follow us in feedly
Real Horrorshow!: Malcolm McDowell and Anthony Burgess discuss Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’
03.04.2015
08:05 am

Topics:
Books
Literature
Movies
Television

Tags:

001acworangmm1.jpg
 
Ken Russell was among the many directors originally touted to direct A Clockwork Orange before Stanley Kubrick. Russell was considered stylistically sympathetic to bring Anthony Burgess’s source novel to cinematic life—he had documented youth gangs as a photographer in the 1950s and made a series of highly influential drama-documentaries and films that had inspired not only Stanley Kubrick but also Lindsay Anderson, Tony Richardson and later Derek Jarman. I wonder what Russell’s version of A Clockwork Orange would have been like? Perhaps more flamboyant, more seedy, more of the end-of the-pier, more human than Kubrick’s aesthetically pleasing but cold and sterile vision. And though the great and the good lobbied to have Mick Jagger play Alex, I wonder if Russell would have opted for his favorite actor Oliver Reed? Oh, what japes they’d have had. Instead Kubrick chose Malcolm McDowell because of his unforgettable and iconic performance as Mick Travis in Lindsay Anderson’s If…
 
001acworanmm44if.jpg
Casting at first sight: director Lindsay Anderson was understandably smitten by McDowell’s beauty, talented and attitude when he cast him as Mick Travis in ‘If…’ The performance that led to his role as Alex in Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange.’.
 
McDowell had the blue-eyed, blonde beauty of a fallen angel—he would have been the perfect choice to play Lucifer for Kenneth Anger. McDowell was born in 1943 into a lower middle class family in Leeds, he was never the working class lout as some tabloids like to pretend but a privately educated son to a family who ran a small guest house. He was clever, smart, idealistic, and decided he wanted to be an actor. After school, he found found work as a stage manager on the Isle of Wight before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company. McDowell embraced the cultural rebellion of the 1960s and hated the dominance of the established theatrical institutions, as he once explained to writer Michael Bracewell:

‘The RSC? Horrendous. Middle-class theatre crap…actorly acting with lots of shouting—after [Laurence] Olivier—and soul-searching performances…I mean I saw some great performances—Ian Richardson and Paul Scofield—but it was like being ordered around and told what to do by a bunch of little shitheads. I auditioned for the RSC by reading the Prologue from Henry VIII, for the very good reason that nobody knew it. It begins, “I come no more to make you laugh”, which was ironic, because humour has always been a great mainstay of my arsenal. I mean, A Clockwork Orange was essentially a comic performance. I used to loot my style from Eric Morecambe.’

 
001acworanmw22.jpg
Eric Morecambe (with umbrella and bowler) and Ernie Wise.
 
Eric Morecambe was the comic half to the much-beloved double-act Morecambe and Wise, who dominated British television screens in the 1960s and 1970s, which brings a different interpretation to his performance as Alex—one that would have been ideal for Ken Russell.

‘I’ve always had to live down A Clockwork Orange wherever I go, because ever since then, with the exception of O, Lucky Man!, which I made with Lindsay [Anderson] immediately afterwards, I’ve always been cast as the heavy. It used to irritate the shit out of me, and then I just got bored with it, you know? I just wanted to get on, maybe make a few comedies or do something else, but there was Alex…I know that I’ve said some mean things about Kubrick in the past, but thinking back to the actual shooting of that film and trying to forget all the baggage of what happened afterwards, it was an incredibly stimulating experience, even though I got to the point where I hated the film because of the reaction.’

This runs contra to McDowell’s enthusiasm as expounded in this interview about A Clockwork Orange he gave with author Anthony Burgess in 1972, but this was still early days and McDowell had not been hamstrung by his move to Hollywood, where he ended-up making movies for the lowest common denominator. McDowell is an exceptionally talented actor and no matter how dire the film he always gives a powerfully memorable performance.
 
001acwkoranbkab55.jpg
The book and its Beethoven-loving author, Anthony Burgess.
 
Anthony Burgess came to hate Kubrick’s film too, which was ironic as the movie made Burgess a bigger star than his writing up to that point had achieved. Burgess is a writer’s writer, a polymath who claimed he would rather be known for his musical compositions than his books. Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange in 1962, after being mistakenly told he had not long to live. To ensure he left money for his wife, Burgess wrote a series of novels in quick succession, one of which was A Clockwork Orange. It was moderately successful on publication, a cult book, that became a bestseller after Kubrick’s movie. Burgess claimed he took the title from an old East London saying, “As queer as a clockwork orange,” which may or may not be true, as there appears to be no known record of this phrase. Whatever its derivation, it perfectly captured the book’s theme of a hideous artificial will imposed on natural behavior.
 
