Friday, May 22, 2020

If It Ain't On The Internet, It Ain't Real

Written By: Evan Jones

In 2011 my dad and I went on a tongue-in-cheek Bigfoot expedition. My dad was writing an outdoor column at the time and a Squatch hunt was a perfect excuse for us to spend a few days in the woods. We camped on a lake that I can't disclose the name of but can say is in a remote part of North Georgia which is itself already a remote part of the Southeast. In other words, we were camping in prime Bigfoot territory. It was on the very first evening of our trip that I found the print which is pictured above. To this day neither my dad or I know what made the print, or if it even is in fact a print at all. All we do know is that whatever it was struck us as highly peculiar, and neither of us made it. And the likelihood of someone else making it to prank us or anyone else who might come by it is next to zero.

Upon seeing that print, we became connected to the multitude who have experienced things that they cannot explain. Things that a Google search won't or even can't verify as truth for someone else. Things that are left up to the story tellers and myth makers. The particulars of the experience was of course unique to my father and I, but it places us within a continuum of anyone who has ever experienced something that defies the general parameters of reality. And if nothing else, we had a great story to tell. Stories are in fact a fundamental part of human existence and most of them you won't find on the internet, which musician Michael Lueckner so beautifully illustrated in an interview he did with the Townhouse in 2016:

"...Google 'woloktei'! hahaha, you won't find something about them.  But you will find a little bit 'Yemau' in different continents.  One day in a world before our time the Yemau met the Woloktei at the river and the Yemau said: let's change our heads. The Woloktei agreed and flew away with the Yemau heads on..."

In a small way, I relate the experience my dad and I had on that shore of a remote lake in North Georgia to the story of the Yemau and Woloktei. It's a reminder to me that there is, even in today's saturated internet existence, information which still indeed exist outside of the internet. And that just because it hasn't been verified on Snopes, doesn't mean it's not real. And even within the confines of the internet, there is still the "fringe" that traffics in information most would write off as lunacy, but like this picture of a strange footprint is just as real as the headlines on your favorite news site. This may seem a painfully obvious statement to make, but I think it's one worth making, because as more and more of our experiences and knowledge seem to be passing through the internet gatekeepers, it becomes even more important that we remember how narrow their scope is. That what's on the internet is really but a single star in a universe of knowledge.

What my dad and I experienced on that camping trip was hardly anything in the grand scheme of things. It was exciting for us, and something fun and strange to look back on. It might not have even been a footprint at all. We have even less evidence that it belonged to a Bigfoot. But none of that is important. What's important is the experience. It belongs to us, and the knowledge and truth of it lies with us. We are the gatekeepers of it, like those who guard the knowledge of the Yemau and Woloktei switching their heads.

To define our reality based on what we can verify with a quick Google search not only gives us a watered down and distorted view of reality, it does a disservice to the tradition of humanity. A tradition that is thousands of years longer than the thirty-some-odd years we've been placing our knowledge on and trust in the internet. The real story of humanity is replete with mysticism and wonder. It's filled with things you won't find on the first page of Google. Things you can't have a fact-checker verify for you. Things like the strange print my dad and I saw on that camping trip on a remote lake. And it's filled with stories like the Woloktei and Yemau meeting at the river to switch their heads.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. Discharge

It's by many standards (including my own) the definitive hardcore album, and the undisputed Holy Grail of D-beat (the genre is named after these guys). It's the granddaddy of extreme music. And it's an absolute classic album. It's none other than Discharge's Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. Discharge's magnum opus is a 27 minute punch in the gut where the pace never lets up (unless you count an interlude describing the physical effects of a nuclear blast as a reprieve). Chances are, if you're a fan of any sort of extreme music, you can blame these guys and this album for the influence.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

It Can't Happen Here

Representative Jack Brooks (D, Texas) questions Col. Oliver North on plans to suspend the Constitution of the United States

Written by: Evan Jones

In 1976 Dr. William R. Pabst published his 21 page Concentration Camp Plans for U.S. Citizens and so was birthed the martial law conspiracy. In the roughly forty years since the pamphlet's publication, the easiest way to discredit a conspiracy theorist was to ask them why martial law hasn't happened yet. You couldn't blame someone for being skeptical, since Dr. Pabst's detailing of odd empty prisons popping up around the country and Gestapo-style jackboot paramilitary forces training in a city near you was nothing short of an impassioned plea to stir the public to action against an imminent threat. Or perhaps paranoid delusion? And you certainly can't blame conspiracy theorists for buying in to the notion, because after all Dr. Pabst's document was filled with evidence of at least something strange going on around the country.

