The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2019

Archive for the 'Nonsense and Tomfoolery' Category

On the ground in the dirt — Burning Man 2010

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

The Man and Fire Conclave burn night

We arrived Saturday afternoon under iron gray skies. It had been an effortless jaunt from Sparks; we had taken a lazy lunch in the parking lot where the weather alternated between chilly in the shadow of the clouds and blazing hot when the sun poked through. We had heard the reports: that though last week had hit 115°, this weekend promised rain, and the forbidding horizon did not dispel that fear. But we were not worried: we’re varsity. We’ve done this before.

Replicating the success of last year, we — my old friend and stalwart companion, Evan — packed little past essentials and stayed the night in a hotel in Sparks. Too tired (unmotivated?) to move our gear inside, plan “Let’s Leave it and Hope For the Best” was successful, and our pickup truck of dusty gear was unmolested in the morning. Refilling our ice chests from the free hotel ice machine, we headed to our usual supermarket to load up on water and last minute essentials (beer we had in spades; Irish cream, cup-o-noodles, eggs, cheese, crackers, some vegetables, more ice were procured) and we were off.

The Temple of Flux; us photographers all discussed how we didn’t really know how to capture it.


Recent photographs – Throbbing Gristle, Vau de Vire, Circus Metropolus

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I’ve made a few recent exceptions to my event-photography hiatus (does this surprise anyone?) and you can take a peek below. You’ll find Throbbing Gristle, Vau de Vire’s “Sideshow” at Cellspace, Circus Metropolus’s “Funhouse” at the Oakland Metro, and a special bonus vignette.

Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle at the SF Regency Ballroom

Throbbing Gristle — the pioneers of noise as music and of shock theater (who are credited with the invention of industrial music, along with Cabaret Voltaire and Einstürzende Neubauten) — who had broken up in 1981 (coincidentally after last playing Kezar Stadium in San Francisco) are back on tour. To quote Jon Longhi of NBC Bay Area (where my photos ran!) “Throbbing Gristle wasn’t just showing all these young techno kids that they could still do it, they were showing them how it’s done.” See the photos here.

Illy of Circus Metropolus at Cellspace

Vau de Vire Society joined forces with the Eric McFadden Trio at Cellspace for some stellar performance and fantastic music. If you weren’t there, you missed out. I have some portraits I shot here, including those of the chanteuse Jill Tracy and Andrea Zerilli (Oryx Incruentus).

Bad Unkl Sista at the Oakland Metro

Circus Metropolus — joined by Bad Unkl Sista (pictured above), Dreamtime Circus and (obviously) Gooferman — took over the Oakland Metro for a production called “Funhouse.” I again took mostly portraits, though I did shoot Bad Unkl Sista’s lovely butoh performance.

My grandfather’s WWII / Korean War MB Jeep

Finally, for something a little out-of-the-ordinary, a very small gallery of my grandfather’s WWII / Korean War MB Jeep. He’s a veteran of the Merchant Marines, WWII (United States Army, German Theater), and the Korean War, where he was an MP and drove a jeep just like this one. I wish to thank him here for all that he’s done (and show some nifty pictures of his toy!).
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Photos from Zombie Prom with Hubba Hubba at the DNA

Monday, February 9th, 2009

…wherein I made a surprise appearance on stage (as a photographer, I’ll have you know) and got my tasty brainmeats eaten by a zombie (the lovely and aptly-named miss Calamity Lulu). Of course we botched our routine (almost entirely my fault since hey, that’s why I’m usually on the other side of the camera). Oh well, I hope it was entertaining. That’s all we’re really going for, right? My mistakes included missing queues and moving too quickly (must delay more!) and laughing too hard to assist in the tasteful undressing of hot zombie girl; she forgot to unclip her garters and ended up slipping on the fake blood (I hear she bounced when she hit, too). Hah!

Pictured above is the aforementioned Calamity Lulu after I shot her in the head (with a cap gun, people) and actually took photos while on stage during the routine (what do you expect?). See the photos here.

Obama landslide victory — San Francisco celebration

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

No one can throw down and party like San Francisco. Violet Blue posts to Twitter, “Street dance party closures @ 16/gurerro and 19th/valencia, plus divisadeo/hayes and castro/market. cops are being tolerant.”

Here is a small gallery of photos from the celebration at 19th at Valencia in San Francisco’s Mission District. Extra Action Marching Band led the crowd in jubilation, and there were many cheers and chants of “Obama” and “U S A.” The mood was ecstatic, and the cops were polite and extremely hands-off; a little after midnight, when they finally asked Extra Action Marching Band — who have a reputation for chaos and noise — to start to shut down, they did so with smiles and were met with the same.

Other celebrations took place at 16th and Guerrero, Divisadero and Hayes, with the largest at Castro and Market / 18th Street, where crowds of thousands were assembled and DJs spun turntables and blasted tunes.

But to paraphrase Violet Blue, “Obama was the party, Prop 8 is the hangover.”

A small photoshoot — Lily in San Francisco

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


Lily, on the rooftop of BMHQ

Some slight degree of trespassing and a small excursion last night brings you a small handful of photos of my friend Lily in her finest (borrowed) Victorian garb, which likely took longer to prepare than the photos did to take (and process).


Just one exposure and no Photoshop, taken on a filthy shoreline in East SF

I do in fact shoot portrait-session photoshoots (not just events!), so if you have something in mind and need some work done, let me know.

