Few organizations are more feared and surrounded by myth than the yakuza. It has a strong influence also outside Japan, both in real life and in popular culture.
Few outsiders have been allowed inside the organization or to speak to its members. Andreas Johansson was able to interview and photograph several yakuza and their rich tattoos in the middle of an on-going gang war. Yakuza Tattoo offers a unique insight into the world of yakuza tattoos and symbols.
“Watching movies about the Yakuza before meeting them is nothing I recommend. Before I left I was worried that I would be threatened, shot, stabbed, beaten up, blackmailed, a witness to crimes or arrested; the list is long when you are working with a project like this one. There was an ongoing war between the clan I describe in my book and a rivalling family during the weeks I spent with the Yakuza; it was a dangerous situation, but I knew that despite the movies, the yakuza are not known for their wild shooting sprees," says Johansson.
He met them in Yokohama nightclubs, bars, back alleys and in their homes. Yakuza Tattoo offers a unique insight into the dragons, carp and gods that are associated with yakuza identity.
“There seems to be a stereotypical image of yakuza symbols and tattoos. In my book, I show there is great variation," says Johansson.
Johansson has a PhD in history of religions and works at Lund University and the Linnaeus University. He has a special interest in the religions of Asia, and he has done field work in South Asia. His research focuses on religious symbols and terminology among non-religious organisations.
The motifs are inspired by the structure of the organization, Japanese history and mythology, but younger members today choose to add modern elements. Tattoos are still not socially acceptable in Japan, however.
“Getting an irezumi is to dirty your body, the body that your parents gave you. But doing it as a yakuza is saying that you are never going to return to a normal life.”
Yakuza Tattoo (softcover) will be published by Dokument Press.
How To Read Donald Duck - Imperialist Ideology In The Disney Comic is a book by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart with a brnad new introduction by Ariel Dorfman.
First published in 1971 in Chile, where the entire third printing was dumped into the ocean by the Chilean Navy and bonfires were held to destroy earlier editions, How to Read Donald Duck reveals the capitalist ideology at work in our most beloved cartoons. Focusing on the hapless mice and ducks of Disney - curiously parentless, marginalized, always short of cash - Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart dissect the narratives of dependency and social aspiration that define the Disney corpus.
Disney recognized the challenge, and when the book was translated and imported into the U.S. in 1975, managed to have all 4,000 copies impounded. Ultimately, 1,500 copies of the book were allowed into the country, the rest of the shipment was blocked, and until now no American publisher has dared re-release the book, which sold over a million copies worldwide and has been translated into seventeen languages.
A devastating indictment of a media giant, a document of twentieth-century political upheaval, and a reminder of the dark undercurrent of pop culture, How to Read Donald Duck is once again available, together with a new introduction by Ariel Dorfman.
It is available now HERE from OR Books.
From the 1870s until the Second World War, millions of Americans left their homes to board freight trains that would carry them vast distances, sometimes to waiting work, often to points unknown. Congregating in skid rows, socializing around campfires, and bringing in the nation's crops, these drifters were set apart from conformist America by a lifestyle possessing its own haunts, vocabulary, and cultural, sexual, and ethical standards. Alternately derided and lionized for their footloose ways and nonconformity, hoboes played a crucial and largely neglected role in the creation of not only America's infrastructure, industry, and agriculture but also its culture, politics, and music.
The first anthology of its kind, On the Fly! brings forth the lost voices of Hobohemia. Dozens of stories, poems, songs, stories, and articles produced by hoboes are brought together to create an insider history of the subculture's rise and fall. Adrenaline-charged tales of train hopping, scams, and political agitation are combined with humorous and satirical songs, razor sharp reportage and unique insights into the lives of the women and men who crisscrossed America in search of survival and adventure.
From iconic figures such as labor martyr Joe Hill and socialist novelist Jack London through to pioneering blues and country musicians, and little known correspondents for the likes of the Hobo News, the authors and songwriters contained in On the Fly! run the full gamut of Hobohemia's wide cultural and geographical embrace. With little of the original memoirs, literature, and verse remaining in print, this collection, aided by a glossary of hobo vernacular and numerous illustrations and photos, provides a comprehensive and entertaining guide to the life and times of a uniquely American icon. Read on to enter a world where hoboes, tramps, radicals, and bums gather in jungles, flop houses, and boxcars; where gandy dancers, bindlestiffs, and timber beasts roam the rails once more.
The book is available now via PM Press.
