Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Johnny Smiled Slowly

My God's a good guy
My God is good
My God's a good guy
And his name is Ronnie Wood

- Jock Scot, Good God

“You’d better bring money,” the wife said to me over the phone last Saturday night.

It was an uncharacteristically capitalist thing to say, considering that she was calling from the Billy Bragg concert down the street.

I’d dropped her off at the lobby of the theatre a couple hours before to see if she could luck into a good seat. A gang of young ruffians, one in a Pogues tee, came to her rescue with something in the sixth row on the side.

Now I was being pressed back into taxi service, along with a touch of concierge. The mugs Billy had been flogging all night had disappeared, but there were a few other odds and ends that seemed attractive.

When I got to the lobby, I found her in a line of fans awaiting an autograph. An older gent was busy shepherding a young man into the line beside him.

“He’s my son,” he said by way of explanation.

“I don’t know,” I said. “He doesn’t look like you.”

I was then quickly instructed in the ways of taking a photo with a cell phone. The wife had decided to use her moment with him to discuss the recent Pogues shows she’d seen in NY.

“How were they?” asked Mr. Bragg. “I heard good things about them. How was Shane?”

The wife explained that he seemed to be in fighting trim.

“That’s good, good…” he said as he signed her program. He paused, then, and said, “You know…if you’d told me years ago that Joe Strummer would be gone and Shane would still be around…” He let the implication evaporate into the air.

“I know,” said the wife.

I then tried to take a photo of the pair as Billy treated us to his version of Mary Had A Little Lamb sung to the tune of House Of The Rising Sun (try it, it works).

“…and Shane would still be around.” Indeed. There’s no justice or sense to the genetic lottery, is there?

If there were, we’d be talking about how old Keith Richards would have been had he lived to see the 21st Century.

How they go, how they go, Charles Bukowski once wrote. All the ones you thought would never go.

Just prior to this scene, I’d been home in front of the computer working on a MySpace site that would be dedicated to musical projects. More specifically, a show I’m planning for this September in connection with this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

A post-9/11 sense of my own mortality had been partly responsible for my putting renewed energy into creating music. Time had begun to feel painfully short.

I sat, as I had the past few evenings, browsing through the possible “friends” I could add to the site and wandered into the websites of folks I’d lost track of. John Robb’s Goldblade was just finishing up a swing through the western U.S. with GBH, as it turned out, while Nikki Sudden (ex-Swell Maps) appeared to be visiting NY and was scheduled to give a free show at the Knitting Factory on Saturday night.

I thought briefly about going but quickly dismissed the idea. Then I decided I had to pick either a Swell Maps page or a Sudden page to add to mine, as both seemed a little excessive.

I picked the Swell Maps page.

I was on a break today at work when I called the wife. She sounded troubled.

“Nikki Sudden…” she said.

Oh, god. I missed a Philly show, didn’t I?

“Nikki Sudden is dead,” she finished. “You didn’t know?”

It turned out that she had seen the history list of recent websites I’d visited, and with Nikki Sudden’s name coming up so much she figured I already knew. I explained about the MySpace page research.

“Oh…God, I’m so sorry you had to hear it over the phone!” she said.

Apparently, sometime between the end of that free Saturday night show and Sunday, Nikki Sudden passed away at the age of 49. His brother and Swell Maps co-founder Epic Soundtracks died in 1997. Eerily, Sudden had posted a remembrance of his late brother on his official site just last Thursday night.

Swell Maps had been one of my ideals of what a band should be. They were as DIY as it was possible to get, recording in their bedrooms and cheap studios, and breaking any number of stylistic and musical rules in the process.

Sudden, besotted with Marc Bolan, the Stones, and Ronnie Wood, was damned if he was going to be anything but a rock star and, in his way, he was. He plunged into a prosperous solo career after the demise of the Maps and his catalogue had recently been the object of a massive reissue program by the Secretly Canadian label.

His influence, on bands from R.E.M. to Sonic Youth, has been recorded elsewhere. My favorite album of his was Waiting On Egypt, a collection that could have passed for a Swell Maps album but which began to point the way towards the music to come. It has some of the best T. Rex song titles Bolan never wrote (Opium Pits) and even the errant Stones cover:

Here I am, all alone
and all dressed up to kill
But I’d much rather be with the boys than be with you

I got to meet him a few years ago at an instore. He signed some old LP’s and posed for pictures with me.

