Sunday, February 21, 2010

"A harp is like a piano without its clothes on while it's still young and pretty". Baby Dee interviewed by Uwe Schneider

Over breakfast a friend of mine came up with the idea of investing a few thousands in a baby company, taking her eggs and my sperm and a few poor women, later sell the high-class blue-eyed treasures to the highest bidders. Then I got asked by a friend of a friend if I could babysit their daughter tonight. And on my way home huge masses of snow came down the roofs like white and shiny (late) Christmas bombs, I couldn’t help but imagine at least one of them hitting a baby buggy – survival of the luckiest.

These three incidents are somewhat unconnected, I admit. Still - lightheaded as I am they all reminded me (onomatopoetically) of a brilliant musician from Cleveland, Ohio, who has been haunting my daydreams for quite a while now. Baby Dee honored us greatly by answering a few of our questions. I would like to express my gratitude towards Baby Dee and also thank Uwe Schneider for doing all the dirty/journalistic work.

And don’t you think that we will excuse your absence on March 25th (Berghain). It would be plain stupid to miss out on Baby Dee’s Berlin concert and we do not tolerate this sort of self-destructive behavior.

Last but not least I would like to apologize for this introduction, but what else can I say? Just read…

"Your new album "A Book Of Songs For Anne Marie" is sort of a remake of an earlier version that was recorded in a really provisorical way. What lead to your decision to work on these songs again?

I never thought of the first release as the definitive version of those songs. At that time I just knew I didn't have the wherewithal to do them justice so I purposely made the record that went with the book (they were released as a book not a CD) in a kind of slapdash way so when I recorded them I went to a studio and played through the songs once and sent it off without even listening to it.

I thought back then that a song was worth more if somebody else did it. To me that gives a song more of a life of its own -- completely independent and apart from the writer. That was what I was after. It just seemed to me at the time that was a way to leave room for somebody else to take it and make it their own.

I didn't quite get that but I got the next best thing. Maxim Moston offered to arrange them and produce the record. It's still me singing and playing harp and piano though. What can I say? It's not a perfect world.

In most of your songs, there is a strong element of storytelling. This becomes even clearer with this album because of its main character Anne Marie. Imagine a novelist or filmmaker would like to do an interpretation/adaptation of it, how would your work appropriately be translated into film or literature?

It would have to be hugely tragic, wouldn't it? Like one big death scene and the actors would have to look good naked.

Most of your songs are based on harp and piano. Apart from the fact that there is a harp in every piano - what do you think are the most important differences between using the piano or the harp to shape the character of a song? And why is it that you love these two instruments so very much?

A harp is like a piano without its clothes on while it's still young and pretty. I always loved the harp but didn't get to play one as a child so the piano is my mother tongue. All these songs were written at the piano and then completely rewritten to play on the harp. The harp was what I used to carry them out into the world.

I can do a piano tour now and have mostly good pianos to play but back then I had to use the harp. No one knew who I was then and getting a piano can be kind of a big deal. Music, the instruments and the writing is generally a lot more of a practical thing than most of us start out thinking. Probably if good pianos and concert harps weren't so damn big and expensive a lot more people would be playing them and doing tours with them. As it is they're among the most impractical things on earth for a tour to depend on.

I have a tiny concert harp that I keep in England. If times got tough for me and piano shows became unrealistic again I could always go back to schlepping it around on trains.

The "Book of Songs" lacks all the cabaret or even rock elements of your previous album "Safe Inside The Day". In a certain way, it may introduce the newer fans to your more classical style, may this be called "torch song", "balladry" or whatever. Would you regard "Safe Inside The Day" as a singular thing and the "ballads" as your main focus?

I don't know what to call my stuff. I call them dirges but that's a joke. I don't like to call them ballads. The only song I ever wrote that I would think of as a ballad is The Earlie King because it has that feel of the telling of a story with a beginning and an end and something dreadful happens... To me that's what a ballad is. I know in pop music the word ballad has become synonymous with slow or moody or unhappy or something like that. Maybe I'm too attached to that old meaning of the word to embrace it.

But hell. This is my interview and I don't like the word ballad. My songs are not ballads.

Lieder? I'm picturing Schubert having a rant about his work being lumped into a category called Lieder.

Art Song? Too precious but probably the best description. Too bad it's not a form of music that people make.

I don't know. I'm at a loss here. Sorry!

