Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! has become the traditional graduation gift of our generation. It’s June, and people are graduating, so Funny or Die decided to enlist everyone’s favorite hardcore hunk, Henry Rollins, to sit a spell and read from the beloved volume.
Henry’s more of a literary figure than you might realize—he’s been publishing books for years on his 2.13.61 imprint—personally, I’d like to see a Dr. Seuss treatment of Pissing in the Gene Pool.......
Nice kid. Can we get an Einstürzende Neubauten homunculus on there?
Fortunately, it turns out that this isn’t just Rollins “reading” Seuss, it’s Rollins “reading and deconstructing” Seuss, which means that the video consists less of Theodore Geisel’s winsome versifying and much more of Rollins’ fervent crabbing about the silly-ass text.
Ryan Richardson is one of the United States’ foremost collectors, archivists, and dealers of punk rock records and ephemera, as well as being the Internet saint who created free online archives of Star, Rock Scene, and Slash magazines. He also runs Fanzinefaves.com, a repository of various early punk zines as well as the exhaustive punk info blog Break My Face.
We’ve written about Richardson’s punk altruism before here at Dangerous Minds. The last time was when he uploaded the entire print run of the seminal transgressive LA artpunk publication, NO MAG, over at his site CirculationZero.com.
Richardson has done his Good Samaritan work once again, this time with the upload of the complete print run of the Bay Area’s Damage magazine which was published between July 1979 and June 1981. Damage concentrated its coverage on the San Francisco and LA punk scenes, but also covered underground music scenes worldwide. Richardson calls it “a definite contender in a state crowded with fanzine heavyweights.”
Thirteen issues were published including a freebie special edition released between the 9th and 10th issue for the Western Front festival which Damage co-sponsored.
The newsprint zine featured bold graphics, photography, and loads of writing and interviews of great historical importance to anyone following the early California punk scene. Your mileage may vary, but the San Francisco scene between 1978-1983 is perhaps my personal favorite all-time music scene, so these issues are absolute gold to me. For my money, nothing beats the aesthetic of arty punk fanzines prior to the age of desktop publishing, and Damage is as fine an example of the form as any you care to name.
Publisher Brad Lapin spoke of Damage’s importance as a historical record in a 2010 statement to the San Francisco Zine Fest:
While I trust that the magazine speaks for itself, both for good and ill, I suppose I could say by way of explanation that, beyond all the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, that is, beyond the pure visceral FUN of punk and life in the underground, there were also deeply serious issues of politics, of social justice and, above all, of aesthetics that connected and inspired the many people involved in the Damage project. Because these concerns were particularly articulated in the scene as it existed in San Francisco three decades ago, Damage’s importance today, like that of the other zines, is as a kind of constant witness to an unique time, place and circumstance; one that spoke and one hopes still speaks to the immanent primacy of youthful idealism and to the notion that there is a deep and abiding value in a radical, even desperate rejection of the commonplace, the accepted, the normal. Conformity and regimentation then, as now, are the foresworn enemies of the creative energy that is the essence and the wellspring of youth. That stance of absolute defiance to which the punk aesthetic aspires and which, in fact, is it’s raison d’etre is no less a viable ideal today than it was 30 years ago. If anything, it is more necessary and more important.
The download of the complete set is free, but Richardson asks that those taking advantage make a charitable donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or Austin Pets Alive. Donations to these charities make the project worthwhile for Richardson, so it would be, you know, the cool thing to do to toss a few bucks that way, considering the amazing gift being provided here. Richardson has placed donation links on CirculationZero.com—go there now to download Damage, and while you’re waiting on that file transfer, scroll through this gallery of covers and pages from Damage‘s history:
In 1970, Alejandro Jodorowsky brought his adaptation of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra to the stage in Mexico City. A creation for its time and place, Jodorowsky’s Zarathustra was a play for four men (A, B, C, and Zarathustra) and two women (D and E), all (eventually) nude on a bare, white stage. The script indicated that the actors were to stand at the entrance of the theater and talk with the audience before the action began; Jodorowsky’s Zen master, the monk Ejo Takata, sat on stage meditating for the two-hour duration of the performance.
