Dark Loyalties

A couple weeks ago, I posted a survey and asked for respondents from the local Seattle Gothic, or seagoth, community for a research project I was working on for my Law and Justice Research Methods class. The response was great, and I ended up getting full points for both the in-class presentation and the final research paper. For those of you curious about the final results, I’ve published the entire report. You can watch the presentation, read the report on the site, download the prettier .pdf version, or even download the .pdf version along with all the data files in case you want to do your own number crunching.

Thanks again for all who filled out surveys and assisted me in this project. It’s very, very appreciated!

American Gothique’s Sick-N-Twisted

Those of you who follow my postings on Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr will already have seen these, but, on the off chance that there are still some who only find me through my blog (or my LiveJournal mirror of this blog)….

Last Saturday, American Gothique magazine hosted a fashion show at The Vogue, with Amazing Race contestants Kynt and Vyxsin as featured models. I was able to join the crowd of photographers crouched at the foot of the catwalk, and here are a few shots from the show. As is usually the case, there are many more shots posted on Flickr!

Sick-N-Twisted 19

Seagoth Survey

Are you now, or have you ever been, involved with or considered yourself a part of the Seagoth (Seattle gothic) community? If so, please take a moment to help me out!

Note: I’ve had to remove the survey, as in about 36 hours I’ve received over 120 responses, roughly six times what my instructor expected us to collect, and I don’t want to bury myself in the data collation and analysis stage. Thanks for your interest and assistance, everyone!

This quarter, I’m taking a Research Methods class for the Law and Justice program at Central Washington University (Des Moines campus). As part of the class, every student has to do a small research project, and I have chosen to focus on exploring differences in self-identification as a member of the Seagoth community. To that end, I’ve assembled a short, fourteen item questionnaire. Please take a moment to complete this survey. In addition, if you could forward a link to the questionnaire itself or to this blog post to other members of the Seagoth community, I’d greatly appreciate it!

All responses to this questionnaire are entirely voluntary and completely anonymous: Other than demographic information, there is no personally identifying data being collected in the questionnaire. Participation is entirely voluntary (and greatly appreciated), but please — due to CWU requirements, all respondents must be 18 or over.

Thank you very much!

Complete the survey

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Norwescon 32 Wrapup

It took roughly a week to get here, but really, I don’t figure that’s too bad, given my usual photowhoreish ways. Trust me, if I’d been employed (i can haz job now, plz? kthkxbye) it would have taken a lot longer than a week.

Still and all, just a few minutes ago, the last of my shots from Norwescon made it up to Flickr. There are three sets, one each for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and, of course, there are many more pictures from other attendees in the Norwescon Flickr group.

Thursday

Weapon Policy, Norwescon 32

Thursday was a nice, low-key start. I hadn’t actually figured on going at all on Thursday this year, but seeing as how I have a lot more free time than usual right now, I figured I might as well swing by. I dropped Prairie off at work in the morning so I could have the car, and headed over to the hotel about noon. Thursday definitely feels like the “slow day” of the ‘con, and I didn’t end up taking very many pictures. Mostly just wandered around, checked things out, poked my head into a panel or two, and that was it. Five o’clock rolled around and I bailed out to go get Prairie from work and head home.

Friday

Group Shot, Steampunk Fashion Show, Norwescon 32

Friday I arrived just in time for my one planned ‘event’ of the day, the Steampunk Fashion Show, hosted by the devious minds behind the upcoming Steamcon. Lots of great outfits! Unfortunately, I felt like I was struggling a bit with the photos, as the lighting in the ballroom was horrid. I still managed to at least get decent shots of nearly everyone who made it onstage, so it’s not a failure at all…I’m just my own harshest critic, as always.

After the fashion show it was back to wandering, grabbing a few shots of hall costumes, and sitting in on a couple of panels. I jokingly tweeted that the “What is Goth?” panel turned into “Hey, we’re not at the clubs and can hear each other without yelling!”…which wasn’t entirely untrue, as there was much amusement that nearly everyone in the room already knew each other to some degree from the scene. We did manage to turn it into more of a discussion about how people found the goth scene, how it’s changed over the years, and where it may be going as the ‘elder goths’ give way to a new generation.

Seven o’clock was my self-imposed curfew that night, so out the door I went to rest at home and ensure that I’d have as much energy as possible for the next day.

Saturday

Jack and Lilly, Norwescon 32

This was the big day: rolling in around noon, rolling out whenever I was exhausted and had to disappear before I fell over. No panels for me today, Saturday is all about the costumes — and as always, such incredible costumes!

