The A Bomb

…but meanwhile

this post is revived from my old blog but I think the message is still very pertinent. New material coming monday.


    someday I’m going to write a primer for crippled saints but meanwhile…

as the Bomb sits out there in the hands of a
diminishing species
all you want
is me sitting next to you
with popcorn and Dr. Pepper
as those dull celluloid teeth
chew away at
my remains.

I don’t worry too much about the
Bomb ? the madhouses are full
enough
and I always remember
after one of the best pieces of ass
I ever had
I went to the bathroom and
masturbated ? hard to kill a man
like that with a
Bomb?

anyhow, I’ve finally shaken
R. Jeffers and Celine from my belltower
and I sit there alone
with you and
Dostovesky
as the real and the
artificial heart
continues to falter,
famished…

I love you but
I don’t know what
to do.

-Charles Bukowski

I have read many other poets, it’s just that I’ve just been re-reading bukowski over and over for something like 6 years. I suspect it had a lot to do with LA itself. This city still breathes him out and you can feel it like a hot wind off the Santa Ana’s often. We, him and I, may have come to a crossroads. I still think his work is exceptional in that it is untethered by fear, utterly unabashedly, emotionally naked. As I get older, he makes me wince more than I used to. The more fragile you become the harder it is to read about weakness, maybe it’s fear of mental instability by suggestion. He did find great success, in fact he’s still lauded for just as many right reasons as wrong ones. On the other side of the coin his youth was bitter & malnourished, he fought circumstances and personal demons so very hard throughout his life, to do something so beautiful as be a poet, albeit one that raised the hackles of many a do-gooder and academic. The world will never know if he’d lived under the shelter of privilege and comfort if he’d have become half the writer he did. But it makes me very sad to think it would have ruined him artistically to have had that peace.

The A Bomb

Tales of Tomorrow

” Well …so this is Mars? You know something I’m dissappointed.” (not really)

Oddly enough I am not a fan of “believable” science fiction. That applies to Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, Firefly or the like. It just doesn’t bond my ions, or excite my electrons if you will. But what does fuel my proverbial jet engine is really ridiculous, misinformed, …what shall I call it? How about “science-ease”. Science-ease filled often with talks of atomic this or that, death rays, or re-animation. I find some of the finest specimens are in campy episodes of the original “The Outer Limits”, “Star Trek” and even less frequently in the generally well written “Twillight Zone”. Ah but many are not aware of one of my most favorite specimens showcasing the finest of science-ease, “Tales of Tomorrow”. Originally the pilot aired in 1951 on ABC. It featured many of my favorites like Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney and even Leslie Neilsen. They are only a few of the luminaries in one of the 85 gems you can still watch for zero dollars on Hulu. Which make it a favorite for my second monitor when I work late at night. What could better set the mood for a late night in the office than brilliant titles like “Plague From Space” or “The Fury of the Cocoon” or the classically camp “Read To Me, Herr Doktor“.

Tales of Tomorrow

Tales of Tomorrow

The Evil Tesla Coils of Doom!

Tales of Tomorrow

Electric coil of doom AND uber-creepy type. ooooo

Like the “Twillight Zone” the open is brilliant, I’d venture to say more elegant in many ways. Simple, (surely a product of budget, excellent foley and all around mysterious and spine-tingling. You don’t hear that word enough these days “spine-tingling”, but I digress. The sequence opens to a machine with a huge pull switch, purpose unknown. A huge gloved hand reaches in for a lever on the machines face…

…then pulls the lever, the sound of electricity fills the speakers while the camera pulls back to reveal a fairly simple if brilliant matte painting of what seems to be a massive Tesla Coil! Imposing voice over rings out over the electric noise and the music crescendo, Tales of Tomorrow, in a oozing text, goopy enough to make the blob feel inadequate, zooms into the frame. For the next half hour buckle up for some of the most poorly informed tech/science jargon you may ever have the privilege to guffaw at.

“Appointment on Mars”

Astronaut 1: ” Well …so this is Mars? You know something I’m dissappointed.”

Astronaut 2: “Whaaaat?!”

Astronaut 1: “Well I mean I expected something different”

Astronaut 2: “Disappointed? All we did was come to Mars and your dissappointed”

Astronaut 3: “Yeah!”

Astronaut 1: “No I”m happy about it don’t get me wrong, It’s just that …it’s kinda strange that’s all, nothing here.”

Astronaut 2: “There are rocks.”

Astronaut 1: “Yeah but no people, no intelligent life! Why not that’s what I’d like to know.

Astronaut 2: “That’s silly, this is Mars you can’t expect to find a life like our own.”

Astronaut 3: “Yeah he’s expecting to find the green skinned monsters you know.”

Astronaut 2: “Oh sure”

Astronaut 3: “like bugs, with fire coming out of their mouths (miming monster here) Arrrrrggg!”

Is this how scientists talk? I mean it’s how fanboys talk about episodes of Star Trek that’s true…

As the dialogue progresses we get some creative talk about chlorophyll plants that are on mars and that surely means intelligent life must be near. And the other guys are all “Dude stop giving us a science lecture”. Because apparently scientists get bored by such things and just want to tool around mars on a dune buggy. Then astronaut 1 gets all melancholy and laments it’s a wasteland void of life. Sad christmas astronaut 1. Hey buck up little camper I hear there is a ton of Uranium in them there hills. Don’t worry it’s not a spoiler, the uranium is a minor diversion and seemingly just a reason to get Astronaut 1 to STFU and quit whining for a bit. Oh and this is how you dress for mars, pretty practical minus that persnickety issue of oxygen. They look a bit like space mechanics to me. Oh and you may not be able to tell from the fuzzy screen cap but that’s totally Leslie Neilsen in the foreground.

