Saturday, May 31, 2008

Robert Place Rules

The image for the Mermaid I posted below is from the out-of-print Alchemical Tarot, created by artist Robert Place. Anyone who's a regular to this blog will really dig this guy's stuff. He has some very nice prints for sale, and a very interesting approach to the Tarot.

When Joltin' Joe Linsner and I were discussing the art for Our Gods Wear Spandex, Place is one of the artists we looked at for inspiration.

Check out Robert's page here.

Conjunction Junction- What's Your Function?

OK, so the same day we're promised a glimpse at a real-live Grey we get pictures of a very exotic looking undiscovered tribe in the Amazon. An expert tells us this tribe is trying to remain hidden, and I can't look at those pictures without thinking of the Cargo Cults that got Van Daniken started with Chariots of the Gods.

So what are we to make of this conjunction? Freeman believes that the Greys are no extraterrestrial but subterranean, which ties in quite nicely with the camera-shy tribe. Are the Greys like these Indians? Are they our cousins, who merely took a left turn when the ret of the world went right?

I'm quite agnostic when it comes to the UFO thing, to be honest. There's too much evidence for it to be a hoax or something, but not enough for me to believe these are aliens. I kind of like the subterranean explanation, and maybe this strange conjunction is pointing us in that direction. When it comes to the Greys, their reported behavior does seem more like some sort of alternate race native to this planet, who take a somewhat furtive stance to their hominid relations.

How to Heat Up Cold Coffee

How do you heat up a fading brand aimed at pretentious Bobo's*? Throw some bloody red meat to the Fundamentalists. Then drinking overpriced coffee becomes a "political act." I don't know why this "Resistance" guy is attacking the "slutty" aspect of the logo and ignoring its more obvious occult component. But prefab controversy is how you get the public to accept these symbols. I'm sure whoever dreamed this one up is getting a huge bonus this year.

Here's a graphic history of the Starbuck's logo.

* Bourgeois Bohemians

Friday, May 30, 2008

Front 242 Fridays: Don't Crash

My favorite moments in my Rock and Roll memory are when I encounter a band that seems familiar and yet alien and unknowable and frightening. My first encounter with Euro-Industrial maevens Front 242 was like that. In 1987 I was working in New York and an adorable office mate named Amy spent the summer with me. Amy was from San Francisco but had grown up in Hong Kong (her father was some big executive type). She was filled with boundless energy, inspiring my art director to ask one morning when Amy was late, "So where's the ditzy little chatterbox?"

Amy turned me on to some of the new bands she was hearing in the underground clubs of SF and one of them was Front 242. "Don't Crash" was the first song I heard from them and it blew me away. The martial beat, the detuned synths, the Teutonic vocal- I knew exactly what they were drawing from but they did so in a way that set a new standard for Industrial dance music. Their 1988 album Front By Front is an absolute masterpiece of the genre.

The song is actually about a plane crash, so the visuals here don't really jibe. If I ever have some spare time in my life I think I'll do a YouTube vid set to it with plane crash footage from The X-Files and Millennium.

ClownShow 2008: Clowny Clown Clown

Hey, it's 1996 again! George does the Macarena with Ben Affleck!

Yeah, this guy runs the show. For sure.

Cross Purposes II

The odious WorldNetDaily is always good for a chuckle - or a shudder. Its bloodthirsty slate of neo-con and theo-con columnists is mixed in with old-fashioned red meat-chucking disguised as news-gathering and some of the web's most depressing low-rent advertising. One of its recent provocations, "Secret plans under way to tear down Christian symbols," is a timely story in which the latest signal of the power elite's rapid dismantling of its long-running "Religious Right" pyramid scheme is the ordered removal of crosses at a US Army chapel in Kosovo.

Take a good, long look at the entrance to that building and see if it reminds you of anything we've been discussing here over the past few months.

Better yet, take a look at the logo for the Army Chaplain Corps and see if it doesn't remind you of something else. Something you can't put your finger on. Besides the 17, I mean.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thin Lizzy Thursday: Thunder and Lightning

Thin Lizzy never really cracked the US, but were superstars in Europe. Lizzy leader Phil Lynott was, like so many of the great Irish bards, a born outsider in an extremely insular culture. Born in England to an Irish mother and a Afro-Brazilian father, Lynott later moved to Ireland and got swept up in the late-blooming Irish Rock and Roll scene. Inspired by Jimi Hendrix and the nascent British heavy metal sound, Lynott formed Thin Lizzy. He brought some much needed Soul to Hard Rock as well as the poetic tradition from the land of his mother's birth.

