Coum fly with me
Coming into Toronto yesterday, I was overjoyed to find myself singled out for a quarter hour of “special treatment” at Customs and Immigration. I’m not complaining, mind you. Or not much, anyway. Honestly, I think I asked for it.
This I did by stupidly slapping my copy of Simon Ford’s authoritative and supertasty Wreckers of Civilisation up onto the inspector’s podium as I reached for my passport. (I know: what was I thinking, right? A [S]leazy-looking, bearded, shaved-headed guy in head-to-toe black announcing himself as nothing less than a Wrecker of Civilisation. Sure, he’s gonna just sail through the entrance interview.)
Wreckers is a book I first saw at Spoonbill and Sugartown and stupidly did not buy immediately – little did I know it would take Amazon close on five months to source me a copy. As a rich vein of insight on Throbbing Gristle and their immediate precursor, the performance art unit known as COUM Transmissions, it is far superior to the slender Re/Search volume that I’ve had since, hmm, 1985, and which has hitherto constituted my sole real source of information on the topic.
As an extra bonus, Wreckers shows the same attention to detail in design as so many of the artifacts under discussion. It makes extensive use of a modular font which looks an awful lot like, but is not, lineto’s classic Terminal One – deploying it to particularly good effect in the title spread, where its grid segments have apparently ablated away under the scouring of the praise/condemnation presented alongside.
But the nicest thing about the book? It’s still dangerous. I sincerely do believe that a single glance at it was enough to spook our friend at Customs…and when I went down to the hotel lobby for a burger and a beer and dragged the book along for company, I had to keep kind of scrunching over into my seat so the pleasant young lady who brought me same wouldn’t see things as she passed by, and get the wrong (right?) idea. It’s kind of thrilling to think that simple things like ideas and words and images are still dangerous.