I’ve spent all my money
My pockets are so empty
My gold’s all gone
My gold’s all gone

I’ve spent it all

Staggered, I went back to my desk and listened to Egypt, which happened to be in my current rotation.

I’m all alone, but
I’m not giving up

Sons come and go, William Saroyan once wrote, but Mothers hang in forever. Of course, he wasn’t referring only to the genealogical meaning of the word Mother.

Sometime during the last hours of Nikki Sudden’s life, Billy Bragg was musing aloud about the strangeness of fate and the capriciousness of its choices.

Which brings us back to the cell phone camera.

“Let me see, let me see,” the wife said excitedly as we strolled out.

The results, not unexpectedly given the circumstances, were dark and blurry as usual.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Quoteback Mountain

I don't think we ever said - at least I know I didn't say - that there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein.
- George W. Bush

If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow Neo-Nazis into their parade? If African Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?...If we let the (Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization) in, is it the Irish Prostitute Association next?
- John Dunleavy, chairman of NY’s St. Patrick’s Day parade

I remember an executive telling me to change a storyboard panel once because "ducks don't have teeth." It was a talking duck, by the way.
- John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren and Stimpy

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Meet The New Boss

I don’t say these things to be contrary, you know.

The fact remains that, whereas a great many movie fans would list Raging Bull or Goodfellas when asked for their favorite Scorsese film, I would probably have to say:

After Hours.

I know it was just a way for Marty to keep his foot in the door during a financial dry spell, but it’s one of my favorites.

I’m sure you remember it: 1985, Griffin Dunne plays a not-especially-likable guy named Paul Hackett who’s got a nondescript computer job that bores him.

His dull routine is interrupted when he meets a woman one night (played by Rosanna Arquette) who’s impressed that he’s reading Henry Miller so, when he gets home, he decides to call her and ask her out on a last-minute late night date.

From there, Paul goes down the rabbit hole as his adventures in late night Manhattan go from bad to worse. In the time-honored tradition of screwball comedy, by the time the picture’s through it seems as if everyone in the film is after him.

It’s the kind of thing I love. A steadily escalating series of events that go from the simplest exchange to an apocalyptic fit that seems to threaten everything.

There’s a very dark kind of humor running through the whole thing. Paul makes enemies effortlessly as he wanders through the film and the villagers that are after him at the end are after his blood, make no mistake about it.

And all because he wanted a little excitement.

It’s also a very funny satire of behaviors that are specific to New York City and, therefore, America.

As I said, a low-key entertainment that probably didn’t make Scorsese sweat much as he made it, but it has a special energetic charm and a certain tone I am a sucker for.

If I could have made any of his films, I’d wish it was that one.

Similarly, I suppose most Anthony Burgess fans would point to A Clockwork Orange or Nothing Like The Sun if you requested a personal fave. Once again, I would have to go to a lesser work in the Mancunian’s canon.

The Clockwork Testament or: Enderby’s End is a slim volume that Burgess knocked out in about ten days that satirized his year in New York as a visiting professor, during which time he found himself embroiled in controversy as the author of the book upon which this ultraviolent Kubrick film was based.

Let me put it this way:

It’s a sly, funny satire of behaviors that are specific to New York City and, therefore, America.

It made me laugh out loud in the library in which I first read it.

I suppose that if I ever were to put pen to paper in any sort of concentrated fashion, it would no doubt resemble, to some extent, the two productions listed above.

Neither was what you’d call a big production. They were, in fact, probably no more than elementary exercises for the artists that made them. And yet, I’d take them over their larger, better-known brethren any day.

You don’t hear from them often, but when you do you know it.

I heard from one of them the other day, in fact.

If you saw it, you may recall how After Hours ends.

Paul has been turned into a piece of conceptual art, a George Segalesque piece of papier mache, in order to hide him. The “statue” is then stolen by two thieves who throw him into their van and careen into the night.