My ambitions were becoming centered on the theater. Nevertheless, Ejo Takata’s teachings—to be instead of to seem, to live simply, to practice the teaching instead of merely reciting it, and knowing that the words we use to describe the world are not the world—had profoundly changed my vision of what theater should be. In my upcoming production, a theatrical version of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, I had stripped the stage of its usual décor, including even curtains and ropes, and had the walls painted white. Defying censorship, the actors and actresses undressed completely on stage after reciting lines from the Gospel of Thomas: “The disciples asked him: ‘When will you be revealed, and when will we be able to see you?’ And Jesus said: ‘When you shed your clothing without shame, and when you take your jewels and cast them under your feet and trample them like little children, then will you be able to contemplate the Son of the Living One and have no more fear.’”
The production was a success, with full houses from Tuesday through Sunday. I then proposed to Ejo (without much hope) that he meditate before the public during the performance. To my astonishment, the master accepted. He arrived punctually, took his seat on the side of the stage, and meditated without moving for two hours. The contrast between the actors speaking their lines and the silent monk dressed in his ritual robes had a staggering effect. Zarathustra continued to run for a full year and a half.
Standing: Henry West, Brontis Jodorowsky, Héctor Bonilla, Micky Salas, Carlos Ancira, Isela Vega, Jorge Luke and Alvaro Carcaño. Sitting: Luis Urías, Valerie Jodorowsky (pregnant with Teo), Carlos (nicknamed “the hairy guy”), Alejandro Jodorowsky, Cristobal Jodorowsky and Susana Kamini.
So far as I know, you can’t watch a performance of Zarathustra on the web, but below, you can listen to the soundtrack LP recorded by the cast and the band Las Damas Chinas (Chinese Checkers), and if you open this link in another window, you can follow along in the script. Digital copies of the soundtrack are available from Paniques Records. It is, of course, entirely in Spanish, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone. These words from D’s song ring out in a universal tongue:
¡Mis piernas, mis dedos, mis pelos,
AAAmoor. . .!
Mi saliva, mi excremento, mi corazón. . .
(Translation: “My legs, my fingers, my hairs / Looove. . .! / My saliva, my shit, my heart . . .”)
While we’re on the subject of Alejandro Jodorowsky, don’t forget to give your money to the Indiegogo campaign for his upcoming feature Poesía Sin Fin (Endless Poetry). If you choose the “poetic money” perk, he’ll pay you back in bills of his own magical currency. Jodorowsky’s life and work are always cause for celebration.
Henry Miller was always looking for something though he never seemed to find it. Throughout his life the author of cult favorites Tropic of Capricorn and The Tropic of Cancer signed-up for various philosophies and crackpot ideas but inevitably canceled his subscription. He was always willing to believe any kook who claimed to have a knowledge of god, the afterlife, the cosmos or some esoteric wisdom. Miller was willing to give anything a go. At least for a little while.
He tried Madame Blavatsky and her Theosophical Society. He half-believed Blavatsky’s “Secret Doctrine” of the seven planes of existence and the seven cycles through which everything moves—which she claimed came via a secret brotherhood of Mahatmas in Tibet—until Miller “discovered” Blavatsky had invented the whole thing and forged the correspondence with her spiritual guides Koot Hoomi and Mahatma Morya.
In his youth, Miller latched onto the teachings of the former Evangelist preacher Benjamin Fay Mills like “a drowning man.” Miller later explained the preacher’s teachings offered him was a brief respite from his “battle” with his own libidinous sexual desire.
In the 1950s, Miller was convinced “flying saucers” were about to invade Earth. He thought the US government was covering up their knowledge of UFOs and extraterrestrials. Miller corresponded with ufologists ‘fessin’ up his own experience of seeing flying saucers (two objects twinkling in the sky) and witnessing them “far out on the horizon, at dawn, and without aid of glasses.”
Miller was a “cosmic tourist.” He visited “...the Scientology of L. Ron Hubbard, the apocalyptic studies of the Essenes, Christian Science, Kahlil Gibran, White Witchcraft and the modern hinduism of Sri Ramakrishna.” He dabbled with astrology and Buddhism, and was suckered by the conman guru “Lobsang Rampa” who wrote a book titled The Third Eye describing his spiritual life and upbringing in Tibet—but Rampa turned out to be a plumber from Devon called Cyril Hoskin who had never once set foot outside England.
Yet Miller never felt cheated by these cranks. He was open-minded about everything and was never dispirited, disappointed or angered when he found out he’d been conned by yet another New Age charlatan. Miller’s view was simple:
Any theory, any idea, any speculation can augment the zest for life so long as one dies not make the mistake of thinking that he is getting somewhere.
