May 19th, 2006

Chris Keeley

DaDa

DaDa

Smithosnian magazine on Dada

This month's issue of the always-excellent Smithsonian magazine has a long feature about the history and influence of the Dada art movement, described by artist Tristan Tzara as a "virgin microbe" that spread around the pre-World War I world leaving mind-blowing artifacts of absurdity in its wake. The article is timed with the massive Dada exhibit touring the US that will be on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art beginning next month. From Smithsonian:
Duchamplisa “In 1913 I had the happy idea to fasten a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool and watch it turn,” (Marcel Duchamp) wrote, describing the construction he called Bicycle Wheel, a precursor of both kinetic and conceptual art. In 1916, German writer Hugo Ball, who had taken refuge from the war in neutral Switzerland, reflected on the state of contemporary art: “The image of the human form is gradually disappearing from the painting of these times and all objects appear only in fragments....The next step is for poetry to decide to do away with language.”
Link 

http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2006/may/dada.php
Chris Keeley

DaDa HistorY

DaDa
 

http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2006/may/dada.php

Dada

By Paul Trachtman

 

In the years before World War I, Europe appeared to be losing its hold on reality. Einstein’s universe seemed like science fiction, Freud’s theories put reason in the grip of the unconscious and Marx’s Communism aimed to turn society upside down, with the proletariat on top. The arts were also coming unglued. Schoenberg’s music was atonal, Mal-larmé’s poems scrambled syntax and scattered words across the page and Picasso’s Cubism made a hash of human anatomy.
 
And even more radical ideas were afoot. Anarchists and nihilists inhabited the political fringe, and a new breed of artist was starting to attack the very concept of art itself. In Paris, after trying his hand at Impressionism and Cubism, Marcel Duchamp rejected all painting because it was made for the eye, not the mind.

“In 1913 I had the happy idea to fasten a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool and watch it turn,” he later wrote, describing the construction he called Bicycle Wheel, a precursor of both kinetic and conceptual art. In 1916, German writer Hugo Ball, who had taken refuge from the war in neutral Switzerland, reflected on the state of contemporary art: “The image of the human form is gradually disappearing from the painting of these times and all objects appear only in fragments....The next step is for poetry to decide to do away with language.”

That same year, Ball recited just such a poem on the stage of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, a nightspot (named for the 18th-century French philosopher and satirist) that he, Emmy Hennings (a singer and poet he would later marry) and a few expatriate pals had opened as a gathering place for artists and writers. The poem began: “gadji beri bimba / glandridi lauli lonni cadori....” It was utter nonsense, of course, aimed at a public that seemed all too complacent about a senseless war. Politicians of all stripes had proclaimed the war a noble cause—whether it was to defend Germany’s high culture, France’s Enlightenment or Britain’s empire. Ball wanted to shock anyone, he wrote, who regarded “all this civilized carnage as a triumph of European intelligence.” One Cabaret Voltaire performer, Romanian artist Tristan Tzara, described its nightly shows as “explosions of elective imbecility.”

This new, irrational art movement would be named Dada. It got its name, according to Richard Huelsenbeck, a German artist living in Zurich, when he and Ball came upon the word in a French-German dictionary. To Ball, it fit. “Dada is ‘yes, yes’ in Rumanian, ‘rocking horse’ and ‘hobby horse’ in French,” he noted in his diary. “For Germans it is a sign of foolish naiveté, joy in procreation, and preoccupation with the baby carriage.” Tzara, who later claimed that he had coined the term, quickly used it on posters, put out the first Dada journal and wrote one of the first of many Dada manifestoes, few of which, appropriately enough, made much sense.

But the absurdist outlook spread like a pandemic—Tzara called Dada “a virgin microbe”—and there were outbreaks from Berlin to Paris, New York and even Tokyo. And for all its zaniness, the movement would prove to be one of the most influential in modern art, foreshadowing abstract and conceptual art, performance art, op, pop and installation art. But Dada would die out in less than a decade and has not had the kind of major museum retrospective it deserves, until now.

