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The Consumer Category

We bring you the chic and unique, the best and most bizarre shopping offers both online and offline. We offer you tips on where to buy, and some of the less mainstream and crazy, individual and offbeat items on the internet. Anything that can be bought and sold can be featured here. And we love showcasing the best and worst art and design.

How to buy drugs on the Dark Web

drugs

Jason Kottke directs us to an article on the London Review of Books by Misha Glenny (DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia) and Callum Lang called How to Buy Drugs. If you need to ask, right? It gets really interesting when they investigate customer service on the so-called Dark Web:

The internet has dramatically improved the experience of drug buyers. The market share of a dark web outlet depends almost entirely on its online reputation. Just as on Amazon or eBay, customer reviews will describe the quality of purchased products as well as reporting on shipping time and the responsiveness of vendors to queries or complaints. If drugs that a buyer has paid for don’t turn up — as once happened to Liam, the Manchester student — a savvy vendor will reship the items without asking for further payment, in the hope of securing the five-star customer reviews they depend on.

As a consequence, the drugs available to the informed buyer are of a higher quality than ever before. They are also safer. The administrators of DNStars.vip — a site on the open web which you don’t need Tor to visit — pose as ordinary users in order to buy samples of popular drugs from major vendors. They then have the drugs chemically tested to see whether they match the seller’s description.

Kottke points to how technology means cheaper and ‘better’ drugs for the buyers but a lot of unpleasantness making it happen that goes unseen. I;d argue that it depends what you’re buying: a bag of marijuana from a small, domestic grower or a pound of cocaine?

Posted: 13th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Salvador Dali Tarot cards

dali tarot cards

Salvador Dalí designed a full deck of tarot cards for the James Bond film Live and Let Die. But the production team were reluctant to pay Dalí’s fee, so they never appeared in the movie. But the artist liked the work and completed the set in 1984. Now art book publisher Taschen (they make those massive coffee table books so big they could double as coffee table) is releasing the deck.

dali tarot cards
dali tarot cards
dali tarot cards
dali tarot cards
dali tarot cards

Spotter:  Hyperallergic

Posted: 11th, November 2019 | In: Books, The Consumer | Comment


Kurt Cobain’s cherry-burned sweater sells for $334,000

Someone just paid $334,000 for a cardigan with stains and a cherry burn hole in it. The green cardi was worn by Kurt Cobain for Nirvana’s 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.

Kurt Cobain's cherry-burned sweater sells for $334,000
For the imitators

“This cardigan, it’s the holy grail of any article of clothing that he ever wore,” says Darren Julien, CEO and president of Julien’s Auctions. “Kurt created the grunge look; he didn’t wear show clothes,”


Posted: 29th, October 2019 | In: Celebrities, Music, News, The Consumer | Comment


A little kitchen painting sells for $26.8million

'Christ Mocked' by Florentine artist Cimabue

‘Christ Mocked’ by Florentine artist Cimabue (Giotto’s teacher) was created around 1280. It’s been in someone’s kitchen in France was ages. And now it’s sold at auction for $26.8.

From Smithsonian Mag:

[Auctioneer Philomène] Wolf spotted the painting, titled “Christ Mocked,” on display between the woman’s open-plan kitchen and living room. While she immediately suspected it was a work of Italian primitivism, she “didn’t imagine it was a Cimabue.”

Wolf turned to Eric Turquin, a Paris-based art historian who had previously identified a painting unearthed in a French attic as a long-lost Caravaggio. According to Benjamin Dodman of France 24, Turquin and his colleagues concluded with “certitude” that the new find was a genuine Cimabue.

How certain can you be that it’s the real deal?

Posted: 28th, October 2019 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment


What fool buys this revolting Captain Beefheart shirt for $1000?

CAptain beefheart
‘Crepe and Black Lamp,’ by Don Van Vliet, 1986 oil on canvas, 148 x 122 cm / 58.25 x 48 inches

Stuck for a gift this Christmas? (And how can you be when Flashbak’s new Prints Shop offers such great deals on wonderful art.) But if you stuck, then do not panic and at the last minute invest $1285 in a silk shirt struck by a painting by Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart. As Richard Metzger rightly says, it is revolting.

