Johnny Ryan’s Chick Tracts
A while back I was looking for a series of things to vandalize and post online for laughs. I started with photos from magazines and wrestling cards, and they were OK, but I wanted something a bit more unique. Then I discovered a few Chick tracts stored away in my drawer. For those of you who don’t know, a Chick tract is a tiny religious comic made by Jack Chick designed to scare you into becoming Christian. Jack has been cranking these things out since the early 70s, and you can find them in bus terminals and public bathrooms across the country.
The design of these tracts is pretty uniform, and perfect for fucking with. The first one I used was titled Who Killed the Dinosaurs? I posted it on my Tumblr and it got a pretty good response, so I kept going. I just used a little white acrylic paint pen, and sometimes markers, and voilá! I’d have a new and improved tract.
For a good two months I was posting a few every day. People were asking me what I was going to do with all of them, and I had no idea. My buddy Greg has a clothing store called Mishka in LA (and NYC) and was opening a small gallery in the back. He asked me if I’d be up for doing an art show, and I told him I didn’t really have time to do anything new since I was in the middle of working on my book, Prison Pit V, but I did have about 80 of these Jack Chick tracts that I had ruined. Surprisingly, he thought it was a cool idea for a show, so that’s how the world’s fucking stupidest art show was born. Oh, and there’s also going to be a book collecting all the tracts coming out soon from Monster Worship.
It Don’t Gitmo Better than This – Molly Crabapple’s Account of Her Journey to the Dark Heart of Guantanamo Bay
A T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan IT DON’T GITMO BETTER THAN THIS is perhaps the definitive physical manifestation of globalization. Sewn in Honduras and sold by Jamaican contractors on land rented from Cuba, the shirt celebrates an American prison holding Muslims who’ve been declared enemies in the war on terror. It’s a popular item in the Gitmo gift shop (yes, Gitmo has a gift shop), displayed next to the stuffed banana rats and shot glasses engraved with GUANTÁNAMO BAY: DIVE IN.
Built in 1898, the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base looks like a US suburb. There’s a McDonald’s, a Subway, and even a Christmas parade. On Halloween, military members dressed as zombies complete a 5K run. Winners of the Mr. and Ms. Gitmo Figure and Fitness Competition arch their backs on the cover of the Wire,the base’s in-house magazine. The Team Gitmo outdoor movie theater screens all the big blockbusters (when I visited it was World War Z), and in the evenings, visitors can eat jerk chicken next to swaying banyan trees, get drunk at O’Kelly’s (“the only Irish pub on Communist soil”), or sing karaoke.
But since the Joint Task Force (JTF) arrived in 2002, Guantánamo Bay has been home to the world’s most notorious prison.
Gitmo’s prison camps were built, in principle, to hold and interrogate captives outside the reach of US law. Nearly 800 Muslim men have been imprisoned since it opened, and the vast majority of them have never been charged with any crime. Since he was inaugurated in 2008, President Obama has twice promised to close Gitmo, but 166 men still languish in indefinite detention. It is a place where information is contraband, force-feeding is considered humane care, staples are weapons, and the law is rewritten wantonly.
Nabil Hadjarab arrived at Gitmo 11 years ago, in an orange jumpsuit and a diaper, his head covered by a hood, eyes blinded by blackout goggles, mouth gagged, and with headphones blaring white noise into his ears.
Molly Crabapple Draws Guantanamo’s Camp X-Ray
Camp X-Ray is the first place that the US held detainees in Guantanamo. Captives lived there for four months in 2002 while the military built permanent prison camps.
Prisoners lived in open mesh cages under the brutal Cuban sun. Their cells had no running water. Guards gave them two buckets: one for water and one for shit.
The classic photos of GTMO, (dogs, marines, hooded captives in orange jumpsuits) were taken here. With its watchtowers, clapboard interrogation huts, and rings of barbed wire, X-Ray looks like nothing so much as a concentration camp in the Caribbean.
X-Ray has been empty for over a decade. Birds nest in the razor wire. Vines overtake former cells. Miles away, 104 prisoners are hunger-striking. Forty-four are being force-fed. Many of them first came here through X-Ray.
My press escort hates when the media uses images of X-Ray to sum up GTMO. X-Ray, she says, was very long ago.