The marvelous cover for the first hardcover edition, 1969
For those who enjoy their realities getting fucked with, there’s no better writer for that than the great Philip K. Dick, and among his many unsettling works, his novel Ubik is held in unusually high esteem.
Ubik is about a mission to a moon base that includes Joe Chip, a technician who works for Glen Runciter’s “prudence organization,” and 10 cohorts. The mission ends in a fatal explosion, but who lived and survived that explosion is a puzzle the book never quite reveals.
It’s a bewildering mindfuck of a book, featuring routinized space travel, psychics and “anti-psychics,” a character who can alter reality by traveling to the past, and a mysterious (and mystical) product called Ubik (same root as “ubiquitous”) that comes in a spray can and serves as a slippery metaphor for God itself.
One brilliant aspect of the book is the devilishly ambiguous ending—as Dick’s wife Tessa wrote,
Many readers have puzzled over the ending of Ubik, when Glen Runciter finds a Joe Chip coin in his pocket. What does it mean? Is Runciter dead? Are Joe Chip and the others alive? Actually, this is meant to tell you that we can’t be sure of anything in the world that we call ‘reality.’ It is possible that they are all dead and in cold pac or that the half-life world can affect the full-life world. It is also possible that they are all alive and dreaming.
A few years ago a Deviant Art user going by the handle martinacecilia created three alluring posters advertising the benefits of Ubik, using a retro style and adapting “mostly vintage ads of Coca-cola.”
The cover of Charles Bukowski’s short story, ‘Bring Me Your Love’ illustrated by R. Crumb.
The seemingly logical collaboration of the great R. Crumb and transgressive writer and poet Charles Bukowski finally became a reality in the early part of the 80s when Crumb created illustrations for two of Bukowski’s short stories, Bring Me Your Love (1983) and There’s No Business (1984).
An illustration from ‘There’s No Business’ by R. Crumb.
Crumb’s illustrations give the already gritty storylines of both stories visual context—such as a man who looks much like Buk wrestling on the floor with his “wife” after a dispute involving answering the phone or various barroom skirmishes depicting a Bukowski-looking character running amok. The pair would collaborate once again in 1998 (four years after Bukowski’s passing in 1994) with Crumb illustrating a collection of excerpts from Bukowski’s diary, specifically passages from the year prior to his death, The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship. Many of Crumb’s illustrations from all three publications, as well as a few other cartoons images of Charles Bukowski drawn by Crumb follow.
When I got to San Francisco, the Summer Of Love was in full effect and I was crashing at a pad on Waller street in the Haight. There were a couple dozen of us in a large multi-room apartment sleeping on the floor, on couches, wherever we could find a few unoccupied square feet. I had a nice setup in an oversized closet. I knew the guy who rented the apartment (we had gone to junior high together) and so I got some preferential treatment. Everyone in the place were pilgrims from all over the United States and we were all under twenty. And, like I said, it was the Summer Of Love. So a lot of fucking was going on.
Everything you’ve read or heard about “free sex” in the Sixties is pretty much true. It was a love fest and the worst that might happen is that you got the clap or crabs. No one was dying. And for awhile no one that I knew was having babies, either. It was as if God had said “go for it.” And we did. I’d lie in the black light glow of my closet tripping on acid and listening to the zipping and unzipping of sleeping bags as young lovers migrated from one to the other, their giggles and moans mingling with the steady drone of KSAN radio playing the soundtrack to our lives.
In the world of commerce, far from Hippie Hill and Panhandle Park, the free sex “thing” was a great way for newspapers and magazines to sell product. There was an international explosion of hippie-themed publications that dealt with sex, politics, art, etc. Some were legit. Some were pure exploitation. Some were both. A lot of periodicals actually contained the writings of well-respected thinkers like Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary and were read by the counter-culturists they were intended for. Others were designed to appeal to the gawkers and the “raincoat crowd.” Hippie shit sold and there were a bunch of easy angles for marketing it: sex, drugs and rock and roll. If you didn’t have the balls to be a part of it you could always imagine. Burn some incense, put on some sitar music and pull your pud as you pictured yourself surrounded by a bunch of flower children wearing beads, headbands and patchouli. Your very own hippie oasis in a rec room tricked out in plywood and shag carpeting. Walter Mitty as imagined by R. Crumb.
Here’s a collection of covers that run the gamut from authentically cool alternative press publications to some really goofy softcore pulp. As I was compiling these it became quickly apparent that putting naked hairy dudes on the covers was never part of the marketing plan. The free love movement still had some old school hangovers from Playboy magazine.
