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An interview with David Foster Wallace who would have been 50 years old today
01:40 pm


David Foster Wallace

Had he not taken his own life in 2008, David Foster Wallace would have been 50 years old today. Perhaps, in the prime of his creative life. We’ll never know.

In this 1997 interview with Charlie Rose, Wallace talks about writing, fame, drugs, depression and David Lynch.

A the end of the interview, while discussing his depression, Wallace remarks “I’m not getting ready to jump off a building or anything.” “Anything” happened 11 years later when he hanged himself, leaving a brilliant trail of words behind him and a big hole in the heart of modern literature.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
He Is Legend: It’s Richard Matheson’s Birthday

Richard Matheson, the author and screenwriter, celebrates his eighty-sixth birthday today. Few writers have been as original or, as influential as Mr. Matheson, whose novels, stories, and screenplays have infused our cultural DNA. Watch / read any sci-fi / horror / fantasy entertainment and you will find Matheson’s genetic code somewhere in the mix.

Over a career that has spanned 6 decades, Matheson has produced a phenomenal range of novels and short stories, many of which have supplied the basis for such films as I Am Legend (the version with Vincent Price is better than Will Smith’s, though Charlton Heston’s The Omega Man is best), The Incredible Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, The Legend of Hell House, Duel (Dennis Weaver has never been better), Button, Button (read the story, forget the film version The Box) and of course Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.

I’m a big fan of Matheson’s writing and firmly believe that if ever the Nobel Prize committee should think about reflecting talent rather than paying political lip service to short term causes, then they should seriously consider giving Richard Matheson the award for literature, as few writers, other than say Ray Bradbury or Stephen King,  have inspired so many young people to write, and more importantly, so many to read.

Happy Birthday Mr Matheson! And to celebrate, here is the classic Twilight Zone episode of Mr Matheson’s superb short story Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. Enjoy!

With thanks to Tim Lucas

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Elmore Leonard: Rules for Writing

The best advice for anyone wanting to be a writer is, Write. Sure, read books, learn from others, keep a notebook, but it always comes down to just one thing: you and a blank page.

Here Elmore Leonard explains his rules for writing, in this rather hastily edited package from the BBC Culture Show of 2006. As Leonard explains writing is mainly rewriting, and it takes the pulp fiction maestro 4 pages of hard graft to produce one finished page. Now you know, so get cracking.


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Anaïs Nin: Talking about her Diaries, Henry Miller, Muses, Dreams, Art and Death

It is always good to have reader feedback on Dangerous Minds and recently Jenny Lens’ interesting comments on Anaïs Nin made me dust off my copies and revisit Nin’s books and diaries. This, of course, led me to check out what is available on YouTube, which uncovered these 4 clips, which appear to have been mainly taken from the documentary Anaïs Nin Observed (1974).

In the first clip, Anaïs explains how her diary started out as a letter to her father, and how it became an “inner journey.” This leads on to Nin reunited with Henry Miller where they discuss the importance of the artist as a liberator.

In the second clip Anaïs discusses art, the artist, and creative anger, concluding that she likes to “feel I have transcended my destiny.”

In the third, Anaïs discusses her favorite heroines, including Lou Andreas-Salomé, the Russian psycho-analyst and author, who was friends with Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Andreas-Salomé was one of the first to write psycho-analytically about female sexuality, long before she met Freud, and was his associate in the creation of psycho-analysis. Nin also talks about Caresse Crosby co-founder of the Black Sun Press, publisher of Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence and Ezra Pound, amongst many others, patron to the Arts, and inventor of the modern bra. Anaïs then goes on to talk about volume 5 of her Diaries and her experiences of taking LSD, and how she turned into gold. The clip cuts out just as Nin discusses not passing judgement on her characters.

In the fourth, Nin and Henry Miller discuss “death in life,” dreams and the importance of recording them, and whether analysis will destroy the need for them.

More of Anaïs Nin (and Henry Miller), after the jump…

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Rub Out The Words: New collection of William S. Burroughs letters out this week

Editor Bill Morgan cataloged William S. Burroughs’ correspondence from the early 1960s through the mid-70s, selecting over three hundred letters for Rub Out the Words: The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1959-1974, out this week from Ecco.

