Confederacy of Dunces Ignatius O'Reilly

A Scene From Confederacy Of Dunces Narrated by Philip Fairbanks

I first discovered J.K. Toole’s work while homeless so “the problem of space” discussed (where to keep all your books and notebooks, of course) hit home (pun not intended) quite hard. This is a scene from early in the book, Ignatius O’Reilly is being hassled and harassed by a busybody cop while his mother is shopping and he is fiddling around with his lute strings. Like Ignatius, I seem to be a cop magnet even when I’m technically not doing anything wrong so I had some fun with this.

I guess you could say I’m “taking requests” but more so, taking random comments from mutual followers on social media and using that as an excuse to create or upload things I already would have given an excuse or possibly would have gotten around to otherwise.

I was homeless but had a library card so the first time I read Confederacy of Dunces I was couch hopping, squatting in abandoned (in some cases soon to be condemned) properties until I got busted and they put me up in a hotel after I started quoting the Tennessee Code Annotated law for “adverse possession” so they just put me up in a hotel until the homeless shelter in town had a room for me. Anyway, I remember reading that book, reading it aloud often. “The problem of space” still haunts me. I’m not homeless now but not quite financially stable so worrying about what will happen to my books, notebooks etc. if I end up having to resort to a quick or forced exodus is something that still resonates quite strongly.

If you enjoy this or my other videos, political rants, narration of short stories and occasionally some guitar pickin’ you can follow me on YouTube. I’m KunstKrieg KinoPix Studios but may be shadowbanned because sometimes even searching for the direct title of my videos along with my channel name I still have to scroll and scroll to find a video if it can even be found without going to my own account and checking the video library there.

BBC To Make Biopic of Jimmy Savile, Prolific Child Predator They Protected for Decades

Jimmy Savile wasn’t just on Top of the Pops, he was top of the world for decades. He was one of the most famous and beloved celebrities in England, close friends with Prince Charles and Andrew, hung out with the Beatles. But of course, after his death, the rumors that had circulated for so long were finally admitted to be so.

one of many photos of Jimmy Savile playfully cavorting with the Fab Four

Up until then, Jimmy Savile’s hundreds of victims often found themselves disbelieved by authorities, staff at the hospitals he visited for “charity” and even sometimes the parents of the children themselves. Steve Coogan, who plays the character of daft news presenter Alan Partridge, will play the part of Savile in “The Reckoning.” But has there really been any reckoning for the BBC itself? They banned Johnny Rotten in the 70s for years just for mentioning that “everybody knew what that cigar muncher was up to.” To profit off of a story they were complicit in seems at the very least tasteless.

Most recently, I saw it reported that some victims will be on set and meet Steve Coogan “in character.” Meeting victims to ensure sensitivity to their stories makes sense, but in character?! Savile is mentioned multiple times in my book Pedogate Primer: the politics of pedophilia.

Pedogate Primer is available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and Powell’s Books and a few other shops worldwide including Australia, Taiwan and Poland. The audiobook, narrated by myself, is also for sale at If you’d like a review copy of the audiobook, contact me through the contact form or email at and I’ll send you a promo code. You can also check out several podcasts and radio shows I appeared on to talk about the book in the  interview section.

Shaman Claus: The Secret Psychedelic Roots of The Santa mythos

Yule, yellow snow, psychedelic mushrooms and the true meaning of Christmas

Originally published in two parts for Gifts From Earth on December 30, 2015 Philip]

Boy, the Holidays just aren’t what they used to be. What happened to those old holiday traditions that brought the community together like stringing popcorn on the tree or singing carols through the neighborhood or recycling your amanitas infused urine for the community to enjoy for the Solstice celebration. Yes, that’s right, our current “Santa Mythology” is steeped in some strange lore that we’ll begin to explore in this story.

Shaman Claus

The origins of both medicine and religion have some similar roots. Many of them reach thousands of years back to Tengerian tradition of Shamanic myth, magic and medicine. The Tengerian Shamanic tradition of Siberia was also influential on the traditional Christmas celebration and the Santa Claus mythos connected to it, as we’ll see today.

Among these cultures are the northern Tungusic people, Lapps, Evenki and other Siberian tribes.  The Evenki were predominantly hunter-gatherers and reindeer herders as were most living in the harsh region. The Evenki people’s word “saman” meaning “one who knows the spirits” is the root of the word describing the “medicine man” type religious healer in pre-modern cultures.  An important part of the religious and healing ceremonies of the Tengerian Shamanic medicine man was the use of “fly agaric” the Amanitas muscaria mushroom, better known colloquially as a “red-cap” or “toadstool.”

If you’ve seen pictures of giant red warty mushrooms in fairy tale drawings or little white spotted mushrooms in Byzantine art featuring Jesus then you’ve seen the amanitas mushroom. Interestingly enough, it’s not called a toadstool because toads are known to sit on it, rather because of a constituent that also happens to be found in “eyes of newts”(or Bufo Alvarius, the Sonoran Desert Toad) and other witchy sounding formulas.

Santa Claus (with his reindeer and red cap and stockings) is ” a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world,” according to Dr. John Rush,  anthropology instructor at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif.

In order to prepare the amanitas mushroom (which can be a potent toxin) the mushrooms were placed in a large sock and hung over the hearth to dry. Stockings, anyone? The “gift of the mushroom” was often found beneath pine trees. This could also be an explanation for the “red, white and green” colors being associated with Christmas celebrations. The Shaman himself, when giving the gift of muscaria throughout the frozen Siberian Winter Solstice would appear dressed as a giant amanitas (with a red cap and white dots on his suit).