In many of your songs (e.g. "So Bad", "As Morning Holds A Star" and "Lilacs") there is a certain element that reminds of English renaissance music and poetry. Are you interested in that period, or is there no direct influence?

The music of the Renaissance was important to me but I only really loved the Italians and the Spaniards. Palestrina and Morales and Victoria. I admired William Byrd because he wrote well for three voices and I have a serious kink for three voices in counterpoint. I don't know any renaissance poetry. And I would say the influence of English music is non existent in my music. I never studied it and never listened to it.

Lugubrious and dreary Irish American crappy ballads have certainly had an influence as that was the soundtrack of my early youth. So there you go -- Ballads -- But only crappy ones inform my work.

Due to your biography you are sometimes labeled as a transgender artist. In our opinion, however, most of your lyrics deal with love in general, independently from any gender perspective. Would you agree?

I agree wholeheartedly and God bless you for leaving the tired old story of gender dysphoria back in the dust where it belongs.

In recent years, there was a large public interest in somehow folk inspired artists with a certain transgressive or counter cultural element in their style. One of the frequently used terms alongside this hype was "new weird america". As you work and have worked with the likes of Antony, Bonnie Prince Billy or David Tibet - have you ever regarded yourself as a part of something like this, and did this discourse influence the way you have been treated as an artist?

I don't know a single person (including the ones you mentioned) who wouldn't cringe and howl at the thought of being bunched in among the "new weird america" or "freak folk" people. Even the people who the category was made for don't fit it. David Tibet LOATHES folk music and he's considered the godfather of all that neo neo neo folk fuck shit. I love Devendra and let's face it, they pretty much made that box size just to fit him. But even he doesn't belong there. Not in my opinion anyway. He's much to good for that.

The same goes for Joanna Newsom doesn't it. She's much too sophisticated to be genuinely folky.

Vashti Bunyan doesn't fit because she's the real deal isn't she?

Also from my perspective not one of these people even come close to fitting the bill for either weird or freaky. I suppose I have to own up to those but I don't have a folkloric bone in my body.

And no, I don't think it's influenced the way people treat me. Some people can be different and loved for it and some can be different and hated for it. I think I'm kind of in-between -- tolerated. I am tolerated and that's a lot more than I expected. Allowed to make a living -- pretty amazing really. But I don't think I owe that to there being a name somebody made up.

And how fortunate for me to live in such a wonderful world as this where it's really possible to live outside of some bonehead's necessity to classify and make groups.

As if music and the people who make it were a card game for the simple minded like Go Fish. As if one can do this --


-- and be proud?

To hell with the makers of categories.

It's said that you have already played music in the early seventies. What kind of music was this, and are there any records?

No records. I just improvised a kind of beginningless/endless thing on the harp and spent years writing and playing the same piece on the piano. Believe me you didn't miss much.

Seems that 2010 will be a busy year for you. After your own tour there'll be an album and shows with the band Current 93. What else can we expect from you in the nearer future?

I just finished recording an album at my house in cleveland with Andrew WK producing and members of Mucca Pazza playing. Mucca Pazza is a thirty piece marching band from chicago. They're led by Mark Messing, a composer and arranger and souzaphone player and bassoon player. He's just unbelievably talented. Him and John Steinmeir, a jaw droppingly good percussionist and fellow crazy cow came and we recorded everything live right there in my house on Andrew's Steinway D!
He's going to edit and mix it. It'll come out on Drag City maybe late fall?

Also I'm collaborating with Little Annie. We're going to get together this summer to write and record. We already got a start on that. It's going to be super fun. I adore Little Annie.

Thank you a lot for the interview. As the world's greatest enthusiasts for ballads of all kind, we'll try our hardest now not to mention them any more. So all we can say in the end is - keep your eyes and ears open for the new things to come. And check out Little Annie's lovely music as well.

Baby Dee auf Myspace:
Baby Dee at home in Cleveland:
Clip zu "Dance of Diminishing Posibilities":
Live at the Bistrotheque London 2008:"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Eight Things That Matter

REASONS TO READ FUN CLUB ________________________________________________________________

We have reason to believe that superhero Baby Dee might answer a few of our questions. Don't forget to mark March 25th in your calendar - don't you miss Baby Dee's show at the Berghain!

A review of Randy Twigg's masterpiece "Undone" is in the making.

Our review of Houellebecq's and Lévy's "Volksfeinde" ("Ennemis publics") will be continued.

We will soon introduce you to the winner(s) of this this year's 19,99 € Award.