As the sun comes up, Paul falls out of the van directly in front of…his office.

Covered with plaster dust, he takes the elevator up to his office and girds himself for another day on the job. Nothing has changed. It’s sad and funny at the same time.

The job service I’m signed up with called the other day to tell me they thought they had something for me.

After a half hour phone interview with the prospective employer, I was told to report to work the following Monday.

When I asked them where they were located, they helpfully explained how to find them.

They are, I kid you not, directly across the street from my old employer, Endless Bore & Tedium.

So I’m back. The long night is over. Nothing has changed.

And to think: it was all because I wanted a little excitement.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Prescriptions Were In)

Your skin starts itching once you buy the gimmick
- Lust For Life
, Iggy Pop

It’s one of Nature’s little jokes that, after years of refusing to indulge in the recreational use of drugs, I should become so dependent upon the legally prescribed variety.

This is only one of Nature’s little jokes at my expense. Maybe we’ll get into some of the others later.

It’s very hard to think back to a time when I wasn’t taking a daily regimen of something. You’d have to go back to before the first panic attack, which happened somewhere around 20 years ago.

I was working in a gas station when all of a sudden I felt as if I were having a heart attack. My pulse was racing and my heart began to beat wildly out of control. I felt as if I were going to die.

This was the first of many times when it would be explained to me that there was nothing actually wrong with my heart. Instead, I was suffering from panic disorder, an unwelcome remnant of our ancestors’ “fight-or-flight” mechanism. It had been a useful thing back in the day, but was now decidedly old school.

It was something that could be tied into depression, too, a possibility that would require a good deal of therapy. In the meantime, though, I needed something to get me through the moment.

God knows what any of these potions were called. I’ve been through so many of them. Sometimes they’d turn you into a zombie, but allow you to get through the day. Other times you’d feel as if you weren’t sedated enough, and you’d have to deal with panic attacks in the middle of the workday and hope no one noticed.

Therapy could help you try and isolate some of the psychological causes of the anxiety, while relaxation exercises could help you to ride out an attack if it was unavoidable.

And caffeine – lovely, lovely caffeine – would have to go, or at least be reduced.

I’ve gone through periods of being off the drugs, but usually the idea that I could do without them turned out to be wishful thinking.

Now one of the drawbacks of my recent dismissal from Endless Bore & Tedium has been the loss of my health plan. Being dependent on so many drugs now, the plan was the only way I was able to afford them.

It was the only reason I asked them to reconsider firing me. Couldn’t they see their way clear, after 20 years of service and being 50 years of age, to giving me a break for health considerations?

They thought about it for a moment.

Er, no.

And so I’ve been hoping that I’d be able to find employment before I needed to get any of my prescriptions refilled. Just in case that plan didn’t go well, I began to space the drugs out. Instead of taking them daily, I’d let a couple days go by. Then a few more.

I thought that if worse came to worse and I ran out of the drugs completely, at least my system wouldn’t be as shocked as if I’d stopped cold turkey.

Well, I’ve completely stopped taking my one major antidepressant, while continuing to reduce some of the others by cutting them in half. They, too, will soon be gone.

I’ve been interested in finding out how I would feel, insofar as you can forget what it’s like not to have their help. In other words, how much of life has been obscured by the drugs? How much more are you now able to feel? Which feels more natural?

The withdrawal symptoms were a little worse than I’d expected. Not continuing to take the drug created a sense of intense fatigue, as if your head were somehow underwater. I began to experience frequent headaches and would often feel as if my entire body was shuddering, as if I’d skipped a heartbeat.

Just when I thought I’d started to feel pretty good and could glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel, I’d get another day of feeling as if I were moving through molasses.

A little online research confirmed that these symptoms weren’t unusual. In fact, many people trying to quit the drug seemed to go through far worse for far longer.

As I write this, the worst seems to be over and I’m settling into feeling a little more normal on a day-to-day basis. My emotions feel a little more nearer the surface, perhaps, but no real major problems (as they like to say in the traffic reports).

So we’ll see. Hopefully, I’ll manage until I can afford a health plan again. Even if I get one, maybe I’ll see how well I can manage without.