Even today in Lappland (a portion of Finland inhabited by the indigenous Sami people) diminutive reindeer herders wear brightly Christmas colored clothing and herd reindeers. That “elf” style hat, has a name you know. Yes, it’s a “Lapplander hat.”

Lapplanders in traditional garb

Stay tuned next as we explain why the reindeer games were really gross, how modern civilization may not have existed if some brave souls hadn’t eaten the yellow snow and why we put a star on an evergreen and bring it in the house once a year.

 In part I of this article, we started exploring the shamanic roots of the Santa Claus legend and how it ties in to the Northern European, Siberian and Arctic circle tribes such as the Sami and Evenki. The Sami, also known as Laplanders, are a nomadic Finnish tribe who just happen to wear brightly colored elf-style clothing and pointy hats when they’re not herding, you guessed it, reindeer, are responsible for a lot of the original Yule celebratory rituals that bled into the Christmas tradition that took place right around the same Solstice period.

To understand the importance of these Yule rites, you have to consider the harsh conditions in Siberia and Arctic Finland. This is the land of the midnight Sun. The (quite literal) dark side of the midnight sun is the end of Autumn, the shortest day of the year is Winter Solstice and around this time the sun nearly disappears almost entirely for that shortest and darkest day of the Solstice that marks the beginning of the Yule celebration.

As we mentioned in the last story, long  before the story of the Magi giving gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the Yule-tide season was known in these cold, dark areas as a time of celebration and gift giving. The gift in question was generally the amanitas muscaria mushroom. The redcap fungus with the distinctive white spots were known as the “fruit” of the evergreens and firs they were often found under. Mystified by the mycelial network forming without any apparent seeds being dropped, this phenomenon was occasionally referred to as a “virgin birth.”

Now we already showed how the traditional Santa legend was heavily shaped by Shamanic tradition, right down to drying the amanitas muscaria mushrooms in a large stocking over the hearth and bringing evergreens indoors to fend off the cold and dark. Imagine now, it’s another cold Finnic or Siberian winter in pre-history. You’re cold and the longest days only last for a few hours of dim, blue light here this close to the Solstice. All of a sudden you see what looks like a giant red cap mushroom heading towards you on a reindeer, chortling in the sheer ecstasy (ex- stasis, meaning to literally come “outside” of one’s self) of shamanic delirium. He hands you a stocking full of fire dried red cap mushrooms in a stocking. Considering the high likelihood of seasonal affective depression being exacerbated by the harsh Arctic condition, the idea of Yuletide gift giving was helpful for getting through the harsh winters.

The “gift” of the amanitas was generally discovered under certain varietals of evergreens (yes, the same sorts of pine and first that many of us still haul into the house at the end of the year) echoing the “Yule log” rite which purportedly staved away the frosty, near perma-darkness of the darkest point in the year in the land of the Midnight Sun.

Prancing and dancing reindeer? Yeah, we got those. In fact there’s a possibility that discovery of the filtration of the amanitas toxins through urine was an important part of the tradition. Reindeer and tribesmen alike would share in a mug of “recycled” amanitas. Which gives a whole new meaning to the old saying about the “yellow snow.”

The Arctic reindeer herding tribes who used amanitas noticed that the reindeers enjoyed chewing the fungal “fruit” of the evergreens after which they got “frisky” and seemed to dance and prance around for a while. This coupled with the fact that amanitas hallucinations often involve delusions of flying and size distortion makes a lot of the rest of the seeming non sequiturs in our Holiday tradition make a little more sense.

So, elf clothing, reindeer, red caps with white puffballs, gift giving, taking trees indoors and stockings full of gifts, eh? Yes, it’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, isn’t it? Stay tuned as we continue our exploration into the ethnobotanical roots of the traditional Christmas celebration soon. In our next story we’ll cover more parallels and connections between the pre-Christian pagan Solstice traditions and the more modern holiday traditions that occurred as a result.

[redacted] Presents Douglas Fairbanks covers Hollywood

During the half a year or so I lived in Burbank, I hooked up with a pop culture publication that covered mainly geek related stuff (comics, anime, etc.). I wrote a couple pieces for them but sadly they said my “style” didn’t fit. Last I checked even the couple pieces they did publish are no longer on the site. Sigh, oh well… Anyway, just now found some of those drafts while going through old files I had saved on a backup drive. In case you’re wondering, yes, while in Hollywood I went by my middle name though surprisingly few people picked up that I share a name with a classic silent film star. But enough with intros, here goes…

Author’s preliminary note: What follows is what will hopefully be the first segment in a continuing series presented by [redacted] wherein which your faithful (and social phobic) narrator braves the dangers of the high seas of high social anxiety to bring back the whole dish (you’ll have to bring your own spoon, then just scoop away). 

(authors secondary preliminary note: It really helps if you read this piece in Robert Evans’ (RIP) voice in your head That’s what I do anyway, I can’t stand my own voice.) 

Part I: Alfred Hitchcock/Twilight Zone art show opening night at the Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum

So here goes nothing, I guess. Or maybe not, maybe worse than nothing, maybe something that (to paraphrase Metallica by way of Lovecraft by way of Schopenhauer) “that should not be.” Here it is though, the premiere “episode” (oh, don’t worry, I have issues too!) of the tales of an awkward, hayseed rube with a (no longer) famous Hollywood star’s name. This is all by coincidence and on a technicality of course, but regardless, here we go… [redacted] proudly presents? No, that’s not right I don’t speak for [redacted] , I just write for them, ok fine then, “[redacted] presents: Douglas Fairbanks covers Hollywood (and region).” 