001acworang33mmsk.jpg
McDowell and Kubrick on set during filming.
 
After Kubrick’s film version of A Clockwork Orange was released in Britain in 1971, it was ironically linked to a series of violent crimes. The first was the murder of a tramp by a 16-year-old youth; the second involved another 16-year-old who, while dressed in the film’s distinctive gang uniform, stabbed a younger boy; the third was the brutal and horrific gang rape of a Dutch girl by a group of youths from Lancashire, as they sang “Singing in the Rain”.

Sentencing the 16-year-old for assaulting a child, a judge described the attack part of a “horrible trend” prompted by “this wretched film”. Following death threats and warnings from the police over revenge attacks, Kubrick asked Warner Brothers to pull the film from its UK release. For a very long time, through the 1980s and 1990s, the nearest place Brits could see A Clockwork Orange was Paris. It was only after Kubrick’s death in 1999 was his ban lifted and the film re-released in the UK.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Anthony Burgess and the Top Secret Code contained in ‘A Clockwork Orange’
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Fuck obscenity!: Live footage of The Fugs performing at Cleveland free speech benefit,1967
03.03.2015
06:48 am

Topics:
Books
Literature
Music

Tags:


 
I thought I’d seen every frame of Fugs’ film footage that exists on the worldwide web…but I guess not. Here’s something totally new to me: The Fugs performing in 1967 at a Cleveland, Ohio benefit for poet D.A. Levy and Jim Lowell.
 
Lowell and Levy had been busted for distributing obscene literature to minors. Lowell owned a Cleveland beatnik hang, The Asphodel Book Store, where one could buy books that, in 1967, were deemed profane, including some of Levy’s self-published books of poetry. They both endured a year of protracted legal hassles before the charges were dropped in 1968. But despite being not guilty of anything, Levy had to pay a $200 fine and was told by the judge to “no longer associate with juveniles or give them his poetry.” That’s a rather harsh sentence for someone whose biggest crime was writing some poems. It was particularly rough on Levy whose art was intended to inspire a new generation of young people to question authority and expand their consciousness. Levy was a mystic, a Buddhist, a bard on a mission to change the world through a process of opening up minds. Later that year Levy opened his mind once and for all when he blew out his brains with a shotgun. A sad end for a brilliant young poet. He was 26.
 
From D.A. Levy’s Suburban Monastery Death Poem:

the poets will be kept in line
like they are in cleveland
its so easy to convince poets
what poetry is
and what it isnt
& everyone knows
sleeping with the muse
is only for young poets
after you’ve been kept impotent
by style & form & words like “art”
after being published by the RIGHT publishers
and having all the right answers
after youve earned the right to call yrself
a poet     yr dead
& lying on yr back
drinking ceremonial wine, while
the muse, who is always a young girl
with old eyes into the universe
suddenly remembers necrophilia
is an experience shes had before
& shes not interested
in straddling corpses anymore

.

Beatniks were scary! Children were hidden behind suburban mother’s skirts. Fathers oiled their rifles as teenagers shimmied to a wild bongo beat.
 

 
The Fugs came to the rescue. This footage is 16mm film shot by Dennis Goulden. The audio is rough but the visuals are fine indeed. The benefit took place at the Case Institute of Technology campus. Cleveland was scarred forever. Poetry had left its festering tattoo upon the buttocks of civility.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
A Dangerous Minds exclusive: Previously unpublished interview with Allen Ginsberg
03.02.2015
08:17 am

Topics:
Books
Drugs
Literature

Tags:


 
In 1977, Michael Rectenwald was a disenchanted pre-med student with a secret passion for poetry—Allen Ginsberg and his influences in particular. After a couple of years of covertly consuming, studying and writing poems, he found his interest in medical school had entirely evaporated, so he left school and dove further into writing, eventually sending a letter and some of his poems to Ginsberg himself. Not only did Ginsberg write back, he invited Rectenwald to apprentice him at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Describing his fellow classmates as “a hodgepodge of Buddhists, failed and former beatniks, wannabe poets, acid trippers, mushroom poppers, Carlos Castaneda aficionados who thought they could fly, and many stripes of New Ager,” Rectenwald was thrown into an erratic world of “creatives” head first. He thrived, developing both a meaningful relationship with his mentor and practicing his craft, despite the frequently turbulent environment.
 

