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Kool-Aid Man in Second Life? OH YEAH!

September 25th, 2009 by D.Billy

If you’re in the middle of an existential crisis, this video by artist Jon Rafman of the Kool-Aid Man meandering through various user-created realms of Second Life might be just the thing to shake you out of it. Or conversely, if your life is boring as hell and you need a little existential crisis up in your bizness, this might get that process kick-started. Really, I’m pretty sure it can work either way.

While the video queues up — and it’s kind of a long one — you should know that after some zen-like gliding through various naturescapes and running through empty cities (and engaging in a robot battle) Kool-Aid Man gets raw (NSFW) at about 7:50, right after he does some tai chi with a couple of refugees from a Renaissance Faire. So, fair warning.

If you’d rather get a more Cliff’s Notes version of the Kool-Aid Man’s shenanigans in Second Life, you can click on the image below (or here) to go to a slide show (also periodically NSFW) wherein Kool-Aid Man:
- Visits faux-NYC, climbing the Empire State Building and dangling from the Statue of Liberty’s face
- Poses as one of the melting clocks inside Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory
- Makes his way through ancient city ruins, haunted underground caverns, and a desert harem
- Charters a steampunk submarine at some vaguely Mediterranian port, and is smilingly abducted by a UFO
- Spies on a tattooed couple having sex in a shower stall that has been inexplicably built in the middle of a jungle, and then dances with a white fox-man in bondage gear at a gay furry club
..and much more.

(click for slideshow)

(click for slideshow)

Now, in case you haven’t gone through Jon Rafman’s site and discovered this for yourself, the video and slideshow are actually promotional materials for Jon’s project where he gives tours of Second Life with a Kool-Aid Man avatar.  And last we heard — meaning as of this posting, it still says so on Jon’s site — you can schedule your very own Kool-Aid Man tour of Second Life by emailing koolaidmaninsecondlife [at] gmail [dot] com.

(That is, if you have any kind of inclination to use, or working knowledge of how to use, Second Life. Which I do not. I created an avatar two years ago, and I’m pretty sure he’s still hovering uselessly in the air above a desert island where I left him.)

Tip o’ the hat: Art Fag City posted about this project a while back, and it’s been stuck in my brainpan ever since.

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Daro’s Wisdom: Not for the Weak-Minded

September 23rd, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

My grandmother’s real name is Helen, but everyone in my family calls her Daro. It’s one of the first words I ever said, apparently — I just pointed at her and yelled it out and it stuck, simple as that.

Daro is 95 years old. She lied about her age her whole life until she turned 90, and then she started telling EVERYBODY. She’s a relentless self-promoter, a tireless artist, creator, and outsider poet. And man, she’s full of wisdom that she does not mind sharing at all.

Here’s some classic wisdom she shared with me when I visited her over Labor Day weekend:

We were sitting at the dinner table eating a home-cooked meal. Sort of. She proudly announced to me “I never use the oven anymore, Jeffrey. I just do everything up here in the microwave now, and it’s great!” We had some microwaved vegetable soup with a salad of romaine leaves covered with canned pears, and canned peaches. “Try some of the dressing I invented just tonight, Jeffrey,” she told me, all excited. “I came up with it myself. It’s mayonnaise with pineapple juice mixed in!”
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Williamsburg Bridge

September 20th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I live a couple blocks away from the Brooklyn base of the Williamsburg Bridge. Walking over it never gets old. Whenever I have friends visiting from out of town, I always take them on a walk over into the Lower East Side. It’s completely free and the views are so classic, so stimulating. I love how the graffiti on the bridge grows like barnacles, flourishing, dying and getting painted right over. The light’s always perfect from one angle or another, and I always see something that just blows my mind into a million crinkly pieces.

Danielle and Ezra are two of my favorite friends, and when they were here this weekend the bridge delivered. I got this shot on my iPhone — something about the blurriness of the low-budget image sensor really adds to the beauty for me.

Williamsburg Bridge 9/19/09

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Goodbye, Gran

September 10th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

My father’s mother was named Juanita Kay Simmermon, but everyone I ever met just called her Gran. She won a beauty pageant when she was in high school in Fort Myers, Florida, back before the roads were all paved and the swamps were drained. She knew Thomas Edison, Henry ford and Harvey Firestone – all their winter homes were in Fort Myers and I think she used to play cards with them.

That’s how I prefer to remember it, anyway.

Gran died last week. She was ninety-seven years old. My Dad and I went out to see her in her nursing home in South Bend, Indiana a few weeks ago, and I’m really glad I did. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it was a complete party, seeing my grandmother lying in a hospital bed suffering. But I’m really glad that I was able to visit and lift her spirits, maybe give her her last burst of joy.

