Recent Events Dictate : A Nasty, Brutal Summer

|September 4, 2015 | Photos By J.Yuenger, Recent Events Dictate, Stuffs, Travels, White Zombie

Here in New Orleans, we think of Summer as something to be endured. It’s famously hot (really, it’s the tropics! I can see banana trees out of my window), and this was the second hottest Summer on record, so you can imagine what it was like. (You can’t? Turn your oven to 125° and stick your head inside) Everyone who can leave, leaves, and this time, I stuck it out. Thinner

There was that horror movie/celebrity convention at the beginning of August (while there were some fun things that happened there, I was working, and I wouldn’t call it a vacation), and a couple of little day trips (options are limited, living as I do in geographic isolation at the absolute bottom of the country, where the nearest medium-sized cities are 5-6-7 hours away), but for the most part, I stayed put. I had a lot to do, and I guess I was trying to punish myself prove something to myself, which is that I really don’t want to live here any longer.

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Especially with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, stories about this city – the gentrification, the incompetence, the corruption, and the crime are all over the news. Suffice to say that, for me, the draw, among a few other things, was that it was easy to live here, and you could pretty much do what you wanted and be left alone. The benefits (insanely cheap cost of living, no rules, being surrounded by art and music all the time) used to outweigh the drawbacks.Thinner

Now, they’re intent on turning the place into a demented version of Portland, albeit with lots of violent crime and broken social services. I like Portland, but if I wanted to live in Portland, I would, you know?

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Anyway, to my point. There were some bright spots, this Summer. I wasn’t here very much, and I was on Instagram quite a bit. A lot has been made about the death of the blog, or how blogs are for old people, and .. no, I just haven’t been in the mood to write, and the web kind of takes the Summer off, doesn’t it? Instagram is a good medium for me. You don’t have to think much. ThinnerTrinity Harpsichord 9x9

There’s a very nice church around the corner from where I live, which has a well-funded music program. I have recorded, from time to time, the church’s brilliant and eccentric musical director’s organ recitals, which might feature the pieces you’d expect, by Bach and Purcell, but might also include works by Hendrix, Aerosmith, and Deep Purple. The paint-and-gold-leaf design on the inside cover of the church’s harpsichord took 2 years to complete.

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I worked on a film crew as a sound recorder, on a documentary about a New Orleans brass band (It’s part of this group of films, which were made to commemorate the Katrina anniversary, I’ll post the movie itself later, if it becomes available to watch). After a long and very hot shoot in a club in the 7th Ward, I was carrying gear back to the van, walking through tall grass on a neutral ground (in other places, you’d call this a ‘median’), when all of a sudden it felt like someone had poured acid on my foot. I have fire-ant scars now.ThinnerThe Bleeding Heart Of Kenny Hill 9x9

I call this one ‘The Bleeding Heart Of Kenny Hill’. Hill was an itinerant bricklayer who settled on a patch of land in Chauvin, LA (way down there in the wetlands, south of Houma, even) and, in the grand tradition of America’s loner eccentric builders (Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, Edward Leedskalnin’s Coral Castle, Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain, Jim Bishop’s Bishop Castle, and the list goes on and on), created a colorful sculpture garden, full of statues of.. himself, in various states of religious torment. Here, he’s dragging a cross behind Jesus. There, he’s being comforted by angels. It’s awesome.

ThinnerWhite Zombie Make_Them_Die_Slowly shirt 9x9

My friends are incredulous that I’m still working on the White Zombie vinyl box set, the idea of which was conceived about two years ago. I’ve spent the last year on it, wrangling audio (I mastered the whole thing) , digging through all of my boxes of WZ stuff for cool artifacts (like, above, this Make Them Die Slowly shirt, which Rob and Sean gave me the first day I met them, and which I wore on my first tour with the band, Summer 1989), writing down everything I can remember (this was from notes I made for the box, and so was this).

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We’re on the final step, they tell me, which is editing various interviews (not just with me and Sean and Rob, but Ivan, Tom 5, and various other people who are part of the story) and pulling it all together into something everyone can agree on. I’ve got the test-pressings (5 discs, plus a possible sixth, everything sounds really good), and I’ve seen the mock-up of the hardcover book which will be included (beautiful, packed with high-quality photos). We’ve put a lot of ourselves into this thing, and I hope you get to hear and see it soon.

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Here’s the “3D gold with blood splatter” vinyl variant of the soundtrack LP of Starry Eyes, which is a very cool 2014 horror film. The record actually looks like this, but if you hold it up to the light, it turns into something more like blood blobs on a clear microscope slide. When I started this site, I was deep into recording and engineering, and that isn’t the case at all anymore. I haven’t made a record with a band in a couple of years, and I’ve somehow become an audio engineer who prepares recordings for pressing on vinyl.Thinner

The label I do this for most often is Waxwork, issuer of horror-movie soundtracks and scores. Not only do I work on music from movies from the recent spate of fresh, inventive, and quite scary films, like Starry Eyes and Babadook, but on many of the classics I grew up with: C.H.U.D., Friday The 13th, Rosemary’s Baby, Creepshow. Often, the music from these motion pictures was originally released in a highly edited form, or not at all, and I get to go back to the original tapes and pull something new together. It’s pretty cool.

