The Cruxshadows played at the DNA Lounge last week (along with Ayria and I:Scintilla) and I can’t summarize their performance better than JWZ when he declares them to be also known as Kai Last of the Brunnen-G featuring the Cleopatra 2525 Dancers. They’re trying much too hard and their show is overproduced. You almost wonder if there’s an inside joke to which you’re not privy, but then you realize they’re serious. Oh well. (Ayria and I:Scintilla were fine).
Also last week were Attrition, Unwoman, and Imprint (the solo project of Attrition’s lead singer), who did a rendition of America the Beautiful (distributed with permission), fitting to these trying political times. (She also did this song unnanounced in Portland, and was heckled by one audience member (who was then heckled by other musicians) but here she prefaced it with an explanation that it’s a political piece and should be taken as such. No one booed or heckled her this time).
This past Saturday I wandered down to the arid* Southron lands (*except that it rained on Decom — again) for their very own Decom. Gooferman and a few members of Vau de Vire were down there already for another gig, and they joined Mutaytor, the Wandering Marionettes of Cirque Berzerk, and Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque on the Mutaytor stage. Pictured above is Eric Gradman of Mutaytor/Cirque Berzerk, clearly violating the “GLOWSTICK FREE ZONE” that Decom was declared to be this year. Silly clowns.
I am fascinated by image creation; in supermarket lines, I analyze the portraits to see how they were lit — did you know you can see the photographer’s lights (and sometimes the photographer himself) in the reflection in the models’ eyes? We’re so used to simply looking at photographs we forget that there is at least one other person in that room, holding the camera; sometimes there are a half-dozen, moving lights, assembling wardrobes, holding reflectors, doing makeup, and the like. But these are not the kind of photos I take.
Mine are of action: what you don’t see in my images is the crowd to my left and right that I’ve (sometimes rudely (sorry…)) elbowed out of the way, or that I’m balanced precariously atop speaker equipment trying desperately not to accidentally unplug something (hasn’t happened yet) and so on, firing off dozens and dozens of frames in the hopes that one will turn out. What you, the viewer, end up getting is the finished product. Perhaps I’ve cropped out some of the crowd whom I couldn’t get in front of, and you usually don’t see the wires I’m most certainly not unplugging with my boot or camera bag. What you also don’t see is the motion, the raw visceral feel for what’s going on in that image.
As a photographer, I distill/condense/integrate four dimensions into two, squashing three-dimensional space over time into a two-dimensional rectangle; a fraction of a second (never instantaneous, mind you), a sliver of history, now frozen in time. Stills, however, while having the potential to be absolutely iconic, lack movement (by definition); the best they can do is imply it, through motion blur and streaks of light. But as I edit these, moving rapidly back and forth between a series of shots, I get a glimmer of what happened at that moment, a window back into that fourth dimension (that’s time, folks).
Amira spinning flags at the Regionals soiree, Burning Man 2008
It is that glimmer that I try to bring you here. Perhaps you’ll find these as amusing as I do. Perhaps they’ll help tell a story that you didn’t have otherwise, so you can see the dust blow, the wind howl, the flames spit forth. You’ll see expressions change on peoples’ faces as they interact with that otherwise unseen person in the room (by this I mean me), and interesting to some of you, you can see the thought process behind how I develop a shot from the initial “oh, that’s interesting” to “but how do I look at it in an interesting manner.” And that’s why I stare at those otherwise trashy magazines while I wait in line, trying to figure out how they made the shot and what they were thinking when they composed it (and sometimes, what were they thinking…)
The Wheel of Thwarted Ambition at Burning Man 2008
Check back in the coming days for further installments — I have about a dozen such flipbooks in the works.
This past Friday saw the latest installment of San Francisco’s underground circus extravaganza, Bohemian Carnival. Hosted by Gooferman and Vau de Vire Society, special guests included our frequent cohorts, the inimitable Fou Fou Ha!, Keno Mapp (and his album release) acrobatic pole-dancer extraordinaire Blaze from Portland, and Vau de Vire’s periodic co-conspirators, the Dr. Madd Vibe Orchestra (fronted by Angelo Moore of Fishbone).
