Saturday, May 08, 2004


Seems like Doc40 stays about 48 hours ahead of the news media. Two days after Jett had reminded us all of the Stamford experiment with prisoners and guards, it was all over MSNBC and our local Fox News (and those were only the ones that I saw) neatly packaged, along with a up-to-the-minute sound bite of the good doctor himself, like some government spin control office had the whole thing ready to go in case the whole subject of torture became public, and the “aberration” case needed to be made. (See yesterday.)


Fox Butterfield writes in today's NY Times...

Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates...The corrections experts say that some of the worst abuses have occurred in Texas, whose prisons were under a federal consent decree during much of the time President Bush was governor because of crowding and violence by guards against inmates. Judge William Wayne Justice of Federal District Court imposed the decree after finding that guards were allowing inmate gang leaders to buy and sell other inmates as slaves for sex. The experts also point out that the man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time. The Utah official, Lane McCotter, later became an executive of a private prison company, one of whose jails was under investigation by the Justice Department when he was sent to Iraq as part of a team of prison officials, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft to rebuild the country's criminal justice system.


Another position statement comes from the Netherlands-based Buggers, and is reproduced below. (Although I did cut a lengthy first paragraph about pulling down Saddam’s statue in Iraq, partly because I felt there’d been enough talk about Iraq this weekend, and also because it made the thing much too long.)

The use of vandalism to undermine the ideology behind official art or the media has been an effective strategy of revolutionary art in Western societies since the early 20th century. In fact, the vandalistic techniques developed by Duchamp, Picabia, Heartfield, Burroughs & Gysin, Guy Debord, the Dutch Provo movement, Destroy All Monsters, and many others, have proved
to be vital impulses to Western art, literature, music and thought. In its purest form vandalism is no more than the destruction of capital or property. But even this seemingly uncomplicated form of vandalism has led to vital and complex art, music and thought. We already mentioned Gustav Metzger's auto-destructive art in our position #1, but now also think of people as various as John Cage, Dick Raaijmakers, Iggy & The Stooges, and The MC5*. The controlled but real destruction of goods during performances refuses to represent anything else. It blows up all representation, and radically forces the spectators to face the void. Dangerous buggers! Seemingly more complex techniques of vandalism  adding something to objects, taking something from them, damaging them in various degrees, etc.  can be summarised as hostile modifications of objects, and range from the simplest drawings in school diaries to the attack on national monuments. Duchamp demonstrated in his modification of a reproduction of the Mona Lisa (using the schoolboy's technique of adding a moustache and an obscene subscript) that vandalism can give access to the unconscious, much like the Freudian joke or lapsus. Burroughs & Gysin's cut-up technique shows that hostile modification can induce paranoid lucidity and disclose covert
ideologies and connections. But the sheer impact of ridiculising, sexualising, desexualising, cursing, damaging, etc. can be effective too.

As long as its powerful and loud enough. Vandalism offers a wide range of possibilities to change the perception of reality, to expose the ideologies and mental constructions that define objects in public space (Space in its broadest sense, also including television, the internet, language and history). Anti-vandalism regulations and measures determine to a considerable extent the design, construction and choice of materials in public space. This, together with the increasing surveillance and control of public space, makes it fair to say that we live in an environment of suppressed vandalism. The suppression of vandalism is not synonymous with public order but is an important part of it. In Western capitalist societies public order mainly serves the protection of property, investments and the conservation of ideologically valuable goods. For that reason The Buggers believe that vandalism directly undermines the grip of Western capitalist industries on citizens, and that strategic use of vandalistic techniques is a powerful weapon in reclaiming public space. At present the Robert Johnson collective in Paris demonstrate that deconstructing advertisements and reclaiming public space through vandalism forces the capitalist industries to expose their repressive nature. Bugger on!

The Buggers are hosted by: Sea Urchin Editions, PO Box 25212, 3001 HE Rotterdam, The Netherlands, email:

* I was kinda surprised, however, at the omission of Pete Townshend, Keith Moon and The Who. I recall one of the first times I ever spoke to Pete was at a 1967 after-party for DIAS (Gustav Metzger's Destruction In Art Symposium) at which an upright piano was sacrificed. g...g...generation.