 
For example, one of Rectenwald’s “tasks” was watching over Billy Burroughs, Jr., son of William S. Burroughs. Traumatized by an unstable childhood and the death of his mother at the hands of his father, Billy’s mental and physical health had deteriorated exacerbated by alcoholism and a speed addiction his father had encouraged him to cultivate—the senior Burroughs saw drugs as a creative muse. Eventually Billy fled to Florida and died of cirrhosis shortly thereafter, though not before leaving a suicide note, which Rectenwald still possesses.

Eventually Rectenwald went back home and returned to school, this time for a B.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh. His experience with Ginsberg, while formative, had been disorienting. In 1994, Rectenwald and Ginsberg met again for an interview, which you can read below. This is the first time it has run in print, and the warmth and the familiarity of their interaction is apparent as they meander from politics to the drug war to Buddhism to William S Burroughs.

Michael Rectenwald has since gone on to publish his own poetry and fiction. He has also taught, and produced scholarly work on academic writing, and the history of science and secularism (guess pre-med really did end up coming in handy). He hopes to complete his next book—on his experience with Ginsberg—soon.

M: Hello Allen.

A: Hi, Hello.

M: How are you doing?

A: Well, I just came back from a Chinese restaurant with an old painter friend whom I haven’t seen in New York in thirty years. Robert Levin who was a court painter for all the Beat generation and San Francisco renaissance poets like Kerouac and Gary Snyder and John Wieners. So he just arrived in New York for the big Beat generation festival at NYU and him and I went out to summer tonight.

M: and you hadn’t seen him in how long?

A: Well we’d seen each other in Seattle where he was, but I hadn’t seen him in New York, I guess for I guess thirty years or so, since the 60s.

M: Wow, and the Beat generation and legacy and celebration is taking place, actually as this interview is airing. I’ve got the schedule here in front of me and it looks like it’s quite of an array… everything from academic presentations to…

A: Art shows, particularly. There will be a reading at town hall with Gregory Corso and Ann Waldman and myself, Dave [inaudible], Michael McClure…

M: Ferlinghetti with paintings?

A: Ferlinghetti is both poetry and paintings. Almost everybody. It’s a show of… it began in the school of education and art. It began as an art show to show paintings by Ferlinghetti and Burroughs and water colors by Gregory Corso and photographs by me and Albert Franken and others.

M: Yeah, you’re quite photographer too. I don’t think everybody knows that.

A: There is a new big book out by Chronicle Books that is [inaudible]. It is back on the stands now.

M: I myself have been an admirer of your musical works. You putting Blake to music and you have several musical scores that you have done.

A: We have a lot of albums out now. It’s basically a libretto that I did with Philip Glass, Hydrogen Jukebox that came out on [inaudible] Records a couple months ago. A couple years ago, I had on Island Records what was called The Lion For Real with spoken poems with jazz backgrounds by a lot of very interesting musicians, the same guys that play with Tom Waits and sometimes with Leonard Cohen, [inaudible],  Mark Greenbo, Bill Frisell and others. So now I’m working on a fourth CD set of highlights of all my recorded stuff that has been put out over a thirty-year period.

M: That’s excellent

A: We have a lot of Blake, that you like, plus some things you haven’t heard.

M: Great.

A: That I recorded with Dylan.

M: Oh really?

A: It’s about a half hour of work with Dylan, my own songs with Blake or compositions we did together, improvisations. Then there is a live cut with The Clash. A piece of an opera I did with Philip Glass, a duet between me and Glass. There is a duet with…oh, let’s see, who is the drummer for “A Love Supreme”?

M: Oh, you mean from the Santana album?

A: Elvin Jones, the drummer.

M: Is the cut from Combat Rock is that The Clash or is that another?

A; Oh that is a live thing we did, it’s one of my songs. We had Combat Rock, actually with the album I sing on with their words, but this was my own. Someone did it at a club in New York, improvised, years ago when I first met him.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Kooky Kindle cover disasters
02.24.2015
10:09 am

Topics:
Amusing
Books
Design

Tags:

002gaughost.jpg
 
You certainly can’t judge a Kindle by its cover as some of these badly illustrated titles are certified Amazon bestsellers—which either means they’re good reads or the author comes from a very large family.