CAptain beefheart shirt
CAptain beefheart shirt

It’s made by Enfants Riches Deprimes (“Depressed Rich Kids”). At least they know their target market. This is impulse shopping for the daddy-fed rich, entitled and inflicted. Expect to see some berk wearing it on the streets of Notting Hill soon…

Posted: 27th, October 2019 | In: Celebrities, Fashion, Key Posts, Music, The Consumer | Comment


Shot In Soho

William Klein Men hidden their faces : 69 Sauna & Massage © William Klein
William Klein Men hidden their faces : 69 Sauna & Massage © William Klein

A new exhibition at The Photographer’s Gallery looks are Soho, London’s most vibrant square mile. William Klein is just one of the photographers featured in the show.

soho
William Klein Shoes polisher, Rocky II, etc, Piccadilly, 1980 © William Klein

Via: Flashbak

Posted: 22nd, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


The cheapest pint in London as a Tube Map

The Cheapest pint in London Tube Map
Click to enlarge

Looking for a cheap pint in a new London manor, Adam Stead called the nearest pub to every London Underground Tube station and got their prices. All pubs surveyed feature in this map.

The Oyster Rooms over Fulham Broadway station wins. It’s a Wetherspoon’s boozer. The dearest pint is yours for £5.55, available at the Frontier at the Union Tavern, Westbourne Park.

There are some oddities. Apparently, the Three Wishes is the closet pub to Stanmore, Canon’s Park and Edgware stations.

The nearest pub to a Tube station is on average only 0.18 miles away. The closest pub to a Tube statin is The Famous Cock, 10 ft from Highbury and Islington station.

Posted: 15th, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Nasa’s hard shell space suits

Nasa's hard shell space suits

From 1966 through the 1990s, NASA crested hard space suits for space travellers. These suits would offer greater mobility than soft suits. The leader in space fashioned was Hubert “Vic” Vykukal. As the principal designer and investigator of the AX space suit series, he was also happy to model them.

You can see lots more of Vik in his creations on Flashbak.

Posted: 10th, October 2019 | In: Fashion, Key Posts, Technology | Comment


Ceramics by Sophie Woodrow

Bristol-based artist Sophie Woodrow makes the most beguiling ceramics of mythical creatures and otherworldly things – twists on the natural we think of as real.

Sophie Woodrow ceramics


ceramics sophie woodrow art

Via: Sophie Woodrow and Flashbak

Posted: 6th, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


The 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Here are a few entries for the World Photography Organization.

Free to enter, the internationally acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards invites all levels of photographers from around the world the chance to be supported, celebrated and given the recognition they deserve. Embracing all genres, styles and points of view, judges will be looking for the talented, dedicated and creative photographers from the past year who continue to push their work to new territory.


World Photography Organization
Khanh Phan

The 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 2nd, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Artist Spenser Little makes great street sculptures from wire

I love these wire sculptures by Spenser Little.

Spenser Little is a self-taught artist who has been bending wire for the last 15 years… Some works contain moving components and multiple wires, but mostly the pieces are formed from one continuous piece of wire that is bent and molded to Little’s will. He has left the wire sculptures all over the world, in locations that range from the Eiffel Tower to bottom of caves, their location selected with little discernment only for the piece to be finally realized at the moment that someone discovers the surprise piece of art.

Spenser little

Spotter: Flashbak, ThisiscolosalThinkspace Gallery and the artist on Instagram . Images by Julie .

Posted: 1st, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Captain Morgan bars Muslims from its US website?

Captain Morgan Muslim

Sorry, Muslims, no rum, sodomy and the lash for you. At least that’s the way it appeared. Last week Captain Morgan rum ran a verification check on its US website. It asked customers to tick the box to declare: “Yes, I am a non-Muslim and aged 21 years and above.”

Sir Henry Morgan (1635 – 25 August 1688), after whom the sickly sweet booze is named, was a Welsh-born privateer who encapsulated the raw energy of the birth of Jamaica. On his first official trip to the Caribbean island, he shipped with “hectors and knights of the plague, lewd person and thieves”. It’s not known if any of the lads were Muslim. But Morgan was just twenty on that trip to storm the Spanish in Jamaica – so no rum for him.

