Disappears – Halcyon Days (video)

Chicago band, Disappears have been sculpting moody and paranoid sonic compositions, altering the notion of structure on each subsequent release since forming in 2008. On the band’s latest, Irreal, they manage to ratchet up the tension with a minimalism that is calculating and precise. I appreciate their sonic aesthetic even more, now that the band seem to be moving toward the type of music they made on the 2013 12″, Kone. They’re delving into the IN BETWEEN space, creating music in an era where you can easily spend 90 minutes in a isolation chamber. Not to be confused with cold or isolating but fluid and viscous.

Some writer with more time and a better grasp of metaphor likened them to David Lynch.

Sure, Disappears make Lynchian-post kraut rock. Now it’s dark…

Disappears are accessing something unique. Getting farther and farther out. The use of repetition, recursive riffs and motifs paired with Brian Case’s monotone vocal delivery of haiku-like lyrics that often end in ellipses rather than declarative cliche, escape the velocity of rock pastiche.

They’re playing at the Casbah on April 3, 2015. The night after TV On the Radio plays the Observatory in North Park.

Another important distinction, Brian Case has an affinity for Taylor Swift, which I share so he and his band get top marks in my estimation.

Haiku 3/3/15

Twirling in the sun

A noose hung on cottonwood

Blade marks in the bark

– Tajomaru Thiret

Let Some Birds Fly to Catch the Worm – On Writing

Good friend and collaborator John O’Hara told me to focus on getting CS done. “Let some birds fly to catch the worm,” he said. Those little gems folks pass on fill the sails.

I haven’t sent an update to the CS Kickstarters in a while. I’m not thrilled that the project has taken so long to get done. So instead of updating I’m waiting until I have something tangible to share. That should be very soon. Possibly next week.

Now, on to a random firing of neurons manifesting in black marks on a white background.

I think about when I started this project, nearly eight years ago, writing feverishly on the Trolley on the way to work, early in the morning, smell of stale beer and old ciggy-refries from the can collector on his way to the El Cajon Recyc Center, sound of Manu Chau “Welcome to Tijuna” in my headphones, feeling inspired and writing as fast as my hand could dictate the ideas in my head on a semi-fresh Moleskin with a black ink Signo Uni-ball.

That morning, the character of the Alchemist appeared, near fully formed in my head.

Rodia Grigoryevitch Zaytsev, AKA The Alchemist (El Paraguas – The Umbrella)

Owner of The InterZone, COO of Arnelle Liquidation Associates.

The Alchemist is a tall, barrel chested man who is balding with a large beard that rests on his chest, full lips, deep-set eyes and aquiline nose with a prominent bridge. He has double-zero gauge ear lobe plugs and is usually pictured wearing a rubber apron with large black rubber gloves, he is also sometimes seen in a meticulously tailored three piece suit. He smokes cigars. Drinks mescal. He is hacked into the Agility DAS Surveillance network and can watch things happening all around the city.

He was refined over time but the basic concept remained. From there Anton and Xispa and Arellano manifested and the initial treatment for Caustic Soda was totally different from what I have now but I loved every aspect of creating the world of these characters.

The real thrill of writing is the doing. Getting it out. Working it out. Finding that rhythm that happens when the story is hot on the brain pan and you can’t stop thinking about what happens next. How your characters will react and what will become of them in the fictional sequence of events unraveling from wherever they are conjured.

I’ve had interactions with writers. “Writers.” Man, they’ll tell you all about the idea for the story they’re planning on writing. Bragtalk about the vintage typewriter they set up in their cloistered space, where they machete narratives from the tangled jungle of ideas. There are those who’ll try and convince you that writing is something “they love to do.” They love writers and the writerly things they do. Drinking scotch, staying up late, speaking like Old Bull or Bukowski. Name dropping. Smoking cigarettes. Listening to Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Random sex. Bad relationships. Heartbreak. Pain. Whatever helps you get the words out, indulge those impulses but not at the expense of the work. The work is what matters. Words, rather.

