The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Cutaway illustrations Day

Hudson’s Department Store, Detroit
J.L. Hudson Company was founded in 1881 and as Detroit prospered so did the city’s flagship department store. The Hudson’s building, at one time, was the tallest department store in the world and the second largest by square footage. Due to declining sales, mainly due to decreased population in the city, the flagship Hudson’s store closed its doors in 1983. The building was imploded in 1998.








The Space Needle


Yoda’s Hut


The Electric Sea Serpent
The illustrations herewith show Mr. Walter Stenning’s idea of the sea serpent which sundry and divers travelers have reported having seen at different times since 1555. It was built in Paris and during the past summer has been one of the attractions of the Jardin d’Acclimation. Our French contemporary, La Nature, says concerning the sea serpent: “The visitors to the Jardin d’Acclimation arrest themselves stupefied when they perceive circulating softly in the alleys, through the foliage, this rolling monster.” And we do not blame them. The serpent is about 100 ft. long and 6 ½ ft. in diameter; it consists of an electric locomotive drawing a train of cars carrying the necessary storage batteries to furnish current. Each car is covered with a ring of the animal’s body.






Human skin


Autumn leaf


The Hindenburg passenger quarters


Mechanical calculator


Root canal


The Queen Mary




The Murder Castle
H. H. Holmes was a charismatic young lady killer who constructed a hotel, timed perfectly for the Chicago Worlds Fair, which operated as a massive murder machine. He used it to systematically trap and kill young women, then clean and articulate their skeletons to be sold to universities. The hotel was riddled with trap doors and hidden rooms, where guests would be trapped and tortured before ultimately being thrown down the chute to the basement.


Camper Built Inside a Car, 1952
Lucius Sheets of Huntington, Indiana, converted his Nash into a camper that allowed him to sleep, cook, and eat on the road, saving motel expenses. The right rear door, where the woman stands, was the meal center where basics could be stored. A piece of plywood attached to hooks near the food center and served as the table. Mr. and Mrs. Sheets preferred to stand while eating.


Two women pregnant with cats




Cadillac One


The White House




A kiss


Musee d’Orsay


SpongeBob SquarePants


2001 Space Station




Fake waterfall


Lizzie Borden Murder House
Shortly before noon on August 4, 1892, the body of Andrew Borden, a prosperous businessman, was found in the parlor of his Fall River, Massachusetts, home. As neighbors, police and doctors arrived at the scene, the body of Abby Borden, his wife, was discovered in an upstairs bedroom. A week later, Andrew’s younger daughter, Lizzie, was arrested for the double murder. In an era when women were considered the “weaker” sex and female murderers were nearly unheard of, the trial—and subsequent acquittal—of Lizzie Borden made her a media sensation. Officially, the case remains unsolved, but Lizzie Borden may very well have taken an ax and ended her parents’ lives on that sweltering summer day.


Greenland’s Ice Sheet


Bank and Monument Tube Stations


Piccadilly Circus Tube Station


Refrigerator train car


Volkswagen Van




Medieval castle


Ampex DCT Digital Video Recorder


The tomb of Seti I
Painstakingly chipped into high limestone cliffs above the Valley of the Kings, also home to the tomb of King Tut, Seti I’s tomb, the most ornate and largest in the valley. is among the hardest to reach—and it’s growing.


The Matterhorn ride


The Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship


Typical Roman house




Piano Action Mechanism


ROC Monitoring Post
Between 1955 and 1991, more than 1,500 of these underground facilities were located right across the UK, roughly 10 miles apart mainly in remote rural locations. They were of a standard design and constructed of 12 inch thick, steel-reinforced concrete 20 feet beneath the ground. In the event of a nuclear attack, these posts would have been manned by three members of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC). These bunkers had no mains water, electricity, gas, or heating. The only communication with the outside world was by way of a simple Tele-Talk system to headquarters and 3 to 4 other nearby ROC posts in the ‘cluster group’. The occupants may not have been able to leave the safety of the bunker for many weeks after fallout due to the harmful effects of radiation. Most ROC bunkers were reasonably waterproof but they would have been intensely cold and damp.


