Moon Duo’s Occult Architecture Vol. 1

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Released appropriately on February 3, in the heart of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Moon Duo’s fourth album Occult Architecture Vol. 1 offers a cosmic glimpse into the hidden pattern embedded in everything, and is, I am told,  “an intricately woven hymn to the invisible structures found in the cycle of seasons and the journey of day into night, dark into light.” Hm!

Written and recorded in their hometown of Portland, Oregon, the two-part epic reflects the hidden energies of rainclouds and sunshine and the deep creep of Northwest forests along with their effect on the psyche, and was inspired by the occult and esoteric literature of Mary Anne Atwood, Aleister Crowley, Colin Wilson, and Manly P. Hall.

According to guitarist Ripley Johnson, “the concept of the dark/light, two-part album came as we were recording and mixing the songs, beginning in the dead of winter and continuing into the rebirth and blossoming of the spring. There’s something really powerful about the changing of the seasons in the Northwest, the physical and psychic impact it has on you, especially after we spent so many years in the seasonal void of California. I became interested in gnostic and hermetic literature around that time, especially the relationship between music and occult qualities and that fed into the whole vibe.”

Okay, that’s all terribly fascinating, poetic, even, but what does all of that mean? Moon Duo’s last album didn’t immediately grab me, but I’m willing to give things another go, and admit if I have been hasty to judge, and to be honest, I often find that what I don’t care for one day will become my absolute very favorite thing the very next week.

And I am here to tell you that the psychedelic krautrock space jams found on Occult Architecture Vol. 1 are indeed my current Favorite Things. A hazy, hypnotic ride, buzzing with repetitive grooves, long, droning synth-laden refrains, and drowsy vocals, this is the background music I imagine playing if William Hope Hodgson’s reclusive narrator in The House On The Borderland were to describe his time spent astral-traveling to all those freaky, terrifying places that he mentions in his manuscript, but through, you know, the filter of rose-tinted glasses, and with an “…ahahaha, so THAT happened” kind of attitude.

Like, if he were traversing the vast desolation of space and time, not alone and afraid, but instead accompanied by his rad cousin (the one who shares all of his acid and shrooms) and just exploring the cosmos and visiting dying stars and dead planets in his dope ass El Camino, high as balls.

Which is not to say it’s all woozy sonic delirium and a miasma of languorous psychedelia. To my (admittedly untrained ear) I hear fuzzy, feisty post-punk garage band and 80s new wave influences, and the pulsating, throbbing beat of something one might even be compelled to dance to –if you’re at some far-flung space rave, I guess, at the outer edge of the galaxy. The cold, machine-like yet passionate beat of the album’s second to last track, “The Will of the Devil” even has a goth pop/cold wave vibe to it, that I especially dig.

On the whole, this is an unexpectedly catchy album (I am literally tapping my feet to it even at this moment, while at the same time bemoaning all of the drugs I never did, because man, hallucinogenics and space travel sounds like good times) and if this is Moon Duo’s dark side, I cannot wait to see what they deliver when they step into the light with Occult Architecture Vol. 2

Find Moon Duo on the web: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter
Release date: February 3, 2017 | Label: Sacred Bones Records

Love Trumps Hate Valentines Day Auctions

16585721_167731560387738_2006875038728323072_nOver at @munichartstudio’s instagram today are two auctions in collaboration with @thecreepingmuseum!  Both auctions are in the spirit of LOVE TRUMPS HATE for Valentines Day– with proceeds to benefit The International Rescue Committee (helping refugees and others in desperate need) and The Creeping Museum (to help fund the next nonprofit release).

The auctions will run from today until until Sunday evening, 2/12 (6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern). Be sure to bid and support these excellent artists and some very worthy causes.

This first auction is for a mystical seer, magically rendered in graphite and colored pencil (above) , and auction number two is an occult art bundle which includes the following:

• 9×7 Framed drawing of “Escapees from Pandora’s Box”
• 3×3.5 Framed drawing of “The Witch’s Eye”
• 6×6 Unframed print of “Do Not Summon Up That Which You Cannot Put Down” by artist EC Steiner
• One copy of The Occult Activity Book Volume 2 (super rare!!)