My grandfather, survivor of a few bypasses, was diagnosed with ALS in his nineties. Just recently he found out he has terminal cancer on top of his terminal ALS. Unable to communicate, he wrote “I wish I had more time to do everything.” At 92, even 100 years of life seems insufficiently short.

Paycheck is a real drag though, man. Writing takes time and effort. Time is in short supply. The economies of art making are asymmetrical. My mentor and friend, Harold Jaffe writes, “Possibly the hardest factor for concerned younger artists to accept is that there will always be an incommensurateness between their imaginative efforts and results. The primary obligation is to not avert your eyes: to bear witness.”

CS is an action sci-fi western. Peripherally, it is an examination of technology, surveillance and power. A look at the drug war, mediated and filtered through graphic narrative.

It’s real and its unreal.

Imaginings of an ideal. Point is, you have to get the work out. Find writers who write and want to share their work. Writers who talk about writing are full of shit. Myself included.

I try to be less full of shit everyday.

Embrace being one of the unrehearsed.

With CS, at least in the beginning, I was working from my gut. Punk rock graphic narrative. My script for Issue 1 was a mess to navigate. No wonder it took two years for Dan to illustrate it. I sent him 5 or 6 versions over the course of two years.

Of interest is a recent quote from Scott McCloud on Tatsumi [read full post on AV Club]:

And then gradually [Tatsumi’s] artistic convictions began to overtake his survival instincts until finally he was able to do something that was more meaningful in the long run to him and more aesthetically adventurous. But there’s still that sense that you are as an artist, this is your job and you’re part of a society that only values you to the extent that you can give society what it’s looking for, what it wants. And that determines the shape of that career, and so you can feel a bit like a pinball just going from bumper to bumper trying to make your way in that life. But in the end, those artistic convictions did carry Tatsumi through it all. And without some kind of coherent aesthetic desire or sense of mission, one can just get rolled over by the day-to-day needs. And I see a lot of artists suspended in the present. I see artists just trying to work to do what they think everybody wants to see, and I feel as if I can already see how it’s going to end up. Even if they’re talented, even if they’re getting some success, if they’re not stretching beyond that, then it may not end happily for them. Fortunately, Tatsumi did transcend that day-to-day struggle.

Getting space to create. That is the struggle. Time as well. Those two are like twin helix, space and time.

Back to CS. Rodia, the Alchemist, doesn’t suffer fools. He’s a killer and a poet. Foil to Anton Nevona. I imagined him as a modern day Raskolnikov (his name “Rodia” is Raskolnikov’s patronym) minus the conflicts of conscious or propensity for being a bumbling fuck up.  I saved the bumbling fuck up character for Anton–modeled him after someone I know intimately, the cowardice and the desire to not be exposed as a coward. But The Alchemist was also born of my impression of “K” from The Trail if he were instead a functionary of the state rather than a man trapped in the absurd spiral of prosecution and bureaucracy. A killer and an accomplice. A realist. Someone to build a better mousetrap. A guy who will always fail better.

Putting together a 3 issue mini-series on a DIY budget is a big accomplishment. Getting the words to appear as illustrations by a capable and talented artist is an accomplishment. Convincing people that the vision and the story are worth supporting is an accomplishment. I have no idea if anyone will “like it.”

Writers, they’ll tell you that the work they do is solitary. Lonely. That writing is therapeutic. Cathartic. Sure those things are true. But anyone who identifies as a writer cannot possibly be a writer without readers.

Over the summer I was approached by a gentleman who wanted to make CS into a film. I put together a synopsis. Sent it out. Tried to follow up. Tried to connect. Nothing doing. Did I dream momentarily of going “pro”? Yeah. I did. I reached out and made some connection but it wasn’t quite enough. Did I take it personally? Yeah. It takes so much energy to make a movie.

How the fuck do so many shitty movies get made? A friend who works in the movie biz agreed to look at my pages and he was incredibly generous and helped me refine the piece. If there were more of this type of dude helping young writers/artists navigate the sea of bullshit, maybe less shitty movies would get made. But he’s just one fella. I owe him a debt. No bullshit goes a long way. Really, it does. That goes for those folks in your inner circle. You know the ones who always encourage you despite the chorus of disapproval in your head, telling you it can’t be done. Hold those people dear.