I always heard a tremendous amount of pain and despair in his voice. I can't imagine being a black rocker in what was essentially an all-white Catholic theocracy was easy on the man. But all great artists are outcasts- that is the wellspring of their genius. As a result, Lizzy was always respected by the 70s punks, who seemed hellbent on discarding all of the heroes they grew up with.

I chose this song because it shows that the punks' admiration of Lynott and Lizzy was a two-way street. This is not Lynott at the peak of his performing powers, but the band (at this point including future Whitesnake axeman John Sykes) more than make up for it.

I was at a skinhead party in Boston in the early 80s and put this record on. I was immediately shouted down by the crowd for daring to make them listen to a bunch of old longhairs from the 70s. Later that night a group of them were clustered around the stereo, getting all misty-eyed listening to a recording of old SS marching songs.

Note: We'll be listening to some tracks by my favorite Irish bands on selected Wednesdays in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One Man's Trash

Childhood toy revealed as ancient Persian treasure

Handout images showing the front and side views of a gold cup decorated with the heads of two women. An ancient gold cup mysteriously acquired by an English scrap metal dealer is expected to fetch close to a million dollars at auction after languishing for years in a shoe box under its current owner's bed.

Look at that image for a while. Let it seep in...

Ritual Androgyny: Stargate Edition

The choice of Jaye Davidson to portray the ancient astronaut Ra in the movie Stargate may have been derided as stunt casting at the time, but it speaks to a recurring motif in Ancient Egyptian history and iconography. The work of Stargate synchromystics like Jake Kotze and Goro Adachi has often focused on the bizarre career of Pharaoh Akhnaten, whose hermaphrodism was recently in the news, appropos of nothing.

And of course, the hermaphroditic heirophant brought recorded history's first monotheistic religion, based around the worship of the Sun. Art also took a strange turn during his reign, depicting the royal family looking more like aliens than Egyptians. Artists didn't shrink from depicting Akhnaten's womanly figure, perhaps since androgyny was well familiar to them already.

There are any number of paintings or sculptures where Egyptian men and women are distinguishable only by the smallest details- small breasts, fake beards, somewhat longer skirts. Men and women- at least of the upper classes- were both portrayed wearing wigs, skirts, jewelry and makeup. We take this for granted, but the fact remains that in Egypt as well as other high civilizations highborn men tend to feminize themselves as a mark of status.

We saw the same exact practice among the (Masonic) Founding Fathers, who wore their hair long (or wore wigs) and frilly accoutrements to their garments. Dandyism was even more prevalent in Europe and was very much part of the vigorous pursuit of heterosexual relations. The same motif repeated itself with Rock bands like Motley Crue and Poison. There surely is a psychological and evolutionary dimension to this, but there's also a strong ritual dimension, since Rock and Roll is merely the unconscious revival of the Ancient Mystery cults, with their loud music, drugs and screwing.

This well-known image of Hathor and Pharaoh Seti almost gives the impression of a mirror image. Their accessories are different and Seti's shoulders are wider, but the artist seems to be conveying a unity of the two genders. This of course ties back to the hermaphroditic creator god, Atum, whom we'll be looking at in the context of modern ritual drama in the future.

This image of Horus leading a nobleman to the Afterlife almost seems like a groom leading a blushing bride to the altar. This has echoes in Jesus' parables about the Church being the bride of Christ. Of course, homosexuality itself was officially frowned upon in Egyptian religion and there is very little record of its practice, but we all know that means nothing.

It seems that androgyny in Egypt- as well as other cultures- largely had a non-sexual ritual connotation. This would emerge in Gnostic sects that preached abstinence as well as androgyny. Of course, many of these sects would emerge in Greek Egypt.
"When Salome inquired when the things concerning which she asked should be known, the Lord said: When ye have trampled on the garment of shame, and when the two become one and the male with the female is neither male nor female." Clement adds, "In the first place, then, we have not this saying in the four Gospels that have been delivered to us, but in that according to the Egyptians."- Clement of Alexandria
The more we look at the concept of androgyny the more we will see it linked to spiritual development and more accurately, spiritual evolution. And go ahead and mock, but it's my belief that there is some connection to the Stargate in another way- that it could very well be an occult metaphor for the duality of mankind- half-god and half-beast, as Jaz Coleman would put it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Acharya S Debunks the Debunkers

Acharya S is a national treasure- you may not agree with her theologically, or politically, or whatever-ically, but you can't deny her scholarship or her courage.

For more info on her latest research dealing with Zeitgeist, click here.