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Friday Fripperies {2.3.17}

Friday Fripperies

 

1. Hopeless Lingerie, Recently Deceased Collection, Nancy Cami $72 & Kelly Knickers $45 // 2. mythweavers embroidered rose amulet $47 // 3. Samantha Pleet Illuminated Passion Dress $278 // 4. Nylon serpent heart clutch $83 // 5. Bath Sabbath She’s Staring At You Medusa soap $15 // 6. For Strange Women Meyer Lemon Blossom perfume (sold out, but might be brought back!) $56 // 7. Holly Bobisuthi Little Lookout ring $110

A Decadent Parade of Outrageous Fancies: Alastair

Droles

Drôles de gens que ces gens-là

A Decadent Parade of Outrageous Fancies: Alastair

(Originally published on the Coilhouse Magazine blog, May 11, 2010.)

Who is Alastair”,  mused J. Lewis May in 1936. “No one knows; not even – it is hinted – Alastair himself.”

An artist, composer, dancer, mime, poet, singer and translator, Alastair was a fascinating and elusive personality, and perhaps best known as a gifted illustrator of the fin-de-siecle period.

Bad Counsel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Officially born of German nobility in 1887 to the family of Von Voigt, and later mysteriously acquiring the title of Baron, Hans Henning Voigt was an enigma. He claimed to be a changeling…the spawn of an illegitimate union between a hot headed Bavarian prince and a pretty Irish lass (and many of his relations later accepted this explanation of his origins). To his delight, “he was referred to as German by English writers, as English by German writers, and as Hungarian by French writers.”

Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

A collector of characters, Alastair had a great gift for friendship despite his bizarre and capricious persona, theatrical behaviors, and perpetual unhappiness. Among those in his inner circle were Harry and Caresse Crosby; Harry, having heard of Alastair, believed him to be “the embodiment of all his fantasies, a creator of the most outrageous fancies”, and hastened to meet with him. Many years later Caresse recalled of the first visit, “He lived in a sort of Fall of usher House, you know, with bleak, hideous trees drooping around the doors and the windows… a blackamoor ushered us into a room where there was a black piano with a single candle burning on it. Soon Alastair himself appeared in the doorway in a white satin suit; he bowed, did a flying split and slid across the polished floor to stop at my feet, where he looked up and said, ‘Ah, Mrs. Crosby!’”

Campaspe

Campaspe from the Blind Bow-Boy

Although clearly influenced by the sinister, serpentine style of Aubrey Beardsley, with echoes of the deliciously unhinged work of Harry Clarke, and a bit of the occult grotesquery of Austin Osman Spare’s art – Alastair’s perversely decadent illustrations are wholly, unmistakably, his own. His strangely attractive beings, with alternately tortured, anguished or menacing countenances, ornately and elegantly attired, skulked and cavorted amongst all manner of plays, novels and short stories. Oscar Wilde’s Salome, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher (1928 edition), and Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Chloderlos de Laclos are just a few examples of works that contained examples of Alastair’s menagerie of fever dream fantasies.

Alastair retired in relative obscurity, and there were few to mourn his death in Munich in 1969. A dazzling, melancholy character of his own creation, he was a man of rare and unique tastes, and perhaps a mystery right to the end; but mostly, one would surmise – a man, who, “was as he was because he could not be otherwise.”

The Artist At Home

The Artist At Home

Herodias

Herodias

Night

Night, pencil drawing, The City of Night

Usher

Usher and Madeline, pencil illustration, The Fall of the House of Usher

Eleanora

Eleanora Duse, portrait

Casati

Marchesa Luisa Casati

Our Lady of Pain

Our Lady of Pain

Queen of Night

The Queen of Night, from The Magic Flute

All images included in this post are from: Alastair: Illustrator of Decadence (1979) by Victor Arwas, and scanned from my copy of the book.

this, that, & the other thing {xxxii}

witch

W.I.T.C.H. PDX: The Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell is back

None-Limmen-three-queens

Unearthly Realms: The Photography of Nona Limmen

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Hauntingly Beautiful Abandoned Chapel in France

The Lost Art of Painting on Cobweb Canvases
Interview With Anna Biller, Director Of The Love Witch
Sanrio’s new character has an office job, drinks beer, and likes heavy metal
On the Trail of Marie Antoinette’s Last Scent
Diamanda Galas: Hear Apocalyptic ‘O Death’ From Her First LP in Years
An Interactive Journey Through Endangered Natural Soundscapes
A Cosmic Horror Game Inspired By The Work Of Manga Artist Junji Ito {h/t Jack}
New “Twin Peaks” Action Figures Announced
The Melancholy Visual Fables of Laura Makabresku
The Artists Recreating the Tarot Deck for the 21st Century
† Getting a Whiff of Perfume’s Illusions
Miranda July Shares Her Vintage Feminist Film Archive
Ghostly Whistlings: A Tribute To M​.​R. James
Creative Prompt: Cook Up a Secret Recipe
Bad Books for Bad People: Episode 6, Alraune. Plus, a giveaway!

Scents Of The Week {2}

morocco

My week in fragrances, week two. (Which is more like a week and a half’s worth and I am now on week three if you’re being really picky about it, but I’m not, so you shouldn’t be, either!) I am almost to the end of January and so far I have not purchased any new fragrances, not even tiny samples! Let’s see if I can keep this up for another month.

Previously: Week One

Morocco (formerly “Old Morocco” from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab). This is one of the first BPAL samples that I ever received, and one of their first scents that I fell in love with, but it took me a while to commit to a full size bottle. When I did, it was no longer “Old Morocco”, but instead, just plain “Morocco”. This is a scent of tender comforts, of being swaddled in plush saffron robes after a long, dusty day of travels, and sipping a honeyed, milky draught of something unfamiliar and yet strangely comforting before slipping into bed. Your pillow is filled with carnations and sandalwood shavings, lending a gentle spice and dry warmth to round out the sweetness. You dream for days.

CourtesanCourtesan by Worth. I purchased this many years ago, and sometimes I seriously question what I was thinking. It’s a frou-frou, one-two punch of pineapple pixy stix and a feathery poof of some sort of vanilla jasmine laundry powder that manages to be creamy, cloying, and yet very sheer. It’s like being smothered in a veil of phantom custard.

St. PhalleNiki de Saint Phalle, a light, grassy chypre interwoven with dry, autumn floral accents. It conjures imagery of late summer afternoon daydreaming on a mossy hill and brushing dried blooms and other herbaceous detritus off your sun-warmed skirts when you’ve finally roused yourself to head home.

 

Elsewhere: Stacked

Sarah's Picks Angels of Music and Unspeakable Things

At Haute Macabe this week you’ll find towers of tomes, piles of paperbacks, and all the pages that my fellow HM writers–Sam, Erin, Maiki, Soyna–and I, are perusing at present.

Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, feminism, fantasy, ghosts, or zombies, no doubt you will find several additions to your ever growing to-read list.

Stacked: Haute Macabre Reads January 2017

Links of the Dead {January 2017}

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“Morgellons”, Caitlin McCormack

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

This time last year: Links of the Dead {January 2016}

💀 Don’t Let Anyone Tell You You’re Not Allowed To Be Upset About A Celebrity Death
💀 Artist works to capture and preserve cadavers
💀 5 places: Where you can’t die
💀 The ‘Maternal Bereavement Effect’ Explains Why So Many Parents Die After Their Children
💀 Obituaries For Teenage Girls If They Actually Died When They Say They’re Dying
💀 How to Create an Iconic Jaguar Hearse
💀 “Mirrors With Memories”: Why Did Victorians Take Pictures of Dead People?
💀 The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage
💀 Mysterious Ancient Egypt ‘pot burials’ stand as metaphor for rebirth in the afterlife
💀 On Death, Patriarchy & the Anti-Choice Movement
💀 Taking Care Of The Dead At Home, And Other Matters Of Mortality
💀 To dig or not to dig? The ethics of exhumation
💀 The First Cryonic Preservation Took Place Fifty Years Ago Today
💀 The Grieving Need You Most After the Funeral
💀 Sometimes Nature is Morbid. That’s Why There’s #BestCarcass
💀 How to Eat Like a Gravedigger
💀 For the Forgotten African-American Dead
💀 This Kid-Friendly Explanation Of Death Will Change How You Think About The World
💀 Tracing The Remains: Sabrina Small and Caitlin McCormack at the Mütter Museum
💀 Death Without Darkness: A mortician proposes a redesign for the crematory
💀 Artist Jaime Erin Johnson explores places where one encounters life & death, growth & decay

On self-doubt, fucking it all up, and doing better

bullshit

I’m having difficulty putting into words my experiences this past weekend at the Women’s March in DC, and this is extremely troubling to me. I’m hesitant to share, because there is much in the way of whinging, hand-wringing, and fragile white lady tears here. It is also a fairly rambling account, with little in the way of complete thoughts, cohesion, or a satisfying conclusion. My apologies. 

There were no complications about how I was feeling while I was there in the thick of it. My feet were cold, but my heart was filled with love and warmth, and proud–so fucking proud–to be marching with my sisters and over 500,000 other protesters on Saturday. Tears of hope and wonder streaked my chilled, grimy cheeks as I took in the sheer magnitude of the crowd and all of those who were present to be vocal about oppression and stand up for our reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, civil rights, worker’s rights, immigrant rights, disability rights, environmental justice and against those who would threaten those rights. All of these folks were there in solidarity despite the complex politics of the march, and I thought (in retrospect, perhaps a bit naively,) “wow, this is sisterhood”.

As I snapped photos of all of the wonderful, clever, fierce, compassionate signs,I came across a few that gave me pause.”You’re here now, but did you vote in November?” a few of them inquired in bold Sharpie strokes. Yes, I absolutely did, you better believe it.

Great to meet you”, another cardboard cutout enthused, “will we see you at the next Black Lives Matter protest?” Well…sure? Maybe? I guess I hadn’t planned that far ahead yet, if you want my honest answer.

SUPPORT YOUR SISTERS–NOT  JUST YOUR CIS-TERS” a placard directly in front of me admonished. Hm, I thought, glimpsing the neon nethers of a pink, plush, bedazzled vagina hoisted over the shoulders of a few protesters in the crowd the next street over.

I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable at this point. I thought I was there for all of these reasons; I have a responsibility to represent, protect, and protest for all of these folks and their interests. I know I’m all about all of these things, don’t I? So why was I starting to feel challenged and more than a little defensive? What kind of situation did I actually take part in, I asked myself, pressed in from all sides by a sea of white faces.

Back at home, I was reading more and more fed-up commentary from my queer and non-binary friends about the pussy-centric protest language present at the rally. The next day I then read an essay by women’s right’s activist Brittany O., titled Why I Don’t Support The Women’s March On Washington, which asserted that white women co-opted the message of historical moments in Black History, a controversy which caused some of the initial organizers to step down as they felt they could no longer support the event.

At some point during the day, I read this quote, “If it’s inaccessible to the poor it’s neither radical nor revolutionary,” and I thought about the money that I didn’t have to scrape together to pay for my plane ticket to DC. I recalled the welcoming family (the sister of a coworker of one of my sisters) with the nice home, who hosted our stay, and the cozy beds that we collapsed in and slept heavily in for eleven hours straight after the protest.

we the people

I began uploading the photos I had taken of the signs and posters at the event, and while doing so, I started seeking out at the artists responsible for some of the imagery, at the back of my mind thinking of the We The People posters by Shephard Fairey, which, at the time, I thought quite beautiful. It was then I came across this article written by Joojoo Azad, a Muslim-Iranian writer, “Please Keep Your American Flags Off My Hijab” –and feeling defeated, foolish, and deeply self-pitying, I began to weep in earnest.

I keep thinking of a phrase I’d read, “fragile ally-ship”. I previously didn’t think that applies to me. But often times the problem doesn’t recognize it’s the problem, and it continues blithely on, getting in the way, being a distraction, and fucking things up.

Do I not get it at all? In trying to do something I felt was important and good, did I do everything wrong?

upset

“Get it together, sister,” I berated myself.  Don’t get defensive. Shut up and listen. Listen to what all these folks have to say. Listen to the transgender activistsListen to the black woman.  One thing I read over and over is that “It’s not about you.”

“But isn’t it a little bit about me,” I push back in a tiny voice, “Aren’t some of my rights being threatened as well? Aren’t I mad as hell and scared shitless, too? Am I even allowed to ask these questions?

My sister reminded me that I am reading some things, a lot of things actually, about different people’s experiences at the protest that are statements of truth, but these should not diminish another statement of truth, which is that I took part in the Democratic process by assembling and showing that I am an ally for oppressed people. And, of course, showed up for myself, as well! . I don’t get a participation trophy, but I shouldn’t allow myself to feel somehow less than, or cowed, or like the dumbest fool who ever lived for not being a perfect activist. For not getting it right on my first try.

hellraiser

I have been reading and re-reading this, and trying to be okay with it. Okay with not being sure, with making mistakes. In accepting that more I know, the more I realize how little I know.