Featured above is one of my three favorites from this year. I’ve long blamed thanked Ridley Scott’s 1985 fantasy movie Legend, and specifically the scene where Darkness tempts Lilly with food, dance, and that incredible dress, for being one of my first proto-goth influences. I have absolutely no compunctions at admitting that as soon as I saw Jack and Lilly wandering around, I got a total con-crush on her!

My other two favorite outfits: Firefly/Senrenity’s Wash, impaled on the ship support beam and sporting a “Screw You, Whedon” sign; and the bounty hunter sporting Jar-Jar Binks’ head on a pike.

Screw You, Whedon, Norwescon 32 Jar Jar Hunter, Norwescon 32

Since I’ve been running the @norwescon Twitter account, at the suggestion of @empsfm, I’d kinda-sorta-not-very-competently organized a joint ‘tweetup’ for @norwescon, @empsfm, and @seattlegeekly. Since I hadn’t even thought ahead enough to have some sort of sign announcing our presence, a few people couldn’t find us, and it ended up being kind of sparsely attended, but I still had a good time chatting with Shannon and Matt from Seattle Geekly, @ghouligan (Barry), and @jacinda. Sorry to anyone who missed us, I’ll do better at this whole “organizing” thing next year!

After the tweetup and another few hours of hall costume hunting, it came time to stake out my spot for the post-Masquerade photo area. There’s always a limited amount of space and a lot of people who want to take pictures, so I’ve found that it’s best to start hovering in the lobby area around 6pm-ish. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the t-shirt vendor started packing up and the official photography team started setting things up. My (not-so-)nefarious plan worked, and I was able to get a choice spot just left of the centerline behind the official photographers’ line of chairs.

And there I stood for the next three hours, as costume after costume paraded in front of us. So much great work on them all, from the hall costumes that were shanghai’d into posing to the Masquerade entrants posing for us after their time on stage. Of course, three hours is a long time to stand in one place and hold a camera up, so once the final Masquerade costume made it through, I stumbled away to sit and recover for a bit.

After some time to regain feeling in my arm, I started wandering, and spent some time running around with [ljuser]artvixn[/ljuser], [ljuser]helix90[/ljuser], and their friend Nell, who were on a quest to visit some of the hall parties. We made a swing through the Merchants of Deva party, then they all went off to find a rumored scotch tasting while I went down to the Saturday Night Hoedown, as I knew I had to drive home in a bit (oh, and I’m a total wuss drinker) and didn’t have much interest in the scotch.

The Hoedown kicked off (a little late, but I believe that’s par for the course), the floor filled pretty quickly, and I spent a good hour or so making laps around the outside of the dance floor with my camera. It wasn’t terribly long, though, before I really started to realize just how tired I was, and decided it was time to head home. Not long after midnight, then, I packed up, took one last look at the revelers, and bade another Norwescon goodnight.

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Why I Wish NIN’s ‘Strobe Light’ Was Real

Produced by Timbaland!
Produced by Timbaland!
The April Fool’s joke that got the biggest laugh out of me today was this gag from Trent Reznor, promoting the release of Nine Inch Nails’ newest album, ‘Strobe Light’, produced by R&B/Hip-Hop/Pop producer Timbaland. If that’s not enough to get a laugh, there’s the beautiful tracklisting that spoofs alt.goth culture while coming up with totally off-the-wall ideas for potential collaborators for such an album…

  1. intro skit
  2. everybody’s doing it (featuring chris martin, jay-z AND bono)
  3. black t-shirt
  4. pussygrinder (featuring sheryl crow)
  5. coffin on the dancefloor
  6. this rhythm is infected
  7. slide to the dark side
  8. even closer (featuring justin timberlake and maynard james keenan)
  9. on the list (she’s not)
  10. clap trap crack slap
  11. laid, paid and played (featuring fergie of the black eyed peas and al jourgensen)
  12. feel like being dead again
  13. still hurts (featuring alicia keys)
  14. outro skit

As the day wore on, I started thinking about just why this particular joke appealed to me so much, and why — as horrid as this may seem to some people — yes, I wish this one wasn’t a hoax. If this were a real album, I’d gladly pay good money to pick it up.

Sometime back in 1990 or 1991, I found ‘Pretty Hate Machine‘. I don’t even remember quite how I found it, though I think it was a cassette being passed, copied, and dubbed around the Anchorage alternoscene at the time, spreading the word the way good music does — via word of mouth. You know, exactly the way the music industry does everything in its power to prevent. Anyway.

It’s no exaggeration to say that I got really into NIN…perhaps even minorly obsessed. As the years went by, I grabbed every bit of music I could find that escaped from Trent’s clutches. All of NIN’s albums and singles, bootleg CDs of live albums, side projects, other bands that he did remix or production work for…anything I could find, I snagged. This archived page from my first website (circa 1996) catalogs everything I’d managed to track down at the time (including the Butch Vig remix of ‘Last’ which, when I found it, I’d had to download in five or six chunks and then piece together into a single 2MB .mp3 file in order to listen to it…and since the track is four and a half minutes long, you can guess that it was highly compressed and not very good quality).