Alerted to the oddity, a spokesperson for Captain Morgan went on the record: “Over the weekend, a misconfiguration on our age-gating files for our US Captain Morgan website meant that people were shown our United Arab Emirates age gate window in error. In the United Arab Emirates it is commonplace for alcohol brands to request verification of this kind, in addition to age-gating, in line with UAE alcohol licensing requirements. We corrected this as quickly as possible.”

Captain Morgan and his shipmates would have lasted two minutes in such a dry state. But the UAE is not alone in censoring its booze. Visitors to the UK site are met with an age verification form:

“Live like a Captain,” says Captain Morgan tagline. “Unleash your inner captain.” But do so responsibly. It’s what genteel Morgan and his band of marauding cut-throats would have wanted.

Posted: 29th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Stoned tuna: chef arrested for cannabis-infused fish

cannabis tuna

The Italian newspaper La Sicilia reports on a local chef arrested on suspicion of drugs dealing. The chef claimed he was testing out “new flavours”, and the two large marijuana plants and 1kg (35oz) of Indian hemp in his pantry were part of his dabbling in cannabis-infused wine, olives, coffee and tuna – all items also seized from his home near Catania.

The 50-year-old is a self-billed “agro-food consultant for third millennium cuisine”.

Meanwhile, you know ‘weed’ you bought from the guy who works in the kitchens, well, it’s oregano – probably.

Posted: 29th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


The best print shop on the web

George Mayerle's Eye Test charts

Delighted to say that Flashbak has new print store. It promises to the be the best print shop on the web. The print shop is edited by me, Rob Baker and Stephen Ellcock.

We’re going to be adding lots more images to it in the coming week – including great prints, calendars and cards.

Shipping worldwide from the fine art printers in London carries no extra fee – so whether you’re in New York, Nairobi or Newcastle, postage is the same price.

Image: George Mayerle’s Eye Test charts. Buy it here.

Flashbakshop.com – The best print shop on the web

Posted: 25th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Joan Didion : ‘Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it’

The new Joan Didion film on Netflix, The Centre Will Not Hold, got me reding her essays. In The Year of Magical Thinking (public library), the American essayist writes of the pain that followed he death of her husband John Gregory Dunne (May 25, 1932 – December 30, 2003).

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves the for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.

Spotter: BrainPickings

Posted: 17th, September 2019 | In: Books | Comment


Wobble Wedges : capitalism solves every problem

Wobble Wedges

“The power of capitalism is that there’s a product for every problem,” tweets Jim Overholt. “Just spied this at the hostess station of the bar we’re in.” I see your folded napkin and rise you a Wobble Wedge.

Posted: 12th, September 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Exhibiting nature: artist plants 300 trees on a football pitch

For Forest — The Unending Attraction of Nature

Klauss Littman planted 300 trees on the pitch at Klagenfurt, Austria as part of his For Forest — The Unending Attraction of Nature.

Using 300 trees, some of which weigh up to six tonnes, landscape architect Enzo Enea will cover the entire playing field with a mixed forest characteristic of Central Europe.

From the grandstands, visitors can admire the spectacle of the trees day and night (from 10am until 10pm). Admission is free. A sight that is as unfamiliar as it is fascinating and bound to stir up a range of emotions and reactions! Depending on the time of day (or night), the trees will constitute a constantly changing landscape that is shaped by the weather as well as the autumnal turning of the leaves. The installation is a clever play on our emotions when faced with what should be a familiar sight, placed in an entirely different context. With this monumental work of art, Littmann challenges our perception of nature and sharpens our awareness of the future relation between nature and humankind.

The project also sees itself as a warning: One day, we might have to admire the remnants of nature in specially assigned spaces, as is already the case with zoo animals.

Looks out for Wolves.

Littmann shaped his project on a 1970 drawing by Austrian architect and painter Max Peintner:

For Forest 02

What if nature becomes an exhibit?

Spotter: Flashbak, Kottke

Posted: 11th, September 2019 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Islington bans sale of fur – Hackney furriers rejoice

Islington fur advert

Islington Council has banned the sale of fur products – jackets, coats, merkins. Leather remains on sale – as do animals as food. The council says the fur industry is “cruel and awful”. Hard to argue with that.

Councillor Asima Shaikh tells us: “We also understand that it can be hard for consumers to be sure about the origins and production methods used in clothes and goods containing real fur.”

