Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jay Nelson

I wanted to share with you some of Jay Nelsons new art. His work has been steadily evolving in the 20 or so years I've known him. His current exhibit at Triple Base gallery in San Francisco is called The Autonomous Zone. He draws inspiration from the "western frontier as a destination for a romantic solitary experience." Its all about being self-sufficient and existing peacefully within nature. He makes sculptures that are functional vehicles for rolling around solo. Jay also builds treehouses throughout the country. I think he even built one in the Oakland airport. His paintings are beautifully psychedelic interpretations of nature. They are really something to behold. Its been interesting to see him cultivate an earth based vision of the future, honing his personal interests and beliefs into this amazingly expressive artwork.

Dead Mans Finger's State Park, 2008
watercolor and gouche on paper, 40" x 25"

Paul's Vision, 2008
oil on panel, diptych, 47 3/4" x 71 3/4"

Humblot House, 2008
oil on panel, 34 3/4" x 47 3/4"

Acorn Treehouse, Ukiha, CA, 2008

Study Case, mixed media, 2008

Honda Spree, Study in Temporary Autonomy, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Memoirs Volume 1: Liftoff

My friend started telling me about it in 9th grade. I was a "boarder," I stayed at school all the time- my parents weren’t from around there. It was cool, I loved it. We lived two to a room adjacent to the 18th hole of Spyglass golf course, which we used to make out with girls. My friend Jeremy was telling me all year, “you’ll see colors” “it’s like the encyclopedia is floating through your brain”--- hmmm. “Wow, that sounds cool; I’d like to try that. I don’t know if lesson after lesson on the adventures of Holden Caulfield are quite doing it for me” I replied. This was 1991. The day after school got out we saw Rage Against the Machine open for Pearl Jam at the Warfield in San Francisco. The next day we were on Haight Street near Stanyan, outside the McDonalds (pictured below), scoping the scene. A weird young indescribable kid with a cane took our order. A sheet. I think it was 70 dollars. Word made its way over to the gutter punks in the park, who were gathered in a circle. We went over and received our LSD wrapped tin foil, McDonald’s golden arches on each and every one. Kyon, our acid experienced guide was happy. We dosed.

Next thing I know, we are in the parking lot of Los Gatos shopping mall, sitting in the cab of a white truck. I was asked “Do you see now? You are going on all these different little trips” I saw. Every minuscule detail interested me so much that my FULL attention was paid to it. This would happen each instant, until the interests blended together into being completely immersed in a flowing mind voyage, experiencing multiple realities on many planes simultaneously. I remember losing the ability to converse and Jeremy trying to talk to me, unsuccessfully. “He’s gone, man” Kyon said. I was taken into the mall and into a cassette and CD store, Sam Goody or something like that. So far it had been a wonderful walk through the castle of consumerism; I marveled at people and was fascinated by paintings we walked by.

I think someone told me to pick out a tape. Or I saw one I liked. But either way, I put my finger into the tape rack. I wanted to touch the tape to signify it was the one I was verbally referring to but my finger slipped through the plastics and pushed on in. It came back out like elastic. This was a new sensation. I thought about it a lot before I was shuffled along. It is not often one can put their finger through solid objects.

On to Burger King. What a place! Things were getting unprovokingly contemplative- but I was together enough to talk to the lady who took my order. I tried eating a chicken sandwich and it just could not happen. Was I eating it now or was that 2 hours ago? Lucidity and time/space began to mingle in very confusing but marvelous way.

Someone gave me a piece of gum- Bubblelicious grape gum. Its flavor knows no limits. As Dr. John Lilly said- “In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits...”
I sat on the grass in front of Burger King for I what I carefully estimated to be 4 to 6 hours- chewing. Eventually I asked “how long has it been?”

Five minutes.

They couldn’t be serious. That makes no sense. Five fucking minutes?! Apparently, I had a time revelation (time doesn’t really exist). Like most things, it's all in your mind. This notion turned out to be an important tool in working towards developing an educated happiness or what some call Enlightenment or Nirvana.