The material in this new volume covers an era that sprints from Beat to hippie to punk rather quickly. Some of the recipients of Burroughs’ letters at this time were Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, Gregory Corso, Billy Burroughs Jr., Paul Bowles, Ian Sommerville, Alexander Trocchi and Brion Gysin.

Here’s one letter, sent to author Norman Mailer. Mailer had written to Burroughs requesting that he join the anti-war tax resistance protest against the Vietnam War.

Via the Paris Review’s website:

November 20, 1967
8 Duke Street
St James
London S.W.1

Dear Norman,

As regards the War Tax Protest if I started protesting and refus­ing to contribute to all the uses of tax money of which I disap­ prove: Narcotics Department, FBI, CIA, any and all expenditures for nuclear weapons, in fact any expenditures to keep the antiquated idea of a nation on its dying legs, I would wind up refusing to pay one cent of taxes, which would lead to more trouble than I am pre­ pared to cope with or to put it another way I feel my first duty is to keep myself in an operating condition. In short I sympathize but must abstain.

all the best,

William Burroughs

The volume is set for a February 7 publication date. You can pre-order a copy of Rub Out the Words: The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1959-1974 at Amazon.

The cover portrait of Burroughs is a Polaroid shot by Andy Warhol. Below, some undated footage of Burroughs and Warhol dining together sometime in the late 70s, or more likely early 1980s that was used in a BBC documentary about the Chelsea Hotel. The voice heard off-camera belongs to Victor Bockris, author of the classic book With William Burroughs: A Report From the Bunker and Warhol: The Biography.

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Dear Me: Diaries and those who keep them

It’s around this time that the enthusiasm started almost a month ago begins to wane, and the pages of the diary remain blank, as days dissolve into weeks. Keeping a diary is hard work, but it is rewarding work. If you’ve started a diary and want a little encouragement to keep going, or even just to start writing, then here is a personal selection of diary and journal writers, who may inspire.
Sylvia Plath kept a diary throughout her life, which reveals a world beyond her poetry. Here is Sylvia setting out on her adventures as a writer, from November 13th 1949.

As of today I have decided to keep a diary again - just a place where I can write my thoughts and opinions when I have a moment. Somehow I have to keep and hold the rapture of being seventeen. Every day is so precious I feel infinitely sad at the thought of all this time melting farther and farther away from me as I grow older. Now, now is the perfect time of my life.

In reflecting back upon these last sixteen years, I can see tragedies and happiness, all relative - all unimportant now - fit only to smile upon a bit mistily.

I still do not know myself. Perhaps I never will. But I feel free – unbound by responsibility, I still can come up to my own private room, with my drawings hanging on the walls…and pictures pinned up over my bureau. It is a room suited to me – tailored, uncluttered and peaceful…I love the quiet lines of the furniture, the two bookcases filled with poetry books and fairy tales saved from childhood.
At the present moment I am very happy, sitting at my desk, looking out at the bare trees around the house across the street… Always want to be an observer. I want to be affected by life deeply, but never so blinded that I cannot see my share of existence in a wry, humorous light and mock myself as I mock others.

Playwright Joe Orton filled his diaries with his sexual escapades, and vignettes of the strangeness of the world, from January 18th 1967.

On the bus going home I heard a most fascinating conversation between an old man and woman. “What a thing, though,” the old woman said. “You’d hardly credit it.” “She’s always made a fuss of the whole family, but never me,” the old man said. “Does she have a fire when the young people go to see her?” “Fire?” “She won’t get people seeing her without warmth.” “I know why she’s doing it. Don’t think I don’t,” the old man said. “My sister she said to me, ‘I wish I had your easy life.’ Now that upset me. I was upset by the way she phrased herself. ‘Don’t talk to me like that,’ I said. ‘I’ve only got to get on the phone and ring a certain number,’ I said, ‘to have you stopped.’” “Yes,” the old woman said, “And you can, can’t you?” “Were they always the same?” she said. “When you was a child? Can you throw yourself back? How was they years ago?” “The same,” the old man said. “Wicked, isn’t it?” the old woman said. “Take care, now” she said, as the old man left her. He didn’t say a word but got off the bus looking disgruntled.