Motorcycle engine


Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship
It is the largest digital illustration of a cruise ship produced to date. It took over 1000 hours of work.The line drawing was done in Adobe illustrator with 84 layers, The rendering was done in Adobe photoshop on 368 layers. The final files size is 5.57 gigabites, it is 200 inches in length at a resolution of 300dpi. No photography was used in the illustration of the ship.



Central Park

Chops Grill

Dining rooms

Floating bar

Children pool


Pool decks


Flowider and sports deck

Royal promenade

Jade Sushi Restaurant


Second dining room


Windjammer Cafe

Schooner Bar


Royal Opera House, Covent Gardens


Automatic rifle




Gatling Gun




Boy’s small intestine

anatomy of a young child – small intestine


Bomb shelter


Wyld’s Monster Globe
Wyld’s Monster Globe was an attraction situated in London’s Leicester Square between 1851 and 1862, constructed by James Wyld (1812–1887), a distinguished mapmaker and former Member of Parliament for Bodmin. At the centre of a purpose-built hall was a giant globe, 60 feet 4 inches (18.39 m) in diameter. The globe was hollow and contained a staircase and elevated platforms which members of the public could climb in order to view the surface of the earth on its interior surface, which was modelled in plaster of Paris, complete with mountain ranges and rivers all to scale. Punch described the attraction as “a geographical globule which the mind can take in at one swallow.” In the surrounding galleries were displays of Wyld’s maps, globes and surveying equipment.


The H.L. Hunley
The H. L. Hunley was a submarine of the Confederate States of America that played a small part in the American Civil War. The Hunley, nearly 40 feet (12 m) long, was built at Mobile, Alabama, and launched in July 1863. She was then shipped by rail on August 12, 1863, to Charleston, South Carolina. The Hunley (then called Fish Boat) sank on August 29, 1863, during a test run, killing five members of her crew. She sank again on October 15, 1863, killing all eight of her second crew, including Horace Hunley himself, who was aboard at the time, even though he was not a member of the Confederate military. Both times the Hunley was raised and returned to service. On February 17, 1864, The Hunley attacked and sank the 1240-short ton (1124 metric tons) screw sloop USS Housatonic, which had been on Union blockade-duty in Charleston’s outer harbor. Soon afterwards, the Hunley sank, killing all eight of her third crew. This time, the ship was lost.


Electric stingray


Two Story Travel Trailer Car, 1952
This trailer, from Holan Engineering from Elmwood, IN, has two stories and an attic, a plastic-tiled kitchen and bathroom, and a living room with a picture window.


