Archive for pop culture

Gaga Must Be in Awe of Mark Ryden. (Hell, Who Isn’t?)

Posted in Art & Culture, Fame & Celebrity, Feminism (Shades of Gray), Goof & Glamour, I Heart Shaman*Art, I Heart Tricksters, In Celebration of the Absurd, Lipstick Shamaness, Psyche & Sexuality, punk rock, Sexuality, Sideshow Siren & Bearded Lady, Star F*#ker, Style & Fashion, Technicolor Pop, Top 2% of Coolest Mofos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by alphabetfiend

   I didn’t watch the VMAs but, periodically glancing down at my iphone screen, I saw that twitter was all a-twitter over Lady Gaga’s meat dress.     

(Yes, IPhone, yes Twitter. Groan. “Long Story,” sighs The Lusty Luddite.)    

    

But no one was saying the obvious which was “OMG! Gaga’s gone real life Ryden!”    

Check out that white flaxen hair!

  

Being the selfish little writer-chick that I am I decided to save my “OMG!” for y’all. Except then I couldn’t get online for the umpteenth time (boy, the free wifi from my next door coffee shop sho’ ain’t whut it used ta be.) By the next morning, several people were pointing it out, including Ryden himself. (On Twitter. Hence Twitter.)    

    

Look, no one’s calling Gaga a Ryden rip-off or at least I’m not. It’s still super cool & mad genius. Once again, Lady Gaga used costume as an artistic and spiritual medium; stirring our own frockful fantasies; probing own throbbing architectures of mythos & meaning. So yea, it was pretty much awesome. After all, the girl in “Incarnation” isn’t a real-life girl with stepped-one toes. She was a fantasy, up for the taking.    

Gaga plucked that sucker from the tree of meaning and took a big juicy bite. Oh, wait, let’s try that again. >>I’m a bit rusty due to my recent sabBRATtical. << Gaga fillet’d that fucker from the flank of id and toothesomely tore off a hunk of bloody flesh.    

    

It was brilliant, really, I loved it, except… well, it would’ve been much cooler if she had given Ryden a big old “Yea, baby!” shout-out rather than mumbling some vague, tired shit about feeling like a piece of meat or being seen as a commodity or bla bla bla. Shaaaad up, Lady Bla Bla.    

    

Look, the whole feminism “feeling like a piece of meat” thing, I get it. I just don’t buy it. Not from Gaga.    

Lady Gaga is an absolute expert at letting her meat hang out. If she were really troubled — feeling like a piece of ass — she’d probably cover that ass.     

     

Nah, I think it’s much more likely that Lady Gaga, just like the rest of us, has spent hours agog and drooling over Ryden’s paintings, searching for ourselves from among his feminine archetypes.    

    

I’ve often blamed Ryden’s meat paintings on pop culture’s current carnivorous phase. At the store, as customers went nuts over steak bath-mats and bacon band-aids, I’d just chuckle at Ryden’s far-reaching influence. People may not know that Ryden’s the reason they’re craving meaty gewgaws but he is.    

Mark Ryden put meat on the muther-fuckin’ map. Mark Ryden made meat cool.    

I dunno but I’ve heard that if you wanna get more followers on Twitter, you need only name-drop bacon.    

And vagina.    

And penis.    

And there, folks, is all you really need to know about WHY we are so obsessed with meat.    

    

We are meat. Sometimes we forget that we’re meat. And sometimes we long to remember.    

    

Mark Ryden probes that soft, bloody, fleshy place inside of us. And we…respond.    

    

Lady Gaga wasn’t saying “How dare you treat me like a piece of meat!” Puh-leeze. She was shouting, “Hey, everybody, look at me! I’m meaty!”    

"Broken Label" with Mark Ryden

  

Gaga was acting on an impulse that wasn’t as wholly original as many non-Ryden fans might think. In 2009, freaky fashion blogger Tatianista gave voice to that Grade A urge.    

How utterly fabulous would it be for an underground fashionista like myself to have wearable meat a la Ryden to add to my ever-growing, glamorously eccentric wardrobe? So fab, in fact, that someone far more clever thought of it long before I did.    

Tatianista waxed poetic about the Nagi Noda / Mark Ryden collaboration, which launched Noda’s “Broken Label.”    