More diaries from Jack Kerouac, Emily Carr, John Cheever, and Andy Warhol, after the jump…

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Lovely documentary on Leonard Cohen’s time spent at Mount Baldy Zen Center
04:02 pm


Leonard Cohen
Mount Baldy

For five years starting in 1994 Leonard Cohen lived at the Mount Baldy Zen Center 40 miles east of Los Angeles. There he studied with and assisted Zen Master Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi. 

In the Spring of 1996, French artist Armelle Brusq filmed this documentary of Cohen going through his daily routine at Mt. Baldy.

Cohen’s cabin with his Technics KN 3000 synthesizer and computers are shown, and he sings his new song “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” He also recites three unpublished poems, two telling about Roshi (one titled Roshi at 89). The third was titled “Too Old.”

The camera also visits the office of Stranger Management: Cohen demonstrates his archives (lots of boxes full of notebooks, he shows a poster of his first book Let Us Compare Mythologies and a painting made by Suzanne, the mother of his children). Later a studio session is going on, he is working with Raffi Hakopian (violin) and Leanne Ungar (his sound engineer). Afterwards Cohen and Brusq dine at Canter’s.

In this documentary Cohen tells about his life, his memories, why he lives at the Zen Center. He suggests that some kind of a circle has been closed and now he can do something else.

Cohen will release his 12th studio album, Old Ideas, tomorrow. Its current rank on Amazon is #1. Clearly, Cohen’s second coming is just a continuation of a long and venerable path by one of music’s wisest elders.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Miriam Linna: ‘Obsessions from the flipside of Kicksville’

“A weed is a plant out of place.”
― Jim Thompson, “The Killer Inside Me”

As a teenage renegade straight out of the rock and roll heartland of Ohio, Miriam Linna was the drummer in the “Cramps first lineup which played forty-odd dates over an eight month period from the first show on All Saints Night 1976 through July 13, 1977, the date of the NYC blackout.”

I was lucky enough to see The Cramps open for The Ramones at CBGB in April of 1977. The original lineup, Miriam, Bryan, Lux and Ivy, were always my favorite configuration of that great band. They really had it goin’ on. Their look, their intensity and mad energy was alchemical; an exhilarating voodoo that could spook an audience while simultaneously sending them into the throes of rock and roll ecstasy. They got under your skin and fucked around with your spleen.

The Cramps opened up a door that led to a mother lode of forgotten bands and singers that had been residing in the shadows, left behind by deejays, music critics, record labels - the mole-like gatekeepers of pop culture. While radios spewed their acrid breath, Cramp acolytes like myself followed Lux and his bandmates, lurching steadily ahead like the freshly exhumed living dead in Val Lewton’s I Walked with a Zombie, into the heart of rock’s dark and tangled jungle, excavating and unearthing lost vinyl treasures and musical artifacts that contained real magic.

The Cramps, and the second wave of garage bands that followed in their wake, were as much musical anthropologists as they were rock and rollers. Like punk pioneers Patti Smith, The Ramones, Blondie and The Dictators, The Cramps were on a mission from god to revive the roots of rock at a time when what was being called rock and roll was mass-marketed product that had about as much in common with Little Richard and Gene Vincent as Lana Del Ray does with The Del- Vikings.

From her early days in New York’s downtown music scene to archivist of all that is hep, Miriam Linna was, is and always has been a rock fanatic . She, along with the fabulous Billy Miller, created one of the coolest record stores and record labels on the planet, Norton Records, and her love for the distilled, cut-to-the-chase, blunt energy and gutbucket prose of pulp novels led her to start her own publishing company Kicks Books.

Having published work by Nick Tosches, Sun Ra, Andre Williams, Eddie Rocco and with upcoming titles from Harlan Ellison and Kim Fowley, Linna is bringing the same passion and intelligence she brought to Norton Records and Kicks magazine (with Miller) to the world of book publishing and, as usual, she’s doing it in her no-bullshit way.