Urogenital Diaphargm


Radio City Music Hall




Villa Capra, Venice


Female millipede genitals


The Batcave




p.s. Hey. ** Chaim Hender, Hi, man. Thanks, I seem relatively to close to feeling normal now. Uh, I wrote an obit for River Phoenix for a magazine when he died, and I think even speculated he would be his generation’s James Dean, but, I don’t know. James Dean is basically a marketing tool at this point, a kind of gentrified symbol of rebellion whose omnipresent image just seems kind of exhausting. Certainly River Phoenix hasn’t become that and obviously never will, thank god. Well, huge congrats on being in love! Oh, gosh, people’s busy-body interfering, uptight issues with the age difference in other people’s love relationships is just exploding conservatism and a ‘get a fucking life’ and ‘mind your own business’ situation to me. Fuck them. Awesomeness, my friend! May that love grow wildly! ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. No, luckily James is an ultra-down to earth total sweetheart of a guy. ** Dynomoose;), Hey, A! So cool to see you! What direction did you imagine his career would go in? Love, me. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. As a lover of reading film criticism, I’m just happy that the raging fad of using film criticism as little more than an excuse to go social justice warrioring for the choir is mostly a US-only thing. Thanks a lot for thinking of me re: the Errol Morris interview. I’m very, very interested yes! ** Bill, Thanks, Bill! Ooh, Wadada Leo Smith, very nice. I hope the rest of your weekend followed some kind of suit. ** B, Hi, Bear! Well, my total pleasure on the post, of course. No, I’ve always seemed to be one of those lucky fellas with good, bounce-back genes. As unpleasant as those in-between phases are, they are part of the process, and I’m sure your energy will assert itself soon. I can feel it. Have a splendid Monday, man! love, me. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Cool, so happy it gave you pleasure. Ah, the drudgery is getting to you, eh? But the job will be finished before too long now, no? Yes, it’s the last week, you just said. Hang in there. And hopefully Anita perked you way up enough to reach the finish line. Yes? My weekend was kind of nice. My friends, and the great US writers, Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy are in Paris for events. Zac and I had dinner with them upon their arrival on Saturday, and then on Sunday we went to a reading by them and then onto a reading by another visiting excellent writer Andrew Durbin, whose new novel was in my ‘faves of 2017’ list. Both events were fun and good, and I met this young writer whose work I like a lot, Lucy K Shaw, who I didn’t realise is living in Paris, so I look forward to having a new pal around. Other than that, some work and bunch of planning for things this week. I think Zac and I are going to zoom over to Disneyland Paris on Wednesday for fun. And it’s time to choose a Xmas Buche or two. Other stuff too. Busy week. How did yours start? ** H, Hi. Thanks a lot! ** Alistair, Hi, A. I’m doing much better thank you. Yeah, the old Virgin Megastore on Sunset. I used to go there all the time and see films at the Sunset 5. Weird. Have a swell day, buddy. ** Bernard, Hi, B. Oh, thank you, and I agree wholeheartedly about him. What’s up with you du jour? ** Nik, Hi, Nik. I’m catching up. Oh, yeah, I saw ‘Crowd’ a few times. On the haunted attraction film, the main general thing is that we want the film to be much wilder visually/cinematically than ‘PGL’, which is necessarily very still and intimate and attentive to the characters. So we’re writing to necessitate and occasion that, so mostly experiments in tempo, viewpoint, rhythm, things like that. I’m not a giant Gregg Araki fan, actually, so I’m not the best to ask. I  prefer his earliest films before he seemed to decide that a snarky tone was the answer to everything. How was your weekend, and how are your projects proceeding? ** Fratolish Hiang-Perpeshki, Hi. Wow. That’s very interesting. I really don’t think I can help you with finding your daddy, I’m sorry. I’m completely at a loss about what you’re talking about. I hope you find him somehow, though. Best wishes. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Oh, hooray!!!! I was starting to worry the UK would let all of us down on the Xmas theme park disaster front. Wonderful. I will go pore and pore over that. Thank you so much! ** Schlix, Hi, Uli! Yes, I’m definitely better. Imperfectly better but rising to that occasion, I think. Thank you. Yes, I did see that Z’EV died. That’s very, very sad. He was pretty amazing. He had been doing some very interesting collaborations with Peter Rehberg in recent years too. RIP. But cool about the great press for the German ‘Argonauts’. ** James Nulick, Hey there, James! I’m improving, thank you. Happy that among Jimmy’s talents is an ability to lure you in here. And of course I’m thrilled that your novel is still eating you mostly alive. I read some McKenna back in the rave days. Wasn’t entirely my thing. Yes, Tao has been fairly obsessed with McKenna for the last several years, I noticed. Not a French haunted house, a French haunted house attraction. Very different. Artificially haunted. Mm, … I feel like I saw ‘Them’. Hm, I’ll check. I’ll also check to see what that Pilleater book is. Curious. Take care! ** Misanthrope, Monday greetings, G-man. I believe you about Seth MacFarlane. Funny bones are slippery things. Well, good that you liked ‘Call Me by Your Name’. Here’s to pleasure! It just doesn’t seem to have anything about it that attracts weird me to it at all. I might see the ‘Star Wars’ though. I’ve somehow ended up seeing all of them. People want so much from those movies, so it’s no surprise if it isn’t God’s return to the earth. I’ll just be looking for some fun. 4-day weekend! Oh, right, it’s almost Xmas! Shit! ** Okay. I pulled together some cutaway illustrations for you because, you know, what’s not to like? Am I wrong? See you tomorrow.


