, it became the first meal I ever figured out how to make myself (with help from a kit), starting me down the road of culinary self-sufficiency I walk today. According to the New York Times’ obituary page, I have a man to thank for this glorious innovation of the pre-crisped taco shell: … Mr. Bell, a fan of Mexican food, had a hunch that ground beef, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese and chili sauce served in the right wrap could give burgers a run for the money. The problem was which wrap. […]

Rewire: The Library as Cloud Storage

Libraries are storage repositories for books, but just certain books, not your books. No, you have to store those yourself.  Most of the time, those books are speed bumps or structural elements because most of the time you aren’t reading them.  While a well-stocked bookcase or two can be good for showing off to friends and potential mates when you have them round the place, there’s something to be said for not having a half ton of dead tree hanging about the place, taking up valuable space that could be used for holding broken electronics or a knife throwing range.  See where I’m going with this yet? Two things about me: I’ve got no money and I live in what would be considered a treehouse if it was in a tree, rather than over a store that sells do-rags and tire chains. Thus I think a lot about making use […]

FU1K: Submarine, 659 words

As promised, we’re diversifying our offerings to give you some short fiction, collected as Fiction Under 1000 words (FU1K).  As that I personally find reading a story off a screen to be lacking, we’ve got a specially formatted print version as a PDF for you to print out.  It’s adapted from the Pocketmod so it should fit nicely into your pocket and be ideal for reading on public transportation, no matter how crowded.  Print and fold ’em, leave ’em in public places, sneak them into friends’ jackets. print version Admission is five hundred yen, which I chop the last two zeroes off of to get dollars. I pay for both our tickets even though we never said this was a date. The attendant closes the door behind us silently and the rivets on our jeans click together as we sit down next to each other. When the ride slows near […]