Sep 21 2012

Use Your Hallucinations: MONDO 2000 In Late 20th Century Cyberculture (Preface) (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #30)


Here then, for your Friday MONDO, is the preface for the book in progress, Use Your Hallucinations:  MONDO 2000 in the Late 20th Century Cyberculture; 


Listen up, youngsters, and citizens of any territory located anywhere within reach of normalcy, and I’ll tell you a story that’ll blow your little minds.

Way back in time; as the decade of the 1980s was turning into the 1990s; way back before the days of Facebook and iPhones and Sexting and Siri and Twitter  — before even the Web and WiFi and the dominance of electronic dance music; way back when the fax machine was considered revolutionary, the Cold War was just winding down and your typical New York Times reporter had never even heard of the internet — there appeared the strangest magazine ever to make its way onto mainstream newsstands all across America and the world.

Called MONDO 2000 — the magazine took the just-then-emerging future of digital culture, dangerous hacking and new media; tossed them in the blender along with overdoses of hallucinogenic drugs, hypersex and the more outrageous edges of rock and roll; added irreverent attitudes stolen from 20th Century countercultures from the beats to the punks, the literary and art avant gardes, anarchism, surrealism, and the new electronic dance culture— and then, it deceptively spilled that crazy Frappe all out across really slick, vaguely commercial looking multicolored printed pages with content that was Gonzo meets Glam meets Cyberpunk meets something else that has never been seen before or since… but which those of us who were there simply called MONDO — as in, “Yes, the article you submitted is definitely MONDO.” Or, “No. This isn’t MONDO.  Why don’t you try Atlantic Monthly?”

We called it “a beribboned letterbomb to the core address of consensus reality.”  Briefly, and, in retrospect, unbelievably, it became the flagship of the new culture; the new world that was being created by the onrush of the new technologies.

What sort of perverse imps could generate such madness on the printed page and carry it all the way to the cover of Time magazine in three short years?  Well, back in the day, in those cultural places where the hippest and sexiest and most revolutionary insiders and outsiders whispered to one another of escapades out on Shasta Road in Berkeley (where else?), California, the home of the MONDO 2000 Queendom; the antic and, most likely, certifiably insane culture around MONDO was almost as legendary as the magazine itself.

Here then, is the story of that magazine and the people who lived it.  It’s the story of the early days of the new digital culture — and so you’ll bump into the likes of Craigslist Craig Newmark, Virtual Reality legend Jaron Lanier, the Beats’ only futurist — William S. Burroughs, and industrial music’s only major pop star, Trent Reznor (just to drop a few, among many, tantalizing boldface names).

And, deeper inside the MONDO world, you’ll marvel at the stories of magical and/or tragical and/or laughable extravagances — drugged excesses, boundless cosmic ambitions, dangerously illicit activities, inexcusable amoral strategies, ultraprovocative artifacts, extreme paranoia, swelled (acid)heads experiencing borderline celebrity, and a grand Fuehrer Bunkeresque denouement.

And, just to bring it all back home and make it a wee bit relatable, you will also find herein stories of those things that happen in ordinary lives; fatal and near fatal car crashes, financial losses, fistfights, love affairs and breakups, unwanted and unexpected competition, accusations, work done or not done, careers made or lost; friendships that lasted or didn’t — and people who want to remember it all and several who wish to forget.

I’m the person who got the whole thing started by first publishing a small psychedelic periodical called High Frontiers in 1984.  This, then, is partly my memoir.  But in true MONDO style, I’ve thrown it into that blender with comments from other participants who were interviewed either by myself or by Simone Lackerbauer, Morgan Russell or Tristan Gulliford; and outtakes from the magazine itself along with some of its printable memorabilia.

Finally, while the telling of the story is mine; the story, in some sense, belongs to Alison Kennedy aka Queen Mu. Although she didn’t join the effort until about a year into the High Frontiers experience — she was the Publisher, Queen and Domineditrix of MONDO 2000 and the only one who remained throughout and to the bitter (and it was bitter) end.

