Bill Donohue, bite me.

I hope God is prescribing Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, ten bazillion gamillion Hail Marys right about now.

This morning, NPR played a sound bite so embarrassing that I swear I could hear SNL sketch writers feverishly reworking it into a last minute skit for Saturday’s broadcast. When interviewed regarding his position on artist David Wojnarowicz’s short film, which Donohue and his Ned Flanders Army recently had removed from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Donohue said it was unfair that museums are federally funded “leisure activities for the rich” when the “working class” doesn’t frequent them. He said he’d like to see our tax dollars go toward paying for entertainment that better suits the average American, like wrestling.

Although, I am sure the Pope, who hangs out at the world famous Sistine Chapel Wrestling Arena (painted by one of the most famous wrestlers of all time, cough, cough), must have cringed himself into contortion, Mr. Bill Donohue continued to discuss how he, himself, had not attended any museums in forever. The pride in his voice was unsettling because it’s a bit abnormal for someone to be so delighted with himself for lacking cultural merit.

As if that wasn’t enough, Donohue wants all funding pulled now for the museum. God is gonna be super pissed about that. After all, religious art is a major part of what I see in museums. It’s always relevant and generally reverent.

Captain Crazy told the Post:

I hope they will reconsider funding. After all, why should the working class pay for the leisure, e.g., going to museums, of the upper class? We don’t subsidize professional wrestling, yet the working class has to pay for the leisure of the rick. Not only that, because the elites don’t smoke, they bar the working class from smoking in arenas. This is class discrimination and should be opposed by those committed to social justice.” [SIC]

(Read the full interview with the Post here. It is amazing. Seriously.)

Oh, sheesh. Lighten up, Francis.

The irony of this is really that Donohue thinks wrestling is more wholesome than fine art, which begs the question: Is Donohue also ignorant of the basics of American wrestling? It’s kind of like the Bible, yes, but with more sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. I can’t speak for the Pope, but I am pretty sure he’d rather endorse the Smithsonian before the WWF.

Furthermore, why does Bill Donohue repeatedly confuse the “working class” with people who would prefer wrestling events? Last I checked, I am a card carrying unionista who also has a family membership at the museum. Bite me, Bill.

This asshat has gotten pretty far with his boycott. The Smithsonian actually removed the “offensive” art in question. It’s important to understand that no one is going to stand up and protect you from the crazies who are trying to introduce “intelligent design” to your kids and limit your freedoms of speech, etc. You have to stand up for yourself, your opinions, your rights, et al, and do the work necessary to ensure people like Donohue and his band of freakazoids are powerless.

If you do nothing, you get nothing.

Return of Le Billet Cache

A few years ago, Russell and I cozied up under the covers and opened a slew of French Dunnys. It was like making out and binge eating and 9 and 1/2 Weeks and fantasy spree shopping all rolled-up together for two nerds in love.

Then Russell opened a blind box with a golden ticket enclosed, and everything came to a stand still. That was a great day.

A year later, KidRobot mailed our super-limited, totally awesome, completely radical prize: the 8″ Supakitch/Koralie French Dunny. When I unpacked her accessories — earbuds and a special Dunny iPod — I forgave KidRobot for anything they’ve ever done to irk me. High five, that was a great day.

Supakitch and Koralie have just finalized their mural for the Swedish Gothenburg Museum of World Culture, and, thanks to elr°y, there’s an outstanding film clip orchestrated to a track by D*L*i*d. It’s a great day. Again.

Here’s Supakitch, where you can “listen to [his] pictures.” And here’s Koralie’s equally entertaining web domain.

This concludes my American billet-doux for my favorite le billet cache squad.

Your iPod called.

It says it’s got more than enough room left for you to download Catherine Davis‘s score for Hubbard/Birchler’s short film House with Pool.

Although I’m familiar with only a small portion of the work for which Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler have partnered over the last two decades, something about House with Pool stirred up dregs from my adolescence. Davis’s accompanying musical composition Annunciation affected urgency: I wanted to fix whatever was missing or wrong between the female characters not only in the film, but also in my own life.

