Things Fall Apart: The B-52 Bomber That Crashed In Thule


Five hours into its patrol, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber carrying four nuclear warheads battles to find a safe cabin temperature. At first it’s too cold, so the third pilot turns the heating on full blast. Now it’s too hot, and a cushion placed over the heating vent catches fire.


Wherefore Art Thy Comedian?

Montreal, Canada, 1991. The Centaur Theatre. The set is all black. Only a microphone and a stand are on stage. A man walks on, also all in black; black jacket, black polo neck, black trousers, black shoes and long, almost-mullety black hair. He stands on stage and talks for an hour about moths, religion, advertising, the Kennedy assassination, auto-fellatio and mass-marketed popular music. The man is Bill Hicks. The event is the annual Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, now the largest comedy festival in the world. That hour of his Relentless show proves to be one of the most iconic, passionate and engaging hours of stand-up comedy ever performed. It’s the comedic equivalent of Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. It was the pinnacle for a career tragically cut short by pancreatic cancer. But does anyone remember it? Would anyone consider that gig a milestone in cultural history? Almost certainly not. Why? Because it’s just comedy. Comedy can’t be serious or important. It’s just one fucking joke after another.

A Not-So-Brief History of Twerking

From Miley Cyrus twerking with a large black woman on an LA stage to Lily Allen’s provocative sexualisation of nameless and faceless black dancers, the status of black women as an artistic symbol has been brought back to the fore, exposing cracks in the fragile latticework of race and gender. Even in Russia, there was a vociferous reaction against a portrait of Roman Ambramovich’s girlfriend in Buro 24/7. Black, it seems, is back in the papers. And yet this is not new, and those feminists who clamour for Miley’s head on a stick, seeing her as a cause not a symptom, are both historically and contextually blinded. This process of imaging the black female body is not to be confined to a modern day marketing stunt – its roots are deeper, more obscure and more sinister than we care to admit.

A Question Of Taste

Two weeks ago, in a small, dingy flat in Munich, surrounded by mouldy take-away boxes and tins of food, German police found a collection of some 1,400 modernist works of art that had been looted by the Nazis and condemned as degenerate art. The “degenerate” is an idea that has haunted the art world ever since artists began to move away from classical ideas of form and beauty and is often used to frame an opposition between the avant garde and “nice”, traditional art. However, this anti-modern politics is often little more than a fear of the new, the unconventional and the radical.

By Joe Sykes