Enjoyable interview with the literary executor for the William S. Burroughs estate, James Grauerholz, who worked closely with the author for 23 years, conducted by Stephen Foland. It’s a discussion specifically about Burrough’s interest in magick—something that interests me greatly to read about, I can assure you—but what’s fun about the interview is reading between the lines as Grauerholz gently manages to provide a more, how shall I put it, secular viewpoint on the matter.
SF: William’s magickal experimentation, the aspects of recording what he called “Danger Sounds” and replaying them in proximity to his target, or using collage to hit a specific target has become the stuff of legend. Some attribute the closing of one particular establishment to William’s hexes. Is there another specific instance which you can recall that is as dramatic and apparently self-evident?
JG: Nope, not really. You are likely referring to the Moka Bar in London, where William said he received snide, snotty service and lousy, weak tea — and his tape-recorders-and-cameras mock-surveillance routine, back and forth on the sidewalk of Frith Street, and how the Moka Bar failed and was shuttered not too long after that.
Forgive me please, but my cast of mind leads me to suspect the Moka Bar, if it really did sell lousy tea with terrible service, might have been headed out of business, with or without the sound-text-tape-film sidewalk-pacing routine…
Below, Burroughs reads from Nova Express on Saturday Night Live in 1981. I remember seeing this the night it aired live and being totally flabbergasted to actually see William Burroughs on television. Something like that seemed impossible at the time!
Taking the broooooaaaaad view of things: A Conversation with James Grauerholz on William S. Burroughs and Magick (Pop Damage)
Because putting together the Phew/Aunt Sally post made me think of them and because I need a unicorn chaser after that cheesy thing I posted just now (ironically from the same time period as this), Here’s The Fall, live in Leeds, doing one of the best odes to speed that I know of, aside from this one or (duh!) this one. I drunk a jar of coffee and then I took some of these !
Phew is the name of the Japanese punk chanteuse who first came came to notoriety as singer in the band Aunt Sally. These tracks from her 1981 self-titled LP are most notable, however for her backing band: Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of Can and always brilliant producer Conny Plank. This is some wonderfully austere stuff from a period in which our man Holger could virtually do no wrong. And what a prescient sound this is. Any number of current backward looking bands would give their eye teeth for the vibe and drum/synth groove made by this unlikely combination of middle aged German gents and adorable art-waif.
Tara and I watched Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story this weekend (it’s on the Netflix VOD currently) and I absolutely loved it. It’s a truly great film, one that I have no doubt will be looked at and revered by future generations trying to understand what the hell happened in our backwards era. I recommend it to everyone who reads this blog and cares about my opinion. It was absolutely spellbinding to me. I felt as if I wanted to cheer several times to see someone say these things and say them so powerfully. Capitalism: A Love Story, or a film just like it, needed to be made. but there is only one guy who could have pulled off something like this, gotten it funded, herded through the distribution system and gotten a message this radical the deep penetration in the culture that it deserves, and it’s Michael Moore.
Surprisingly, Capitalism: A Love Story is perhaps the least polemic of all of Moore’s films, even if it does, at root, articulately advocate the necessity of class warfare, at least at the ballot box. Most of what Moore, or his protagonists, have to say in the film would be damed difficult to refute, perhaps this is why it doesn’t seem as confrontational as Moore’s films often are. You’d have to have a very closed mind to deny the reality of what you see on display here. Even Sean Hannity would have a hard time arguing with any of it (although I doubt he watched or will ever watch Moore’s film)
To say what Michael Moore says in Capitalism: A Love Story took balls and it also took amazing skill as a storyteller, underscoring his Mark Twain-like role in American society. After a mind-numbing section where the audience is introduced to the concept of the so-called “Dead Peasant” life insurance policies some major companies take out on their non-essential employees—unbeknownst to them—where they make more money if the employee dies, he cuts to an interview with Father Dick Preston, the Flint, Michigan-based priest who married Moore and his wife Kathleen Glynn (who interviewed me for a job once, she’s super cool).
He quietly asks the priest if capitalism is evil and what Jesus would think about free enterprise and his answer is devastating. This isn’t some left-wing loony he had to search out, this is the man who married him, the local priest who, like Moore, has witnessed the tragedy and destruction the loss of the auto industry in Flint, Michigan did to their hometown. Both of these men knows what greed does and how and who it harmed. People with first and last names.
And let me tell you, this priest fucking nails it. It’s a powerful, powerful cinematic moment.
Speaking as someone who took ten people on my own 24th birthday to see Roger and Me when it was in theaters—I also released This Divided State on DVD when I was at Disinformation—maybe I’m biased, but do yourself a favor and see this film. Better still, if you watch it and you like it, consider having a screening party at your house and invite 5 or 6 friends over to watch it and discuss it afterwards. It takes two hours to watch and could open the eyes of even a devout redneck Fox News watcher (well, some redneck Fox News watchers) to what’s really going on in this country. It’s not like Glenn Beck is ever going to tell them.
Below is one of the most powerful moments in a film full of them: rare footage taken right after FDR’s final State of the Union address where he lays out the concept of a Second Bill of Rights that would have guaranteed that all Americans have “a useful job, a decent home, adequate health care, and a good education.”
God bless Michael Moore. He’s a great American.
