Category Archives: GUEST EDITOR

From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: Rocky Schenck/A Hometown Dream

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

Magnuson: I had a dream where I am back in my hometown of Charleston, W.V. I am suspended in mid-air over the Kanawha River. The river divides the town in two. On the north side, down in the valley, is the city. And on the mountain to the south are the woodsy suburbs; an area most of us just call The Hill. I am hovering about 50 feet over the murky water, very close to the bridge we used to drive over every day. From my vantage point, I can see a TV show is currently being shot in a house perched on the embankment, just at the base of The Hill. It’s a nondescript, working-class house overlooking the river, sitting on the other side of the boulevard that runs parallel to the train tracks.

Through the open garage door I see an old 1960s Maytag washer and dryer. It’s kind of messy in there, and I see there is some newly sprayed obscene graffiti on the wall. Looks like things are degenerating in this neighborhood. Just like everywhere. “Pillbillies” have been stealing silver from old ladies’ houses further up The Hill. Everyone is either tweaked out on Fentanyl or Fox News. But the city is abuzz because Jen is in town. She also grew up here. Now she is back starring in this TV show. She flew in on her private jet to play a simple housewife who lives in this simple home, simply struggling to make ends meet in a simple state that will unanimously vote Trump for president. (There is already Emmy talk.)

I’ve been hired to play one of the older ladies in the neighborhood. A group of us are rehearsing a scene. We’re all wearing Mom Jeans—Mom Jeans with muffintops. Not Jen. She may be portraying a simple but honest mountain mama with few options in life yet her forehead is wrinkle-free and her figure Pilates perfect. No muffintop on her. Or on these once beautiful West Virginia hills. The mountaintop removal company financed by the Koch Brothers has set up shop. A noxious rust-brown sludge fills the creek (pronouced “crik”) that flows into the river.

I’m not all that excited about this part I’m playing but think, maybe this means I might make enough to be eligible for the SAG-AFTRA health insurance? That is, if the star’s agents don’t suck all the money out of the budget and leave nothing for the supporting cast, which is usually the case.

I look to the west. The sun is setting behind the clouds. It’s spectacular and so dreamy. It’s in color but not really. It’s more black and white with a hint of blue-green and splashes of orange-red. It may have been digitally treated, like a David Fincher film. But this is better. Much better. Wait! It looks like a Rocky Schenk art photograph! It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. So beautiful it makes me cry. The feelings that swell up from deep within give me hope, hope that you can go home again. Back to my childhood home up on The Hill, to a time before the mountaintops were removed and West Virginia went Crazy-Ass Tea Bagger Open-Carry Wacko. The state went deep red, and that makes me very blue. But this sunset has changed everything. I’m back to being happy now! Happy to be home!

Then I wake up, confident that the image I saw in the sunset was indeed a Rocky Schenck photograph. I looked again. Yup, I had seen it the day before, in his new book, The Recurring Dream.  I also read about it in American Photographer, which featured Rocky’s incredible video of Adele’s “Hometown Glory.”

Rocky is an old pal. I’ve been in two videos he directed: Redd Kross’ “Annie’s Gone” and Jerry Cantrell’s “My Song.” Both are pretty dreamy; one kooky Sid ‘n’ Marty Kroft dreamy, the other sexy-psycho Old Hollywood dreamy. Rocky dreams a lot too. His art is also inspired by dreams. Now his dream-inspired art is inspiring my dreams. Wow! Thanks, Rocky!

Rocky Schenck/Hometown Dream Story c 2016 Ann Magnuson

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: Marnie Weber And “The Day Of Forevermore”

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

Magnuson: Marnie Weber is an internationally known artist who works in nearly every medium. She makes visual art, music, performance, short films, video, sculpture, paintings, photographs, costumes, masks, installations—all part of her modern myth-making. Now she has combined all these practices in her first feature film, The Day Of Forevermore. This dreamy art film is a modern fairy tale where a teenage girl (played by Weber’s daughter Colette) seeks to escape a rundown Manson Family-style ranch populated by aged witches and misfit monsters. One of the witches is her mother, a manipulative hag named Baba Muthra (played by Weber). Marnie and I discussed her work and her new film with its many trippy images and psychological aspects.