I wasn’t able to make it to her memorial service, which was held this morning. I wrote the following words to be read in my absence:
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Recession in T-Shirt Form: Out of Money Experience

August 25th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I took this photo on the uptown A train this morning — there’s really not a lot else that can be said:

Ou Of Money Experience

Her t-shirt reads (for Google purposes): “I am having an out of money experience.”

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“The Moron Years”: a 40 Minute Story Odyssey

August 18th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

It’s been said that you should never meet your heroes — but whoever said it never knew my friend Juliet. Juliet was one of my first friends in the NYC storytelling scene, and she’s an absolute titan: strange, hilarious and heartwarming all at once. She wrote this piece about David Lynch in Philadelphia, but brother, believe you me — this pony can turn a LOT of tricks.

She’s been busting her hump all summer to pull together a 40 minute extravaganza, a colossal odyssey through 5 twisted years that she’ll be performing on Sunday, August 23rd at 6 pm at the Cornelia Street Cafe. I’ve heard snippets of these stories while we were drunk on a friend’s porch, on stage at the Moth and over the phone in the middle of the night while I was having a painkiller-induced nervous breakdown and I’m here to tell you: this is going to be spectacular. Plus my friend Jim, one of the other best storytellers I know directed the thing. So there you have it.

This is not just the friendship talking. I’ve seen her wreck a packed house in New York and drunkenly insult the city of Philadelphia to its collective face. And it’s magnificent.

This is a taste of Sunday’s show, a story she told in Philadelphia last year that is a small part of Sunday’s bigger whole. Check it out for yourselves, and I hope to see you there …

The Moron Years

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Big Black Bird

August 9th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I told this story at my friends Brad and Cyndi’s “Stories at the Creek” a couple weeks ago. It’s a work in progress for me. I’m trying to turn this year’s cancer battles (well documented on this blog) into a story I tell on stage, and this is the first crack.

Like I say in the video, I’m not sure if I’m ready to talk about this or not, but I’m ready to be ready to talk about this, and that’s as good a start as any. I think that telling stories based on our memories helps us get control of them and bend them to our purposes — something I’m really eager to do with this particular experience.

I wouldn’t have told this or posted it if I weren’t ready to see this as material, something to be honed and edited with the help of sharp-eyed, caring friends.

This thing’s a whammy, too — two ten-minute videos about cancer and depression. Not exactly the light and fluffy feel-good romantic comedies I’m known for performing, so brace yourselves. Maybe this is like watching “Requiem for a Dream” (not to flatter myself): good once, but a total fricking BUMMER.

Long story short, I’m used to telling funnier stories with big laugh payoffs, and this sure isn’t one of those.

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Rock ‘N Roll Will Never Die

August 7th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I snapped this on my iPhone last night on Christopher Street while I was waiting for a friend. It’s sweet, sad, and totally bad-ass all at once.

Rock 'N Roll Will Never Die

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David Lynch Must Be Honored in Philadelphia with a Giant Monument to the Guy From Eraserhead. For Real.

July 29th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon



eraserhead with death piggy

Originally uploaded by wesh

This essay is by my friend, muse, and hero(ine), the irrepressible ******. She pitched it to any number of papers in Philadelphia and failed — as you’ll see in just a moment, it probably wasn’t her fault.

Philadelphia has a problem with its statuary: we build lavish monuments to to the wrong people while letting the right ones go unmarked.

We have statues of people who polarized us (Frank Rizzo), who could have cared less about us (Charles Dickens) or who never existed (Rocky Balboa). Meanwhile, we overlook people who logged real time here and did great things.

This problem has a solution: put a big-ass statue of the title character from the movie Eraserhead, directed by former Philadelphia resident David Lynch, at the corner of 13th and Wood.
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Funky Bald Lady Brings It On the L Train In Front of Bouncy Rides

July 20th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

The five minutes I spent seeing the band below play on the L train platform at Union Square were way better than the hour and a half I spent in the theater watching “Bruno” immediately afterwards.

But this isn’t a film review here – this is exactly why I live in New York. I just spent a little time in Missoula, and while there were plenty of dirty dreadlocks and bongos out in the street out there, there wasn’t NOTHIN’ like this. This was like The Flaming Lips meets Soul Jazz with just a touch of the bear-and-a-BJ clip from the Shining.

I accidentally covered the mike on my phone with my thumb there for about 30 seconds or so. The sound’ll come back, don’t worry:


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