Let's drink to the lost. The bridge is open tonight; pay the coin, cross over and tell them everything you should have said when you had your chance.
The truth, as they say, is out there. It's no easy thing to drag your asphyxiating culture out from under the three-tonne toad that is colonization. Some of my own ancestors ended up on the other side of the world trying to escape its clutches, stripped of their language and customary connection to their own forsaken island. While, in my opinion, the concept of tapu is still employed to underscore masculine primacy within Maoritanga, that may concede something to feminist scrutiny in the fullness of time. Looking over the objects in this gallery goes some way to restoring noa, the feminine principle, to its rightful status. (A word on pronunciation- I apologize for the omission of macrons; they're often not supported and end up corrupting the text.)
Above: Lintel panel, Bay of Islands. Many such pieces show women giving birth, symbolizing spiritual and existential passage. One of the many feminine articles representing noa, the sacred female principle.
Please respect the Otago Museum's copyright of these images. Do not reproduce without permission.
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I dreamed that I fucked Anthony Bourdain in a dark upstairs room with the window open. He was good; slow and insistent. I licked his tattoo. Afterwards we sat and smoked strange little purply bruise-coloured handrolled cigarettes that turned our tongues and our lips and the tips of our fingers black and shiny, and we laughed at it.
Remarks: Ectoplasmic infidelity is so often awesome, and I have sometimes wondered about Anthony, but not lately, so this was unexpected. (Something about not looking a gift horse in the mouth) Umm... alright.
What to tell you about MAC Dark Side? It's a pretty standard wine red that I neglected up to the moment I discovered a *gasp* dearth of glossy vino-type shades in my collection. Mattes forever, virtually nothing with a sheen to it, so I picked it up.
As you can see, Dark Side is an amplified finish which means it's second only to the mattes in pigmentation and wear. For something with slip, it 'sets' and stays put quite well, offering around 3 hours of no-bullshit wear without a base. Smudges out nicely and is a bit twinsy with Diva, sharing its rich plummy depth of colour. Usefully buildable, butching up quickly from a thin wash to almost full opacity in three passes. Dark Side's most valuable trait is this versatility; dark lippys are often patchy when sheered, leaving gungey opaque pigments stuck to your flakes and creases etc, but this shade dabs on smoothly in that respect and obliges you with a nice stained raspberry look. Some have complained that it's a 'dated' 90's sort of berry, but I was there and we didn't really have this shit back then. I personally think DS is a timeless staple. Tomatoes/tomatoes.
Left to Right, in neutral unflashed indoor light: (all MAC)
All Mattes except Dark Side, which is clearly sheerer and glossier.
I really like their work. Check it out yourself (it's art, not porn, but maybe nsfw).
Susan walked too quickly in a black dress that had proved too long, though she stood much taller in the stacked heels that crushed her toes together. She glanced at the maître d' as he pulled her chair, unsure where to settle her handbag amid the intimidating formality of the private dining room and the clockwork manners of its attendants. The table before her was drowned in vanilla linens; she leant around its centrepiece of pale lemon lilies and whispered quickly, keeping her eyes on the blooms.
“I’m sorry, Mr Lamb... the taxi was late, then there was a nutter in town holding up traffic with a rubber gun or something...”
Edward had not dressed for the occasion. He looked up from his newspaper just long enough to constitute an acceptance of her apology; she patted at her hair while the waiter filled her glass, murmuring the name of the dark vintage softly. On the wall a gilded mirror reflected her hunch and she sat up as though kicked, William’s risqué warning making her ears red and keeping her legs together under the table. The thought of taking refuge behind the menu dissolved as she saw that it was couched entirely in French. Her gaze climbed the text toward her host, only to discover that Edward had put away his newspaper and already begun to subject her to a visual exam. His presence gained volume in the quietude, rolling toward her as though from some distant, submersing ocean; the more she looked at him the greater its disturbing influence became and the more he seemed revised by it in turn.
“I um... I don’t speak French. Do you know what’s nice?” She picked up her glass and drank its contents in a long draught. "Anything with chicken..."
“I don’t eat flesh.” he replied.