Our HUGE literature award/competition will launch in a few days.

TIME TO GO FUN CLUB ________________________________________________________________

On February 28th we will present the winner(s) of this year's 19,99 € Award in a spectacular show at the HBC. We would like to take a minute and thank our co-operation partner Sunday Extraordinaire.

FRIENDS OF FUN CLUB ________________________________________________________________

Please check out "lobby" at Kino Arsenal, a project by our jury member Martin Beck inter alia. Daily from 11 am to 10 pm or later - February 12th till February 21st.

Please apply here for the air band contest at next week's Sunday Extraordinaire. Don't miss out on 200 €.

"7 Year Itch" Art Show - Snooped By Uwe Schneider

While our 19,99 € Award jury is curating the hell out of all the wonderful submissions we found in our mail box, Fun Club's music and literature expert Dr. Uwe Schneider goes down on the art scene like an eagle. Once again he proves why he is considered the first German "Universalgenie" after Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

"In Billy Wilder's movie from 1955, the title “Seven Year Itch“ refers to the declining affection between partners after being in a relationship for seven years. I’m not the one to decide if this is a psychological phenomenon to be taken seriously or a mere cliché – in the case of the notorious Strychnin Gallery, whose Berlin branch was founded in 2003 by Yasha Young and whose best of exhibition was named after this quote, it surely gains different aspects of meaning. Strychnin, with their vast range of genres and styles is far away from a “monogamous“ relationship with any particular movement within the fine arts. Maybe this is why there is no sign of declining interest at all to bear. In some languages, „itching“ is also a metaphor for feeling restless about something, and it might serve as the most appropriate connotation of the phrase: Strychnin looks back on seven years of prolific and restless art shows and now presents their first retrospective.

The anniversary celebration started last Friday and presents a selection of about 60 international artists, who all have exhibited there before. When talking about various styles and genres, one shouldn't ignore some obvious combining elements that are leitmotifs of some sort in the history of their choice.  I'm talking about a focus on phenomena usually labeled „lowbrow“, „pop surrealism“ or „fantastic realism“ - styles in which classical modernism, folklore and counter culture meet, where influences from comics, book illustrations and underground music are hard to overlook, and whose subjects are figurative and narrative in the deconstructive way of a Murakami novel or a movie by Julio Medem or Tim Burton. For example, this is the case in the works of two Davids from across the Atlantic Ocean, Hochbaum and Stoupakis, who can't be missing among Strychnin's greatest hits. Consider Stoupakis' childlike fairytale set pieces, which are both kitchy and nightmarish and gained a lot of critical reputation in mags like Juxtapose and Hi Fructose; or think of the collaged foto and painting fragments of Hochbaum's mythical dreamscenes full of mediaeval cityscapes and strange women with brushwood on their backs – they all appear like screenshots from a folk tale which follows a surrealist script and is accompanied by some punkish score. 

Music, by the way, isn't just a metaphor in the exhibition's context. Whilst Stoupakis could easily illustrate a sexy dark cabaret outfit, Benjamin Vierling has actually contributed artwork for folk chanteuse Joanna Newsom. His „oil and egg tempera on panel“ works belong to the most traditional ones on the Strychnin roster, comprise influences from the 15th to the 19th centuries and are of a highly symbolic nature. Ansgar Noeth's prints under glass must be mentioned as well in context of a new symbolist tendency in contemporary art. The striking heads of his allegories, however, are a far cry from any pre-raffaelite contemplativeness. They subtly balance between earnestly showing and slightly mimicing the sins they deal with. More focused on the counter cultural element are the black and white images of Clive Barker-illustrator Richard A. Kirk (not to be confused with the composer Richard H. Kirk), the symetric "Devil's Caravan“ by a certain Gothic Hangman, and the death metal-like fantasies of The Ring's make-up artist Chet Zar, who contributed some canvas work – something monstrous with a strangely humorous twinkling of an eye. Another prominent figure from the movies is special effects bigwig Cliff Wallace. Confronted with his „Penitent“ and „Lamia“, my companion and I had the same association with Pan's Labyrith, and indeed Wallace collaborated with Guillermo del Toro before. 

Scott Radke's almost decorative mixed media work, the human faced "Snowflake“, leads us to a neo-baroque focus that is chiefly represented by some wondrously strange dolls whose charisma ranges from shy eroticism to an implied mental derangement that is hard to describe. Some of the dolls are way sweetish in their melancholy appearance, like for instance Marina Bychkova's porcellain "Agnetha“. Others, such as Virginie Ropars' "Alba“ or Beth Robinson's "She Caught Her Stallion“, which is made of clay, fabric and human hair, are rather recommendable to those who seek the morbid side of a decadent baroque scenery. Highly influenced by this period of cultural history is also art's most (in-)famous dog Ray Cesar, whose ultrachrome print "French Kiss“ has been on display since last year's "Magistrates“ show, from wich a number of exhibits are still hanging. It's impressive how his works combine schemes of childlike characteristics with a touch of fastidious audacity and sometimes even wickedness. 

When it comes to facial features, these childlike aspects inevitably evoke associations with the world of Japanese anime and manga art with its saucer eyed girls of willingly simplified design. This elements, however, have an independent tradition in Western lowbrow art in general. It is obvious in works of painters like Mark Ryden, children's book illustrator Nicoletta Ceccioli as well as in Leslie Ditto's „Rusty Memories“, which also shows her influence from hot-rod street culture. The anecdote says that some of her first artistic impressions came from helping in her family's Harley Davidson shop, where she could watch her father painting the gas tanks and other parts of bikes with popular fancy images of powerful, sexy women. Many of her paintings represent a somehow melancholy side of rock'n'roll, show vital yet desperate scenes. Less melancholy are the lively pin-up variations of Berlin based digital artist and illustrator Mimi S., whose work derives from traditional animation and found various usage in poster-artwork and other music related stuff in the last couple of years. Graphics like these build a bridge to another kind of cult movement of 1950s popular culture – the funny and brightly colored phenomenon of Californian Tikki bars with their South Pacific flair that were highly fashionable at that time and can look back on quite a few revivals since then. In some corners of the gallery you'll find pieces from a former show devoted to that subject: handpainted and artistically modified ukuleles, prints, sculptures and more.

There are also pieces that lack the vintage element that is very much in the focus of the selected work. Another local hero for example, "Jack“ from Manuel Cortez' foto book "Berlin Calling“, is mainly rooted in contemporary urban art. The candy coulored plastic world of Michael Frojman aka Bijou, a French designer and DJ, may transcent the daily "here and now“ in the opposite way and plays with the stereotypes of a bubblegum fun society, apparently not disagreeable to the artist. It would be too much namedropping to mention all the other contributors, too much talking theory on subtle otherness and a new historicism without regress, too much cliché to go on babbling about weirdnes and joyful morbidezza. Needless, however, to say that I was excited and that I recommend you to drop in.

7 Year Itch. Anniversary Group Show featuring over 60 artists
Opens February 12th at 7 pm.
Exhibition runs until March 7th.
Opening times: Thursday - Sunday 12 noon – 6 pm
Strychnin Gallery
Boxhagenerstr. 36
10245 Berlin"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Evolution Of Mickey Mouse - Michal Dabrowski

Many of us are searching for new angles to look at the world, Michal Dabrowski can hook us up for good.

Walt Disney said about him: "Visionary Michal Dabrowski, based in Warsaw and Berlin, studied Applied Social Sciences. He makes graphics, photos and short movies. He likes it when art mixes with anthropology."

"The fittest will survive

The strongest won't survive. The fittest will. At least according to Darwin. Survival is a prize granted to those who fit best into the specific balance of a given environment, who have this particular set of characteristics, which sometimes are even invisible to human eye. Sometimes it's the speed. Sometimes it's the colour of the feathers. Sometimes it's the position of the thumb. Sometimes it's the amount of down on the fruit that protects it from parasites. But the environmental balance isn't settled once and for all. With climate change, quality and quantity of food, the number of representatives of given species or the taste of the audience, the favoured characteristics do change and individuals equipped with them start to have bigger chances for replication and gaining goods, which are always limited. And that's why we evolve. To adjust. And that's why Mickey Mouse evolves. To adjust. To us.

He is 62 years old. He had to fight for our attention with Felix the Cat, Popeye The Sailor, Bugs Bunny and plenty of others. And he survived. He changed a lot from the beginning, but he survived. His microenvironment helped. For example Felix the Cat didn't succeed because his microenvironment was silent (side note: the first words said by Mickey were „Hot dogs! Hot dogs!”). Innovative and skillful use of technicolor also helped our Mouse to establish his position.