The best thing about Kindle is the opportunity it gives wannabe writers to publish their work, but conversely, the worst thing about Kindle is the opportunity it gives to wannabe writers who want to publish their work… because some of them will.

Then of course there are the Kindle covers which vary from the tacky to the plain bizarre to the truly fucking ugly. So popular are these bad covers there is even a Tumblr site celebrating their awfulness, from which this small selection of abominations is culled.
 
003sinsfa.jpg
 
001abbynormal.jpg
 
005hammer3.jpg
 
030scoots.jpg
 
006overlors.jpg
 
More kooky Kindle covers after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hey dummy, Gwyneth Paltrow wants to sell you $300 worth of books for $685
02.20.2015
09:35 am

Topics:
Books
Movies

Tags:


 
I was looking at Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop earlier today…. “Why were you there?” I hear you ask. This is a good question, as I’d never been there before. I was there because Goop had opted to showcase an awesome new book of poetry written by a friend of mine, Jynne Dilling Martin. (The book is called We Mammals in Hospitable Times and yes, you should totally buy it.)

So I’m there at Goop and I notice as a sidebar a weird product you can buy, which is called the “New York City Book Set,” whereby you pay Goop $685 (!) and they send you eight books. The books are New York: A Portrait of a City by Reuel Golden;
New York: A Photographer’s City edited by Marla Hamburg Kennedy and Helena Fang; New York in Color by Bob Shamis; Manhattan Classic: New York’s Finest Prewar Apartments by Geoffrey Lynch; New York Transformed: The Architecture of Cross & Cross by Peter Pennoyer, Anne Walker and Robert A. M. Stern; Central Park NYC: An Architectural View by Bernd H. Dams and Andrew Zega; New New York by Jake Rajs; and New York at Night by Jason Hawkes and Christopher Gray. What sets Goop’s product apart is that the books come with custom jackets that (when combined) create a handsome little picture of an architectural detail from New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
 

 
These all seem to be fine books, wouldn’t say a single negative thing about any of them. It’s safe to say, isn’t it, that nobody has ever thought about books in quite this way, right? Like books as ... a puzzle visual element centerpiece? That’s a new one for me. Note that the price of this .... display is $685, and you can get all of these books on Amazon for a total price of right around $300. So okay, they’re marking them up—A LOT—that’s not what bothers me here. What bothers me is that this is a crazy way to think about books.

I’m trying to game out what visitors are supposed to think when they enter your salon and see a pile of books that have connived to form a winsome picture redolent of old New York? “What are the odds?”

Or perhaps they’d feel pity for you for being such an idiot that you spent $385 on FUCKING BOOK COVERS.

Most people I know who like books, they have strong likes and dislikes about this or that author, and so the possibility that, you know, “I’ll never read a book by that guy again!” and so forth is always a live possibility…. now, probably nobody has such strong feelings about any of these nice picture books of New York but my point is, people who like books are likely to resent seeing them used as jigsaw puzzle pieces—or to be precise, as nothing more than jigsaw puzzle pieces. Sarah Palin writes books for people who don’t read, but Gwyneth takes this concept in a very different direction looking for her more upmarket marks. John Waters made that crack about refusing to sleep with anyone you went home with who didn’t own any books, but these Goop books don’t count.
 

 
There are two similar products for sale at Goop. The New York product has a counterpart, the “London Book Set,” which also costs $685. This set includes London: A Portrait of a City by Reuel Golden; The Light of London by Jean-Michel Berts; Living in Style: London by Geraldine Apponyi and Monika Apponyi; Great Houses of London by James Stourton and Fritz von der Schulenburg; Unseen London by Mark Daly and Peter Dazeley; David Gentleman’s London; London Interiors by Barbara Stoeltie, Rene Stoeltie and David Gill; and Creative Living London by Emily Wheeler and Ingrid Rasmusse. This product combines to create a little picture of Big Ben with some double decker buses rolling toward the camera, and to be honest I like this picture a little more than the Grand Central Terminal picture. This set of books, if purchased individually, can be also purchased on Amazon for $300.

There’s also a thing called the “Goop Cookbook Club” but it costs just $295 and I find the idea of a six cookbooks arrayed to simulate a carving knife on a cutting board not too bad, really.
 

