Sunday, 30 January 2011

Three Little Pigs in splatter vinyl

This is a 78 rpm record from 1962. It was an accessory supplied with a toy record player.

There is more here.

An unusual Monument

These large silos dominate the small New Zealand town of Waimate. When you live in a city, you are used to lots of tall buildings and don't really notice their height, but it was difficult to miss these silos looming over Waimate. What is a strange and haunting monument now, was obviously once a source of local pride.

Oh, and if you are in Waimate you should also visit the Savoy Tearooms. I wish I had a photo of them as well as they are very much a step back in time. There are even 1950s pictures of Queen Elizabeth on the wall. 

Hackney Vandal Patrol (Kingsmead) 1976

Stop! it's the Vandal Patrol!!

Julia Staples: Free Market Iceland

My friend Julia Staples is a photographer living in Iceland and last year she created an exhibition called "Free Market".

In the last decade Iceland experienced a massive amount of economic growth (now realised to be false) which sported a massive housing boom in Reykjavik and the outlying areas. Often these were hulking, brutal buildings that seemed at odds with the surrounding environment.

Then we had the economic crash of 2008, which caused numerous house building companies to go bust, leaving large half-finished estates all over Reykjavik. Often away from the eyes of tourists, a large number of houses to this day still haven't been completed....

Make mine a Prelati

I took this picture at the Auberge Du Dongon restaurant. It is in Tiffauges and overlooks the castle made infamous by Gilles De Rais. I was on a Huysmans' venture following in his footpaths as he researched La-Bas. Baldick's biography, my companion. Following from Ken's post, totally recommend this biography.

The aperitif next to the book was called a Prelati, seriously! Prelati was the itinerant charlatan who persuaded Gilles De Rais to perform all manner of diabolical acts of necromantic alchemy in a vain attempt to recoup his fortune. 

The castle is now a theme park, essentially. The day I visited, there was a coach load of French primary school kids, very bizarre.

Huysmans’ Bus Ticket

A couple of weeks ago I posted on my blog the cover art for a 1959 Penguin edition of J.-K. Huysmans’ Against Nature, in ‘a new translation by Robert Baldick’ and featuring a particular savage art-nouveau sphinx emblazoned on its front. The book also yielded a bus ticket pressed between pages 105 and 106, near the end of chapter VIII, suggesting that the reader set the copy aside and never picked it up again. Beyond the fact that it’s a London Transport issue and cost the traveller seven old pence, I can make nothing of it. Does anyone know how to read a bus ticket? I’m curious to know any details about what the route may have been, where the unknown reader boarded the bus and how far seven pence would have taken him. I reproduce this particularly intriguing found object above in the hope that someone might be able to interpret it for me.

RAF Lightning UFO 1970

An air force pilot goes out to investigate a UFO but mysteriously disappears...

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Google Earth, ca. 1970

From the last panel of Tison and Taylor's Barbapapa.

The text reads: "If you want to go visit him, this is where he lives."

Weird Tales For Winter

Weird Tales for Winter launches tonight on Resonance 104.4 FM with a special guest mix from Pye Corner Audio and the first part of Advisory Circle and Moon Wiring Club's presentation of The Gateway of the Monster by William Hope Hodgson.

The Dustbin Men...

Cannibal Girls

Thursday, 27 January 2011

a personal hauntology / part 3

More wonky electronics from my childhood, again via the fine folks at Sesame Street.

Elephant and Castle 68

A very quick trip to the concrete jungle of Elephant & Castle in our modernist tour of 1968 with C.E. Fudge. I like the droog whirling round in the foreground. More, and a little bit of 1960, at between channels.

Sing A Long A Wickerman

O, Lord! O, Jesus Christ!

Muted Tones

Some pictures taken on a cloudy, damp day of househunting with Mrs. BC in a forgotten corner of Sheffield.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Cueva De Los Verdes, Lanzarote

Cueva de los Verdes, or "The Green Cave", is a lava tunnel on the north-east coast of Lanzarote that formed during the eruption of a volcano 3,000 years ago. Locals have used it as a hiding place since the time of the aboriginal canaries islanders. Since 1964 it's been a tourist attraction, with a 2km path and atmospheric accompanying light and sound installation created by artists C├ęsar Manrique (who also built a lot of landscape-inspired 60s architecture on the island) and Jesus Soto that shows off the cave's optical and aural illusions. The green effect on the photos is part of that - in one of the stories of the cave's name, the Greens are meant to have been one of the families that hid from pirates or slave traders in there. Photographed, inevitably, on Hipstamatic, just to bring that retro-futuristic eco-tourism dream full circle.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Journey Into The Beyond

Psychic surgery, witchcraft, animal sacrifice, a witchdoctor levitating and a seance in an Italian catacombs with a ghost in the background - 70s paranormal pop culture reaches its shock doc peak in this 1977 documentary narrated by John Carradine from West Germany.

Tailored To A Man's Taste

Keep your bachelor pads swinging, folks...

Tailored 1

Tailored 2

The Omega Factor

The Omega Factor, BBC Scotland's supernatural drama from 1979. Psychic phenomena, ghosts, government conspiracies, a gothic city and great, spooky opening titles. I've got some more about it at the spectral dimension.