Because these things are such a double-edged sword. They’re great while you’re taking them, but if you stop you feel like you just fell into a William Burroughs novel.

Which I’ll take over Bret Easton Ellis, but you know what I’m saying.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

At Least There's Some Things We Can All Agree On!

Human Rights Watch:

Iranian police and plainclothes agents charged a peaceful assembly of women’s rights activists in Tehran and beat hundreds of women and men who had gathered to commemorate International Women’s Day...

“This was a completely peaceful gathering with no political overtones or slogans,” one participant told Human Rights Watch. “We just held up signs in solidarity with the international women’s rights movement.”

Within minutes, after agents photographed and videotaped the gathering, the police told the crowd to disperse. In response, the participants staged a sit-in and started to sing the anthem of the women’s rights movement, one participant told Human Rights Watch.

The security forces then dumped cans of garbage on the heads of women who were seated before charging into the group and beating them with batons to compel them to leave the park ...

Ms. Magazine:

Acts of violence against Iraqi women who do not wear headscarves have more than tripled in the three years since the US invasion, according to the Women's Rights Association in Iraq. Many of the attacks are carried out by family members to protect the family's "honor," reports IRIN News, the United Nations News Service.

"Women are being killed because they don't wear headscarves and veils," said WRA spokeswoman Mayada Zuhair, IRIN reports. "A life is being taken because of a simple piece of cloth, and someone should prevent more women from being killed by these ignorant people who believe that honor depends on what you're wearing."


A series of protests and rallies for women's rights occurred in several Asian countries in the days leading up to International Women's Day, March 8. Nearly 2,000 women and men protested acid attacks, of which women are the primary target, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 7, according to the Associated Press. Monira Rahman, spokesperson for the Acid Survivor’s Foundation, told the AP that women made up 75 percent of the 268 victims of such attacks last year.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, hundreds of women protested a so-called anti-pornography bill, reports the AP, which would make illegal showing skin on either the shoulders or legs and would make kissing in public an offense that carries a ten year prison sentence.


New legislation signed earlier this week by (South Dakota) Governor Mike Rounds makes abortion illegal in every circumstance except where the life of the woman is threatened. There are no exceptions, even for cases of rape or incest, though in these circumstances women could receive emergency contraception. Doctors and medical staff who provide an abortion face up to five years in prison.

New Haven Register:

U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who often takes a conservative line on social issues, is facing a liberal Democratic primary challenge from wealthy Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont. But that hasn't stopped Lieberman from supporting the approach of the Catholic hospitals when it comes to contraceptives for rape victims. Lieberman said he believes hospitals that refuse to give contraceptives to rape victims for "principled reasons" shouldn't be forced to do so. "In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital," he said.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fun With CD's, Part One: The Stewarts

And the great thing is that, even if you mistakenly buy the wrong disc, either one'll clear the room.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On The Champagne Trail With GWB!

"This is hard work! How did Jesus do this all day?"

Time Magazine:

Through the challenges, the President has kept his human touch. Touring New Orleans last week, he met a man who had survived for days on canned goods before being evacuated to Utah. "Were you the only black man in Salt Lake City?" Bush asked.

Say what you will about him, he's a funny guy.

Contrary to Clooney's impassioned speech, no theaters ever forced black people to sit in the back. If you were trying to oppress people, you would make them sit in the front, which are the worst seats in the house.
- Ann Coulter

Hey, she's funny, too!

NY Times:

Mr. Qaissi, 43, was prisoner 151716 of Cellblock 1A. The picture of him standing hooded atop a cardboard box, attached to electrical wires with his arms stretched wide in an eerily prophetic pose, became the indelible symbol of the torture at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad…

He was arrested in October 2003, he said, because he loudly complained to the military, human rights organizations and the news media about soldiers' dumping garbage on a local soccer field…

Weeks after complaining about the garbage, he said, he was surrounded by Humvees, hooded, tied up and carted to a nearby base before being transferred to Abu Ghraib. Then the questioning began.

"They blamed me for attacking U.S. forces," he said, "but I said I was handicapped; how could I fire a rifle?" he said, pointing to his hand. "Then he asked me, 'Where is Osama bin Laden?' And I answered, 'Afghanistan.'

