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Seems the ol’ website was down for the last 3 days, but I’ve been so busy I didn’t even notice until I attempted to post something. Ah well – we’re up and running again.

Here are dueling reviews of the bar nearest in my neighborhood, Bizarre – there’s nightly ‘burlesque’ shows, a wee backyard, sort of a run-down circus feel (which I’m sure would please the owners to no end to hear), and now, brunch. Really though, this could be about any bar in the area.

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 2.05.07 AM

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ephemera banner fan 2

This October, I’m proud to present the latest entry in the EPHEMERA screenings: SAFETY FIRST!   Featuring safety and instructional videos from the 1930s to the early 2000s, SAFETY FIRST is what happens when a pile of vitally important and boring information has to be shown to an audience who doesn’t want to hear it. There’s a few general approaches, including The Paternal Condescender, The Shock and Awe (aka The GoreFest or ‘You’ll Poke Your Eye Out’), and The America’s Funniest Home Videos, but today I’ll focus on The Goofus And Gallant.

(Oh, and if you’d like to see more stills from all the films, I’ve also created a Pinterest board where you can see all the shining weirdness of these ephemeral films for yourself.)

Goofus and Gallant films feature a ‘Gallant’ – a Johnny Do-Right who follows all the rules to a T and is rewarded with health and prosperity. He’s often accompanied by a Goofus, some slacker who heightens Gallant’s proper example with his oafish slacking and blatant disregard for the rules. If he gets injured (usually he just comes perilously close), the violence is cartoonish and silly. Sometimes the relationship is supernatural, with Gallant being a guardian angel-type who must continually rescue the dimwitted Goofus from certain harm.


First we have ‘Domestic Disturbance’, a training film for officers responding to domestic disturbance calls. In this case, the Gallants are in active danger from the Goofuses, and following the rules becomes doubly important as everyone’s safety is in the hands of the Gallants. The film acknowledges officers’ reluctance to respond to such calls – as one office says ‘at least with a standoff you know the situation…domestic disturbances are unpredictable’. ‘Domestic Disturbances’ was filmed in 1970s Minnesota, making for an unfortunate overlay of awkward clothing and accent distracting from the serious matter at hand.

personal space

Domestic Disturbance  calm direct


‘Safety: In Danger, Out of Doors’  was also obviously filmed in the 70s and features Guardiana, a crossing-guard-turned-superhero. Guardiana must rescue the stupid children around her from danger, but not before lengthy voiceovers pointing out every stupid step they’re taking towards getting themselves killed.


guardiana 1


‘Christmas Tree Harvest Safety’ (2002) seems to be made for a multilingual audience. Voices are dimly heard and mostly hidden behind loud ‘ding ding ding!’ noises when something’s done right, or a car-alarm when something’s done wrong. The Goofus of this film is a lanky white guy who takes every possible opportunity to chop his leg off with a chainsaw, and the Gallant, a middle-aged Hispanic man, is the one pointing and gesturing the proper steps to take. I’m going to say the film’s continuous use of The Mexican Hat Dance whenever the Gallant points out correct action is probably racist.

Christmas tree safety


‘Hazards In Motion’ (2001) features an actual guardian angel, helping the film’s Goofus avoid certain death at the hands of mining equipment and his own blind confidence.

Hazards In Motion white overalls


‘Hospital Safety’ is mostly neutral, showing people repeating actions done wrong immediately (except for the one time that guy caught everything on fire).

Hospital Safety lift

Hospital Safety  body lift


‘Hands In Motion’ is 90% a Shock-And-Awe film, avoiding gore by using an adorable abstract hand cutout to show the many, many, many ways you can mangle your fingers. Here we see a Gallant of a glamour shot – proper glove-wearing for handling molten metals.

On Every Hand power glove


From ‘Days of Our Years’, the most depressing and moralizing of the films (available as an MST3K short which helps it go down a bit easier), we see the RIGHT way to approach someone wielding a giant torch: using ‘gentle touch’. Of course the protagonist was too excited to do that and got blinded before he ever saw his first child, but that’s just the way this movie rolls.

RR sparks

RR gentle touch


‘Stairwell Safety’ takes a look inside the mind of the modern secretary pool. Featuring a bee woman instructing fellow ‘drones’ on how to not get killed on the stairs, the inspiration for this likely came from a whimsical Hallmark calendar sitting on someone’s desk.

Stairwell Safety attention

Stairwell Safety seriously


I just included this image because office dress code is ok with ‘Big Dog’ t-shirts.

Stairwell Safety bee lady

Oh, ‘Will You Be Here Tomorrow’. You are the violentest, most over-the-top safety film I have ever seen. Here is one of the brief moments in this short film where someone is not actively losing a fake limb and spattering blood everywhere.

Will You Be Here voice of experience


The protagonist of ‘A Safe Day’ achieves a full 1000 days of safety, because he makes it his business to be safe. He’s the ultimate Gallant example, carefully thinking through every action and stopping potential injuries before they happen. Goofuses and their horrible manglings are bloodlessly shown through double exposure.

A Safe Day smiley

A Safe Day common sense

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The Renegade Craft Fair has come and gone. Just like Boy Scouts, we took only pictures and left only footprints, except for the part where I neglected to take any pictures due to running around fixing tents and crooked totems. Fortunately the installation was a photo magnet and folks used the #camprenegade tag for easy finding, so below are some others’ lovely images instead (and if you’d prefer I not share your photo, please let me know and I’ll remove it).

photo by Matt Caron

photo by Matt Caron


Thanks to all my friends who created the awesome totem poles – Carleigh Queenth, Yung En Chen, Joshua Inman, and Koren Shadmi. They were definitely the stars of the show. Extra-special megathanks to Jim Campbell for making ‘Camp Renegade’ shirts and spending the weekend manning the installation. Also for being a generally awesome dude who helped with transport, stump-painting and young’un management.


photo by Jennifer Lynn Best

photo by Jennifer Lynn Best


Yes, child management. Just after finishing setup on the first day, a woman came up tittering nervously asking ‘Hahahaha…is this daaaaaaycare?’ HELL NO IT IS NOT DAYCARE. Fuming I looked around and realized why she might have thought that. Despite my dislike of child swarms and however unintentionally, I’d absolutely created a kid magnet. Tiny tipi, fun-sized tents, and wee lil’ stools ensured a steady stream of children running around and around shrieking and giving me heart palpatations all weekend. Their youthful exuberance was mostly harmless and sort of cute, especially compared to the Adult Naptime that set in around 1:30pm.


photo by Mariana Simobosch

photo by Mariana Simobosch


Fully grown adults just parked it under the tents, feet poking out , and went to sleep. I can’t begrudge them – it was boiling out and every culture that isn’t a bunch of puritan workaholics has some form of naptime encouragement. It just got a bit creepy when kids would run up to play in a tent and a fully clothed man would be in there snoring.


photo by Leah Pellegrini

photo by Leah Pellegrini


Most visitors seemed to really enjoy themselves, taking lots of photos, asking questions about construction, chatting with other people sitting and hanging around. If I created a space people could rest, take silly photos and relax in, mission accomplished. People were pleasant, respectful of the installation, happy to chat. After hours in the baking sun I’m not sure the same could be said of me. Sun, heat, blinding sun, a constant flow of people; I think I understand why Meursault shot that guy on the beach (on top of the universe’s meaninglessness and indifference).

photo by krisrex

photo by krisrex


While I’m complaining, it’s a two-way tie for worst visitor between the French family whose kids (aged 11 or so) just ran up and started SHAKING the totems; when I shouted several times for them to stop, their mom/guardian/aunt/whatever, who along with three other adults had been standing nearby and texting, looked over and said ‘They do not speak English, that is why they do not listen.’ THEN TELL THEM IN WHATEVER LANGUAGE THEY SPEAK TO STOP DOING THAT. Also as they responded to a snack request in English two minutes later, I highly doubt they didn’t understand an angry lady yelling while they shook something tied down to the ground. Their texting aunt then dropped her luggage against the totem (I had to go over and move it off the tie-down lines), parked it in a tent and spent the next hour texting. They had stiff competition in the two nasally-accented young ladies who stripped down to bikinis and used the tent closest to the tipi as their own private shade spot. ‘Ohmigawwwwd this is sooooo niiice they set this up for ussss.’ It was not set up for you to natter on with your friend and lounge for the entirety of the afternoon, you sun-soaked scandal, it was for EVERYONE to enjoy. I find tanning and wearing bathing suits for purposes other than swimming both personally distasteful, so having their greasy bodies well in my field of view was pure irritation. At least they fell asleep at some point and stopped talking about celebrity gossip.


