In October 2008, my friend Will posted on his blog, A Journey Around My Skull, his discovery of a Japanese illustrator, Rokuro Taniuchi. The image of a looming figure on the horizon by Taniuchi reminded me very much of the cover art for a book I read in 5th grade titled Creatures from UFO’s (1978) by Daniel Cohen. On my recent trip back to Cincinnati I fetched the paperback from my old bedroom bookshelf and scanned the cover. Unfortunately, Archway, the publisher, didn’t see fit to credit the cover art illustrator for this book in its young adult series of non-fiction publications. Please comment if you can identify the artist.
The cover artist drew inspiration from chapter 5 of the book, “The Mississippi Fisherman,” that recounts the fascinating tale of two men in Pascagoula, Mississippi on the night of October 11, 1973. Before I [...]
In the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), after Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) proudly describes that in his lickable wallpaper “The snozberries taste like snozberries!”, an exasperated Veruca Salt snidely comments, “Snozberries? Who ever heard of a snozberry?” Willy Wonka grabs her mouth and explains “We are the music makers, and We are the dreamers of dreams.”
Wonka’s oblique answer references the first stanza of a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, the “Ode” featured in his collection of poems from 1874, Music and Moonlight. I didn’t understand Wonka’s response to Veruca Salt until I read the entire poem. The meaning provided me a key to understanding the story, who the mysterious character Wonka represents, what his motivations are in finding a child to give his factory to, and what Charlie Bucket really means for him. Read the poem below, and I think you might understand too.
WE are [...]
Just a few notes on the film Defiance. My housemate and I caught a free screening courtesy of gofobo.com and the Ritz East. The film is based on the 1993 book by Nechama Tec, Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, and it is an excellent story told well. Had it been a fantasy written by Tolkien it might have been told as part of larger multi-part epic. What we were shown was the compressed story of one year of survival that spanned three more.
I mention Tolkien since one of his intentions in inventing the fairy tale geographies and histories of Middle Earth was to provide a national myth for his beloved England. The Hobbits of the Shire represented the rural peoples and provincial attitudes familiar from Tolkien’s youth. The threat and conquest of the Shire by the evil minion of Sauron were reflected in the terrible trauma suffered by the English [...]
Although the day, month, and season Brian Eno met Laraaji Nadabrahmananda in Philadelphia’s New York’s Washington Square Park in 1979 is unknown, their meeting led directly to an important album, Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980). In commemoration of this creative encounter, the Philadelphia Ambient Consortium is at the beginning stages of organizing an outdoor music festival, tentatively titled Day of Radiance, to take place in Philly’s own Washington Square Park on the day Laraaji and Eno met. Over the coming months, Philadelphia ambienteers and space music enthusiasts will be working to realize this event which we hope will become an annual celebration of Philadelphia’s long thriving experimental music scene.
Washington Square Park is perhaps Philadelphia’s loneliest park, so any celebration there is bound to cheer the space up. And in return, the space will bring us cheer and inspiration for further creative encounters. [...]
Two years ago on mog.com, I wrote about Claus Cordes’ cover art for Klaus Schulz’s 1983 album Audentity, the new wave punk slit glasses shown in the film Big Trouble in Little China (1986), and the specialized glasses worn by Geordi La Forge, the blind engineer played by LeVar Burton in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994). Since then, I’ve been wondering about the art history that presaged Cordes’ design. So this post is something of a meditation on the roots of this fashion, starting with the cyclopes of Greek cosmogony.
Before they were made famous as one eyed monsters in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, the cyclopes were known as primordial blacksmiths who could fashion the power of the universe into tridents and other weapons wielded by gods. It’s not such a far leap to see La Forge (lit. the forge!) as a current incarnation of the cyclopaean archetype. [...]
The umbilical cord of my omphalos winds its way back in time to the blessings of my mother and father, but also inwards and outside-of-time, stretching into a womb land that is all myth and dream and imagination. With some effort I can follow my way back into this makom, this space and hopefully return from it with something useful — or at least, interesting — and not just to myself mind you. I do love sharing these thoughts, but I am also interested in their relevance, by which I mean, their utility. Let me explain.
I was having a conversation with a mathematician, Yaakov, at the University of Maryland recently, and he was struggling with aesthetic questions on what is good or bad art, so I suggested an alternative more useful question as rather, “what is this art good for?” recalling Marcel Duchamp’s 1957 essay, The Creative Act:
This past Sunday, May 18th, marked the end of the Frida Kahlo exhibit this year at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My friend Robyn and I caught it just before its expiry along with hordes of locals who had waited till the last moment. Outside, pregnant rain clouds were birthing a fury of elements, a meteorological interruption of the Philly Jewish community’s Israel [at] 60 parade festivities taking place in Logan Circle and Ben Franklin Parkway, just outside the museum. More about the parade in another post.
Robyn and I purchased our tickets and waited patiently in the long exhibit queue where we had an opportunity to look at Diego Rivera’s Liberation of the Peon (1931). Once through the entrance, we accepted the audio guides and commenced our study of the work of Frida Kahlo. Narration on the tour was provided by a device contained a small LCD screen, a [...]
I haven’t used my MOGspace much to blog about Klaus Schulze, and it does reflect some personal bias on my part… I just have the hardest time separating out one of his albums musically from any of the others in his early discography. That’s why the cover art is so important in identifying what’s what. (Check out Urs Amann’s art for Schulze in the 70s. Amann has an online gallery here). In 1983, Klaus Schulze released Audentity featuring cover art by Claus Cordes showing a young fellow wearing slit sunglasses and art deco headphones. I’ve become so used to earlier Schulze tracks plodding along endlessly with atmospheric synthscapes I had forgotten that Schulze had a go at some energetic music. You’ll have to listen to “Sebastian Im Traum” know what I’m talking about.
But I think the more significant thing about this album is the cover art. Check out [...]