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First public reading of Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ took place 56 years ago today
09:06 am


Allen Ginsberg

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…”

Over at the indispensable On This Deity blog, Dorian Cope writes that today is the fifty-six anniversary of the first public reading of “Howl” by a then twenty-nine-year-old Allen Ginsberg. It was a revolutionary moment, in poetry, in literature, and the opening salvo in the counter culture battles of the 1960s:

As the hitherto forbidden content (drugs, mental illness, religion, homosexuality) emerged, Kerouac – two years prior to On the Road – was the first to realise the magnitude of what was happening. Sitting on the side of the low stage, he began to punctuate Ginsberg’s Whitmanesque-meets-jazz rhythms by banging his empty wine jug and, at the end of each long line, shouting “GO!” Soon, the entire audience joined in … their encouraging chants of “GO! GO! GO!” driving Ginsberg to a shamanic momentum and creating a tribal unity between audience and poet. By the time he finished, Ginsberg was in tears. So was Rexroth. Everyone in the room knew they’d witnessed a rare moment of duende – that mysterious higher state brought on by a burst of genuine inspiration – and henceforth nothing would be the same again.

Michael McClure would later recall: “We had gone beyond a point of no return, and we were ready for it. None of us wanted to go back to the gray, chill, militaristic silence, to the intellective void – to the land without poetry – to the spiritual drabness. We wanted to make it new and we wanted to invent it and the process of it as we went into it. We wanted voice and we wanted vision.”

The next day, Lawrence Ferlignhetti, who’d been in the audience, sent Ginsberg a telegram. And with a nod to the past but his eye fixed firmly on the future, he borrowed Ralph Waldo Emerson’s legendary words to Walt Whitman in 1855: “I greet you at the beginning of a great career.” The fledgling publisher then added:  “When do I get the manuscript?” The publication of “Howl” is another story… but, on October 7th 1955 and on the occasion of its first reading, a battle cry was sounded and the Beat Generation was born.

Read the entire post at On This Deity

Ginsberg reading “Howl”:



Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Rock band performing on a motorcycle!
10:18 pm


Rock band on a motorcycle

Russian motorcycle madness - rock band literally goes on the road.

The title of the video Бременские музыканты. Наши дни is Russian for “The Town Musicians Of Bremen,” a Grimm Brothers fairytale that was made into a very popular animated film in Russia.

In the story a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster, all past their prime years in life and usefulness on their respective farms, were soon to be discarded or mistreated by their masters. One by one they leave their homes and set out together. They decide to go to Bremen, known for its freedom, to live without owners and become musicians there.

Good luck young rockers, long may you ride.

Update: When I posted this last night it had 307 views on Youtube. It’s now at a quarter million. Talk about going viral!

Via Gadling

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Albert Camus vs. Jean-Paul Sartre

They first met through a love of theater, at a production of The Flies. It drew them together, this collective experience towards a creative good. And then, of course, their love of literature and writing, and during the war through the Resistance, and endless conversations in the cafes, which later became famous through association with their names. Jean-Paul Sartre was the leader. Albert Camus the talented writer, a leader in waiting.

Though close, there were early signs of division - Sartre knew Camus was the better writer, something he would never acknowledge publicly - and when the war finished, it wasn’t long for their friendship to fail.

Against the background of Cold War tensions and the threat of nuclear war between East and West, Sartre took the side of the Soviet Union, while Camus said he was on “the side of life”.

“I’m against a new war. To revolt today means to revolt against war.”

But it was Sartre’s blind acceptance of Russia’s concentration camps that proved too much for Camus. He wanted Sartre to denounce them, in the same way they had once denounced the German concentration camps. Sartre refused.

This led Camus to question the idea of rebellion and revolution, in particular the value of the Russian revolution, this at a time when writers on the Left held it up as the socialist dream.

In The Rebel Camus wrote:

‘In order to exist, man must rebel, but rebellion must respect the limits that it discovers in itself.

“In contemplating the results in an act of rebellion we shall have to ask ourselves each time if it remains faithful to its first noble promise or whether it forgets its purpose and plunges into a mire of tyranny and servitude.

“In Absurdist experience suffering is individual, but from the moment that a movement of rebellion begins, suffering is seen as a collective experience, as the experience of everyone. Therefore the first step towards a mind overwhelmed by the absurdity of things is to realize that this feeling, this strangeness is shared by all men, and the entire human race suffers from a division between itself and the rest of the world.”

Camus’ intention with The Rebel was to change accepted ideas about rebellion, with a new concept of questioning revolutionary action. For many it was too abstract and too damaging to the communist cause.

Sartre, therefore, decided something had to be done to redress Camus’ apparent attack on Soviet Communism, and by implication all communist belief, and he organized a damning and high-handed response. It proved to be a devastating blow to Camus.

While Sartre could separate the world of ideas from his personal friendship, Camus could not. He believed friendship was essential, and depended on his friends like the strong camaraderie shared by a theater company. Camus believed friendship united people together in the struggle for a better world. He therefore saw Sartre’s actions as the worst kind of betrayal, and it finished their friendship.

This is a short but fascinating extract examining the friendship between Camus and Sartre.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Jim Carroll live in Boston 1980: Bad Catholic video mix
07:55 pm


Jim Carroll Band Boston 1980

Jim Carroll Band live at The Paradise Theater, Boston. December,1980.