Tales of Tomorrow

What to wear for your “Appointment on Mars”.

Camp factor aside, one of the greatest things about “Tales of Tomorrow” is watching the evolution of a medium unfold in front of you. No one really knew what they were doing with television then. Up till then most folks were barely out of radio and theatre. So there is this splendid alchemy between the two. The sets are usually static, the delivery is often stilted, but the foley is usually great and the sound cues better. Oh sure you might get some accidental shadows of microphones on sets, and maybe someone misses their cue or a line, or both, oops what gives is that the second cameraman! Honestly though, questionable science dialogue, campy sets, and all around rough edges, the stories are still strong. You don’t even notice the snafus, really you don’t. Partly I suspect because it’s this beautiful time capsule. You love the fact that the cardboard robot in Herr Doktor is clearly just some tall dude lumbering about in that flimsy getup, and you are kinda mesmerized by the fact that everyone watching was probably pretty cool with this. They were groomed by a steady theatre diet or perhaps imagining the places and characters in a radio broadcast. Every detail didn’t require seamless special effects and costumes, the audience was a-okay filling in the blanks.

I bet most of them got the allusions to modern social malaise and war fears too. Over and over again social roles between men and women are played out to great effect. In one a woman is given is a serum that makes her an all-powerful, intelligent super villain with no conscience. Yes clearly a smart woman is a dangerous thing kids. Oye… In another a woman berets and nags her out of work husband, and laments that all her friends are doing things and traveling but no not her, she’s married to a failure! Message? Don’t nag your husband? If the old phrase were to be retooled for the time I suspect it’d be something in line with, “You’ve got a long way to go baby”. It’s like stepping back in time via the metaphor express. Ah but sometimes it’s the omnipresent fear of nuclear annihilation that’s always a great storyline right?! A martian enemy plague is eradicated with an A-bomb minutes before it can spread it’s toxic death. Uhmmm yeah not much subterfuge there…

It’s simple to me why I love “science-ease” or why I can watch “Tales of Tomorrow” episodes over and over. I can’t speak for everyone but it inspires me every single time I watch one to look around me. What existing content can I maybe fuse together into something altogether new. Or perhaps on a more esoteric level how can I contribute to an evolving media culture? Most importantly it reminds me not to sweat it if the chemistry isn’t perfect, because it’s almost always worth the experiment.

*Author’s Note: Scouts honor I’ll come back to “Tales of Tomorrow”. I mean I can’t put it to rest until I do a montage of 4 dollar alien costumes right?

…A new kind of Democracy.

First things first howdy and hello or Здравствуйте! Should you actually be able to read Russian unlike yours truly. Hey thanks google.

Now that we have polite greetings out of the way, we must ask ourselves what’s going on here? Fair enough and although I don’t have definitive answers at this point I don’t mind so much telling you how I got here. Query one is usually “Why blog?” I have been advised from many a source, for a very long time that any creative worth their salt maintains a blog or does a fair bit of writing about their process. Without qualifying that expectation with actual reasoning and or facts, I must say I fully agree. So on to second question “What’s up with the Cold War theme already?” Well for sometime this is where my creative mojo has found it’s fuel. I’m fascinated by the creative work, political climate and social dynamics. God help my bank account nearly any material good made in the period is also my kryptonite, actually anything produced from the late 1930’s until pretty much the mid 1960’s. I suspect it is one of my few predictable traits, the whole mid century modern lust that compels many a designer to do what they do in varying degrees depending on the name of aforementioned designer.

So why then run the risk of basing my whole personal brand on what is most assuredly design history? Why not embrace the time in which I live? Well to that I say, I don’t think we’ve come so far in the most impressive sounding year of 2010. Oh Kubrick I know you would have been so disappointed, but hey, no HAL 9000 to muck up our space missions, yeah that’s right silver linings, we still have ’em. I mean if you want to get down to it we aren’t even all that keen on real science teaching in this country lately. We’ve even coined this brilliantly misleading term called intelligent design, We think that topic would surely have inspired a cinematic masterpiece on your part, alas. Oh sure we are still playing tug of war for smog mongering fossil fuels and staging pissing contests about who’s religion is right and who’s is wrong. Hell sometimes we still start wars about such things.

But I digress. Let’s start this literary tour de force shall we.

I mean how can you deny this, brilliant. Basically it’s “Your passenger planes is made by the same company that makes war machines” That’s a pretty good vote of confidence for the safety model methinks. And from a design standpoint, just look at it! I mean that’s a pretty static centered composition if not for the color, and the dynamism of the abstract linework which was surely to represent aerodynamics. Okay typography definitely up for discussion, I have to say that typeface Convair was set in is certainly ahead of it’s time!

I think what fascinates me and many others  is the omnipresence of fear in the cold war. Inside of all of the happy go lucky pop culture of the time is this undercurrent of terror, of certain annihilation. It’s what made the writings of Vonnegut so timeless. Life is mostly like that you know, there is this persona you put out in the world but inside and behind our closed doors there are all of those worries that keep you up at night, cause the arguments or keep you from taking chances. For the first time we had truly managed to make  the world around us in our own image. We were able to realize for it the possibility of total destruction.

Milk Bombs better than atom bombs

Milk …new weapon of Democracy!

Fallout

I Don’t know about you but if a diagram like the one on the right was all over my e-mail, social networks, and posted around my neighorhood I’d start feeling a whole new level of anxiety too.

It’s amazing what creatives did with this though, maybe less so on this fallout “reassurance” diagram which is actually pretty terrifying. More with the Convair and Douglas aircraft ads. Promoting a feeling of safety of humanitarian effort even via the designs. All by visually representing the very same machines that might destroy entire lives, villages, cities, maybe the whole damn kit and kaboodle. Ah the power of propaganda design. That’s some mighty fine spin my friends.