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Moments of Being: Listen to the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf
06:32 pm




“Words do not live in dictionaries, they live in the mind.”

Virginia Woolf discusses words, language and writing in this the only surviving recording of her voice.

Originally broadcast for a programme entitled Words Fail Me, by BBC Radio, on April 29th, 1937. Woolf’s almost regal pronunciation can be heard reading her essay on “Craftsmanship,” which was later published in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays (1942).

The transcript of this broadcast can be found here.

H/T Art Is Now

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
An exclusive peek at some of GG Allin’s prison drawings: NSFW
02:50 pm



Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Banned books and Beatniks: Happy 60th Birthday City Lights Bookstore!
09:39 pm



Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and friends in front of City Lights Books shop, 1956. Photo: Peter Orlovsky

This Sunday is the 60th birthday of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s renowned City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.

City Lights was founded in North Beach at 261 Columbus Avenue in 1953 by Ferlinghetti and his partner Peter D. Martin as the country’s first all-paperback bookstore. The concept behind the bookstore was to make ideas and literature cheaply available to all people. This idea was carried over two years later to City Lights Publishers, with their small, affordable Pocket Poets series.

City Lights became interwoven in the legacy of the Beat Generation, with Ferlinghetti publishing books by Allen Ginberg (Howl and Other Poems, Kaddish), Gregory Corso (Gasoline), Frank O’Hara (Lunch Poems), Jack Kerouac (Pomes All Sizes and Scattered Poems), Diane di Prima (Revolutionary Letters), Philip Lamantia (Selected Poems 1943-1966) and Anne Waldman (Fast Speaking Woman). Ferlinghetti also published English translations of writers such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Jacques Prévert. Its basement level has long featured an impressive stock of radical left-wing, progressive and revolutionary political literature.

It was the obscenity trial stemming from City Lights’ publication of Howl and Other Poems that earned the bookstore international attention in 1957. City Lights manager Shigeyoshi Murao was arrested for “disseminating obscene literature,” e.g., selling a copy of Howl and Other Poems to an undercover police officer and Ferlinghetti was arrested for publishing the book. After a well publicized trial and support from the American Civil Liberties Union, Ferlinghetti won the case. The book is still in print.

The store was officially made an official historic landmark by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2001. Aspiring young writers still send their manuscripts to Ferlinghetti.

Interview with Lawrence Ferlinghetti from 2012

Via The Beat Museum

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
‘Junkie’: William Burroughs talks about his heroin habit, 1977
07:44 pm



Uncle Bill ‘fesses up about his heroin habit.

This interview from 1977 begins with William Burroughs replying to a question as to whether he had any regrets in using heroin?

A writer can profit from things that maybe just unpleasant or boring to someone else, because he uses those subsequently for material in writing. And I would say that the experience I had, that’s described in Junkie, later led to my subsequent books like Naked Lunch. So I don’t regret it. Incidentally, the damage to health is minimal—no matter what the American Narcotics Department may say.

Burroughs may have been clean at the time, but he returned to using Methadone in later life, which makes parts of this interview rather poignant.

For a fascinating article on Burroughs and the history of heroin, check out the Reality Studio.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Orson Welles hated Woody Allen
06:53 pm



Oh is this good. It’s almost too good.

Director Henry Jaglom and the great Orson Welles knew each other pretty well. The younger man was one of the participants in Welles’ legendary but never-completed satire of Hollywood, The Other Side of the Wind, and Jaglom directed Welles himself as an actor in his first film, 1971’s with A Safe Place (which co-starred Jack Nicholson, Tuesday Weld and Phil Proctor from The Firesign Theatre) as well as Welles’ final film performance, 1987’s Someone to Love.

They had lunch together from time to time at Ma Maison in Los Angeles. Welles, like Malcolm McClaren and Quentin Crisp, was a gent who was happy to sing for his supper as long as the tab got picked up. Jaglom also recorded their conversations and transcripts from these tapes are being published in a new book titled My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles by Peter Biskind.

New York Magazine’s current issue has a few delicious, bitchy excerpts:

Henry Jaglom: By the way, I was just reading ­Garson Kanin’s book on Tracy and Hepburn.