Davis‘s work with the super art duo is currently available for download on iTunes and from Hubbard/Birchler’s official website. While you’re there, take a moment to view other media from the artists.

If you’re fortunate enough to be a student in Austin, you should investigate available courses in which Hubbard is involved, amongst many other things, as an associate professor for University of Texas.

[Original video source: http://www.hubbardbirchler.net/works/housewithpool/%5D

You wouldn’t download a car…

…but you’d sneak a camera into various modern art installations.

The Bell in the world won't listen entrance, 2008

At some point in the past decade, Dieter-y pretentious art films collided into that end of Generation X-sters who collect things like first-edition, autographed Douglas Coupland novels. And thank god, I guess. It’s exactly the kind of snobby downgrade I needed in order to dig the genre.

I pretty much moved into Phil Collins’ the world won’t listen installation [cur: Suzanne Weaver] when the DMA lurched out of the dark ages with that acquisition. I flipped out for a few months straight: “Did you hear the DMA has freaking Smiths’ karaoke choreographed on three screens? No kidding!”

In the middle of the exhibit’s neverending loop, a supercool Asian couple sing the best version of “There is a Light” — available nowhere unless you’ve got some direct line to a modern art miracle.

At 00:16, Bella’s fourth grade voice spells it out, “You’re really recording this?”

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the last half of that clip since the installation packed up and disappeared. The girl in that snippet owns the song. That said: Phil Collins, what’s up? Isn’t there a deal you can strike for rights to release this as a DVD? Or something? I’m sure this has been causing hair loss for those rabid Smiths’ completists out there unable to sleep since the project’s launch in 2005, heh.

Last night, I finally bought the book. Then Bella framed the show poster for me this weekend. Today’s my birthday. Someone out there in the vast netherwebz has got to have a super-secret, complete recording of Awesome Asian Karaoke Lady. Send me a present.

I’ll gladly accept something else from Mr. Collins in lieu of pirate treasure, though!

Blind boxes and more: We are 1976

“I will trade you one Doktor A yo-yo from the Steve Brown Gallery for that third Baroness you pulled — with the lipstick accessory.”

If you understood that snippet from the lunch conversation with my fossil-hunting, DJ pal Michael Hernandez, we’ve got some trading to do. If not, never fear. There’s always room for conversion into the dark, dark world of Toy-spotting.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started: an extra garage for all the boxes you’ll “have” to save, the ability to assemble IKEA’s DETOLF display units at a rate of speed compensatory to your growing collection, lack of anything resembling buyer’s remorse, and, duh, a dealer. Preferably several.

Michael and I’d been meaning to visit a newish store called “We Are 1976″ on Henderson after hearing good things from others, so I decided to finally go ahead and scope it out yesterday afternoon with Russell and The Bell.

The inventory, unlike many stores that sell art toys and the like, was eclectic with a complimentary blend of local and international items. A large, repurposed cabinet by the entrance stopped us for some time as we browsed screenprinted flatstock within its drawers. I noticed copies of local artist Khalid Robertson’s book I’d just ordered online next to a truly nice, varied selection of other artists’ publications. Also available: Tyson Summers‘ circus punks, large prints by Tony Bones, pottery, handmade greeting cards, purses, unique baby items and children’s bento boxes, t-shirts, and many other fun things we enjoyed looking through.

The owner, who says he’s co-owned the store since November along with two other partners, was a really friendly guy, chatting with guests and friends alike as he worked and generally lent a warmness to the store’s already welcoming aesthetic. By that point, I was really just looking to buy anything out of appreciation, but when I found the Noferin figures on a top shelf, the deal was done. I only had to decide which one I was taking home that day.

Noferin, a couple who makes whimsical sustainable wooden toys after fictional characters from their paintings, isn’t the cup of tea you’ll find just anywhere. Their art is on the more sophisticated end of the niche, yet still appeals to people who collect popular vinyl and plush from companies like Kidrobot. Really excited about finding a store that stocks several types of Noferin toys, I narrowed my decision down to a colored first edition of Fanelli.

