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Charles Bukowski’s F.B.I. file
12:40 pm



In 1968, Charles Bukowski became a person of interest to the F.B.I. because of his writing for an underground newspaper.

Bukowski wrote a scurrilous and highly entertaining column, “notes of a dirty old man” for Open City. This column caused enough offense to the Postal Services and the F.B.I. that there was an investigation into the life and morals of the literary mailman.

What emerges from the 113-page file is a portrait of a man who was regularly absent from work, who enjoyed a drink, was considered a “draft-dodger”, and was once married to “Jane S. Cooney”—the “Jane” of many of his most heartfelt poems. Nothing new there. Though the finks at the F.B.I. did add their own literary pique by describing Bukowski’s work as “highly romanticized.”

Read the whole document here.
Via, h/t Open Culture
More pages from Buk’s FBI File, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Elvis died for somebody’s sins, but not Mick Farren’s
10:13 am



A swashbuckling young rockstar Farren onstage with The Deviants.

During the last couple of years of his life, I had the pleasure of visiting the late, great Mick Farren a handful of times in his flat in Seven Dials, Brighton, mostly to discuss his Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine collection, which I was helping to edit and flog for the publishers, Headpress. He was a very lovely geezer.

Mick’s place, as you’d imagine, was well littered with music and literature, as well as framed posters and other random knickknacks and artifacts from his distinguished life. There was always an open bottle of JD floating about, as near to hand as the plastic mask and oxygen tank that helped keep him relatively comfortable and alive. At his desk in the far corner, his chair was cocked between the computer he worked at, and the constantly murmuring television by the window—a set-piece that struck me as a pretty apt symbol of his prose.

In person, Mick was quite a sight. Physically, aging appeared to have almost uniquely traumatised him. Outraged folds of flesh drooped down between the curtains of his long curly black hair. “Don’t ever get old, will ya!” he once implored me, in his memorable, wheedling voice, after having had to avail himself of a few especially long pulls of oxygen.

But here was the thing…

Even as he was, essentially, slowly dying, Mick’s writing was still, I thought, getting stronger. The handful of new pieces Headpress commissioned him to write were among the finest he’d written (one of them we posted here at DM, an amazing article on Nick Cave and the devil): on the page, the man could boast almost burgeoning youth.

Only when he read his work aloud was this disparity brought into full relief. On the brink of publication, David Kerekes and I brought along a video camera and invited Mick to read a few passages from the collection. (See below.) Mick, of course, was up for it, and his sentences fell with chaotic but pleasing rhythm from his lips. At the end of each, though, he would have to inhale, gaspingly, his chest set off like a drill.

I was under the impression that Mick very rarely left the house other than to do gigs, and the thought of these genuinely daunted me. I imagined the words just about making it out, and the PA morbidly amplifying that deathly rattle…

So when I finally made it to a Deviants gig earlier this summer, I was in for a surprise. Mick sat there, hunched on a stool in the middle of the stage, and as the band rang out with impressive muscularity, his songs flew from his lungs, absolutely full bodied. I stood there grinning from ear to ear and shaking my head. How the fuck was he managing it? Not only getting through the set, but doing so in such style?  That he collapsed and died following one of these performances shows just how difficult these near miracles must have been… and how much he must have loved to pull them off.

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
The psychedelic pancakes of ‘Old Black Witch’
03:06 pm

Pop Culture


Old Black Witch is a well-loved children’s book from the husband and wife duo of Harry and Wende Devlin that was originally published in 1962. The plot involves a widow and her young son who buy an old house and start a tea room. What they didn’t bargain for is the witch who’s been living there for over 300 years.

Eventually it all works out and the Old Black Witch’s “magic” blueberry pancakes make the tea room a smashing success.

Part of the fun of the book is making the blueberry pancakes recipe, something my grandmother would often do for my sister and me:

There was also a short filmed version of the book, “Winter of the Witch” made in 1969 by the publisher, Parent’s Magazine, who paid NYU film student Gerald Herman $500 to direct it.

It starred English actress Hermione Gingold as Old Black Witch and Anna Strasberg (wife of famed acting coach Lee Strasberg) as the mother. Burgess Meredith did the narration. When the tea room patrons are eating the magic happiness pancakes, you’d think they were made with nitrous oxide and pure LSD.

