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Original author: 
David Walter Banks

Florida isn’t like other places. In fact, in some ways, Florida isn’t even like Florida. For centuries, from the time the 16th-century Spanish explorer Ponce de León first landed in Florida on his (perhaps apocryphal) search for the Fountain of Youth right up to the present day, people from the world over have looked to that large, water-logged peninsula jutting toward the Caribbean as a kind of fathomless fantasy land. Or, as photographer David Walter Banks nicely phrases it below, as “an epicenter of escapism.” Of course, no state as large and as diverse as Florida (or, for that matter, as small and as seemingly homogeneous as, say, Delaware) is ever just one thing. But again, as Banks suggests, the myth of Florida — the Florida of our tacitly agreed-upon collective imaginings — endures not because of, but despite, the state’s colossally variegated landscapes, cultures, communities and attractions. In his at-once fond and forthright portraits, Banks manages to illustrate much of the Floridian myth, while deepening the mystery of the Sunshine State’s singularly odd appeal.

A long-standing interest in escapism and seeking the surreal in the every day led me to train my lens on the manifestations of those ideas in American society. Eventually and inevitably, this practice led me to Florida, an epitome and epicenter of escapism in the United States.

In 2012, 1 in 4 Americans, or 89.3 million people visited the state of Florida, bringing in over $71.8 billion in tourism spending to an industry that directly employs well over one million individuals. Even after the economy crashed in 2008, Florida’s tourism numbers continued to climb in what is estimated as the most popular tourist destination in the world.

I am interested in the people who comprise these statistics, the environments in which they immerse themselves and the altered realities both the people and places project. I seek not to make a critique, nor to create a comprehensive factual documentation. I aim to create a vicarious experience–that of a tourist seeking fantasy.

My fascination with Florida started at a young age. Like so many Americans, my family would load up our wood-paneled Chevrolet station wagon every year and head down the highway toward the ‘Sunshine State’ for our annual Summer vacation. We would stay in a stereotypical stucco condo building on the beach called the Summerhouse. It was there that I produced some of my fondest childhood memories. It was there that I built sandcastles with my mom and dug giant holes with my dad for no apparent reason. It was there that I first met an older girl and hitchhiked to a club before I was laughed away at the door for my prepubescent appearance – I was 12, after all. It was there that I snuck off to smoke cigarettes stolen from a friend’s parents during my height of preteen angst.

These family trips were something that I looked forward to every year. I eagerly awaited the escape from our everyday life, even if only for a brief while. It is the memories of this escape that keep luring me back.

The theory of collective memory refers to the shared pool of information amongst a group of people. As Americans, our collective memory of Florida has become almost as much of a folk tale as it is based on reality. My recollections from childhood and adolescence are not necessarily how it actually looked and felt, but instead the world that I constructed from those fragmented memories. Such is our collective idea of the state, which has been fed and fueled by the masterminds of advertising and marketing.

Reality, on the other hand, is a different matter all together. Perhaps our fantasized version of Florida does exist, but if so, it is masked under layers of lines and litter, overpriced tourist traps and drunk teens who would steal the shirt off your back – This literally happened to me while photographing Spring Break. If anything is my charge while on the road for this project, it is peeling back these layers.

David Walter Banks is a conceptually based documentary and portrait photographer living in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter @dwbanksphoto.

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Where did the European werewolf come from and why did this particular mythology become so powerful that we're still telling stories about it today?

In a fascinating talk recorded at Skepticon 5 last month, Deborah Hyde discusses the history of lycanthropy and its various roles in European society. Lycanthropy was more than one thing, Hyde explains. It functioned as a legitimate medical diagnosis — usually denoting some kind of psychotic break. It served as a placeholder to explain anything particularly horrific — like the case of a French serial killer. And, probably most importantly, lycanthropy went hand-in-hand with witchcraft as part of the Inquisition.

Hyde is the editor of The Skeptic magazine and she blogs about the cultural history of belief in the supernatural. As part of this talk, she's tracked down cases of werewolf trials in the 16th and 17th centuries and attempted to understand why people were charged with lycanthropy, what connected those cases to one another, and the role the trials played in the history of religious liberty. Great stuff!

Read Deborah Hyde's blog

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What's the difference between a "porn movie" and a "movie" with porn?
After the success of Real sex in mainstream movies here's the part 2 with 8 "new" movies featuring real sex or "not simulated" sex scenes in mainstream movies.
And... take care. Totally NSFW!!!

