Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This Friday at the Downtown Fullerton Art Walk!

This Friday, October 2, is the first Friday of the month, and that means it's the Downtown Fullerton Art Walk!  Here are a few of the sweet venues/shows you can come check out...

1.) Hibbleton Gallery presents a collaboration with Trabajo Press, entitled “I DO FLYERS” featuring the unsung heroes who make flyers, posters, and album artwork for all your favorite local bands. This show celebrates “behind the scenes artists” building aesthetics and worlds that the music can inhabit.


2.) oh, hello friend will feature artist and designer Ming Ong. Based in Los Angeles, Ming Ong’s artwork reflects her international upbringing and inclusive worldview. At first, Ming’s paintings seem to be just sweet, innocent illustrations of children and animals, hearkening back to classic children’s books. Upon closer examination, they reveal a darker, more dangerous side. Viewers are tempted to laugh at these humorous juxtapositions. Then they’re challenged to discern their deeper, hidden meaning. Indeed, beyond the bright colors, illustrated style, and nostalgic feel are thoughtful, incisive comments about society and culture.  Her illustrations have been published in the New York Times, American Illustration 29, Village Voice, LA Weekly, The Stranger, Bitch Magazine, and many others.

3.) PÄS Gallery presents “Smile” the recent works of Michael Myers. Myers’ new collection of work explores gods, universes and good vibes. This past year his paintings explore a simpler character form, yet possess more complexity with multiple textures and layers. As an artist and designer, he likes to use mixed media with an emphasis of gouache and acrylics.

4.) Carpe Diem Experience presents an evening of imaginative works by the talented Dino Perez. His surreal illustrations have been featured on concert posters for Ellie Goulding & Morrissey. Explore his works while swaying to the beats of singer-songwriter Raymundo and the singer-songwriter stylings of Tavia.

5.) Artists of the Magoski Arts Colony present "A Poem is Near" curated by E.E. Jacks...

6.) More artists of the Magoski Arts Colony present "A Pound of Flesh"...

7.) Violethour Studio will feature a collection of photographs by Michael Magoski entitled "Water"...
There's lots more to check out for yourself.  See you this Friday at the Downtown Fullerton Art Walk!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Post-Apocalyptic Amusement Parks: a Report on George Saunders’ Civilwarland in Bad Decline

“Super.  I admit it’s not the exact boat I was visualizing, but still its a boat, and I for one am going to try to focus on its boatness, and not on those kind of huge gaping holes in the sides there.”

—George Saunders, “Bounty”

I’ve just finished reading George Saunders’ 1996 short story collection Civilwarland in Bad Decline, which came out the same year as one of my favorite books ever, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  Saunders’ stories share a certain kinship with Wallace’s novel, in that they tend to be set in a fictional, post-apocalyptic United States, and they are darkly funny critiques of certain aspects of American culture.

The title story, “Civilwarland in Bad Decline”, is about a Civil War-themed amusement park in a post-apocalyptic U.S.  Like Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm, Civilwarland offers a commodified and highly misleading version of American history-for-profit which is guarded by a retaining wall and strict (and sometimes brutal) security.  The main character is a mid-level employee tasked with giving special tours to potential investors.  One such tour is interrupted when they discover that the simulation “Coolie Labor Camp” has been vandalized by a roving gang—an increasing problem for Civilwarland.  The story is a really funny meditation on amusement parks and the commodification of history.

Other stories deal with other types of amusement parks and businesses centered on delusion and fantasy.  In “The Wavemaker Falters,” a boy is crushed to death at a popular water park.  “Downtrodden Mary’s Failed Campaign of Terror” is set in a weird Natural History-type museum that is also hyper-patriotic and nationalistic.  “The 400-Pound CEO” is about a raccoon disposal service.  The story “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz” is about a virtual reality business which depends on people “offloading” their actual memories, which are then edited, sanitized, and re-packaged for mass consumption.  This story explores, again, the commodification of history at the expense of actual memory.  The suggestion is that Americans prefer sanitized delusions over complex truth, and that, when we willfully forget or manipulate the past, we are setting ourselves up for a scary future.