The Dada exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (on view through May 14) presents some 400 paintings, sculptures, photographs, collages, prints, and film and sound recordings by more than 40 artists. The show, which moves to New York’s Museum of Modern Art (June 18 through September 11), is a variation on an even larger exhibition that opened at the Pompidou Center in Paris in the fall of 2005. In an effort to make Dada easier to understand, the American curators, Leah Dickerman, of the National Gallery, and Anne Umland, of MoMA, have organized it around the cities where the movement flourished—Zurich, Berlin, Hanover, Cologne, New York and Paris.

Dickerman traces Dada’s origins to the Great War (1914-18), which left 10 million dead and some 20 million wounded. “For many intellectuals,” she writes in the National Gallery catalog, “World War I produced a collapse of confidence in the rhetoric—if not the principles—of the culture of rationality that had prevailed in Europe since the Enlightenment.” She goes on to quote Freud, who wrote that no event “confused so many of the clearest intelligences, or so thoroughly debased what is highest.” Dada embraced and parodied that confusion. “Dada wished to replace the logical nonsense of the men of today with an illogical nonsense,” wrote Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia, whose artist husband, Francis Picabia, once tacked a stuffed monkey to a board and called it a portrait of Cézanne.

“Total pandemonium,” wrote Hans Arp, a young Alsatian sculptor in Zurich, of the goings-on at the “gaudy, motley, overcrowded” Cabaret Voltaire. “Tzara is wiggling his behind like the belly of an Oriental dancer. Janco is playing an invisible violin and bowing and scraping. Madame Hennings, with a Madonna face, is doing the splits. Huelsenbeck is banging away nonstop on the great drum, with Ball accompanying him on the piano, pale as a chalky ghost.”

These antics struck the Dada crowd as no more absurd than the war itself. A swift German offensive in April 1917 left 120,000 French dead just 150 miles from Paris, and one village witnessed a band of French infantrymen (sent as reinforcements) baa-ing like lambs led to slaughter, in futile protest, as they were marched to the front. “Without World War I there is no Dada,” says Laurent Le Bon, the curator of the Pompidou Center’s show. “But there’s a French saying, ‘Dada explains the war more than the war explains Dada.’”
 
Two of Germany’s military leaders had dubbed the war “Materialschlacht,” or “the battle of equipment.” But the dadas, as they called themselves, begged to differ. “The war is based on a crass error,” Hugo Ball wrote in his diary on June 26, 1915. “Men have been mistaken for machines.”

It was not only the war but the impact of modern media and the emerging industrial age of science and technology that provoked the Dada artists. As Arp once complained, “Today’s representative of man is only a tiny button on a giant senseless machine.” The dadas mocked that dehumanization with elaborate pseudodiagrams—chockablock with gears, pulleys, dials, wheels, levers, pistons and clockworks—that explained nothing. The typographer’s symbol of a pointing hand appeared frequently in Dada art and became an emblem for the movement—making a pointless gesture. Arp created abstract compositions from cutout paper shapes, which he dropped randomly onto a background and glued down where they fell. He argued for this kind of chance abstraction as a way to rid art of any subjectivity. Duchamp found a different way to make his art impersonal—drawing like a mechanical engineer rather than an artist. He preferred mechanical drawing, he said, because “it’s outside all pictorial convention.” 

When Dadaists did choose to represent the human form, it was often mutilated or made to look manufactured or mechanical. The multitude of severely crippled veterans and the growth of a prosthetics industry, says curator Leah Dickerman, “struck contemporaries as creating a race of half-mechanical men.” Berlin artist Raoul Hausmann fabricated a Dada icon out of a wig-maker’s dummy and various oddments—a crocodile-skin wallet, a ruler, the mechanism of a pocket watch—and titled it Mechanical Head (The Spirit of Our Age). Two other Berlin artists, George Grosz and John Heartfield, turned a life-size tailor’s dummy into a sculpture by adding a revolver, a doorbell, a knife and fork and a German Army Iron Cross; they gave it a working light bulb for a head, a pair of dentures at the crotch and a lamp stand as an artificial leg.