Friday, May 07, 2004


I catch myself in repetition, describing over and over again how my mind whirls at current events as they stream from the TV, from the corporate online news and from newspapers and magazines, and how, after a week like the one through which we have all just passed, the emails to Doc40, Howard Stern, and alleged crazy people make more logical sense than those who are foisted on us as experts. When I hear a fool like David Brookes on PBS News Hour blandly claiming that the systematic torture of prisoners is just an “aberration” I start to want to scream. It’s in all the CIA torture manuals, goddamn it! Chapter and verse. Disorientation and degradation. All that’s missing is what has to be a new addendum on how to attack Moslem prisoners via their weird sexual mores. (A gift from Sharon/Mossad?) As in get girls to attach the electrodes. The outrage burns so intensely that it would take an major essay to organize, so instead, let me just huf and puff offer a shit-list of the unfocused impressions...

1) For once, the military-intelligence complex is doing its own dirty work. A history of torture extends from Saigon to El Salvador, but was usually conducted by local proxies. The CIA and Special Forces may have trained the torturers, but the deeds themselves were done, more often than not, by ARVN, the Arena Party death squads, or the local secret police hot out of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning. Plausible deniability? I guess the Bush boys were in too much of a hurry, or simply, in their arrogance, assumed that, after 9/11, they could get away with anything.

2) Why the fuck did we expect anything different. Neocoms like Ann Coulter have been shrieking for years how anything goes when smiting the evildoers.

3) Danger in all this talk of the Zimbardo experiment. (Thanx Jett – see the infamous comments board) It’s already been picked up by Bush media hacks as proof of the “aberration” defense. Like, you know, it was just stress-related weirdness. Yarbles, I say. Yarblockos. And refer everyone back to1).

4) And didn’t Harry Palmer long ago point out that torture was ultimately pointless, because torturers only get told what they want to hear.

5) Meanwhile the poor busted MP grunts cry, “I was only following orders” – the mantra of Nazi war criminals. Except, at Nuremberg, the brass was on trial. Again in their arrogance, the Bush crew seem to believe they can stem the destructive tide with the courts martial of a few rank and file military police. Blame it on Pvt. England, She Wolf of the US.

6) Bush and his handlers have not only started a war under the most inconceivable of pretexts, but are now managing to lose it. In a parliamentary democracy, Rumsfeld would have been forced to resign weeks ago, and Bush, were he prime minister, would be fighting off a Vote of No Confidence and removal from office. As it stands, almost half the country still thing he’s a great guy doing a grand job. Who the hell are these people? Are they so lumpen deluged by Friends, Jesus, snacks, and American Idol they believe any garbage that’s fed to them?

7) Okay, forget the plain benighted folks, what about Disney? Suppressing Michael Moore and the story of Bush and the Saudis until after the election, because of some short term business interests? Who do they imagine is going consume their damned movies and dopy theme parks when the economy is wrecked, a pointless war drags on, and the nation is in a state of Homeland siege?

8) Or what about John bloody Kerry. Where’s the towering condemnatory rhetoric? Where’s the wrath and the power? Yesterday I heard him mumble a sound bite phrase, something about “a huge historical miscalculation”, but delivered like a schoolboy buying condoms in an old fashioned drug store. Are his handlers telling him to stay out of the fray? Is this a tactic? Am I naive to expect more?

9) And at this point, I feel myself running out of steam. History is so tiring, my dears. But I can’t help wondering when some swine in the White House will start wondering if strapping electrodes to domestic enemies might be a workable idea? Or if, at the other end of the sado-fantasy, any Washington domination parlor has opened its very own Baghdad Room? *

10) Is there anyone out there who knows DC and its surrounds really well, and can suggest a fictitious address where a ultra high class, s&m bordello might be situated? *I feel prank fiction coming on. (Maybe I should offer stuff as a prize.)