The collection ends with a novella called “Bounty,” which is also about an amusement park in a post-apocalyptic America.  The park, called Bountyland, is staffed by mutants called “Flaweds” who are employed to satisfy every desire, fantasy, and whim of the wealthy “Normal” patrons.  Bountyland gives its guests an experience of a “bountiful” world, which contrasts sharply with the actual world outside its high walls—a world full of desperation, violence, poverty, pollution, full-blown slavery, herds of feral dogs, and people living off the bombed-out scraps of the old world.

The action centers around a “Flawed” employee of Bountyland (he has claws on his feet) who goes on a desperate and dangerous quest to save his Flawed sister (she has a small vestigial tail) form the clutches of a wealthy “Normal” who has purchased her for sexual purposes.  On his journey, the hero sees for the first time in years the awful world outside the walls of Bountyland.  He narrowly escapes enslavement and death, as he surveys a world of abandoned tract homes, gutted-out Wal-Marts, and shantytowns where people eat raccoons, dogs, and each other.

“Bounty” feels like a commentary on Americans’ tendency to deny our real problems in favor of fantasy and delusion.  Even those outside the walls of Bountyland speak in a weird cliched business-talk.  A slaveowner says of his slaves, “I prefer to call them Employees.  Either that or Involuntary Labor Associates.”  Positive thinking and willful self-delusion based on corporate models disconnected from reality seem to have created a crazy dystopia that is, disturbingly, not too unfamiliar.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Anti-Club Playlist 9/25/15

On Friday nights, I DJ at Mulberry St. Ristorante (aka The Anti-Club) in downtown Fullerton with a few friends.  Here's what we played last night...

“Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House” by Yo La Tengo

“Witchcraft” (live) by Matt Costa

“She’s So Devine” by Little Jerry Williams

“Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell

“Softly Softly” by Abwarts

“Shout” by Tears for Fears

“Marie Doucer-Marie Colere” by Marie Laforet

“Nobody But Me” by The Human Bienz

“Mr. Tough” by Yo La Tengo

“Only One” by Colleen Green

“One Step Beyond” by Madness

“Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas” by Brigitte Bardot

“Die Welt” by Hildegard Knef

“Juicy Fruit” by Rudy Greene

“What Difference Does It Make?” by The Smiths

“Mr. Lee” by The Bobbettes

“Princess Castle 1987” by Peach Kelli Pop

“Tall Man Skinny Lady” by Ty Segall

”Crosswords” by Panda Bear

“Ngwendeire Guita” by The Lulus Band

“Requiem OMM 2” by Of Montreal

“Blowin’ In the Wind” by Stevie Wonder

“Pinnochio” by Future Islands

“You’re Gonna Die” by Destroy All Monsters

“Under Cover of Darkness” by The Strokes

“Mississippi” by Bob Dylan

“Reach Out for Me” by Burt Bacharach

“Changing of the Guards” by Bob Dylan

“Danube Incident” by Lalo Schifrin

“I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Anne Peebles

“Mother Long Tongue” by Desmond Dekker

“Step Aside” by Los Headaches

“Rock-a-Bayou Baby” by Moonlighters

“Come Down” by Lord Tanamo

“Boo Boo Stick Beat” by Chet Atkins

“Teenage Riot” by Sonic Youth

“The Motivator” by T.Rex

“Gotta Know Right Now” by Smoking Popes

“Let Me Sleep Beside You” by David Bowie

“Turn the Page” by The Streets

“Malambo” by Silvestre Mendez

“Romance and Freedom” by Wonderful

“Viva Sonhando” by Getz/Gilberto

“Lord Can You Hear Me?” by Spaceman 3

“Did You See His Name” by The Kinks

“Evil Hoodoo” by The Seeds

“Kites are Fun” by The Free Design

“Guerrilla Radio” by Rage Against the Machine

“Debra” by Beck

See you next Friday night at The Anti-Club (aka Mulberry St. Ristorante)!