The innovative novels and stories of Michael Blumlein, MD, have introduced new levels of both terror and wonder into the fiction of scientific speculation. His work as a medical researcher and internist at San Francisco's UCSF Medical Center informs his tales of biotech, epigenetics, brain science, and what it means to be truly----if only temporarily----human.
The title piece, "Thoreau's Microscope," inspired by a historic High Sierra expedition with Kim Stanley Robinson and Gary Snyder and first published here, is a stunning mix of hypothesis and history, in which the author inhabits Thoreau's final days to examine the interaction of impersonal science and personal liberation. A journey as illuminating as it is intimate.
As an added bonus, a selection of short stories with Blumlein's signature mix of horror, "hard" science, and wicked humor. "Fidelity" coolly deconstructs adultery with the help of an exuberant tumor, an erotic cartoon, and a male malady. "Y(ou)r Q(ua)ntifi(e)d S(el)f" will reset your Fitbit and your workout as well. "Paul and Me" is a love story writ extra-large, in which an Immortal from Fantasy comes down with a distinctly human disorder. In the chilling "Know How, Can Do" a female Frankenstein brings romance to life in the cold light of the lab.
And Featuring: Our overly intrusive Outspoken Interview, in which the ethics of experimental medicine, animal surgery, the poetry of prose, cult film acclaim, Charles Ludlam, Darwin, and gender dysphoria all submit to examination.
See and hear author interviews, book reviews, and other news on Michael Blumlein’s page HERE
"May Day is about affirmation, the love of life, and the start of spring, so it has to be about the beginning of the end of the capitalist system of exploitation, oppression, war, and overall misery, toil, and moil." So writes celebrated historian Peter Linebaugh in an essential compendium of reflections on the reviled, glorious, and voltaic occasion of May 1st.
It is a day that has made the rich and powerful cower in fear and caused Parliament to ban the Maypole----a magnificent and riotous day of rebirth, renewal, and refusal. These reflections on the Red and the Green----out of which arguably the only hope for the future lies----are populated by the likes of Native American anarcho-communist Lucy Parsons, the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement, Karl Marx, José Martí, W.E.B. Du Bois, Rosa Luxemburg, SNCC, and countless others, both sentient and verdant. The book is a forceful reminder of the potentialities of the future, for the coming of a time when the powerful will fall, the commons restored, and a better world born anew.
You can ORDER HERE at PM Press using coupon code MAY for 50% off. (Valid through May 31st)
"Written to mark May Day, the international workers' holiday, Linebaugh's 11 playful and elegiac treatises motivate, enrage, and inform." - Publishers Weekly
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Linebaugh is a child of empire, schooled in London, Cattaraugus (NY), Washington, DC, Bonn, and Karachi. He has taught at Harvard University and Attica Penitentiary, at New York University and the Federal Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. He is the author of Stop, Thief!, The London Hanged, The Many-Headed Hydra (with Marcus Rediker), and The Magna Carta Manifesto.
This work by Bartolomeo Vanzetti, edited and with a detailed introduction by Jon Curley, features a never-before-published short story by this famous anarchist and victim of legal persecution, xenophobia, and condemnation for his radical politics. That fact that Vanzetti, an Italian immigrant, learned to write in English while jailed for a capital crime is remarkable enough. What is even more astonishing is that he chose to use his new language skills to write creatively, inventing a parable about worker exploitation and environmental disaster that is as relevant today as it was almost one hundred years ago when this prisoner took up his pen.
"Events and Victims" allows Vanzetti a new literary and historical voice, an important document that narrates the very injustice that its author suffered and fought. In a time of assault on immigrants, dissidents, radicals, and the environment, "Events and Victims" is as timely as ever.
"To encounter Vanzetti's 'Events and Victims'----written in the 1920s while awaiting his own execution----is to return to that world of man vs. machine, to witness yet another wave of humanity uprooted from its commons and forced to live against the infernal clamor of mechanized death."
----Ammiel Alcalay, author of Memories of Our Future
"Awaiting his own execution, Vanzetti takes aim at the burgeoning military industrial complex, environmental degradation, xenophobia fueled by global labor migration, stultifying popular culture, compromised press, and greed of industrial oligarchs in this unexpectedly timely short story."
----Judith Halasz, author of The Bohemian Ethos
"Jon Curley has added to Vanzetti's legacy by springing 'Events and Victims,' his sole known work of fiction, from its archival shackles. Published for the first time, the story contributes to the literary history of anarchism, prison writing, and the canon of resistance and refusal...."