 

 

 

Fanelli's maiden voyage

 

 

The twins

 

(For charming Fanelli photos, see Sandrine Escamilla’s fantastic collection.)

So obviously I’m going back to We Are 1976 because Fanelli will need cohorts. Plus, I’m gonna have to drag Michael up there ASAP. You should go, too. They’re open 7 days a week: 1902 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas, TX, 75206. Telephone: (214) 821-1976. If you can pull yourself away from Facebook for five seconds, visit them online at weare1976.com where you can read about the store’s workshops, gallery events, and more:

  • This Friday, July 23rd at 8 p.m., We Are 1976 will host its first photography show with Jeremy Sharp;
  • Saturday, August 7th from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., Paper Nerds will be conducting a paper marbling course (call for info and registration);
  • August 8th, Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Mike Arreaga and Brian McCorquodale host a screenprinting workshop (call for info and registration);
  • Felt tote making with recycled leather and other materials: Lizzy Wetzel on August 14th from 11 a.m. ’til 1 p.m.

***I also recommend the fairly priced boutique as an excellent gift store. A-hem. Gift. Store. As in: My birthday is next month, and there are lots of things inside that place I probably need for such an occasion, er, Russell.***

 

Dude, Clover B., I didn't call for hair and makeup yet. Pfft.

 

Things that suck. Literally.

That sound you’re hearing is a nerd alert. Proceed with caution.

A couple of months ago I was lying around the house sick for a few weeks, scouring eBay and other online haunts for crap-I-didn’t-need-but-had-to-order because my sick brain was, like, “If you don’t have the entire Where the Wild Things Are set from Kubrick, etc., you’ll never be able to live with yourself later.”

During my bout of pharmaceutically enhanced internet mania, I made two important discoveries:

  1. There’s something magical about ordering something online and then receiving it three days later without ever leaving your house or taking off your stinky, sick-person robe;
  2. The Vader Project was finally holding its long-awaited charity auction, and there was going to be a fancy-pants catalog — perfect for folks like me who don’t have several grand laying around to spend on an artist’s rendition of a Darth Vader helmet. More importantly, it was perfect for Russell’s Father’s Day gift. I snagged one immediately.

Although there were a ton of fantastic designs, I was surprised that NYC’s Suckadelic, artist/musician/entrepreneur Morgan Phillips, created the only diorama within the grouping. Of course, the concept was completely up his alley; Suckadelic’s work stems almost exclusively from sci-fi pop culture specific to Star Wars. Hand it to the guy: Phillips understands that without its Lucasfilms giants, the oxygen would totally be sucked out of my generation. And our adult wallets. Okay, and our principles, too, maybe.

Dunny Sucker

Having never been able to afford Suckadelic’s art schtuffs before — largely because they always have sold out within nanoseconds — I was psyched when I got the chance to nab one of these bootlegged bad boys this afternoon. Yeah, that’s a Dunny Sucklord. You’re seeing straight, alright. “Made in Chinatown NYC.” How many toys these days can wear that badge?

If you’d like one of your own, check it. Chances are, though, you’ll be coveting mine. These productions are generally limited to runs of next-to-nothing.

It’s not a Vader Project helmet, but, hey, the little guy’s wearing his own variant. Maybe one day I’ll find out I’m a long-lost Kuwaiti princess and will be able to afford the VP diorama for Sucklord’s display. Until then, I’ll keep busy stalking Suckadelic’s Microsexuals, his Original Villain Network, the photosteam on Flickr, keeping score with Paul Budnitz, and trying to convince the tween Bella that she needs to listen to more of this on her iPod. Seriously, this Morgan Phillips guy? He’s got a hand in every kind of honey jar you can imagine.

But today, I leave you with this brand spanking new first installment of Toy Lords in Chinatown: Episode One, guest-starring Sucklord himself.

May the Force…hurry up and arrive in the mail.

