The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

“Visible Girls: London’s Lost Female Subcultures”

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Dangerous Minds has a gallery of photographs from Anita Corbins project photographing young women in 1980s London. “In the early 1980s, photographer Anita Corbin documented the ‘informal uniforms’ of young women’s subcultures across London. Corbin photographed rude girls, rockabillies, mods, skinheads, and some ‘less defined’ female groups including soul, rasta, punk and futurist, as well […]

“The Pain of the Watermelon Joke”

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Author Jacqueline Woodson writes about her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, growing up in South Carolina and Daniel Handler’s watermelon joke directed at her at the National Book Awards. “I would have written Brown Girl Dreaming if no one had ever wanted to buy it, if it went nowhere but inside a desk drawer that my […]

Philip Pullman on William Blake

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Author Philip Pullman talks about the work of William Blake at The Guardian: “My mind and my body reacted to certain lines from the Songs of Innocence and of Experience, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, from ‘Auguries of Innocence,’ from Europe, from America with the joyful immediacy of a flame leaping to meet […]

“Egyptian Handbook of Ritual Power”

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A 1,300-year-old Egyptian book of spells has been translated. “Among other things, the ‘Handbook of Ritual Power,’ as researchers call the book, tells readers how to cast love spells, exorcise evil spirits and treat “black jaundice,” a bacterial infection that is still around today and can be fatal.” Like this:Like Loading…

On Writing The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

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John Le Carré writes about writing The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. “It was the Berlin Wall that had got me going, of course: I had flown from Bonn to take a look at it as soon as it started going up. I went with a colleague from the Embassy and as we […]

“The truth about the dungeon master who disappeared in the steam tunnels”

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Jason Louv writes about James Dallas Egbert III, who seemed to have disappeared in Michigan State University’s steam tunnels in 1979 and who became the focus of a panic about Dungeons & Dragons. “When Egbert vanished, his parents hired William Dear, a private detective, to locate him. Dear theorized that it was Egbert’s involvement in […]

The De-Radicalization of American Girl Dolls

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At The Atlantic, Amy Schiller writes about Mattel’s changes to American Girl Dolls line.  from teaching girls to understand thorny historical controversies and build political consciousness” to customizable accessories reflecting their owners’ own lives. Alexandra Petri writes “Even more terrible things are happening to the American Girl brand than you thought” at The Washington Post. […]

“Finding Marlowe”

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Louise Ransil talks with the Los Angeles Times about private investigator Samuel B. Marlow. “Marlowe, she said, was the city’s first licensed black private detective. He shadowed lives, took care of secrets, knew his way around Tinseltown. Ransil dropped the names of some Hollywood heavies — Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Howard Hughes. But it got […]

Thinking About Serial

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At The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance considers whether it is wrong to be hooked on the Serial podcast in which journalist Sarah Koenig investigates a 1999 murder in Baltimore. “But Serial is also a story about storytelling. Listeners ride along with Koenig each week as she does her investigative work. We hear the reportorial leads that […]

A Collection of Calaveras

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The Library of Congress has scans of José Guadalupe Posada broadsheet illustrations, including many calaveras for your enjoyment! Like this:Like Loading…

A Little Halloween History

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Rosie Cima writes a little bit about the history of Halloween including a look at seasonal stores, sexy costumes and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. (Thanks, Paula!) Like this:Like Loading…

Halloween At The Gutter

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At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Keith is sharing Haunted History. Meanwhile, at her personal site, the Gutter’s own Carol is doing her version of 31 Days Of Horror: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Like this:Like Loading…

Geeky Bounty at the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive has archived Starlog, Heavy Metal and they have a collection of Warren Publishing magazines like Blazing Combat, Vampirella, Eerie and Teenage Love Stories. Like this:Like Loading…

“Stuff You Missed In History Class: Bela Lugosi”

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The “Stuff You Missed In History Class” podcast discusses the life of Bela Lugosi in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. Like this:Like Loading…

“The Big Idea: In Conversation with LULZSEC”

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The Royal Court Theatre hosts a conversation among former Anonymous LulzSec members facilitated by anthropologist Gabriella Coleman. Like this:Like Loading…

“Haunted Houses: Tokyo’s Real Estate Listings With Problems”

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“Japan’s estimated population at the time of their last census was 127 million, and people have been living on this small collection of islands since the Jomon period (~12,000 BCE.) In an increasingly crowded country with a strong traditional belief in ghosts and hauntings, the question of avoiding a marauding ghost becomes impossible to solve, […]

“Too-ticky’s Guide To Live”

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Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki […]

Kevin Weir’s Haunting Images

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Photographer Kevin Weir uses vintage photographs to create haunting animation in “The Flux Machine.” The Guardian has an interview with Weir and more on his work. Like this:Like Loading…

Art History, Digitized

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The Princeton University Digital Library has digitized three Seventeenth Century Japanese illustrated scrolls and you can view them here. Meanwhile, 100,000 images from Getty Research Institute are now available at the Digital Library of America. (via @BibliOdyssey) Like this:Like Loading…

“Leave No Black Plume As A Token: Tracing Poe’s Raven”

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At Atlas Obscura, J.W. Ocker writes about Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in monuments, memorials, artifacts and ephemera. “I spent more than a year visiting memorials, mementos, monuments, and more dedicated or connected to Edgar Allan Poe in the places he lived and visited. That meant traveling from Massachusetts all the way down to an […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Comics Alliance suggests seven Star Wars comics to read before Disney makes them disappear. (Including a comic by one of Comics Editor Carol’s favorite creative teams–Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman). “Starting in 2015, Disney’s handing the publishing of any and all new Star Wars comics over to Marvel Comics, with an all new, optimized-for-corporate-synergy canon that will spread across all their media platforms. Anything that’s not a movie (especially one of the Original Trilogy movies), or a Clone Wars cartoon, will be unceremoniously Order 66-ed out of existence, giving future filmmakers a clean-ish slate to make movies (and money) on. But what about all those Dark Horse comics? That’s where we come in with 7 Dark Horse Star Wars comics you should track down before they disappear.”

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    At the New York Observer, Ashley Steves writes about Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show. “No one could ever prepare you for watching an episode of Ferguson’s Late Late Show. A friend could not sit you down and explain it (“Well, it’s really meta and deconstructive and there’s a horse”). There was really no good way to recommend it. It was something you discovered and became a part of. You had to stumble upon it on your own, perhaps restless or bored or simply curious while flipping through channels when your eye quickly caught some of the madness. And that’s the best part. It was an unexpected gift. At its worst, it could still send you to bed grinning and comforted. At its best, it was art. It was silly and fun and truly not like any other late night show.”

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    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

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    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

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    The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”

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    At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from key individuals and tribes. What it showed me was that you had to identify and build relationships with those opinion-formers – the DJs, the music industry, the fashion industry, the underground media.” (via @timmaughan)

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