“Oh... sorry." With her random selection entrusted to the waiter, Susan accepted another charge of wine, her empty stomach conveying its effect immediately and supporting the idea that decisiveness would stand her in better stead than timidity. “Do you think you’ll stay at that house? You'll probably have to do something about the roof before winter.” When he failed even to glance up in reply she set her elbows on the table, took her head in both hands and stared down at her knees. “Mr Lamb, if you’re letting me go, can you please just get on with it?” she urged. “Sitting here waiting for it's doing my head in.”
Edward listened to the clicking of her jaw, then stood up from his chair.
“I’ve decided not to pick up your contract. You can finish the week, or not, as you prefer.” he informed her, watching her blanch, then flush. “Excuse me.” he added, departing without further explanation. A youthful waiter stepped aside for him, watching him go then grinning at Susan in his stiffly buttoned shirt, leaning over the flared white plate he set before Edward’s chair.
“That guy’s a right bastard.” he whispered in a Glaswegian accent, craning his neck to look around them. “Not a fucking tip in five years.” She watched in fascinated disgust as he hoiked quietly over the bowl, adding a gobbet of phlegm to the broth and swirling it into the liquid with a slow rotation. He winked at her and she scowled at her own plate, at which he shook his head. “No love, you’re okay, have a go... it’s great soup.”
Reaching out, Susan dealt the remaining wine into her glass and quaffed it swiftly, considering herself no more beholden to civility than her erstwhile host. Edward returned before she had decided how to address the actions of the devious, expectorating attendant; watching him resume his seat, she sat motionless while he dipped his spoon into the soup, her breath banking behind her frown.
“Mr Lamb...” she murmured, leaning forward with a hand to her mouth. “Don’t.”
His strange eyes rose to hers. “It’s... cold, and horrible. Just... have them take it back.” He inclined his head once more. Susan's stare followed his spoon toward his chin until her hand burst through the intervening flowers, pulling his bowl into the blooms and almost scuttling them both. “The waiter gobbed in it.” she sighed, dropping back into her chair and hauling up the neck of her dress. He glanced down at the bowl.
“He said it's because you’re a bastard.”
Edward reclined a moment.
“Do you enjoy working at Commoriom Drive?”
“Not really, no. I just needed the job.”
"I'm interested in employing you in a private capacity." Her surprise, and then suspicion prompted his admiration for the unfailing nature of her instincts.
"I can't leave La Rue Personnel... I owe fees."
"Does she hold any of your documentation?"
"No... but I knew three girls who couldn't pay, and they disappeared... everyone says if you don't cough up, she has you deported."
He stood out of his chair again and walked around the table, pausing to drop a cheque for her first month's wages at her elbow.
"So I still have a job, then?" Susan scowled when he refused to concede any explicit confirmation. "I'll need a contract..."
"I'll have one drawn up. I have to leave." Edward told her, frowning slightly as she stared at him relentlessly, as though fearing he would retract the offer to punish her credulity. “Stay. It’s on me.”
The Scottish waiter smiled as Edward approached the kitchen door and slid a folded banknote into his hand in acknowledgement of his efforts. From the exit he glanced back into the private alcove; Susan sat as he had left her, staring blankly as the soup was replaced with a plump chicken breast and fragrant puy lentils.
C O N T I N U E D N E X T W E E K
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce
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I walked into the front room and on the wooden dining table there lay a giant mermaid's purse, a transparent embryonic sac produced by certain shark species. It was as long as my arm. Inside were two different types of young fishes; to the right there were many small slim blue sharks coiled about each other, to the left, a mass of giant translucent galaxid species. I opened the thick membrane with a knife and the fish were bathed in a tea-coloured fluid. I took out a shark and put it into water in a red bucket on the bed, then returned to the front room. From the plank wood of the table a rose bush had started to grow as though from a lopped trunk; it had already produced a flower and I saw that it was Variagata de Bologna, an old cultivar with red and white stripes.
I was pleased by the rose but as I admired it, I saw that I had neglected the fish and that they had begun to die.
Look at this amazing little beastie I bought off TradeMe
(New Zealand online auction site).
His name is Bill the Intestinal Bear.
(My nephew insisted.)