“Even the meanest and most unhappy people…ONE BITE and they’re not unhappy anymore,” Old Black Witch says. “I just reversed an old recipe…”

Yes, psychedelic magic pancakes. Here’s a genius YouTube comment:

They cut out the part where the DEA raid the place and the area Fundamentlists stage pancake burnings.


Perhaps you might recall seeing this during a Halloween school assembly? I’d think that at least half of Americans over the age of say, 38, have seen “Winter of the Witch.”

Thank you kindly, Melissa Kosmicki!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Give The Anarchist A Cigarette: Counterculture legend Mick Farren dies with his boots on
12:15 pm

Pop Culture



“This is British amphetamine psychosis music and if you don’t like it you can fuck off and listen to your Iron Butterfly albums”—Mick Farren

It is with great sadness that I report the death of my friend, Mick Farren, the legendary author, novelist, journalist, leader of The Deviants and prime mover of the counterculture for five decades. A wake in London is being organized in London by Charles Shaar Murray. There’s going to be a wake in Los Angeles next Saturday, at 3pm, at The Cat & Fiddle on Sunset Blvd.

A few years back, on this blog, in a review of Rich Deakin’s excellent book, Keep It Together!: Cosmic Boogie with The Deviants and the Pink Fairies, I wrote:

The Deviants were the first British band who were true anarchists. “Street Fighting Man” was just a fashionable pose, these guys lived and snorted their politics. Agitprop bands like The Clash, Crass and Manic Street Preachers would most definitely tread in their ideological footsteps, whether conscious of it or not.

I also returned to Mick Farren’s autobiography, Give The Anarchist A Cigarette and spent some time looking over the issues of The International Times that are online. When I was in my teens, maybe 15 or 16, I found a whole stack of old issues of IT (which Farren wrote for) in a used bookstore where I’d normally buy back issues of National Lampoons, comics, Rolling Stone and Creem. How they got there, I will never know, but Mick Farren’s political rants and commie/anarchist screeds really resonated with me. Finding these underground papers demonstrated for me the existence of a world outside my hometown—an underground—that I had to become a part of myself. It was an amazing score for a kid like me, as you might imagine and I would read then over and over again. I’m sure that stack of mags had a lot to do with me picking up and leaving home when I was 17 and moving to London, where I lived in a succession of squats for a couple of years. Reading Keep It Together, I became much more aware of what a big influence Mick Farren had on me politically during my formative years and that influence, I think was major. Extremely important to me, thinking back on it. (Whenever I see that one of my own political rants makes it to Mick’s Doc 40 blog, I always get a kick out of it).

At that same time, I was also a subscriber to The Trouser Press, the “New Wave” and post-punk magazine, and Mick wrote a lot of each issue. Via that publication—which I would patiently wait by the mailbox for, psychically willing it to show up—he was probably the rock writer second only to the great Lester Bangs in turning me on to good music.

If ever there was a figure of 20th century counterculture who should be lionized and treated as a respected and revered elder statesman whilst he is still with us, it is the one and only Mister Mick Farren. Farren left sunny Los Angles to return to the UK late last year. People of Great Britain, a legend drinks amongst you! Where the hell is Mick Farren’s Guardian column already? Come on let’s pick up the pace.

Mick told me that he didn’t want to die in America and who could blame him? You know the old adage, “It’s not the age of the car, it’s the mileage”? Well, there was a helluva lot of mileage on Mick’s body. In earth years he was 69, but if you take into account all of the life lived that was crammed into those decades—and all the pounds of drugs and thousands of gallons of alcohol that have coursed through his liver and bloodstream—he was probably twice that old in real terms. In my entire life, I’ve only ever known one single solitary person who could drink with more two-fisted gusto than Mick. The guy partied with Lemmy, for chrissakes! The last time I saw Mick, right before he left Los Angeles in 2010, he could barely breathe. Walking even a short distance completely winded him.

A few years ago, the matter of Mick’s precarious health came up in conversation with a mutual friend. We both wondered how in the world he could make it through the length of an entire Deviants gig, but the conversation ended with the two of us agreeing that we both hoped he’d die onstage.

Mick Farren died last night in London after collapsing onstage at a Deviants gig at the Borderline.

He died with his boots on. Like a rockstar.

Goodbye Micky, you were truly one of the greats.

As intense as the MC5 and The Stooges and as irreverent as The Fugs, here are The Deviants, LIVE:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘If God Loves Me, Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open?’: The book every Christian teenager should read
01:44 pm



Haven’t we all asked ourselves this question? No? Yeah, me neither.