Anyway, the point is I was huge into NIN and, more broadly, anything that Trent worked on. As far as I was concerned, he could do no wrong. A big part of why I was such a fan was the breadth of style that Trent’s work encompassed. While yes, all of Trent’s work fits solidly in the ‘industrial’ über-genre, there was a definite sense of progression and evolution to his work between 1988 and 1994. Songwriting, production, the sounds and techniques, all of it grew from album to album.

After ‘The Downward Spiral‘ and its associated remix albums were released, Trent took a bit of a break. During that time, the occasional article would come out detailing Trent’s personal struggles, and occasionally there’d be a interview or two, usually something along the theme of, “what will NIN do next?”

In one of these interviews — and sorry, but I haven’t got a clue when, in what magazine, or in what context this appeared in — Trent was talking about how he’d been listening to a lot of hip-hop, and getting to know and working with a lot of pop and hip-hop artists. He talked about how they’d been influencing his music, and said something about how his next release would probably piss off a lot of his early fans, because of his new inspirations and the new directions he was going to take. About the same time, he did a remix of Puffy Daddy and the Family’s ‘Victory’ that absolutely floored me. I don’t like ‘gangsta’ rap, I’m by no means a fan of P-Diddy, but Trent’s work on that song took the inner-city extroverted rage of the ‘gangsta’ and wrapped it in the distortion-ridden black-clad self-destructive introverted rage of the industrial genre and made it work. Okay, so that description doesn’t exactly make it sound appealing, but hey, that’s what it sounds like to me.

This really exited me. I’ve never been much into rap (and especially hardcore ‘gangsta’ rap), but I’ve often found that that’s less to do with the rapping — I’ve heard some incredible rapping over the years — and more to do with the boring, unimaginative beats and the violent, misogynistic lyrics. Rappers who could do something interesting were fine, and when I’ve found them, I’ve been more than happy to toss money their way (I’ve got a pretty good collection of both The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, among others [yes, I know…could I be any more of a middle-class white boy?]). Most of it just didn’t catch my interest.

But if Trent could combine his songwriting and production skills with the catchy pop hooks and lyrical skills of some of the best of the hip-hop world? I was really looking forward to seeing what would come out. After his years of coming up with music that I loved, I trusted Trent to find good artists to work with, and even if I didn’t end up liking everything that came out of this “new direction,” I felt sure that there would probably be more than a few gems that would make it worthwhile.

So I waited. Sometimes more patiently than others, but I waited. And eventually, word came out that there was finally going to be a new Nine Inch Nails album. Finally! The day of release, I went to the store and got my copy of ‘The Fragile‘, took it home, put it in my CD player…

…and that was one of only a few times that I’ve bothered to actually listen to that album straight through. For the first time since I’d discovered him, Trent had created a Nine Inch Nails album that, to my ears, was simply “more of the same old thing.” Only it was a little more disappointing than that, it actually felt like it was less of the same old thing. It felt to me like he’d just taken all of the moody, introspective, instrumental or near-instrumental noise collages from ‘The Downward Spiral’ and its two remix albums and stretched them out into two discs worth of droning, with a few tracks that he’d thrown a drum kit at for a little variety.

Obviously, I was let down.

I still have a lot of respect for Trent’s abilities, and I’ve kept an eye on his work since then, but ‘The Fragile’ was the last full album of NIN’s that I’ve bought. I gave the five-dollar version of Ghosts I-IV (which only has Ghosts I, or tracks 1-9 of the full album) a shot, and have been grabbing whatever he releases for free as they’ve been announced (The Slip and the NIN|JA 2009 tour sampler), but still, none of it grabs me. It all feels like as much as Trent has been doing a bang-up job creating (from what I’ve heard and read) incredible live shows, online ‘Alternate Reality Games’ for his albums, and telling the music industry to take a flying leap, his music just doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere since the mid-1990’s.

Or, perhaps, I’m just a stodgy old Elder Goth wannabe, pining for the good old angst-filled days of his black-clad youth. It’s a possibility.

So, when I see the hoax promo page for ‘Strobe Light’, I laugh at the silliness of it all…but I also wish, just a little bit, that it wasn’t a hoax. That Trent had actually followed through with his threats of oh-so-long-ago, gathered together with pop and hip-hop artists, blended and mangled their talents with his, and produced something truly interesting, bridging the brainless shiny of the pop world, the brainless bling of the hip-hop world, and the hopeless angst of the goth/industrial world into one bizarre, but brilliant, whole.