Off the Top

“Read old books” they say. Well, I went ahead, dug into my closet looking for some light reading and found an astrology paperback I picked up about 7 years ago from Half Price Books. It’s from 1975 and titled Off the Top. The author was a famed astrologer named Sydney Omarr (note that despite the Arabic sounding name, he was actually born Sidney Kimmelman and was Jewish.) Anyway, as you might imagine, I’m not a huge believer in astrology but have always been intrigued by it and favored the aesthetic over other religions. I do in fact believe that forces in the cosmos probably do affect us to some degree but in ways we have not yet been able to pinpoint with specificity and perhaps never will. I went through a phase several years ago when I was looking for 1970’s-80s astrology books mostly for the illustrations and laid back writing style they often featured. I even had a sterling silver, crab pendant necklace in honor of my own zodiac sign, Cancer. Having worn the necklace for about a year, I eventually lost it and have been too lazy to buy another one since.

When reading Off the Top, I sometimes felt reminded of that scene from Leaving Las Vegas when Nicholas Cage is looking at the sign for “The Whole Year Inn” but instead sees it as saying “The Whole You’re In.” I mention this because the book is mostly Omarr’s casual thoughts and ruminations about astrological signs, taken “off the top” of his head (or the opening paragraphs of his syndicated newspaper forecasts.) Off the Top might just as well be a euphemism for Out the Ass, depending on your point of view.

Amusingly, even in a light hearted book like this it only takes Omarr one paragraph into the book before he brings up the nazis and the holocaust, within the context of the role of astrologers played in WWII. However, this quickly leads into one of the more interesting parts of the book, which is a lengthy introduction featuring a fast-paced hodgepodge of favorable quotes and anecdotes about astrology relating to various public figures and personalities. Often the endorsements seem a little out of context but are interesting tidbits nonetheless. Among the first are a couple of quotations from Carl Jung:

“We are born at a given moment, in a given place, and like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born.”

and

“Astrology represents the sum of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity”

The intro also has some rather ridiculous paragraphs from Omarr himself, noteworthy only for their chutzpah:

Becoming proficient in astrology demands knowledge of astronomy, history, mathematics,literature and psychology. Not all astrologers live up to the highest standards. Sadly, neither do all attorneys, physicians and educators. The key in this Space Age is to set aside preconceived notions, academic prejudice and aim toward progress. If astrology, among other subjects leads the way, so be it.

It also includes zillions of “factoids” which seem kind of far-fetched but which I don’t have the time or energy to research to verify their accuracy. Example:

Outbreaks of murder appear to be triggered by the moon tugging on “biological tides” within the human body, according to Dr. Arnold L. Lieber of the University of Miami medical school

You get the idea. The introductory portion actually goes on for over 30 pages, nearly 1/3 of the entire book.

Moving on to the actual signs, Omarr dedicates several pages to each one. They offer comprehensive and detailed overviews, written in a very entertaining, no-nonsense and matter of fact tone. Some statements are unintentionally, hilariously accurate, such as:

The United States is a Cancer nation and has been known to feed the world.

Being a Cancer myself, I got a kick out of how much time Omarr devotes to talking about how Cancer is a great cook and loves being in the kitchen. My own idea of “cooking” is to throw a brick of tofu in the microwave, add some cheese and grape seed oil vegenaise to it and presto! My home cooked meals for most of my 20’s to mid 30’s consisted almost exclusively of microwave popcorn and cheap wine. The late Sydney Omarr must have gotten the last laugh though when I realized he had me pegged after all:

The classical Cancer native has a tendency to repeat facts and deliver monologues. Members of this zodiacal sign savor childhood memories, even bitter ones.

I recommend this book, even though I’ve been somewhat critical of it and don’t take much of it seriously. It is written in a very entertaining style, and believe it or not I learned a few things I did not know (too many to mention actually.) It also does contain a few of the kind of 70s paperback illustrations and fonts which were the reason I purchased it, so I can’t really complain.