When you consider all of the famous and infamous people who William Burroughs met in his lifetime, maybe the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game should be adapted for the late Beat author. I’d have a “Burroughs” of one, as I met him (briefly) in Los Angeles in 1996 at his big art opening at LACMA.
At the Reality Studio blog, there’s a fascinating tale, told in great detail, about the time Joy Division shared the same stage with Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Cabaret Voltaire in Belgium. Ian Curtis was an avid reader and favored counterculture fare like J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock, Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Hermann Hesse. William Burroughs was one of his biggest heroes.
Joy Division was given its first opportunity to play outside the United Kingdom on 16 October 1979. That alone would have distinguished the gig for the band, but of special interest to Curtis and his mates was the fact that they would be opening for Burroughs. The avant-garde theater troupe Plan K, which had made a specialty of interpreting Burroughs’ work, were founding a performance space in a former sugar refinery in Brussels, Belgium. The opening was conceived as a multimedia spectacle. Films were to be screened — among others, Nicholas Roeg’s Performance (starring Mick Jagger) and Burroughs’ own experiments with Antony Balch. The Plan K theater troupe were to perform “23 Skidoo.” Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire were to give “rock” concerts. And Burroughs and Brion Gysin were to read from their recently published book, The Third Mind.
Before the evening’s events, Burroughs and Joy Division gave separate interviews to the culture magazine En Attendant. Graciously provided to RealityStudio by the interviewer and the organizer of the Plan K opening, Michel Duval, these have been translated from the French and are reproduced here for the first time since their publication in November 1979. You can read the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with Joy Division, as well as the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with William Burroughs.
After Burroughs’ reading brought the opening of Plan K to its climax, Curtis attempted to introduce himself to his literary idol. This meeting, like so many things about both Curtis and Burroughs, has already become legend — which is another way of saying that its factual basis may have receded into darkness. If you search around the internet, you’ll see sites describing the encounter in terms like this: “Unfortunately when Ian went up to talk to him the author told Ian to get lost.” And this: “Burroughs probably was tired and bored with the concerts and when Ian went up to talk with him the author told Ian to get lost. Ian got lost immediately, not a little hurt by the rebuff.” Chris Ott’s book Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures repeats the story, and Mark Johnson’s book An Ideal for Living asserts that Burroughs refused to speak to Curtis.
It’s fair to say most writers would like a movie made of their books—it’s a way of reaching a far greater audience and pegging a stake on fame, fortune and celluloid immortality. To this end, some writers often dream up a cast list of their favorite actors who they think are best suited to play the fictional characters they’ve created. Though of course this rarely happens as box office clout always beats artistic sensibilities when it comes to casting.
In September 1957, Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road was published to great and immediate acclaim. Film studios clamored to option the book. Warner Brothers expressed an interest as did Paramount, but Kerouac had his own ideas.
The Beat author wanted Marlon Brando to make a movie of On the Road. He thought Method actor Brando was perfect for the central role of Dean Moriarty. Kerouac was ambitious enough to consider himself for the role of his fictional alter ego and Moriarty’s sidekick Sal Paradise. Brando was a hot property. He was considered perhaps the greatest actor of his generation and had been nominated five times for an Academy Award—winning one for his performance in On the Waterfront in 1954. It was a big ask, but Kerouac was hopeful.
“Dear Marlon,” his letter began:
I’m praying that you’ll buy ON THE ROAD and make a movie of it. Don’t worry about the structure, I know to compress and re-arrange the plot a bit to give a perfectly acceptable movie-type structure: making it into one all-inclusive trip instead of the several voyages coast-to-coast in the book, one vast round trip from New York to Denver to Frisco to Mexico to New Orleans to New York again. I visualize the beautiful shots could be made with the camera on the front seat of the car showing the road (day and night) unwinding into the windshield, as Sal and Dean yak. I wanted you to play the part because Dean (as you know) is no dopey hotrodder but a real intelligent (in fact Jesuit) Irishman. You play Dean and I’ll play Sal (Warner Bros. mentioned I play Sal) and I’ll show you how Dean acts in real life, you couldn’t possibly imagine it without seeing a good imitation. Fact, we can go visit him in Frisco, or have him come down to L.A. still a real frantic cat but nowadays settled down with his final wife saying the Lord’s Prayer with his kiddies at night… as you’ll see when you read the play BEAT GENERATION. All I want out of this is to be able to establish myself and by mother a trust fund for life, so I can really go roaming around the world writing about Japan, India, France etc… I Want to be free to write what comes out of my head & free to feed my buddies when they’re hungry & not worry about my mother.