The FEMA camps and imminent martial law conspiracy has waxed and waned since Dr. Pabst brought it to public consciousness in 1976. The 80s and early 90s were ripe with reports of the black helicopters. For a while in the early oughts, videos that showed millions of oddly-human-sized plastic "boxes" stacked up along interstates and rural areas stoked the flames of fear that martial law and your "re-location" to a FEMA camp was once again imminent. And still, none of it came to pass.

One of the videos purportedly showing hundreds of thousands of FEMA coffins

Maybe Dr. Pabst's problem was timing, not substance.

Because from where I sit today, writing this on May fourteenth, 2020 A.D., Dr. Pabst's warning seems a whole lot harder to discredit as one man's paranoid delusion. Just a few short weeks ago, a third of planet Earth's seven billion people were under shelter in place orders (a fancy way of saying martial law). In a historic irony, while the totalitarian Chinese super State has lifted lock down restrictions, many Governors around the United States are arguing to impose the lock down perhaps indefinitely. In many places around the U.S. the lock down has looked a lot less like your benevolent public officials keeping you safe from a virus, and much more like a growing police state.

NYPD Officer allegedly beats a person for violating strict social distancing "orders"

Ector County, Texas SWAT vehicle confronts protesters at a bar

Of course, Dr. Pabst's nightmare was certainly just that, right? After all, no one is being rounded up and hauled off to FEMA camps. Just don't flout the legitimacy of shelter in place and social distancing. And there's no plan to suspend the U.S. Constitution. Just don't ask Oliver North about it.  And emergency preparedness is just what FEMA does. You gotta store those somewhere! All of these are both valid criticisms of the idea that a future United States may look more like the Gulag Archipelago than the constitutional republic it was intended to be. Except that the reality is that the United States sort of is looking more like the Gulag Archipelago than a constitutional republic. Just without the Gulags. For now.

Human beings are notoriously short-sighted. For many, if it's not staring right at us, we can't believe it. But the federal government has proven that it will take certain steps outside the bounds of the constitution under certain circumstances, like it did during World War Two with the "re-location" of Japanese citizens. And as it is doing now under the guise of protecting us from a virus. And in the most extreme case, as Dr. Pabst highlights in Concentration Camps, even when the reality of Dachau was staring right at German villagers, many chose to ignore the abject brutality taking place just outside their village. Even when it indeed may be staring us right in the face, it seems that it's not until we ourselves are thrown into a FEMA camp, or a jackboot is threatening us with a baton for leaving our house will we be able to say, "hmmm...maybe those FEMA camp people were on to something?"

But the trick is to not let it get that far.

Because human beings are also notoriously ruthless as we are short-sighted. And human history is the history of brutality and tyranny, not of free people peacefully coexisting. So why, then, do we laugh when the Dr. Pabsts come forward to sound the alarm when they see the true nature of Man potentially rearing its ugly head? Why do we think America couldn't ever look like the nightmare of 1984? Why is questioning our government and its motives relegated to conspiracy, to lunacy? Could it be because to question means to get too close to the truth? Or maybe it's much simpler? Maybe it's just because it can't happen here?

You can read the full text of Dr. Pabst's Concentration Camps for U.S. Citizens here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A Painter's Discourse

Encore. oil and oil stick on canvas. 30"x20". 202020

Written by: Chase King

The act of painting today is a mash-up of history. Isms such as symbolism, activism, expressionism, op-ism, realism, feminism, surrealism, futurism, etc. This aleatoric composite best describes contemporary painting today. A good organic painting or an intentionally bad painting is decided not by quality but by historical reference and purpose. That seems to be the direction contemporary painting is headed. With the assistance of social media, painting is experienced through photographs and interfaces no larger than a desktop screen. This very relationship between digital photographs and painting is something I consider to be inevitable regarding the way we interact with painting. However, this isn’t the ideal way to measure the value painting contributes to the broader art culture. Painters share an affinity with their medium. This white world paintings are created to exist in that we call galleries are accessible to the determined and dedicated. But the immeasurable time and energy put into a painting doesn’t really matter to the ones in charge. When it comes down to it, a painter’s success comes from his or her convictions.