The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it (Yahoo! Finance)
The U.S. Economy Is A Dead Horse And The American People Are Starting To Get Really Pissed Off And Frustrated (Economic Collapse)
Original Signed Sketch, penned in black ink on a 6 ¼ in. x 8 in. album leaf. Fields, an accomplished pool shark, perfected many billiards tricks which he later used in stage and film comedy. Depicted here is one such gag: in the center of the page, Fields has drawn himself as a hapless billiards player attempting a shot with an enormous pool cue! Signed with sentiment just beneath, “Best wishes, W.C. Fields”. Minor stains; otherwise, in fine condition. A delightful image, drawn entirely by Fields himself.
The opening bid is $3500. I actually got to see Fields’ original trick pool table at the Magic Castle recently.
Marshall McLuhan would have turned 99 years old today, and his status as the god-daddy of media studies still seems pretty rock-solid. I wasn’t previously aware of how often the Canadian theorist appeared on TV, and was especially unaware of his November 1967 duet with New York novelist Norman Mailer on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show The Summer Way, bravely moderated by Ken Lefolii.
Recovered from recent treatment for a benign brain tumor he suffered while teaching in New York, McLuhan gamely tugs at a few of Mailer’s pretensions. Mailer is recently back from levitating the Pentagon with the Yippies, with the siege of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention in his future.
McLuhan pops off a bunch of gems, including:
The planet is no longer nature, it’s now the content of an artwork.
Nature has ceased to exist…it needs to be programmed.
The environment is not visible, it’s information—it’s electronic.
The present is only faced by any generation by the artist.
Communications maven Michael Hintongoesspeculative on his hero’s televised meeting with the Jersey-raised boxer-novelist, but of course it’s best to just check the thing out yourself.
The original flip sides to everybody’s favorite convicted murderer/hugely influential pop music producer Phil Spector‘s string of mega-hits issued on his own Philles label have never been re-issued in any way. Hell, they aren’t even on the above pictured Flips and Rarities LP ! It’s also damn near impossible to get information about these tracks (mostly named for the musicians playing on them or other members of Spector’s crew) let alone hear them so I was thrilled to find this collection of 15 or so of them uploaded to Youtube in bunches. It’s fascinating listening. Ostensilbly these were instrumental throwaways: Jams, half-songs, pseudo jazz workouts whose pupose, I believe, was to ensure that no DJ anywhere would be confused as to which side was the A side. But it’s obvious that Spector was also using these tracks to really push his sonic experiments: Crazy huge reverbs, echo, overloaded pre-amps (I hear the genesis of The Beatles’ Savoy Truffle horns in here), wild-ass solos, etc. I’d sure love to have these all collected and properly mastered. Until then can someone out there tell me where else to find these tracks collected ?
Sometimes it’s the more obscure tracks (relatively speaking) that I get off on the most from the Beatles catalog: Case in point, I tend to rank the non-LP Lady Madonna higher than some songs which are more overly familiar. But my favorite lesser-known Beatles song has to be Hey Bulldog, which was actually recorded during the filming for the Lady Madonna TV promo, a single that was supposed to provide a stop gap between albums whist the Fab Four went on a scheduled four-month long Transcendental Mediation retreat to India with the “giggling guru” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. We all know how that turned out.
Hey Bulldog is, in my never so humble opinion, one of the very best Beatles songs of all, but as it lived on the soundtrack for Yellow Submarine—only half a Beatles album technically speaking, although the George Martin symphonic music that comprises side two is, to my ears, utterly sublime—it’s from an album that most fans don’t tend to own. Furthermore, when the original US theatrical version of Yellow Submarine was released, they cut the song and it wasn’t until the 1999 remastered version came out on DVD, that the Hey Bulldog sequence was restored to the film’s running order.
Apparently the below video wasn’t completed until that release, either. Editors went back to the original Lady Madonna footage during the Yellow Submarine restoration process and found they were able to sync up the spirited Hey Bulldog performances up 30 years after the fact.
What fun it is to see this! According to Beatles engineer Geooff Emerick, the performance you see below is one of the last times the Beatles performed as a team, with each member bringing real enthusiasm to the task: “Paul’s bass line was probably the most inventive of any he’d done since Pepper, and it was really well played. Harrison’s solo was sparkling, too—one of the few times that he nailed it right away. His amp was turned up really loud, and he used one of his new fuzz boxes, which made his guitar absolutely scream,” he would later write in his book, Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles.
Paul McCartney recalls “I remember (it) as being one of John’s songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it’s mainly his vibe. There’s a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end. We always tried to make every song different because we figured, ‘Why write something like the last one? We’ve done that’. We were on a ladder so there was never any sense of stepping down a rung, or even staying on the same rung, it was better to move one rung ahead.”
I like the part when Lennon and McCartney are doing the whole dog barking thing and George Harrison looks over at them like they’re losing their minds.
Oh dear me. Hermann Nitsch‘s bloody/Dionysian/biblical/medical performance art rituals have haunted me since I first learned about them via my high school library’s unusually well-stocked art book section (thanks Mr. Allen !) so I’m amazed to finally see great quality footage of an aktion that I’d previously only seen hazy stills of. I think it’s the combination of the studious manner of the participants and observers and the all out bloody fucking (literally) insanity taking place that unsettles me the most. This stuff causes all sorts of conflicting emotions, and that’s probably the point. See for yourself but only if there’s no kids or really anybody with delicate sensibilities around, alright ?