Unfortunately this blankety little guy has already attracted the unwelcome attention of Felix, obsessive Toy Inspektor (First Class) and scourge of anything stuffed, tufted, furry or pliant. It suffices to say that he will be living strictly above navel-level from now on. Leigh in Greymouth (NZ) is the mind behind the beast and constructed him from recycled blanket and various vintage fabrics and findings. "I like to make things with their guts coming out, but in a tasteful way." says Leigh. "My workshop is usually for making beasties that mount on the wall like trophy heads, but I do make batches of different things such as the soft toys with guts, trifod style hair and hat pieces, mounted insects made out of fabric and fly tying gear."
See the pic above for the dragon-type mounts she's working on at the moment. Leigh's getting a website together and I'll post a link to her great stuff once it's up and running.
lizardking90 / credit: Bob Cowen / University of Miami & Oregon State University
“When it come t' immortalidy, we got th’ fuckin cheap seats, an ah aint afraid t' say it. But yew all sittin theya with ye snake face an ye superioriddy fuckin complex... well, ah chewed shit up an shat it out wernce too... kint say ah fuckin miss it."
The sneery little speaker waved a cigarette before its black eyes, squinting at Edward past both the smoke and the suffocating pan-stick that had staled on its skin like rendered fat. Electric blue lashes sagged from its livid grey lids; a towering headpiece featuring a plastic cornucopia of waxy fruit and flowers pitched dangerously sideways on its narrow skull, two enormous raspberries wobbling furiously and threatening to tear free from its despondent earlobes. A gold-plated pendant misspelled Siobhan around its neck. The creature sat coiled in its chair, as wizened and parasitic as a pea crab while the Black Moth, that seedy, dismal nightclub suffering its interminable tenure, enclosed them like some moribund cavity.
“Ahm tellin ye...” it continued, waving a crooked finger in Edward’s face. “Ye aint fuckin lived shit til ye sucked everythin outta somewern while theya screamin lahk a fuckin baby on a burnin fuckin train...” The vampyre's voice dropped again as though gurgling down a drain. “Kint believe yew all never tried it, what with ye hackin up everythin that don’t fuckin move fast enough fer th’ price of a fuckin rahde home... surpris'd ye didn’t shank ye dink skank of a mammy when she were durn squittin ye out.” It snorted to itself. “Heh heh heh... ye prob’ly did. An ye still think killin’s all bout the fuckin ‘muneration. Me, ah don’t git paid til ah bust th’ skin, an th’ juice come sprayin out swith-lahk, amain an fuckin endlong... an they squirmin an fuckin twitchin lahk ye got em plugged in where it don't shine... ah tell yeh, that shit raght there'll keep ye young.” It trailed off, staring away into some private vista and sucking saliva down its throat before rousing itself once more, putting up a hand to steady its headgear. “Ye kin tell that cocksuckin brother a yers ahm gonna shoot his ass an whatever skank he’s conjugatin at the tahme... he kin bitch about meh terminatin ye lease til kingdom come raght in a hoe's lap. Ah jest bout hed the fuckin sight a him, an kint say ahm messin mahself at th’ prospect a yew neither.”
The club’s interior was rendered entirely in varying degrees and densities of black, from its puckered walls to the smeary laminate bar and the filth-obscured floor that sucked at the soles of patrons' shoes. It held a malodorous, almost articulate murk in which whey-hued faces bobbed like body parts in an oilslick, thin or bloated, loathsome and mantis-like, ringed by the failing, thewless slaves that attended them like souls already subject to infernal dominion. The candle on the table between Edward and his dreadful companion struggled as though for want of oxygen.
“Now there’s talk down at mah project bout spook-sniffin assholes greasin round, wonderin where yew all lit out to.” It crammed a wrinkled cigarette into the overflowing tray and placed another between its scant vermillion lips. “Never fuckin stop talkin, do ye Ed?” Edward consulted his phone while the creature sat back against the vinyl. “Heard ye gittin Opal t’ hose th’ hot shit off ye merc cheques. That old cottonmouth bitch aint blood t’ no wern ah know... fuckin looks on us lahk we aint fit t’ pinch wern out, an ye go t’her? That aint fuckin raght...”
