Shaman of the Lower East Side: Ira Cohen R.I.P.

Poet, musician, film maker, photographer, publisher, world traveler, spiritual seeker and cosmic New Yorker, Ira Cohen has died at the age of 76

Author of dozens of books of poetry and “The Hashish Cookbook” (under the pseudonym of Panama Rose), Cohen also published the works of his friends William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Paul Bowles, Brion Gysin, Jack Smith Harold Norse and many others.

Cohen made many pilgrimages to India and Kathmandu (where he ended up living for several years) and chronicled his journeys in extraordinary photographs. His travels took him to Morocco, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Spain, Japan…but all roads eventually lead back to New York City’s Lower East Side.

As a film maker, Cohen developed a style distinctly his own by photographing images reflected in Mylar plastic. The Invasion Of Thunderbolt Pagoda and Brain Damage were directed by Cohen in the late 1960s using this mirror effect. The Invasion Of Thunderbolt Pagoda was released in 2006 on DVD by the folks at the late lamented Arthur Magazine. Cohen conjured some of the same cinematic spirits as his peers Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger.

Jimi Hendrix photographed by Ira Cohen

In certain artistic and literary circles, Mr. Cohen was a touchstone. “Ira was a major figure in the international underground and avant-garde,” Michael Rothenberg, the editor of Big Bridge magazine, an Internet publication, said in an interview. “In order to understand American art and poetry post-World War II, you have to understand Ira Cohen.”

If you spent any time in downtown New York’s art scene during the past five decades you would have undoubtedly crossed paths with the open-hearted and wise gentleman who described himself as a “multi-media shaman.” Ira Cohen stayed relevant throughout his life, never square and never predictable. He was magic. His sphere of influence only grew larger as he grew older. His International reputation as a world class artist and wizard continued to flourish right up to his death on April 26.

Here’s an excerpt of The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda which features a score by the original drummer of the Velvet Underground, Angus MacLise.

A trailer from a film on Ira Cohen and scenes from his film “Brain Damage” after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Dangerous Minds Radio Hour Episode #21
05:15 pm


DJ Comet
Dangerous MInds Radio Hour

The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour kicks off it’s 21st episode with special guest DJ Comet of Mod Cinema who excitingly rummaged through his musical collection to
bring rare tracks from France, Australia, Germany, Brazil, UK, Japan, and the good ol’ USA.
Francoise Hardy “L’amour en prive”
The Gibsons “City Life”
Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra “Oh, Oh, Oooh, Ei Ei Ei - Wo Immer Es Auch Sei”
The Doves “I’ll Cry If You Make Me”
Gal Costa “Lost in the Paradise”
Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf “Talk About a Girl”
Bertrand Burgalat “Pleased Me”
Alan Brackett & Scott Shelly “Best Times”
Steve Martin “Love Songs in the Night”
Connie Stevens “Tick Tock”
The Rotary Connection “Memory Band”
Dee Edwards “Why Can’t There Be Love”
M.E.D. “Can’t Hold On” (instrumental)
The Tremeloes “I Swear”
Oh! Penelope “Lait Au Miel”
Judy Mackenzie “New Song”
Pascale Audret “Affole-Toi Marie”
Cliff Wagner “Red Spots”
Lee Hazlewood & Ann Margret “Sweet Thing”
Chris Stamey “the Summer Sun”
Astrud Gilberto “Number One to the Sun”
Lyn Murray “Love Hate Love”

Download this week’s episode
Subscribe to the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour podcast at iTunes
Video bonus: Four years after Detroit soul group The Dramatics broke into
the Top 10 with their hit song Whatcha See is Whatcha Get they appeared
as themselves in the very strange 1975 Blaxploitation film Darktown

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
Hunter S. Thompson for Sheriff: 1970 Campaign Ad

Hunter Thompson ran for Sheriff in Aspen, Colorado in 1970. His campaign posters featured a fist clenching a peyote button. While running on a platform to legalize drugs, he promised that if elected, he wouldn’t do any mescaline while on duty. He clearly spelled out his plan for punishing drug dealers:

It will be the general philosophy of the sheriff’s office that no drug worth taking shall be sold for money. My first act as sheriff will be to install on the sheriff’s lawn a set of stocks to punish dishonest dope dealers.”

Hunter lost the election. Aspen continued its decline into an enclave for the super rich.

Here’s his ad campaign for Sheriff:

Via biblioklept

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Undead! Undead! Undead!’
03:26 pm


Bela Lugosi
Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Ben Van Meter: Pioneer of psychedelic film making
02:35 pm



Ben Van Meter’s experimental movies of the 1960s are informed by psychedelic drugs, music , and light’s magic act on 8mm film stock. They reflect (literally) the mind-altering effects of psychedelia as they helped create it. Van Meter uses home movie footage of hippies and rock concerts as a launching pad for stroboscopic collages that replicate the liquid lightshows of the era. I imagine that Van Meter’s films were part of those shows.