Duchamp traced the roots of Dada’s farcical spirit back to the fifth-century b.c. Greek satirical playwright Aristophanes, says the Pompidou Center’s Le Bon. A more immediate source, however, was the absurdist French playwright Alfred Jarry, whose 1895 farce Ubu Roi (King Ubu) introduced “’Pataphysics”—“the science of imaginary solutions.” It was the kind of science that Dada applauded. Erik Satie, an avant-garde composer who collaborated with Picasso on stage productions and took part in Dada soirees, claimed that his sound collages—an orchestral suite with passages for piano and siren, for example—were “dominated by scientific thought.”

Duchamp probably had the most success turning the tools of science into art. Born near Rouen in 1887, he had grown up in a bourgeois family that encouraged art—two older brothers and his younger sister also became artists. His early paintings were influenced by Manet, Matisse and Picasso, but his Nude Descending a Staircase no. 2 (1912)—inspired by early stop-action photographic studies of motion—was entirely his own. In the painting, the female nude figure seems to take on the anatomy of a machine.

Rejected by the jury for the Salon des Independants of 1912 in Paris, the painting created a sensation in America when it was exhibited in New York City at the 1913 Armory Show (the country’s first large-scale international exposition of modern art). Cartoon parodies of the work appeared in local papers, and one critic mocked it as “an explosion in a shingle factory.” The Nude was snapped up (for $240) by a collector, as were three other Duchamps. Two years after the show, Duchamp and Picabia, whose paintings had also sold at the Armory Show, traded Paris for Manhattan. Duchamp filled his studio on West 67th Street with store-bought objects that he called “readymades”—a snow shovel, a hatrack, a metal dog comb. Explaining his selections some years later, he said: “You have to approach something with an indifference, as if you had no aesthetic emotion. The choice of readymades is always based on visual indifference and, at the same time, on the total absence of good or bad taste.” Duchamp didn’t exhibit his readymades at first, but he saw in them yet another way to undermine conventional ideas about art.
 
In 1917, he bought a porcelain urinal at a Fifth Avenue plumbing supply shop, titled it Fountain, signed it R. Mutt and submitted it to a Society of Independent Artists exhibition in New York City. Some of the show’s organizers were aghast (“the poor fellows couldn’t sleep for three days,” Duchamp later recalled), and the piece was rejected. Duchamp resigned as chairman of the exhibition committee in support of Mutt and published a defense of the work. The ensuing publicity helped make Fountain one of Dada’s most notorious symbols, along with the print of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa the following year, to which Duchamp had added a penciled mustache and goatee.

Parodying the scientific method, Duchamp made voluminous notes, diagrams and studies for his most enigmatic work, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (or The Large Glass)—a nine-foot-tall assemblage of metal foil, wires, oil, varnish and dust, sandwiched between glass panels. Art historian Michael Taylor describes the work as “a complex allegory of frustrated desire in which the nine uniformed bachelors in the lower panel are perpetually thwarted from copulating with the wasplike, biomechanical bride above.”

Duchamp’s irreverence toward science was shared by two of his New York companions, Picabia and a young American photographer, Man Ray. Picabia could draw with the precision of a commercial artist, making his nonsensical diagrams seem particularly convincing. While Duchamp built machines with spinning disks that created surprising spiral patterns, Picabia covered canvases with disorienting stripes and concentric circles—an early form of optical experimentation in modern painting. Man Ray, whose photographs documented Duchamp’s optical machines, put his own stamp on photography by manipulating images in the darkroom to create illusions on film.

After the war ended in 1918, Dada disturbed the peace in Berlin, Cologne, Hanover and Paris. In Berlin, artist Hannah Höch gave an ironic domestic touch to Dada with collages that incorporated sewing patterns, cut-up photographs taken from fashion magazines and images of a German military and industrial society in ruins.

