follow us in feedly
Elvis Costello and Terry Gilliam shill for Philip K. Dick
04.20.2015
08:48 am

Topics:
Books
Science/Tech
Television

Tags:


 
In the days just before the dawn of the World Wide Web, those wanting to prove the relevance of Philip K. Dick’s visionary books were likely to point to the prevalence of advertising everywhere and CNN’s coverage of the first Gulf War. More than twenty years later, in a world in which drones annihilate enemies of the American state, smartphones can decode spoken instructions, Netflix can accurately predict the next movie you want to watch, and so on, it would be folly to argue that Dick’s prescience has been any less than astounding.

In A Day in the Afterlife, a 1994 hour-long documentary made for the BBC series Arena on that great fucked-up writer, director Nicola Roberts employed a clever metaphor of a fictional product called “PKD,” complete with lightning-bolt corporate logo, to help illustrate the strongly artificial, alienating, and commercialized landscape of Dick’s works. The logo pops up at unpredictable intervals throughout the movie, and there are also cheeky “commercials” featuring Elvis Costello and Terry Gilliam as well as British novelist Fay Weldon.
 

Elvis Costello: “Featuring such classics as ‘Lies, Inc.,’ ‘The Man in the High Castle,’ ‘Ubik’.....”
 
I couldn’t find much evidence that Costello is a Dick-head (aside from his appearance in this very movie), but Gilliam’s enthusiasm for Dick’s books is well documented. (Unlike Costello, Gilliam consented to contribute a few more typical talking-heads bits.) In this 2008 interview with HitFix, Gilliam discussed his high regard for Dick’s work and his plans, never realized, to adapt Dick’s little-known 1956 novel The World Jones Made (Gilliam has the title slightly wrong):
 

Terry Gilliam: I mean, like, “Brazil”... I was even more determined it had to end that way because of “Blade Runner” having betrayed me at the ending.  I felt betrayed because I loved that until the end of the film.  Now all of a sudden, the android’s going to live forever?  What the fuck are you talking about, man?  You create a world that’s very solid, and then you… that’s why Philip K. Dick is always been one of my favorite writers.  He doesn’t go where that road takes you.

HitFix: I am convinced that someone will eventually make “The Man in the High Castle.”  There is such…

Gilliam: I’m actually meeting his daughter tomorrow.

HitFix: Are you?  Are you?  That is just a phenomenal book and so ripe in terms of the way it talks about how we process reality and the way we tell ourselves stories about history.  I think now is a great time to remind people of some of the things Phillip had to say.

Gilliam: One of the things that is… there’s another one that people don’t know called “The World According to Jones.” Do you know that one?

HitFix: Mm-hmm.

Gilliam: That really fascinates me… where we’re in a world where basically everything is relative.  It can’t be black and white because there’s a more religious fundamentalism that we’re talking about.  So now everything is relative.  And then the idea that a guy comes along that can see the future, and it is not relative… that intrigues me, and I don’t know exactly how to do it.  His other books… Ubik is always fun.  But again, so much of his stuff has been stolen already and used…

 
Obviously, the HitFix interviewer, one “Drew McWeeny,” was entirely correct that The Man in the High Castle would be adapted into a movie—earlier this year Amazon Prime dropped the pilot for a forthcoming miniseries based on the book. (As an aside, it’s wonderful that Dick’s greatness has been embraced by the Library of America, which in 2009 added Dick to its slate of great American authors like Whitman, Hawthorne, and Melville.)

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The infamous Hashish Fudge recipe of Alice B. Toklas
04.08.2015
11:19 am

Topics:
Amusing
Books
Drugs

Tags:


 
Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein were supporting characters in the story of art, literature and culture during the early to mid-twentieth century. Stein was a writer, poet and playwright, who collected and promoted the artists Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse and Picabia; and the writers Hemingway, Ezra Pound and Scott Fitzgerald. Toklas was Stein’s lover, muse, editor, and confidante. The couple were inseparable during their 39-year relationship, which was celebrated through Stein’s book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in 1933. This book told the story of their relationship through Toklas’s biography.
 
00stpoochtok.jpg
Stein (pooch)Toklas.
 