Ann: Your work is so obviously informed by dreams, myth and archetypes. Have you ever taken material straight from a dream? Certainly your band the Spirit Girls were?
Marnie: My dreams tend to be fraught with nostalgia—people who have passed from the physical life, mostly loved ones, places I’ve lived or fantastical images of nature. I have never literally copied a dream, but they infuse my artwork with spirits, monsters, ghosts and a feeling of the otherworld or timelessness. The Spirit Girls were a conscious decision to create a musical band of ghost girls.

Do you think the creative artist lives in a kind of dream state? Or wears a very thin veil between the worlds of Reality and Dream? Certainly it would explain why some of the best go off the rails, given how close one gets to psychosis.
I think the true artists live in in between the two worlds: the ones who explore inner realms and bring back tales or imagery through their art as opposed to the ones who are role playing as artists by trying out things that might look good or be clever. There is a great feeling of discomfort in the place just where the veil is lifted. One can certainly lose one’s footing in a highly emotional state or in just being hyper aware. Everyday life is so anesthetizing with phones, computers and constant media. It’s important to remove oneself occasionally, and the easiest place to do that is being asleep.

Are you familiar with Jungian analyst/writer Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz? I can only assume you are, given your immersion in fairy-tale language. Have you see this documentary The Way Of The Dream?
I never saw the documentary but will try to seek it out. I like her concept of the “active imagination” through mediation to connect directly with the unconscious and psychic phenomena. For me, making films is just like making dreams except I’m awake. I set up an elaborate situation, shoot the film and then, later, upon watching it, I see that the subconscious is speaking through the film. I think there might be an invisible team of spirit filmmakers helping, too.

The author Robert Louis Stevenson talked about that same team of spirit helpers! He called them “his Brownies.” Do you think dreams have significance? What other artists, besides your husband Jim Shaw, work with dream imagery that you’d like to turn our readers onto?
I find inspiration from the “outsider artists” who don’t actually attribute their artwork to dreams but the work feels as if it was born from dreams; or that they are creating physical manifestations of dreams. My favorite is Calvin Black who created his world called Possum Trot. There is a nice documentary about him.

I’ve seen it! I love Possum Trot! That place reminded me so much of stuff I grew up around in West Virginia.
He made dozens of wooden life-size dolls, dressed them in homemade clothes by his wife, created a stage set in his compound in the Mojave, and then when someone would drive by he would lure them in, put on a show with the dolls and sing in a variety of voices. He might not be interpreting directly from his dreams, but his work feels dream driven.

My grandmother’s dolls are so much like that. One is on the cover of my Dream Girl CD. She would never have called herself an outsider artist—or even an artist—and yet, working in poverty in West Virginia using anything she had available, and channeling something from the beyond, she was definitely an artist. Do you have a favorite dream sequence from a film?
Well of course Spellbound is a classic. The original Life Of Walter Mitty has some amazing theatrical sets. They inspired my installation of a Western town at my recent survey show at MAMCO in Geneva. The stage sets were skeletal lacey versions of a Western town crudely cut from plywood with a jigsaw. I look at dream sequences sometimes to get inspirations for my art installations. I like creating the actual physical manifestations of the dream state.

What “art films” do you like best? Which inspire you?
Jodorowsky is a big inspiration to me, specifically Holy Mountain and El Topo. His work is like watching poetry for me. David Lynch, specifically the dining-room scene in Eraserhead. My dining-room scene in The Day Of Forevermore wouldn’t have been what it is without seeing his dining-room scene. Maya Deren and Cocteau have been very inspiring in my early years of filmmaking. It was important to me to make an art film as opposed to an independent film, as I wanted more of the expression of the subconscious. Art films for me are more like poetry whereas independent films are more like prose.

Carl Jung once said, “The greatest tragedy of the family is the unlived lives of the parents.” Your movie appears to be a cinematic thesis on that idea.
Yes, I had that growing up. My father always wanted to be an artist, and he received an art degree from the New School after World War II but instead went on to became an art historian. I hadn’t thought of that, but it might have come through in the relationship between the mother and daughter in my film.

When Luna, the daughter finds an old super-8 movie camera in a pile of refuse, she seems to use it as a means to escape the confines of the ranch and especially her mother.
The movie camera Luna finds is her way out in that it provides her with her own vision, not her mother’s projection of who she should be.