In Cologne, in 1920, German artist Max Ernst and a band of local dadas, excluded from a museum exhibition, organized their own—“Dada Early Spring”—in the courtyard of a pub. Out past the men’s room, a girl wearing a “communion dress recited lewd poetry, thus assaulting both the sanctity of high art and of religion,” art historian Sabine Kriebel notes in the current exhibition’s catalog. In the courtyard, “viewers were encouraged to destroy an Ernst sculpture, to which he had attached a hatchet.” The Cologne police shut down the show, charging the artists with obscenity for a display of nudity. But the charge was dropped when the obscenity turned out to be a print of a 1504 engraving by Albrecht Dürer titled Adam and Eve, which Ernst had incorporated into one of his sculptures.

In Hanover, artist Kurt Schwitters began making art out of the detritus of postwar Germany. “Out of parsimony I took whatever I found to do this,” he wrote of the trash he picked up off the streets and turned into collages and sculptural assemblages. “One can even shout with refuse, and this is what I did, nailing and gluing it together.” Born the same year as Duchamp—1887—Schwitters had trained as a traditional painter and spent the war years as a mechanical draftsman in a local ironworks. At the war’s end, however, he discovered the Dadaist movement, though he rejected the name Dada and came up with his own, Merz, a word that he cut out of an advertising poster for Hanover’s Kommerz-und Privatbank (a commercial bank) and glued into a collage. As the National Gallery’s Dickerman points out, the word invoked not only money but also the German word for pain, Schmerz, and the French word for excrement, merde. “A little money, a little pain, a little sh-t,” she says, “are the essence of Schwitters’ art.” The free-form construction built out of found objects and geometric forms that the artist called the Merzbau began as a couple of three-dimensional collages, or assemblages, and grew until his house had become a construction site of columns, niches and grottoes. In time, the sculpture actually broke through the building’s roof and outer walls; he was still working on it when he was forced to flee Germany by the Nazis’ rise to power. In the end, the work was destroyed by Allied bombers during World War II.

Dada’s last hurrah was sounded in Paris in the early 1920s, when Tzara, Ernst, Duchamp and other Dada pioneers took part in a series of exhibitions of provocative art, nude performances, rowdy stage productions and incomprehensible manifestoes. But the movement was falling apart. The French critic and poet André Breton issued his own Dada manifestoes, but fell to feuding with Tzara, as Picabia, fed up with all the infighting, fled the scene. By the early 1920s Breton was already hatching the next great avant-garde idea, Surrealism. “Dada,” he gloated, “very fortunately, is no longer an issue and its funeral, about May 1921, caused no rioting.”

But Dada, which wasn’t quite dead yet, would soon leap from the grave. Arp’s abstractions, Schwitters’ constructions, Picabia’s targets and stripes and Duchamp’s readymades were soon turning up in the work of major 20th-century artists and art movements. From Stuart Davis’ abstractions to Andy Warhol’s Pop Art, from Jasper Johns’ targets and flags to Robert Rauschenberg’s collages and combines—almost anywhere you look in modern and contemporary art, Dada did it first. Even Breton, who died in 1966, recanted his disdain for Dada. “Fundamentally, since Dada,” he wrote, not long before his death, “we have done nothing.”

Chris Keeley

Mechanical Head

 

When Dadaists did choose to represent the human form, it was often mutilated or made to look manufactured or mechanical. The multitude of severely crippled veterans and the growth of a prosthetics industry, says curator Leah Dickerman, "struck contemporaries as creating a race of half-mechanical men." Berlin artist Raoul Hausmann fabricated a Dada icon out of a wig-maker's dummy and various oddments—a crocodile-skin wallet, a ruler, the mechanism of a pocket watch—and titled it Mechanical Head (The Spirit of Our Age). Two other Berlin artists, George Grosz and John Heartfield, turned a life-size tailor's dummy into a sculpture by adding a revolver, a doorbell, a knife and fork and a German Army Iron Cross; they gave it a working light bulb for a head, a pair of dentures at the crotch and a lamp stand as an artificial leg.