Alan Moore Knows the Score

Joltin' Joe turned me on to this and so I'm passing it on to you.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Giant Leaves the Stage

LOS ANGELES — Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood mainstay as director, producer and sometime actor whose star-laden movies like “The Way We Were,” “Tootsie” and “Out of Africa” were among the most successful of the 1970s and ’80s, died on Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 73 - New York Times

Any Synchromysticism buff will know Pollack for his role in Eyes Wide Shut, but he'll live forever in my mind for Three Days of the Condor alone.

Note this trailer features the Twin Towers- and a helicopter.

The Exegesis: We Gotta Get Out of This Place

The more I read about the ancient "pagan" world and its practices and beliefs, the more I think that the difference between Christianity and "paganism" is purely a question of politics. Even a casual reading of the actual practices of the Isis cults or Mithraism would hit familiar notes with any modern Christian. Certainly Muslims and orthodox Jews think all of Christianity is nothing but paganism in fancy dress, and they're not shy about saying so.

This isn't a question of Catholic vs. Protestant vs. Orthodox, either. The denominations are fundamentally identical beneath all the trappings. And at its core, Christianity is simply a corporatized manifestation of an impossibly ancient theology. The early church fathers knew this, and it's a good bet that most of today's church fathers do as well. The smart ones, at least.

In order to understand the practices of the corporate church, you need to look at the "Crisis of the Third Century" when Rome's imperial expansion began to backfire. You had hundreds if not thousands of different tribes and varying sects and dialects within Rome's bulging borders. A look at Lebanon in the 1980s will show you what a recipe for disaster that can be. There was a distinct move towards an all-encompassing civic religion in order to keep the peace. Aurelian (aka "Hand on Sword") hammered together a prototype of the Roman Church with his new monotheistic Solar religion, but the masses of Jews and Christians and Gnostics presented a challenge to Solar theology. And the need to create a self-policing, totalitarian form of worship was ill-suited to the symbolicist and elitist nature of Solar religion itself.

As we see in the Islamic world, Fundamentalism (in all its forms) is inherently totalitarian and authoritarian. And so a strongman like Constantine (or, more accurately, his handlers) would naturally seek out the most literalist and oppressive sect in the Empire to establish a more efficient form of imperial policing. And he found it right at home. From then on it was simply a matter of systematically crushing its rivals until a later emperor could lift the pretense of tolerance towards all religions and put in place an authoritarian state cult whose primacy was mandated by law.

It worked well in some aspects, but the perpetually anti-intellectual and inhumane nature of the so-called "orthodox" would destroy Western European culture, science, art and economic prosperity for almost a millennium, and reduce an entire continent to penury and disease. Though authoritarian conservatives are constantly claiming otherwise, it wouldn't be until the Renaissance, when the so-called "pagan" systems of thought were revived that Europe would become the economic, military and scientific powerhouse of the past five centuries or so.

We no longer are ruled by any church, per se. The division wracking Western Culture now is between bottom-drawer Fundamentalism (whether Christian or Islamic) and technocratic atheism. You'll see no real alternative presented to this dichotomy in the media, and don't think for an instant that that is not by design. There seems to be a plan to steer the plebes towards some form of snake-handling or other (my recent road trip through the heart of Pennsylvania drove that fact home) and the cognitive elite towards an inhumane scientism. It keeps people from mingling and makes for great media, to boot.

But I'm not sure this plan is working. People in both the religious and secular worlds sense something is profoundly screwed up in our present understanding of religion and spirituality. Kids are abandoning the Chuck E Cheese-type Evangelical churches they were raised in in droves, and even the Republican Party is having trouble managing the excesses of its Evangelical subsidiaries. Hating gays might work when credit is easy and gas is cheap, but now that the locus of economic power is moving eastward, it doesn't help keep the repo man away.

It's my deepest conviction that this false dichotomy shoved down our throats by the media puppets is killing our souls- and Western Cuture, to boot. And the preservation and progress of Western Culture is my ultimate concern in all of my work. Our culture is the expression of our collective soul, and the rank stupidity being pumped out by our media and our churches is eviscerating our reputation in the world, as is the political, economic and military activity that grows out of it.

As tempting as it is to blame all of this on the Illuminati or whomever, it's also self-defeating. Most of the conspiracy theory we see out there exists to absolve its adherents of responsibility. Worse, I suspect a lot of it is psyop bullshit and a lot of it is being pumped onto the net by agencies hostile to the well-being of liberal democracy. And there's no paradox greater than an Evangelical or Fundamentalist complaining about totalitarianism or authoritarianism, since they worship totalizing authority. They seem to be mainly upset that liberals are standing in the way of their blissful theocracy, and subsequently blame them for all of the world's ills. It's been going on for centuries.