Dangerous Minds:  From playing drums with The Cramps to being a co-founder of Norton Records and now a publisher of books by Sun Ra and Andre Williams, you’ve forged a path of being a champion for music and literature that might have gone undiscovered without your help. What first inspired you to explore the world of outsider art and obscure rock and roll?

Miriam Linna:  I don’t consider the music, movies, or books that make my life worthwhile “outsider art”. Actually, I’m repelled by what the expression represents and have no association whatsoever with anyone who is involved with it. Like most people, I like what I like. On top of that, I’m curious, obsessive and refuse to be told what to do and how to do it.

DM:  In spite of all the talk of the publishing business dying and the emergence of electronic books, there seems to be a movement toward a return to books you can hold in your hands kind of like the resurgence of interest in vinyl records. Would you agree?

ML:  There is no charm in digital anything.

DM: I like the format of your books. The fact they fit in your pocket is like old style pulp paperbacks. What prompted that design decision?

ML:  I’ve always considered “hip pocket paperbacks” the perfect book format. I like paper, I love books. I’m a nut for Signet- style “talls” and find a slim, unique book capable of causing all sorts of visceral reactions extremely appealing.

DM:  How did you come upon the poetry of Sun Ra?

ML:  Music historian and Sun Ra archivist Michael Anderson contacted us when he discovered a large cache of Sonny Blount dictations and recordings on tape. Norton records had issued three albums of early Sun Ra music, and followed with three spoken word albums culled from these newly discovered recordings. I transcribed the audio, plus several additional tapes’ worth of lost poetic dictation. This material trashed my horizontal with its consistency—here was a cohesive collection of poetic writings—pretty much all attitudinal science fiction with a serious political bent.  Afro-futurism at its earliest and most intentional. 

DM: Given your involvement with Norton Records, you’ve obviously grown to know Andre Williams over the years. Did he bring you his novel and short stories?

ML:  Andre had no novel or short stories until he went into rehab a couple of years ago. He called me when he went in (not of his own volition), saying he was going to bust out. I told him if he did that, he would not live to see the end of the year. We started talking and he said if he was going to stay he needed something to do, that he was going stir-crazy. We got around to talking about him writing, and I suggested he write some fiction. This was a new concept for him, but I knew already from his brilliant plot-rich song lyrics that he was a class-A storyteller. Over the several weeks of his rehabilitation, Andre and I spoke at least every two or three days via collect phone calls, with him faxing in drafts and outlines. Right off the bat, I was shocked by the fact that he was writing from the first person vantage point of a fifteen year old girl named Sweets, a kid who gets in trouble, becomes a prostitute, a madam, a drug runner, and everything in between.  Andre’s storyline was part fever dream, part wishful thinking (loaded with cocaine and sex), part autobiography. I promised him that if he could stick with it and finish a short novel, that I would publish it.

DM: Nick Tosches wrote one of my favorite rock books, “Unsung Heroes Of Rock and Roll.” You recently published his “Save The Last Dance for Satan.” When did you and Nick meet?

ML:  I’ve known Nick for many years. He wrote the intro to “Sweets,” and he and Andre read together at the book launch at St Mark’s Church here in New York.

DM: You published “The Great Lost Photographs Of Eddie Rocco” in 1997 and it has since become a collector’s item. Any plans for a second edition?

ML:  Plans, yes. Something definite - not at the moment.

DM: Where do you see the business of music heading? It’s getting harder and harder for bands to exist when their art is so easily downloaded for free on the Internet. Do you ever despair for the future of rock?

ML: I’m not worried. Real music will always be made by real people for real people. Real records will be made so long as they can be manufactured. Should the day come when all manufacturing ceases, well, we have countless great existing shellac and PVC discs of various sizes spinning at various speeds to discover and thrill to. And if they stop making phonographs, then they will become a commodity, but those who need them will be able to maintain them. Maybe some enterprising individual can reinvent the wind-up pre-electricity phonograph for when the power grids go down and even the download monsters and children of the damned Internet can wallow in silence while the analogue minions crank up wax by candlelight. Now there’s an Escape From New York for you!