Chris Keeley

There are an estimated 25,000 Goreans worldwide.

A sex slavery cult based on a series of 1960s science fiction novels has been uncovered by police in Darlington. 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4996410.stm

Cops raid "sex slave cult" based on science fiction novels

Posted: 2006-05-18 23:07
Cory Doctorow: British police have raided a domination "sex cult" in Darlington based on the long-running Gor science fiction novels from John Norman. The Kaotians (a splinter sect from the mainline domination Gor fandom, known as Goreans) are accused of holding a woman as an involuntary sex-slave -- women's sexual subservience features in the Gor novels.

Gor books still have a huge following, despite being out of print for some years. When I worked at a science fiction bookstore, we had lots of customers with standing orders for used copies of the missing numbers from the 26-book series. The books were a little stilted and wooden, but they were chock-full of BDSM sex stuff. One customer told me that he bought the books for the sex, and didn't really care much that the writing was clunky -- he said it was still miles better than the average porn novel.

The 29-year-old woman is said to have voluntarily attended the sect after finding out about it over the internet.

She later contacted a friend in United States, who then contacted the police, saying she wanted to leave but couldn't as she had burnt her passport and return ticket.

But a police spokesman said upon arriving at the premises they did not find any evidence of "criminal offences".

Link (Thanks, Mike!)
Chris Keeley

: "killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” Iraqis say 15 villagers were killed after US troops her

 Hayden Defends Domestic Spy Program At Confirmation Hearing
- New Italian PM Pledges Iraq Troop Withdrawal
- Murtha: Haditha Probe Shows Marines Killed Iraqis “In Cold Blood”
- Colombian Judges Say Paramilitaries Forced Pro-Uribe Vote Fraud
- Ex-Intelligence Official Links US Coal Company to Union Killings
- UN: US Should Close Guantanamo Bay Prison
- Judge Dismisses Case of Wrongfully-Held CIA Detainee

Hayden Defends Domestic Spy Program At Confirmation Hearing
General Michael Hayden appeared before Senate Thursday for the first day of his confirmation hearings to become the new head of the CIA. The former director of the National Security Agency repeatedly defended the legality of the NSA’s secret warrant-less domestic eavesdropping program that he helped design.

  • General Michael Hayden: "When I had to make this personal decision in early October, 2001 -- and it was a personal decision -- the math was pretty straight forward. I could not not do this… We knew that this was a serious issue, and that the steps we were taking, although convinced of their lawfulness, we were taking them in a regime that was different from the regime that existed on 10th September."
General Hayden refused to answer questions during the public portion of the hearing on a number of issues including interrogation methods, secret CIA prisons and the true extent of the government’s surveillance program.

New Italian PM Pledges Iraq Troop Withdrawal
In Italy, new Prime Minister Romano Prodi marked the opening days of his new government by pledging to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq. Prodi was greeted with boos by parliamentary supporters of his predecessor, Sylvio Berlusconi.

  • Romano Prodi: "We consider the war in Iraq and the occupation of this country a grave error. The war has not resolved but complicated the problem of security. Terrorism found in Iraq a new base, and new excuses for terrorist acts inside and outside the Iraqi conflict… It is the intention of this government to propose to parliament the return of our troops even if we are proud of their professional ability, their courage and humanity that they have giving and are still giving."

Murtha: Haditha Probe Shows Marines Killed Iraqis “In Cold Blood”
The Pentagon has concluded its investigation into the shooting deaths of civilians in the Iraqi city of Haditha at the hands of US Marines. On Wednesday, Democratic Congressmember John Murtha of Pennsylvania said the probe will show that Marines: "killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” Iraqis say 15 villagers were killed after US troops herded them into one room of a house near the city of Balad. The dead included five children and four women and ranged in age from 6 months to 75 years old. The Pentagon initially claimed the civilians had died in a roadside bombing. But Murtha said: "There was no firefight. There was no improvised explosive device that killed those innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. That is what the report is going to tell."