Now we can begin at the beginning, but I think we should jump to the middle directly after. So to start where it starts: we pulled in, I noted to my sister Jane how the most unfortunate consequence and inconvenience of covering a show (even worse than digging the grime from under my guitar finger picking nails) is actually making a damn appearance at the thing. I couldn’t have known at the time the foreshadowing inherent in the story I’d relate as I was dropped at the curb under the flag in front of the Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum in the Magnolia district of the beautiful Burbanks of Hollywood.

I’m digressing already aren’t I… so backstory then story. I’m certain it was the first or second in the “I hate Bonnaroo” series of articles, my coverage of the Bonaroo music and arts festival for Ghettoblaster or Spacelab. Anyways, the story was of the “salem k for hire gig” that I managed to opt into (and as a result, out of, the show). Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t paying the salem k for hire. They got press passes and for that I got paid. 

42 minutes though should be just enough time without being in any danger of being too near. Besides it’s the meaning of life, the universe and EVERYTHING according to Douglas Noel Adams and whenever I’m in Burbank or Hollywood I go by my middle name Douglas (making me the third Douglas Fairbanks in Hollywood on a technicality, despite the fact most people don’t remember the first and the ones that remember the first don’t remember the second and I’m no relation except in legal name to either) it seems to fit somehow. 

There’s quite a line though and it’s crawling at a snail’s pace.

Act II

Time lapse: Ext: sitting across the street from the flag to wait out my ride and get at least a bit of distance between myself and “the madding crowd.” It’s 9:02, we’d scheduled our pickup for 9:09 at the flag in front of the Bearded Lady Mystic Museum, unfortunately (or fortunately rather, both for us, the museum and the story) the line was lengthy enough to preclude our entry by our aforementioned pickup time and leaving a shaggy dog story in place of my entry at opening night as sitting outside the show, as fate would have it, would be the show for us this night. Luckily however for any of us within the Magnolia district region for the next two months the Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone art show is only OPENING this slightly chilly Saturday evening. The chill to the air opening night only added to the chilled backdrop as “the line procedure” enacted itself, slowly, horrifyingly in a vicious creep of humans huddled against the perfectly manicured, but still eerily gnarled trees.


Somewhere and somehow (and we can’t even blame our penmanship this time) we lost a Frank Zappa reference somewhere in between our equally anxious and excited head and my fumbling fingers. I’ll blame the balancing act I was forced into trying to maintain hold of my little, blue sketchbook and the laptop. The laptop was to keep time so I’d know when my ride was to arrive. More on why I didn’t just bring a cell phone like some kind of sane person in just a bit. 

In between the precarious balancing act and the note taking I was able to get lost in myself somewhat at least but this far from elegant procedure was making me painfully aware of my none-too-swanlike carriage amidst “the beautiful people” of classy, but quaint Burbank. 

After my phone’s Freudian crack (I Freudian dropped it a couple months ago and have Freudian “forgotten” to replace it since as I believe I get beeped and buzzed plenty by way of the laptoblet (it’s a 3 in one, I manage to put up with the top screen since it has a fold-away physical keyboard). If I might digress just a moment, (I know this makes my second major digression at this point, but the sooner I acclimate you to them, the sooner I can stop worrying about indulging myself in them) I personally fear that the touchscreen “technology” will fare us as well as broom technology has. Just think, brooms can’t be much newer than the wheel, but have you ever seen a dustpan that didn’t leave some line (however thin). 

There it was, just the distraction I needed to get my mind off of the space I was taking up in the world (and the inevitable scene that follows) I found just the distraction I needed in the form of a pup sized pup tent outside of Pimp my Pooch (immediately upon seeing this name my mind jumps to Zappa’s live cover of “Call any vegetable” off of Billy the Mountain, specifically to the line in which the Mothers’ chorus queries: “Where can I go to get my poodle clipped in Burbank? At Ralphs vegetarian poodle clipping…” Well now I’ve seen one more thing…

And that was it for the night. Apart, of course, from receiving a pin, commemorative even, and free only to the first 100 to make it in to the show, or at least the first 99 and me. I entrusted my entry fare to some ladies in front of me in the line (specifically earmarked for purchase at the Mystic Museum, but they looked trustworthy). Ah, but the night was still young, even if I didn’t feel as young as I evidently look. 

To be continued in part II

postXamerica and Birdie Hall Invade NYC Art Scene!

Visual and music artist postXamerica will be showing her work along with artist Birdie Hall in New York between November 9th and November 28th

For the uninitiated, the first time viewing one of the montage videos by postXamerica can be a rather disorienting experience. I personally have shared with several people who were notably shaken. One could compare the work to the anti-comedy style prevalent on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, but what separates this work from that more commercial entertainment are the themes and sheer talent involved. 

Digging through hours and hours of archival video, postXamerica finds the perfect clips and most potent juxtaposition of said clips and sequences featuring the likes of Epstein, Kevin Spacey, their friend Bill Clinton and others. Some of the short video segments are jaw-dropping and I have no idea what postie’s “process” looks like as far as source gathering, I did however manage to get an exclusive comment from the artist. When asked if she had any comments on her work or biographical information to share she told me, and I quote, “I have nothing.” 