So take off your google goggles; drink your goddamn second-rate store-bought energy drink, roll up some of that medicinal weed and set your twitter feed to Shock and Awe.

Sep 11 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow Makes Everybody Sick or Pig Bat Bat Bat Pig


“Fuck Hollywood.  And fuck this virus. I’ve stopped caring.  We never really even see it, but it’s the best actor in the film so far.”


It’s probably incredibly trite to start of a review of Soderbergh’s Contagion with the phrase: “it all starts with a cough.”  But it does, and boy does Lady Martin look haggard.  And fucking loud.  I wondered if they wanted to effect a pandemic of deafness.

What do you get for having cheated on your husband in a hotel in China?  You get to be the index patient for a disease.  Perhaps it’s my Southern upbringing, but I also know to cover my mouth when I cough.  That and how scripts by Scott Z. Burns almost always instantly offend me.

New thing I learned: there are 3.3 mil people in Minneapolis, and only .2 more in San Francisco?  Cue the “a virus should come with a threatening soundtrack”, seemingly designed by The Chemical Brothers or Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Cliff Martinez,  is this you trying to stay relevant?) and Matt Damon’s cheatin’ wife returns home to infect their young son and capitalize on her being born into theatrical celebrity.  ‘Cause we’re so lucky.  I wanna say something about White America, but they have white idiot celebrities in Europe too.

Here’s some thought smoke. How many things do you touch in a day?  Being OCD, I’m pretty much covered.  But Kate Winslet teaches us that we humans touch our face 2 to 3 thousand times daily, and 3 to 5 times “every waking minute.”   Further thought smoke: what would you feel when everyone around you starts dying and you don’t know why?  Disoriented and dreamlike?  Is it like the snap anger I incur when I’m subjected to hearing people masticate on film or Jude Law wear an Aussie accent?  And is that how he seduced the nanny?

Yeah, I’d probably get sick in an Asian market. Snake penises are sold there for consumption.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Paltrow attempt a siezure on screen.  The same performance must have been used to communicate to the socially retarded Chris Martin when she convinced him to marry her.  Ultimately, the performances in Contagion underwhelmed me.  Per usual, I surmise the best moments were employed for the trailers.  Like the scene where Matt Damon learns his wife, Paltrow, died in hospital.  The pathetic excuse for an actor/doctor relays as much to Damon, citing that “some people get a disease and live, some get sicker and die.” Wait… cause Damon’s response is… “but we had pizza.”

So, Mr. Smart PhD doesn’t reckon an autopsy would provide any more useful information on wifey’s sudden death (it was either a bug bite or herpes, Mr. Smart Dr. suggests; inferring she expired from encephalitis).  Next, Shelly Duvall makes a brief cameo (not really) and we get to watch as the frozen-faced mother of Apple has her scalp removed and her brain drilled = good friggin’ times!  The image of a slab of scalp flopped over her face with her tongue slightly protruding and looking better than ever is accompanied by two new doctors speaking brilliance to each-other: “Should I call someone?”  “Call everyone.”  Ya think?  You don’t wanna grab some pizza first?  Who doesn’t crave pizza when among the tomato-y scalp of a deceased human?

Next new thing I learned: fomites.

But jeez how this script’s atrocious. “Blogging isn’t writing, it’s graffiti with punctuation.”  Is this you being cute, Burns?  By the way, I fucking hated The Informant.  But at least some actual acting and storytelling were involved in the making of it.

So viruses can’t actually survive a few days in a box, birds are already weaponizing bird flu, and people will always spread diseases without thinking cause nobody covers their mouths anymore when they cough.  That’s how stupid we are.  And Marion Cotillard, our epidemiologist, doesn’t think we actually landed on the moon.   And poor Damon never suspected flaphead Gwyn wasn’t really that into monogamy. Wow-wee, the twists in this gem!… that and the idea that an epidemiologist would look like Cotillard!