There's got to be a way out of this mess. Symbol and Synchronicity and the Collective Unconscious are not ends unto themselves, they are the signposts pointing towards a new understanding of the Universe really works. Revelation is an ongoing process, but its language is symbolic, not literal.

By the same token, I don't talk about ancient astronaut theory for the hell of it, I do so because I think it might explain some basic truths about the human condition. Or it might not. But if we can't figure out where we came from, all the Synchromysticism on the planet can't help us.

Science and spirit were not antithetical to many of history's greatest minds, though certainly the dumbed-down expressions that you see of them in the media certainly are. I know a lot of people who work (or worked) in the media and they're as filled with despair as you and I. The good news is that I don't think conscious human activity is the greatest power on Earth, and I don't necessarily believe that all power structures are inherently evil, either. And most importantly, I don't think religion automatically means bowing and scraping before some invisible megalomaniac.

I don't think people who care about something other than materialism need to be at odds all the time. Maybe the Third Way has been co-opted, but there's surely a Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Way out there.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Scottish Sunday: Who's That Girl?

Seeing that the Eurythmics didn't waste much time getting sucked up into the New Pop sweepstakes of the early 80s, it's easy to forget how startling their early singles and videos were. And seeing that she spent most of her time running around in an orange crewcut and a man-tailored suit, it's easy to forget that Annie Lennox was actually startlingly beautiful in her day.

This is probably my favorite single and video from the band, and not only because Annie is in female drag. There's something at once timeless and absolutely of their time in this song, and it calls to mind weird dreams I had at the time.

My favorite album from the band may seem a strange choice, but it's their aborted 1984 soundtrack. To my ears, the soundtrack format allowed the Eurythmics to explore interesting corners of their sound, whereas the pressure to serve up the hits in the already hateful mid-80s absolutely destroyed their muse.

Speaking of pressure, here's Annie Lennox playing the part of David Bowie at the 1992 Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert while the man himself was still stuck in his conservative pantomime mode. It's worthwhile noting that it wasn't until Bowie gave up on having a big hit single that he actually was able to write good songs again. I love Annie at the end here- I've always wondered if the two had a shag after the gig.

Or was Annie too busy cringing with the rest of the world when Bowie soonafter recited the Lord's Prayer?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hardcore Matinee: Built to Last

I realize the Hardcore Matinee has been very NYHC-centric so far, especially for a Boston boy like myself. But the truth is the NYC bands were just plain better. Here's a second generation band Sick of It All, rocking the house in Espana earlier this year. Punk Rock and all its offshoots are very popular in the Spanish-speaking world - especially in Latin America- and that to me is extremely exciting. Music itself has an incredible power to cross boundaries, and I suppose powerful music has even more so.

This also ties into my profound belief that Rock 'n' Roll is in and of itself a kind of fountain of youth. The guys in Sick of It All have to be pushing 40 at this point in the game, yet they sound better than ever, and work the stage better than bands half their age.

Of course, my other profound belief is that Rock and Roll is nothing new at all, merely a technological updating of the oldest music in the world. Drinking, dancing, fighting, f*cking -- these are all hardwired into the human brain.

Spacejumping from 130,000 feet

Remember this video, with footage of Kittinger's record space jump? It looks like someone is set today to break that record...

He has spent two decades and nearly $20 million in a quest to fly to the upper reaches of the atmosphere with a helium balloon, just so he can jump back to earth again. Now, Michel Fournier says, he is ready at last.

Depending on the weather, Fournier, a 64-year-old retired French army officer, will attempt what he is calling Le Grand Saut (The Great Leap) on Sunday from the plains of northern Saskatchewan.

He intends to climb into the pressurized gondola of the 650-foot balloon, which resembles a giant jellyfish, and make a two-hour journey to 130,000 feet. At that altitude, almost 25 miles up, Fournier will see both the blackness of space and the curvature of the earth. He will experience weightlessness.

Astronaut Theology: Heavenly Beam Explained?

Secret Sun reader Michael turned me onto this amazing concept- does the Heavenly Beam we've looked at actually represent a neutrino beam? Wired is on the case.
If you were a hyper advanced alien civilization, rather then mucking about with noisy electromagnetic waves, perhaps you would try to make contact with other intelligent life forms by sending your messages via neutrinos.

First detected in 1953, neutrinos pass easily through most matter making it possible for your signal to pass through the Milky Way without being blocked by stars and interstellar dust. They are also not subject to the "noise" of optical and radio waves traveling alongside them through space.

How frickin' cool would it be if the ancient astronauts were actually some weird insterstellar beam blasting our brains with cosmic super-intelligence? Screenwriters, get cracking!