DM: Are you still playing music?

ML: I play drums in my long time band the A-Bones and my not-so-long-time band the Figures of Light.

DM: What’s in the pipeline for Kicks Books?

ML: Harlan Ellison’s “Pulling A Train” and “Getting In The Wind”... Kim Fowley’s “Lord Of Garbage”... Andre Williams’ sequel “Streets”... and in a larger book format “I Fought The Law (The Authorized Biography of Bobby Fuller)” by Randy Fuller and myself… and eventually my “Bad Seed Bible.”

You can follow Miriam on her ultra-groovy blog Kicksville66, where the writing is fast and furious. You can also visit Norton Records Records website “where the loud sound abounds.”


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Brendan Behan’s Dublin from 1966

The idea of Brendan Behan eventually became greater than the man himself. No one knew this better than the Roaring Boy, who played up to the image of “a drinker with a writing problem”. By the early sixties Behan was the toast of the West End, the toast of Broadway, the toast of every-effing-where, but his best works, The Quare Fellow, The Hostage, and his biography Borstal Boy, were all behind him, and his confidence had been battered through working with the firebrand director, Joan Littlewood, who had turned the English version of The Hostage into a “Knees Up Mrs Brown”. Unable to stay focussed long enough to put pen to paper, Behan was forced to record his last works (rambling travelogs of New York and Dublin, the play Richard’s Cork Leg) onto tape-recorder for others to transcribe. It was a terrible waste, and of course there’ll be those who’ll say a lesson of sorts, but so what, as his fall form grace didn’t stop the great man’s legend form soaring.

Two years after the Behan’s death, Irish producer / director Norman Cohen (later best known the film version of Spike Milligan‘s Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall and the Confessions of…. comedy porn series) made Brendan Behan’s Dublin, a travelog of the Irish capital based on the playwright’s memoirs, anecdotes and writing of the city by Carolyn Swift, and narrated by Ray McAnally as Behan. The Dubliners supplied the soundtrack.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Key Writers: Photos of writers and their typewriters


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Up from the underground: ‘Sex And Guts’ magazine reborn on the Internet

Wyatt Doyle, writer, publisher and a founding contributor to the website, recently brought my attention to the new “Sex and Guts” blog, a digital resurrection of the infamous magazine. I’ll let Wyatt tell you about it:

In putting together our anthology of Chris D.’s writing, A Minute to Pray A Second to Die, I spent a lot of time tracking down his old press clips. When I asked Chris about an interview in a book called Midnight Mavericks, he clarified that it was reprinted from Sex & Guts magazine. That interview—by Gene Gregorits—turned out to be the most in-depth talk with Chris I’d read, and the rest of Gregorits’ interviews in S&G were of the same caliber. I eagerly picked up a copy of Midnight Mavericks for more.

That book, issued by the UK’s FAB Press in 2007, collected four dozen (!) interviews by Gregorits from the pages of Sex & Guts, encompassing a wide spectrum of artists in popular media whose work has placed them squarely outside the mainstream. With back issues of S&G difficult to come by, Mavericks was an easily-procured frequent recommendation I made to friends, fellow travelers and Chris D. fans who’d write in for progress reports on Minute. Midnight Mavericks was and is a cultural guidebook on par with the best of RE/Search Publications—no small achievement. This was eye-opening, mind-expanding—even inspirational—stuff.

Now Gregorits is taking his archives digital, via his new site, SNG Unexpurgated. He promises “the entirety of the Sex & Guts back catalog” over the next few weeks, all in his full, original edits (most of his work in S&G and MM was trimmed for space). He’s already posted an impressive array of profiles, including Stephen R. Bissette, Dan Fante, Patton Oswalt, John Waters, Lydia Lunch and that Chris D. interview that pulled my coat to begin with.

Though rarely short on memorable quotes, for the most part, Gregorits’ interviews are resolutely anti-soundbite—no small achievement, considering much of what passes for print interviews today. Save the glib and facile for bumper stickers; give me an interesting thinker in an expansive mood—and Gregorits on the tape recorder.”

“Sex and Guts” can be found here.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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