How did he know? "Because I heard it on TV," he replied.

We have a winner.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's Hard Out Here For A Chimp

I seen some crazy things in this town they call D.C.
Like reporters in the press room that didn’t vote for me
Got a couple hoes, though, busy watchin’ my back
Like McClellan and Russert when this chimpboy gets attacked
It’s f’d up, baby, when you are the great pretender
Lookin’ at Katrina through my airplane window
I’d rather be workin’ on another hardass caper
Like treatin’ the Constitution as if it was toilet paper
They thought they voted Michael in, ‘stead I gave ‘em Tito
Dreamin’ sweet dreams ‘bout Jesus and Alito
I’d try an’ tell you more but it’s hard fo’ a chimp
Who killed 2,000 soldiers ‘cause they called his Dad a wimp

You know it’s hard out here for a chimp
When he’s tryin’ to sound like he’s coherent
Got a whole lotta lib’rals talkin’ shit
‘Bout Abramoff and the money that he spent

Man, it seems like I’m ducking Cheney’s bullets every day
Crazy ass Veep should be shootin’ Tom DeLay
But I gotta stay patriotic, do what I can
Reclaming the U.S. for Christ ain’t no picnic, man
Outlawing abortion, treatin’ women second-class
Don’t you call me Rove’s bitch or I’ll have to kick your ass
Congress knows better than to ask to see a file
‘Cause they know I’ll waterboard ‘em, Gitmo style!
I got Katie Harris, yeah, and I got Condi, too
I call them my mushroom clouds, they call me KABOOM!
That’s how it goes in the political arena
I’m busy just stayin’ one step ahead of the subpoena

You know it’s hard out here for a chimp
When he’s tryin’ to sound like he’s coherent
Got a whole lotta lib’rals talkin’ shit
‘Bout the WMD’s and where the heck they went

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ivor Cutler 1923-2006

Another great poet/eccentric has left us:

Glasgow Evening Times:

"Ivor Cutler, the Glasgow-born cult poet and eccentric entertainer, has died.

Cutler, who counted John Peel, The Beatles, Billy Connolly and Franz Ferdinand among his fans, was 83.

He died on Friday although his death was just made public today.

The former school teacher and apprentice fitter, who was born into a large Jewish family in the Gorbals, wrote surreal songs and poetry and continued to perform live until 2004.

He also wrote books, did illustrations and made radio shows, while The Beatles gave him the role of bus conductor Buster Bloodvessel in their hit film Magical Mystery Tour.

He began performing in London in 1957 and went on to appear on the BBC's Home Service.

But his big break came in the early 1960s when he appeared on the Acker Bilk Show, Late Night Line-Up and other programmes, as well as becoming a successful recording artist.

Such was the esteem he was held in by John Lennon and Paul McCartney that his 1967 Ludo album was produced by George Martin and later re-released in 1997 by Creation, then the label of Oasis.

Cutler said he began composing music properly at the age of 34 and only decided to perform his own material because no-one would use his songs.

He was invited to perform his material on the BBC's Home Service and went on to broadcast 38 poems and stories between 1957 and 1963, often accompanied by the harmonium.

Cutler began releasing records with titles such as Jammy Smears and Who Tore Your Trousers?

His album Prince Ivor even included a description of how to get to his north London home.

He said: "My way of writing poetry was to go to a jazz concert and just let the music come through me and just write nonsense poems, so that one was listening to the noise of the words rather than the meaning."

A member of the Noise Abatement Society and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, he appeared on Peel's show from 1969 until the DJ's death in 2004.

Alex Kapranos, of Franz Ferdinand, was among younger fans. He said he admired Cutler "because he has fun and is unpretentious with language".

Today, his website was packed with messages of condolence from fans."

For my own part, I'll remember best his minimalist classic Go And Sit Upon The Grass, which was later covered by Robert Wyatt:

Go and sit upon the grass
and I will come and sit beside you

Go and sit upon the grass
and I will come and sit beside you

and we will talk

While we talk I'll hit your head with a nail
to make you understand me

While we talk I'll hit your head with a nail
to make you understand me

I have something important to say

When we're done you'll go and feel the lumps upon your head
and think about what I said
and think about what I said

Go and sit upon the grass and feel your lumps

Monday, March 06, 2006

'Til Things Are Brighter...

