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#HWNDU – a play in four acts

hwndu

Oh dear lord I enjoyed that! Did you enjoy that? I’m quite sure you groovy dudes have been following this thing as closely as I have, but I could do with a recap, as I find the timeline confusing. Herewith:

He Will Not Divide Us was a performance art project dreamed up by child actor Shia Labeouf and professional dim bulb Jaden Smith (who disappeared from the drama quickly). It was launched on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017 and intended to run the full four (sic) years of Trump’s presidency. It was a camera mounted outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, into which the general public was invited to stand and chant “he will not divide us” in a not at all creepy and stupid way. This was streamed to the internet live.

General public. Streamed to the internet live, 24/7. What could possibly go wrong?

ACT ONE: New York. And while some people stood in front of the camera performed as expected, the stream almost immediately went to shit. Messages featured a rich assortment of goombahs, hoodrats, generic white males, garden variety trolls and — critically, it would turn out — merry pranksters from 4chan’s /pol/. The stream had an audience and some people got internet famous.

Shia lost his nut, and by Day 6 had been arrested for assaulting a participant (ironically, someone on his side). Day 8, the NYPD erected a wall (I ’bout died of irony poisoning) — one of those crowd barrier things — and Museum staff let people trickle through and say their lines. By February 10, the Museum had had enough and shut it down. Total elapsed time: 21 days.

ACT TWO: New Mexico. Eight days later, it pops up in New Mexico at the El Rey Theater in Albuquerque, along a busy urban street. This time, the performance instantly went to shit. It was taken down again February 23rd after shots were fired in the area. Total elapsed time: 6 days.

ACT THREE: Tennessee. On March 8th, the project was ‘back’ at an ‘undisclosed location.’ This time it had morphed into something entirely different: a livestream of a flag that read HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US. The camera pointed up to the flag in an empty sky.

In less than 48 hours, /pol/ had traced it to a farm in Tennessee. Legend has it, they analyzed times of day, weather patterns, star maps and flight paths, then drove around the general area honking car horns and listening for them on the stream. In truth, they really did those things, but they had a huge leg-up when a fan spotted Labeouf in a diner in Greenville, TN and posted a selfie with him. On March 9, the flag was spotted IRL. Our heroes stole the flag and replaced it with a Pepe shirt and a MAGA hat. Total elapsed time: 2 days.

It gets muddled after that. There were reports of drones flying in the area and somebody accidentally setting fire to a field with a roman candle. There’s a blurry picture said to be a drone shot of Shia guarding the empty flagpole at night armed with a baseball bat. Local police eventually got tired of his calls (!) and shut it down, though what ‘it’ was by that time, who could say?

ACT FOUR: Liverpool. Liverpool? “Events have shown that America is simply not safe enough for this artwork to exist” said Labeouf. Pff! He thinks we don’t have autists in England? The flag was located on the rooftop of FACT UK (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), a five-story building in downtown Liverpool. I have to wonder if anyone warned FACT what was headed their way. Everyone watched the stream and held their breath.

In just over a day — this afternoon — the explorers reached the flag via the building next door. They found it heavily zip-tied to the pole, took some pictures with it and made their escape, but it was only a matter of time.

On police advice, FACT and LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner have removed the installation HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US due to dangerous, illegal trespassing.
Mar. 23, 2017

Total elapsed time: 1 day and a bit.

Is it over? Probably. I hope not. I can’t see anyone willing to host it in a public space. I wonder if Elon Musk would take it up in his rocket ship? And if we would survive what /pol/ did next?

March 23, 2017 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 19

Fog of war

attack

I don’t have any local insights on this one. We are, fortunately, nowhere near Westminster.

The map is making the rounds of Twitter. It supposedly shows people on Al-Jazeera’s Facebook(?) page reacting to the news, but why would it put the laughing faces and thumbs ups dotted around the map like that? That’s not how likes work.

Twitter also was first to report that the shooter was hate preacher Abu Izzadeen (born Trevor Richard Brooks of Jamaican descent in East London) and the first to report that Izzadeen’s lawyer says it can’t be him, he’s in jail. (Sure looks like the guy, though).

So basically all we know is four dead (including the, or a, attacker and a policeman), twenty injured and Twitter is an unreliable narrator.