That is very much Jung’s process of individuation! Throwing off the false “provisional” self, conditioned by family and culture, in order to seek the truer “authentic” self that is connected to the divine.
That is it exactly: The unification of the unconscious with the conscious can be a deliberate act of creation. It can be attained through self-exploration and awareness and for an individual to be open to change. The creation of self can be simply that one tries to achieve a pure truthful essence and not be swayed by outside forces or other people’s projections.

Indeed! Thanks so much, Marnie. I have no doubt that Carl Jung would’ve loved your movie! In fact, I bet he’s loving it right now … over “there”!

Marnie Weber is represented in Los Angeles by Gavlak Gallery.

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: Robert Louis Stevenson And His Magic Brownies

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

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Magnuson: I was obsessed with monster movies as a kid and even had a subscription to the magazine Famous Monsters Of Filmland. One of my favorite and most worn issues had a feature about Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. There were great film stills from all the various movie versions in the pictorial, but I was even more excited to read that the story’s author, Robert Lewis Stevenson, literally dreamed up the story while asleep. That stuck with me.

Dreams are not only great for one’s own psychological analysis, but they are instant material. Writer’s block need never be an issue as long as you simply transcribe the dream events as they occurred.

No one knew this better than Robert Louis Stevenson, and he wrote about the process in 1892 in an essay for Scribner’s magazine called “A Chapter On Dreams.”
Short of funds, the author desperately needed a story that would sell. He had to have a “hit.”

Stevenson writes: “For two days I went about racking my brains for a plot of any sort; and on the second night I dreamed the scene at the window, and a scene afterward split in two, in which Hyde, pursued for some crime, took the powder and underwent the change in the presence of his pursuers. All the rest was made awake, and consciously, although I think I can trace in much of it the manner of my Brownies.”

Just as Jungian dream analyst Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz asked “Who Makes The Dream?” Stevenson posed the same question and got an answer: Brownies!

“And for the Little People, what shall I say they are but just my Brownies, God bless them! Who do one-half my work for me while I am fast asleep, and in all human likelihood, do the rest for me as well, when I am wide awake and fondly suppose I do it for myself. That part which is done while I am sleeping is the Brownies’ part beyond contention; but that which is done when I am up and about is by no means necessarily mine, since all goes to show the Brownies have a hand in it even then.

Brownies were elf-like mythological creatures known for helping around the house. (They could also be very devilish, so caution was required around the angrier of the bunch.) Stevenson’s “Little People” were his enthusiastic co-authors.

My Brownies are somewhat fantastic, like their stories hot and hot, full of passion and the picturesque, alive with animating incident; and they have no prejudice against the supernatural—and have no morals at all.

Stevenson’s description of his Brownies remind me so much of Terrence McKenna’s psychedelic machine elves, who were always so thrilled to see him during his frequent DMT trips.

Having had a brief (but memorable) encounter with these self same “machine elves,” I can attest to their excited playfulness. But trying to describe them or the bizarre objects they insisted I look at is tough. The two worlds, theirs and ours, do not and cannot share the same language. How many of us have read the profound revelations written down while “peaking” on some plant medicine only to be stymied by the gibberish the next day? A lot gets lost in translation.

Maybe that’s why dream are told in the only language we know? Puzzling puzzles constructed from the psychic odds ‘n’ ends we vacuum up during the waking hours. Maybe this is the only way whatever is on The Other Side can get through to us, by using what we already know to get us closer to what we don’t. Or don’t want to know. After all, not all of us want to be intimately acquainted with Mr. Hyde!

While there have been many a memorable Hyde on screen (Frederic March and Spencer Tracy among them), the best, in my opinion, was the brilliant John Barrymore. Maybe it’s because his was a silent interpretation, and silent films convey the dream world so much better than sound pictures can. Above is a taste of Barrymore at his 19th century best, revealing the beast within.

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: “The Way Of The Dream”

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

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Magnuson: Anyone interested in dreams and Jungian psychology needs to track down stunning Canadian documentary The Way Of The Dream. Made in the 1980s (and it shows) by Jungian analyst Fraser Boa (brother of great feminine psychology author and poet Marion Woodman), this next-to-impossible-to-find film provides the best tutorial of dream analysis short of getting a degree at the Jung Institute.