Can you have ethical real fur?

When Wearing Fur Was De Rigueur in London (1900 – 1950)

Posted: 10th, September 2019 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Former Blackburn Rovers striker Matt Jansen’s autobiography is a tale of anxiety, loss and love

MAtt Jansen

In 2002, Blackburn Rovers striker Matt Jansen was on holiday in Rome. He could have been with England’s World Cup squad in Japan and South Korea. He’d narrowly missed out on selection – a 16-goal season had not been enough. So a trip to Italy with his girlfriend Lucy was booked. One sunny day they hired a moped to explore the city. What happened next changed everything. In his autobiography What Was, What Is and What Might Have BeenJansen tells the story of life changed in a flash.


I was told I was going to the World Cup’ To win the League Cup and get called up by England, my ego was as big as it has ever been. I was at the top of my game, getting more and more confident. I was told I was going to the World Cup. The team was going to be announced the day after the penultimate game of the season.


We were playing Liverpool and Sven [Goran Eriksson] told Graeme Souness, who was Blackburn manager, not to tell me but say “don’t get injured” because I was going to be named in the World Cup squad.

He wasn’t picked. But Manchester United and Arsenal wanted him. Juventus had show a keen interest. Things would only get better. So to Rome…

We had got a taxi from the airport to the Hotel Eden at the top of the Spanish Steps and it was the worst journey I have ever had.
The way they drive in Rome, you toot the horn and have right of way I think. It is just chaotic.

So we hired this little scooter, a couple of helmets and we were pottering around Rome. We went to the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and here and there. It was the best way for us to travel.

On the second day we went out again and Lucy was on the back and her helmet flew off. We were on our way back to the hotel, and were only about 600 metres from it.

We couldn’t find her helmet anywhere but there were some police parked on the side of the road and Lucy spoke to them and said: “OK if we go back to the hotel and then look for the helmet or get another helmet tomorrow?” And they said: “Yes, as long as you go straight back to the hotel” as they knew it was only 600 metres up the road.
I said “do you want my helmet?” and took it off and handed it to Lucy. She said: “No, no. You are driving; you had better keep it on.” Fortunately I did.

We were coming around a corner, maybe 50 metres from the hotel at a crossroads. So I am edging out at this crossroads and as I am edging out there is a flash across me. A taxi smacks me on the side of the head and I take the full brunt. Lucy was thrown off the bike apparently and I was unconscious on the ground. That was me in a coma for six days.

Jansen has been stricken by crippling anxiety. But with help and hard work he’s improved. And – yep – he married Lucy.

Read: Matt Jansen: The Autobiography: What Was, What Is and What Might Have Been

Posted: 7th, September 2019 | In: Books, Sports, The Consumer | Comment


Designer makes pigeon shoes to attract birds

pigeon shoes japan

Japanese designer Kyoto Ohata attracts birds with her pigeon shoes. Ohata transforms her plain black pumps into wearable felt pigeons. She hopes birds will approach her to check out her pigeon feet as she strolls throughTokyo’s Ueno Park. As she says:

(translated) I like high heels as pigeons and I want to become popular with a group of pigeons.

pigeon shoes Japan
pigeon shoes Japan
pigeon shoes Japan
pigeon shoes Japan

Spotter: Neatorama

Posted: 6th, September 2019 | In: Fashion, News, The Consumer | Comment


Banned: Dairylea ad is too dangerous for kids

Like most of you, I’ve got Tango-induced tinnitus. But I won’t be getting DailyLea eye because the advert in which a woman is hit in the face by the cheese has been banned. The BBC says: ‘Parents of children with dairy allergies said it was “dangerous”, “disgraceful” and “insensitive”.’

On parent is Rina Cheema. Her son Karanbir “died after cheese was thrown at him at school in London in June 2017”.

A food fight can result in a fight for life. Why didn’t anyone tell the milkshakers? “Milkshaking’s power lies in the sheer ridiculousness of the situation,” said Vice, which featured instruction on how to make a milkshake to throw at someone with whom you disagree. “Someone’s thrown a milkshake at you! A milkshake! That’s silly as hell!”

DairyFree, naturally…

Posted: 4th, September 2019 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment