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Happy Birthday H. G. Wells
09.21.2009
06:25 pm
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Today is the 143rd birthday of H. G. Wells, the author of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau and dozens of other lesser known works. Though he’s responsible for inventing many of the most-known tropes of the genre, Wells thought of himself not as a genre writer but as a social commentator. This National Geographic article, for instance, quotes a telescope maker as saying “One of the jobs of science fiction writers is not so much to predict the future as to prevent the future. In that regard, Wells did a very good job.”

Apparently, and mind-bogglingly, H. G. Wells is also the man responsible not only for modern science fiction but also for table-top wargaming, which eventually led to the creation of things like Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer 40K and World of Warcraft. No sh*t!

Let us salute one of the fathers of all nerddom!

Posted by Jason Louv
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09.21.2009
06:25 pm
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Milton Glaser: Art is Work by Hillman Curtis
09.17.2009
01:52 pm
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Charming, lyrical and thought-provoking profile of great American graphic designer Milton Glaser directed by Hillman Curtis (no slouch as a designer himself!). I’ve never seen Glaser on video, although I have admired his work for years and given the coffee table book on his life’s work as gifts many times, and this was fascinating, a real treat to watch. I especially like the parts where he’s talking about teaching and how he keeps his muse alive in his later years.

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.17.2009
01:52 pm
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On Ayahuasca With William Burroughs
09.12.2009
03:41 pm
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In 1963, City Lights published The Yage Letters, the correspondence between William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, which charts, among other things, the former’s efforts to score the possibly “soul-rebooting” hallucinogenic, Ayahuasca (Yage), in Mexico and Brazil.  The footage below is culled from Ayahuasca, a Burroughs-narrated documentary which I think—until someone corrects me—exists only in fragments.  Even so, it’s always great to hear Burroughs’ voice.  It’s up there with Werner Herzog’s!

 
(via Arthur)

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.12.2009
03:41 pm
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Turning 50 With Robert Frank’s Americans, Pull My Daisy
09.11.2009
05:33 pm
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While a mood of reflection descends upon on our nation, what better day than today, this 8-year anniversary, to reflect on something approaching its 50th?   Like many people, I have stacks of books by my bed, but beyond all the stacks, flat and visible on a nightstand, I keep a copy of The Americans, Swiss photographer—and Cocksucker Blues auteur—Robert Frank‘s epic, black-and-white meditation on what America looked like in the 12 or so months following the summer of ‘55.

Just eighty-three photos winnowed down from oh, twenty-seven thousand, Frank’s book winds up in my hands time and time again, and if, as Rod Stewart says, “every picture tells a story,” I’m by now pretty sure I’ve forged a story from each of its melancholy images.

But that’s what photos do—the good ones, anyway.  Reduced to two dimensions, stripped from time and place, photographs compel us to find the metaphor.  To search for meaning.  That freedom to look and think and wonder, it’s a large part of The Americans’ stark, open-ended beauty.  And for Frank’s subjects, too, contemplation shows up as a favored mode of expression.  As Anthony Lane writes in the current New Yorker:

Was there ever a book as full of looking as Robert Frank?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.11.2009
05:33 pm
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Nick Cave’s Bunny Munro, The Cat Piano
09.10.2009
12:56 am
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A trove of enticing Nick Cave news spotted over on Pitchfork:

The Death of Bunny Munro, the new novel from Nick Cave, is the story of a sex-addicted salesman, and it reads something like Charles Bukowski with a raging boner and an obsession with MTV Hits.  But since we’re living in the multi-media age, the book itself is only part of the story.  So: The Death of Bunny Munro isn’t just a book.  It’s also an audio recording!  And an iPhone app!  And a tour!

The iPhone app for the book, available now, features not only the book itself in text form but also the audiobook (read by Cave and featuring music by Cave and Bad Seed Warren Ellis) and video clips of Cave reading from the book (see above).

In the coming months, Cave will also take the book on the road.  On September 14, next Monday, Cave will come to New York, appearing at Barnes & Noble’s Union Square location alongside journalist Katherine Lanpher.  And Cave will spend the fall touring Canada, the UK, and Europe, appearing alongside fellow Bad Seeds Warren Ellis and Martyn Casey.  The shows will mix readings with live music, and Cave will take questions from the audience.  And finally, in non-Bunny Munro news, Cave has also narrated “The Cat’s Piano,” a new short film from the People’s Republic of Animation.

You can watch the animated short below, but I can’t wait for some of that live stuff to trickle L.A.‘s way!

 
Official site for Nick Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.10.2009
12:56 am
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The Great Flip Wilson, Lena Horne’s Rocky Raccoon
09.09.2009
01:24 pm
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My childhood television-watching memories were pretty much informed by three people: Maxwell Smart, Julia Child and the late, great Flip Wilson.  Comedian Clerow “Flip” Wilson was a Laugh-In regular and a frequent guest on Johnny Carson, but I remember him best, and most vividly, from his variety show that ran on NBC in the early 70s.

Whether he was dressed in drag as Geraldine (watch him flirt here with Muhammad Ali), or posing as the con-artist minister, “Reverend Leroy” (before he goes off to “fight sin” in Vegas, watch here as he puts in charge of his flock Redd Foxx‘s “Pussyfoot Johnson”), Flip and his show were definitely groundbreaking, and not just to my childhood mind—although I was probably the only kid in my neighborhood who went around shouting, The Devil Made Me Do It!

Anyway, The Flip Wilson Show was a regular stop for mainstream acts like Aretha Franklin and The Jackson 5, but, for his five years on primetime network TV, Flip was also a tireless champion of ripening greats like Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor and Albert Brooks.   And while I don’t remember their appearances, some of them, fortunately, are now showing up on YouTube.  As “reissue fever” sweeps the land—or just Pitchfork—witness below the great Lena Horne doing her rendition of “Rocky Raccoon.”  Amazing!

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.09.2009
01:24 pm
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Canonizing Sinead O’Connor
09.06.2009
12:47 pm
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Now here’s a woman.

You know this woman is important because she is a member of Fail Valhalla?

Posted by Jason Louv
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09.06.2009
12:47 pm
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Dramatic, Moving Photos from the Los Angeles Fire
09.06.2009
11:27 am
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Nothing to add to this. See the entire photo essay at the Los Angeles Times.

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.06.2009
11:27 am
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Dear Friends: The Firesign Theatre Appearing Live in Los Angeles
09.05.2009
05:18 pm
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A reminder that the legendary Firesign Theatre will be reuniting for a series of four shows in Los Angeles, October 14-17th, at the intimate Barnsdall Gallery Theater at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. Called ?

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.05.2009
05:18 pm
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Werner Herzog’s La Boheme
09.02.2009
12:41 pm
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Taking bullets, battling Kinski, is there NOTHING Werner can’t do?!  As spotted in the LA TimesCulture Monster:

Leave it to stubbornly iconoclastic filmmaker Werner Herzog to breathe new life into the well-worn score of Puccini’s “La Boh?ɬ

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.02.2009
12:41 pm
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