Van Meter also has a formidable collection of concert posters and memorabilia from the 1960s here.

Van Meter covered the pre-summer of love in San Francisco music / hippie scene, filming such ‘happenings’ as the first “Trips Festival” (1965), and legendary promotor Bill Graham’s first ever concert at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium (December, 1965) ...featuring important San Francisco scene personalities such as Grace Slick with her first band “The Great Society”, “The Warlocks” (precursors to the Grateful Dead), “The San Francisco Mime Troupe”, “Quicksilver Messenger Service” and other icons of the era.”

I’ve compiled a handful of Van Meter’s work from his Youtube sight for your viewing pleasure, and pleasurable it is. Included are: Bolex Peyote Bardo, S.F. Trips Festival, An Opening, Human Be-In footage from 1967 with a Grateful Dead soundtrack and a truly bizarre and ironic (considering Linkletter’s history with LSD) appearance by Van Meter and Bruce Connor on the Art Linkletter Show.

Van Meter recounts the making of S.F. Trips Festival, An Opening:

In January of 1966 the San Francisco Trips Festival was held at Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco. This was the seminal event of the 60’s rock scene. A lot of different folks did their thing including Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. I filmed it in my then inmitable style. I have always described it as “A documentary of the event from the pov of a goldfish in the koolaid bowl.” It is written about in all of the scholarly books about experimental film and has been hailed by one academic as, “The most psychedelic film ever made.” Whatever.

Enjoy the lysergic cinema of Ben Van Meter:


More wonderful Van Meter trippiness after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Rush Limbaugh: Still a dickhead

Rush Limbaugh laughed at media outlets who missed the obvious sarcasm of his praise for Obama’s military leadership, but he seems to be oblivious himself to the irony that in this instance—uniquely so—certain people were willing to actually give this lardass blowhard the benefit of the doubt that for once he might not be behaving like a total asshole.

As if. And how could anyone be taken in by this? That’s shameful. All it took was watching it, nothing more! I suppose that’s too much to ask?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
After the Royal Wedding: We are all criminals now

Know your rights, for there is something going terribly wrong in the UK at the moment.

The Police have been arresting people on suspicion they may be about to commit a crime. It’s a bit like Minority Reportbut without the psychics.

In the UK you can be arrested if the Police:

have reasonable grounds for suspecting you are about to commit certain offences

In other words, if they think you’re up to something naughty, you’ll get done: or, ‘We’re all criminals now, and it’s only a matter of time before we’re all nicked.’

This was what happened to ex-professor of anthropology Chris Knight last week, when he (and two others) were arrested on suspicion of causing a possible nuisance.  The nuisance was a piece of street theater, London, where Knight and others planned to re-enact the beheadings of Royalty.

It is also what happened to Charlie Veitch, a former city banker who was arrested last week on “suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.”

The connection between Knight and Veitch was the Royal Wedding, which allowed the Police to arrest anyone they thought might be planning, or, thinking of causing an offense.

But Knight and Veitch were only two of the 70 people arrested in pre-emptive raids of suspected protestors prior to and on the day of the Royal Wedding.

Nearly 100 people were barred from entering Westminster on the day of the wedding.

Now this is where it gets surreal: one demonstrator was arrested for singing ‘We all live in a fascist regime,’ to the tune of “Yellow Submarine”, as the Guardian reported:

About a dozen policemen grabbed the singer, sparking a clash with his colleagues, changing the mood of a small and peaceful gathering as he was handcuffed and bundled away. “He had articles on him to cause criminal damage,” explained Chief Inspector John Dale, to loud protests.

“You just incited a peaceful situation into violence,” shouted a bystander.

Police said they made a total of 52 arrests, which included 13 at Charing Cross railway station, where people were found to have “climbing equipment and anti-monarchy placards”. There was also 21 arrests made during raids of five squats in London on Thursday morning.

Officers also swooped on five people, three of whom were wearing zombie make-up, when they entered a branch of Starbucks on Oxford Street. They were arrested “on suspicion of planning a breach of the peace”.

They were all handcuffed and held in a police van and gave their names as Amy Cutler, 25, Rachel Young, 27, Eric Schultz, 43, Hannah Eisenman-Renyard, and Deborah, 19, an anthropology student at the University of East London.

“We’ve been pre-emptively arrested under suspicion of planning a breach of the peace,” Cutler told the Guardian from the police van. “We went to Starbucks to get a coffee and the police followed us in.”

“We were just dressing up as zombies,” said Amy, who was wearing a “marry me instead” T-shirt. “It is nice to dress up as zombies.”

While the right to peaceful demonstration in the UK is not absolute, it is “a vital part of a democratic society and has a very long and respected tradition in the United Kingdom.” Now with recent legislation brought in to deal with a range of threats, from terrorism to anti-social behavior, there is the a very real possibility that this “respected tradition” is being slowly taken from the British people.