NEW YORK: PREPARE FOR INVASION (ft— Post☀️America (@postXamerica) November 4, 2021

Which is fine, because waxing poetic on the work of one of my favorite living artists doesn’t require flashy “artist’s statements.” The work will appeal to anyone intrigued by the Burroughs-Gysin cut-up method. It’s obviously a development on that initial theme with some touches of Guy DeBord’s Society of the Spectacle documentary thrown in for good measure, but DeBord, Burroughs and Gysin are products of their time. As a result, they may seem dated to the post-post-modern, post-American. 

If a conspiratorial assault of the senses is something that piques your interest, do head over to the postXamerica YouTube channel for a taste of the madness and the method first-hand. You can also avail yourself of some of the killer tracks found in the videos and more at bandcamp. If you can’t make the show, you can at least get exclusive material via Patreon. You can even show your support with distinctive merchandise such as the Clinton/Epstein “Friends Forever” t-shirt. 

Be warned, this media is not for everyone. But for those who get it, it’s a doorway to another world as well as a charcoal pill antidote to the gaslight effect of the daily propaganda barrage we are forced to live with daily. 

I’m new to Birdie Hall, but after checking out her website my first question I believe was “Are you a Morris Graves fan.” Mind you, her work doesn’t look like Morris’ per se. Certainly not derivative, no it was something far more subtle. Perhaps the kinship between one of the Mystic Sons of Morris Graves (of which I am a proud initiate) and one of Graves Mystic Daughters’. Should be receiving some more info from her and will be pitching a feature length story to a few publications. Sigh, if none respond in a timely manner as the show is running only from November 9th to 28th then you should expect a more fleshed out feature here at the very least.

Read the original blurb at


Descartes a kant: victims of love propaganda

Descartes a Kant
Victims of Love Propaganda
(Cleopatra Records)

From Guadalajara, Mexico by way of LA’s Cleopatra Records, come a sonic and visual art gang to be reckoned with. Until not long ago, if you’d asked me who my favorite Mexican musical group were, I would have smiled and answered: “Ampersan, hands down. The greatest group I know of in Mexico playing today.” Well, most days I learn something, and if you’re like me, the more you learn the more you’re reminded of the vacuum of absolute ignorance you are trying to fill. Discovering Descartes a Kant was a darkly illuminating experience like being pulled free of a shipwreck by being tossed a lifeline into a vortex.

Love and propaganda are nothing to play around with, nor approach lightly if safety is of any concern. I’m personally opposed to warning labels on album covers myself (primarily for aesthetic purposes) but consider this my implicit advisory in regards to Victims of Love Propaganda.

At the fore of the band of busquers are 3 women – Sandrushka (vocals/guitar), Defne (vocals/guitar/violin) and Ana (bass/synth) -and backed by male members Memo (bass/synth), Androv (synth/piano) and Jorge (drums/samples).

The album opens with “You a*****ked my heart” distorted megaphone blasts a monologue about love and addiction (as if they were separate entities, no, as they are). “you a*****ked my heart, you a*****ked my heart, you a*****ked my heart, I RESENT YOU FOR THAT!”

“Motion Picture Dream Boy” is a perfect exemplum of the theatrical nature of the Gran Guignol influenced group from Guadalajara. Promotional video directed by Gamaliel de Santiago Ruvalcaba, a well-known Mexican horror film maker perfectly realizes the visual and conceptual element of the Kantians.

Reflecting on obsession, addiction and other manifestations of what passes for love in the age of propaganda “our delusions” DaK explain, “will keep us alive.” And in lieu of love, is there much more we could really ask for?

“Until The Day We Die”: there’s something literally unsettling in the frequencies alone. Of course, it’s been no secret since the late 1800’s that certain sonic differences in frequency can actual produce literal alterations in our brains frequencies resulting in some instances in altered mood or other states. The melody paints a mise en scene from some dark carnival troupe.

Speaking of calliope’s the dark cabaret vibe is introduced quite strongly in this track, just one of the “elements” shifted and reordered like a Burroughs/Gysin cut-up Perhaps the more imaginative in the audience could conceive of some possible vagabond tribe of faux road entertainers advancing this technology by way of their traveling show’s calliope, though not even I would speculate as to what purposes such might find behind.

“Mother I’m in trouble,” the harried chorus appeals frantically “my marriage is a mess, my marriage is a mess. He wants control, me I want control. Him, he wants control, me I want control.” I picture the first track as that first slight, the initial hairline fracture that eventually leads on to the final break. “Serotonine,” is a stand out track on an album that stands out in whole as well as in its individuals parts. There’s a definite evocation of Sonic Youth and Breeders style classic art-noise rock though the fully fleshed integrity of the group’s palpable and original style manages to hearken to the past while still being wholly original and new.

I’ll admit that there are times it feels like the band is singing directly to me, for example in “Serotonine”: “You’re a narcissistic Pseudointellectual, it’s a complementary narcissism we adore, you think that you’re the special one, you’re not, you’re my design.”

Breakup and loss of love are symbolized beautifully in song through the metaphor of a crime scene. “Someone says it’s growing old, someone says it’s dying, someone’s calling 911 someone says I’m dying” the warning calls before the moment of no return, the emotional crime for which no clemency can be offered. That proverbial last straw that teaches you how much you can take if you didn’t know it the day before. terminally cold. The “multiple stabbings” referenced in the song were most likely in the back and inflicted by both parties if this break up is like many others. The urgent cry for someone to call 911, to “reconstruct the crime scene” is a potent metaphor for that 20/20 hindsight that so often appears clearly after the final straw has been broken in any romantic entanglement. “You are just another drop of blood in this crime scene.”