Orson Welles: Hoo boy! I sat in makeup during Kane, and she was next to me, being made up for A Bill of Divorcement. And she was describing how she was fucked by Howard Hughes, using all the four-letter words. Most people didn’t talk like that then. Except Carole Lombard. It came naturally to her. She couldn’t talk any other way. With Katie, though, who spoke in this high-class, girl’s-finishing-school accent, you thought that she had made a decision to talk that way. Grace Kelly also slept around, in the dressing room when nobody was looking, but she never said anything. Katie was different. She was a free woman when she was young. Very much what the girls are now. I was never a fan of Tracy.

Henry Jaglom: You didn’t find him charming as hell?

Orson Welles: No, no charm. To me, he was just a hateful, hateful man. I think Katie just doesn’t like me. She doesn’t like the way I look. Don’t you know there’s such a thing as physical dislike? Europeans know that about other Europeans. If I don’t like somebody’s looks, I don’t like them. See, I believe that it is not true that different races and nations are alike. I’m ­profoundly convinced that that’s a total lie. I think people are different. Sardinians, for example, have stubby little fingers. ­Bosnians have short necks.

Henry Jaglom: Orson, that’s ridiculous.

Orson Welles: Measure them. Measure them!

I never could stand looking at Bette Davis, so I don’t want to see her act, you see. I hate Woody Allen physically, I dislike that kind of man.

Henry Jaglom: I’ve never understood why. Have you met him? [Jaglom is forgetting about Casino Royale]

Orson Welles: Oh, yes. I can hardly bear to talk to him. He has the Chaplin disease. That particular combination of arrogance and timidity sets my teeth on edge.

And as if THAT conversational gem wasn’t enough, try this LOL anecdote on for size:

Henry Jaglom: What is wrong with your food?

Orson Welles: It’s not what I had yesterday.

Henry Jaglom: You want to try to explain this to the waiter?

Orson Welles: No, no, no. One complaint per table is all, unless you want them to spit in the food. Let me tell you a story about George Jean Nathan, America’s great drama critic. Nathan was the tightest man who ever lived, even tighter than Charles Chaplin. And he lived for 40 years in the Hotel Royalton, which is across from the Algonquin. He never tipped anybody in the Royalton, not even when they brought the breakfast, and not at Christmastime. After about ten years of never getting tipped, the room-service waiter peed slightly in his tea. Everybody in New York knew it but him. The waiters hurried across the street and told the waiters at Algonquin, who were waiting to see when it would finally dawn on him what he was drinking! And as the years went by, there got to be more and more urine and less and less tea. And it was a great pleasure for us in the theater to look at a leading critic and know that he was full of piss. And I, with my own ears, heard him at the ‘21’ complaining, saying, “Why can’t I get tea here as good as it is at the Royalton?” That’s when I fell on the floor, you know.

Henry Jaglom: They keep writing in the papers that, ever since Wolfgang Puck left, this place has gone downhill.

Orson Welles: I don’t like Wolfgang. He’s a little shit. I think he’s a terrible little man.

This book can’t make it into my hands fast enough! In just the short excerpt in New York magazine, Welles dishes on all of the above, plus “super agent” Irving “Swifty” Lazar (who he accuses of being a germaphobe) and fucks off Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, too! Peter Biskind’s My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles is published by Metropolitan Books.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Happy Bloomsday!: Hear James Joyce read from his Modernist classic ‘Ulysses’
05:11 am



Today is Bloomsday—the day that commemorates and celebrates the life and works of James Joyce across the world.

Bloomsday is the day on which the events of Joyce’s most famous novel Ulysses take place, June 16th, 1904. This is also the date on which Joyce first stepped out with his future wife, Nora Barnacle, to stroll around the city of Dublin.

To celebrate Bloomsday, here is James Joyce reading Episode Seven: “Aeolus” from Ulysses. This recording was made in 1924, on the insistence of Sylvia Beach, proprietor of the Parisian bookshop Shakespeare & Co. and publisher of Joyce’s Ulysses. As the recording is rather basic, a transcription of the extract is been included of below.

He began.

— Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen: Great was my admiration in listening to the remarks addressed to the youth of Ireland a moment since by my learned friend. It seemed to me that I had been transported into a country far away from this country, into an age remote from this age, that I stood in ancient Egypt and that I was listening to the speech of some highpriest of that land addressed to the youthful Moses.
His listeners held their cigarettes poised to hear, their smoke ascending in frail stalks that flowered with his speech. And let our crooked smokes. Noble words coming. Look out. Could you try your hand at it yourself?
— And it seemed to me that I heard the voice of that Egyptian highpriest raised in a tone of like haughtiness and like pride. I heard his words and their meaning was revealed to me.


