Hot Chip - Wrestlers

I got stuck on the concept of wrestling after hearing the new song Wrestlers by Hot Chip. The band have always had a propulsive interest in wrestling. The comedy, drama, and energy of wrestling can be heard in Hot Chip's music. A couple of the guys from the band have a side DJ project Greco-Roman International Sonic Wrestling, which is terrific fun, btw.

But wrestling has long been the stomping ground of academics. Great for when one wants to go slumming in the loaded metaphorical battleground of popular sport and spectacle. And why not? Wrestling is loaded with history, and what other low culture event gathers such an enthusiastic, un-self-conscious proletarian audience? Roland Barthes got the wrestling dissection rolling with his article The World of Wrestling. Here, the roguish Barthes introduces the idea of wrestling as a staged theater of grandiloquence, a forum for heroes, villains, torture, argument, and justice. The audience is in on the gag - they call for the "image of passion, not passion itself." These lines of thought, spectacle and entertainment as symbols for reality, are continued in good contemporary articles like this one by David Haecker. There's even a course at MIT on wrestling - plenty to read at their blog - Comparitive Media Studies: Pro Wrestling.

I'll be pursuing the topic in further posts with some looks at comic artist Jaime Hernandez's obsession with female wrestling and Lucha Libre, and also a peek into the consistent popularity of Japanese women's wrestling.


This next wednesday, February 6th, is another meeting of the Secret Science Club at Union Hall. This one is led by recipient of the Curtin Medal for Excellence in Medical Research, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Stillman, who is now the President of New York’s prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He'll be diving into genetics and biomedical research and attempt to predict the future of science in public health and cancer research. I'll be curious to absorb some cellular info and sample the evening's special cocktail - the Double (Make That a Triple) Helix.

The “Secret Science Club” meets February 6 at 8 p.m. in the basement @ Union Hall, 702 Union St. (at 5th Ave.) in Park Slope, Brooklyn, p: 718.638.4400 Web: unionhallny.com Subway: R to Union St.; F to 4th Ave.; Q, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Atlantic Ave.

No cover charge. Just bring your smart self.

Doors open at 7:30. LIMITED SEATS AVAILABLE.



Here's a beam of sunshine in the middle of a grey winter. Hot Chip's new album MADE IN THE DARK is due next week. February 5th. This is one record where I'll buy a proper hard copy. I love this band. Joy, invention, and humor is what these boys are selling. And I am buying.

Listen to the album here at Clash Music
Hot Chip website



At a serious point of transition right now. As I explained to a friend, I'm trying to approach it as a mystery to solve, rather than a battle to be fought. Everything is tilting slightly, but the season seems still. The cold outside doesn't move. Let's all hope for a little snow. And a little more magic might be in the air.

Above image is from artist Peter Doig. His figures float in fields of snow, water, limbs of trees. Levitating in limbo. Read more at Saatchi Gallery and view images at The Tate.



"Nanoq: Flat Out and Bluesome" was a recent catalogue and exhibition of taxidermy polar bears in the UK by artists Bryndis Snaebjornsdottir and Mark Wilson. The bears were documented and then removed from their status as educational tools in museums and colonial souvenirs in stately homes. The artists were able to liberate these dead bears from their cultural roles. The bears were placed in a communal limbo where the viewer was able to contemplate the history of man domineering nature. The viewer has an opportunity to consider the polar bears' current state as stuffed trophies, and their former role in the wild. The fate of the bears' dwindiling arctic environment is also called into question. Polar Bears are a beautiful and necessary arctic animal, and they command the title of world's largest living land carnivore. Please read more about the exhibition here and here. You can read about the book at Black Dog Publishing.



And the coming wind did roar more loud,
And the sails did sigh like sedge;
And the rain poured down from one black cloud;
The Moon was at its edge.

-from Rime of the Ancient Mariner


I'm passing along this info because I LOVE sushi and this freaks me out. Apparently, the mercury contained within New York tuna is rising. Several sushi restaurants were surveyed. If you consumed six pieces of tuna sushi in a week you would have more than the EPA's safe amount for an average adult. Check out the article in the Gothamist and the New York Times. I'm afraid to say- boycott Tuna and let the fishing industries know that these mercury levels can't be tolerated.



Albrecht Durer. An Owl, 1508.

