Washington vs. Tiger, above, is a digital painting by artist Jason Heuser, aka SharpWriter. It imagines our first president defiantly battling a ferocious Bengal beast from the aft of a disintegrating boat…in the middle of what must be a Category 5 hurricane.
Right. If this doesn’t say everything you need to know about the United States of America, I don’t know what does.
Love fauna? Love the Force? Well, prepare to feel more than a disturbance in it: Animals with Lightsabers photoshops blazing plasma swords into the paws of what are, arguably, already pretty well defended creatures. The result, thus, gives them an even more deadly edge. Ever seen a curious dog yelp after a cat or some other smaller animal scratches his nose? Here’s betting that this Black Lab, above, doesn’t have a clue what’s coming next.
Like a lot of legendary photographs, Albert Watson’s portrait of the Rolling Stones’s Mick Jagger, above, begins with another concept that isn’t working out.
Says the renowned lensman,
The original idea for the shooting was to have Mick Jagger driving a Corvette, with the leopard in the passenger seat. The big cat, a wild animal, seemed to suit Jagger, who likes to jump around a lot onstage, of course. However, putting the leopard in the car with him ended up being so dangerous that we had to build a partition. So, while we were waiting, I thought, “Let me try a quick double exposure with the leopard.” I shot the leopard first and drew its eyes and nose on the viewfinder of the camera. Then I rewound the film and photographed Jagger, fitting his eyes and nose over the eyes and nose of the leopard on the viewfinder so they matched. I didn’t think it would work, and I almost threw out the film. But of the twelve shots, four of them matched, and this was the best of the four that worked.
What’s amazing about the image is how, by combining the two subjects, Watson suggests a deeper truth about Jagger, inflecting his almost feline, preening aura; his famed, virtually predatory libido. I happen to think Watson’s creation story is nonsense, or, at best, incomplete. For example, did the leopard’s pupils and Jagger’s somehow match perfectly, or were the rock star’s orbs stripped in, later?
What’s without contest, however, is that this is an amazing photographic image. So is this 1985 photo by Henry Diltz of Tina Turner at LA’s Universal Amphitheater, right. Both do what photography does best: Isolate the moment with verity; freezing it so that we may contemplate and examine it in a way that is impossible in life.
Gail Buckland is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 8, at 2 pm ET.
We’ll also be speaking with photog Sue Kwon, whose Street Level: New York Photographs 1987-2007 documents the seething energy of the metropolis in which she lives from a personal p.o.v. Kwon works by getting close to the people and cultures that fill the city, working at eye level, crafting typically black and white images of the sights that meter daily life of the five boroughs; for example, this image, above, of Black Israelite proselytizers.
You can hear both Gail Buckland’s and Sue Kwon’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.
Artist Jennifer Maestre makes profound, polychromatic, biomorphic sculptures from colored pencils, like Aurora, above. As she explains on her web site, to fashion her art,
I take hundreds of pencils, cut them into 1-inch sections, drill a hole in each section (to turn them into beads), sharpen them all and sew them together.
The resulting shapes
were originally inspired by the form and function of the sea urchin. The spines of the urchin, so dangerous yet beautiful, serve as an explicit warning against contact. The alluring texture of the spines draws the touch in spite of the possible consequences. The tension unveiled, we feel push and pull, desire and repulsion. The sections of pencils present aspects of sharp and smooth for two very different textural and aesthetic experiences.
An obvious advertising masterpiece from the time you first see it, “Pigs, Unwronged” is delectably dense with details: The lead’s momentary disbelief that he’s being ogled for eating hog; his candid excuse (“I like a nice ham”) and self-serving rationalization for cannibalism (“We’re just enjoying the flavors of a fallen friend.” “True,” burps his dinnermate); the fluid, expressive body language of the animatronic (watch the ears); the perfectly cast, bored urbanity of the voice actor; that dismissive hoof flick which closes the piece.
It all adds up to 30 seconds of twistedness from an alternate universe where pigs talk, go to fine restaurants, and you’re wrong for recklessly eyeballing porkers chomping pork. Boost Mobile not only gets the viewer’s attention, but makes the ad an event, rewarding you for sticking with it. In other words, they win. Though I’m not their market, those swine slay me.
