“The biggest defeat in every department of life is to forget, especially the things that have done you in, and to die without realizing how far people can go in the way of crumminess.” These lines, taken from the interwar French author Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s novel Journey to the End of the Night (1932), form the centerpiece of ADAC, the most recent collaboration between artist Matthew Barney and writer Brandon Stosuy. ADAC a twin tribute edition to the lives of the maverick American football executive Al Davis (1929–2011) and Seth Putnam (1968–2011), the misanthropic American grindcore frontman and founder of the band Anal Cunt. Barney and Stosuy have previously organized semi-anonymous events at the former’s studio in Long Island City, New York, which have included impromptu metal performances as well as pig roasts, amateur wrestling matches, and art history readings. ADAC embodies the spirit of these unexpected cultural collusions in a focused zine form.
Al Davis was the coach, general manager, and owner of the Oakland Raiders for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1962. His determined competitiveness helped found the Super Bowl in 1967, and his irascible behavior and aggressive coaching gave the Raiders an outlaw reputation and countercultural sensibility. Davis’s motto was simply, “Just win, baby,” and they often did. Accused of lying, cheating, and manipulating, yet revered by his many supporters, Davis became one of the greatest iconoclasts of American sports. In 1981, Davis said, “I don’t want to be the most respected team in the league. I want to be the most feared.”
Seth Putnam was one of the most divisive people—and troll king—in the underground extreme music scene, having done and said many unbelievable things. Putnam founded Anal Cunt, often abbreviated AxCx, in Boston in 1988, with the intention of playing only one show of pure noise and no songs, yet the group went on to play for thirteen years, authoring grindcore songs with ridiculously offensive titles such as “We’re Not ‘In Da House’ You Fucking Wigger,” “I Snuck a Retard into a Sperm Bank,” and “Ha Ha Holocaust.” Almost every song is less than a minute. Putnam spent two decades concocting progressively more blunt and ugly ways to shock and provoke, in music and in life. “Seth brought some much needed irreverence and danger to metal, punk, whatever,” says former AxCx guitarist Scott Hull. “Deep down, all us metal heads, grind freaks, and punk rockers want to believe that the scene, all the bands and fans, are more than just ‘normal’ people plucking away at instruments, going back to their day jobs. Seth, like it or not, gave us this.”
Like a black-shelled oyster, ADAC is bivalved—one cover takes you through Al Davis’s outspoken and brash world while the other catapults you, with little caution, into the scatological, throat-shredding universe of Anal Cunt. The dividing insert from Céline’s magnum opus is the project’s pearl of nihilistic beauty, albeit pixellated to illegibility. The only readable text is a paragraph meditating on this “crumminess”: “When the grave lies open before us,” he writes, “let’s not try to be witty, but on the other hand, let’s not forget, but make it our business to record the worst of the human viciousness we’ve seen without changing one word.”
ADAC is published by Dashwood Books in an edition of 300. www.dashwoodbooks.com