Colombian Judges Say Paramilitaries Forced Pro-Uribe Vote Fraud
This news from Colombia – the Miami Herald is reporting new evidence has emerged backing allegations that vote fraud favored President Alvaro Uribe in 2002 elections. Electoral judges from the town of El Dificil told the Herald right-wing paramilitary fighters forced them to fill in uncast votes for Uribe and discard votes for his main rival. The judges’ comments support recent accusations made by Rafael Garcia, a former senior official at Colombia’s executive intelligence agency, the DAS. Last month, Garcia said the paramilitaries helped Uribe win an extra 300,000 fraudulent votes.

Ex-Intelligence Official Links US Coal Company to Union Killings
Meanwhile, Garcia has reportedly given new testimony that links a US coal company to the assassination of two Colombian labor leaders. In a sworn statement as part of a civil suit against Alabama-based Drummond, Garcia said he saw Colombian representatives of the company hand over a suitcase full of money to pay for the assassinations of two labor leaders in 2001.

1 Killed, Scores Detained At Blockade Against US Trade Deal
In other news from Colombia, indigenous groups continue to stage a massive blockade against a pending trade agreement with the US government. The blockade has drawn at least 7,000 people since Tuesday. Demonstrators have accused police of using excessive force to break up the protest. At least one demonstrator has been killed, and scores of people arrested, including four journalists.

  • Luis Guauque, who took part in the blockade: "I was there, waiting, when the police passed and from the beginning they were throwing rocks at us and they threw sticks and gases and bombs - everything."

Nepal Strips King Guyanendra of Sweeping Powers
In Nepal, lawmakers approved a series of measures Thursday that remove some of the most sweeping powers of King Gyanendra. The King will no longer control the army, and lose his title as supreme commander-in-chief. The government will no longer be called "His Majesty's Government" but just Nepal government. The resolution was met with victory rallies across the country.

Bush Tours Arizona Border Crossing As Mexico Criticizes Immigration Plan
Back in the United States, President Bush was in Arizona Thursday to promote his immigration policies.

  • President Bush: "We want the border to be open to trade and lawful immigration and we want our border shut to illegal immigrants, criminals and drug dealers and terrorists. That's the objective."
Meanwhile, in Mexico, Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said his country will protest Bush’s plans to build a massive fence and deploy National Guard at the border.
  • Luis Ernesto Derbez: "There are 12 million Mexicans on the other side, 12 million people who live every day in anguish about the need for a reform to let them live peacefully.”

Senate Vote Makes English US “National Language”
On Capitol Hill, the Senate voted Thursday to make English the “national language” of the United States. The measure affirms that that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English except those already guaranteed by law. Immigrant-rights activists called the vote a major defeat.

Mexico-Bound Driver Shot By US Guards At San Diego Crossing
Meanwhile, the border between San Diego and Tijuana was closed for over nine hours Thursday when border guards shot and killed the driver of a car headed for Mexico. The car was followed after custom agents saw it pick up passengers near the US side of the border crossing. Agents said they shot the driver when he tried to speed off.

Bush Re-Election Figure Sentenced To 10-Month Prison Term
A senior official in President Bush's re-election campaign has been sentenced to 10 months in prison. James Tobin was convicted for his involvement in a phone-jamming scheme intended to block a Democratic get-out-the-vote campaign during mid-term elections in New Hampshire in November 2002. Democrats say the scheme may have gone higher than Tobin. According to phone records, Tobin made two dozen calls to the White House during the three-day period in question. Tobin served as the New England chair of President Bush's re-election campaign at the time.

UN: US Should Close Guantanamo Bay Prison
The UN has called on the US government to close its prison at Guantanamo Bay. In its final report on US compliance with international torture conventions, the U.N. Committee Against Torture said the US should close all down the Cuba prison and avoid using secret prisons in other parts of the world. The committee also said the US should outlaw the use of several of its known interrogation techniques, including sexual humiliation, mock drownings and the use of dogs to induce fear.