  1. Chaim Hender

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better. I appreciate your best wishes for my new love. I sadly have to agree with you about James Dean being a marketing tool. I guess marketing plays on neuroses so it makes sense giving the roles he played in his too short career. For me, the best way to see him through the marketing haze as actor rather than icon is when he plays old at the end of “Giant”:

    I’ve loved cross-sections for as long as I can remember, so this post was very fun and let me feel like a kid again. The exact Queen Mary cross-section you found was a favorite of my childhood.

    Your frequent mention of theme parks and old fashioned tourist attractions on your blog brought back fond memories of Cypress Gardens, the first major theme park in Florida. I was charmed by the place as a kid in the late 90’s and I thought that it had closed. It turns out it’s now Legoland, and includes Lego tributes to the old Southern belle paradise theme. I think I’d enjoy visiting again.

    I’m trying to improve my productivity by thinking and emoting less about it. I would ideally like learning Hebrew, working on my current gigs, looking for more gigs, and looking for an apartment to serve as “vacations” for my mind from the joys and frustrations of life, since I don’t need to think about anything besides the task at hand and I don’t need to emote at all. This of course is easier said than done. What do you do to be productive, especially for non-artistic tasks?

  2. Marilyn Roxie

    My favorite cutaway illustration is Saul Steinberg’s ‘The Art of Living’ and even more so Georges Perec spinning wildly off of its contents in Life: a User’s Manual. And, of course, the sometimes-cutaway-view isometric perspective in video games and pixel art:

  3. David Ehrenstein

    And I see James Dean as a Pushy Manipulative Bottom.

    Did you know that literature is bad for you? This wildly reactionary article explains why.

    Bot Julian Temple’s “Absolute Beginners” and Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic” use cutaway sets

  4. Steve Erickson

    I am working on finding music video links on YouTube for all the albums and singles on my top 10 and runners-up lists before I post it to my blog, but here’s the top 10 albums:

    1. Sampha-PROCESS (Young Turks)
    2. Run the Jewels-RTJ3 (self-released)
    3. National-SLEEP WELL BEAST (4AD)
    4. Dominowe-SIYATHAKATHA (Gqom Oh!)
    5. Big Thief-CAPACITY (Saddle Creek)
    6. King Krule-THE OOZ (True Panther/XL)
    7. Converge-THE DUSK IN US (Epitaph)
    8. Miguel-WAR & LEISURE (RCA)
    9. Bell Witch-MIRROR REAPER (Profound Lore)
    10. Rapsody-LAILA’S WISDOM (Roc Nation)

    I know I’ve complained a lot about the lack of innovative rock music, but in King Krule and Bell Witch, I actually found some! The “death of rock” has become a critical cliche, reflected in Pitchfork’s top 50 choosing King Krule’s album as the only rock release in their top 10, but I was surprised that half the albums in my top 10 wound up being rock, given how cynical I was about the genre 9 months ago.

  5. Count Reeshard

    You made this Detroit native’s morning, D.C., with your tribute to that significant chunk of the Detroit skyline, J.L. Hudson’s department store. An amazing place, the kind of store that had customers dressing up for the shopping experience back in the day (women in white gloves, etc.). The building was the second largest steel structure in the country after NYC’s Macy’s flagship. There was a truly impressive international magazine rack, my introduction to European scandal mag’s like ‘Hello’ and ‘Oggi.’ Hudson’s also devoted an entire floor to bedroom suites. Visiting the store with my then-girlfriend, whose big kink was sex in risky settings, we noticed the elevator door opening onto an entirely empty bedding floor. Of course, my friend picked up on the bed surrounded by Asian-themed room dividers at the far end of the enormous room. You can guess the rest. We weren’t disturbed by anyone during our idyll, but I can only guess that security camera perspectives proved greatly entertaining for the store’s detectives. Decades later, my mom (who still lives across the Detroit River in Windsor) sent a VHS tape of local coverage of the store’s implosion. Area news anchors set up at what they were certain was a safe distance. Everything went according to plan until the immediate aftermath of the detonation. An enormous black cloud welled up and spread across the metro area, ultimately engulfing the news crew, their impeccably coiffed anchor women screaming in the darkness. All of this transpired on air, a fantastic thing. (Here’s one You Tube example: Thanks for the daily, seemingly bottomless inspiration afforded by your blog, a Good Thing in the truest sense of the term.