While Stein ruled the salon, Toklas was mistress of the kitchen. Almost a decade after Stein’s death in 1946, Toklas published what could be described as another Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas—a cookbook that mixed her favorite recipes with concisely written memoirs of her life. Her childhood she recalled through her mother’s fritters and ice cream; her aunt and a favorite car (a Model-T Ford) recalled through a recipe for hot chocolate; while many of the artists, writers and actors she met through her relationship with Stein were evoked by recipes, such as “Custard Josephine Baker” or through tales of serving food—cooking Picasso fish, for example.

One recipe for “Hashish Fudge” was supplied by friend and artist Brion Gysin. This sweet delicacy gave The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book considerable notoriety, and forced the publishers to enquire over the legality of publishing such a recipe.

HASHISH FUDGE
(which anyone could whip up on a rainy day)

This is the food of paradise — of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR. In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by ‘un évanouissement reveillé‘.

Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander.

These should all be pulverised in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together.

A bunch of Cannabis sativa can be pulverised. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.

Obtaining the Cannabis may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as Cannabis sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognised, everywhere in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called Cannabis indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.

As “experienced” gourmands know, the recipe bears more of a resemblance to what’s referred to in Morocco as “majoun.” The 1960s comedy I Love You Alice B. Toklas, starring Peter Sellers name checks Alice due to his uptight character eating a bunch of hash brownies. An audio recording of Alice reading the “Hashish Fudge” recipe can be heard here.
 
0cookcanalice1.jpg
 

 
H/T The Smithsonian and Open Culture.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Game of Chairs’: ‘Sesame Street’ takes on ‘Game of Thrones’
04.06.2015
11:48 am

Topics:
Amusing
Books
Television

Tags:

001ssgmchrs12.jpg
 
With a week to go before Game of Thrones returns to our screens, Sesame Street have produced a parody of the hit TV series—where the bloody feuds and wars are settled not by sword, sorcery, or dragon but by playing a game of musical chairs…

It’s certainly fun—with Muppet versions of Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Robb Stark and Joffrey Baratheon all battling it out, as a typically lustrous-locked Tyrion Lannister and (the unfortunately named) Grover Bluejoy look on.
 
0012gamechairss.jpg
 
While Sesame Street have brought some knowing humor to proceedings, there is an interesting article by Paul Mason over at the Guardian which asks “Can Marxist theory predict the end of Game of Thrones?”:

If you apply historical materialism to Westeros, the plot of season five and six becomes possible to predict. What happened with feudalism, when kings found themselves in hock to bankers, is that – at first – they tried to sort it out with naked power. The real-life Edward III had his Italian bankers locked up in the Tower of London until they waived his debts.

But eventually the power of commerce began to squash the power of kings. Feudalism gave way to a capitalism based on merchants, bankers, colonial plunder and the slave trade. Paper money emerged, as did a complex banking system for assuaging problems like your gold mine running dry….

There is a reason so much fantasy fiction adopts the conceit of a feudalism that is always in crisis but never overthrown. It forms the ideal landscape in which to dramatise the secret desires of people who live under modern capitalism…

Future social historians, as they look back on the popularity of Game of Thrones, will not have much trouble deciphering the inner desires of the generation addicted to it. They are: “all of the above” plus multipartner sex.

Trapped in a system based on economic rationality, we all want the power to be something bigger than our credit card limit, or our job function. Nobody sits at home watching the these dramas imagining they are a mere slave, peasant or serving girl: we are invited to fantasise that we are one of the characters with agency – Daenerys Targaryen, a beautiful woman with tame dragons, or the unkillable stubbly hunk that is Jon Snow.

You can read the full article here.
 

 
Via WSJ
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Book of Yeezus: ‘In the beginning Kanye created the heavens and the earth’
04.06.2015
09:37 am

Topics:
Belief
Books
Music

Tags:


 
Finally a book that can adequately express the exquisite ambition and ego of the one and only Kanye Omari West, the man behind such stirring religious texts as “Jesus Walks” and “New God Flow.” Kanye reportedly considered naming his sixth album I Am God (it was actually named Yeezus) but then settled for merely calling one song on it “I Am a God.” In an interview with BBC News in September 2013 Kanye defended himself on his use of the title by in effect crying racism:
 

I just told you who I thought I was: A god. I just told you. That’’s who I think I am. Would it have been better if I had a song that said “I am a n*gger” or if I had a song that said “I am a gangster” or if I had a song that said “I am a pimp”? All those colours and patinas fit better on a person like me, right?