Hey, it’s a Letterman Ten, how about that?

CRYPTIQUEBoots and saddles.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


As in the old CND recruiting poster parody...


(Except now we can add...and if any are left alive, strip them naked, put plastic bags on their heads, and attach electrodes to their genitals -- and then put a saddle on their grandmother and ride her around the cell.)

Or there was Simon de Montfort, who had it all going on with slaughtering infidels and heretics in the 12th century, and who operated according to the maxim...Kill 'em all and let God sort it out.

And was it Barry Goldwater or the Marquis de Sade who claimed that...A measure of excess in the defense of freedom is never a bad thing?


The story circulates that the real reason Disney are attempting to bury Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 -- that demonstrates the links between GWB and the Saudi royals -- is that Jeb Bush has leaned on them, threatening Disney World's Florida tax breaks if the film sees the light of day before the election.

I also understand that Homeland Defense has a truly lunatic plan to start fucking with the Muslims in the Federal Corrections gulag. I wish them luck. My money is on the jailhouse Muslims.

But don't despair, (and talking of prisoners) Charlie Manson will be on today's Entertainment Tonight.

CRYPTIQUE -- Leave the bottle.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


While well aware that no one outside the LA basin gives a rat’s ass that the city is going through it’s second cruel and unusual heatwave in eight days, and most are probably bored with my complaints like how yesterday’s 101F totally derailed your humble correspondent and the wonders he desires to perform. My theory is that the unseasonable temperatures are another symptom of global warming, and the waters of the Pacific are in entirely the wrong place (a idea possibly supported by yesterday’s TV panic about sharks – maybe great whites – in the bay.) Kaymo, on the other hand, emails what may be a different, but equally alarmist explanation...

Commiserations etc. but there may be something else going on... article in NY Times this Sunday indicated that scientists are finally coming around to accept what archaeologists and hydrologists have been saying for quite a while.. the 20th century was freakishly wet in the Western USA. Now in 6th year of drought the thought is occurring that maybe there will be a return to the real dry times, like those between 900 AD and 1300 when so little rain fell that even the Anaszazi abandoned their settlements in Arizona and New Mexico. The question that has to be asked is what will the millions of Americans now living in a desert do if – for instance – the Colorado River simply stops flowing? (and the cost of fetching water from Alaska or British Columbia remains prohibitive)

On a deeper level than the weather, however, or even the climatic fate of Los Angeles, the great problem of the 21st century is that exchanges like the above finish up blowing in the wind while communications are bowed down under the weight of Bush and his bloody war, the sadism of his minions, the short-attention-span unscrupulousness of his corporate backers, and the madness of his fundamentalist support. We don't even have the time to discuss whether the Anaszazi moved away or were kidnapped en masse by aliens any more. (Or how the aliens seemed to move out when Bush moved in.)

And talking of blowing in the wind, I hear that Bob Dylan wants to be a judge on American Idol. Senses taking leave? Jeez. But maybe more about Bob tomorrow.

Meanwhile, our pal hipspinster writes about Mustangs, heat, and Pixies at

CRYPTIQUEPlease notify my next of kin.

Sunday, May 02, 2004


In LA, the disturbing climate cycle is now in a repeat phase and the temps promise to climb into the Fahrenheit hundreds again. Mercifully stuff keeps coming down the ether and today (after taking yesterday off) I don’t have to write too much. The following comes from Ben, and although I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with the call for a new desexualization, it’s a fun piece of theorizing that I hope stimulates thought. I fear, however, that Ben and his crew make little distinction between (say) Britney Spears and the Maquis de Sade, when, on days of more intense cultural desperation, I’m prone to muse on the idea of how, in some timeless libertine dimension, the former might be handed to the latter for an education...