Getting discouraged by rejection can be kryptonite to any creator. Any creator worth a shit will plug their ears and keep hacking away at that jungle until they clear a semi-coherent path to the gooey center.

Fail better. Always.

This post is a fail better post. Somewhat random and incoherent, loosely tied together with string, barely wrapped for your delectation.

Within the next few months, Caustic Soda Hello, the War is Here will be done. Nearly 80 pages of a graphic narrative about a guy bumbling his way through a dangerous and indifferent world.

Caustic Soda Kickstarter Launch


The Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the graphic novel Caustic Soda – A Year Future Narco Romance has launched.

You can participate in this creative endeavor by contributing!

Contributors/collaborators will receive fantastic rewards, including original artwork from Daniel Crosier, Sonny Kay, BobRob Medina and Moonlight Speed.

Thanks for your support and please share with friends and family.

LINK to Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shaneroeschlein/caustic-soda-a-year-future-narco-romance-graphic-n

“Like” on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/causticsodanarcoromance

The Pleasure in Abject – GESAFFELSTEIN – PURSUIT

I caught the first 1:40 of this video pre-roll “ad” on youtube for a Savages “Flying to Berlin” video

It has a great many things going on. 

It’s almost NSFW, but deceptively so. 

Here is the set up:

Electro track fades in and we are met by two towheaded aryan children who approach a mysterious black box.

Imagine the pitch for this video.

The director, wearing sunglasses inside no doubt, paints his vision for the artist. 

Boy gets a C-3PO hand. Girl gets a wiry hairdo. 

Cut to Versailles that is now a server farm for the Empire (read: not galactic) and introduce extended family. 

Now sis gets her own C-3PO hand and a super fit bod to match. Obligatory butt shot. Side view with exposed breast.

Her lover is a brunette and she’s a spitter with modest breasts, loose fitting blouse. 

Additional nip view.

Late model luxury sedan. 

Floating Super Drone. 

Camera pull back shows pseudo-scientists in lab coats studying a surveillance screen of angry mostly caucasian youth moshing in slow mo to the electro track. 

Then, inexplicably, the researchers turn and see a floating ball of M-16’s.

Cut to woman laying on marble slab, dimly lit, covered in a grey sheet. 

Dark haired young adult male staring into a mirror back in the Versaille-like palace. 

Back to hanger where we find the C-3PO handed man pointing his finger at a bunch of his clones. 

Cut to dimly lit hanger. Skeleton in sovereign regalia. 



The discussion that follows might sound something like this. 

I have no idea what is going on but I like it. It’s like Empire Strikes Back meets Mulholland Drive. 

Yes. It is very disruptive. The electro track is the drone note for the visual melody. 

A dream box holds the images together. The shared imaginings of the siblings spread out in a nightmarish speculative future. 

Brevity and execution of concept make this video powerful. Echoes (or appropriation) of Matthew Barney’s aesthetics (without the masonic/fantasty), JG Ballard and of course Lynch. 

Road Runner, Road Runner


Boston Marathon.

Here comes the finish line.

Gatorade, congratulations and successive, dual explosions greet the runners.

Bloody spectators are dragged from the debris.

Mile marker 26 is dedicated to the victims of the Newtown massacre.

26 for the number of dead.

Twitter erupts.

@so_and_so tweets: “I saw people’s legs blown off. Horrific. Explosions.”

Two IED’s were placed near the finish line.

Each explosive device, believed to be a type of pressure cooker bomb, packed with metal ball bearings.


Vine, a social video service depicts an 8-second loop of the finish line.

Silent explosion. Runners in motion. Grand stands pushed into the street.

Concussion displaces people to make room for air.

A thin, bandy-legged marathoner turns his head in mid stride. Mid-explosion. And I’m instantly nauseous watching his legs buckle.

I can’t comprehend the sequence of images without the sound. Seems hyper-real.

By the third viewing my stomach has settled but I remind myself not to click on it again.

Later, having picked my daughter up from childcare we navigate residential roads to our home, I hear “dual decapitation.”

Legs missing below the knees.

I curse loudly, abruptly as we pass the park.