No, I didn’t want free checking with my metal, thank you.

“When your Uncle John and I were small children, Mother used to give us each a quarter to ride the bus into town to see a double feature at the Ridglea Theater. One day, John and I decided to just stay on the bus to see where we’d end up. The driver eventually intervened, and we got home safely, but we didn’t make it to the movies that day. Times have changed, haven’t they?”

Indeed, Mom’s right. Life isn’t what it was in the early 1950′s, but one thing is the same: Ridglea Theater is still a great place to see a show, even several generations later.

That is, at least for now.

The Little Bell and Wesley (and Dio, duh)

Yesterday I received a disturbing email from my husband, Russell (who’s done so many shows for Fastlane Concerts at Ridglea that the theater jokingly put a sign on one of its doors which reads: “Russell’s Room”). After scoping his included link to Kevin Buchanan’s article, I flipped out. Apparently, Bank of America is considering purchasing the historic Fort Worth building and transforming it into a financial institution sans music and community fellowship and my dear old mother’s childhood memories. What an enormous slap to the face of North Texas.

For the last twelve years, Wesley Hathaway and Richard Van Zandt have leased the beautiful, old theater on Camp Bowie. The couple, who met in college and have been together for the past thirty-two years, utilized the Ridglea’s architecture and distinct artwork as a backdrop to showcase local, national, and international musical acts for the Fort Worth area. Aside from providing a unique venue for crowds of one thousand plus, Wesley and Richard’s theater is also responsible for a lot of customer traffic at surrounding restaurants, gas stations, and small businesses within the immediate block. Wesley, formerly the Assistant Science Curator to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, says she only learned day before yesterday of Bank of America’s intentions. “I didn’t know until a reporter from the [Fort Worth] Star Telegram called and asked me what I thought about it. That’s how I found out! We still have almost a year left on our lease, so we don’t know what’s going to happen.” She and Richard, who also previously worked in the same prestigious, north Texan museum as the Omni Theater Director, confirmed they are booked with lots of upcoming shows and have heard nothing from Bank of America at this time that would suggest cancellations of any kind. In fact, they haven’t heard from BOA about anything, and that’s unsettling for not only Wesley and Richard, but also for an estimated thirty employees who stand to lose work after the demolition.

“I understand the owners [of the building] need to make money. It’s a business,” Hathaway stated, “However, this is the last beautiful, grand building of this type in our area. You lose part of your heritage every time you tear down something historical like this. I see it happening all over the country. People are just not cherishing heritage, and it is a tragedy for the community when things like this are allowed to happen.” Van Zandt added, “Do something with the building instead of demolishing it, you know. The west side of Fort Worth really needs a Community Arts Center. The city could host all kinds of classes and events here, things that would benefit people while preserving the structure.” Richard also pointed out the Ridglea Theater was eligible to have been noted officially as an historic landmark, but the last owner failed to designate it as such.

Richard Van Zandt, photo by permission of RVZ

“Of course, we’d be sad if we couldn’t continue to do these shows,” Wesley admitted. This all comes at a time when the theater is up, yet again, for “Best Venue” in the Fort Worth Weekly. Having previously won the same award for at least eight years, Wesley and Richard have been proud local music fans have selected their venue for similar accolades throughout the years in the Dallas Observer as well as on AOL and in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. She says the two of them will miss the musicians and fans she’s come to love — the very people from all over the world whom I know herald her as the pink-haired First Lady of Texas Metal. “This building — the beautiful mosaic floors and old paintings — it feels like home to the people who come here. The bank isn’t going to care about that.” Wesley fears if BOA is allowed to take over the building, the Ridglea’s historic art and music history will be lost forever.