He also had good lawyers. When together with his rival – Bugs Bunny they starred in „Who framed Roger Rabbit”, it was settled, that the length of their appearance was to be exactly the same to a microsecond. But all of that wouldn't have been enough. He himself also had to change. His head got larger. Just as his eyes. His jaw retracted. His tail disappeared and generally he got kind of rounded up. And he's not so rugged anymore. And he doesn't fight for a girl like working class heroes. He got boringly polite which actually goes much better with his falsetto (another side note: at first Walt Disney himself gave voice to Mickey but then all the cigarettes he smoked made him rather growl than speak). As Stephen Jay Gould wrote in his article ”A biological homage to Mickey Mouse”, Mickey more and more resembles a child. He's getting younger. He's evolving backwards.

According to Konrad Lorenz, that's how our perception of animals works. We see human traits in them. We tend to judge their mimics and behavior the same way we judge ours. So, when Mickey looks like a child, subconsciously we treat him like a child, and children are sweet and charming. Maybe that's the pattern that Disney's illustrators followed. Maybe even without being aware of these processes they tried to make Mickey look sweeter and more charming. If that is so, than we already have a part of this history. We know how and why he changed. But a much more interesting question still remains unanswered. How did we change? Because he's adjusting to us, isn't he? So, is it that now he is simply better adjusted and we are the same or maybe in the last 62 years something has also changed in us (or in the way we want to be perceived)? And if so, why do we want rugged men to grow into charming children? Why don't we want him to fight anymore? And why does Mickey have to wear those gloves all the time?"

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dogan, Donate, Susan's Sick Sister & ASCII

Desperate times call for desperate anecdotes. Two days ago I went to see my favourite and somewhat legendary Spätverkauf manager Dogan, he runs the so-called "Späti International" located in Neukölln Weserstreet. I don't know exactly how he does it, but sometimes there are more people hanging and drinking in his fucked-up shop than in all these bars that spread in said area like the rash on that contaminated baby's skin that I always have to picture before falling asleep, let's hope that it doesn't exist.

Liquor, cigarettes & candy on the counter and I was searching for a 5 € bill amidst a few 100 € bills when he said: "Hey, I can change that 100." I was really confused for a minute, meditating about how this could possibly be a rip-off, when he said: "You know, I collect them - think they are beautiful." I just nodded my head a few times and said something boring like "that's right" in response, then we exchanged bills, he didn't even check if my 100 was good to go. Looking back on said event, I doubt that Dogan is an expert on bills, he's just a collector blinded by beauty. So next time I go shopping I might try to con the poor man. You can keep me from pulling such a mean scam on my (almost) friend Dogan (perhaps you could call him a facebook friend although he is not a facebook, at least not to my knowledge) by trying out FUN CLUB'S new DONATE button. If we raise a 100 € till the end of the week, his ass is safe.

We will use the money to cure Susan's sick sister. We just found out a few days ago that she suffers from a strong form of incontinence, the real medical term was too sophisticated to remember. However, Susan even took on a second job as an ASCII artist. 

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mysterious Saukerl - Alexander Knopf Präsentiert

Fun Club's exchange program with Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg continues. Talented young scholar Alexander Knopf agreed to join the jury of our upcoming Literature Award. On top of that he delivered a thoroughly fascinating and mysterious "review". For the first time ever in Fun Club history, we felt obliged to leave words untranslated.

After making a fortune as a real-estate agent, Alexander Knopf decided to squander his money as a backpacker. He traveled the world and picked up pretty much every language he came across. When he finally returned to Eastern Germany, the wall was already gone, so he went to Heidelberg and enrolled as a literature, history and ethnology student. He has been published in countless magazines, journals and newspapers and has a very particular skill set if it comes to editorial practices. Some of us might remember his magazine "federlesen", others have benefited from his contributions to the Hebel edition. These days he's working on a PhD on Georg Friedrich Philipp Freiherr von Hardenberg, also known as Novalis.

In the picture below you find Alexander Knopf in a weird position. It might be hard to believe that it's really him, yet this might prepare us for what's coming.