 
Well, maybe, Yeezus. The opposite of naming a song “I Am a God” isn’t naming a song “I Am a Pimp,” it’s opting not to name a song “I Am a God” in the first place! And the end result is that you do seem to spend an awful lot of time wondering if you are God. So there’s that.
 

 
Seemingly designed to mock at least as much as honor Kanye, you can now buy a bound edition of the Book of Genesis in which “God” or “Y——A” has been replaced “Kanye” and “Yeezus.” So for instance, the first sentence of The Book of Yeezus is, “In the beginning Kanye created the heavens and the earth.” The books costs $20 but includes “a 300-word social commentary on the religion and spectacle of media icons in the 21st-century.”

Kanye West, “Jesus Walks”:
 

 
via Consequence of Sound
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The [inanimate object] Was My Gay Lover! The strange erotica—and wonderful cover art—of Chuck Tingle
04.02.2015
06:56 am

Topics:
Books
Queer
Sex

Tags:


 
Imagine world in which one of the most idiotic fantasies of ignorant right wing homophobe creeps were true, and homosexuality was not only a choice one could make, but that young people were actively recruited into gayness by a sinister cabal of persuasive pipefitters. Now imagine a world where your recruiter—your tour guide through the forbidden delights of Sodom!—wasn’t a fit, handsome, and just dead charming older student at the campus mixer with a fabulous smile, flawless hair, and an impish gleam in his eyes, but a diner.

Not as in someone who’s dining, I mean a diner as in an actual restaurant.
 
DINER
Turned Gay By The Living Alpha Diner
 

Lars is simply looking for a place to grab a bite and take a load off. But he bites of more than he can chew when he meets Turk, a handsome, living diner. The loads come later!

Lars and Turk take to one another immediately, and soon Lars finds himself putting it all on the line for an erotic future with this gorgeous, gay restaurant.

That’s pretty much how it goes in the world of writer Chuck Tingle, who trades in homoerotic eBooks that he calls “Tinglers.” I haven’t actually read any of them, as it’s not my zone, and anyway I don’t have a Kindle, so I’m unabashedly judging books by their covers here. But MY GOD, WHAT GLORIOUS COVERS! Tingle, or his go-to cover artist, definitely has the template nailed—while it’s of a type with lots of self-published eBook art, it absolutely has a certain something all its own. There’s always a come-hither beefcake image right up front, behind which, in brightly saturated colors, is an almost Pen & Pixel-ishly improbable collage depicting said beefcake’s mate. And it has to be a collage, as said mate is never simply another human guy. The not-of-this-world cover art is a match for the curious quirks in Tingle’s oeuvre. It seems to break down into four distinct and imaginative motifs. To start, there are his protagonist-pairs-off-with-an-anthropomorphic-object tales.
 
JET PLANE
I’m Gay For My Living Billionaire Jet Plane
 
TRAIN
Trained By The Living Biker Train
 
MY OWN BUTT
HEAVY META! Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt

More, more, more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Mind-bogglingly awesome sketches for Jodorowsky’s ‘Dune’—done in his own hand?
03.30.2015
11:16 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Movies

Tags:


 
John Coulthart at his blog {feuilleton} has discovered an absolutely marvelous find that is currently on eBay. There is an auction that ends in a few days with the intriguing title “Alejandro Jodorowsky’s DUNE Script EARLY DRAFT? Giger ILLUSTRATED Original Art.”

Yes, that’s right. It appears to be a full script for Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s Dune, however, “It is NOT the ‘phone book size’ script as seen in the documentary ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune,’ but appears to be an earlier/shorter version. There are about 300 pages in total, including illustrations.” At present there have been 15 bids on the script, and the price is at $710.

For those who don’t know, in the 1970s there was a concerted effort to bring to the screen an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi mega-bestseller Dune. In 1984, of course, an adaptation by David Lynch was released; while it’s a remarkable piece of work, that version is widely seen as a failure. In 2013 Frank Pavich’s movie Jodorowsky’s Dune documented the abortive first attempt to make the movie.