Speaking of, Nirvana was on Saturday Night Live that night. Jeremy and I sat in the summer bedroom of his step mother’s home. The come-down was happening; the clarity was creeping in. It was beautiful. I stuck a bunch of the remaining acid in my wallet, eager to share it with my friends back in Los Angeles. I remember wondering why Kurt Cobain’s voice sounded so different, so raspy. I thought it was the acid but I later learned, as Courtney Love put it, they “got high and went to SNL”. They were on heroin and it makes your voice fucked up. What an amazing performance. Then, in classic psychedelic spirit, we watched the dancing broom part of Fantasia.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Can Hear Your Heartbeat

A big hit around here these days, I Can Hear Your Heartbeat by Chris Rea:

Friday, October 17, 2008


Blindness was pretty good. There were about 8 people in the theater when I saw it and 4 walked out. Sure the premise is a little silly: The whole world goes blind except one woman. The film follows her and some blind people into their quarantine wards and we watch what happens. Their world goes to shit, literally. I found it to be a refreshingly bleak look at society, morality and human nature. Like the superior films Time of the Wolf and Children of Men, there are some good post apocalypse scenarios- with people fighting for food and dogs eating humans. Fernando Meirelles, the guy that made City of God, directed it. He definitely has his own style utilizing semi-experimental lighting and camera work. Gael Garcia Bernal plays a good evil guy: The King of Ward 3. Everyone is talking about the rape scene. It is one of the more disturbing I’ve seen. The screen falls mostly black as we hear the sounds of a long gang rape orgy. That’s when most people left. I found it disgusting and unbelievable. Would the men in Ward 1 let this happen, even if they were starving? Never in real life. And why didn’t the one girl who could see just kill The King or get the gun BEFORE the rape. Ridiculous- but it made for good cinema.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

T.I.M: The Top Ten Most Disturbing Movies

“Every dark needs its light, every day needs its night.”

I am a longtime fan and collector of dark and disturbing movies. When other people turn their heads, I stop and take pictures. If a friend sees something they think is twisted, they always send me the link. I like to explore disturbing places, and have been that way since birth. So after 29 years of exposure to all the fucked up realities of society, I have felt the need to share some of my top picks that I feel represent the dark side of humanity. I know many of you will be horrified, if you ever choose to watch these films, and others will say “What about this one… What about that one…” No list is complete, and there is a lifetime of movies I have yet to see, but this is my offering to you. If you are curious, come take a trip to the other side, but remember, this is some heavy duty sick and twisted shit. Saying that, I hope you can put all of your judgment aside and take a trip into these filmmaker’s nightmares. (Some of these were listed before on my horror list, but absolutely deserve a second spot)

TIM Hicks

The Vanishing (European Version)
I recommend this as a terror inducing appetizer. It is the chilling story of a Dutch cyclist whose girlfriend disappears while they are vacationing. His obsessive journey of finding out what happened to her is masterfully told. The film expresses our need for closure, and if there is such a thing. How far will you go? The ending will fuck you up, guaranteed. (Don’t even bother watching the US version.)

Cannibal Holocaust
If you think reality entertainment started in the nineties, you better watch this one. It chronicles the search to find a lost group of documentary filmmakers in the cannibal infested jungles of South America. The jungle locations, unbelievable special effects, and 70’s film stock create an extremely disturbing atmosphere. The production is so raw that people believed they were watching an actual documentary. The director even had the actors go into hiding for a year after it was released to heighten the effect. A brilliant film, way ahead of its time.

I Spit On Your Grave
This is the story of revenge. A carefree New York woman decides to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. She heads down to her country home and frolics in the forest. What she doesn’t know is that she is unknowingly being watched by a bunch of horny rednecks. The scene that follows is demented, almost unwatchable. No happy ending with this one. Just pain, pain, and more pain. The director was so worried about audience reaction he used a fake name.

Last House on The Left
A slashing blow to the innocence of the sixties. A pair of hippie girls head to a rock show. The only crime they commit? They ask the wrong guy for some weed. And his friends want to have some fun- total, unrestrained, depraved fun. The mixture of folk music and depictions of torture tap into something powerful. It doesn’t matter if you think this is positive or negative, you will never forget it. A must view.

Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom
I showed this film to a friend of mine in high school and he is still shaken up about it. Salo will leave a lasting impression, I assure you. The film details the journey of a group of fascist Italians on the run from the Allies at the end of World War II. They know their time is running out so they start playing “games” with their servants. They put them through every humiliation possible. Saying that, I have never seen such depravity depicted in such a highly artistic way. Pasolini letting it all go.

Flower of Flesh And Blood
This movie is the closest on the list to the snuff category. Shot on video, it has no story, only one location, and just two actors. Simply put, it is the depiction of a man disemboweling a woman, period. Supposedly Charlie Sheen saw it and immediately contacted the FBI because he was convinced it was real. The authorities were so convinced they made the producers show them behind the scenes footage. This film influenced a Japanese man to go out and re-enact what he saw in this movie. Viewer beware.

Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer
The terror classic. Based on the true story of the serial killer Henry Lee Lucas and his antics with Otis Toole. The story of a disturbed man with no conscience. There is not a drop of remorse in this movie. From beginning to end: murder, murder, murder. No other serial killer biopic has come close to this ice cold depiction of killing for sport.

The most lighthearted film of the bunch, which isn’t saying much. This adorable German film depicts the love affair between a man, woman, and a rotting corpse. Need I say more? A truly sick and twisted work of art. The musical theme, when coupled with the imagery, is both heart wrenching and vomit enducing. And believe me, they don’t hold back. Enjoy it with a date.

Johnny Got His Gun
So absolutely horrific that it boggles the mind. An infantry soldier is shelled during World War I. He is left blind, deaf, and mute. All his limbs are gone. He is basically a brain in a jar. The only thing left are his memories and his daydreams. The eerie black and white footage looks like it was shot in the silent era. The voice over sounds like a distress call from hell. This film is your worst nightmare. A living hell.

Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door
A friend told me that this film is by far the most fucked up movie he has ever seen. Well, I didn’t believe him so I ordered it right away, watched it… and let me say this, I was absolutely disgusted. Based on a true story, it starts slow, a pair of sisters are forced to live with their aunt after their parents are killed in a car crash. Soon the aunt starts having problems, some serious problems. She starts taking them out on the kids. She lets her sons “play” with one of the sisters. I can only describe this movie as one of the most demented, disturbing, and twisted things I have ever seen. I was so affected that I had to sit down and write this.

Now go out and get a good movie!

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Madness in China

Have you heard about this? The Chinese company Sanlu Group has been putting Melamine, a white crystalline chemical used to make plastics, in its milk powder. It has shipped products with this in it all over the worldt. Over 53,000 children under the age of three have fallen sick in China, 4 are dead, and 14,000 hospitalized from Kidney failure. Many candies, baby food, and chocolates are contaminated including Cadbury chocolates and the popular White Rabbit candies that are readily available all over Chinatown. It is so bad the European Union has banned importing all Chinese food products for children. But here's the fucked up thing: Sanlu Group did it on purpose and once the government knew about the poisonings- they covered it up.

It started because the communist government, in order to control them, would not let Sanlu sell their products at a competitive market price. Under pressure from their superiors, the Sanlu food scientists started adding Melamine to watered-down milk because its high nitrogen content masks the resulting protein deficiency. In March they knew their products were making people sick and instead of recalling the food, they made a much publicized donation of 1.5 million dollars of poisoned baby formula to victims of the massive Sichuan Province earthquake!! Evil! Then the government got involved. Up until September, when the recall was announced, the food continued to be made and anyone speaking up against it, often times hospital workers or human rights workers, lost there jobs or were arrested. When lawyers tried to help victims of the poisoning, they were threatened by the State and were told not to help or their licences would be revoked. The Chinese Central Propaganda Department issued a statement saying that no one was allowed to print anything about food safety without their permission. That is how they deal with problems of this magnitude- through oppression and denial.

There is a great blog that has been championing this issue called the Haphazard Gourmet Girls. They monitor what they call the Chowpocalypse. There are a lot of good articles on the site, the one about the evils of Whole Foods is particularly eye-opening. Apparently Whole Foods works with some really fucked up meat companies, are anti-union, and their CEO is a megalomaniac.

I can't help but marvel at the disregard for human life these animal exploiting corporations have.