March 22, 2017 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 13

And two that got away

tamworthtwo

January of 1998, Tamworth pigs were being unloaded at a slaughterhouse in Wiltshire, when two shot off to one side, wriggled through a hole in the fence and escaped into the wild. The Tamworth Two became a sensation. No, really.

It was the most important story of the week – by far […] It had become impossible to avoid the story. A contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day mused over them; the editor of The Independent, Andrew Marr, wrote about them in his letter to the readers. They even featured in an editorial in The Guardian.

Almost 100 reporters from all over the world turned up. The Times got the story going, but the Daily Mail (in true Daily Mail fashion) played it like a fiddle. They put some muscle into it, naming the pigs Butch and Sundance (they were sister and brother, but w/e) and sending their best out pig catching.

The two were located in someone’s back garden after a week of freedom and eventually captured, Sundance first and then Butch. None the worse for wear. The Mail bought them for an undisclosed sum and they lived out their lives in the Ashford Rare Breeds Centre.

Yes, the picture is posed by pig actors. They made a made for TV movie about it.

Turns out one or both of them had a wild boar for a daddy, so there’s that.

So. I do understand this, but I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed to admit I posted a tribute to my dead chicken yesterday and then tucked into a bowl of Chinese chicken and rice. One day, mark my words, I’ll end up a vegetarian. Or dead at the bottom of a huge karma pile.

March 21, 2017 — 8:50 pm
Comments: 15

In Memoriam

violence

Alas, no. Violence didn’t make it through the weekend.

Happy first day of Spring. Let me tell you about Violence Chicken.

Her name was originally Violet, for Violet Trefusis (her nest mate is named Vita). And because she was technically a lavender. Lavender is one of the possible things that happens when you breed black to white; you get a white bird with a distinctly purplish cast. But, to be honest, she was a terrible lavender — basically a white chicken with a bit of dirty yellow (though she looks pretty magnificent here, with the sun behind her lighting up her fine alpha comb).

The year we got her, I was determined to have a gold partridge. So I found a farm that had them, and got one and that’s Vita. But every chicken needs a buddy, so the farmer said, “which one?” and Uncle B said, “oh, how about that little white one?” and the farmer grabbed her and stuck her in his hands. The look on B’s face!

She was the only chicken I’ve ever had that didn’t mind being picked up and cuddled. But that’s not because she was a nice bird. Oh, no. She was filled with rage. Hence Violence. When I opened the henhouse to check on them at night, all the other chickens would be huddled on the perch as far as from her as they could get, because she was a peck beast. When she was in a mood, she wouldn’t just peck at my hand, she’d grab a piece of skin at the web of my thumb and worry it like a terrier.

I have seen that bird run the entire length of the garden just give my foot a good peck, because I guess I needed a pecking. She would stomp her feet in rage until she actually traveled in a small circle. She was my littlest chicken, but (after Lucia) she was bosslady. And how.

We used to amuse ourselves greeting her with, “hello, Violence — have you solved anything?” And, “I’m sorry, Violence, but you are not the answer.” Because we are easily amused.

She will be missed. Though, I suppose the other chickens will sleep easier at night. Seems poetic justice somehow that I got the first egg of the season on the day we buried her in Chicken Cemetery.


And speaking of mortality — DEAD POOL! Bikeboy has won it with Chuck Berry. This was mighty unfair on dissent, who had David Rockefeller. Death can be so cruel. Back here Friday for Dead Pool Round 96!

March 20, 2017 — 7:17 pm
Comments: 16

Still with us

stillwithus

Violence is still in chicken hospital. I’m a little mystified – whatever it is should either have killed her by now, or she should be getting better, but she’s muddling along about the same. Puffed up, lethargic and sleeping all the time.

She eats. I’m holding onto that as a good sign. A creature that eats hasn’t given up.

I’ve been resisting taking her to the vet. She’s not a very old chicken, but she’s not a young bird, and our local practice doesn’t have an avian specialist. They are not hugely useful with chickens.

I didn’t think of sour crop. I don’t think her crop feels funny, but tomorrow I’ll take her out in the garden and try to make her throw up. Joy.

Truth is, though I’ve been keeping chickens seven years now, I’ve only had nine in total. I’m not really a very experienced chicken keeper.