"IN DEN BÜCHERBERGEN, die nach 1989 von Ostberliner Antiquariaten unter dem Etikett „ideologisch kontaminiert“ verramscht wurden, findet sich noch heute, bei geduldigem Graben, manches brauchbare Druckerzeugnis. Aus dem Jahre 1955 etwa stammt das völlig vergessene und tatsächlich nirgendwo mehr auffindbare Büchlein „Der Stellvertreter“ [Заместитель], verfasst von Ivan Golz, der es auch vom Russischen ins Deutsche übertrug. (Fischer Verlag Jena) Golz, seinerseits persona incognita, gibt wenig Informationen preis. In Lemberg um das Jahr 1900 geboren, verlebt er eine nirgendwo bezeugte Jugend, bis sich ein Lebenszeichen erstmals in den zwanziger Jahren in Petersburg findet. Majakowski berichtet von einem Zusammenstoß mit dem „Saukerl [мерзавец] Golz aus Lemberg“, der sich nach einer Lesung seine Gedichte ausbat, um einen Hering darin einzuwickeln. Offenbar hatte sich Golz nach der Revolution nicht nur dem antibolschewistischen Widerstand angeschlossen, sondern auch für Futurismus nicht viel übrig. Es ist nicht unwahrscheinlich, dass besagter Golz mit jenem identisch ist, der nach Auskunft von Sinowjews Tagebüchern das Dekameron so gut übersetzt hat, dass er, Sinowjew, es trotz Stalins Belletristikverbot (mit gleichzeitiger Empfehlung seiner eigenen parteipolitischen Schriften) nicht aus der Hand zu legen vermochte. Nach dem Kronstädter Aufstand, in den Golz – wir wissen nicht wie – verwickelt war, floh er nach Berlin. Dort verliert sich seine Spur rasch und unwiederbringlich. Nicht mit letzter Sicherheit steht fest, ob das Couplet mit dem Titel „An den traurigen G.“ des in den Berliner Cabaréts der späten Zwanziger nicht unbekannten Erich Kleinwiegel auf Golz anspielt:

Kau nich auf deinem Bleistift rum, 
Der is doch nur von Holz 
So wie dein Kopp, den trägste stumm 
Tagaus, Tagein. Wat solls?

Mit deine Ohren hörste nich, 
Dabei sing ich det nur für dich. 
Undank ist… ach, wat solls! etc.

„Der Stellvertreter“, Golz’ einziges auf uns gekommenes Werk, ist ein Kammerspiel. Gumbrow, Insasse eines Irrenhauses, sieht sich gezwungen, seine Zelle fortan mit dem soeben eingelieferten Lemski zu teilen. Für Gumbrow eine Katastrophe, denn der Grund seines Aufenthalts im Irrenhaus ist der freiwillige Rückzug in die Psychose zum Zwecke eines ungestörten Bücherlebens. Ein „geschmackvoller Coup“ habe ihm, wie Gumbrow selbst sagt, dieses Privileg verschafft. Anlässlich eines Besuchs in Uppsala, bei dem er sich den Codex argenteus vorlegen ließ, begann er vor dem zur Salzsäule erstarrten Bibliothekar, Seite um Seite auszureißen und sich in den Hals zu stopfen, nicht ohne eine Silberintoxikation mittleren Grades zu verursachen. Es ist klar, dass ein Buchstabenmensch nur das Buch der Bücher verspeist. Aber hier geht es um mehr als gelehrte Allusion auf Johannes. Mit einem einzigen Akt der Gefräßigkeit zeigt Golz, was beiden, Religion und Literatur, von seiten der stalinistischen Kulturfunktionäre blüht: Das Verschwinden im Schlund der Revolution als Apokalypse selbst. Droht einer der Ärzte („Ingenieure der Seele“?) Verdacht zu schöpfen, verleibt sich Gumbrow ein weiteres Buch ein.