The Amazon reviews are very hit or miss with Lorraine Peterson’s If God Loves Me, Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open?

DeGinner gives it one star and writes:

Well this book is no help at all, as a Christian who forgot my locker combination I really thought this was the book for me but nope! It has no advice for opening lockers, in the end all that was needed was a screwdriver and a crowbar, the worst part is my locker got stuck again, and this book was inside! God might be testing me but I’m really starting to doubt my faith.

Whatarelief gives it five stars and writes:

My locker had been stuck all year. When in desperation I turned to this book. It didn’t contain anything about lockers, but was full of stories about how some Mexican guy loved me. Frustrated, I threw the book at my locker and it popped right open! I threw it at a few other lockers hoping to plunder what was inside, but nothing happened. I guess there’s only enough magic in each book for one locker. I wouldn’t recommend buying a used one because it may already be spent.

Ryan Gosling gives it five stars and writes:

This book is glorious. I now understand how to create transmutation circles and chant the names of Leviathan, Baal, and Beelzebub.

Image via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Talking Heavy Metal, Death Metal and Hardcore Punk with underground publishing maven Ian Christe
11:36 am



You may remember our post on California hardcore punk zine compendium We Got Power, an amazing chronicle of a dynamic place and time in music history. The outfit behind the title, Bazillion Points Books, is celebrating five years of being America’s “smallest but heaviest publisher,” putting out great stuff for anyone interested in the heaviest of music subcultures. Founder and author Ian Christe sat down with us to talk about where Bazillion Points came from, what they’ve accomplished, and where they’re going.
Dangerous Minds: So how did Bazillion Points come about?

Ian Christe: Many moons ago, I wrote a long history of heavy metal called Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal for HarperCollins. That was back when heavy metal was at a low point, but metal had meant everything to me growing up, and I wanted to carve out some room for those thousands of bands on bookstore shelves. The book was very popular, so I learned the power of paper. Fortunately, I got involved and learned a lot about book production, and repeated that process over a dozen times as the book was licensed overseas.

I realized I knew a lot of people who could write powerful personal or musical histories, but they didn’t have a chance in hell of getting a publishing deal as things existed then. My friend Peter McGuigan really got the ball rolling when he explained to me that I could easily license the English rights to Hanoi Rocks guitarist Andy McCoy’s Finnish autobiography. Hanoi Rocks were incredible, Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe admit they owe them everything. I figured the only way I could ever read that book was to publish it myself. Same goes for our Swedish Death Metal book. Daniel Ekeroth had done a small printing himself in Sweden, but I didn’t want to pay 80 euros for a copy. Five years later, I’m really amazed at the consistent incredible impact made by these books.

DM: What made you start a publishing company instead of a record label?

IC: I guess publishing books was something I thought I could do better than a lot of people, where the record business is totally crowded. Plus I’m ethical, which is a total disadvantage in releasing records, right? And with publishers, I was instantly the youngest one in the room, (ha ha). But along with Feral House and 2.13.61 and New Directions, I was inspired by legendary indie record labels like Megaforce, Earache, Dischord, SST, Touch and Go, and Sub Pop, because those are the operations I knew. Now we’ve done the Touch and Go book with Tesco Vee, who started Touch and Go, and we have two books upcoming by Sub Pop cofounder Bruce Pavitt—those are Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989, and Sub Pop USA, an anthology of his writing from 1980 to 1988. But our books are sold alongside CDs and records in good record stores all over the place, so maybe we are part record label at heart.

DM: You’ve made some surprising choices- a cook book, a documentary on the Mellotron, a book in Spanish on death metal and grindcore- do you seek out diverse new projects, or do you just take opportunities as they come to you?

IC: Personally, my life has been a series of intense periods spent in different places, followed by a lot of times getting deep into different kinds of music. So books are kind of the perfect length to fully experience a writer’s viewpoint or obsession on a subject. I knew some of our authors beforehand. Jon Kristiansen, who wrote Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries, and I were pen pals twenty-five years ago, back when Norway only had one black metal band. And I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Tom Gabriel Fischer several times before his manager came to me with the manuscript for his Hellhammer history Only Death Is Real. So some of our authors are friends, others become friends. And there are a lot of strange coincidences and unlikely connections between them.

DM: A lot heshers I talk to around NYC say that while you can find all manner of punk here, metal is still considered a bit gauche. Do you find that metal is often denied artistic legitimacy in the way other genres often are not?