Below Charlie Veitch‘s arrest and interview on ITV News, plus, 3 zombies, who were arrested, tell their story.

More from Charlie Veitch, plus interview with the arrested zombies, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Charlie may be your darling but Brian is mine: Stones’ documentary from 1965

Produced by the The Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham and directed by Peter Whitehead Charlie Is My Darling documents the band’s 1965 two city tour of Ireland. A somewhat haphazard affair, the film is none-the-less a fascinating glimpse into the life of The Stones on the road, backstage, performing and getting drunk. It also includes some footage of fans rioting at London’s Royal Albert Hall which was later inserted at Oldham’s behest to make the movie more commercial.

Whitehead directed one of the seminal films about the swinging sixties, Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London, and the exhilarating documentary of the infamous beat poet gathering at Royal Albert Hall, Wholly Communion. After seeing Wholly Communion, Oldham picked Whitehead to direct a freewheeling film that would compete with the success of the Beatle movies. The result was something a bit darker and rougher than anything produced by the Beatles at the time.

Charlie Is My Darling was given its premiere at the Mannheim Film Festival in 1966 when Joseph von Sternberg was Director of the Festival. He said - “When all the other films at this festival are long forgotten, this film will still be watched - as a unique document of its times.”

Filmed over three days in Dublin and Belfast, the film captures the boys in all their pristine and unspoilt pagan energy and satanic glory - soon after the release of their first big single in America - the record which established them there - “I can’t get no satisfaction”.

The passionate stage performances are finally wrecked by fans getting on the stage - the boys have to flee for their lives over railway lines when they arrive in Belfast. Scenes in the dressing room are highlighted by Keith playing acoustic Blues guitar - showing what a master he was on the guitar, and how serious he had always been about Blues music. Interviews with Charlie and Bill are very revealing - but most poignant of all is the interview with Brian Jones in which he discusses his threatened future as a Rolling Stone. Speaking only of ‘time’ and ‘insecurity of his future as a Rolling Stone’, he seemed already unconsciously aware of his fate. Did he not deliberately bring it upon himself?

The film ends with the legendary scenes of Keith and Mick drunk in the hotel ballroom - Keith playing the piano (extremely well!) and Mick doing an accurate and subversive impersonation of Elvis.”

The rights to Charlie Is My Darling and its soundtrack became entangled in legal problems when Allen Klein took over management of The Stones. Klein had a rep for being difficult (which is putting it kindly) when it came to controlling the band’s assets. So the original cut of the film was never released on video. A DVD version was released in England with a soundtrack of generic instrumental pop as background music and is basically unwatchable.

Here’s the real deal:


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Eight mysteries about the killing of Osama Bin Laden
10:24 am

Current Events

Osama Bin Laden

Slate’s William Saletan with a useful guide to the next phase of the reporting we’ll be seeing on the killing of Osama Bin Laden. We’ve heard what senior U.S. officials have had to say thus far, but they’re all still playing their cards pretty close to their chests, raising further questions.

Matters of interest items #2-5 from the Slate article:

2. Air cover? Obama authorized the raid early Friday morning, but it didn’t take place till nearly 48 hours later. Why? One possible reason is the weather. Look at the past week’s weather report for Islamabad, the nearest major city. It was cloudy until Sunday, and the first clear break in nighttime cloud cover was Monday morning. Danger Room points out, “It’s unlikely the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command would risk sending in a lightly-protected team to face terrorists capable of shooting down helicopters. That means air cover—most likely armed drones or Air Force gunships.” We know from on-the-ground tweets, as well as from the U.S., that the raid took place around 1 a.m. But drone strikes frequently take place at that hour.

3. Capture or kill? The U.S. says it killed Bin Laden because he “resisted” the commandos. But did they try hard to capture him alive? I doubt it. A U.S. official says the government dumped his body at sea quickly because “we don’t want a bunch of people going to [a] shrine” for him. The same logic argued against putting him on trial, which would have made him even more of a martyr.

4. Intel bonus? The U.S. says its team “was on the compound for under 40 minutes.” That includes the entry, the firefight, blowing up its crippled helicopter, and extracting Bin Laden’s corpse. Was that enough time to find and grab anything useful that might further unravel Bin Laden’s network? Probably not, but we won’t know till later.

5. Gitmo vindicated? The U.S. says “detainees” provided the initial information about Bin Laden’s courier, which eventually led to the raid. In its briefing, the Obama White House didn’t specify where those detainees were located. But the Times says more: “Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators.” Without Gitmo, would we have found him?

Read more of What Really Happened in Abbottabad? Eight mysteries about the killing of Osama Bin Laden (Slate)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Osama Bin Laden: News animation of terrorist’s final moments
09:30 am


Current Events
Osama Bin Laden

How Taiwan’s news reported Osama Bin Laden’s death.

Via Madam Miaow, with thanks to Charles Shaar Murray

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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