Boa collected dreams from ordinary people, then engages in riveting conversations and in-depth dream analysis with eminent Swiss psychoanalyst and Jungian disciple Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz. A brilliant interpreter of fairy tales and alchemical manuscripts, Dr. von Franz first met Carl Jung when she was 18 and began translating ancient Greek works for him. Their close collaboration lasted until his death in 1961. I fell head over heels with von Franz when I saw The Way Of The Dream. Although she died in 1998, she’s been my spiritual godmother ever since seeing this documentary. And, OMG, I just Googled her while writing this and discovered we both have the same birthday! Synchronicity-a-go-go!

Sadly, The Way Of The Dream has been taken off YouTube, and it’s extremely hard to find on DVD. Double bummer! But there is a book versionand we managed to find a clip of the beginning of the film online. (The foreign title must’ve slipped past the copyright cops.) Bootleg downloads are floating around, too.

Watch it while you can! It’s worth dealing with the bad transfer and frequently un-synced sound. Sadly, this clip doesn’t contain any of specific dream interpretations by von Franz, but she does discuss the basics of dreams and how important they are in our lives.

There are many clips of the incredible Dr. von Franz on YouTube, mostly from a documentary about Jung. The ones about the nature of The ShadowThe Nature Of Evil and Jung’s dream predicting the final end-of-the-world apocalypse are must viewing! Watch them all, read her books (this one in particular) and get to know this extraordinary woman. You and your dreams will be better for it!

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From The Desk Of Ann Magnuson: Turn On, Tune In And Dream Of “The Outer Limits”

At her funniest, musician/actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson skewers pop and celebrity culture like nobody else. And there’s a lot of that skewering on her new album, Dream Girl, Magnuson’s third LP following the strangely underrated The Luv Show and Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories. Magnuson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Dream on.

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Magnuson: I’ve had wild and crazy dreams all my life. I am told that everyone dreams but not everybody can recall the details of these surreal nocturnal adventures. Those of us who do recall them only remember a fraction. What I do remember, I write down every morning; a practice I started back in the 1980s as a writing exercise, many of which ended up as song lyrics or spoken-word pieces on Bongwater records. I’ve worked dreams into my performances and recordings ever since.

I’ve had intense and lucid dreams since I was a small child, and many of them were nightmares. I had night terrors so often that my mother forbade me from watching my favorite horror and sci-fi TV programs: The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Chiller Theater. So I got sneaky and would tell mom I was going to play at a trusted neighbor’s house, where I would promptly convince the kids we should watch The Outer Limits. I needed my fix.

I think horror films convey dreams probably better than any other genre. But while there have been many dreamy films by great cinematic explorers of the subconscious (Bergman, Fellini, Jodorowsky, Polanski, David Lynch, Guillermo del Toro … the list seems endless) none—not even my beloved monster movies—can fully capture the spectacularly vivid, three-dimensional mind-boggling realm of psychedelic fantasia that awaits us when we slip into R.E.M. sleep.

I could post any number of sensational dream sequences from any number of films (classic or obscure) but have instead chosen my favorite episode from the original 1960s TV show The Outer Limits. This one gave me nightmares for years. It still does! Even with the cheesy special effects—or maybe because of them—“The Zanti Misfits” is scarier than anything the most expensive CGI house can dream up today. Plus, it features a young Bruce Dern! I personally think these psycho Cootie Bugs portray Jung’s concept of The Shadow brilliantly. Enjoy!

Full episode on Hulu.

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From The Desk Of The Album Leaf: Puzzles

In the time that’s elapsed since its last proper album, 2010’s A Chorus Of Storytellers, Jimmy LaValle’s the Album Leaf has popped up with a soundtrack release and a collab with Sun Kil Moon, but the entity’s (the new Between Waves is the first A. Leaf LP to be made as a band effort) exploration of all things ambient, electronic and organically understated when it comes to both instrumental endeavors and the application of the aforementioned to a very contemporary-sounding indie-pop is what prevails on Between Waves. The Album Leaf will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our review of Between Waves.