Don’t let ‘em lie to you: I know with all the cooking shows, people try and act like, in the past, American food, though artery-clogging, was hearty and simple. Meanwhile, many argue, today’s chefs have gone bonkers, working to outdo each other with odder and even odder ingredients, methods of preparation, plating, and the like.
Well, if you really think so, try and hold down your lunch just imagining what anybody you love would do if you sat this, below, in front of them: A whole pheasant, tail feathers, head, eyeballs, beak, and all, surrounded by greens, and, incidentally, plunked down next to a roasted version of itself.
Baaroomph. Around 8pm, one day over sixty years ago, somebody probably ran out onto a busy city street and upchucked all the previous week’s electrolytes. I know that because the above is a print ad for Niblets Whole Kernel Corn, from pg. 10 of the Nov 11, 1946 issue of LIFE magazine. (“Gay Color – Good Eating,” blares the headline. Wow.)
That retina-scalding, ornithological centerpiece, above, says the copy, was
prepared by Louis Diat, Chef, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, New York City—a spectacular way to serve pheasant…the casserole of meat flanked by the brilliant plumage of the bird itself. And what goes better with pheasant than the gold of Niblets Brand whole kernel corn, the tender flavor of its sweet young kernels?
A little context, admittedly, might be helpful here. This is, literally, the postwar period; WWII had ended a bit over a year before. Julia Child wouldn’t start teaching French cooking for another half decade. American women probably wanted to do something exciting in the kitchen, after years of shortages and rationing.
Minnesota Valley Canning Company probably seized the opportunity to market arguably the second-most generic vegetable known to humanity, after rice, by linking it to exotic dishes and fantasy. They knew full well their target audience would never go to the Ritz-Carlton, but would be entranced by its world-renowned reputation for luxury and excitement. They certainly knew that the chef there woulddn’t have touched Niblets, above, to make a meal for his discerning clientele. Notice they never claim he does in the text, but just strongly associate it with his food?
Fortunately, Minnesota Valley Canning smartened up and realized that they needed to talk to regular people, and heightened both the visibility and branding opportunities in the green giant on their label, even ultimately sprouting a little giant called, of all things, Niblet. (Green Giant was a ho, ho, ho.)
But, thankfully for all of us, they stopped trying to sell housewives the myth that their hard-working, meat-and-potatoes husbands would stomach the sight of an undressed bird, still smoking with buckshot, on their dinner plates. After all, supper’s the time for family talk, not taxidermy.
I wasn’t a big ThunderCats fan. They raised their leonine heads in 1985, long after I’d stopped watching violent, action-packed, Saturdaymorningesque animation. In fact, the only reason I probably know anything at all about this profoundly ugly pride of superheroes is that my youngest brother, Louis, couldn’t stop talking about them.
Well, Lou, knock yourself out: Early next year, Hard Hero Enterprises, makers of collectible fantasy and comic book statuary, will release a limited-edition, cold-cast porcelain statue of Lion-O, leader of the T-Cats, above.
Sculpted by master artist Paul Bennett, the fully-painted piece is a whopping 14 inches high from its rugged, stone outcropping base to the tip of Lion-O’s gleaming sword. Packed with detail, as you can see in this 360-degree QuickTime movie, the work comes with a “color collector box,” whatever that is, and retails for $199.00, $215.00 for one with Bennett’s John Hancock ‘pon, thus. Hey: Since Lou just had a birthday, maybe his wife will jump in with one more present. Cue intro.
“Beyond” is probably where this ram’s head balaclava, above, goes, or, as she calls it, a “baalaclava.” For those of you who swing needles like a samurai’s katana, the pattern, which she sells via the web,
is entirely seamless – the ears are worked by picking up stitches, and there’s a little grafting at the front – instructions for which are given in the pattern.
As per my previous mask patterns, I’ve used an aran weight yarn with 4mm needles. The pattern gives two sizes – standard (19″ to 23″) and extra large (24″ and up).
Plus, I just had this thought: Though Dunbar has strived for a…er…naturalistic appearance in the piece, this being yarn, you can color yours in any hues you want. Orange face with teal horns and nose, Dolphins fans?
So, sign up to Ravelry.com, order the pattern for $5, pay via Paypal, and knit one up for the Aries in your life. Just remind ‘em not to wear it on their next SWAT call.