Although the discoveries in the USA and Great-Britain of photographs ofAmerican and British soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners should make us wary and wonder if their simultaneous disclosures aren't a deliberate move in Anglo-American war propaganda to demoralise the enemy, they do reveal an aspect of the clash between Western capitalism and Islam hitherto less manifest. The most striking feature, the overall atmosphere of the photographs, is a sexual one. Sexually active champions of capitalism are opposed to sexually passive Muslims, or Muslims are forced to take part in sexual activities against their will. Sexual abuse of Muslims, especially by female soldiers, has also been reported by prisoners released from the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp. At the same time in several Western European countries the controversy about headscarves worn by muslim girls and women has grown to absurd proportions. Wearing a headscarf (an instrument to desexualise girls and women) by pupils and/or teachers has
already been forbidden at all schools in France, and at conservative schools in Germany and Holland. The fury that this traditional symbol of desexualisation evokes in capitalist countries and the perverse delight with which muslim girls and women are forced to expose themselves in public show similarities with the sexual harassment revealed in the recently published photographs. For that reason we, The Buggers, believe that sexualisation has become a capitalist strategy in the conquest of its opponents.

Based on the theories of Marx and on misinterpretations of Freud the sexual liberation of the masses used to be a revolutionary strategy to bring down a repressive capitalist system and its bourgeois values and social structures. Western revolutionary art in the 20th century embraced this strategy, from surrealism to Beat poetry to the counter-cultural art of the sixties and seventies. Although the pursuit of individual sexual freedom has brought about many positive changes in capitalist societies, it failed to undo the capitalist system itself. We now know that the strength of the capitalist system lies in its absolute lack of morals and its subsequent ability to absorb the moral force of its opponents, only to pervert it for commercial purposes. Now, instead of pursuing sexual freedom and changing society in the course of it, the masses find themselves chasing the sexual mirages produced by the capitalist industry - without ever finding gratification. The capitalist system deliberately keeps its sexually emancipated consumers in a prolonged sexual frenzy. Bugger it!

Since Lacan's interpretation of Freud we know that sexual desire centres around a void, a lost 'object', and that it can never be really satisfied. An endless string of ungratifying substitutes for the lost object marks the trail of individual sexual realisation. Capitalist industries consciously exploit this phenomenon; they promise sexual fulfillment, provide eroticised substitutes for the lost object, know how to sell them, and make huge profits in doing so. Desexualisation, the refusal to become part of a public sexualised circuit, poses a genuine threat to capitalism. Anti-capitalist cultures and religions, and particularly individuals or groups within capitalist societies that scorn sexualised consumerism, have come to symbolise the origin of the sexual desire that capitalism feeds on: the void, the nothingness. They shatter the illusion constructed to keep consumers prisoners of their own desires and must therefore be sexualised or destroyed.

The Buggers' second proposition is that modern revolutionary art can no longer employ sexual liberation as a weapon against the capitalist system. We believe that nowadays desexualisation, emphasis on the void behind the sexual drive, provides a more appropriate weapon. We invite you to explore the artistic possibilities of desexualisation, and to redefine the 'obscene'. Or to be more precise, to develop revolutionary strategies of public desexualisation (we wouldn't want you, or any other individual, muslim or non-muslim, to stop buggering in private).

The Buggers are hosted by Sea Urchin Editions
PO Box 25212
3001 HE Rotterdam


While Henry Cabot Beck brings us back to the more pleasant topic of the relativity of Godzilla and Elvis Presley. (And let’s not forget that Godzilla’s official birthday occures on November 3rd of this year, and it’s probably morally and culturally incumbent on all of us to party like it was 1999. (It will also be the day after the election, when we will know if we've dumped Bush, or at least if the elections being stolen in Florida all over again.)

I'm researching Godzilla for a Daily News piece, and I discover today that the day the Godzilla production was announced by Toho in Japan, July 5, 1954, is the day Elvis cut That's All Right. Don't know if that makes Elvis the Godzilla of America or Godzilla the Elvis of Japan, but it's fun to think about.


Hiding the faces of the war dead makes the motivation seem like saving face in an election year. Americans won't take casualties for the credibility of the Bush administration. That's not a good enough reason for people to die. – Maureen Dowd in the New York Times.

CRYPTIQUEMothra! Mothra!