Beyond the music and the magnificent mosaic flooring, losing the Ridglea Theater to something so sterile and impersonal as a bank would be, perhaps, the hardest blow of all. The Ridglea is the chassis for a slew of extremely personal memories for so many of us — not just Mom. Matt Arnold, my co-worker, was bummed to hear the news, “Are you serious? You know, I saw my first show in there.” He wouldn’t be the only one to claim that honor, of course. I’m sure all the kids who have attended Rock Camp USA during the summers at Ridglea thought it was pretty cool to say that was where they played their first show. I’ve seen a handful of couples become engaged there; Wesley says elderly people have approached her and relayed stories of when they decided to get married while at the Ridglea many years ago. When I asked which was her favorite memory of the theater so far, she paused and said, “I don’t know, Kristan. There have been weddings and so many wonderful events and music over the years. The place has a lot of history for so many people from all walks of life. I mean, it’s where Richard and I took our kids to see the very first Star Wars when it came out. I just don’t want us all to lose it.” I get that. None of us wants to walk into a bank and reminisce about . . . anything. We want to be able to stand in the entrance of the theater and relish it for what it really is: a multi-generational tribute to north Texans and the strong-willed, surviving champion of Fort Worth culture.

When my daughter graduated elementary school, Wesley and Richard gave her a beautiful piece of art, which read:

‘What do I get for this,’ I said, and the angel gave me a catalog filled with toasters and clock radios and a basketball signed by Michael Jordan, and I said, ‘But this is just stuff,’ and the angel smiled and swallowed me in her arms. ‘I’m so glad you said that,’ she whispered to me, ‘I knew you still had a chance.’

After I got off the phone with Wesley last night, I sat in Bella’s room and stared at the words in the painting. I thought about how appropriate they were now, how Wesley and Richard do what they love. Next to the graduation art, my Bella keeps a rubber band ball Wesley gave her years ago when they first met. The extra “Russell’s Room” sign is above the piano in our back room. These kind reminders amplify my sadness because they prove the Ridglea Theater isn’t just a place in Fort Worth that Bank of America wants to tear down. It’s a place in my home and in my heart, a place where my entire family has grown in both the very distant past as well as in the last few years. There is no price you can attach to a structure that serves as such a chapel of memories. The idea of passing by Where It Used To Be makes my stomach turn.

This isn’t set in stone, and there’s an opportunity to save the venue and building from the fate of Bank of America. Wesley has posted an official statement on the Ridglea’s website with information regarding where to write, etc.

City Councilman W.B. Zimmerman
, District 3 Office
, 1000 Throckmorton St., 
Fort Worth, Texas, 76102

Telephone: 817-392-8803 
Fax: 817-392-6187

E-mail:District3@fortworthgov.org

Also, there’s a hefty discussion on the “Save the Ridglea” Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=103599513025822

Cherish heritage, one and all. Save this Ridglea Theater, Home Sweet Home.

Over/Out.

While looking for Gerhard Richter

Warning: Graphic illustrations.

I love search engines. They always lead me exactly where I never knew I needed to be — like straight to this masterpiece on Etsy.

poppyseed

Perhaps, it was so unexpected because I’d been executing a “Gerhard Richter” search when I discovered this treasure. Really, two things here: (a) What is going on? and (b) What does this have to do with Richter? Luckily, the artist included the most specific caption ever:

Shihonage depicts an eleven year old girl who has complete control over a man with a knife who attacked her in a poppy field. She is using the Aikido technique and this work of art is a tribute to Aikido; a way of harmony, japanese martial art, and author’s wish: May all weak in the right win over strong who comes with violence and delict!!! Girl Power!

This man fucked with the wrong fifth grader. Bonus: It’s only eight-hundred and something dollars! I’ll have to pick this up for Bella right away. Every eleven-year-old girl should have one of these hanging on her bedroom wall.

(You’d think any poppy field attacker worth his weight in salt would at least don a pair of socks with those work boots. Sheesh.)

Further examination yielded the kind of results that force you into retrieving back-up opinions/support. I blew instant messenger up with my pal Heather.

“Is that Bella’s new Etsy site?”

After explaining this was not the work of my twisted child’s mind, Heather was relieved, “Wow, looks like she’s tickling her attacker.”

