More Tesla Than You Can Shake an Electric Pigeon At

The once-neglected eccentric genius is (finally) all the rage

Such the dapper fellow, this Serbian genius.
Such the dapper fellow, this Serbian genius.

Nikola Tesla's star is, y'might say, ascendant.

Your own pop-culture radar's been pinging this steadily for a while, right? Not only the heightened international attention, but the specifically local instances of what a more sensational media outlet might call Teslamania?

Like, for instance:

1) You've heard that Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal – whose recent fundraising efforts have assured that Nikola Tesla's Long Island laboratory Wardenclyffe will be restored & turned into a museum instead of being destroyed to make some lame-ass mall – is going to be the keynote speaker at 2013's SXSW Interactive.

2) You know that there's an art gallery in this very city, over there on the Eastside and associated with the likes of Kevin Foote and Katie Rose Pipkin and so on, that's also named Wardenclyffe and is not averse to the more scientific expressions of creativity.

3) You know that UT's Harry Ransom Center, while not promoting the legend of Tesla specifically, is nonetheless featuring an exhibition that evokes the sort of industrial environment that old Nikko's inventions were attempting to unleash. It's called I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America, and it's highly recommended.

4) You know that Steve Brudniak, whose work is like something out of Tesla's wet dreams – as suggested here – but also like things that Bel Geddes would've designed if he'd been possessed by Nyarlathotep – Steve Brudniak's got a show of his eerie and gorgeous sculptures at the ACC Gallery at 1218 West Avenue.

5) You realize that Tesla makes an appearance in Jeff Smith's ongoing RASL series of graphic novels, although not in the first volume that we briefly noted in the Chronicle a few months ago.

6) You're aware that Tesla is also the main character in Matt Fraction & Steven Sanders' graphic-novel thriller Five Fists of Science, which we stupidly neglected to review when it came out in 2006, but we'll claim a tenuous local connection, anyway, if only because that Fraction is married to writer Kelly-Sue DeConnick, who used to live in the ATX ... and when she lived here she frequently appeared in stage productions with Shawn Sides, who is one of Austin's Rude Mechanicals, and of course ...

7) ... you recall, you oldschool hipster you, when the Rude Mechs mounted their spectacular Tesla show back in the day, then re-mounted it a few years later, and both times there was a current-crackling coil the size of a baby hippo humming mere inches from the audience. But that wild electricity was still less sizzling than the Rudes' fierce embodiment of Kirk Lynn's high-voltage script.

So, yeah, like: Tesla, man, his hour come round at last …

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
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Nikola Tesla, Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal, Harry Ransom Center, Wardenclyffe, Kelly-Sue DeConnick, Rude Mechanicals

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