 
Anyway, all of this is to say, it might be that Gwyneth Paltrow is the Jay Gatsby of our time. A number of you may already have thought of this passage from chapter 3 of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald—it seems perfectly apropos:
 

A stout, middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles, was sitting somewhat drunk on the edge of a great table, staring with unsteady concentration at the shelves of books. As we entered he wheeled excitedly around and examined Jordan from head to foot.
“What do you think?” he demanded impetuously.
“About what?” He waved his hand toward the book-shelves.
“About that. As a matter of fact you needn’t bother to ascertain. I ascertained. They’re real.”
“The books?”
He nodded.
“Absolutely real — have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and — Here! Lemme show you.”
Taking our scepticism for granted, he rushed to the bookcases and returned with Volume One of the “Stoddard Lectures.”
“See!” he cried triumphantly. “It’s a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too — didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?”
He snatched the book from me and replaced it hastily on its shelf, muttering that if one brick was removed the whole library was liable to collapse.

 

 
I wonder if the pages in the books Goop is selling are cut or not…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Keep it prim and proper in the bedroom with this Victorian era sex guide
02.16.2015
08:13 am

Topics:
Amusing
Books
History
Sex

Tags:


 
A while back I found some excerpts from the 1712 physician-penned sex manual, The Mysteries of Conjugal Love Revealed, a hilarious little tome of outdated bedroom advice (though with a surprisingly decent take on anatomy). One would hope vast scientific (and socially progressive) improvements would be made in 150 years, but this 1861 Victorian sex manual, The Book of Nature; Containing Information for Young People Who Think of Getting Married, on the Philosophy of Procreation and Sexual Intercourse; Showing How to Prevent Conception and to Avoid Child-Bearing. Also, Rules for Management During Labour and Child-birth (yes, that is the entire title), proves otherwise—those Victorians, man! Here are some choice highlights!

The proper time for sexual indulgence is an important consideration, inasmuch as carelessness in this respect may tend to dyspepsia, indigestion, and other affections of the stomach. Persons who are predisposed to such diseases should never have sexual intercourse just before eating, nor very soon after a full meal. Its peculiar effect on the stomach is calculated to weaken digestion, particularly on the part of the male; and many a miserable dyspeptic might trace his unhappiness to imprudent acts of sexual intercourse. From two to three hours after or before eating a full meal, is the proper time for this business.

Burgers in bed may be poor sexual etiquette (depending on the situation—one wouldn’t want to refuse a dish from one’s host), but I’m fairly sure medical science has since given us the go ahead on that one.
 

 

Coition, or sexual union, may be compared to a fit of epilepsy, or to an electrical shock.

Either you’re doing it very right, or you’re doing it very wrong, but I’m intrigued by your description, so go on…

When a man is performing this act, if his thoughts wander, the product will be feeble, and if his wife become pregnant the offspring will be inferior. This fact is applied to the offspring of great geniuses, who are supposed to be thinking of something else when they beget their children, and hence their descendants are often much below them in intellect. In further confirmation of this theory, history informs us that some of the greatest men the world ever saw were bastards—children begotten with vigor, and when the minds of the parents are supposed to have been absorbed in the one idea of a loving sexual embrace.

As a bastard myself, I’m moved to concur, but my commitment to the truth supersedes my ego in this particular situation and I must correct you, sir—I don’t think a man’s wandering mind makes his kid stupid. We live in a busy, modern world, yet it’s not entirely inhabited by idiot distraction-babies.

Amorous females generally breed female children, while those of a colder temperament breed boys. When both are moderate in their desires, children of both sexes are produced. When the female is unnaturally amorous, (and such cases frequently occur,) she seldom becomes impregnated at all. The following mode of influencing the sex of the child, some physiologists assert, is really effective, and it looks reasonable.

 

 
I assume boys were considered prefereable at his point, so this line apparently encourages frigidity? Are they trying to sneakily trick horny newlyweds into making babies by promising them they’re too lusty to have children (ha!)? Is this an earnest misconception? So many questions!

The causes of a non-development of the Penis are various. Sometimes a general torpor of the Testes retards its growth. Disease or excess will frequently make it wither and decrease in size; and many a youth by early masturbation prevents the full development of the organ.

Sorry dude, they’re still gonna do it. You can tell them self-love causes instant death, they are still gonna do it.

You can find the entirety of the text here.
 