Pagan Report Redux: Up Helly Aa

I mentioned this in an earlier post about fire festivals. and it's happening tonight! Rumours that a born again Christian policeman is tied up inside the galley when they burn it can neither be confirmed nor denied...

Nothing will stop those Viking from burning what they want. Not even Michael Buerk...

Something Uncanny This Way Comes

Cantus Arcticus (1972)

Through the Night

There I was trying to get some sleep last night, allowing BBC Radio 3's Through the Night to soothe my restive mind. However, instead of being soothed I found myself being mildly alarmed by the sound of screeching birdsong.

This is because at around 01:10am they decided to play Einojuhani Rautavaara's 1972 Concerto for Birds and Orchestra.

Listening to it again in the cold light of day, it's a truly extraordinary piece of work. At turns sumptuously beautiful, faintly comical and, yes, still pretty disturbing.

It'll be on iPlayer for the next 6 days:

The piece starts at 01:11:03. Things get particularly extraordinary from about 01:21:50 onwards.

Robert Baldock

Monday, 24 January 2011

Clowny clown clown

From the old toys display at The Red House Museum in Christchurch, Bournemouth. Once upon a time, he was just a painted jester, now he's an "evil clown", the psycho of films and Halloween haunted houses.

Modern Archaeology

A Subway that used to be a Pizza Hut.

Spotted by Justine in Palmerston North, January 2011.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Alone in the Dark - going solo

Urban Explorers are sociable souls, generally found in pairs or small groups, but occasionally, you come across the odd one or two who go it alone. Two nights ago, I was one of those.

Close to me, in my home city, is a derelict wing of a former general hospital. The rest of the hospital has been re-developed into premium housing that go for a tidy price, but this one wing is still in the process of alteration. From the outside, it's a decaying monument of the past with board windows and broken windows, surrounded by a 10 foot high wooden fence. And that's the pull for the Urban Explorer. What lies behind the boarded windows? What remains within the decaying walls.

I watched this site for three months, evaluating the security, looking for the access points, trying to judge entrance points into the building from pictures taken whilst just passing by.

Then the time came. Opportunity presented itself and it was taken.

The target location is on a busy main road, within a heavily populated residential area, therefore itwas never going to be easy. I made my way to the derelict wing and walked the perimeter, waiting for the moment that would be my window of opportunity to cross into the unknown beyond the wooden fence. Midnight was too early, too many people still walking about, too much trafiic on the roads that could see the light of my torch, too many lights on in the flats and houses that surround the building that I planned to explore. There was nothing for it, I had to wait. And that wait took me until 2am when finally the coast was clear and infiltration was the first priority, the first task, the beginning of my first solo explore.

Quickly and quietly, I traversed the fence and carefully made my way across the work site to the back of the building. I paused in a darkened corner away from streetlights with the light rain my only real companion, this time needed to allow my eyes to adjust to the darkness that was surrounding me. Five minutes later, I made my way along the derelict exterior of the old hospital wing, the rear of which had had several rooms demolished. This gave me the perfect access into the building itself, no need for any kind of forced entry as would befit a vandal. The Urban Explorer does not engage in forced entry, that one act crosses the boundary into criminal activity.

I made my way into the basement and found what was once the doctor's bar, all that remained was the security grill pulled down over the counter at the end of each evening, and a few artifacts such as miniature bottles and drip tray from a beer pump. Further on were teaching rooms and the staircase to the ground floor.

I found a hallway that led to more teaching rooms and a lecture room given the title of "Thurne". "Thurne" was a large corner room, complete with blackboard. The emptiness of this room was further enhanced by the orange glow from the streetlights outside, creeping throught the cracks in the wooden boards that kept the world outside at bay.

I looked to the opposite end of the hallway and at the top of the stairs was a set of phone booths.

The darkness was all consuming, but my years as a paranormal researcher and ghost-hunter had prepared me well for the situation I was in now - no light in an old derelict building with just the slivers of streetlight cutting through the black.

I wandered through the darkness into a room beyond description, it's past was as a reception, but it's present had given it new and totally enigmatic feel through dereliction and destruction - it's outer wall had been cast off, revealing it to the elements. It's once carpeted floor now a softened sludge of moss, decay and rain water from years of abandonment.

I found a hole in the wall - quite literally - and my inquisitive nature made me go through it. I found myself in a decayed toilet block, and when I walked out from it I found a series of rooms that were used for training. Decay, mould and dereliction surrounded me - fallen strip lights, collapsed ceilings and rotted flooring.

Ther were still two floors above me, but the developers had been clever and wise. A pair of double doors that led to the main entrance and the principle staircase had been securely chained and as I searched for another access point, I discovered that all doors to this area had been sealed, the remaining staircases had been capped at their apex. I felt a slight measure of frustration, this derelict hospital wing had not beaten me because I was in there, but I didn't win because I found my explore had come to an end. After a fruitless search for access to the upper floors, I had to end this night of solo exploration and discovery as the first tendrils of morning light began to appear over the buildings and I knew that beyond the wooden fence, a city was coming back to life. It was time to go.