A new selection of 8 mainstream movies featuring real sex. Embedded in one page:
Sex and Lucia with Paz Vega
Antichrist by Lars von Trier
All About Anna by Jessica Nilsson
Ken Park by Harmony Korine
Caligula by Tinto Brass
Romance by Catherine Breillat
Destricted described as seven short art-house porn films
Lie with Me by Clement Virgo with Lauren Lee


1. Sex and Lucia (2001) by Julio Médem with Paz Vega
Sex and Lucia is a spanish drama film written and directed by Julio Médem, and starring Paz Vega and Tristán Ulloa. As suggested by the title, there is a great deal of passionate sexual content surrounding the love story of Lucía and Lorenzo as the plot dissolves into a very lyrical eroticism. The movie features a highly non-linear story line with repeated surreal references to the ocean and beach. The plot depicts the tragic stories that connect all of the film's characters. The film was shot on two separate locations along the Mediterranean coast in Spain and France.

2. Antichrist (2009) by Lars von Trier with Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg
This film by Lars von Trier features a scene of penetrative vaginal intercourse, and also includes graphically violent sexual imagery. Body doubles were used to make the film. It follows horror film conventions and tells the story of a couple who, after the death of their child, retreat to a cabin in the woods where the man experiences strange visions and the woman manifests increasingly violent sexual behaviour. The narrative is divided into a prologue, four chapters and an epilogue. The film was primarily a Danish production but co-produced by companies from six different European countries. It was filmed in Germany and Sweden.

3. All About Anna (2005) by Jessica Nilsson with Gry Bay and Mark Stevens
All About Anna is a Danish film released in 2005. The film is explicit in its exploration of sexual relationships. It is a co-production between Innocent Pictures and Lars von Trier's Zentropa Productions, and is the third of Zentropa's sex films for women, following Constance (1998) and Pink Prison (1999). All three films were based on the Puzzy Power Manifesto developed by Zentropa in 1997.

4. Ken Park (2002) by Larry Clark and Ed Lachman
The screenplay was written by Harmony Korine, who based it on Larry Clark's journals and stories. The film was directed by Larry Clark and Ed Lachman. The film revolves around the abusive and/or dysfunctional home lives of several teenagers, set in the city of Visalia, California. The film was banned in Australia, as the Office of Film and Literature Classification said it contained scenes of "child sexual abuse, actual sex by people depicted as minors and sexualised violence". Cunnilingus, auto-erotic asphyxiation, urination, and group sex acts involving characters that are supposed to be teens are shown explicitly, but the sex is simulated with the exception of one scene showing a young man masturbating. All actors were actually over 18.

5. Caligula (1979) by Tinto Brass
Caligula is an Italian–American biographical film. It was directed by Tinto Brass, with additional scenes filmed by Giancarlo Lui and Penthouse founder Bob Guccione. The film concerns the rise and fall of Roman Emperor Gaius Caesar Germanicus, better known as Caligula. It was written by Gore Vidal, co-financed by Penthouse magazine and produced by Guccione and Franco Rossellini. It stars Malcolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud. It was the first major motion picture to feature both eminent film actors and pornographic scenes. It remains one of the most infamous cult films ever made and remains banned in several countries to this day.Uncut version of this film includes several authentic sex scenes, including penetration, fellatio and ejaculation during the six minutes worth of inserts shot by the film's producer, Bob Guccione.

6. Romance (1999) by Catherine Breillat
Romance (Romance X) is a French movie written and directed by Catherine Breillat. Features male and female masturbation, fellatio, penetration, ejaculation, and sadomasochistic bondage. It stars Caroline Ducey, pornographic actor Rocco Siffredi, Sagamore Stévenin and François Berléand. The film features explicit copulation scenes,[1] especially one showing Caroline Ducey's coitus with Rocco Siffredi.

7. Destricted (2006) described as seven short art-house porn films
Seven short films by artists and film-makers commissioned to "explore the fine line where art and pornography intersect", it "contains strong, real sex". Destricted official website.
'Impaled' by director Larry Clark shows a casting for a porn film, not with the insecure women often displayed, but instead with insecure young men. 'Balkan Erotic Epic' by director Marina Abramovic is an erotic comedy about myths from the Balkan around the sexual organs. 'House Call' (from Richard Prince) is a vintage sex scene and comes closest to pornography. 'Sync' (Marco Brambilla) only exists out of very fast cuts from different porn films and plays for about two minutes. 'Hoist' (Matthew Barney) is mostly an art film. 'Death Valley' opens with a beautiful shot, but then continues with an 8-minute masturbation scene. 'We Fuck Alone' (Gaspar Noé) has a doll as a main character.