Allow me to indulge, then, in a little nostalgia.

There’s a lot of moving going on at the moment, things going in and out of storage. Much of it has been the vinyl collection, which I haven’t gotten to spend time with in a while.

I’ve managed to find CD replacements for much of it, but there’s still plenty that eludes me.

What it brings back immediately are all those evenings spent behind a microphone, after having lugged a good few boxes of vinyl with me. The adrenalin spike of hitting the cues, finding the perfect segue, often while the city slept and you were its aural guardian.

There was nothing like it.

That period of my life when every single bit of money went into vinyl, when there were artists whose latest releases you bought simply by virtue of their name.

Mostly it brings back that period in the mid-80’s that I think of as my last hurrah, when there was a final flurry of bands that I actually cared about and whose music still meant everything to me.

I thumb through the vinyl and find them where I left them:

A Witness, The Three Johns, Membranes, bIG fLAME, The Great Leap Forward, Marc Riley and the Creepers, 5 Go Down To The Sea, Dog Faced Hermans, Bogshed, Stump, The Bomb Party, Yeah Yeah Noh…

I was still on the radio in ’84-’85 and it still felt like there was a good reason to be.

It was the last burst of creativity that spoke to me the way that punk had done and when it was over, so was my radio career.

My taste for noisy and angular guitars had become so predictable at this point that the wife only had to hear a few seconds of each before commenting, “Yeah, that’s one of yours, alright…”

Many of them were the children of The Fall, especially John Robb’s Membranes. His lyrics came straight from the Manchester School of Obfuscation and Snarkology. And Marc Riley’s Creepers had an impeccable Fall pedigree, thanks to Riley’s status as a former member. In fact, this was the period that found The Fall themselves enjoying an unprecedented amount of mainstream popularity. So for many, The Creepers became the standard bearers of the band’s original sound, all scratchy guitars and cheap organ.

Even my beloved Rip, Rig and Panic were still hanging on in the mid-‘80’s, albeit reinvented as Float Up C.P., a less manic version of themselves that managed to stay inside the lines more often than not. This was not enough, though, and they succumbed after one wonderful album, Kill Me In The Morning.

You won’t find mention of any of these groups in Simon Reynolds’s Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, a book we’ve flogged here before and which has just been released here in the U.S. in an expurgated version. His story ends just as theirs begins. Call it Post-post-punk.

The willingness to let the inmates run the asylum had finally disappeared and all that remained were a group of bands that put together cassette compilations (where I was first exposed to many of them) and who often shared and juggled members around.

John Robb is still around in Goldblade, along with one of the fellows from A Witness. Jon Langford (Three Johns) continues to record with the Mekons and produces solo work from time to time. Marc Riley went on to radio fame in the U.K. and now hosts no less than two shows for BBC Radio 6.

It’s odd in this current climate of Johnny Cash mania to come across a tribute LP from 1988 that I’d completely forgotten about. Langford and Riley got the idea to put together a band to record a bunch of Cash covers and then find guest artists to sing them. The results were released as ‘Til Things Are Brighter…A Tribute To Johnny Cash and it featured folks like Pete Shelley, Michelle Shocked, Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire), Steve Mack (That Petrol Emotion) and others providing vocals for Cash classics like I Walk The Line, Ring Of Fire, Boy Named Sue, and Man In Black.

On the back, there’s a picture of a beaming Cash some 18 years ago with his arms around Langford and Riley, probably wondering who these crazy kids were.

It just means a lot more to me than seeing Hollywood awarding itself for spitting out a biopic after he died.

That’s just me, though.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

History Of America, Part Two

Elizabeth Vargas: When you look back on those days immediately following when Katrina struck, what moment do you think was the moment that you realized that the government was failing, especially the people of New Orleans?

President Bush: When I saw TV reporters interviewing people who were screaming for help.

It's a wonder our television set is still in one piece.

Here's an eerie and remarkable set of before-and-after images from photographer Kristine Larsen (thanks to Nick at the BKV Cabal).