The emergency room in Boston is inundated with hundreds of injured.

Shards of glass, metal embedded in flesh.

Areas around the mouth and nose are blackened with soot from breathing searing hot air.

Victims need immediate attention before the soft tissue swells.

Fuck! I say aloud, waiting for the light to turn.

Checking the rearview mirror, I see the question in my daughter’s eyes.

We go to park?

Yeah, lets!

At the park kids occupy swings, climb stairs, mount the slide.

Chase each other.

Sitting on a bench, a Dad scours the screen of his smart phone.

Is he consuming all that data?

Two mom’s sip from paper Starbucks cups.

A horn prompts me through the now green light.

I scan the street for parking.

An old trauma begins to fester and slither its way to the surface.

Police and FBI query passengers flying out of Logan International for photos and videos of the scene.

This will be a crowd-sourced investigation.

Earlier in the day, scanning Facebook, Reuters, and Twitter I see what will become the iconic image.

In the foreground, a sidewalk is heavy with spectators, craning their necks, peering down the street as marathoners in sneakers and numbered jerseys run toward a ball of orange flame.

Boylston Street.

At the park we climb the play structure.

The entire thing is made of form-molded plastic.

Steel frame encased in thick coated, rubberized paint.

They’ve done away with bark, gravel and concrete at parks.

No more rail ties, chain-link or sheet metal.

Engineering a safer, risk-free environment for play.

They take the piss out of everything.

Here, recycled tires are shredded and turned into a buoyant surface for kids to run, spin, jump and skin their knees on.

Together we ride the dual slide.

Hold hands and laugh.

Several nights ago, I try watching the Falling Man documentary about 9/11.

Streaming on Hulu.

How can you watch this shit?

My wife asks, visibly angry as the opening sequence shows flight 175 disappearing in the South Tower.

Five minutes into the doc.

Suddenly, I’m standing in the Lakewood Library.

I’m twenty-four.

Several librarians I’ve become acquainted with while working for Jefferson County  sob audibly.

I enjoyed my work there. Mowing lawns. Planting flowers. Fixing sprinklers.

On the doc I see flight 175 burrowing into the tower on live television.

Simultaneously I smell the 2-cycle fuel and fresh cut grass.

Taste the Camel Light on my tongue.

There, back in that room (that space and time) of the library, we watch both towers crumble.

I turn off the television, disgusted.

With whom?


Weeping quietly on the couch I gaze at the blank screen.

Standing, I move across the floor to the hallway and do something I haven’t done since she was a newborn and open the door to my daughter’s room, peering in, eyes adjusting to the dim green glow of the turtle nightlight, I see her, fawn legs curled beneath, breathing steadily.

Back at the park, fortified by the laughter of children.

The sound offers relief from the bombardment of the newscast.

Other parents seem to smile too easily.

Is every reaction scripted?

My stomach tightens. Heart contracts.

At bedtime I read Green Eggs and Ham.

My daughter talks to the characters as I read.

Sam, Seuss’s persistent interlocutor/pusher gets a SoCal inflected surfer dude accent.

The nameless character hounded by Sam, “That Sam I Am, That Sam I Am” sounds like Tom Brokaw.

Rolling off the inflection at the end of each denial.

My daughter’s imagination astonishes me.

She pretends to drive the train into the sea.

Asks to ride in the boat with the goat.

Kiss goodnight.



My wife is glued to her phone.

Mine is sitting on the couch.

I pick it up. The weight reassuring. Finger the screen to life.

Why am I angry?

Shouldn’t I be documenting this?

Writing everything down as it occurs?

The few pieces I’ve had published deal almost exclusively with technology and terror.

Killer drones.



This kind of extremity is in my wheelhouse.

Instead of writing I flip through the channels.

Each episode features a woman—actress—in middle age with a Botox-plastic-surgery face, crying.

In the morning, nothing new is discovered.

No suspects.

Nor claims by a terror organization.

But the story has taken on a patina.

Speculations abound.

Challenges: be a hawk, not a dove.

Platitudes are issued.

“Thoughts and prayers…”

Polite xenophobia.