Owls are nocturnal predators. They only come out at night. Cryptic owl mythology stems from this dark inclination. The Native Americans believed the owl connected to death and the beyond. The owl was a foreboding symbol in the TV show Twin Peaks. In the program, the owls were the eyes of the evil spirit, Bob. Durer's owl is just a young one, but the black eyes and talons seem to convey a hidden menace. But some owls are pretty mellow. Like the dude named Blind Owl from the band Canned Heat. He sang On the Road Again. Awesome Blind Owl Youtube Clip. "Blind Owl used to sleep outside, so he could be closer to nature and often carried plant samples around with him in his pockets. He loved to read books on botany and ecology."



Tomorrow (and every Saturday), there is a free Introduction to Birdwatching from noon till 1:30 at the Audubon Center in Prospect Park. The tour is led by an expert Audubon naturalist and binoculars are provided for free. You can find more info and directions here at the Audubon Center's Event page. The above image was lifted from The City Birder, which is loaded with bird watching info for Brooklyn and NYC. Lately, they've been tracking hawks who are out on the prowl for active winter prey.



The Japan Society of New York is hosting a film series entitled No Borders, No Limits. This film series focuses on Nikkatsu Action films from Japan in the 1960s. These are gritty, gripping crime flicks. The latest film, Red Handkerchief will be screened tomorrow, January 18th, at 7:30. You can view the trailer here and read more about Nikkatsu Action flicks here.

1964, 98 min., 35mm, color. Directed by Toshio Masuda. With Yujiro Ishihara, Hideaki Nitani, Ruriko Asaoka.

In this “mood action” thriller, big-shot cop Mikami fatally shoots a witness during a drug investigation, and moves to the country to forget his tainted past. Years later, he returns to Yokohama to unravel the truth about the unsolved case and his shady ex-partner, now married to the woman he loves.

A career landmark for both superstar Yujiro Ishihara and director Masuda, Red Handkerchief ultimately defines Nikkatsu’s "mood action” aesthetic. The third-highest grossing Japanese film of 1964, Red Handkerchief signaled a new, more adult phase in Ishihara’s career, in which he played troubled, conflicted characters. It also marked a creative way forward for Nikkatsu Action films that continued through the middle of the decade.

Japan Society
333 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 832-1155
Box Office: (212) 715-1258, Monday - Friday, 10 AM - 4:45 PM
Tickets: $10/$7 Japan Society members & seniors/ $4.50 students



Winslow Homer. Homosassa River, 1904.

A couple art shows of note. The first is Brushed with Light at the Brooklyn Museum. The paintings in this show are mostly American lanscapes from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, and all in watercolor. The show ends January 17th, so tomorrow is the last day to check it out.

Karen Kilimnik. The French Alps, 2007.

The other show is at 303 Gallery in Chelsea. This is a new show from critics' darling Karen Kilimnik. Her work is sketchy, delicate, precious, and fey, but somehow I still really like it. Her new series focuses on landscapes, and the paintings are down with a water soluble oil paint.



What compels the collector? What's the drive that consumes the collector to obsess and hoard? Nostalgia? Childhood memories? That indelible imprint that Freud loves to ponder? Who knows? All I know is that we all love to collect things. And for the creator of tapedeck.org, that thing is audio tape cassettes. On this page you'll find a catalog of different cassettes, neatly organized, but devoid of much written history. Where did these tapes come from? What's the difference between metal, chrome, and ferro? Who are these mix tapes meant for? Some slow jams for that long lost love? It's all left a mystery at tapedeck.org. Only the simple beauty of this defunct medium remains, now locked in a digital filing-cabinet.



The music of Christian Fennesz is encompassing. It wraps you up in a blanket of noise, but listen close- its not just noise, there's a real song in there. Fennesz is able to blur the distinction between digital and analog, as he alternates between laptops, oscillators and guitars. He's able to draw a warmth from electronics that few can accomplish. This is the sound of surfing, and of caves, of weather fronts colliding. But Fennesz is no aloof new ager. He's covered songs by the beach boys and the stones. And his collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto have doused the classical piano in a bucket of digital snow. Tuck into one of his full albums for a healthy dose of audio bliss.

FENNESZ - "Circassian" from album VENICE




It's weird to have an obsessively detailed and dense website about Victorian Taxidermy. It's even weirder to name that website Taxidermy 4 Cash. Nevertheless, it is probably the most comprehensive site out there. And they really want your taxidermy.....for cash. Check out all the different taxidermists and eras; you could spend all day on the site. Its a good source for the academic and the morbidly curious.