The first and only collaborative fashion collection the two artists produced…will likely be as highly collectible as just about anything else Ryden has produced…even more-so now that Noda, whose broad body of work included everything from popular music videos and commercials to sculpture, conceptual art and “hair hats” died tragically young last year. She left this world wearing her favorite Chanel boots, Victor and Rolf black lace eyelashes and one of her own Mark Ryden dresses.    

In February of this year (2010) the prescient Schadenfreude Pony declared of the meat dress in Ryden’s “Incarnation”    

GaGa will be wearing it next week.    

Unlike Tatianista and Gaga, I’ve never felt an enormous need to wear a meat dress. I’ve always been more into Ryden’s more mythic maidens, all filled-up from the inside with story & secrets.    

    

 I was obsessed for a time with creating a t-bone steak clutch, perfect accessory for the LBD, but was too lazy and never got around to making it.    

    

The ground chuck bag was a Ryden collab with Paul Frank. I’m not sure who did the pork slab but isn’t it the ideal briefcase for bringin’ home the bacon?    

    

My someday steak purse would not be a real t-bone, of course, cause I can barely stomach raw meat when preparing it for the grill (and my stomach.) My meaty fashion forays would be more figurative than real life soon-to-be rotting flesh.    

    

Such as these folks did for a Mark Ryden opening. (She’s in stilts, I think, which is all kinds of circusy spectacular)    

Man in a meat at Mark Ryden show

  

Though I give Gaga big props for keeping it real. I mean, look at these shoes.    

    

They look like they’re ready for the oven not the VMAs.    

    

One sultry June night in Toledo, I met my friend Dan McGuire — my Precocious Dandy — at a gritty east-side club. Dan was joining a local band, The Porn Flakes, on-stage. As a steak. All 6 feet and 5 inches of Dan had disappeared into a giant foam-rubber t-bone. Back stage, in the tiny yard behind the club, Dan stripped outta the steak and changed into a giant cow.  I dropped down onto the discarded steak, lounging like it was a carne-chaise. In a tiny pinkey-orange sundress & pink boa, with a nice marmaladey tan, I was feeling pretty luxurious, pretty damn cheeky. Things were going great, until one of the Porn Flakes began to eye me hungrily.    

“What?” I playfully glowered. “What am I? Just a piece of meat?”    

“I dunno, nah,” he drooled, “But you sure do look like a golden, buttery mushroom to me mmm.”    

“Hey, hey! ” Dan hollered. “That’ll be enough of that. Have a little fuckin’ respect, why don’tya?   

While Dan railed and ranted — protectively, possevively — I lounged extra lasciviously on my meat chaise. I batted my lashes as Dan hurried to pack his things. I smirked as he reached for my hand, yanking me up, pulling me away from those perverted Porn Flakes. I giggled as I caught up with his long aggravated strides, glancing back at my starving admirer. Then I leaned lovingly into Dan’s sturdy ribs as we ran excitedly down the dirty street, a trail of pink feathers behind us.    

*All paintings/art by the crazy gorgeous genius Mark Ryden. Check out his dot.com  

*For another meaty anecdote, read “Ham, I Am”

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Today’s Secret Word is “Barfday”

Posted in Art Lover, Dork Alert, Goof & Glamour, I Heart Funny Fellas, In Celebration of the Absurd, Star F*#ker, Style & Fashion, Technicolor Pop, Top 2% of Coolest Mofos, TV, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Happy Freakin’ Barfday, Peewee!

Hooray! It’s Peewee Herman’s birthday! Don’t know how old he is, don’t care. It hardly matters. Peewee’s oddly timeless.

I adore Peewee Herman and count him among the top 2 % coolest mofos (of the magical sort) on planet Earth.

I worship the H*Man. So I was damn sure gonna celebrate his birthday with sacred acts of tom-foolery. To keep my play pure, I’d —  of course! — avoid all adult responsibilities while evading mind-numbing normals.

I’d planned an ambitious day of play;  loll about on chatty chairs, ram things with my shiny pink bicycle. (A virtual valentine of a bike!) 

I was gonna cater to the id.

But I couldn’t let the day pass without wishing Herman a happy Barfday.

Barfday?

AAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

I meant to say that! Barf barf barf day!

Happy Barfday, Mr. Peeee-weee… happy barfday to you.

Hope the day was good to you.

Hope the playhouse is over-flowing with cake, frosting, bows, balloons, jewels, cash, pills. And, of course, psychedelic butterflies with google eyes who’ll quickly morph — as needed — into bowties. So many dandy-fop bowties! In a neon rainbow of hues!