Behind them on a tiny, black-wreathed stage, the blasphemous simalcrum of some vintage starlet, complete with turret cleavage and improbable cerise bouffant, began to lisp a Cole Porter number into the microphone, aping such broken elements of burlesque and fluttering allure as they were able to recall. Bar girls lolled behind the counter, wasted charms spilling from their strapped-up leather as they led a slow clap and the performer slid the microphone inside its skirt. Edward's host pulled a bitter face and waved toward the bewigged savant.
“Fuckin open mike nights... ah aint nev'r gonna learn." Siobhan complained. “If ye aint got nothin fer meh, quit scarin’ off mah payin customers.” Its companion pulled an envelope from the pocket of his jacket.
"Nationalidy?” it muttered, inserting a fingernail into an ear and extracting a pinkish clot as it scowled at the photographs provided.
“EU, no preference.”
“What’s so fuckin wrong w' bein Nahgerian, jest like everybody else?”
A stifled groan issued from under the table and a young man's head appeared alongside the vampyre's elbow, red-eyed and barely conscious. The latter glanced down and exclaimed to itself, delivering a round of savage blows to the youth's face to suppress the unscheduled interruption. Edward reached across the table for the envelope, which his host snatched up, glaring alternately at the pictures and their owner.
“Shippin out ye own kahnd on the fuckin down-low... labourin for that wall-eye'd cunt Opal... ye g..."
“If you can't do the work I’ll take it to Pink Fred.”
The judicious mention of a rival’s name provoked the desired effect.
“Ah kin fuckin git em...”
“I want them tomorrow.”
The tower of lucite fruit lurched forward again.
“Ye sure is in some kahnda swivet fer em, aint ye?” it hissed shrewdly; Edward pushed a roll of currency across the table and stood up while it weighed the bundle in its spidery hand. “All a this raght when we got a fuckin avalanche a refya-gees washin up this side a th’ fuckin main, crahin’ their fuckin eyes out an wantin’ papers too... an here ah am, shiftin fer a fuckin snakeface lahk ah weren’t raised no fuckin better.”
He stepped over the vampyre’s unconscious victim on his way toward the door.
C O N T I N U E D N E X T W E E K
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce without permission
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Spectacular Microscopic Art Is Also World-Changing Science
We own a vintage research microscope ourselves and the lovely R whiles away many a dorky hour twiddling knobs and raising and lowering the stage etc in his attempts to wrest images from his variously illuminated subjects via very special sock-and-cardboard-tube based focal extender. Lol.
Its intricacies have been explained to me, but I forget them. We've managed a few money shots this way but they are scattered into dust before the above-depicted masterpieces; never mind, we're more than happy to be humbled. You should definitely hit the link and check out the rest of it.
Does it feel like six months already? Yes and no. On one level writing for this blog and doling out the serialization seems like something I've been at ten years now; it's smooth, automatique, integrated into the daily routine, and only really interrupted by the fitful interdicts of an ongoing/long-deferred existential crisis. There's been a lot of internal sads and 'motional lint. Which you really don't want to hear about. But on the other hand, this thing still feels like a baby, in that it wakes me at four in the morning and shits its pants without warning. As well as spawning more than its fair share of crap and unintentional couplets.
I worry that it's eating into my drafting the second book too, which is something I'm going to have to deal with soon. < This is what the poor thing looks like right now, pinned to the hanbel on the bedroom wall like some sort of sectioned martyr. Note the gaps. Other writers will be feeling me here. Fish or cut bait? Deal with the personal shit or just write it all down and feed the beast? Do the fucking garden/paint the house/strip the floors or stare at the screen for five hours???
Maybe you just have to put in a solid year and get the work behind you online before sliding backward into the cthnonic swamp to write part II. I miss the smell of mud and the feeling of lilly pads stuck to my back, though.
On the up side, we've both loved finding and sharing so much gorgeous new work via the whole 'liked this' thing. Muy inspirational. I bought one of Meghan Howland's beautiful prints and that's off to be framed any day now; I'll post the results.