Die wechselnden Störungen, die Gumbrow durch die Emigration in den Wahnsinn ein für allemal auszuschalten gehofft hatte, stellen sich nun in persistenter Gestalt Lemskis ein. Lemski soll, so hatte ein Gericht geurteilt, gar nicht Lemski sein, sondern wahnhaft die Identität eines andern in Besitz genommen haben. Bis zum Schluss steht der Leser vor der Frage, ob Lemski das Opfer einer Verleumdung oder tatsächlich irre ist. In dem Gespräch, das einen Großteil des Buches einnimmt, schildert Lemski den Verlauf der Gerichtsverhandlung. Er sollte vor Jahren das Angebot eines Unternehmens angenommen und die Stelle des Inhabers besetzt haben. Dieser sei, so hatte ihm der seinerzeit verhandelnde Sekretär erklärt, „des Lebens wahrhaft müde“ und wolle „mit dieser Welt nichts mehr zu schaffen haben“. Lemski sollte keinem anderen Willen als dem eigenen unterliegen, sei aber verpflichtet gewesen, in allen Angelegenheiten des Unternehmensinhabers – sein Name ist natürlich Lemski – nicht nur als dessen Vertretung, sondern als dieser in persona zu erscheinen. Er sollte stets und überall auf seinem neuen Namen beharren, solange bis die Welt sich mit der Tatsache abgefunden hatte, erfahrungsgemäß rasch. Lemski, war der Sekretär fortgefahren, habe sich mit einer Sicherheit in seiner Rolle bewegt, dass der Tausch nicht nur im allgemeinen Bewusstsein, sondern auch in seinem eigenen bald in Vergessenheit geriet. Irgendwann habe er nicht mehr nur dienstliche, sondern auch gesellschaftliche und private Verpflichtungen wahrgenommen, bis sich selbst Madame Lemski in die neuen Verhältnisse fügte. Madame Lemski hatte die Aussage bestätigt. Sie hatte sich erst mit der Nachricht vom Hinscheiden ihres Mannes, das ihr eine gewaltige Hinterlassenschaft in Aussicht stellte, des seltsamen Abkommens wieder erinnert und sofort einen Prozess angestrengt.

Es ist klar, dass Lemski nicht nur einen Andern vertritt. Er vertritt die Andern, den „neuen Menschen“, die „toten Seelen“, die ihrerseits als von sich entfremdete Parteischablonen nur noch eine homogene Marschiermasse abgeben. Zugleich aber muss Lemski der Gegenentwurf zu dem Privatmenschen Gumbrow sein. Denn auf gewisse Weise reizt Gumbrow, jeden Nexus zur communitas kappend, beständig zur Frage: ‚Was gehen uns Privatidiosynkrasien an?‘ Die Ironie will es, dass Marx selbst die contemplatio verurteilt hat. Sie ist als unangemessene Reaktion abzulehnen. Freilich ist der Gegenentwurf nicht optimistisch. Es gibt keinen Optimismus in Golz’ einzigem Manifest. Das Irrenhaus ist der letzte Ort, an dem sich leben lässt, aber nur ein falsches Leben, denn es gibt kein richtiges im falschen etc. Dass Gumbrow letztlich nicht Gumbrow, sondern eben jener Unternehmensinhaber Lemski ist, zeigt nur, dass auch der Rückzug ins Papierleben durch Verlust des Selbst erkauft ist, während die Einsicht Lemskis, tatsächlich nicht Lemski zu sein, ihm den eigenen Abgrund offenbart und in den nun auch begründeten Wahnsinn stürzt. Zum Glück, kann man sagen, befindet er sich am rechten Ort."

Volksfeinde - Just A Book Review

I doubt the intelligentsia ever believed that "the internet" would destroy "the book", yet I grew up surrounded by such portentous prophecies (coming from screens). Perhaps it was just a mean grown-up joke that I wasn't supposed to get, a joke with "esprit". However, most prophecies become true in unforeseen ways. While the intelligentsia of the early 90s had pointed towards a war of media, it was all about the content they offer. The fact that most readers don't read anymore doesn't need much of an explanation. Why would anyone read a book when they can watch "The Wire" for 60 hours?

I personally did read quite some books in the past, but I also studied philosophy and literature plus I didn't have any internet connection for many years. When I finished school, I went to 1&1 and got myself hooked up, ever since then I haven't read anything but my own fragments, yet they shouldn't count as books: they don't have ISBN-numbers.

However, I decided to read again. And just to anticipate the "trace of honesty" that attracted myself to what I'm about to review, my decision was based on the following two reasons: 1. The Fun Club needs to publish book reviews to strenghten its position as party intellectuals' darling. 2. Since I don't collect vinyls, I should at least be a book nerd given that my technical skills are not very much advanced. There is nothing preposterous about neither 1 nor 2, everything that ever became (perhaps too) important to me, was forced upon myself by myself for "false" reasons.

I can be somewhat "extreme", so they say, and that might be why I picked  two books at the same time, both of them written by men with whom I entertain strong love-hate relationships, none of them mutual of course. So I first chose the "Josephstetralogie", apart from "Königliche Hoheit" what's missing to close "das Buch Thomas Mann", how the fuck did I make it through all these pages, and then decided to read "Ennemies publics" on the side. As you might know, I'm Berlin based now and somewhat eager to improve my German language skills, so I picked the German translation "Volksfeinde" published at Dumont in summer 2009. 

