Friday: Artist Michael Rakowitz discusses his temporary, transportable homeless shelter paraSITE, which uses the outtake duct of a building’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system for its form and source of heat. The project is currently featured in the exhibition Endless House: Intersections of Art and Architecture through March 6. No registration required, free with admission!
[Michael Rakowitz. paraSITE homeless shelter. 1997. The Museum of Modern Art, New York]
So the 4th of July is almost here, and I’m already planning to write about the most American sea beastie I can think of, but we still have one or two days until that, depending on which timezone you’re reading this from. In the meantime, I will talk about the second most American sea beastie I can think of:
Just think about it. There is a reason the American flag is called the Stars and Stripes. Just like the Great Seal belies the Illuminati’s ever-tightening grip over you yankees, the fifty stars on the flag belie the fact that at the top level, the USA is controlled by a coalition of fifty starfish who decide about the lives of you sheeple. Today I will showcase some of these secretive leaders of America. Let’s begin, shall we?
1. Slime Star
Our first entry is the wonderfully alien Pteraster tesselatus, also known as the slime star.
For starters, it looks more like an inflated pillow than the ultimate puppetmaster of the modern world. The truth is that it’s actually two starfish in one - the actual, rather thin body is protected by a bloated membrane on the top that gives the entire thing the appearance of Cthulhu’s anus with that hole in the middle (which actually regulates water flow, but I digress). If it’s in danger, the star can even inflate itself by pumping water between its inner body and outer membrane, turning itself even pudgier and evading whatever asshole predator attempts on its life. But its true magic is the slime, which it can generate until the entire ocean praises the name of Hedorah, and uses to get away from a ravening fuck-you predator also mentioned on this list. Unlike the hagfish, though, this mucus is actually toxic and can kill smaller invertebrates where they stand. It can quite literally turn a small portion of the ocean into a dead wasteland.
Does this look like the face of mercy to you?
2. Ambush Star
Suppose for a moment that you are a tiny-ass fish who just swims around minding its own business. Suddenly something with much more teeth than it has any right to be attacks you. You manage to get away from it just in the nick of time, and make a run for the first crevice you see. And then, just as you hide under it, BLAM, the entrance snaps shut, a horrifying slimy thing barfs acid all over you, and you fuckin’ die. Game over, motherfucker.
What you just encountered is the ambush star (Stegnaster inflatus), and it’s a crafty little shit.
This guy is basically the Mimic of the sea. It lies in wait, disguising itself as a hiding place by stick m legy out real far standing up straight on its feet and raising the rims of its membranous body, and when small fish do attempt to hide inside it, it slams down its body against the seafloor, locking its prey into a slimy pentagonal death trap. After enjoying the preys terror for a while, it does what most starfish do when they are hungry: regurgitates its own fucking stomach, floods the space underneath it with digestive enzymes, then slurps up the stuff like milkshake. No table manners on these guys.
3. Morning Sun Star
The wrath of the ocean has grown stubby little legs and it’s currently waddling in your general direction to devour you skin and bones, body and soul. And it has chosen the name of morning sun star (Solaster dawsoni).
This guy is a voracious predator, who prefers eating fellow starfish as its primary food source. It’s reknownedly aggressive, to the point where its prey items bail out immediately if they’re as much as touched by one, since not doing that usually spells gory destruction as the sun star slowly maims and digests them.
NOT EVEN HUMANS ARE SAFE
If it doesnt find another kind of starfish to messily devour, it will direct its wrath against its own kin, engaging in something like Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth having a drunken bar fight, after which the victor proceeds to eat the loser.
They are so notorious that several starfish have evolved various strategies with the express purpose of countering its onslaught. Most notable is the…
4. Velcro Star
which doesn’t fuck around in the least. Stylasterias forreri is a completely unique starfish that’s strategy against the morning sun starfish is brutal yet effective.
Look closer. You’ll see what I mean.
The entire thing is completely fucking covered in spikes. Completely.
Actually, what you see as spikes are actually its pedicellariae, tiny bionic beartraps covering its surface, and specialized into huge-ass blunt spikes that turn this thing into a being of barbed wire. That said, these spikes are still capable of opening up into pincers and tearing into your flesh. Yikes.
And when the sun starfish attempts attacking it, the shit really hits the fan.
What’s happening right here is that when the sun star jumps the velcro, it simply activates the literal tens of thousands of bionic scissors it is covered in, and more or less attempts to gut its attacker with a continous barrage of cuts and tears.
If the sun star knows what’s good for it, it fucks off immediately, and thus ensures the velcro’s victory.
I’m pretty sure that if the velcro star had vocal chords, it would be yelling “ORAORAORAORAORA” while doing this.