photo by lovelier seas

photo by lovelier seas


Overall I think this was a wonderful experience, if an intensely physical one. I’m not sure whether I’ll do something on this scale again, but who am I kidding I probably will next time someone asks. I adore giant spectacle! But if there’s to be interactivity I’ll hire an extrovert for sure. Or at least someone better at appreciating the natural curiosity of children.


Angry Jim created this short video of the installation; it doesn’t convey the smell of fried food, glaring heat or the distant sounds of remixed R&B, but it gets the job done.

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Welcome, happy campers! Warm and fuzzy memories of the Arts & Crafts tent mix with Brooklyn’s art scene at this year’s Renegade Craft Fair, June 22-23rd in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After a long hike through forests of crafty goodness, you’ve earned a seat at the campfire. Bask in its warmth under the shadows of totem poles representing Brooklyn’s vibrant local artists, or keep cool with your troop in the tents.

This very weekend you can join me at the Renegade Craft Fair where, in addition to the possibility of getting all your holiday shopping done before Labor Day, you can stop by my installation, Camp Renegade! With the immense help of my friends, we’ve created a walk-through mini-camp where you can park your butt, hang out in the tipi (teepee? tepee? So many variants), or see ridiculously tall totem poles in their natural glory (instead of crammed in my living room as seen above)!

I volunteered to set up an installation at Renegade because I’ve genuinely enjoyed visiting the fair in the past. A lot of craft fairs…how can I say this delicately…have a high tchochke-to-object d’art-ratio. Renegade features the creme-de-la-creme of crafters, including brevity,  Susanne Layton, Chez Sucre Chez, and Dea Dia Jewelry  who I believe just joined this year. So come on down for a weekend full of fun, crafts and potential sunstroke (stay hydrated people)!


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Last Halloween was a strange one. With everyone still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, people suffered desperate cabin fever while not being able to really go anywhere. Many events had been planned, including several all-cover shows at local music venues, but most places were shut down, and no one was sure if any events were still on. In some places the power still wasn’t on.

Several friends were slated to play back-to-back all-cover shows, first at Glasslands, then around the corner at Death By Audio. For the unfamiliar, all-cover Halloween shows are a delightful recent tradition, whereby all bands playing are strictly covering another well-known band’s songs, usually dressed up as & behaving like that band. The Misfits are a wildly popular choice here, though most can’t get the Lodi accent right. My friends were playing as…I’m not actually sure what name they went under that night, but they were a Go-Gos cover band and batted around The Go-Guys, Go-Guhs and We Got The Meat(ewwww). Other Glassland bands covered The Cramps, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and oddly, Witchfinder General (didn’t think they were popular enough to warrant a cover band, but then life can be full of pleasant surprises). It was a crammed roster full of bands. Death By Audio had a showcase of just 4 bands doing full sets of songs, including a gender-switched Joy Division that worked despite initial doubts about female vocals hitting the low range (and unfortunately she couldn’t resist wearing a noose tie, which was expected but still tacky), and a MOST excellent Ramones who got EVERYTHING right, including a) announcing ‘Thanks, we’re The Ramones’ between every song, b) Dee-Dee in a half-shirt, c) no one making eye contact with any other member but glaring straight ahead. Genius. Both shows became insanely packed once word got out they were happening, and to Brooklyn’s credit, 95% of attendees had decent costumes (and no, a lone mask or glitter bowler hat does not a costume make. Fake cat ears + tail with a sexy dress is also debatable as to whether it’s a costume or a cry for help).

The shows went well, everyone had a damn fine Halloween with plenty of treats to make up for Nature’s vicious trick, and that seemed to be that. But having practiced all those songs for so long it seemed a shame not to do anything with it. So my friends went ahead and released a full cassette, available here. And then they had a bunch of footage left over from the photo shoot for the cassette, and it seemed a shame not to do anything with it, which is how I ended up editing a music video out of it for them.

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