----Whitney Strub, author of Perversion for Profit
BOUT THE AUTHOR
Bartolomeo Vanzetti was born in 1888 in Villafalletto, Italy. As an immigrant anarchist, he was at the center of one of the most notorious legal cases of the twentieth century, along with Nicola Sacco, that highlighted American anti-immigrant and anti-radical sentiment during the Red Scare.
He was executed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on August 23, 1927.
Jon Curley is a poet and teacher. His poetry collections include Hybrid Moments (2015) and Scorch Marks(2017). He also wrote Poets and Partitions: Confronting Communal Identities in Northern Ireland (2011) and coedited The Poetry and Poetics of Michael Heller: A Nomad Memory (2015).
He teaches in the Humanities Department of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Curley is originally from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where Vanzetti's legal persecution began.
Kozik's Original 3rd book covers his newest concert posters, and album cover art.
Most of the work in this book is not widely known as his earlier work. This book provides the best way to see it all.
The book opens with an introduction by Frank on his art technique, and influences. It then goes into Kozik's anjoyable and very humourous"Post Core / Pre-Vinyl" artwork that I for one had never seen before this book.
A must have for any Kozik fan!
9" x 11"
This book, nay, this Tome, for a Tome is what it is, a hefty bestiary full of secrets and madness, desire and insanity, is the work of the damaged genius Tom Neely (and friends). From the very first page (a hysterical forward by the mighty Rob Halford) to the last glee-soaked words, Henry and Glenn not only tickle the funny bone they delight the eyes with their none-too-subtle "homages" to such great artists as Jack Kirby, Ernie Busmiller, Al Capp and many others, as well as a feast for the brain with their boundless references to Celtic Frost, Metallica, Hall and Oats(!), God (sorry, I mean Lemmy) and so many others that days could be spent looking at the detailed goings-on in the backdrop.
Henry and Glenn fill the pages with their fantastical adventures of danger, love for each other, (and you know the shortest one is the bitch) songwriting tribulations, Glenn's mother, crazed cultists and of course, kitty cats. Tom Neely (and friends) have crafted each story with devastating effectiveness designed to extract maximum humor and satire from each frame.
The hardbound edition reviewed here is subtitled "The Completely Ridiculous Edition" and comes with several full colour 'pin-ups' by various artists that emulate comic book covers from days gone by, including a wonderful skewering of "Little Golden Books" that if not in existence already, then someone should make it post haste.
Overall this collected works is a glorious send up of two of Rock's most famous personalities. It deserves to be exposed to the world, to bring light to dark places, to be spoken with the same reverence reserved for "War and Peace" or "To Kill A Mockingbird" and surely Tom Neely (and friends!) should be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, with the art sitting alongside the Mona Lisa (or possibly in the White House) and be required reading for all music majors in universities across America.
Copies can be purchased online from Microcosm Publishing and each copy sold is one more tantrum from Glenn Danzig, and that's not a bad thing at all.
- Erik Svensson
A fun little sampler that does it’s job: offers a sense of several offerings within the massive science-fiction universe created by noted filmmaker and all-around singular artist Alexandro Jodorowsky.
For those who might not know, once upon a time in the 1970s, Jodorowsky was within a hair’s breadth of making a full-blown, bananas (and possibly brilliant) film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction novel Dune (the tale of the film’s near-fruition is brilliantly told in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune). The film didn’t quite get off the ground, but Jodorowsky’s hyperactive mind had already constructed a vast universe of planets, civilizations, and cultures around Herbert’s original story. Instead of letting those worlds simply die the same death as his Dune movie, Jodorowsky decided to start setting them down in the form of comic book/graphic novel scripts which would be illustrated by various artists. Many of them did not hit the presses until decades after Dune failed to get past the pre-production phase, but fortunately for fans, many of them have seen the light of day. Four 20-some-odd page excerpts of “Jodo’s” worlds are offered as follows:
This universe follows human character DiFool, who finds himself about to be sacrificed by the evil Technopriests to some horrendous sort of diety. His companion, a sort of wise-cracking pelican made of solid concrete, manages to save DiFool in a rather “out of the frying pan” type of way that leaves one hanging just as any good excerpt should do. In this small snippet, we get a sense of the combination of religion, politics, and conformity which are often the subjects of Jodorowsky’s movies and other stories. We also are treated to the crisp, highly influential artwork of French graphic arts legend Moebius, whose style has been strongly emulated ever since the 1970s.