A handful of snapshots or an Ode to Distraction

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Salamander, as she’s known

This past Friday I had dinner with a friend, a lovely musician under the project name Oryx Incruentus; it was her idea as she wished to hand-deliver the album of hers I purchased, and we feared for the safety of courier boys in this perilous city. Also, wax cylinders are much too heavy for carrier pigeons. I had toyed with the idea of going to Diamond Dagger’s Burlesque Masquerade show, as many of my friends would be modeling Dark Garden corsets, and so off we went.

Autumn of Dark Garden Corsets

To make a long story short, there were a score of beautiful corset-clad women clamoring politely requesting that I take their portrait, utterly preventing me from doing my sacred duty of shooting the show (actually, that’s a blatant lie, as I wasn’t there to shoot the show (watch, yes) at all). But, then the show ended early and they all vanished (lest their finery fizzle and their carriages return to pumpkins? Perhaps).

See the gallery (handful of snapshots) here.

PS: I love my job.

The Prim Queer High Tea at Folsom Street Fair, 2008

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Folsom Street Fair presents one with an inundation of hairy men, sweaty leather, and exposed cock-ring-adorned penises.

These are not the photos you will find here.

It is to this bastion of sexual excess that we, the purveyors of modesty, bring forth the Prim Queer Tea. Brought to life by Nifer (of NifNak fame) Colin and Slim in 2007, this year saw a much expanded turnout with a number of fine folk who had heard tale of our special breed of tomfoolery and saw fit to join us. (Slim, you brought your Mother. To Folsom. This entertains me to no end.)

Under the mantra of “Modesty is the New Kink,” Edwardian couture was doffed, cucumber finger sandwiches consumed, and healthy quantities of piping hot Earl Grey imbibed (especially the “stout” variety (that means spiked with rum, for those of you who didn’t catch that). Truly, an event like Prim Queer Tea in the middle of Folsom is a matter of inevitability. With the extremity of, well, extremities on display already at the Fair, one is left with little option but to go as far as possible in the completely opposite direction. And Folsom Street Fair is an event we would all like to enjoy and participate within, but it for the most part has gone off the deep end of classlessness. It is therefore our sacred duty to provide what little we can.

The gallery is here. Milk and sugar?

Live from the Dusty City – Burning Man 2008 update

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Bex Workman of senior staff

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.

Dusty troublemakers

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.

Shenanigans at the Brewery in Los Angeles

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Photos here.

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.

Lightning in a Bottle, 2008 ~ by the Do Lab at Live Oak in Santa Barbara — photos and more

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Here are the photos.

Last weekend was Lightning in a Bottle, a five-day festival of art, performance, and music, hosted by the Do Lab at the Live Oak Campground a half-hour north of Santa Barbara. Pictured above is a member of Black and Blue Burlesque, a luxuriously decadent faction of the always spectacular Yard Dogs Roadshow, one of this year’s headliners. Other performers included Cirque Berzerk (with whom I camped), Kazum, March Fourth Marching Band, Stilt Circus, Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque, Bassnectar, Random Rab, Nick.the.Neck, the ever dark Wandering Marionettes, The Glitch Mob, and many more.

As for what I did…

We arrived under cover of darkness late late Thursday night, having fortuitously refueled at exorbitant prices at the last possible moment. A scant fifteen minutes after our camp was assembled and we crashed out did the rain start, which persisted in one state or another for the next 24 hours. Things fortunately got better after that.Camping with clowns, one cannot help but fall into shenanigans. It was thusly that we did engage in the great Featherhead Safari of 2008! Inspired by Boenobo of Gooferman, masterminded by Eric of Cirque Berzerk, (and documented by the Blight), a dozen clowns set forth Sunday afternoon into the untamed wilderness to track the elusive Featherhead, a special demographic of hippie characterized by leather coats priced higher than my (San Francisco) rent, enlarged ears and big earrings, tribal tattoos, snooty attitudes, and — crucially — feathers in their Edwardian hats.

Actually, they’re not elusive at all. They’re everywhere.

They are the peacocks of Burning Man hippie fashion.

And so, clad in pith helmets and armed with butterfly nets, we engaged in catch-and-release, release occurring only after attaching a specimen tag designed by Eric. Some played along (or so we assumed…), taking flight upon spying us so we could give chase; others became flustered, unsure of what to do; and, best of all were those who, at the height of a condescending utter lack of amusement, stared haughtily down their noses at us — unaware of the tag now dangling from the back of their bleeding-edge couture clothing. (Victory!)It’s not that we don’t love the designs — many of the designers would call us their friends (maybe not after this) — nor is it that we aren’t envious of the clothes themselves (no, really…); it’s simply that they take themselves too seriously, and that’s a most dangerous thing to do around a pack of idle clowns. Really.

All in all, it was an excellent event. The art was good, the music great, the live music better, and the performances stellar. The Do Lab handled the vastly increased attendance well with but a few mishaps (such as this, when the roads were packed with stubborn RVs and they couldn’t get to our campsite in the back); it felt like there were twice as many people (at least) as last year, but everything seemed to go gracefully. (Though they only asked me to shoot (and politely offering me a free ticket to do so (thanks!)) just the day before the event… Sorry darlin’, but that’s way too late. I was already going (purchased a ticket, too!) and intended to shoot for myself and friends, since I had never heard back the first time. Perhaps they can license them instead (heee!). If not, oh well: I went to have a good time (and I did).)

And in less-exciting news, several of my photos are featured in the Santa Barbara Independent’s article on Lightning in a Bottle (photos are from 2007 as it was written before this year’s event). And I just found another on the Yard Dogs Roadshow website.