Have a good weekend, everyone. And as they say here, keep your pecker up.

Yeah, they really say that here. It’s all I can do not to lose it.

March 17, 2017 — 7:26 pm
Comments: 12

First!

first

Finished my first miniature. Not sure how I feel about it. It’s not the ‘painting small’ part — most of the things I’ve painted in the past had patches of super high detail. It just feels a little cramped. Closeup here.

I liked working on vellum, though. Watercolor doesn’t actually stick to it, so you can lift the paint if you make a mistake. But to make an area super dark, you have to go over it and over it with tiny dots or streaks.

Trying to apply a heavy, wet color wash on vellum is a disaster. It rumples, then dries hard. Live and learn, but whooeee that stuff is an expensive sacrifice to the gods of the learning curve.

Anyway, for a first effort, it isn’t awful. A bit boring. I can’t really do anything with this first one, though…I was getting so wadded up with artist’s block that I finally threw up my hands, went to Google Images search and typed “crowing rooster.” Not usually how I source my subject matter!

March 16, 2017 — 9:13 pm
Comments: 21

We will not forget you, Space Bat

spacebat

Eight years ago today, at a launch of the space shuttle Discovery, a little brown bat flew onto the shuttle’s fuel tank during countdown and hung on for all he was worth. Experts who analyzed the footage afterwards (bat experts, natch) think he had a broken wing and dislocated shoulder or wrist.

Wrist. On a bat. Flying mammals are confusing.

They thought surely he would drop off, but he didn’t. Periodically, he shifted position, but hung on for as long as the shuttle was in sight. He died quickly in the cold and airless upper atmosphere. Or incinerated. Probably. But what a sendoff!

Space Bat, you will live forever in our hearts.

March 15, 2017 — 9:48 pm
Comments: 14

Sick chick

bosslady

No, it’s not bird flu. Symptoms don’t match. That was the first thing I checked.

Violence is an unhappy bird, though. She’s all miserable and lethargic and fluffed up. I looked it up and it could literally be hundreds of different things, but I started her right away on a wormer (they’re all due) and a tonic and scrambled her an egg (I know it sounds wrong, and it’s probably illegal here these days, but it’s the first thing anyone does with a sick chook). She’s currently in Chicken Hospital (a dog crate in the corner of the room).

She’s been sick for a couple of days and I do believe she’s perking up a bit. Might be the wormer starting to work. But today she’s started flicking her head, and that’s another clue. It might be lice or mites of some kind. So when I’ve posted this, I’ll pop a sleepy chick on top of the box and have a good look with the flashlight. At her vent, which is where they congregate. Joy! And then tomorrow lucky weasel gets to soak a chicken in a bucket of warm water.

If you think it’s undignified for me, imagine how the chicken feels.

March 14, 2017 — 8:19 pm
Comments: 16

Things on my shopping list that probably aren’t on yours

oxgall

It is what it says it is, though why ox gall and not sheep gall or weasel gall, I have no idea. It’s a very traditional wetting agent.

I’ve decided I’d like to try my hand at proper miniatures. I’ve always painted small — sometimes really small — but it takes more than little to make a miniature.

Certain paints, certain techniques, certain brushes, special frames with convex glass to let the surface breathe and not be touched. And holy shit all that stuff is expensive!

I’ve always been intimidated by the prospect. I know a bit about it, but never tried my hand. I mean, what’s the worst they can do — send the miniature police around to break my fingers?

Oh, the ox gall, in this case, is to brush lightly over vellum before you begin. It degreases the vellum (it is skin, after all) and makes it more receptive to watercolor.

Wish me luck. Mooooo!

March 13, 2017 — 10:18 pm
Comments: 7

News.

I’m putting this on its own so it doesn’t get tangled up in my weasel nonsense.

There was a sometime commenter here with the username Lipstick who was a stalwart of the blog Innocent Bystanders. Geoff, also a Bystander, informs me that she has died. I don’t know the details and I didn’t like to ask.

Death in the social media age is a strange thing. People that we both do and don’t know, that we experience only as voices, go silent. Or, rather, they stop adding new content, but the internet remembers them forever. Forever unchanged. It’s a weird immortality.

There’s a tribute thread on Innocent Bystanders if you
remember her well enough to want to pay your respects.

— 9:43 pm
Comments: 6