In "Volksfeinde" we find Bernhard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq exchanging letters - and how I love letters! Their self-proclaimed "Bekenntnisliteratur" initiates itself in terms of an understated confession: their correspondence is the result of an "idea" they had over dinner. It seems somewhat important to keep that in mind, although I'm not quite sure if anything should be derived from it. What I am sure of is that Michel Houellebecq, a man with whom I've been struggling with for almost ten years now, has to be approved. Point.

[to be continued]

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

About Interns, Streetart, Fashion, Tony, Family & Masked Kisses

February 3rd, 2010 - a historical day. Our chief executive Tony Abstract was to be the first human to eye-witness a phishing attack on open street, the victim turned purple before he shut down. What an exorbitant lie, but how else would we steal your attention, for sure not by reminding you once again that the 19,99 € Award deadline is closing in. I won't back down, spoke the deadline, before casting a cloud over your every move. And suddenly you lost sight of this silver lining that we all constantly chase, while only a few ever come to wear it as a necklace. We got carried away. What we indeed discovered a while ago is a new tattoo on Weinmeisterstrasse. We took a picture of it almost a week ago, when the the colour was still fresh and fragrant, but then we forgot about it, thanks to liquor and love.


In regards to our award ceremony on the 28th, we would like to announce that we're looking for two camera teams. One camera team is supposed to document the ceremony, while the other camera team should document what their colleagues' are doing. This way we hope to offer enough transparency, the media just play a crucial role in any healthy democratic system. We're dead serious about that, so please apply here.

We're gosh darn happy to welcome our new intern Henrique Churumabilioso in the Fun Club team. One of the many ordeals the young fashion photographer had to go through during his job interview was a fashion shoot with our chief executive Tony Abstract himself.

Tony wears blue 'cause he feels blue most of the time, at least that's what he says. The "blue suit" is part of the "Urban Knight Collection" his half-sister Antonia created and crafted by means of recycling old rags she found in the closet of Tony's (but not her) old man Anton Abstrakt der Ältere. The beautiful mask was provided by the hosts of Berlin's legendary Instant Kuss Party series, well-known in secretive circles for their gigantic masked balls.

Monday, February 1, 2010

12 45 84 - A Movie Review On Voice Recorder

As any good major business corporation, the 1,2,3 FUN CLUB INITIATIVE has its fingers in many pies. Thus it might not surprise you that we employ a whole bunch of cinéastes. A few days back the nerd crew approached our chief executive Tony Abstract to recommend "12 45 84" by Hadrien Touret. Instead of putting pen to paper, the lazy man mumbled a few brief comments in his voice recorder.

0.10 min
Good, nice, well-done.
0.20 min
Oh, ah, I'm not sure if I like this, it's just a lot like a "short movie".
1.30 min
Oh, no, this is really really good! Yes, me like it!
6:52 min
Still enjoying it very much. Beautiful.
9:16 min
Ah, sad, that's just a bit too much. Was it necessary...
9:40 min
Ah, no, he GOT me. That's brilliant - LOVE it. What a tricky bastard!

Very recommendable flick, amusing, beautiful & somewhat different.

12 45 84 from hadryen on Vimeo.

19,99 € Award - Jury Member Lasse Lawrence/Laurent Lasselin

'Tis a good day for the fine arts, after long and tenacious negotiations Lasse Lawrence agreed to join our jury. Not only is the young man a legend in the Parisian-Berlinian undergound burning art movement, he also is the self-proclaimed Chancellor of a very mean elitist alliance by the name of "mean club", closely related to another darn aggressive group known as "Berlin's fashion police". (Our jury is now complete, nothing can stop the 19,99 € Award.)


"Lasse Lawrence is the temporary pseudonym of Laurent Lasselin. Lasse Lawrence is born in the Eighties, maybe a little before, studied History and Philosophy. One day he entered an Art School just to visit. He decided to stay. Five years after that, he finally got out with a diplom of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Paris Cergy in 2006. After living in Lille and Paris in France, he lives now in Berlin since 2007. He worked for many galleries in Berlin, but not anymore and for the Berlinale each year since 2008. Lasse Lawrence is operating as an artist, a critic, a writer, a musician and choreographer, and developing now a curatorial activity in a little space in Neukölln when he doesn´t have to sweep the floor or do the dishes. Lasse also works as tax assessor, but that's more of a hobby."