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Robert Stark Interviews Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan About San Francisco Neon

Al Barna is a San Francisco photographer and artist whose work has been shown in exhibitions at the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor Museum, the Rayko Gallery, the San Francisco Public Library, and the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. His photography has been published in CA Modern magazine, Society of Commercial Archaeology Journal, The Sun magazine, and Shots magazine.

Randall Ann Homan began her interest in the art of signage as an apprentice sign painter in Flagstaff, Arizona. She lives in San Francisco and is an art director, photographer, and an award-winning graphic designer. Someday she would like to design a neon sign.

Listen here

Topics:

The history of Neon in San Francisco
Neon Walking TOURS
Historic Preservation and how San Francisco has lost the least of it’s signage of any major city
Market Street, it’s history as a Neon hub, and the failed Mid-Market Sign District Proposal
The Starlight Room at The Sir Francis Drake Hotel in Union Square
Other signs near Union Square including Tad’s Steak House, Marquard’s Cigar Store, The Stratford Hotel, and the Herbert Hotel
Parking Garage Neon near Union Square
The Tenderloin
Chinatown which has the highest concentration of signs in the city though many are unlit
The Lady from Shanghai directed by Orson Welles
Broadway in North Beach
Columbus Street in North Beach
Fisherman’s Wharf; Alioto’s, Fisherman’s Grotto, The View Alcatraz Sign, The Cannery and Ghiradelli Square
Bar signs including the 500 Club Martini sign in the Mission District
The Coca-Cola Company Replaced the Landmark Outdoor Neon Sign with LED
Animated Signs
The Embarcadero Center’s LED bulb signs
The Port of San Francisco Sign at The Ferry Building
Oakland’s signs including the Paramount Theatre
The Orinda Theatre
Rheem Theatre closes it’s doors in Moraga
Santa Cruz, The Boardwalk, and The Del Mar Theatre
Jim Rizzo of Neon Works in Oakland who rescues and restores signs
Stookey’s Club Moderne which has a brand new Art Deco style sign
NEON SPEAKS: Symposium & Spotlight Forum
The Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, California
Will Durham’s Neon Museum in Reno

Roger Blackstone: The Politics of Aesthetics

Blackstone speaks as if he were a god, “I’m Roger Blackstone. I have dedicated my life to advancing civilization and furthering human progress, from finding cures to deadly illnesses, to radical life extension, to building utopian cities. Imagine a world where you can get on a fast train in Miami and be in New York City in 30 minutes. Imagine an end to aging and illness. I have the power to re-write the human genome and end all human suffering. Imagine an end to all ecological degradation, preventing utter ecological catastrophe. I have the solutions to end our petroleum based economy, implementing high speed railway and monorail networks; vertical farms and renewable energy from unknown energy sources. I will help rebuild our suburban wastelands into magnificent walkable communities, accessible to mass transit and parklands; but most importantly true freedom. The freedom to live in the utopia you desire, whether it is a vertical garden-city, a neon-lit retro wonderland, or a European-style village. I’ve actually built these things and understand that true freedom will only occur when people can live in their very own utopia.” Noam’s mom scoffs, “Sounds like just another one of his commercials for his real estate developments, rather than an appeal from a public statesman. He wants to turn all of America into one giant theme park. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about ecology.” Blackstone continues, “Imagine no work! Robots will do all the work, and there will be a guaranteed basic income. People will no longer be slaves to dead end jobs and will be free to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential. Imagine no ugliness! I will offer economic incentives for the most attractive women to have multiple offspring and implement an immigration policy limited to only the most attractive women; the best looking European models and economic incentives for all young blonde Israeli women to immigrate to avoid military conscription. I will further human enlightenment with the legalization of LSD and DMT. I will fix our broken economy with a repudiation of all debt, home mortgages, and student loans, and an end to all interest with nationalization of the banks. Vote for me. I will make your dreams come true!” Noam’s mom interrupts, “Faux populist fascist pig! His gaudy casinos prey on the working class, his tastes are stuck in the 80s, he objectifies women, and he has done nothing to empower women and minorities! His father Alistair wrote this bizarre creepy fascist manifesto advocating for the aristocracy to enslave the proletariat, and I know Roger is influenced by that fascist shit.”