ThinnerRoadside Daiquiris 9x9

Des Allemands, LA. Drive-through daiquiri shop, with a blue gorilla in front. What can I tell you about this? Whenever I spot one of these old-time (late 50s-early 60s, America was covered with concrete dinosaurs, alligators, gorillas – enticing motorists to pull over, take photos, and buy stuff) roadside cement creatures, I turn around and check it out. It’s always fun.Thinner

The drive-through liquor store has a long and convoluted history in the deep south. Here’s the current loophole that allows you to purchase a big slushy cup of high-fructose corn sweetener, chemical dye, everclear or 4 different kinds of cheap rum to be consumed in your car : the lid of the cup has a straw in it, and the top of the straw has a torn-off part of the straw’s wrapper on it. Thus, the drink is ‘sealed’, and you’re, of course, committing a grave crime if you remove the wrapper.ThinnerSamhain Prints 9x9Thinner

By the time I was a senior in high school, I’d managed to finagle a schedule that was nearly all art and writing classes. First period was ‘graphic arts’, which was a vocational class where I got to use a printing press, silk-screen t-shirts, and develop photos in a darkroom. My friend Dread Scott (back then, a kid from my neighborhood, now a famous artist), was a photography student at the Art Institute of Chicago, and was able to check out fancy, professional large format cameras – which he shot punk shows with. I didn’t have a camera of my own, so Scott graciously lent me his negatives so that I could learn to print. I was recently going through boxes of teenage stuff and I came across two prints I made of Samhain, from their gig at Smart Bar, Chicago, December 2nd, 1984 (one of 2 times I saw the band).

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Es el final del verano. Gracias a dios.

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|January 2, 2014 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Photos Of J.Yuenger, Travels

ThinnerWar Museum, Siem ReapThinner

It’s been a year already since I was in Cambodia. On that trip, I upped the number of countries I’ve been to to 40, which is a little better than a fifth of all the countries in the world.

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Sonora Witch Market

|November 19, 2013 | Mexico, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Sonora Witch Market 2ThinnerSonora Witch Market 1

Espera

|November 16, 2013 | Mexico, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Mariachis waiting for work, Plaza Garibaldi, Mexico City. A couple of days ago.

Mariachis 2

The Sad Man

|November 11, 2013 | Mexico, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

The Sad Man Full

House Of Tiki

|February 19, 2013 | Photos By J.Yuenger

A photo I took in the mid-1990s of a soon-to-be defunct bar in the south side Chicago neighborhood where I grew up. There was something totemic about this place for me, and a couple of years ago I posted a different-but-the-same picture and some thoughts here.

P : ” I remember driving in M.’s car on the coldest night of the year to go Ciral’s after a long night of bartending at Tuttaposto. Sadly, M.’s car decided to freeze on Lake Shore Drive and we didn’t know what to do. Luckily, one of Chicago’s Finest pulled up behind us and gave us a ride back to River North. “

M : ” Didn’t D. discover she had an allergic reaction to rum there after drinking a Zombie one night, while a rather down on his luck guy played the Star Wars theme on his kazoo ( over and over )? We also had that big dinner there one night after work where the whole staff of Tuttaposto came down. It was surprising that everyone made it home in one piece. $9 Zombies with 7 different spirits ( mainly rum ), followed by the Planter’s Punch with only 6 different spirits in it, both served in the naked lady glasses. Ahhhh, those were the days! “

P : “ I remember the bartender ( who looked like a bearded, shriveled, pipe-smoking elf ) said to D., “Why so glum?”  P.S., I still have two zombie glasses. “

 

Thaipusam

|January 26, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Penang, Malaysia.  Thaipusam ( Tamil: தைப்பூசம்  ) is a Hindu festival celebrated by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai ( January / February). It is not only observed in countries where the Tamil community constitutes a majority, but also in countries where Tamil communities are smaller, such as Malaysia. “

” The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel ( spear or javelin ) so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. “

” On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi ( burdens ). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with “ vel “ skewers is also common. “

” The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. In addition, some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks. The spear pierced through the tongue or cheeks reminds the devotee constantly of Lord Murugan. It also prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types of kavadi involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain. “

” In Malaysia, the temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, often attracts over one million devotees. The procession to the caves starts at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur and proceeds for 15 kilometers to the caves, an 8-hour journey culminating in a flight of 272 steps to the top. Thaipusam is also celebrated at Arulmigu Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple along Jalan Waterfall in Penang. “

The Sidewalks Of Penang

|January 25, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

If you follow here, there are some things you’ve probably figured out about me : I am detail-oriented, and I like old stuff. These are British tiles ( the similar-looking ones you can still see in the French Quarter in New Orleans are Spanish, I think – correct me if I’m wrong ), some as old as the 1880s, in Chinatown, in Penang, Malaysia. I walked on all of them.