Here’s the cover of the script, as well as the title page:
 

 

 
Despite the title of the auction, the description indicates that the images “do NOT appear to be by Jean Giraud/Moebius, or Giger, but by an unknown artist.” Certainly at a glance they seem completely dissimilar from all of Giger‘s known output; I am a little less certain in the case of Moebius, but probably more dissimilar than similar. Coulthart convincingly suggests that the drawings are by Jodorowsky himself (interestingly, the eBay seller does not venture a guess), pointing to his 1967 comic Fabulas Panicas. Here’s Coulthart:
 

No artist is credited but the naive style rules out both Moebius and HR Giger (who arrived late to the project in any case). Best bet is either Jodorowsky himself—in 1967 he was writing and illustrating a comic strip, Fabulas Panicas—or Jodorowsky’s colleague from the Panic Movement days, Roland Topor. In the early 70s Topor was working with René Laloux on the animated SF film Fantastic Planet.

Many of the conceptions differ radically from the more graceful designs that Moebius produced later on. Also of note are details such as the anal entrance to the Emperor’s throne room, a Harkonnen orgy and an insemination scene viewed from inside Jessica’s vagina. By the time Giger joined the production team the instruction was not to create anything too erotic or adult since the film needed to reach a large audience.

 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
A peek at Nick Cave’s latest: ‘The Sick Bag Song’
03.30.2015
10:35 am

Topics:
Books

Tags:


 
Nick Cave gave a lengthy interview (sitting in an airplane parked on the tarmac) to John Doran in the latest episode of VICE Meets. Cave’s promoting his new book, The Sick Bag Song, an “road poem slash horror story” that was written on airplane sick bags during a 22 city North American tour, beginning in Nashville and ending in Montreal. (A literary device for a rock star’s book that seems almost Spinal Tap-esque as per Barney Hoskyns in the Guardian’s tepid review.) This is one of the longer Nick Cave interviews of recent vintage—quite a good one, too—and the topics include his dislike of the “dreaded” task of songwriting, if his wife scrutinizes his lyrics, and how much younger crowds showing up at their recent American shows has revitalized the Bad Seeds creatively.
 

 

 
The Sick Bag Song will be published by Canongate on April 8th and is only available online. There will be a signed limited edition of 220 (ten for each city) with customized, one of a kind “fully functional” sick bags in a box set with white vinyl records of Cave reading from the text (that version will set you back just $1,100). Three promotional readings for the book are being held, one at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles on April 8, another at the Florence Gould Theater in NYC on the 10th, and an already sold out date at London’s Porchester Hall on the 16th.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Cursed from Birth: Tragic note from the final days of William Burroughs Jr.
03.30.2015
07:48 am

Topics:
Books
Drugs

Tags:


 
William Seward Burroughs III—better known as Billy Burroughs or William Burroughs Jr.—had one of the more tragically doomed lives in literature. Despite being an excellent writer in his own right, Billy was more infamous for the horrific childhood bestowed upon him by his father, meticulously chronicled in the brutal book Cursed from Birth: The Short, Unhappy Life of William S. Burroughs, Jr.. You may have heard how Burroughs II shot his son’s mother to death in an insane, drunken “game” of “William Tell” when the child was only four—it didn’t get better after that.

Billy wrote:

“Had it been sublime to be born in time, hospital halls unknown, mother soon to be blown from the face of the earth, a bullet hole in her head, father pale, hand shaking as he lit the wad of cotton in the back of a little toy boat in a Mexico City fountain. The boat made crazy circles as the poplar trees trembled, and our separate fates lay sundered, he to opium and fame, bearing guilt and shame. And I, the shattered son of Naked Lunch, to golden beaches and promises of success.”

After a long stay with his grandparents, Billy went to live with his father in Morocco, who introduced him to pot at thirteen and failed to protect him from multiple rape attempts. Billy then returned home to his grandparents in Florida, and echoing the most traumatic incident of his life, shot his own friend in the neck at 15. Though the boy survived, Billy initially believed he’d killed him and ran away to hide. He suffered a nervous breakdown. From there it was a descent into the addictions that his father fostered. Poet John Giorno called him “the last beatnik,” a foreboding casual honorific for a man who considered himself “cursed.”
 