Friday, May 23, 2008

WTF? Friday: Funnybook Follies

On Monday, we touched upon how teeth-grindingly insane a lot of 50s and 60s DC superhero comics are. Here's a few examples that caught my eye while researching the "Lana Lang is Jimmy Olsen in Drag" expose.

WTF?: On what planet do jackals look like that? And why do junk culture types always cast Anubis as a villain, anyway? If you're going to use this symbolism, do your damn homework.

The rest of it? You'd have to ask Fredric Wertham, not me. Oh, crap- he's dead. Never mind.

WTF?: Nothing I can say here can top the actual stupidity of this cover. Never mind the Freud, these guys just plain stopped trying by this point. Marvel was eating their lunch, sales were in the crapper, the hemmoroids were acting up- ahh, who gives a crap, print it and put the damn thing out already.

WTF?: You have the archetypal 60s DC Valium-inspired drawing style meant to inspire confidence in uptight parents along with absolutely insane subject matter. I don't know exactly what the projectile quills subconsciously represent. Or maybe I just don't want to know.

There's plenty more where this all came from. You could do an entire blog on this stuff. The great thing about these comics is that they are so laden with subtext and produced with such utter unselfconsciousness you can spend endless hours wondering how they were ever published. It's no wonder that the Hippies went so nuts with their art and comix- they cut their teeth on these nutty comics.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now, More than Ever

There has never been - or will there ever be - anything as great as The X-Files.

Go watch the latest trailer. The whole thing is blowing my mind, for reasons I can never say.

(Egyptian) Girls Gone Wild

BALTIMORE - Today, it sounds like a spring-break splurge on the order of "Girls Gone Wild": Drink huge quantities of beer, get wasted, indulge in gratuitous sex and pass out — then wake up the next morning with the music blaring and your friends praying that everything will turn out all right.

But back in 1470 B.C., this was the agenda for one of ancient Egypt's most raucous rituals, the "festival of drunkenness," which celebrated nothing less than the salvation of humanity. Archaeologists say they have found evidence amid the ruins of a temple in Luxor that the annual rite featured sex, drugs and the ancient equivalent of rock 'n' roll.

Amazing- you mean to tell me that the Baby Boomers didn't invent sex 'n' drugs 'n' rock 'n' roll at Woodstock? I'm shocked. Some hippies must have built a time machine and introduced these practices to the Egyptians.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wibbley Wednesday: Welcome to the Jungle

Your ticket to the lush tropical forests of Wibbley World can be found here...

John Cusack, Superstar: 2012 Edition

Reader Clint gave me the heads-up on this one:

John Cusack has signed on to star in Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic thriller 2012 for Columbia Pictures, according to VARIETY. Chiwetel Ejiofor is in talks to join him in the big-budget epic, whose title refers to the end days of human civilization as predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar.

The story starts with a global apocalypse, then chronicles the heroic struggle of the survivors. Emmerich and Harald Kloser wrote the script, which Sony bought in February. Barring a Screen Actors Guild strike, shooting will begin in July in Los Angeles. Mark Gordon, Kloser and Larry Franco are producing; Emmerich is executive producing.

Which reminds me that Cusack used the Clash's version of "Armagideon Time" for Grosse Pointe Blank...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Freemasonry Making Comeback in LA?

The LA Times is on the case. Secret Sun readers are not surprised.

Money quote: "Yeah, I think it's going to become hip and chic to be a Mason," Zulu said. "And that could be a dangerous thing."

The Atavistic Soul Rises Once More

OG Synchromystic Ben Fairhall blogged recently about Goths and Pagans reviving the Medieval ritual of the Morris dance. Of course The Independent is going to mock this phenomenon, because the smartass colleges its writers go to teach nothing about how culture really works.

One of the great appeals of Post-Punk and pre-Goth bands like Killing Joke and Siouxsie and the Banshees for me was how they brought to fruition vague, atavistic threads of British culture I had sensed in say, the Hammer horror films or Clockwork Orange. Christianity, Imperialism and the Industrial Revolution changed the character of Britain, which in Roman days had very much been the Wild West frontier of the Empire. Its strange lure for wandering conquerors like the Danes or the Normans seemed to instill a combative nature in the people of the British Isles, which coupled with the collision of the indigenous Druidic worldview with the corporate Church fostered a distinct witchy vibe that was never really snuffed out.

So we've looked at the Edinburgh fire festivals in the past, and the Solstice reveries at Stonehenge are pretty well established. Hell, the Church of England is run by a Druid, for Christ's sake. I would say to look for more of this kind of thing in the future, particularly in England. The Goth subculture is one of the few surviving indigenous pop culture movements to emerge from the UK, so I wouldn't be surprised if it married itself to these kinds of old traditions and sparked an entirely new counterculture there. Certainly the comics of Alan Moore, Bryan Talbot and Jamie Delano (among many others) have been on the cutting edge of this for some time. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see this all start to play itself out in the streets.