8. Lie with me (2005) by Clement Virgo with Lauren Lee Smith
Lie with Me is a Canadian drama film with graphic sexual content that played at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. It is based on the novel of the same name by Tamara Berger. The film features Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour.An outgoing, sexually aggressive young woman meets and begins a torrid affair with an equally aggressive young man in which their affair begins to bring a strain on their personal lives.

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[Video Link] Aman Ali, one of the guys behind "30 Mosques," tells Boing Boing, "Instead of doing a roadtrip this year, we're releasing short films."

I love this one. In it, a Muslim nerd "is excited for the new Dark Knight movie," but it releases on the first night of Ramadan.

The short film stars Aman Ali, is directed by Musa Syeed, and was shot by Omar Mullick. Subscribe to their YouTube channel for more.

 

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Washington-based photographer Kevin Lamarque visits the Smithsonian museums and national galleries looking for the moment when space, display and visitors combine in a visually striking instant. Read Kevin’s personal account of events here.

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This playlist from YouTube user hideyasann features more than 100 short clips of trains and train restrooms in Japan. Most of the train videos are of trains pulling into a station, or changing tracks. Most of the toilet videos emphasize the flushing mechanisms—of which there are a surprising variety.

As a rail fan, it's interesting to see what so many different Japanese stations and trains look like. And there's no narration, so it's also interesting to watch these very matter-of-fact clips and think about the visual context they trigger in your head. Men in suits waiting on a platform for a train to change tracks—that's a scene from a serious drama about the inner psychology of a businessman. A shakey clip where the videographer walks towards an arriving train, and a station agent, while breathing heavily—that's totally a scene from a horror movie. I'm honestly not sure what to make of all the toilets.

It's also kind of awesome to just think about the level of obsession that went into this playlist. I'm not really sure what hideyasann is trying to document—Train variety? Train cleanliness? Is he or she just collecting the same footage from as many trains as possible? Whatever the goal, you can clearly see the love and fascination here. There's totally a Happy Mutant at work.

Playlist Link

Via goldensloth on Submitterator

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Thoroughly fascinating article in Smithsonian Magazine by Tony Perrottet on the overlooked biographical details of that legendary Casanova, Giacomo Casanova. The piece opens with a gob-smacking accounting of the serpentine path his celebrated memoir took, ending in its exalted cubby in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. Suffice it to say it includes a stop during the 19th century in a special cupboard for illicit books in the French National Library, called L’Enfer, or “the Hell.”

The story then turns to a vividly sketched outline of Casanova’s life – establishing a far, far more interesting character than, as Perrottet puts it, “a frivolous sexual adventurer, a cad and a wastrel.” In fact,

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova lived from 1725 to 1798, and was a far more intellectual figure than the gadabout playboy portrayed on film. He was a true Enlightenment polymath, whose many achievements would put the likes of Hugh Hefner to shame. He hobnobbed with Voltaire, Catherine the Great, Benjamin Franklin and probably Mozart; survived as a gambler, an astrologer and spy; translated The Iliad into his Venetian dialect; and wrote a science fiction novel, a proto-feminist pamphlet and a range of mathematical treatises. He was also one of history’s great travelers, crisscrossing Europe from Madrid to Moscow. And yet he wrote his legendary memoir, the innocuously named Story of My Life, in his penniless old age, while working as a librarian (of all things!) at the obscure Castle Dux, in the mountains of Bohemia in the modern-day Czech Republic.

In British terms, let’s say, this is all much more Richard Francis Burton than Flashman. Fascinating, and as Blackadder would say, “as French as a pair of self-removing trousers.”

As far as the art goes, above are some frisky watercolors by Auguste Leroux from the 1932 French edition of Casanova’s Histoire de ma Vie. Leroux was a celebrated illustrator who worked with Huysmans, Balzac, Stendhal and Flaubert… below are some fetching prints by Milo Manara inspired the the 1976 Fellini film. (My appreciation of their finest collaboration, A Trip to Tullum, here.)

Also, for your pleasure, a live cut of Roxy Music’s strutting tribute.

Roxy Music: Casanova: [download]

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