Reeking of the assembly line suicide swan song of industrialized society, in the age of “the victims of love propaganda” at the base of this album is a storyline of humanity breaking up with its humaneness. Or at least so it appears to this reviewer. Like Frank Zappa, these gals ain’t just rock if it’s rock at all, it’s art, dammit. This is no accident, either, like other glam-punk outfits like Sophe Lux & the Mystic, carefully orchestrated choreography and a supporting stage show is as important to the songs as the lyrics are to the melody.

This is no happenstance, everything about this group is perfectly orchestrated and choreographed. If the album itself soars with an uncanny cohesion thematically and melodically it’s just a testament to this performing art troupe’s dedication to the original Dionysian roots of ritual stage performance, in the vein of the seminal performance art industrial outfits Throbbing Gristle & Psychic TV. Steampunk, classical ballet and other elements meld in the live spell set in their worldwide tour.

As if my words of praise weren’t enough, the dazzlingly talented performers have shared stage with music legends and giants like Sonic Youth, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Melvins and Slayer. Lyrics run from the sickeningly sweet (“If I could be you for a day I would, I’d cuddle with myself all day”) to the macabre (“You are just another drop of blood in this crime scene.”) to the lackadaisical refrain of the last track, which is possibly the most honest thing that can be said in any relationship: “we’ll care until we won’t, I’ll love you until I don’t. often without warning or transition. All in all a beautifully unsettling and fascinatingly disturbing work of art.”

Purchase the album here.

Through the Plastic Screen ep06, Language, Culture, Education & History with Lindo Faelnar

This week it was my absolute pleasure to take part in a long chat with Lino Faelnar from Defenders of Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago. A lawyer, linguistic expert and language preservationist, Lino is also a genuine renaissance man. Our conversation was all over the map, both literally and figuratively as we bounced around from indigenous Filipino languages to the history of Crimea, Suharto and E. Timor, strange coincidences that seem to connect the Vikings to China, the Basque, Celts and the indigenous Melanesians who inhabited the Philippine islands before the Austronesian migrations. From Dr. Charles Tart to linguist Noam Chomsky and concepts like linguistic fascism or intellectual piracy, we covered quite a bit of ground in a little over 2 hours. Endangered languages and cultural genocide to the importance of folk tales and how stories and language affect our window on the world and much more today on through the plastic screen…

Unfortunately this was the last episode of the podcast for a while. I’ll be on hiatus until I can get the cost of the surgery taken care of and recover from that, but once I have that out of the way, already have several amazing guests from artists to best selling authors and ordinary people with extraordinary stories.

Interview with artist/motivational speaker Shane Watson About Silverladder

Recently, long time friend and art compatriot Shane Watson reached out with me to share this video from Brazil. A YouTuber with a half million subscribers had created a nearly half hour video about the history of the Silverladder, including the early badscaryplace days where I first began correspondence with Shane. After years of writing back and forth and publishing an interview with Shane online I was once asked out of the blue if I’d be willing to take part in a sort of dada/surrealist interactive art project borrowing from Alternate Reality Game (ARG) culture. The catch? I’d be interacting with Shane’s alter ego as Shane would be dead “in the game.”

Codebreaking, steganography, interacting with “characters” from the bit of chaotic fiction we were taking part in were all big parts of the Silverladder experience but most important honestly were the connections we made, the genuine community that sprung up. After years of voice chat, emails and chat rooms it didn’t even seem that bizarre when several of us would meet in Phoenix to hang out with Shane for the weekend of November 11. (11/11 was one of several overarching “themes” that Silverladder played with).

As for exactly what Silverladder is, that’s a hard one to answer. This YouTuber actually does a pretty decent job, especially doing so from after the fact. Deconstructing the “internet mystery” as it were. I even show up briefly in some footage of the SL get together around a decade ago. If you want to check out the video below, you can click on closed captions, go to options and switch from Portugese to auto-translate and the auto-generated translation is pretty easy to understand from there. I’m also sharing here my interview with Shane below.

The following interview was conducted by freelance journalist and long-time Bad Scary Place fan Philip Fairbanks in 2004.

Philip Fairbanks: What was your inspiration for creating this? Don’t just tell me you liked Burroughs/Gysin cutups either. I’m talking about the elusive “theme,” which is quite well developed.

Shane Watson: The inspirations for the BSP are extremely varied. It began a few years back when my cousin Trey showed me a particularly surreal site on the internet. Trey has introduced me to lots of good things over the years, such as the bands Ween and Built To Spill, but I digress. He sat me down at a computer at my aunt’s house and said, “Here, check this out.” I started clicking. It was unlike anything I had seen on the internet, because up to that point, the sites I had dealt with were very straightforward and quite linear in nature. It made perfect sense to me, though.

In real life I can be a somewhat quirky, eclectic person. Although up to that point, my website hadn’t reflected that about me at all. While having *some* artistic flourishes and bizarre moments here and there, my site was pretty, well… normal. Whatever this odd site was, it got me thinking about what I hadn’t done with my site yet, and what parts of my ability to create hadn’t been unleashed on my site.

This soon mixed in with several other factors:

1. As a kid, I was a huge fan of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series, which you may or may not be familiar with. They give you options, and rather than being a linear (there we go with that word again) story, you come to certain pages where you get to make a choice. Based on which choice you select, you are instructed to turn to a particular page. Your choices then affect the outcome of the story.