Judge Dismisses Case of Wrongfully-Held CIA Detainee
And a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a German citizen who says U.S. agents mistakenly kidnapped him and sent him to a secret prison in Afghanistan. The man, Khaled El-Masri, alleges he was first detained while on vacation in Macedonia. Once in CIA custody he says he was repeatedly beaten, roughly interrogated by masked men, detained in squalid conditions and denied access to an attorney or his family. He was only released after the CIA realized they had detained the wrong man, and left him alone on an abandoned road in Albania. On Thursday, the judge ruled proceeding with El-Masri’s case would harm national security. Ben Wizner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who is representing al-Masri, said he will file an appeal. Wizner said: “[The ruling] confers a blank check on the CIA to shield even the most outrageous conduct from judicial review

Chris Keeley

70,000 empty Coors Light cans in eight years of tenancy

Garbage house full of 70,000 empty Coors Light cans

A rented house in Ogden, UT was discovered to have accumulated some 70,000 empty Coors Light cans in eight years of tenancy -- the cans covered the furniture and blocked the entrance. The garbage house tenant consumed 24 cans of Coors Light per day for eight years.
Ryan Froerer, Century 21: "As we approached the door, there were beer boxes, all the way up to the ceiling."

Inside, he took just a few snapshots to document the scene. Beer cans by the tens of thousands. Mountains of cans burying the furniture. The water and heat were shut off, apparently on purpose by the tenant, who evidently drank Coors Light beer exclusively for the eight years he lived there.

Link (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=268346
Chris Keeley

(no subject)

2 Arrested in Homeless Life Insurance Scam

Pair are accused of obtaining policies on two men who later died in hit-and-run accidents.
By Cara Mia DiMassa and Richard Winton
Times Staff Writers

May 19, 2006

Two women in their 70s were arrested Thursday after they allegedly befriended two homeless men, took out 19 life insurance policies on them and filed claims worth more than $2.2 million after the transients mysteriously died in hit-and-run pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-homeless19may19,0,5341822.story?coll=la-home-headlines
From the Los Angeles Times

the women befriended McDavid and Vados and provided them with apartments in exchange for signing a life insurance policy, with Rutterschmidt and Golay listed as the beneficiaries. They then allegedly duplicated both men's signatures on rubber stamps and used them to secure additional policies.

On November 8, 1999, Vados was found dead in a Hollywood alley. He appeared, according to investigators, to have been run over by a car in a hit-and-run accident. Both women claimed his body.

McDavid was found dead in an alley off Westwood Boulevard just south of Wilshire Boulevard about 1 a.m. June 22, 2005. Authorities say the pair ultimately received about $2 million in insurance settlements for his death.
Olga Rutterschmidt
Olga Rutterschmidt

Helen Golay
Helen Golay

VIDEO
May 18, 2006

Chris Keeley

the crisp $100 bills found on the Watergate burglars provided a vital link to President Nixon's reel

the crisp $100 bills found on the Watergate burglars provided a vital link to President Nixon's reelection campaign


http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-dardis19may19,0,1367228.story?coll=la-home-obituaries
From the Los Angeles Times

Martin F. Dardis, 83; Investigator Linked Watergate Burglars to Nixon

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

May 19, 2006

Martin F. Dardis, the Florida investigator whose probe of the crisp $100 bills found on the Watergate burglars provided a vital link to President Nixon's reelection campaign, has died. He was 83.

Dardis died Tuesday of a vascular condition at a nursing home in Palm City, Fla., his daughter Erin Dardis told the Associated Press.

Just weeks after the burglary at Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington, D.C., Dardis got a tip that the currency the men had been carrying came from the Miami branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Dardis, then the chief investigator for Dade County State Atty. Richard Gerstein, made some inquiries at the Federal Reserve and found that the bills came from a branch of the Republic Bank in Miami.

He subpoenaed the bank's records for Bernard L. Barker, one of the Watergate burglars who lived in Miami and had worked for the CIA during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The records showed two accounts that contained five cashier's checks totaling more than $114,000. Four of the checks came from a Mexico City bank, but the fifth check — for $25,000 — came from a Boca Raton bank and was from Kenneth H. Dahlberg.