It was revealed to me that those things are good which yet are corrupted which neither if they were supremely good nor unless they were good could be corrupted. Ah, curse you! That’s saint Augustine.
— Why will you jews not accept our culture, our religion and our language? You are a tribe of nomad herdsmen; we are a mighty people. You have no cities nor no wealth: our cities are hives of humanity and our galleys, trireme and quadrireme, laden with all manner merchandise furrow the waters of the known globe. You have but emerged from primitive conditions: we have a literature, a priesthood, an agelong history and a polity.
Child, man, effigy.
By the Nilebank the babemaries kneel, cradle of bulrushes: a man supple in combat: stonehorned, stonebearded, heart of stone.
— You pray to a local and obscure idol: our temples, majestic and mysterious, are the abodes of Isis and Osiris, of Horus and Ammon Ra. Yours serfdom, awe and humbleness: ours thunder and the seas. Israel is weak and few are her children: Egypt is an host and terrible are her arms. Vagrants and daylabourers are you called: the world trembles at our name.
A dumb belch of hunger cleft his speech. He lifted his voice above it boldly:
— But, ladies and gentlemen, had the youthful Moses listened to and accepted that view of life, had he bowed his head and bowed his will and bowed his spirit before that arrogant admonition he would never have brought the chosen people out of their house of bondage nor followed the pillar of the cloud by day. He would never have spoken with the Eternal amid lightnings on Sinai’s mountaintop nor ever have come down with the light of inspiration shining in his countenance and bearing in his arms the tables of the law, graven in the language of the outlaw.

Download James Joyce reading from Ulysses here.


Bonus audio of Joyce reading from ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ plus documentary ‘A Stroll Through Ulysses,’ after the jump…

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Writers on Writing: Martin Amis, Malcolm Gladwell, Joan Didion, Jonathan Franzen and more
05:24 pm



Why I Write was George Orwell’s essay answering that perennial question asked of most authors and novelists.

Orwell was a 5-year-old when he first thought of becoming a writer. It was an idea he clung to throughout his childhood—writing stories in his head, rather on paper, imitating the styles of his favorite authors. Then, between the ages of seveteen and 25, Orwell attempted to abandon his vocation.

He joined the Imperial Indian Police. He affected a philistinism. Denounced literature, and literary magazines—in particular the Adelphi, which he considered ‘scurrilous,’ and used for target practice. Ironically, it was the Adelphi that later gave Orwell his first encouragement as a writer, publishing some of his early essays under his name Eric Blair.

It was only on his return to England that Orwell started writing in earnest. He apprenticed himself, writing every day, developing a style, and submitting articles to magazines.

Writing, he discovered, was something he had to do.

Most authors would say the same: writing is something they have to do.

It’s the having to do it that starts them off. But it’s the keeping to it that is the difficult part.

I once asked the playwright Peter McDougall, ‘How do you write?’ ‘You write about what you know,’ he replied. I told him I had been to half-a-dozen funerals before I was twelve. ‘There you go—that’s what you should write about.’

But I was scared, because it meant writing about how I felt, how I thought. It meant revealing something about myself that I didn’t necessarily want to share. And that’s a major hurdle for writers starting out—having the nerve to put down on paper their true thoughts and feelings.

The author Max Frisch once wrote, “a writer only betrays himself.” Which is true, for a writer must be honest enough to tell the truth no matter how painful. And that was something Orwell knew.

In this short selection of interviews conducted by Charlie Rose, authors Martin Amis, Zadie Smith, Malcolm Gladwell, Joan Didion, Jonathan Franzen and Fran Lebowitz give their answers to the question ‘How do you write?’ They also answer that other favorite, ‘Where do ideas come from?’ and explain how best to write successfully.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A Word in Your Era: William Burroughs explains Brion Gysin’s ‘Cut-Up Method’
04:08 pm



I have always thought William Burroughs was a terribly superstitious man. His life was tinged by the strange, the paranormal and the occult. Whether this was his interest in the number “23”; or his hours spent gazing into mirrors in search of visions; or his belief that he could negate curses by repeating his own (“Go back, go back…” etc); or that he could, somehow, divine the future from Brion Gysin’s “Cut-Up” techniques.