Hope you're still getting something from all this. I know we are. Got some thoughts you'd like to share? Drop us a mail via C O N T A C T. We don't bite.
with Echo Nittolitto
Calumet C1, Kodak Low Contrast Aerial Duplicating Film, hand-cut, expired 1980s
The crown above was made of porpoise teeth, fibre and trade beads in the Marquesas islands. While each dolphin might have over one hundred teeth, this object none the less represents a large and fatal outlay on behalf of the cetaceans from which it was fashioned, a practice that continues to this day.
Imagine how dearly these trade beads, with their saturated, immutable colours and the exponential effect of their repetition, would have been coveted by a culture without foundries or furnaces; peoples the world over have been seduced and enraptured by glass where gold and silver had made little impression beyond their basic utility. To possess the blue of the sea and the sky, a colour allotted so generously to the elements that surround us that it seems like there was little left over to distribute elsewhere, must have been prestigious indeed. On the other side of the planet artists of the European tradition have lavished this hue on the robes of the christian Virgin in their efforts to imbue her image with the kind of mana and singularity implicit in this piece.
Slightly less majestic, perhaps, is this wooden figure of a flying fish, from somewhere in Papua New Guinea. If you've ever seen these often hapless-seeming creatures as they flit low in bright shoals over the surface of the water or skitter across the back of the boat in their attempts to evade predation, you'll recognize the expression depicted here.
Ulute pendant, Solomon Islands. A fine example.
This pendant is carved from a disc of thick white shell cut from the enormous Tridacna clams that still populate tropical oceans, though they are endangered by overexploitation in many areas. The figures are rendered in black pigment rubbed into the incised design. Frigate birds are instantly recognizable in Pacific art; their satin black, elongate wings and effortless command of the endless sky makes them fitting candidates for divinity. They were conspicuous harbingers of plenty, announcing the arrival of import pelagic fish species by attending their 'baitball' feeding activities when they came within sight of the islands. This pendant is from Malaita, the largest landmass in the Solomon Islands.
Tabua, Fiji. Tooht pierced and threaded with thick sennit cord.
Though today, the tabua or sperm whale tooth pendant is heavily associated with Fiji, the tradition may have originated in Tonga; the opportunity to acquire them coming only when one of these massive animals were washed ashore with their slender lower jaw intact.
Until the advent of commercial whaling.
Incised or scrimshawed examples such as this one have passed through the hands of European whalers and sefaring traders. This tabua has been coloured with pigment and smoked to darken its patina, the colour maintained during reverential handling of this tremendously prestigious item. They are not worn personally, but presented and exchanged in the course of ceremonials as a method of acknowledging status, settling grievances and formalizing obligations. They have kavakaturanga, or chiefly status. Personally, I have little emotional or aesthetic reaction to them, thinking only of the dead, flaccid cetacean lying on its side while its distinctive dentition is hacked from its carcass, and how commerical whaling must have corrupted their original currency.
This concludes our series from the Pacific Peoples Gallery; we hoped you enjoyed having a look at a group of objet from our region. Yesterday we went in to document some of the taonga in the Maori section of Otago Museum and we'll be presenting those soon in a similar format.
(Just a reminder that Otago Museum owns the copyright on all of these objects so please don't reproduce them without permission; doing so in a commercial respect may incur legal entanglement. Thanks.)
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Hey New Zullanders- you forgot about this song, didn't you? It's been hiding on my iTunes and I played it yesterday for the first time in effin years, bro.
Mid Spring in the Blackthorn Garden, Port Chalmers, New Zealand.
Plenty of rain, a little bit of sun, not much erm... gardening. Lucky it doesn't need us to hold its hand.
Everything's looking good so far apart from the by now obligatory possum attack on the low-growing roses.
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THE NATURAL WORLD
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B L A C K T H O R N
O R P H A N S
What is freedom, when it is
all that remains to you?
In exile two brothers pursue an anarchist's trajectory, from an old world into the new, from East to West, subject always to the pleasures & horrors of an enduring flesh, to the ironies of karma & impunity. Love bears thorns, the lost return & the dead are haunted by the living.
E P I C D A R K F I C T I O N
T H E
B L A C K T H O R N
O R P H A N S
O N S I T E
celebrating glorious deviation in the land of the long white cloud
- New Zealand -
exaltation semicoherent speculation
& raw ingredients
& original sources
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