Turntablists are celebrated for speaking with their hands, but Montreal decknician Kid Koala (Eric San) is the first to use those mitts to forge a graphic novel, with Nufonia Must Fall (ECW Press). He's promoting the tome with a unique tour that will feature as much record scratching as it will head (and perhaps back) scratching.
"We've set up the evening as if it were to be the entertainment for the perfect first date," explains Koala. "There will be tables and chairs for the audience with candle lights. We are going to play pieces off the soundtrack from Nufonia Must Fall on piano and four turntables [manned by DJs P-Love and Jester]. There will also be a slide show where we will introduce you to some of the characters in the book. Plus, I've worked out a few new turntable routines for the evening, all of them in line with the romantic theme of the book. We are also going to play Nufonia bingo... and you can win stuff!" exclaims Koala.
Koala is best known for his cheeky sense of humor on the decks. But who knew that while bringing mirth with his Ninja Tune releases and appearances with Gorillaz and Bullfrog, he had a romantic tragedy brewing in him? Well, Monsieur Koala did indeed harbor such dark thoughts, and they've filled over 300 pages of grayscale panels of what he calls a "silent paperback film."
In Nufonia, we follow a four-eyed robot's awkward attempts to woo Malorie, a robotics company employee. While everyone who hears the robot's love songs vomits, she is smitten by them and they strike up a romance, though his clumsiness causes the destruction of her PalmPilot and ruins a dinner. (The robot pawns his turntable--which he carries everywhere--to buy Malorie a new PalmPilot; that's love, bub.) I won't spoil the ending, but Nufonia is a tearjerker. However, Koala disagrees with my assertion that it's a downer.
"Ah, the ending," muses Koala. "I guess it's all up to interpretation--and your personal optimism. It sounds like you need a hug or something. I am sure you will meet someone at the show. We will have a section for singles!"
Koala says Nufonia arose out of an obsession with "romance and relationships. That's why it was so much fun to make tracks like 'Barhopper' [off his excellent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome]! It's all about that fun, awkward energy of trying out pick-up lines. They sound stupid... [but they're] just a sincere call for companionship.
"And as for this book, it is more inspired by the cinema than other things. Louisa [Schabas, the book's lighting and coloring artist] and I [watched] romantic films to stay in the zone. We watched Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie over and over; also Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love. I listened to those two soundtracks a lot while I was drawing the panels for this story."
Does Nufonia have any basis in your real life? "A lot of ECW Press' books are autobiographical, but personally I don't believe I've gone through enough to warrant writing that kind of stuff. That's why it ended up being a love story about a robot and an office girl." Dave Segal
Wed March 26, Medicine Hat, 1834 NE Alberta, 224-TIXX, 7 & 10 pm, $10
Shoot, Point, Shoot
In the early '60s, even before America was officially engaged in the Vietnam War, a dozen absolutely fearless combat photographers were already sending back single-frame images; glimpses into a horrifying world. Monks protesting by lighting themselves on fire; the brains of a teenage Vietnamese boy spraying as an American GI shoots him in the back of the head; a beautiful young Vietnamese girl, doused in Napalm, running down a dusty road. These images indelibly shaped much of the American psyche on the Vietnam War.
Even with round-the-clock CNN coverage, war photographers still grab some of the most chilling and show-stopping images. In 1993, The New York Times published an Associated Press photograph showing two dead Army Rangers, stripped to their waists, being dragged through the street of Mogadishu. Citing the demoralizing image, the very next day, President Clinton withdrew troops from Somalia.
Author and photographer Peter Howe has collected stunning images from ten leading combat photographers in his new book, Shooting Under Fire. The former photo editor for Life, Howe has curated a remarkably comprehensive and insightful book that trots the globe from the jungles of Vietnam and El Salvador to the street fighting in Chechnya and Sarajevo. With interviews and candid anecdotes, Howe adds narrative to the photos that both underscores and debunks the notion of the combat photographer as a fearless, romantic icon. PHIL BUSSE
Friday, March 21, Powell's, 1001 W Burnside, 7:30 pm, free
Rudo's Wrestling Church
Whether it's hustling your way to the front of a rowdy crowd at Satyricon or gluing your pasty ass to the couch, if you're a Portlander, there's a high chance you've been exposed to the wrestling bug. Well buddy, there's a new location to indulge, one that will perhaps even broaden your appreciation of wrestling to cosmopolitan proportions.
Rose City Rudo's Wrestling Church congregates each Sunday evening for a big screen wrestling smorgasbord, for those who like to stretch it to an international level. In addition to showing video footage from the local, beloved Portland Organic Wrestling matches (Rudo is a participant), you can expect to see professional wrestling matches from Japan and Mexico! Traditional Mexican wrestling, called Lucha Libre, entails more acrobatics than the home-style variety, and their characters wear cooler masks. You'll also get to relive vintage wrestling matches from the '80s and watch monthly WWF among comrades--hell, sometimes the Church even features Playstation video game wrestling!
And just think--you won't even need to race off during commercial breaks to go buy more beer! MARJORIE SKINNER
Billy Ray's, 2216 NE MLK, 287-7254, every Sunday, 7 pm (5 pm on WWF nights), free
Art of Personal Expression
The ten-year survey of Chicago artist Tony Tasset's work in photography, video, and sculpture opened last week at PICA. The show succeeds on a number of artistic fronts that many Portland artists seem to be endlessly wrestling with: how to be sincere without being maudlin, how to convey self-doubt without making deliberately pathetic objects, and how to create artwork that is highly personal without posting your high-school diary on the internet.
Tasset uses his own life as the starting point for most of his work. Carving Again is a fast-moving, two-second video loop of the artist repeatedly growing and shrinking in the blink of an eye. The effect was achieved by time-lapsing the changes in his body as he dropped 30 pounds. I am U R Me is a pleasantly crude digital video that shows the artist sitting at the breakfast table with his wife and son. Every few seconds, the "characters" morph into one another in an endless dance, trading places around the cereal bowl and living in one another's skin.
The sculpture with a charcoal frown, Snowman is a great paean to childhood, nature, melancholy, and art itself. The sparkling Frosty--down to the pine needles and leaves rolled into its body--is completely fabricated by hand. It's a great example of how an unassuming idea can become a rich, complex piece of art. CHAS BOWIE
Tony Tasset's Works: 1993-2003, PICA, 219 NW 12th, 242-1419, through April 19, $3
Fun On Ice, Twice!
Who says winter is over!? Mountain snow is at its highest level of the year, and not one, but TWO obscure ice sports are making a comeback!
What Olympic sport involves grown-ups frantically sweeping push brooms in front of a 40-pound piece of granite as it slides down a field of ice? Did you answer "curling"? Good! Then you're ready for this Saturday's open house at the Evergreen Curling Club, which will feature hands-on instruction, on-ice participation, and a chance to sign up for lessons in April.
If you find curling too slow, don't fret! The 2003 Verizon Luge Challenge is comin' to Mt. Hood Meadows! This weekend, at the Meadows Resort, the U.S. luge team offers free luge lessons. Here's your chance to board one of the sleek luge sleds and race it around an actual luge track at high speeds... for FREE!
So put that tanning lotion back in the bag, friend. Old Man Winter ain't goin' nowhere! JUSTIN SANDERS
Evergreen Curling Club's Open House, Saturday, March 22, 8 pm, Mountain View Ice Arena, 14313 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver, WA,
2003 Verizon Luge Challenge, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort, Saturday & Sunday, March 22-23, registration from 9 am to 12:30 pm, www.skihood.com, FREE