Of course, he couldn’t. But he was always smart enough to suggest he could (for what it’s worth), while at the same time creating distance through the wry aside, the knowing wink, to escape any suggestion he was deluded.

Put it this way, if some acquaintance buttonholed you at a party, with a relentless, monotone whine of how they closed down a Scientology office by repeatedly playing recorded tapes outside the premises, you would make your excuses and head for the canapes.

Burroughs claims as much here, in his explanation of Brion Gysin’s “Cut-Up Method.”

When you experiment with Cut-Ups over a period of time you find that some of the Cut-Ups in re-arranged texts seemed to refer to future events. I cut-up an article written by John-Paul Getty and got, “It’s a bad thing to sue your own father.” This was a re-arrangement and wasn’t in the original text, and a year later, one of his sons did sue him.

Then comes the knowing aside…

Purely extraneous information, it meant nothing to me. Nothing to gain on either side.

Before he goes on to confirm his acceptance of some mysterious powers of divination.

We had no explanation for this at the time, it just suggesting that when you cut into the Present the Future leaks out. Well, we certainly accepted it, and continued our experiments.


Previously on Dangerous Minds

A Complete Disorientation of the Senses: William Burroughs’ and Anthony Balch’s ‘Cut-Ups’

More on the Burroughs, Gysin and ‘The Cut-Up Method,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
NYC libraries are under attack and all we can do is ‘Put a Bird on it’???
11:32 am

Class War


little free library
Wilenta and her carpenter, Tom
The “Little Free Library” movement is adorable.  I mean like, painstakingly adorable. Folks can make or buy (for around $600!) a twee little birdhouse for books, set it up anywhere with foot traffic, and run a little book-borrow entirely on the “take a book, leave a book” honor system. Even I’m not so jaded as to criticize that—it’s sweet, neighborly, and totally unobjectionable.

Recently, Brokelyn wrote a post about Jennifer Wilenta, a yoga-teaching, organic-gardening, blogging Brooklyn mom, who installed one such library in front of her picturesque house in Ditmas Park.

Of course, I found something to be annoyed about.

Before you remind me that I’m a hateful little toad, let me just say that I take great pride, pleasure, and personal satisfaction in being a hateful little toad. I’m sure Wilenta is an amazing human being. She looks like a magical urban yoga fairy, and she literally lends books to her community with absolutely no strings attached. But, while these precious little literary penny jars are heart-warming (for those New Yorkers who still have hearts left to warm… sellouts), we’re facing a desperately under-reported attack on our actual libraries, which are already free, and able to use $600 way more efficiently than any one person.

Our billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg is proposing a 35% cut in funding to libraries across all five boroughs, which would close over 60 branches, add to growing unemployment, and demolish hours and services. Aside from books and classes, NYC libraries have immeasurably important resources for computer literacy and Internet use for those without home access. NYC libraries are already ranked below freakin’ Detroit in open hours, and reducing hours would gut their utility even further. For the little people.

So by all means, let’s coo over the beautiful Brooklyn mom and her beautiful kids and her beautiful home and garden her beautiful little library, but when sweet, novel little facsimiles of common goods pop up, maybe we could take a moment to remind ourselves that individual gestures can’t replace collective resources.

We can’t just put a bird on austerity.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Sylvia Plath reads 15 poems from her final collection ‘Ariel’ in 1962
03:22 pm



Sylvia Plath reads 15 poems from her final collection Ariel. The poems have been arranged in chronological order of composition, from recordings made on October 30th, 1962.

Hearing Plath’s voice brings a direct connection with her poetry that decades of biographical and academic debate has lost. This is quite wonderful.

Sylvia Plath reads from Ariel

01. “The Rabbit Catcher”
02. “A Birthday Present”
03. “A Secret”
04. “The Applicant”
05. “Daddy”

06. “Medusa”
07. “Stopped Dead”
08. “Fever 103°”
09. “Amnesiac”
10. “Cut”

11. “Ariel
12. “Poppies In October”
13. “Nick And The Candlestick”
14. “Purdah”
15. “Lady Lazarus”

Via Open Culture

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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