Puzzles

Matt Resovich: I love puzzles. Problem solving is invaluable in work but can be very relaxing, too. I’ve enjoyed winding down with a crossword puzzle for years now but just recently got into Sudoku. Somehow number patterns are even more relaxing than words.

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From The Desk Of The Album Leaf: “True Stories”

In the time that’s elapsed since its last proper album, 2010’s A Chorus Of Storytellers, Jimmy LaValle’s the Album Leaf has popped up with a soundtrack release and a collab with Sun Kil Moon, but the entity’s (the new Between Waves is the first A. Leaf LP to be made as a band effort) exploration of all things ambient, electronic and organically understated when it comes to both instrumental endeavors and the application of the aforementioned to a very contemporary-sounding indie-pop is what prevails on Between Waves. The Album Leaf will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our review of Between Waves.

TrueStories

Matt Resovich: This is one of my favorite films, and I shamelessly quote it way too often. Problem is hardly anyone knows it, and that blows my mind. Maybe because it predates our love of “documentaries” by several years or maybe because it was eclipsed by the great success of Stop Making Sense, which redefined the concert film and blew people away. But there are avid Talking Heads fans who’ve never seen it or even heard of it. Heck everyone’s favorite band Radiohead are named for a song in the film. And it has a killer cast, plus my favorite John Goodman role ever.

Video after the jump.

Read More »

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From The Desk Of The Album Leaf: Microsampler

In the time that’s elapsed since its last proper album, 2010’s A Chorus Of Storytellers, Jimmy LaValle’s the Album Leaf has popped up with a soundtrack release and a collab with Sun Kil Moon, but the entity’s (the new Between Waves is the first A. Leaf LP to be made as a band effort) exploration of all things ambient, electronic and organically understated when it comes to both instrumental endeavors and the application of the aforementioned to a very contemporary-sounding indie-pop is what prevails on Between Waves. The Album Leaf will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our review of Between Waves.

Microsampler

Matt Resovich: Korg is killing it in general. I love my monotron to death, but the real diamond in the rough (it’s ugly) is their discontinued Microsampler. We simply could not find anything with its functionality anywhere without hooking up to a computer. It is so fun to sample sounds and play them back on a keyboard. Group consensus is Korg needs to repackage this functionality in a nice new keyboard.

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From The Desk Of The Album Leaf: File Sharing

In the time that’s elapsed since its last proper album, 2010’s A Chorus Of Storytellers, Jimmy LaValle’s the Album Leaf has popped up with a soundtrack release and a collab with Sun Kil Moon, but the entity’s (the new Between Waves is the first A. Leaf LP to be made as a band effort) exploration of all things ambient, electronic and organically understated when it comes to both instrumental endeavors and the application of the aforementioned to a very contemporary-sounding indie-pop is what prevails on Between Waves. The Album Leaf will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our review of Between Waves.

FileSharing

Matt Resovich: I love talking about gear musical and otherwise, but one element that has become invaluable to the creative process is file sharing. Most of the projects I’ve done in recent years all relied on this ability to send work back and forth among participants. It’s become a normal part of the workflow I almost forget about but it’s hard to overstate its importance. I’ve used Dropbox and WeTransfer more times than I can remember.

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From The Desk Of The Album Leaf: “The Wallcreeper”

In the time that’s elapsed since its last proper album, 2010’s A Chorus Of Storytellers, Jimmy LaValle’s the Album Leaf has popped up with a soundtrack release and a collab with Sun Kil Moon, but the entity’s (the new Between Waves is the first A. Leaf LP to be made as a band effort) exploration of all things ambient, electronic and organically understated when it comes to both instrumental endeavors and the application of the aforementioned to a very contemporary-sounding indie-pop is what prevails on Between Waves. The Album Leaf will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our review of Between Waves.

NellZink

Michael Raines: Nell Zink has written something truly unique with The Wallcreeper. The story of an American couple loitering around Europe as they struggle to find meaning in the Big Things (life, marriage, identity) to the seemingly random (dubstep, environmental terrorism, birds) might read weird-for-the-sake-of-weird at first, but Zink’s writing is so compelling, bold and wholly original—there’s really nothing to compare it to. It’s honest, ironically detached, cynical to its core but immensely entertaining; it’s one of the best books of the last decade and at 190 pages, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a chance.

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