“Please, don’t be Arabs or Muslims.”

The death toll in Boston is 3, including an 8-year old boy.

Many say that is low considering.

Tilt their heads, you know, in that way people tilt their heads when faced with mortality or drink cup sizes.

Venti or Grande?

More victims listed in critical condition.

Meanwhile, 9 are confirmed dead in Peshawar, Pakistan, killed in a suicide bombing during a political rally.

Syrian MiG-23’s bomb the Qaboun neighborhood to rubble.

It’s morning in America.

A bipartisan commission convened by the Constitution Project finds members of the Bush administration complicit in allowing and sanctioning the practice of torture.

Soon, a library will be named in honor of former President George W. Bush.

I’m sure he’ll weep at the ceremony.

Violence in America is idiosyncratic.

Reading [slash] Performance at San Diego State

Reading Performance at San Diego Statue

They’ve given me a stage and a microphone. I’m going to share my insights with those gathered. My findings are inconclusive, volatile and arguably, worthy of note.

A Time-Lapse of Every Nuclear Explosion since 1945

Sometimes I just need to post this kind of thing to my blog so I can come back to it again and again. 

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).

Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing”the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.


Caustic Soda – Graphic Novel

I’ve been working on a my graphic novel, Caustic Soda – A Year Future Narco Romance, for the past year with artist, film maker and friend, Daniel Crosier. We’re printing a 3 page mini-comic preview for SD Comic Con next week (phew!) and we’re putting together a kickstarter campaign to help fund the printing of the first, 25-page issue. This will cover the costs of printing a full-color book. We’ll have tons of rad rewards for our contributors,including a few of the birch panel pages illustrated by Daniel. The comic is a futuristic fictional story about two lovers on either sides of a nasty border war between the Narco Syndicate and a private multi-national and security firm, Agility INC. You can take a look at the intro on the http://causticsodanarcoromance.com/ to give you an idea of the story and scope of this project.

The story is about San Diego and the border. You’ll recognize lots of landmarks in the book, including a fictionalized version of The Casbah I’ve dubbed, The InterZone. Plus lots of guns, quad-copter drones, Augmented Reality, Psychotropic substances and of course, the namesake of the book, Caustic Soda. Caustic Soda (NaOH) or sodium hydroxide is the chemical one of the characters (The Alchemist) uses to dispose of “clients” processed by the Arnelle Liquidation Associates–the assassin team at the center of the tale.

I can’t wait to share this with you!

Beuyscouts.com Virtual Field Warp Series 1

Post Shock and Awesome: Lust for Life Marketing Presentation (PDF) has found a new place to dwell over at http://beuyscouts.com as part of their Virtual Field Warp series (check out the Anal Acrobatics piece by writer, Harold Jaffe while you’re there). The Illustrations for the piece were done by troop leader, Norman Conquest.

This insurgent text, guerilla prose piece re-imagines (re-images) life as an IED and a Drone.

Here’s a screen cap.

Click on image to read full PDF text of Post Shock and Awesome

I also received my lifetime membership in the Beuy Scouts. Check out this nifty membership card!

Take some time and point your browser at http://beuyscouts.com/.

About Beuyscouts:

Beuyscouts of Amerika is an international activist art collective founded in New York City in 1989 by artist Norman Conquest. It was initially a response to the Republican attack on the National Endowment for the Arts—spearheaded by the late right-wing Senator and reprobate from North Carolina, Jesse Helms.

To learn more about Piss Bush and how to signal ‘fuck’ in semaphore,  visit http://beuyscouts.com/about/

Laurie Anderson Interview in Smithsonian Mag!

Great Article in new Smithsonian mag with Laurie Anderson. Below is an excerpt, but the real gold is her perspective on her ‘recording career.’ Classic!


Laurie Anderson

The celebrated performance artist discusses Andy Warhol, NASA and her work at McDonald’s

What’s the message in your work?
If I had a message, I would write it down and e-mail it to everybody. I would save a lot of paint that way. My work is more about trying to create images through words and pictures. I want to evoke a reaction more than explain anything clearly. I don’t like things to be confused, but I like them to be multifaceted.

Read the rest.