Probably the most striking and interesting of the four excerpts for me. This story follows a group of miners on a distant planet who are in sole control of a mineral that allows the defiance of gravity. They also use this mineral to easily carve and export a type of marble which is highly prized throughout the universe. Many elements of Frank Herbert’s Dune series are obvious in The Metabarons, making for some curious plot elements. Most dazzling to me, however, is the artwork by Juan Gimenez. Gimenez’s highly detailed pencil and ink work can best be described as a wonderfully “heavy” type of baroque graphic comic art. The colors, which I believe are either watercolor or pencil, are fabulous in a way that suits the fantastic subject matter perfectly. Of the three samples in this volume which I haven’t read, this is easily the one that I am most likely to track down and dive into.
This one offers a view of the tortured and odd background story of one of the titular Technopriests, a group of select few who have immense powers derived from their mastery of not only technology but their mental faculties. Their skills give them the ability to manipulate time and space in ways that make them virtually indomitable. This part of the tale is the beginning portion of an origin story of just one of these dimensional masters. It is fairly interesting, though not particularly creative in terms of the specific narrative elements. The artwork is nothing particularly special, featuring clean, adequate linework but very little in the way or background to offer depth or texture. Though a bit intriguing, The Technopriests was the one of the four excerpts that I found least compelling.
I actually read the entire Megalex series before I had read this group of excerpts, and my review will be coming quite soon. In short, this piece of the tale covers the very beginning, which has the feel of Huxley’s Brave New World set in a far vaster future in which a planet is run by a tiny group of seemingly-immortal cyborgs. These cyborgs control nearly everything on the planet, right down to exactly how long its citizens live, keeping the populace placated through opioids and violent forms of techno-entertainment. However, the stranglehold on the planet begins to loosen as an underground revolutionary movement musters its forces in the few areas of the planet safe from the cyborg overlords. The art here is done digitally, which is not a form I enjoy due to its glossy artificiality.
From this set of previews, several of Jodorowsky’s themes, strengths, and weaknesses are fairly clear. The man had some really fun sci-fi ideas and built some curious worlds around them. The clear weaknesses are how many of the characters can lack depth and the dialogue is at times downright terrible. That said, the world-building is impressive. This, coupled with some outstanding art in The Incal and The Metabarons, makes this a perfect volume for gauging one’s interest in any of the prolific Jodorowsky’s work in the medium of graphic storytelling.
MISERY OBSCURA is a monolith of a photographic documentary covering three decades of time as seen from the unique perspective of Eerie Von, through his eyes and camera lens. To the fans, Eerie has been a relatively mysterious individual who stands at stage left, sometimes impending, largely staying to himself delivering a throbbing bottom end to what’s usually the best performance of the night. His presence upon first meeting is intense, as he's an incredibly charismatic individual. So as a fan, it’s a bit curious to read his words, being so candid as he begins the adventure as an enthusiastic 16 year-old fledgling photographer summoned by his high school fiends, the Misfits, to come shoot promotional images of the band.
The first of such, actually, for the band and Eerie. His stories about his early photo shoots with the Misfits convey a description of an evolution that both he, and the group of eager artists, might've been vaguely aware of, and the impact of the events that were transpiring around them. At the same time, he’s probably not so aware of the growing impact he'll have as an artist in his own right, proficient in a multi-media capacity.
Before actually reading the first word of MISERY OBSCURA I decided to open the book with my eyes closed and point to a random page to see where I’d land. There was a page of photographs that included a great happenstance live shot of the Misfits’ Doyle whipped around with an apparent expression of rage fighting to surface. It turns out he was checking the set list out as he played. The two-fold takeaway is: 1) pictures aren’t a reliable form of definitive information 2) that MISERY OBSCURA is going to be full of coolest shots of some of the most influential rock bands that most people probably haven’t seen yet. It turns out that it was the case. The stories that pair up with the photos grab your attention and challenge you to refrain from thumbing through to simply look at the pictures.
Through it all, we’re able to stand as silent witnesses, retrospectively. He caught it all while he was living it. Highly exclusive shots that include pivotal live performances of the Misfits and Samhain, the largest comprehensive collection of photos galvanizing his own first band, Rosemary’s Babies, the first ever Samhain stills taken in Glenn Danzig's apartment, shots from the first Danzig recording sessions, the list goes on. MISERY OBSCURA might be a proverbial view from the front row much of the time, but that's only from the point of view we’re used to, as fans. Through MISERY OBSCURA, Eerie allows full access with a complete dissection of the years on the road, backstage, and behind the scenes of a rich life and career that helped shape the history of modern popular music. How many people get similar opportunities to produce such raw and profound art in the moment that definitive cultural events are taking place?