14 May 2005

Picking Coconuts in Manhattan

Paul Collins is one of my favorite authors; he's got 3 books out (Banvard's Folly, a collection of essays on forgotten folks of history, like the guy who invented the Concord grape, or the titular Banvard, who created a gigantic rolling mural of the Mississippi Riverbanks; Sixpence House, a longer book about buying a house in Hay-On-Wye, the UK town known for its overabundance of bookstores; and Not Even Wrong, a book about autism through history as well as coping with his son's own recently diagnosed autism), and he's also the editor of the Collins Library, a McSweeney's imprint devoted to bringing back into print obscure but interesting books, mainly from the turn of the century and thereabouts. (The most popular is probably English As She Is Spoke, known as the worst phrasebook in the world.)

So, anyway, through his blog, he posted a link to a new article he wrote for the Village Voice, Polar Eclipse. Like with the bulk of his work, it's a look at something just sort of weird in history (and tying it back to the present) -- in this case, the mid-1940s desire to fight off the next Ice Age by melting the polar ice caps. (And, you know, getting at the mineral deposits locked beneath the Antarctic Ice couldn't be so bad, either...) And, hey, since we've just figured out how to make the atomic bomb, why don't we put those to use there, too?

Luckily, they decided against doing this, but it's still pretty interesting that it was an actual thing folks were contemplating and doing journallistic writeups about it (the essay includes an illustration from a 1946 Mechanix Illustrated article intended to sell the average American on the idea). It's just kind of funny, looking back, that for a while, we actually wanted climate change. But, of course, who WOULDN'T want fresh oranges from New York?

[BONUS: Fun Friday Facts!, from Philippe at Achewood!]


Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Also, on the subject of Paul Collins -- this is one of this weekend's blog posts -- a excerpt from a new book (not his, but one he found in the Times Literary Supplement), which has the transcript of a conversation between a doctor and a man undergoing a frontal lobotomy. It's just shocking and queasy, but also really interesting.

3:59 PM, May 15, 2005  
Blogger CatsFive said...

Crap. All the deconstructing Beck stuff has disappeared. At least, the MP3's I tried to download have. But I was able to find a LOT of cool stuff in the archives.

One thing I like about experimental stuff is that it pushes the envelope. Things that I don't like are things that are tossed into the "experimental" ring but which are created and viewed as or basically off-handedly intended to be one-off knock-offs with half-assed effort to truly stake a claim to that new territory... if this sentence makes any sense...

12:06 AM, May 16, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

I've got the CD of Deconstructing Beck -- if you've got webspace or somethin', I'd be happy to rip it for you. (I don't mind posting that in the open, since it IS an Illegal Art/RTMark comp, and, well, they're cool with the whole copying/free distribution type stuff. And I think the actual CD is hell of out of print anyway.)

But yeah, I think I know what you mean. The funny thing is, too, that I think that there's a lot of really innovative stuff that's been done as Comedy Records. I mean, you've got the Dickie Goodman records that sort of paved the way for stuff like Negativland, or you've got Barnes and Barnes with their Spuzzle Percussion (which was actually rather interesting), say. Or some of the stuff from the Napoleon XIV album... or David Seville's tape-manipulation experiments that gave birth to the Chipmunks (and the earlier records he did like the one where I'm blanking on the title, about the Little Birdy In The Tree). I've always found that interesting that a lot of really hip, innovative stuff flies in under the radar by being Funny.

12:26 AM, May 16, 2005  

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