IC: Not any more, no. I mean, it will be a while before the Met has a metal fashion gala to match their recent punk exhibition, but that’s vastly preferred! Thankfully! First of all, metal measures its legitimacy through music, which is actually pretty rare among popular forms. So media coverage or even record sales isn’t always the goal. There are a half dozen metal bars in Brooklyn alone, Matthew Barney has appropriated the sound, black metal photos hang in galleries, and the papers are paying attention. Compared to ten years ago, when metal was shunned like a plague, there’s actually kind of an elite cachet now to listening to French black metal like Deathspell Omega or even good old Bolt Thrower. Suddenly, metal is being taken kind of seriously!

DM: You’ve made a really concerted effort to show the diversity of Metal’s appeal, from Laina Dawes’ What are You Doing Here? to updating your own book to include material on metal in the Muslim world. Is this intentional, or just a natural extension of really researching the genre?

IC: We’ve also been talking with a Swedish brother and sister team about releasing their beautiful book of Southeast Asian metalhead photos. Metal is such a broad style, it unites everything from tuneless bashing to ridiculous virtuosity, and from fascism to total anarchy. If someone can represent a point of this constellation with brilliance and intensity, I’m all for it!

DM: The diverse taxonomy of metal is one of its hallmarks, but every culture has its pedants. You’re pretty inclusive, and have always paired hardcore as a relative, but do you ever encounter any “Death to false metal!” puritans?

IC: Yes, for sure, and I imagine we’ll deal with some of that when Bruce Pavitt’s Experiencing Nirvana book comes out this fall. But all the original thrashers got into the Seattle bands like Mudhoney, Tad, and Nirvana. Brian Lew, who took the photos of Cliff Burton’s first jam session with Metallica that appear in his Murder in the Front Row book, is going to be a first-day buyer of Experiencing Nirvana. I was just on a plane with a Seattle band called Black Breath. One dude was wearing a Nirvana longsleeve and a big molded metal logo badge for the classic Swedish death metal band Nihilist. That’s what I love to see, voracious minds chasing omnivorously after all forms of enlightenment, indulgence, and excitement. In the end, our books have been pretty much untouchable in terms of contributors as far as real metal and hardcore go. Both members of Darkthrone and four members of Black Flag are Bazillion Points anointed!

DM: What kinds of responses have you received from musicians?

IC: I think it’s safe to say that Bazillion Points makes books that musicians enjoy. The books look good, and then, maybe surprisingly, they deliver. So we’ve gotten the nod of approval or a quick thumbs up from members of Slayer, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne’s band, Hüsker Dü, Black Flag, Blink 182, Pantera, Lamb of God, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth… It’s a common misconception that metal and punk fans and especially metal and punk musicians don’t read. But for a few decades there was no other way to communicate, these are literally some of the most literary-minded people around.

DM: You’ve put together some a couple of amazing zine anthologies- how did you expand from “traditional” books to (basically) reprinting historical documents and primary sources for public consumption?

IC: When collecting the full run of a zine, each issue is basically like a chapter in an unfolding story. The design changes over time, the writing, the content. But we’re dealing with some of the best zines of the 1980s, with Touch and Go, Sub Pop, Slayer Mag, and We Got Power!, so again I’m creating books that I know I want to read. Collecting every issue of Touch and Go or Slayer Mag would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

DM: What’s on the horizon for Bazillion Points Publishing, in the near future and beyoooooond?!?

IC: We are wrapping up production on a handful of new books: Experiencing Nirvana, as I mentioned, is Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt’s photo journal and diary of eight days across Europe with Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Tad in 1989. Mike McPadden’s Heavy Metal Movies is an over the top compendium of over 1,300 films based around heavy metal, sorcerers, road warriors, zombies, vikings, and witches. And Dianna Dilworth’s Mellodrama is a hugely expanded book version of the Mellotron analog sampling story told in her popular Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie. After that I guess we should take over an abandoned place like Wheeling, WV, and make a city of books!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Young Hunter S. Thompson slams ‘empty head’ Jack Kerouac in 1958 letter
01:11 pm



Via Letter of Note’s Shaun Usher on Twitter:


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
John Updike’s advice to young writers
07:47 pm



Develop a work habit, begins John Updike’s advice to young writers. Give over an hour or two a day to writing, and set a quota for the number of words you will write per day.