With that, I'll leave you with this British masterpiece, filmed in the very same woods where some of Hammer's horror epics were shot.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Freudian Funnybooks: Bizarre Love Triangle

Find the hidden checkerboard!

In the 1950s, the gruesome excesses of horror and crime comics provoked a public outcry, resulting in the suffocating strictures of the Comics Code Authority. In point of fact, most publishers were pumping out comics that were completely inoffensive and inert, but the ever-present hand of censorship seemed to have a bizarre effect on comic creators. Certainly not all, but a lot of post-Code comics went completely insane, and no publisher put out more bizarre and disturbing material than DC with its sci-fi comics and, especially the "imaginary stories" fad.

I'm not talking about the whimsical and knowing hallucinations of a Grant Morrison or Alan Moore in their more playful moments, I'm talking about the work of men driven completely insane by the unreality forced upon them by the Code and the pressures of keeping everything completely inoffensive for merchandisers. You can keep your underground comics, if you want to see genuine graphic insanity, check out Jimmy Olsen in the late 50s. Or the pre-Schwartz Batman.

One of the results of this was the parade of inane nonsense in the "Superman Family" of comics, which immersed Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane in a world that was both suffocatingly bland and completely delusional. But there was also something else afoot, something that certainly didn't square with the ultra-conservative social weltanschuang peddled in most comic books...

Everyone knows that Jimmy was Superman's "Pal" and Lois was his "Girlfriend" but another personage intruded upon the psychodrama. That was Supe's childhood sweetheart Lana Lang...

...who was the absolute spitting image of Jimmy Olsen when he dressed up in drag. Which he did on more than one occasion, mind you.

Oh, you'll get a load alright, mister....
In retrospect, one really begins to wonder if the writers and editors at the time didn't subconsciously see Jimmy and Lana as being the same person. "Lana Lang" kind of sounds like the stage name of a drag performer, don't you think? Almost like a tribute to Lorna Luft..

Superman's "Pal," indeed!
In fact, in one of Jimmy's cross-dressing adventures he even borrowed Lana Lang's initials. Interesting to see Clark Kent so smitten with Jimmy in drag, considering his superpowers would surely allow him to detect the subterfuge. But then why should he be any different than the mythological heroes he was based on?

Jimmy's feminine wiles were such that even a bunch of mobsters -- hyper-vigilant macho men who operate almost entirely on instinct-- were driven to jealous violence over him. The real-life subtext here is that Jimmy wouldn't have made it through the night without having to pay in kind for this fancy dinner- or the protective punch-up. The whole tableau is like something out of a British gangster movie.

Finally, we see the seasoned newsmen hitting on the outed Jimmy like privateers presented with a fresh cabin boy. The ostensible subtext here is that Jimmy is being teased, but the newsies are drawn looking completely sincere in their solicitation. No one is yukking it up like its all a big gag.

The Jimmy-in-drag stories make it impossible for me to look at covers like this and not wonder if I should read "Superman hates jealous women" as "Superman hates women." Eerily, the "emotion machine" strongly resembles a compensatory Sybian device (which wasn't even invented when this comic was published). Interesting also to see that Lana usually wears Jimmy's trademark green.

Or look at this cover and notice how masculine Lana is here (she's essentially Jimmy with a mullet). Note that Lana's costume is yellow and lavender.

Or ponder the subtext where Jimmy not only cross-dresses, but appears onstage in a Broadway musical looking like the starting pitcher on the Smith College softball team. The gender-blurring approaches Hedwig territory. The 17 on his/her jersey simply throws it all into semiotic chaos.

Jimmy dragged it up even in the 70s, throwing in a minskirt to sweeten the deal. Of course, this means that Jimmy at some point must have shaved his legs, or is the subtext here that he does so as matter of habit? The mind boggles....

The "slick chick" reminds me that comics editors didn't want writers to use the word "flick" because the cruddy printing could render it as the f-word. So what about slick ?

This story is just plain whacked- Jimmy dresses up a woman and takes over as leader of "The Jimmy Olsen Fan Club." This whole story is either a total goof or something genuinely disturbing. As are Jimmy's shorn calves...

...and the boys with their dyed red hair and Jimmy disrobing in front of them? This wouldn't pass muster with a first-year psych student. The writer here, Otto Binder, created many female counterparts of popular superheroes like Supergirl, Mary Marvel and Miss America. I'd love to see his analyst's notes.