The following is a brief set of observations on Roger and Alistair Blackstone’s political agendas in Robert Stark’s novel Journey to Vapor Island. There is also an episode of the Stark Truth that covers much of the content here.

On Alistair Blackstone’s manifesto:

“Those who were born to serve.” – bears some resemblance to notions of a natural aristocracy, see: Ralph Waldo Emerson, HL Mencken. Also, this is what Marx would have called the lumpenproletariat, and the “petite bourgeois” is actually a name that some Marxists gave to the distributist movement, but at the same time there’s some evidence that Alistair is sympathetic to distributive economic philosophies, because capitalism has this negative effect or this stultifying effect on the creative class. Later on the term “aristocratic radicalism” pops up, which I think is used to describe Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy, but I don’t think Nietzsche himself came up with it.

“An immigration policy limited to only the most attractive women.” This makes humans, rather than just art and architecture, the subject of aesthetic concern.

“Conformist masses.” This is part of the idea (espoused by Crowley and others) that society is made up of loners (non-conformists) and “the herd” (conformists). Some would suggest, as per aristocratic radicalism (or Crowley’s term, “aristocratic communism”) that society ought to be geared towards empowering and emboldening those people who are naturally non-conformists, artists and intellectuals and so on, and maybe creating some more of them.

“Garden paradise.” – Environmentalism?

“A new priest class descended from a lost ancient civilization shall decide who is fit to rule.” This reminded me, although I suspect it is probably unintentional, of Roman myths about the founding of their city, i.e. there was the notion that the patrician elite were descended from the officials originally appointed by Romulus. It makes sense that this would be a concern given the references later in the book to Roman sexual mores and aesthetics.

On Roger Blackstone’s Politics:

“Advancing civilization and furthering human progress.” This implies a rejection of the NRx reading of history (inverted Whig view of history) and assumes, contra NRx, that some forms of progress are actually meaningful.

“I have the power to re-write the human genome and end all human suffering.” Reminded me of recent developments in genetics, how one could completely re-engineer the human genome to enhance human potential, etc.

“European-style village.” New urbanism and the necessity of creating aesthetically pleasant living spaces. Also possibly reflects a kind of implicit racialism since European architecture is treated as superior or at least as the default.

“Live in their very own utopia.” Relates to the idea of simple libertarianism just not being enough and how we need people to create intentional communities for every possible group both racial/ethnic and ideological.

“LSD and DMT.” Could be related to the book The Chemical Muse about the prevalence of drugs (especially entheogens) in premodern societies, e.g. Graeco-Roman societies, the importance of drug use to a lot of artists and anticonformists, etc.

Governor Breck Reconsidered

The original Planet of the Apes sequels may have had lower budgets and far fetched premises (even moreso than the first installment) but they became more imaginative and at times the line between hero and villain became somewhat blurred, leaving speciest (human) audiences conflicted about whom to root for. One example of this is Dr. Otto Hasslein, the villain (or is he?) from Escape From the Planet of the Apes who reluctantly sets out to kill Cornelius and Zira, when he realizes doing so may prevent intelligent apes from overtaking humanity in the far future. However, I will deal with the subject of Hasslein another day. Instead, I want to focus on the archetypal fascist character, Governor Breck, from the 4th installment of the series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972).