2. While in high school, I picked up a CD called “Telecommunication Breakdown” by a losely-formed “band” (more of an art project, really) called EBN (“Emergency Broadcast Network”). The CD used a heavy amount of television samples within the music, including political speeches cut up and re-arranged in such a manner as to make it sound like people such as George Bush (Sr.) were saying things like “We will rock you.” The CD also came with some Quicktime movies that were quick-cut collages of all kinds of various TV broadcasts, movie clips, war footage, home shopping channels, self-help videos, etc. It was like a 200-channel assault of the emptiness of TV over an industrial music background. The album and the accompanying videos had a very big impact on me at the time. This group actually went on to produce the video walls for U2’s “Zoo TV” tour.

3. Other factors and influences may include game shows, the movie “Fight Club”, the movie “12 Monkeys”, Japanese pop culture, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Las Vegas, televangelists, lucid dreaming, the constant bombardment of media from all directions, the evolution of people into consumers, psychedelia, advertising, cryptic shortwave radio broadcasts (“numbers stations”), police scanner transmissions, technology, disco balls, strobe lights, smoke machines, red wine, good beer, The “Mind’s Eye” animation series, conspiracy theories, abnormal psychology (that would be a big one), DADA, surrealism, M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, and the music of Ween, Radiohead, David Sylvian, Holger Czukay, Robert Fripp, Trance Induction, Flaming Lips, Alice In Chains, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Air, Bjork, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and COUNTLESS jazz and ambient music artists.

Anyway, these (and other) influences all eventually converged in my mind and led me to start what was the precursor to the BSP. While I DID have Silver Ladder Studios up on the internet at the time, I decided to make this a side project site, not affiliated with SLS. Therefore, I went and opened a cheesy little Geocities site, with pop-ups and all. The original version of the BSP wasn’t even called the Bad Scary Place, in fact it didn’t have a title. It didn’t get very big, maybe 20-25 pages deep, before I started slacking on it and quit making progress. However, not long after, the e-mail address I had listed on the Geocities site (accessed by site visitors via a picture of a bomb and the text “send me threats”) started getting hit with e-mails from people who somehow had run across the site. It was strange because I hadn’t advertised the site or submitted it to search engines or anything. But these people were e-mailing and saying how much they liked the site. Making a long story longer, I soon scrapped the Geocities site and put a re-direct link up on the Geocities page to send people to the new site within Silver Ladder Studios. I trashed all of the original pages (which I now sometimes wish I had held on to) and started from scratch.

The name Bad Scary Place comes from the type of terminology that a child might use. The use of the words “bad” and “scary” (both being quite simple and somewhat similar) right after each other gives it this kind of wide-eyed innocent naive kind of sound. It’s really more of a reference to a closet with a monster in it or something frightening outside the window than it is an actual reference to the site being scary or something. It never really was intended to be flat-out scary or anything. Some people still fail to understand that. Even if it WAS scary, anything that is SUPPOSED to be frightening that refers to itself as such is just plain cheesy. Not my style. Little known fact: I have often entertained the idea of ditching the name Bad Scary Place and renaming the site “The Umbrella Graveyard.” However, now that the site has caught on so much and refers to itself in SO many places as the BSP, it’s a little too late now. Who knows though, the Umbrella Graveyard may very well become a subdimension of the BSP, just like Menthol Tunnels (ever been there?).

As far as the “theme,” well, you’re correct about there being an underlying “story” beneath the bizarre surface of the BSP. The story is first-person. YOU (whoever is clicking through the site) are the main character, though I never formally explain that because doing so would be tacky and clunky and corny. However, while you are the star, Morris the mailman is the catalyst. Morris the mailman was *originally* Morris the milkman, who came from an old 4-track song I did in high school. The song, “Charlie Jones” was on a little underground cassette release that I distributed within my school, and Charlie’s wife runs off with Morris the milkman in the song. Interestingly enough, the tape (“Underground Noise Museum” – referring to being PHYSICALLY underground, not referring to being “too cool” for the mainstream or some nonsense) had a liner-note booklet (on standard 8.5×11″ paper) that came with it… much of the artwork from those liner notes is now in the BSP (i.e. the black and white picture on this page, the picture of someone shooting up on this pagethis image, which is the background for a BSP page, etc.). I can’t go too in-depth about the plot of the whole deal, but (as you may have discovered on a later page) it involves Morris slipping some kind of substance into your drink at a company party (held in a courtyard) and you waking up elsewhere. What else has happened in the mean time? What WILL happen coming up? That remains to be seen or may already be defined somewhere, somehow within the BSP. Some “chapters” of the story are much more literal than others. Some segments may be completely in metaphor and based in images rather than text.

Read the rest at Silverladder.

It’s Not Easy Being Vegan

Back in 2015 I embarked on a little experiment to see what it was like trying to transition to a completely plant based diet. What I found out was, it’s not that easy in a lot of ways. Animal products are so prevalent it’s really surprising how many foods you wouldn’t even expect to not be vegan-friendly that aren’t. Eating mostly raw, plant-based meals for a few months however was great to my stomach and even after the experiment ran its course, I ended up sticking with a mostly plant-based diet for around a year, year and a half or so… until that fateful day I fell off the wagon having a sausage biscuit with my dad. Yup, turns out just like any other addiction, once you relapse into eating meat and highly processed foods it’s really easy to stay off the wagon from then on. By the way, this article was inspired by the ethnobotanicals, medical herbs, premium spices and organic food vendor Eternally Herbal who I definitely would recommend!