This is the last weekend, to catch the Martin Puryear retrospective at MoMA. This show really caught me off guard. From the start, I was warmly immersed in Martin's world of mystic, mammoth monuments. One of the years best shows. There is a confidence, a restraint, a permanence, and a resonance that one is not likely to find elsewhere in contemporary art. Not to be missed.

Here's more info on Martin at Art21
And MoMA's mini site for Martin



Doctor Who's nemesis the Dalek has been reduced to tasty cookie and cake forms. Check the Flickr Dalek Cakes Group. Exterminate with extreme deliciousness.



Last night I had to miss the Secret Science Club meeting on dark matter with Princeton physicist David Spergel. Disappointing because dark matter is mysterious, fascinating, and invaluable.

Dark matter is invisible, it does not reflect light, but it has a gravitational effect on the tangible matter around it. Dark matter constitutes the majority of mass in the universe- normal matter constitutes about 4% of the universe, dark matter constitutes about 23%.

In the above image, (lifted from Bad Astronomy) we can see the light blue glow which is dark matter pulling on the white dots which are actually entire galaxies. Peep this berkley article and then gain some dark matter wiki-knowledge too. Maybe we can discover some dark matter!



I've been eating up the insights on the site Strange Science. This site is a tremendous help in writing my thesis about scientific history and the blunders along the road of progress. Some of my favorite material comes from the Goof Gallery, a collection of fantastical mistakes.

This text for the above image is lifted from strangescience.net:
"Year: 1668
Scientist/artist: Ulisse Aldrovandi
Originally published in: Dendrologia
Now appears in: The Eye of the Lynx by David Freedberg
Aldrovandi's posthumously published book showed this piece of apple bark with an uncanny resemblance to a human face. A little too uncanny, in fact. In the 16th and 17th centuries, savants were still trying to figure out the details how life forms reproduced and what made fossils. One common idea was of a "plastick virtue" — a creative force that fashioned all kinds of weird objects. Such a force might make a human-looking face in apple bark. Or an artist simply might draw it."



I can't wait to visit Iceland. I enjoy reading the sagas and knowing about the vikings that settled the country and established civil democracy. Also, who doesn't love big waterfalls? Iceland is home to many hidden creatures or huldufólk. There's a universal respect for the homes of these hidden folk - reported here in this NY times article.

In NY, be sure to visit the Scandinavia House where an exhibit titled The Myths & Magic of Iceland: A Voyage through Icelandic Children's Literature will run until March 29, 2008. There's also a great contemporary Finnish art show there, too.



The program Doctor Who ran on the BBC from 1963 to 1989. Doctor Who travels through time and space in a old telephone box solving mysteries and battling aliens. Historical allegory often compels the narrative. The Doctor has been portrayed by ten different actors. The last two doctors are the contemporary versions, which some fans consider to be a bit crap. My favorite doctor is Tom Baker, the eccentric scarf-wearing 4th doctor. From 1974 to 1981, Tom Baker's doctor worked from great scripts and fought monsters made of tin foil and bubble wrap. Some scoff at the cheap sets and homemade villains, but for me, this is the charm of the series, a DIY aesthetic. It makes you feel like you could do this this at home with the proper inclination. And you should.

Episodes on Youtube - May I recommend the Tom Baker adventures- The Ark in Space or The Sontaran Experiment?



Happy New Years! This year is the year of the rat according to the Chinese New Year's lunar calendar. The new moon and the official lunar beginning of the year is February 7, 2008. Rats have a bad reputation. The animal has been hated in western culture since the Black Death. Rats were the couriers of the disease. But the rat has been a symbol of hearty survival and perseverance in Chinese tradition. New York has always been a happy residence for rats. Lots of crumbs to eat, places to hide. The city of New York is symbolic of the symbiotic relationship between humans and rats. Yet, rats were deemed a nuisance and rat catchers, like the one above, were employed for many years. But the rat is not to be feared. In fact, the rest of the world has developed a fondness. Observe the rat craze in Russia. You can read up on this curious animal in Mr. Langton's book and this one about rats in New York by Mr. Sullivan. More to follow on the week of Chinese New Year festivities in NYC!