There's no shortage of Freudian subtext in Jimmy Olsen's Silver Age adventures, even aside from the drag queen tales. Or Jungian, since Jimmy seems to play the Hylas role in so many of those old stories.

This cover is priceless- Jimmy as Superman's hairdresser. Note Jimmy's epicene hand poses. It's hard to imagine it's not, but I'm not willing to bet any of this was conscious- all of these stories play out without a hint of irony or self-awareness. And what I know about DCs editorial staff in the 50s and early 60s gives me no reason that any of these people were even remotely hip or subversive. DC was run by a bunch of horn-rimmed squares back then.

But seriously - how can you write stories like these and not be aware of their subtext?

So are we back in the Jungian mythic realm, where all superhero "pals" are in fact reincarnations of figures like Hylas and Ganymede? Well, the more I work on this blog, the more I start to realize that we're recycling dramas written for us thousands of years ago, and that conscious intent is only a very small part of art, drama and indeed- Life itself. This goes double when you're talking about sexuality and sexual themes.

There's certainly no shortage of deliberate allegory or symbolism out there, but I don't think the cranky old squares who pumped this stuff out were trying to do anything but meet deadlines. Which makes the insane crap they put out there all the more fascinating (wait until we look at some of the Silver Age Green Arrow and Speedy stories).

In the screwy world of DC's imaginary story universe, Lois also got her shot at Lana/Jimmy, calling to mind the female-to-male tuxedo drag inspired by Marlene Dietrich, KD Lang and others. And what exactly are we supposed to make of a giant muscleman playing the role of flower girl? This is like something you'd see at the Folsom Street Fair. And who exactly is he supposed to be jealous of ? And what's the stuttering all about?

There may be a bigger message in here somewhere: censors tried to blanderize comics but all of the gore and violence simply channeled itself into a psychedelic --and psychosexual-- gotterdamerung. And that's in addition to all the neopaganism unleashed by the revival of the god-modeled characters in the Silver Age. The mindless blanditude of 1950s pop culture might have been heaven-on-earth for some right wingers, but the reality of it is that it all led directly to the counter-culture explosion of the late 60s.

Take out the dialogue and this cover seems quite prescient

This is textbook stuff- just as Freud and Reich taught that sexual repression led to neurosis, Jung taught that suppression and denial of the Shadow leads to trouble. Or at the very least, some unintentionally hilarious comic books.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Scottish Sunday: It Really Does

When I talk about the Scottish knack for making music that digs deep into my soul, Nazareth's definitive version of the Everly Brothers' standard "Love Hurts" is one of the songs I am thinking about. This song hit the charts in early 1976 when I spent my days enraptured by a girl in my class named Erica. I was the class outcast, of course, and she was one of the cool girls from one of the fancy housing developments that were popping up at the time. So there was nothing to come out of this infatuation except humiliation and heartbreak.

The highpoint of that school year came when my teacher picked us to do some special project together. After that blissful afternoon I dreamed that I was an astronaut coming home in the pouring rain from a space mission. Erica was waiting for me in the kitchen and confessed her undying love. When I woke up from that dream Olivia Newton-John's "I Honestly Love You" was seeping from my radio, which I kept on all the time.

Back in the real world, Erica openly mocked me in class when I gave her a Valentine's Day card. She wouldn't be the last to do so. I was even more smitten with her the next year when she got braces- she looked even cuter with them. I was so beside myself with desperation I planned on buying one of those fake mustaches advertised in comic books to impress her. Happily, I was talked out of this idea.

The funny thing is that I only vaguely remembered some of this, but listening again to "Love Hurts" brought it all back.

But as we've seen with many child stars, Nature has a strange way of growing beautiful children into unexceptional or even homely adolescents. Erica fell into the former category. She never hit her growth spurt and put on some extra poundage in high school. What's more, she fell into the dowdy, sporty, quasi-feminist mode that was very popular with New England girls in the late 70s/early 80s. She went from being gorgeous to merely cute. She even took to saying hi to me in the hallways on occasion.

Needless to say, I was satisfied with this little bit of karmic kompensation.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Steranko Saturday: Hercules

The old master has not lost his touch. I'll be picking this book up, that's for damn sure. I'm framing that puppy. Ask your local retailer about this title.

Sweet Saturday: Little Willy

It scares the crap out of me when I realize it, but this was my favorite song when I was my daughter's age.

Outside of Los Angeles, the first wave of Glam never made it big in the US and we're all the poorer for it. Aside from early Motley Crue, the 80's Glam bands from LA were a pale imitation of bands like the Sweet and Slade. But even still, the fact that Glam had such a revival there was very much the legacy of Rodney Bigenheimer's English Disco.