Vegan like me: Part I

Chapter 1: “What happens when a meat & dairy loving dude attempts to “go vegan” for 60 days?”


“Goodbye, meat and dairy…”

I mean how hard could it be, rite?

As soon as I wake up, early. Earlier than I had expected and two and a half hours before my first alarm (you know, the one you set to snooze the first 45 foggy minutes of the morning?) goes off. Even with the heady weight of early morning sleep fogging the ol’ gray matter, I am already beginning to doubt last night’s resolution. Maybe I was just up too late? Delirious from the past month’s work overload? Just an inevitable eventuality to the slow but steady increasing immersion into my (over a decade in the works) “all natural/herbal” kick?

Perhaps. And Perhaps a mixture of all those factors and inspiration owed to Paige, the resident vegan here at Eternally Herbal and my and Eternally Herbal new friend, vegan model, the lovely Dani Bre (who coincidentally I discovered, once again, through Paige here at EH).

Last night I had a steak. Tastiest steak I’d had all year, or a calendar year marked from yesterday. (Albeit one of two total steaks I’ve had in said calendar year). Fitting send off, I suppose before I begin this adventure. I can’t help but be reminded of the zen koan about the two Buddhist monks traveling. A woman is standing at a bank unable to cross, one monk lifts her up and carries her across the river despite the religious injunction against any contact with members of the opposite sex.

The next day, the other zazen practitioner looks at his companion, puzzled and upset:
“I still cannot believe you broke our oath by touching that woman, even going so far as to hold her, carry her across that wide and treacherous stream.”

“I left her there at the other side, my brother. It is you now, who carry her still, in your mind.”
Chew on that as I consider how I still carry that steak in my mind’s belly…


This won’t be too bad though, I’m thinking (bright and bushy-tailed now, after a shower). I’ll start with my usual anyway, the veggie sub at Subway next door to the Inn I’m currently posted up at. Drat, they’re still closed. I thought they served breakfast. How can you serve breakfast and not open before 8? Ok, ok, that’s fine, we’ll have one last send off then. A sausage and egg burrito (as non-vegan as it gets without bacon involved, gang) is my (gulp) final non-vegan meal of the day.
At least they’ve got that tasty veggie burger here at Burger King I can… Wait, you’re telling me Morningstar uses milk and dairy products in their veggie burger? This is going to be a challenge. I like Morningstar, personally prefer them to Boca, but maybe that’s just cause the first veggie patty I loved was the black bean and corn burger from MS, but does this mean even a lot of vegetarian products are taboo when you go the whole vegan? Guess so. Well, good thing I’ve got a handful of friends who’ve already gone vegan to refer to with advice. Not to mention a whole mess of nice vegetable proteins, seeds and smoothie mixers coming from Eternally Herbal soon…

“Mmmmmmmm, guacamole.”

SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2015

Chapter 2: It’s not easy being vegan

It’s not easy being vegan…

It’s the little things. I’m becoming totally used to having to check “the instructions” as I’m beginning to call them,. the nutrition information, to make sure there’s no animal products or by-products in anything. But there’s so many in so much that you wouldn’t consider. No dairy products, I think. Ha, I’m fine without poultry or dairy. I’m not a huge fan of milk or chicken and it’s not like I eat eggs often. 

Oh wait, you mean even if it just HAS eggs or milk in it it’s not allowed. This is where I notice that being strictly vegan is going to be a challenge. Vegetarian is easy. I’ve done that a time or twenty for a week or 40 at a time, but no ice cream, no cheese, no chocolate… Wait, they make vegan chocolate. Come to think of it, I’m more of a dark chocolate man than a milk chocolate fan anyway. 

Then it hits me again, that it’s not only grilling season, but that I’m coming up on one of the most important grilling weekends in all of Summer. And me gone, vegan… Oh well, I’m beginning to become accustomed to guacamole instead of the veggie patty at Subway and avocados and bananas and nuts keep me grazing but full and there’s something refreshing about those vegetable burps. It almost feels like there’s so much freshness and nutrition it just has to burst out and announce itself. 

It’s not until well into the third day that I experience my first temptation. I’m riding with my friends we’re in the drive-thru for Krystal’s, Tennessee’s version of White Castle, basically White Castle with more lard. The smell as we approach is nearly overpowering, but I’m remaining strong. I try to distract myself. I think about what a great scene this will be, my first major temptation and how I still stand strong. My friend orders a sack of 24 freshly steamed Krystals. They’re packed in this box that traps the steam and grease and beef and lard smell in and I’m still fine. 

And then she rolls the windows up. I am engulfed with the smell of my favorite gut-bombs in all the world. Let me explain, I used to work at Krystal’s. I don’t know if it’s some secret in the lard that causes habituation to it (I’ve heard similar things about bacon, don’t laugh, it could be true!) but I found that when I worked there and ate there daily I would occasionally have a craving come over me and the more I ate them the more often the cravings would come. 

So here I am, feeling trapped and trying to stay strong. I don’t say a word. Then as my friend is doling out burgers it hits her and she apologizes. 