Governor Breck is the authoritarian leader of Central City, a futuristic totalitarian city featuring some aesthetic uniforms and awesome 1960s brutalist architecture (the film was shot in Century City in Los Angeles.) Breck is the main antagonist of the film and is mostly depicted as a rather cruel villain. Yet while he seemingly rules with an iron fist, it becomes easier for the human viewer to empathize with Breck’s methods and actions over the course of film, as events unfold and the apes revolt, rioting and burning the city to the ground. While the audience is sympathetic to the plight of Caesar (the protagonist ape and surviving child of Zira and Cornelius in the previous film) in the first half of the movie, one begins to understand the motivations of Breck toward the end of the film. Having been warned at some previous time about the possible future where apes rule over humans, Breck realizes the existential threat the apes pose to human civilization if they are allowed to become dominant, and therefore his actions seem less harsh within the context of what he is trying to prevent. While Breck is largely presented as a kind of cold hearted, fascist strawman….near the end of the film, when he is captured by Caesar and the apes, he gives a brief, yet powerfully humanizing speech:

“Because your kind were once our ancestors. Man was born of the ape. There’s still an ape curled up inside of every man, the beast that must be whipped into submission, the savage that has to be shackled in chains. You are that beast, Caesar. You taint us. You…you poison our guts. When we hate you, we’re hating the dark side of ourselves.” – Governor Breck

These unexpectedly cogent remarks serve as an important insight into our “hateful” attitudes towards those we dislike or deem to be uncivilized. It requires a great degree of self control, emotional discipline and empathy for humans to moderate ourselves and keep our base impulses in check. Yet this is required to sustain and build upon our civilization. Each of us maintains some variable capacity to behave bestial and savage-like. So when we observe people that lack impulse control, are prone to random violence and seem unable to behave civilized in a public setting, it registers with us a visceral disgust. We recognize these tendencies within ourselves as the savage genies we successfully manage to keep bottled up everyday, “genies” we’ve gone great lengths to resist unleashing upon our fellow man (as well as our furry little friends.) Those individuals or groups we observe as failing to control these negative impulses, we see as the physical manifestations of our own primal desires and the violent thoughts we don’t dare act upon, the manifestations of such that need to be dutifully kept in check by any means necessary, in order for the civilization we love and ultimately our species to survive.

Robert Stark Talks to Ashley Messinger About Retro Futurism ( Part II)

Robert Stark and co-host Brandon Adamson talk to returning guest Ashley Messinger. Ashley is based in the UK and writes for Brandon’s AltLeft.com. You can also find Ashley on Twitter.

Interview can be found here.

Topics Include:

A continuation on the topic of a “Redpilled” SWPL culture and it’s viability
The implicit Whiteness of progressive causes such as Environmentalism, Effective Altruism, and Transhumanism
The importance of being technologically advanced in contrast to gun culture and “Becoming a Barbarian”
Creating City States based on shared interest
Biopunk, Biomorphism, and vertical gardens
Brandon’s interest in 70’s Retro Futurism (ex. Logan’s Run)
Steampunk, Urban fantasy literature, and the technology of Victorian England
Decopunk; the film Dark City
The lack of vision in new architecture and urbanism
Roman Archeo Futurism
80’s Retro-Futurism, Cyberpunk, and Fashwave
The Bearer of “Trad” News
Hip to the Moon: Brandon Adamson Drops Out to Conquer the Stars
Robert’s Journey to Vapor Island; Roger Blackstone’s “Neon Nationalism”
The Man in the High Castle series; the alternative society portrayed and the Retro-Futuristic architecture
Whether Fascism was anti-modern or about creating an alternative modernity
Ashley’s review of the film Call Me by Your Name
Age of Consent Laws
The film The Crush Starring Alicia Silverstone

Compare and Contrast

New EP out, Compare and Contrast. Well actually, it’s been out for a little while. It’s a folkish EP / mini album of organ-based, minimalist pop songs, featuring unassuming vocals and a retro, lo-fi sound. It is reminiscent of 90’s and early 00’s indie pop. One critic described the EP as containing “songs that sound like they belong in a Hammer film.” It’s available for purchase almost anywhere for only a few bucks.

Available on iTunes:
Brandon Adamson – Compare and Contrast

Bandcamp: Here