For one reason or another, the whole thing became even funnier when we learned the painter was male instead of female, as I’d assumed by the profile photo of what appeared to be an old woman. Heather corrected: “Sorry…at the bottom of the page it says that ‘she’ is a male.” And he’s a young guy to boot. Armed with the additional knowledge, Heather and I browsed the rest of the site with further confusion.

euw

At least he’s got a low sperm count to go with that frighteningly large penis. And maybe a C.S.I. file, perhaps?

moreeuw

There is a definite theme here. And a woman with a blue face. Note the “handle” on the upper right hand side. This must be a lunch box.

elephant

The figure in the window has the right idea.

pee

In case you have ever wondered the travel path of your urine after it’s been flushed, the mystery is revealed. Here, I believe this man’s urine has waged some type of reverse assault. Obviously.

antlers

I fear what might happen to me if I speak ill will regarding this. At any rate, Kidrobot should put these guys out as a designer vinyl toy line. The horse/T-rex with the antlers is worth wading through blind boxes galore. And that orange penis guy! Yowsa! What a hottie. I’ll bet he eats people in rural Czech Republic.

Alas, the tour de force is still the poppy field attacker guy for me. The others? As Heather so eloquently put it: “I’m laughing so hard I’m gonna pee myself!”

Maybe you’re still wondering about the Gerhard Richter part, though. Oh, gawsh. Ain’t it apparent? Gerhard’s work is a “huge influence in all that I do.” Someone should notify Mr. Richter so he can die a happy man.

I love stuff like this. Maybe I don’t like these paintings enough to shell out nearly a thousand dollars apiece, BUT I think the art definitely serves its mighty purpose — respectfully, something different to each of us. That’s what expression’s about anyway. Props to this guy for believing in himself enough to brave the mean waters of a million lurking bloggers. I’m doing it, too, buddy.

If you’re interested in purchasing anything I’ve coldly trashed above, I’ll gladly send you links to the artist and any other information which might expedite the delivery of this colorful penis and animal madness. Otherwise, feel free to add your own interpretations below.

Behold This

A few years ago, I realized I started off an awful lot of sentences like this: “Oh, I have always wanted to [insert whatever it was I'd always wanted to do here].”

You know. You’ve heard people chatter like that, too.

“Oh, I have always wanted to visit Japan.”

“I have always wanted to learn how to play the tuba.”

“I have ALWAYS wanted to change genders.”

Alright, well, I have never really wanted to play tuba or have a penis, BUT I have caught myself wanting to do a lot of other stuff in my life — stuff that wasn’t unrealistic, but for one reason or another kept getting put on hold. Indefinitely.

Until now. 

I haven’t managed to figure out some kind of grand solution for ensuring world peace or ending genocide or anything along those lines, but I did pony up and take chess lessons with Bella last year. It’s a step. 

bwchessbellcraig

My good friend and polar opposite twin, Craig Von Hutson, agreed to teach us chess history as well as basic techniques as long as Bella didn’t rattle on too much about Hannah Montana. Since she couldn’t manage to keep her end of the deal — spewing random Hannah schtuffs right and left, I just made sure Craig got all the free lattes he needed in order to get through the undesired Disney tween mania. It worked. Bella pulled checkmate within the first few weeks. 

It took me a bit longer, but, hey, I got there. 

I’d always wanted to. 

Since then, I’ve crossed other activities off the To Do list — some successful, some comically unsuccessful. Last week, I was particularly psyched about conquering item #31: The Wire Crochet Necklace. (Yes, I realize how cool that sounds. Heh.)

The Modern Art Museum in Ft. Worth has some amazing jewelry…for people with much fatter wallets than mine. I’d been pining for the wire crochet necklace that’s been on display there forever and decided to attempt to figure out how to make my own, rather than forking over a week’s salary to the gift shop at the museum. After having spent the hours learning how to crochet wire and attach beads into the form, I gotta admit: it would have been a lot easier to have handed over that week’s salary.

Still, victory is mine. Take that.

NECKLACE

I think I’m almost ready to learn how to boil water now. Almost.