Hope Capt. Carl & Cowboy Curtis treated you to a tequila shot or two.

Hope Miss Yvonne spoiled you with a “gentleman’s choice” — whatever that means.

Hope your birthday (so far) has been really freakin’ cool.

Psst.

Today’s secret word is “barfday.”

********************************************

Yes, I was including wordpress among adult activities, what of it?

*The cubist Hermans are by Tommervick, whose modern take on cubism has reconfigured everyone from Elvis to Mr. Rogers. Spock too. I swear.

Your Own Personal Jesus (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, Music & Life & Sundays, Mythos, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Have your personal Jesus call my personal Jesus and we’ll work somethin’ out. How’s Sunday work for ya?    

For this week’s Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, I’ve chosen a song that’s gone through quite a transformation since its early 90’s hey-day. Originally done by Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus” got a whole new spiritual life when covered by the late great Johnny Cash.    

    

Johnny Cash recorded “Personal Jesus” for his 2002 album American IV: When the Man Comes Around. Brilliantly produced by Rick Rubin, the album is a masterful collection of Cash covering songs by such diverse artists as Nine Inch Nails or Simon & Garfunkle. (Hurt; A Bridge Over Troubled Water) It’s clear from Rubin’s song selections that he’d listened to a lot of old Johnny Cash records. Each song is a glimpse into Cash’s psyche, soul and sound.    

    

“Personal Jesus” was an especially perfect choice and yet not at all obvious.    

Johnny Cash? Depeche Mode? Whuuut?    

C’mon, think about it! “Personal Jesus” was made for Johnny Cash. It’s a Jesus song! And damn can Johnny sing us some Jesus.    

“Gospel music is part of what I am and part of what I do,” — JC    

By 2002, singing about Jesus was old hat to Cash: he’d struck an earthly aching chord with songs like “Redemption”, “I Saw the Light” or (my fav) Billy Joe Shaver’s “Old Chunk of Coal.”    

Sinner? (Johnny Cash)

Johnny was the sinner striking out towards redemption.    

There was a sadness in Cash: an ill-healed injury, a bruised history. Yet Cash wasn’t brow beat or beat down. He wasn’t ashamed or unwilling to change. Johnny Cash was a work in progress… he was “Us”. For all the hurt his voice conveyed there was also yearning, learning and hope.    

Before I heard Cash’s cover of Personal Jesus, I never saw the song as spiritual or even especially meaningful. It seemed, to me, to be more about SNARK than SPIRIT.   

With that voice like an open gash, Cash gave it gospel. Personal Jesus” was never meant to be a spiritual hymn or religious statement. Dave Gahan reportedly wrote the song about heroin, after battling a nasty addiction to the stuff. (Guess that explains the snark.)   

Saint? (DM's Dave Gahan)

For me, the Depeche Mode version elicits memories of an illicit afternoon of stolen sex with my high-school boyfriend who was supposedly my ex-boyfriend (who should have definitely stayed an ex.) He’d shown up with his shiny new CD, hot to trot, hopin’ to be my very own personal Jesus. While he sang along,  fancying himself as unholy savior, I sat there thinking A) This again? What am I doing? and B) He bettah not be thinkin’ he’s my personal Jesus. Until I finally busted out with “Y’know you’re really not” and he said, “Oooh, yes I am.”    

Let us take a moment to thank our blessed father who art in heavan, for it was Johnny Cash who took ultimate and final possession of “Personal Jesus.” Sorry DM fans, sorry MM* fans, but it’s true. “Personal Jesus” is Johnny’s. Always will be. Sorry ADC but you aren’t my personal Jesus. Never waz.    

Everyone must find something to give their life texture and meaning, be it Jesus or Johnny Cash. We’re all setting our own moral barometers and looking for guidance — in the pages of The Koran or in the pages of Nietzsche. Whether we find peace in ancient psalms or Ginsberg poems, we’re all in search of the joy that obliterates pain, the light that illuminates the dark.    

    

What is more personal than Jesus?    

Often, when someone’s found what they’re looking for, they’ll become convinced that they have what the rest of us need. But spirit is a private matter. No one can save another’s soul. Even those belting out “Jesus Loves Me” beneath the same rain-pelted church roof  are singing to their own singular versions of God’s first-born.    