 
At one point late in Billy’s life, Michael Rectenwald—(poet, fiction writer and academic, who was at the time an apprentice to Allen Ginsburg at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado)—was placed in a sort of care-taking position for Billy—no easy task for a college student. Nonetheless, Rectenwald saw Billy’s devastating final days, and was the recipient of the heart-wrenching note below, left before Billy fled to Florida. He died of cirrhosis at age 33.

Just woke from my daily ____ ‘Time Out’ A slight spill of beer—and of course—no one here—I must tromp the gathering night (o god I wish I wish, I could have the wish I wish tonight) but I need the cabin—My voiced is laced with madness & my only mental funds have long been placed in security—God, I’m so alone—I splurged and bought a case of beer (redundant) & of course there’s no one here—The wish? I do so much want to be honorably nonexistent

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Awesome Ramones T-shirts, drawn by the author of ‘My Friend Dahmer’
03.27.2015
06:13 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Fashion
Punk

Tags:


 
If you read alt-weeklies in the ‘90s and ‘oughts, John “Derf” Backderf’s comic The City may well have been on your radar. Over its 24-year lifespan, it ran in 140 papers in all, peaking at 75 at once in the late ‘90s, including the late, lamented Cleveland Free Times, at which he and I were co-workers. Of course that publishing sector is gasping for air now, and Derf has moved on from it to an edifying afterlife: he’s retired the weekly strip, and like many cartoonists, he’s moved into web-comics, and he’s had great success creating graphic novels.

In 2008, Derf released the acclaimed Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, an account of being a young punk in Akron during the halcyon days of weirdomusic in Northeast Ohio. But his magnum opus so far is 2012’s My Friend Dahmer. You see, future cartoonist Derf was high school pals with future cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, and his portrait of his onetime friend’s teen years is affecting, disturbing, compelling, deeply human, and just bottomlessly sad. Derf depicts behaviors in the teenaged Dahmer that we’d all recognize today as HUGE RED FLAGS that he was going to turn out seriously broken, but in the early ‘70s could be and were hand-waved as mere weirdness. It was nominated for basically all of the awards, and was named one of Time‘s top five non-fiction books of the year.
 

 

 
Both Punk Rock and Trailer Parks and My Friend Dahmer have been translated into French, which has given Derf a chance to travel to France for promo appearances and exhibits. For one of those exhibits, he drew some wonderful tributes to Joey and Johnny Ramone, and they’ve been made into t-shirts which are available through Birdcage Bottom Books. Also available to the discerning Derf aficionado is this shirt, which may or may not bear a (totally unintentional) resemblance to Lester Bangs (or not), available from publisher SLG Comics.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
RE/Search’s Vale and JG Ballard on William Burroughs
03.24.2015
09:06 am

Topics:
Books
Drugs
Literature
Pop Culture
Queer

Tags:


 
This is a guest post from Graham Rae.

In 2007, I interviewed Val Vale, of RE/Search Publications, and the late futurologist novelist JG Ballard, about a writer whom they were both very favorably predisposed to, William S. Burroughs. I talked to the amiable Val by phone, and sent JGB a few questions by mail, sending him a copy of an expensive science book I had received for review, An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams, to sweeten the pot. The answers are below.

These interviews originally appeared on the now-defunct website of the fine Scottish writer Laura Hird, and do not appear anywhere else online; have not done for years. Thus the references are somewhat dated, but at lot of the material, sadly, remains very much in vogue. I had only been in America for two years in 2007, and my views here seem somewhat naïve to me now, but, well, them’s the learning-immigrant breaks. So without further ado…

Foreword: Noted San Francisco underground publisher V Vale has been publishing since 1977, when, with $200 he was given by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and poet/ City Lights bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti ($100 from each), he put out 11 issues of the Search And Destroy punk zine. In 1980 he started RE/Search, an imprint which still puts out infrequent volumes on subjects like schlock therapy trash movies, JG Ballard, punk, modern primitives, supermasochists, torture gardens, pranks, angry women, bodily fluids.anything and everything taboo and alternative and unreported was and is fair grist to Vale’s subversive ever-churning wordmill.