Incidentally, my next novel is THE SUBTERRANEANS coming out in N.Y. next March and is about a love affair between a white guy and a colored girl and is a very hep story. Some of the characters in it you know in the Village (Stanley Gould etc.) It easily could be turned into a play, easier than ON THE ROAD.
What I wanta do is re-do the theater and the cinema in America, give it a spontaneous dash, remove pre-conceptions of “situation” and let people rave on as they do in real life. That’s what the play is: no plot in particular, no “meaning” in particular, just the way people are. Everything I write I do in the spirit where I imagine myself an Angel returned to the earth seeing it with sad eyes as it is. I know you approve of these ideas, & incidentally the new Frank Sinatra show is based on “spontaneous” too, which is the only way to come on anyway, whether in business or life. The French movies of the 30’s are still far superior to ours because the French really let their actors come on and the writers didn’t quibble with some preconceived notion of how intelligent the movie audience is, they talked soul from soul and everybody understood at once. I want to make great French Movies in America, finally, when I’m rich… American theater & Cinema at present is an outmoded dinosaur that ain’t mutated along with the best in American Literature.
If you really want to go ahead, make arrangements to see me in New York when next you come, or if you’re going to FLorida here I am, but what we should do is talk about this because I prophesy that it’s going to be the beginning of something real great. I’m bored nowadays and I’m looking around for something to do in the world, anyway — writing novels is getting too easy, same with plays, I wrote the play in 24 hours.
Come on now, Marlon, put up your dukes and write!
Sincerely, later, Jack Kerouac
This letter was only discovered after Brando died in July 2004. Helen Hall was tasked by auction house Christie’s to visit the actor’s home on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles and select property to include in an auction of his estate.
Hall spent around ten days at Brando’s house sifting through his personal effects “with a fine tooth comb.” The most valuable thing she had found was an annotated copy of Brando’s script for The Godfather tucked away with all his other movie memorabilia in a bunker in the garden. Hall thought this was the best she would find. On her tenth day at the house, Hall and her team searched through the very last room on their list—Brando’s office.
J.G. Ballard was a 20-year-old medical student in his second year at Cambridge University when he jointly won a crime story competition organized by the local student newspaper Varsity.
Ballard’s story “The Violent Noon” recounted the events of a violent and gory terrorist attack on a British officer and his family during the Malayan War. It has been described as a “Hemingwayesque pastiche” allegedly written to please the judges. According to “an an unsigned summary of the judges’ reasons for picking” Ballard’s story:
‘Violent Noon’ was the most mature story; it contains patches of high tension, the characters come to life, and the ending is brilliant in its cynicism. The author should, however, avoid a tendency to preach.
“The Violent Noon” was Ballard’s first published work. When it appeared in Varsity on Saturday 26th May, 1951, the paper printed a profile of the author—which included Ballard’s first ever published interview:
J. Graham Ballard who shares the first prize of ten pounds with D. S. Birley in the “Varsity” Crime Story Competition is now in his second year at King’s and immersed in the less literary process of reading medicine.
He admitted to our reporter yesterday that he had in fact entered the competition more for the prize than anything else, although he had been encouraged to go on writing because of his success.
The idea for his short story which deals with the problem of Malayan terrorism, he informs us, he had been thinking over for some time before hearing of the competition.
He had, in addition to writing short stories, also planned “mammoth novels” which “never get beyond the first page.”
What these “mammoth novels” were about one can now only imagine. It was four years since Ballard had returned to England from internment at a Japanese P.O.W. camp—the horrors of which were filtered through his work as he later said:
The experience of war is deeply corrupting. Anybody who witnesses years of brutality can’t help but lose a sense of the tragedy and mystery of death. I’m sure that happened to me. The 16-year-old who came to England after the war carried this freight of ‘matter-of-factness about death’. So spending two years dissecting cadavers was a way of reminding me of the reality of death itself, and gave me back a respect for life.
Ballard harbored plans to become a psychiatrist. But this was quickly dropped after his success with “The Violent Noon.” He quit his medical studies at Cambridge and enrolled at Queen Mary University, London to study English Literature.
More on young Ballard plus full documentary, after the jump….