  6. Steve Erickson

    Here’s the complete 2017 faves list. I spent 3 hours looking up YouTube clips for every single piece of new music mentioned here:

  7. James Nulick


    Thank you for the Cutaway illustrations day.. wow, that mechanical calculator is very complex! It almost looks as complicated as the innards of a watch, if not more so.

    Do you know David Macaulay’s books? He employed cutaway style drawing to render everyday objects in a completely new light, usually to humorous effect. Motel of the Mysteries is pretty awesome.

    Dennis, off the top of your head, what is the approximate word count of God Jr ? I’m curious..


  8. Dóra Grőber


    Massively. Thank you! 8 more days! This week through Saturday, then the 27th, 28th and 30th. Then I’m free. I keep thinking about that chapter in Trainspotting when Renton and Spud go for job interviews – I can feel Renton’s inner monologue more and more every day, haha.
    Oh wow. Your weekend sounds like a dream to me, really. I’m so glad you managed to exorcise your sickness in time and it didn’t ruin your plans! Are you a 100% well by now?
    Please do tell me about your Disneyland experiences when it’s time! And about the Buche(s) you choose in the end! Especially those, I’m really excited!

    The Christmas fairs are slowly coming to an end so the gallery is gradually sinking into chaos again. I started organizing and finding some place to all the prints, etc. coming back – I think I’ll do this all week. It’s not much fun but at least there’s some visible progress by the end of the day so it doesn’t feel like it’s totally pointless.
    I hope your day offered you something exciting and/or inspiring! What happened?

  9. Shane Christmass

    Hey DC – these cutaways are interesting! What do you like about them?

    BTW Merry Christmas – here’s the new Snake Milker album to keep you awake at night – play extremely loud -

  10. Steve Erickson

    The “two women with cats” cutaway is my fave. I think there are cinematic parallels to these images in the scenes of people who have been skinned alive in HELLRAISER and MARTYRS.

    Yesterday, I fell into a YouTube rabbit hole and first watched Vietnam War reenactment videos/documentaries and then drug-related pranks. I approached the former with a lot of cynicism, although I talked about Civil War reenactment with an actor whom I wanted to work with. His background – he’s Jewish and originally from Boston – is much different from most of the people he’s met doing this, and he eventually wanted to turn his experiences into a one-man show, although I don’t believe it got off the ground. Anyway, I was surprised to find that the Vietnam War reenactments’ participants included Vietnamese-Americans and recent Iraq and Afghanistan War vets, and they found this experience really cathartic.

    As for the drug pranks, oh my! The first one I watched showed a bunch of guys wearing DEA outfits and carrying fake but realistic-looking machine guns busting into a house where about 6 of their friends live. They claimed they were searching for pounds of weed and coke, held the people living in the house against the living room wall at gunpoint, went upstairs and made noises that sounded like they were knocking down the walls and, after one resident sheepishly admitted he had one joint in his bedroom, they threw large bricks of “marijuana” and “cocaine” downstairs and announced that everyone was going to serve long jail sentences and/or get deported. Then they took off their uniforms and face masks and everyone laughed, although one girl seemed seriously traumatized, and frankly, I would stop speaking with a “friend” who put me through that.

    The others seemed cheesier. There was a guy who walked around midtown Manhattan in a video shot in 2014 with a fake joint containing hand-rolled tobacco and tried to light it up in crowds with cops 20 or 30 feet away. People kept telling him not to do it. In my experience, one can get away with smoking weed in public in New York and no one gives a shit – certainly, no one will tell you not to light up a joint. There’s one particular park I used to walk past that always smelled like a Grateful Dead concert. Then there was one where a guy pretended to be a Colombian drug dealer – with an accent even he admitted was horrible – and sold bricks of fake cocaine to “real drug dealers.” If you have any critical thinking skills whatsoever, it’s obvious this was completely faked; if the dealers were real, they probably would’ve shot him instead of just dumping the cocaine on the ground upon realizing it was flour (which the cameraman was somehow able to go back and film.)