I’m not denying the hierarchy that exists in the art market because it’s true. And it’s a constant fact throughout history. Usually, it’s money coupled with a particular clout bestowed upon individuals and committees that make the moves in our system. It is a cut throat and competitive game. Making a good painting isn't enough. It’s the painter himself the important people buy, not the painting. Fortunately though, the ones who survive the barrage of rejection and self-doubt, can be humbled by the other side of humanity. The ones who buy paintings because it provokes them. A stranglehold on the primal creative desires most people yearn to have in their life. Or, to just fill up some wall space in the home. Regardless, painters must be committed to their craft and where it comes from. Never really losing sight of that is why painting continues to conquer. Having the audacity to paint poorly or reject the status quo style is applaudable, especially to a well informed painter. Public opinion is as valid as its information. Seeing more of the giants and masters of painting side by side with contemporary artists is something any reputable museum and/or gallery should consider more of. Most of these institutions pride themselves on minority and cultural inclusiveness so this shouldn’t be too difficult, money and donorship aside. If that’s even possible. Skill and talent have been considered pre-requisites for painters up until the turn of the 20th century. This idea that deskilling is ruining the value of painting is valid but not without bias. Painting should be viewed primarily from an art historical point of view and museums, galleries and the like need to do a better job representing this notion. To see a Eugene Delacriox and a R.B Kataj or a Peter Paul Rubens and a Genieve Figgis is far too important not to view side by side. Name, titles, medium and year are enough for any person willingly visiting an art museum or gallery to make a decision about what they are looking at. To assume painting is a progressive act by mere subject matter and technique is incorrect from today’s perspective. Painters produce a non-functional physical commodity known to invoke controversy, opinion and emotion. At face value, that is progressive but that commodity is organic and subject to change as it exists though eras. A painting made to grab attention and paralyze all preconceived notions of form and style, current beliefs or opinions is what makes painting so effective.Time is the true judge of a painter and a painting’s worth.

Adhering to some fundamental rules may be necessary while living as a painter but good or bad painting isn’t the issue at hand today. Any problems in painting that have arisen during the post WWII, mid-twentieth century and twenty-first century in America are of socio-political origins. What is meant by this is that a painter is naturally an appropriator of their realities. Information and data bombard our daily lives like never before, and this isn’t exclusive to just painters, but we can’t help but to evaluate all matters. The paradigm that once controlled much of the painter’s dogma of the past, the schools of thought and styles, are now waning, phasing into a more eclectic array of perspectives, hence, aleatoric. Painting survives in the face of screens and computer technology because of its vulnerability and origins. It’s very absence in daily culture is what keeps it alive today. Painting is the most democratic of all art forms because of its adaptability with time and era. It’s steeped in art history. Footers dug and concrete poured long before painting became a form of art coined by the intellectuals. Painting is an indivisible form of art that will continue to experience comradery and objection for as long as people think critically. Paintings have the ability to transcend expectations of their creator. By working on multiple paintings at once, I can see similar marks and motifs occur. The subject matter becomes less important and the work establishes itself as an autonomous picture. References and ideas got it started. Clues and traces can be found from the beginnings but what was before is now metamorphosed into something unforeseen and unimagined. Currents is at this stage. It may not be Currents in the end, but I find it intriguing that the work is taking me for a joyride. Where I stop is determined by my own assurance as a painter.


Chase King is a painter based in Woodstock, Georgia. He received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Kennesaw State University in 2017 and has been exhibiting his work regionally and nationally for ten years. You can view Chase's work at his website or instagram, @chasekingart

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Townhouse Trajectory

The Townhouse on Mars was built for a very simple purpose: to be a platform for music that I believed in. During the time the blog has been online, the world has changed rapidly and quite dramatically. Because of this, I've realized that the mission of sharing music I believed in can be applied to more than music. It can be applied to a vast array of topics, and therefore I've decided to expand the purview of the blog beyond music and art.

The name "Townhouse on Mars" comes from a conversation I overheard. Though I can't remember the details of the conversation, the thought that it triggered was, "what will we do once we get to Mars? Will we do something unique and carry the wild spirit of humanity into the galaxy, or will we just build more townhouses?"

So with this in mind, against a backdrop of an internet and culture that is seemingly growing more and more homogeneous and stale paralleled by a burgeoning awakening, going forward Townhouse on Mars will be a platform that seeks to celebrate the true spirit of humanity which is not homogeneous or stale, but wonderfully varied and alive. The Townhouse will celebrate the maverick spirit. Those vast and distant places of human thought. It will celebrate oddity, dissent, and critical free thinking. The Townhouse will always share music and art. That's it's DNA. But the aim is for it to grow into more than that. For it to be a kind of seed vault. A home. Because if we do end up just building townhouses on Mars, by God let's at least make them interesting to live in.