In 1982 he put out RE/Search #4/5, a three-section volume including William S. Burroughs, with the other two sections being about Throbbing Gristle and the artist Brion Gysin, WSB’s friend and collaborator who’d introduced the writer to the ‘cut-up’ method of rearranging his texts to show what they really mean.

The Burroughs section of the book include an interview with Burroughs by Vale (who is mentioned in Burroughs’ Last Words), an unpublished chapter from Cities of The Red Night, two excerpts from The Place of Dead Roads, two “Early Routines,” an article on “The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin” and ‘The Revised Boy Scout Manual’ which is a piece in which Burroughs muses revealingly on armed revolution and weapons-related revelation.

I talked to the amiable publisher about this interesting volume, but only about Burroughs, because he was the reason I wanted to read the thing in the first place; neither of the other two subjects much interest me, to be perfectly honest. It’s an interesting volume that any Burroughs enthusiast would definitely enjoy. So join us as we (me with occasionally incomprehensible-to-American-ears Scottish accent) take a trip down memory lane and talk about snakebite serum, dark-skinned young boys, the City Lights bookstore, independent publishing, aphorisms, Fox News’s hateful right-wing Christian conservative pop-agitprop, the madness of Tony Blair and avoiding mad drunks with guns.

And after the interview with Vale you will find the answers to a few questions JG Ballard was kind enough to answer me by mail about his own relationship with El Hombre Invisible.

V Vale Questions

Graham Rae: First off, how did you first encounter Burroughs’ work?

Vale: Oh, jeez. Well, I encountered Naked Lunch at college in the late ‘60s. He was like the cat’s meow. Burroughs and Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon—books like these. And it was obvious that Burroughs was this un-sane, slightly science-fictiony visionary, but he wasn’t really science fiction, he was extremely sardonic, that was his main appeal, with Dr. Benway and all that. And since I was more-or-less hetero oriented I think I more or less ignored all the references to young boys with blue gills and fluorescent appendages and whatever. That sort of went right by me like water off a duck’s back. It was only later that I realized that the imagery was kind of . . . how it was oriented. But what really turned me on to Burroughs was an article in a 1970 or ‘71 Atlantic Monthly magazine that came out with a huge excerpt in it from The Job, which is Burroughs’—I think it’s his signature book of interviews, it’s kind of the equivalent of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). And so I took this magazine and underlined it and kept reading it over and over, making lists and trying to get all the books that he talked about. And then The Job came out and that became my Bible

Yeah?

Vale: Oh yeah, it’s totally important. Still important; it’s got so many ideas in it.

Well that’s the thing about Burroughs, isn’t it? It’s like this sort of surreal mercurial Braille, it’s very strange. I mean you read it, you go back to it and then you go back to it and then you get something different from it because you’ve got a completely different level of understanding of it, y’know, I think, personally.

Vale: Well yeah, that definitely can happen with any great book. And I spent so much time with ‘The Job’ and with that ‘Atlantic Monthly’ article. It was obvious that this was sort of like a philosophy of life. I mean, instead of saying you’re right wing or left wing politically, you could just say, Well, I’m a Burroughsian. There should be almost a Burroughsian political party making fun of authoritarianism all across the entire political spectrum.

I’ve got that party in my head that goes on 24 fucking 7, man. Right. When and how did you first contact Burroughs?

Vale: Well I was already working at City Lights Bookstore and one of the perks of working there was that you got to meet all the so-called Beatniks and you were already in the in-group.

Did you meet like Ginsberg and that then, I take it?

Vale: Oh yeah, sure. The legend is that Ginsberg gave me my first $100 to start publishing. It’s certainly true, but I wish I had made a Xerox of the check, and I wish I had made a Xerox of the check that Ferlinghetti gave me, too. But you know, back in those days you didn’t have a home Xerox machine, you had to go to a corner facility and spend ten cens on a Xerox. Believe it or not, ten cents for a Xerox was a lot of money in 1976 or so.

Especially when you don’t have much money.

Vale: Especially when you’re living on minimum wage from City Lights, but you know you would parlay that, you’d stretch that out by: you’d get such a low income you’d qualify for food stamps, for example. They still give out food stamps—I see these old Chinese people using them still, but I hear they’re really hard to get now. But they used to be easy to get.
 

 
Continues after the jump with more from Vale and JG Ballard on WSB…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Page 3 of 58  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›