Try to communicate your story to some ideal reader—a friend or a loved one. Don’t just think about getting into print and don’t be content to call yourself a “writer.”

Remember it’s not a sin to make money. Read what excites you and learn from it.

When it’s all put like that it seems simple, but the hard part is up to you.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
iPhone Fortune Teller: Enchanting (free) palm-reading app supports London’s oldest occult bookstore
10:35 am



Marilyn palmreader window
Need a palm reader right now?  Want to help keep a small, independent, historically significant business open? 

No problem!  Meet the Swami of London’s Watkins Books.

Watkins Books, a beloved institution among the UK’s esoteric community, is located on London’s small, picturesque Cecil Court.  This is not just another New Age candles and crystals shop with Native American flute music playing overhead.  It was founded in 1894 by John Maurice Watkins, making it one of the oldest independent occult bookstores in the city (along with Atlantis Books near the British Museum, which opened in 1922).  The quaint shop with the Tarot nook upstairs has weathered the vagarities of the free market, world wars, and the Great Depression but was almost done in by the most recent recession.

Small independent bookstores have gone under left and right over the past decade.  Cecil Court is full of little specialized book shops, including the wonderful Marchpane, which carried rare illustrated children’s books.  The street’s properties are owned by Lord Salisbury, who did not want Watkins to fail when it found itself in financial trouble in 2010.  Although his name was mentioned as a possible white-knight investor at the time, the business’s rescuer was not Jimmy Page, who had opened his own occult bookstore and publishing house, Equinox Books, on Kensington High Street in 1974.  Instead Etan Ilfeld, the American owner of nearby art gallery Tenderpixels, came to its rescue two weeks before it was to be liquidated.  Watkins reopened in March 2010.

The dire consequences of maintaining a niche business during a recession were averted thanks to people who considered the store a community treasure. Another way Watkins has remained open is adaptable, clever marketing through mobile technology.  Ilfeld revamped the store’s website and hired an online marketing consultant.  The store has developed two free iPhone apps: the first, Mind Body Spirit gives the user access to the store’s catalog, schedule of events and classes, its worldwide map of spiritual events and supernatural occurrences (to which you can submit incidents), videos from its YouTube channel, free e-books, and issues of its in-house magazine, Mind Body Spirit. 

However, even more fun is Fenopalm, the palmistry app.

After an introductory video from the Swami, a friendly, bearded, white-robed, bespectacled Indian gentleman, you take a photo of your left palm and upload it to Fenopalm, along with your date of birth and gender. 

The Swami will then read your life, head, and heart lines, and access finger length ratios.  He will interpret these factors to give you a short assessment about your personality and future. 

Using this data – and this is brilliant personalized marketing – the Swami will recommend three books he sees in your future from Watkins’ inventory, along with ordering information.

The cool thing is that this is a real person, Swami Krishna, who does private palmistry and Sacred Dakini Oracle card readings at the store for £30 for 30 minutes or £50 for an hour.  According to his blurb, he is “also a healer, a spiritual counsellor and meditation teacher. With many years of experience on readings and courses in several countries, he has an optimistic and compassionate approach to all of life’s problems.”

The Fenopalm app and brief look at Watkins Books:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Society of The Spectacular Toys: Guy Debord, Situationist action figure!
02:05 pm

Class War
Pop Culture


Yeah, it’s great that doctors can print casts and prosthetic legs and stuff, but to my mind, this is what 3-D printing was invented for…

Behold cultural theorist Mackenzie Wark’s limited edition Guy Debord figurine. Two-hundred of these post-Marxist bad boys were printed up. The project was conceived and designed by Wark, Peer Hansen and Rachel L. Verso Books gave away one of them to promote Wark’s new book, The Spectacle of Disintegration: Situationist Passages out of the Twentieth Century.

If you happen to own a 3-D printer, or have access to one, you can download the plans for your own 3-D Guy (that rhymes, btw), here, as the plans were released under a Creative Commons license. Rather predictably, Wark’s clever publicity stunt brought on humorless protest from Situationist-types.

There’s also a remixed version of the Debord figurine with Stelarc’s 3rd Ear on his back and Eduardo Kac’s infamous “Alba” bunny ears. That one you’d probably want to print up in fluorescent lime green…

Imagine a Lenny Bruce action figure, or Robert Anton Wilson, Wittgenstein, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, Grace Slick, James Joyce, Vivian Stanshall, Orson Welles, Nico… I’m sure they’re all on their way soon.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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