Glam was very much the precursor to Punk- early Punk bands like the Sex Pistols and the Ramones were simply playing a sped-up version of Glam. And the Glam audience formed the core of the early Punk scene. Sweet's hits like "Fox on the Run" and "Action" livened up the increasingly limpid Top 40 radio in the mid-70's. And Sweet certainly whet my appetite for Cheap Trick, who in many ways were the standard-bearers of Glam and the post-British Invasion, pre-Glam hard rock bands like The Move and The Action.

There's actually a strong tie-in to comic books with the creation of Glam. The first true Glam band was David Bowie's pre-stardom band, The Hype. The concept behind the band was that they were superheroes and were meant to take their identities as such. They never were able to follow through on the concept, but certainly the Spiders from Mars and many of the other Glam bands took their cues from 60s Marvel heroes for their outlandish outfits (see KISS for further corroboration).

So there you have it- Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the rest didn't just revolutionize comics they changed the face of Rock and Roll as well.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Golden Boy: Just Saying, is All

Here's a picture of Golden Boy when he stood vigil outside of AT&T's former world headquarters in Basking Ridge, NJ. The building is now owned by (former Baby Bell) Verizon, whose name is one of those corporate neologisms. In this case it seems to be a contraction of "true (veritas) horizon." Could horizon's true occult meaning be "Horus-Zone?"

It's an interesting question, given that Verizon's logo could be interpreted as containing a hidden 17. If you really wanted to get carried away, you might interpret it as Veritas, 17 (Horus) and On, the biblical name for Heliopolis (cult center of the Followers of Horus).

I may have mentioned this before, I strongly believe that the Mithras known to the Romans was no relation to Zoroastrian Mitra, but in actuality a culturally-appropriate adaptation of Horus himself. This is something I've researched in depth for my upcoming book on esoteric symbolism in science fiction film.

Suffice it to say that conservative Romans held a very dim view of Egypt, seeing it as corrupt and decadent. And they also thought the notion of animal heads on gods was offensive. But the Shemsu Hor obviously had a very strong interest in Rome, and it's my belief that the Mithras cult was created especially for those Romans whom they wanted to bring into the fold, namely those alpha males in business and the military. The Shemsu Hor's fingerprints are all over Mithraism, as we will look at in the future.

All of these figures - Horus, Mithras, Helios, Sol, Shamash, Ba'al, Hercules, etc etc etc - all represent the Sun as a symbol of phallic aggression, technology, hierarchy, and militarism, so any difference between them or their cults is academic, anyway.

John Cusack, Superstar: Who is Like the Beast?

Grosse Pointe Blank climaxes with a gun battle between John Cusack's character Martin Blank and Dan Ackroyd's character Grocer. Even if you've seen the film, you may not have noticed this little snippet of dialogue, paraphrased from Revelation 13:

Not sure what the intended message of that recitation was, but it's worth noting that this exchange was not in the original script, and that John Cusack was born on the exact due date of Rosemary's Baby....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cross Purposes

Here's a fascinating sculpture from the British Museum, showing us that the cross necklace long predates Christianity. Here it is identified with the sun god Shamash.

This example was erected in the capital city of Kalhu (modern Nimrud) by the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad V (reigned 824-811 BC). Most stele, as here, depict the king, before the symbols of his principal gods. He extends his right hand, with the forefinger outstretched, as if he has just snapped his fingers. This is the typical Assyrian gesture of respect and supplication towards the gods. The gods could be worshipped in symbolic form and here represent (from top to bottom) the gods Ashur, Shamash, Sin, Adad and Ishtar (compare with an earlier stela of Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC)). The king wears a large Maltese cross on his chest as an alternative symbol of Shamash, god of the sun and justice.
Actually the cross is known as the croix pattée alésée arrondie, and was used by none other than the Knights Templar, primarily in stone carvings. Below is the cross as used by Shamshi (whose name is the ceremonial form of Shamash) and two Templar carvings. Incidentally, Shamshi was the husband of the real-life Semiramis.

What tantalizes us here is that this cross is identified with a Sun god eight centuries before Christ, and was taken up by the Templars, whom I believe to be the Medieval incarnation or branch of the impossibly ancient Solar cults such as the Shemsu Hor. (Shemsu and Shamshi certainly bear a very strong etymological resemblance, don't they?)

This certainly adds a new wrinkle to the argument that Christianity and Solarism are contiguous systems separated only by politics. Or more accurately, separated for the masses by politics. It's certainly starting to seem to me that there's no disagreement at the highest levels at all. Maybe if we get around to realizing that, we can all stop putting up with idiots when it comes to religion in politics.

Check out other uses of the cross pattee by the Templars here, here and here.