 

FL

|January 23, 2013 | Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

U Bein

|January 15, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Sorry, I haven’t had much time to spend here. I’ve been in places where there isn’t much internets, or riding in a bus all day, or going to see stuff like this. I walked from one end to the other and back. Every so often there’s a person selling owls, the idea being that you buy one and release it. It’s said that the owls are trained to come right back to the owl-sellers after a little bit of being set free. ( a new sight : owls huddled together in wire cages – also, I don’t imagine I’ve ever yet in my life said ” owl-seller ” )

“ Amarapura is a former capital of Myanmar, and now a township of Mandalay. Amarapura is bounded by the Ayeyarwady river in the west, Chanmyathazi township in the north, and the city of Innwa in the south. Amarapura was the capital of Myanmar for three discrete periods during the Konbaung dynasty in the 18th and 19th centuries, before being finally supplanted by Mandalay 11KM north in 1857. “

“ The U Bein Bridge is a 1.2KM wooden footbridge ( the longest teak bridge in the world ) and was built in the mid-19th century by the mayor U Bein, salvaging the unwanted teak columns from the old palace during the move to Mandalay. The bridge still serves as the most important communication link for the people of his villages. “

I See A Guy

|January 10, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels, White Zombie

Yangon, Myanmar. I said ” OH SHIT! “ pretty loud. This is a big, noisy city, so nobody heard. I would have been too shy ten years ago, but not now, and , anyway, I look like a big scary Viking to these people. I roll up and start taking pictures of this guy, who is, of course, completely mystified. ( Look at the dude. I’m sorry, dude. )

 

I just got here last night, and I haven’t even learned to say ” thank you ” or ” can I have the bill, please? ” in Burmese, so, after I’d taken a couple of photos, I pointed at his shirt, and then I pointed at myself, and I said, ” that’s me, that’s my band ” in English. It was all I could do, and I knew he wouldn’t understand, and I knew there was no way to explain it. He looked around at all the other people cooking on the street and laughed and shrugged. It would be cool if he had one of the albums and looked at it tonight and said, ” Oh “.

 

 

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|January 9, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Yangon, Myanmar. ( if you’re thinking about old-timey times, that’s Rangoon, Burma. )

The city’s full of beautiful old colonial buildings, and this is the first Victorian Buddhist temple I’ve ever seen.

Slow Boat To Battambang

|January 4, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Last Stop

|January 2, 2013 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Sangkae River, Battambang, Cambodia. About to come ashore after a 9-hour boat trip.

 

Perspective

|December 21, 2012 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Abandoned French Church

|December 21, 2012 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Bokor, Cambodia.

The church is covered with orange lichen.

Choeung Ek

|December 18, 2012 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Noodle Village

|December 15, 2012 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

I know I’ve been getting a little gloomy with all the bombs and whatnot, so here’s something fun I did the same day as the war spoons :

1. Go to a Hmong village, buy fresh, handmade noodles.

2. Go to a restaurant on the side of a mountain. The restaurant makes the noodles into pho ( pretty much the same as Vietnamese pho, except the Lao pronounce it more like fur ). Eat pho with driver and guide. #nowthisisliving

Also. Mr.Tey, the guy on the right, told me a joke based on an experience he had. Last year, he took a busload of Dutch tourists to a Hmong village. The driver was going slowly and carefully, but he ran over a chicken. They got out and went to the hut the chicken had been in front of.

Mr. Tey : ” Madame, is this your chicken? We are awfully sorry, but we have killed it with our bus. “

Elderly Hmong woman : ” No, not my chicken. My chicken not flat! “

.. I don’t know if it’s the zen state of mind I get into when I travel, or what, but that’s the funniest goddamn thing I’ve heard all week.

 

War Spoons

|December 14, 2012 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

And so it is that I find myself in a village in Laos.

We are at the workshop of a man who is a farmer, but who supplements his income by making spoons, as well as bracelets and other trinkets, out of the aluminum parts of the bombs, rockets, and downed airplanes that are always turning up here.

War junk’s all over the place ..

.. and I get used to handling things which would seem pretty crazy at home, but are normal in this context.

He is a friendly and hospitable man, and he boils eggs from his ducks and serves them with homemade chili paste, which we eat with the war spoons.

He pours numerous shots of lao lao whiskey, which is infused with some sort of root ( it looks like ginseng, but it’s definitely not ginseng ). We look at the green mountains, and we get pretty fucked-up, and it’s good, and .. what was I saying again?

.. Is Not In Kansas Anymore

|December 13, 2012 | Asia, Photos By J.Yuenger, Travels

Phonsavan, Xieng Khouang Province, Laos. I had to go to the police station today to get a permit to do some sightseeing. In front of the station, there are big stacks of mortar shells, machine guns, bombs, warplane fuel tanks, and tank turrets from the Pathet Lao / Vietcong / Hmong / covert U.S. war. We bombed this country every eight minutes during this period, and the results of our foreign policy are quite evident here, even today.

 

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