Via The Paris Review

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The amazing, unpublishable burlesque pop-up book
02.02.2015
07:22 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Sex

Tags:


 
Peter Larkin, 88, was, in his day, a Tony Award-winning production designer, who, in the mid-‘50, took top nods for his work on Ondine, The Teahouse of the August Moon, No Time for Sergeants, and Inherit the Wind. He’s also a highly-informed burlesque aficionado. In 1994, he illustrated the book The Best Burlesque Sketches, and in the twenty years since, he’s been mocking up a pop-up book on the subject, with the delightful working title Panties Inferno. The Paris Review published a series of photos of the mock-ups, along with a detailed interview with Larkin.

I started doing pop-ups in 1994. My early ones were pretty crude. I had to figure out the engineering, if that’s what they call it—but I had fooled around with pop-ups before, because I used to make theatrical models for stage sets, so with my experience that wasn’t too difficult. I was a good draftsman and with a drawing board and triangles I could figure it out. You have to use the motion of opening the book to power the whole thing. Nowadays, there are guys who use string and elastic—all kinds of strange things in there, which as a purist, I would say aren’t exactly pop-ups. There’s also a certain amount of tumescence involved there. It’s sort of phallic, the pop-up. Why would you make a book that things popped up out of?

The book is arranged as if it’s a whole evening of burlesque, from start to finish. It always ended with a really awful production number. They got a set of steps—stairs—and covered it with some kind of sleazy material. Then there were all kinds of strange things.

Sadly, due to the complexity of Larkin’s pop-ups, the sheer expense of producing it has led publishers to deem it unpublishable. Mr. Larkin, again, is 88 years of age, so someone please tell him about Kickstarter, and quickly!
 

 

 

 

 

 
More wonderful images and animations at The Paris Review.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Looking for a ton of burlesque matchbook covers? Well, you can stop looking.
‘How to Undress in Front of Your Husband’: the exact opposite of a feminist film

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Even in death women are not free of sexist idiots
01.30.2015
01:02 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Books
Feminism
R.I.P.
The wrong side of history

Tags:

00colleenmcc.jpg
 
Yesterday, the best-selling author and neuroscientist Colleen McCullough died at the age of seventy-seven. McCullough was one of Australia’s best-known and most popular novelists, whose success was firmly established with the publication of her second novel The Thorn Birds in 1977. It was later made into a highly successful TV miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain. McCullough followed on her success with a string of bestsellers including An Indecent Obsession (1981), The Ladies of Missalonghi (1987), The Touch (2003) and her Masters of Rome series of historical novels. McCullough’s books have sold in excess of 30 million copies.

But McCullough had originally studied medicine before successfully moving into neuroscience and becoming a respected teacher at the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in New Haven, CT.

By any standard, most people would be content with just one of McCullough’s incredible careers, and one would think that a national newspaper like The Australian might write a glowing obituary, eulogizing this talented and brilliant Australian woman. Well, most of us would, but that’s not what The Australian decided to focus on when writing her obituary, instead they considered her most relevant attributes as being “plain of feature, and certainly overweight,” though she was also “a charmer.”
 

 
It’s dispiriting to think how this ever got past the paper’s sub editor’s desk—unless of course the paper is completely staffed by sexist idiots—which, who knows, perhaps it is? What is more disturbing and inexcusable is how a woman of such great achievement should be so casually demeaned and undervalued.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom as the stupidity of the Australian’s obituary has seen an amusing response from the Twittersphere, where people (including writers Caitlin Moran, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris and comedians Katy Brand and Craig Ferguson) have been tweeting their own mock obituaries (#myozobituary), which you can read below.
 

 

 

 

 

 
H/T Metro.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The Gourmet Cokebook: A Complete Guide to Cocaine,’ 1972
01.27.2015
11:53 am

Topics:
Books
Drugs

Tags:


 
I stumbled upon a reference to this marvelous book The Gourmet Cokebook: A Complete Guide to Cocaine, and I instantly knew I had to have it. I’ve never done cocaine, so how else am I supposed to learn about it, aside from watching Goodfellas or listening to Sticky Fingers?