It was an excellent show. If you didn’t make it, why not? You missed out. Our next installment should be in a few months.
This morning greeted the new Burning Man arrivals (thousands and thousands of them) with a crippling white-out storm. While the wind isn’t as bad as it could be (gusts are currently up to 45mph, but 60 is rumored) the dust kicked up by all the newcomers is blowing straight over the city.
Pictured above is Bex Workman of senior staff at Burning Man, protesting against the wind: and that was yesterday, before today’s storm. The forecast (that I overheard in the daily briefing to the various law enforcement agencies (crap, nosebleed, standby…) this afternoon says the storms should continue throughout tomorrow until perhaps to mid-Wednesday, when “normal” Burning Man weather returns.
Half-moon over Center Camp Saturday night
I have managed to explore the open playa somewhat, by following roads created by heavy equipment and vehicles working on the various art pieces; but deviating from the tracks results in fishtailing and utter immobility. Then you have to walk your bike until you find suitable hardpack to get anywhere.
Dust be damned, today three of us donned miscellaneous European army jumpsuits and held up traffic, investigating contraband with a plastic squeeky dog an demanding papers; the two below joined our party and contributed to the shenanigans, entering RVs and frisking our detained suspects.
The Blight is still missing a core crew member, missing in action since an engine died; our camp is dusty but in good spirits. I returned today to find one of our tents upside down and mine barely holding together (I wasn’t aware fiberglass rods could bend that far) so we broke it down and covered it in 2.5 gal water jugs. I’m currently holed up with Bex in her trailer (spending way too much time trying to obtain a wifi connection) and drinking Moscow Mules. My apologies to anyone with whom I had plans, but I’m currently closed for business and am waiting out this weather.
Last Friday — 8-8-08 — saw a fine lineup of performers including Vau de Vire Society, Gooferman, Bad Unkl Sista, Fou Fou Ha!, Lapsus, The Tongues, Dr. Abacus, and more. This was a fundraiser for KSea Flux’s project, Big Top Magazine, which recently won the SF Bay Guardian’s Best of the Bay Award for local zine.
We rode in on the Fandango Freedom Bus, adorned with clown-noses and rocking out to tunes from Bootie mashup, then joined the fray; and our compatriot Monica of Lollyphile fame (purveyors of the delight that is absinthe and bacon-maple lollies) took over the unattended coat check booth and proceeded to work it without permission or pay. These are shenanigans of the responsible variety.
Pictured above is a performer with Lapsus, the dark belly dance troupe.
Vau de Vire Society, Gooferman and Fou Fou Ha!, joined by our darling friends Cirque Berzerk and the Wandering Marionettes, were brought in to perform at the Electric Daisy Carnival in downtown Los Angeles. We had been warned: it was candy raver central, with music so loud it hurt. I thought that demographic had died a decade ago, but alas: a bastion of plush rainbowbright remains amongst the fifteen-year-olds in the arid southron lands of this fair state. Who knew?
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, please see Wikipedia’s candy raver entry. Know that we hid in performer areas as much as possible and no, I took no photos of them (potential legality issues aside (plus, if their mothers saw what they were wearing…)).
UPDATE: From Mike “Vau de Vire” —
Rumor has it that the Electric Daisy Carnival had 75K attendees which made it the largest attended non-sporting event in LA since 1930 and largest rave in LA history. The producers said, as they always do, that VdV was the highlight of their event.
Last weekend found us in Los Angeles, at an artist warehouse complex known as the Brewery. The itinerary was only to engage in varying degrees of jackassery with clowns, mostly of the Cirque Berzerk variety. In this we were successful, though the Mutaytor is fired for not showing up.
It is likely that we return late next month for the big Cirque Berzerk show Beneath — more info on that later.