“It’s ok. It’s great for the story…”


And so, it’s time for a quick snack since burgers are out of the way. I grab one of those gummy chewy candy things that have the “real fruit juice” in them that I convince myself are healthy when I want candy but won’t let myself. Oh boy, these things are great and they’re fruit and stuff, definitely could not have been made from any animals. But wait, “check the instructions first” I remind myself. Flip over the bag and read through the list, corn syrup, yuck, ok, ok, and… I knew it. Too good to be true, it’s chewy, it’s gummy, it’s HORSE HOOVES. Bahh, so no gelatin either, didn’t think that’d be a problem. I don’t like Jell-o, but anything gummy? Hmmmm, jujubes are ok. So at least I know one candy that’ll be safe next time I go to the movies. 
Which begs the question, is movie theater popcorn butter really even considered butter? Guess will have to research that one too… Despite a few false starts at the beginning and a tense moment or two, so far this whole thing seems like it’s actually going to be ok. Must admit, there is a release of tension on the stomach and a bit more pep in my step. Thank goodness for the Eternally Herbal dried goji berries and dragonfruit. I’ll admit, the dragonfruit scared me at first, it’s dried flesh does resemble, more than a tiny tad, the scales of some mythical beast, but they taste great. I’m betting in a tropical trail mix with the right combination of nuts these would make a great tasting and super-healthy snack. 

“It really does look like a dragon’s skin!”In between the new diet and plenty of items from Eternally Herbals Clean and Detoxify section, I’m anxious to see how this does feel after another full week or two. But Memorial day weekend is poking it’s head right around the corner. Best bet just may be to stay indoors the whole weekend and away from the wafting scents of barbecue and steaks and burgers and pork chops. We’ll see…

Ghettoblaster, 2007: Special Report: Bewilderoo, TN

Still awaiting surgery, so since I can’t sit up and type out long form pieces for the moment, here’s a little blast from the past. I was lucky enough to get press passes to cover Bonnaroo every year between 2003 and 2009 on behalf of Get Underground, Ghettoblaster, AMP magazine and Spacelab. This is the first section of my attempt at gonzo music journalism, Summer of 2007 in Manchester, Tennessee. You can find the link to the full piece from Ghettoblaster at the bottom of the page. But without further ado, welcome to Bewilderoo…


AUGUST 1, 2007

A not so common look at the not so common festival.

by Phillip Fairbanks

Though the festivities didn’t begin until June, my Bonnaroo story begins in March, when I got my confirmation that I would indeed be receiving press credentials and tickets for the big show. In a way, here in early July, I’m coming full circle as I put pen to paper in attempts to capture some literary tincture of that magic something, that “temporary autonomous zone” that for four days in Manchester, Tennessee is known as Bonnaroo.

The first elements are preparation and anticipation. March through June were a whirlwind of consciousness expansion including, but not limited to, ingestion of obscure, legal herbs from the Oaxacan, Mayan and Aztec canon, shadowboxing, glossolalia, yoga and failed attempts at emulating the painfully intricate moving meditation of Master Li Hongzhi’s Falun Dafa. At about the same time, I was working on a sort of counterculture Tony Robbins, a la Tim Leary and Robert Anton Wilson that resulted in pages of maps, models, schemas, tips, tricks, mantras and insufferably incoherent psychobabble based on anchoring intense states for ready retrieval. Here I was treading on dangerous waters. My roommates at the time, who had dealt with this quasi-psychotic behavior since March had had enough by the time May rolled around.

Armed with new and activated knowledge, or as Bob Wilson deems it “neuro-somatic knowhow,” I didn’t let this snag steal the momentum of the movement, but consciously down-shifted at this point. Besides, after a frightening Salvia Divinorum experiment gone awry, it seemed high time to arc down my emotional parabola.

Being a small town boy from a rural area, having something as big as Bonnaroo breeze through once a year next door, so to speak, is a dreamlike experience. Being at times, a pretentious performance artist for an audience of one, constantly crafting an opus I like to call, my life, the annual festival down on the farm down the road is always an ordeal, a crucible and a rite, not merely a convergence of people, art, music and drugs (though these are typical cornerstones of many ancient ritual festivals as well). Needless to say I got no sleep Wednesday night and word comes that they’re letting folks in to set up camp so we head to Manchester.

I get dropped off Thursday morning around 3:30 in the A.M. By the time sun comes up my tent is still unpacked. It’s hot and there are thousands of people surrounding me in every direction. I’m closed in. Bonnaroo has become overnight. A rush of adrenaline tinged terror wraps icy tendrils about me. I know that my notorious lack of direction will ensure that I will lose my site if I leave. After meeting Will and his group, I decide it might be safe to leave as long as I don’t get separated from them and lose all chance of ever rediscovering my campsite. Already I’m feeling that soft sadness that accompanies this small town boy’s Bonnaroo experience. It’s beautiful, like life, but like life its over before its begun, and I make sure to soak up every ounce of that weird tincture of emotions that infectiously spreads. Like Norman from New Jersey had corroborated earlier. The world is a strange and weird place.

I get dropped off Thursday morning around 3:30 in the A.M. By the time sun comes up my tent is still unpacked. It’s hot and there are thousands of people surrounding me in every direction. I’m closed in. Bonnaroo has become overnight. A rush of adrenaline tinged terror wraps icy tendrils about me. I know that my notorious lack of direction will ensure that I will lose my site if I leave. After meeting Will and his group, I decide it might be safe to leave as long as I don’t get separated from them and lose all chance of ever rediscovering my campsite. Already I’m feeling that soft sadness that accompanies this small town boy’s Bonnaroo experience. It’s beautiful, like life, but like life its over before its begun, and I make sure to soak up every ounce of that weird tincture of emotions that infectiously spreads. Like Norman from New Jersey had corroborated earlier. The world is a strange and weird place.

Read more at Ghettoblaster.