Also, I was confused by Eliot Gould’s character’s plotline.  And I actually wasn’t high, so I can’t fathom why.  Then we learn that bat and pig dna sequences are found in the mystery virus. But no worries, cause a surgical mask, goggles and hairnet will protect the rest of the pores in your forehead, cheeks, and neck from the contagion.  Odd how that works.  Or is it that I’m high  now?  I would have to be to consider reviewing a film that allowed dialogue such as “somewhere in the world, the wrong pig met up with the wrong bat.”  But the blueprint for the virus made such a pretty genetic ballet of bent copper wires?

Sex in hazmat suits.  That’s where my brain goes, of course.  That and the thought of an epidemiologist shaking hands with people being stupidly amusing.

Some fun, fantasy viruses:

1. The orgasm virus.  This might also imply an empty airport, which is hardly an unpleasant thing, Mr. Virus.

2. The cool “Sorry, I’m unavailable” cell phone message virus.  I once had me fucking up Sammy Jackson’s soliloquy from Pulp Fiction as an outbound message, and the effect was divine.  Nothing beats a fun and creative answering message, except for maybe the preceding fantasy virus.

3. The great skin epidemic.  This is more for those of us with already decent skin who have to look at the freaks.  And that is a joke.

4.  The realizing your full potential epidemic.  Can be a subsidiary of #3.

5.  The world peace contagion.  Those of you who’d rather be uploaded or live forever first fucking irritate me.  We ought to attain a breed of universal abolition before that’s even worth it, but that’s another rant.  And Kate Winslet eats Taco Bell, my ass (or her capriciously monitored one.)

You know it’s a tepid movie experience when Jude Law’s the only one putting any effort into earning his criminally inflated paycheck.  Even if his character’s rebel-blog is called TRUTH SERUM NOW.  A little too reminiscent of Seinfeld’s “Serenity Now,” meaning I’ve stopped taking this movie at all seriously.  Next the American government prepares for rioting, so long as all the important folk are subterranean.

Then more bad lines, i.e. “That’s a bad day to be a rhesus monkey”… meaning the day when a vaccine for this airborne hell begins testing.  Jesus.  And this guy gets his movies made, and I don’t ‘cause I write a little too Shakespearean.  Fuck Hollywood.  And fuck this virus. I’ve stopped caring.  We never really even see it, but it’s the best actor in the film so far.  I wish the way Damon’s character is immune to MEV-1, I was immune to Demetri Martin’s  pointless presence and bowl cut.

Glimpses of civil decomposition; administrative ineptitude turns “absenteeism in law enforcement,” while Jude Law — social networking upstart — valiantly roams the streets of San Francisco like Pinocchio in a puffy jacket, then in a puffy diaper mask, his manipulated, stereotypically bad, Austraulianman’s teeth gleaning with spinach seemingly lodged permanently in the gums.  Food is scarce now, but in the fattest country on the planet, is that really such a bad thing?  I say eat the likes of Kate Moss that make a living being unhealthy and give everyone else complexes.

I’ll spare you more and skip straight to the close.  How will they cure it?  Put it in the water supply?  The timely bureaucratic method?  We’ll never know.  What we do learn is how hormones will spread diseases faster than a fomite, and that mall music survives a plague much like cockroaches.  And so we shake hands to show our enemies we’re not armed.

Eventually a birthday-lottery is enacted for the selective inoculation of civilians, and I feel like I shoulda done a hit of E and brought glow-jewelry before seeing Martinez’s ‘Club Contagion.’   Funnily enough, I didn’t touch my face once during the watching of this film.  Day 135 and everyones out and about again.  Course, the armed military dudes are out too.  And the puffy orange diaper suits.  U2 leads us in a barfy formulaic moment at the obnoxious daughter’s makeshift prom = gay.

Last new thing I learned: that I haven’t mustered a shit about anyone in this movie and I’m one of those people who’ve actually cried from an advertisement.  I say Soderbergh wasted the Tattoo camera, with its 5K image resolution and it’s uber digitalness the way he wasted an opportunity for non-pedestrian cinema.  What about the thought-horror a human might experience when he knows he’s infected…  or any other more esoteric attempt at narrative?  No, we return to the bats that infected the pigs and the Chinese market where the over-commercialized daughter of an actress and director gets paid to seem friendly.  Only, I’ve just paid to seem entertained.