The fifth check proved to be the key link to Nixon's reelection apparatus, as Dahlberg turned out to be a longtime Nixon loyalist and fundraiser who served as director of his Midwestern campaign in the 1968 election.

Some weeks later, Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post went to Miami to meet with Dardis and review what he had found through his subpoena. Dardis showed him the bank records and pointed out the Dahlberg connection but didn't know who he was.

Bernstein and his colleague Bob Woodward followed the trail to Dahlberg, who said he gave the check to officials of the Nixon reelection campaign. It was the first direct link between the Watergate break-in and funds donated to Nixon's presidential campaign.

...
Chris Keeley

Smith told investigators that Mainella asked him to help Snyder after she was approached by someone

Parks Official Is Blamed In Snyder Tree Cutting

Redskins Owner Wanted Better River View

 

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 19, 2006; Page A01

 

A high-ranking National Park Service official improperly helped Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder broker a deal to cut down more than 130 trees on a hillside between his Potomac estate and the C&O Canal, according to a report by the Interior Department inspector general's office.

The 2004 decision should have been left to park biologists and horticulturists, who had advised against the deal on federally protected land, and should have been opened to public debate, the report says. After an eight-month investigation, the office concluded that P. Daniel Smith, then special assistant to the director of the Park Service, intervened to help clear Snyder's view of the Potomac River.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/18/AR2006051802337.html

Blue plastic tubes surround seedlings planted on a hillside between Daniel M. Snyder's Potomac estate and the C& O Canal after 130 trees were cut down in 2004. Blue plastic tubes surround seedlings planted on a hillside between Daniel M. Snyder's Potomac estate and the C& O Canal after 130 trees were cut down in 2004.
Photo Credit: By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post
Related Article: Parks Official Is Blamed In Snyder Tree Cutting, page A01

Chris Keeley

Hart also remembered one New Year's Eve when he thought he might be too high to play. Ramrod solved

Obit for "Ramrod," Grateful Dead roadie

The SFGate has an obituary about the interesting life of a Grateful Dead roadie named Lawrence "Ramrod" Shurtliff. Sounds like he was a good guy to have in your corner.

Picture 6-2 (link to photo by Jay Blakesburg) [Mickey] Hart also remembered one New Year's Eve when he thought he might be too high to play. Ramrod solved the problem by strapping Hart to his drum stool with gaffer's tape. Hart recalled another show in San Jose with Big Brother and the Holding Company, where the starter's cannon the band used to punctuate the drum solo of "St. Stephen's" went off early.

"I looked back," Hart said. "His face was on fire. He'd lost his eyebrows. You could smell his flesh. And he was hurrying to reload the cannon in time. That was the end of the cannons."

Link (via Information Junk) 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/05/18/MNGGDITL9I1.DTL&type=printable

Lawrence 'Ramrod' Shurtliff: 1945-2006
Mainstay of Grateful Dead crew dies -- 'he was our rock'

- Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Hart also remembered one New Year's Eve when he thought he might be too high to play. Ramrod solved the problem by strapping Hart to his drum stool with gaffer's tape

Chris Keeley

A Sad Sad Song

A Sad Sad Song

Charles Crawford... A Sad Sad Song (HY SIGN 2114, .mp3 audio 04:07). "...This is of course rightly hailed as a deep soul masterpiece. Crawford takes his time to set the scene for his tale of woe over a solo piano, then in his rather Otis Redding flavoured way delivers an emotion filled vocal over a sympathetic backdrop provided by the Shreveport, LA., Sound City regulars led by drummer James Stroud . Southern soul in the classic 6/8 tempo, delivered in the grand manner. This cut should have been just the first of many such singles – but sadly this was not to be. Crawford, who now lives in Dallas and still does a little night-club work every once in a while, only has this 45 to his name." From Sir Shambling's Deep Soul Heaven. Thank you, DMc.