Historian/Author Stephen Prothero explored the many-faced Jesus in his book American Jesus. The book examines how Jesus has affected our culture and how our culture has affected Jesus.    

No religious personality has captivated so many Americans for so long as Jesus. Indeed, as Boston University historian Prothero demonstrates in this sparkling and engrossing book, Jesus is the one religious figure nearly every American, whether Christian or not, past and present, has embraced. From Thomas Jefferson’s cut-and-paste Bible to Jesus Christ Superstar, from the feminized Christ of the Victorians to the “manly redeemer” of Teddy Roosevelt’s era, from Buddhist bodhisattva to Black Moses, Prothero surveys the myriad ways Americans have remade Jesus in their own image.    

(Publisher’s Weekly)      

    

Whether you view Jesus as a diety or not, there’s no denying that Jesus has become an American icon. Chances are, you too have your own personal Jesus. We should all have our own personal Jesus! Who doesn’t sometimes need to reach out and touch faith?    

Personal Jesus    

Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there    

Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer    

Take second best
Put me to the test
Things on your chest
You need to confess
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith    

Your own Personal Jesus
Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Reach out and touch faith    

This video is beautifully done — sun-faded familial shots of Johnny & June intercut with raw b+w photos of haggard looking celebs. (Kris Kristofferson, Kieth Richards, Dennis Hopper, Billy Gibbons, Kate Moss, Sheryl Crow, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Depp, Chris Rock, Lisa Marie Presley, Travis Barker and Kid Rock.)    

   

Who or what does your Jesus look like? Who’s listening to your prayers? What do you reach for when you’re all alone, just flesh and bone by the telephone?   

I sometimes suspect that Johnny’s personal Jesus was June.    

    

After June died, after they buried her, the Robot Boy was reading the paper when tears welled up in his green eyes. I was… surprised.     

Wow, he said. Johnny’s not long for this world.    

RB passed the paper and pointed at a photo of Johnny Cash at June Carter Cash’s funeral. Cash, in a black suit and tie, was seated in a wheelchair; his face was graven and distant. A man was offering condolences, hand out-stretched, but Johnny saw right through him, as if he were in a whole other plane of existence. As if one or both of them were ghosts.    

They’ll be one of those couples, predicted RB. It won’t be long, now that June’s gone.    

And it wasn’t. It wasn’t long at all. I cried and cried the day Johnny died but having seen that picture, I’d say I was prepared. I could see the peace in it.    

    

*Marilyn Manson also covered “Personal Jesus.”    

The Holy Banana is from Stuff That looks Like Jesus, a gallery of one Jesus after another, whether in a dusty moth-wing or in the chocolatey layers of a kit kat candy bar.     

“Dead Characters” (the Jesus Big Boy painting) is by the ever-brilliant Mark Ryden.“Jesus with Desk Lamp” is by Branden Martz (just one of many amazing multi-media artworks on view at his website.) Expect to hear more about Mr. Martz!    

American Jesus by Stephen Prothero is available at Amazon.

Hello Kitty as Indian Trickster

Posted in Art & Culture, I Heart Tricksters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2008 by alphabetfiend
I wish I owned this Kitty Krishna by Vickie Berndt

I wish I owned this Kitty Krishna by Vickie Berndt

I think it’s true what they say about not buying art to match your furniture but damn this baby would look bitchin with my light blue couch and my Babe the Blue Ox!   

Babe the Blue Ox would crish on Kitty Krishna

Babe the Blue Ox would crish on Kitty Krishna

But that’s not why I covet it.  I love the tongue-in-cheek goofiness, the meeting of minds between the trickster Krishna and the glamorous Hello Kitty.  Between spirituality and pop culture, the humorous & the holy.  It’s groovy.  I dig it.  Beat.  Plus that crown is FABULOUS!  Vickie Berndt has an amazing vision.  Clever and weird, cutsie yet penetrating.  Last week I dreamt that Berndt’s  “Divine Goddess” (Drag Queen Divine as an Indian Goddess) was stolen!  In the dream I realized that Berndt’s Divine was the new Mona Lisa. 

Another witty beauty by Vickie Berndt

Another witty beauty by Vickie Berndt

To see more of Berndt’s work:    http://vickiberndt.com/fs.html     Have fun!

Alphabetfiend is Dia VanGunten — a writer & wanna-be circus freak living in Austin, Texas.

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