The Gourmet Cokebook was published in 1972. There is conspicuously no author information provided, but the name “Daniel Chasin” appears on the copyright page, which was either a piece of misdirection or undermined the purpose of avoiding the attention of the authorities. I don’t know who Daniel Chasin is, but a Daniel Chasin is credited as acting on the movie Hussy from 1980, and a Daniel Chasin is also credited with writing and directing the 2003 It’s Tough Being Me, apparently a mockumentary about the inventor of the “Fart Machine,” which I suddenly absolutely HAVE to see. I know it’s a longshot, but I really hope those are all the same person.

The publishing company of The Gourmet Cokebook is listed as “White Mountain Press,” which I find hilarious and perfect. The book cost $2.95 at the time, which I know because the price is printed in rather large letters on the back. It has that Loompanics feel of a semi-clandestine operation designed to teach you how to pick locks or make a fake passport.

In truth, the idea of a “Gourmet Cokebook” is hilarious but in principle, the idea isn’t so bad. As the author (Chasin?) points out, there really wasn’t any proper resource around if you wanted to find out more about the drug—the authorities certainly weren’t going to help. There wasn’t any Internet, of course. The book is mostly sensible and helpful, supplying information about the history of the drug and some nuts and bolts information. But in 1972 cocaine was a new drug for mainstream America, and it would take a decade or so for the down sides of its excesses to become plain to all. The book has an idealistic edge to it that doesn’t sit well with the aura that surrounds cocaine today. There’s an appendix at the end addressing the relationship between cocaine and sex, and to the author’s credit the single paragraph is quite up-front about the fact that after excessive use, “the strong sexually stimulative nature of the drug changes to one of frustration, where erections and orgasms become almost impossible.”

Here are a few pages from the book. The bit that opens chapter 2 is an amazing piece of coke-writing that I love. Click on the image for a larger version.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
James Ellroy’s obsessive and murderous world
01.23.2015
10:21 am

Topics:
Books
Crime
Literature

Tags:

aaellpicroy.jpg
 
James Ellroy. Often writes. In. One. Word. Sentences. Sometimes two. It’s a style he developed when editing his novel White Jazz—the final volume of his famous (first) L.A. Quartet. He thought the manuscript too long—the action held back by unnecessary descriptive passages—so he slashed whole paragraphs and sentences to one-word blasts. The result was powerful, explosive, relentless—like being punched by a champion heavyweight, or poked in the chest by a speed freak keeping your attention focussed on his latest conspiracy theory.

Ellroy is the greatest living historical novelist/crime writer—historical novelist is how he describes himself—writing rich, complex novels—filled with multiple plot lines and characters—all held together, with Tolstoyan skill, in a single narrative.
 
aahilellro.jpg
Ellroy as a child pictured next to his mother in news report of her slaying.
 
If the past is a foreign country then Ellroy is a pioneer of that territory. He maps out America’s hidden criminal history—a dark foreboding underworld—which he situates between the twin poles of his personal obsession: the unsolved murder of his mother in 1958 and the slaying of Elizabeth Short, the “Black Dahlia,” whose tortured, brutalized and severed body was discovered in January 1947.
 
aablackdell.jpg
LA Times report on the ‘Black Dahlia’ murder, 1947.
 
These two murders underscore much of Ellroy’s life and fiction. He was just a ten-year-old kid when his mother was murdered by person or persons unknown. The trauma of this act led Ellroy into a world of petty crime, drug addiction and prison. He daydreamed and plotted and ran movies in his head where he saved a fantasy amalgam of his mother and Elizabeth Short from torturous demise. He knew his life was in free-fall—he was on a one-way ticket to the morgue. After a near fatal incident—a lung infection caused by his drug and alcohol addiction—Ellroy saved himself by writing crime fiction.

Last year, Ellroy published Perfidia—the first volume of his second L.A. Quartet—which follows (in real time) factual public and fictional private deeds across Los Angeles in the days around Pearl Harbor. Perfidia documents the racism and brutality of the cops and everyday Angelenos as Japanese-Americans are rounded-up and dumped in internment camps. It is a remarkable book, an adrenaline charged assault on America’s secret history and is arguably the best book he has written.

In 1994, Nicola Black made an astounding documentary on Ellroy called White Jazz that followed his quest to find his mother’s killer. If that had been available I’d have posted it here. Instead here is James Ellroy’s Feast of Death a BBC documentary form 2001 that covers similar ground but with the added bonus of a round table discussion on the Black Dahlia killing held in the Pacific Dining Car restaurant between Ellroy and a bunch of ex-cops and interested parties—including a briefly glimpsed Nick Nolte.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Page 3 of 57  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›