    Yes, I was really bored yesterday and had lots of time on my hands, although I did get out and see a really lame Chinese film, THE THOUSAND FACES OF DUNJIAP, written and produced by the once-great Tsui Hark. There are only so many “Amoeba Records: What’s In My Bag?” videos one can watch. On Thursday, you should be able to read my takes on Brockhampton’s SATURATION III, HAPPY END, PHANTOM THREAD and the Gay City News version of my top 10 list.

  11. Dóra Grőber

    God, Dennis, I just had the time to go through your 2017 list and I saw SCAB is featured! Thank you so, so very much! Truly, I can’t even tell you how much it means to me! Thank you!!! (And while I’m at it, thank you for the whole amazing list! It’s an absolute goldmine!)

  12. _Black_Acrylic

    Last week Philip Best posted this amusing newspaper cutaway graphic to Facebook that supposedly depicts the brawl between United and City players just after last week’s Manchester derby. I do like that policeman stood idly by watching it all kick off.

  13. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Damn it, here’s another thing we both find interesting. I love cutaways. Really love those toy castles and Batcaves and shit that open up and have all the rooms inside. I see them in stores and still want to buy them, but I don’t. I saw this really cool one of houses from SpongeBob: Spongebob’s pineapple, Squidward’s stone thing, and Patrick’s rock. I almost bought it.

    Call Me by Your Name is a film you can catch sometime in the future. When you’re bored. I’m sure you’ll find things about it you just don’t like, as well as a few things you just might find not so bad. If anything, it’s worth watching for Timothee Chalamet’s performance. I’m kind of in love, I think. Bret Easton Ellis really liked it, just wrote a glowing review of it for OUT magazine. To each his own.

    Yeah, like I said, I enjoyed the new Star Wars too. A friend at work said he liked it, though he had problems with Luke Skywalker’s character arc…and then he started going on about canon and non-canon versions and all this shit, and I was finally like, “Did you like it or not?” “Oh, yeah, I thought it was great.” Fanboys, sheesh.

    Have you seen Matt Lambert’s short film for Helix Studios, “Flower”? It’s a bit different. I like it. He’s trying to do something a little different and more personal with pornography and I at least like the attempt. Plus, I’m a Joey Mills fan, hahaha, so I was all over it as soon as I saw he was in it. (I would’ve watched it anyway, if only out of curiosity.)

  14. Nik

    Hi Dennis!

    It’s funny, I just came home for break the other day and decided it would be a good idea to revisit “Mysterious Skin” with my mom for the first time since high school. Once it started I go freaked out, suddenly I had just casually put on a film about pedophilia with my mother. But what ended up being most embracing to watch with my mom was some of the weirdly undercooked/poorly executed edgy choices made throughout the film. I guess I was a lot more willing to overlook that sort of thing in high school. I liked how her biggest criticism was about my taste in movies haha.

    Awesome cutaways, my favorites have to be the Seti Tomb and the body. Seti because I used to live in Egypt around elementary school, and my parents would always have my brother and I visit the valley of the kings all the time when people visited us. The coolest part was how far they would go underground, indicating how long the Pharaoh buried there lived. The body cutaways, particularly the Urogenital Diaphargm, bring me back to that same time, when my little brother and I used to watch surgery videos online once we got our own computers. It was something we did for fun, along with computer games and lightsaber battles. Some sort of mummy connection there, maybe?

    Like I said, I came home this weekend. Lots of family time. I’m actually going to start looking into transferring to other schools, and going to start that process intensely over the next few weeks. Also, the rehearsal process for “The Arsonists” doesn’t begin till half way through January, so I’m going to try and flesh out a full script I’ve been tinkering with and submit it to my schools staged readings festival before then. Right now I have about twenty-ish pages I’m going to try to flesh out into a full length.

    So exciting about crowd and the new script!! Rhythm in theater and film has been fascinating to me lately, how are hoping to work with it in this project? What are your plans for the week?

  15. h

    Hey Dennis — you sound okaish now. I’m so sorry for repeating brief visits, but I’m still in final spree of this film school. This fall semester, I even built a videogame (though rudimentary), so it’s been a lot. Can’t wait to wrap it up, so then i can read and write something prosaic. And really want to watch some films in theaters… for Xmas. Did you order your Buche in time?

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