 “Part of white privilege is the privilege of being oblivious to racism, unaware of how it manifests, how it feels, who it hurts. White people can learn to become less oblivious, but we will never have the lived experience of people of color. People of color are experts on racism; white people are not. No amount of reading or learning or activism will get us there. And that can be a hard pill to swallow in a society that teaches us that we can be anything, do anything. To be an ally, you will need to practice being okay with not being the expert, not being sure of the answer, not ever getting to some point where you have magically arrived. This requires considerable humility.” (source)

problematic

In trying not to take it personally, the backlash and criticism, I realize how personal to me this protest march really was. As someone who is continually plagued by self-doubt, who always, no matter what the situation, assumes she is automatically in the wrong, who has for a long time tried to make herself as invisible as she possibly could, it really was a big deal for me to be present for the Women’s March in DC. To voice my dissent along with hundreds of thousands other humans. (To actually be in a crowd of hundreds of thousands without having some sort of major meltdown. ) To stand up and be counted. To say, hey, look at me, I am here and I have a problem with not just some, but with all of this shit. And to be an ally to all of those folks who have problems with this shit, as well.

And of course I am not saying that this event, or any that follow, should be above criticism, I am not saying that at all. We all need to listen, learn, and do better, on just about every level, including and especially me. In that vein, this is an excellent read: How to survive in intersectional feminist spaces 101. It references many of the things I alluded to here, and things I need to learn to deal with better; specifically “getting called out” and “listening and sitting with discomfort”. It’s also a kind of hilarious where the author points out in the comments that the original file name for the piece was “don’t be a fucking becky”.

But also I can’t discount that –for me– I did something that scared me. And I am going to keep on doing these things. And probably looking like a fool and no doubt getting it wrong. And for me, that’s scary as hell. But in looking at our fraught political climate and and reading the current dystopian headlines, I can surely conjure some things that are a lot scarier.

As always, I welcome your commentary. What was your experience this weekend? As a POC? As a queer, non-binary, or trans-gendered activist? As a disabled activist? As a white, lower middle-class woman, like me?

Articles mentioned in this post:
Why I Don’t Support The Women’s March On Washington
Please Keep Your American Flags Off My Hijab
Before You Celebrate The Zero Arrests At The Women’s March
How To Be An Anti-Racist Ally
The Women’s March Left Trans Women Behind
Listen to a Black Woman
How to survive in intersectional feminist spaces 101

All photos included in this post were taken by me in Washington DC on January 21, 2017.

mount nasy

nasty

I also asked my sisters to share with me their experiences of the past weekend, because I wanted to record their perspectives as well. This first bit comes from my youngest sibling, Melissa:

“When I was 25, I was dating a great guy. We were both in our final year of grad school, and he had a job lined up, and we were shopping for engagement rings. I thought we had been rubbing along quite nicely and that we had a splendid, promising future together. And then, one late January afternoon, he sat me down and told me he was leaving me. I wept, I begged, I berated him, and when I found that there was no swaying him, I stumbled home and ignored the phone calls of my worried friends and cried myself to sleep. It was a hellish night, and when I woke up in the morning, I was waking into a living nightmare.

Of course, passing time (and Prozac, and good counseling, and loyal friends, and keeping busy) worked its magic, and gradually the pain faded. But the memory of that first morning has never left me. In fact, it came back and visited me the morning of November 9, when I woke up to a fact that I had to try to drink away the night before. Against all expectation and logic, despite the evidence that had led me to think otherwise, my beloved, flawed, magnificent country had elected Donald Trump to be president the night before. And when I woke up on November 9, it was like I was waking up to the memory of another breakup. But this was a pain that would continue for four years–at least–and that had invaded the entire world. Donald J. Trump had been elected president, and there was no escaping the knowledge that his election was the latest symptom of a cancer that has been invading our country, perhaps our world. There was no escaping this pain, and no way to heal from it, either.

In the days that followed, I wallowed in despair, and wanted to hide under the covers and eat cheetoes for the rest of forever. I wanted to drink all of the wine, and watch reruns of The West Wing for the next four to eight years. (Perhaps not coincidentally, I had a similar reaction during my break-up, long ago.) And I felt horribly, horribly alone. Just like my worst break-up. But even in the depths of my misery, I had enough presence of mind to know that if I, as a white, middle-class, educated native-born American female (with all of those attendant privileges) felt alone and afraid, what of my brothers and sisters without the protection of those privileges?

That was why I marched. My presence there in D.C. might not have made any difference. Or maybe it did. But this was and is my message: I am here. I am present. I am an ally. I do not consent to the descent. I will not be silent. I am not alone, and you are not alone, and neither are the 500,000 people who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with my sisters and me. We are not alone. I don’t know what comes next, but I do know there is no escaping it, but we will face it down together. We are not alone.”

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