Brian Linsley- guitar
Terrell Winn- guitar
Steve Linsley- bass
Wayne Woods- drums

1. Wicked Gravity
2. Three Sisters
3. City Drops Into Night
4. Catholic Boy
5. It’s Too Late
6. Voices
7.Nothing Is True
8. People Who Died

Video NSFW.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Grunge, rock eccentrics and Debbie Gibson: Three books to rock your world
01:49 pm


Mark Yarm
Chuck Eddy
Jake Austen

Mudhoney. Photo by Bob Whittaker from Everybody Loves Our Town
Rock And Roll Always Forgets. Chuck Eddy.

Back in the Seventies, before I moved to New York City, my link to Gotham’s punk scene was the music section of the Village Voice. I pored over the club ads to see who was playing at CBGB’s, Max’s, Club 82 and the half dozen other joints where a new movement was percolating. Seeing the names of bands like The Cramps, Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie in big block letters and reading reviews by Robert Christgau and Lester Bangs were transmissions to my rock and roll heart. The Voice was, at one time, a great place to go for music writing, particularly regarding underground and genre-busting bands. It was seeing CBGB’s ads every week that compelled me in 1977 to pack my band up in a van and drive 2000 miles to play the Monday audition night at the infamous Bowery dive, the Mecca of rock and roll misfits.

Chuck Eddy didn’t arrive at the Village Voice until the 80s, but he maintained the Voice’s tradition of covering many bands that were off the mainstream map, but he also went against the grain and covered massively popular groups in genres that the Voice often shunned. Eddy was good to go when it came to heavy metal, hip hop, disco and bubble gum pop like Debbie Gibson and the Bay City Rollers. While some of Eddy’s subjects may have lacked danger, his writing was always edgy and opinions fiercely independent. Eddy took risks. And unlike the academic and overly serious Christgau, he was fun to read. And he still is.

Rock And Roll Always Forgets is a collection of Eddy’s reviews and essays published by Duke University Press and it’s a mother-lode of vibrant writing that captures the passionate energy of having a long-term love affair with America’s most unruly and pervasive art forms. If rock and roll is a woman, Chuck Eddy is her fuck buddy.

Flying Saucers Rock ‘N’ Roll. Jake Austen, editor.

There’s probably a book to be written about the link between Mad Magazine and punk rock and if anyone could write it it would be Jake Austen. A pop culture junkie, with a jones for weird and off-beat stuff, Austen is an archaeologist of the sublime and the silly, the divine and the demented, from the phosphene glow of teen dance shows and American Idol to the hidden and musty corners of rock and roll’s bargain basement. For 20 years, he’s been editing one of the few genuinely essential ‘zines, Roctober, and Austen knows his shit when it comes to rock and roll’s wayward history.

Flying Saucers Rock ‘N’ Roll contains ten fascinating, bittersweet and often very funny interviews with “unjustly obscure rock ‘n’ soul eccentrics” that will delight fans of Nick Tosches’ Unsung Heroes Of Rock And Roll. Both books share a love for the slow-to-die dreams of a handful of hardcore survivors of one of the most unforgiving industries in the modern world, the music industry.

If you never heard of The Fast, Guy Chookoorian, Sugar Pie DeSanto and Zolar X, or if you have and are wondering what happened to them, Austen, along with his intrepid co-writers, will take you to a place where the music still matters and fame is as elusive as a dildo in a nunnery. 

Some of the artists interviewed in Flying Saucers Rock ‘N’ Roll only have themselves to blame for the fuck-upped decisions or lifestyle choices they made, while others played by the rules and ended up in the same netherworld that separates struggle and success. But no matter what path these folks took, they walked the walk and never looked back.

Everybody Loves Our Town. Mark Yarm.

Mark Yarm’s oral history of grunge, Everybody Loves Our Town, is a big (567 pages), messy, mesmerizing and vital blast of rock and roll energy, much like the music it chronicles.

I’ve never been a fan of the Pacific Northwest music scene of the 1990s. Lord knows I’ve tried. Most of my friends whose musical tastes I trust were knocked out by Nirvana’s Nevermind when it was released in September of 1991. I didn’t get it. The same held true for Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and the rest. It all sounded like sludge rock for stoners to me. Maybe I would have dug it if I smoked dope. Whatever the case, I was totally in the minority, but I’ve always felt that it’s my problem. Not the bands’.

By the time grunge fashions were appearing in display windows at Macy’s, the scene was teetering on the brink of just becoming another passing rock trend. When Kurt Cobain blew his brains out in 1994, “grunge” staggered and fell face first into a pile of decaying flannel and empty glassine bags of heroin. The myth and hype were blasted into oblivion along with Kurt’s head. But, the music survived.

Yarm’s book made me want to seek out the music of some of the bands that never ascended to the heights of Stone Temple Pilots or Alice In Chains. Bands like the U-Men and The Screaming Trees and to re-visit Skin Yard,  Mudhoney and Dead Moon. And I just pre-ordered the upcoming Nirvana boxset. Knowing more about these bands, in all their screwed-up glory, made a cynic like me reconsider their roles as fearless rock and roll rebels.

Everybody Loves Our Town captures a moment in time when a bunch of kids living in desolate rural areas and soul-deadening suburbs of Oregon and Washington turned to music for liberation. It’s the same old story going back decades, but it’s a story that I could particularly relate to. I grew up in the South when the only way out for a smart creative teenager was the military, running away, drugs or rock and roll. I took the latter three options.

The “grunge” movement was, in its infancy, comprised of a few dozen outsiders who lived, played, got stoned, fought and often fell in love with each other. It was an incestuous scene with booze, THC and heroin providing both inspiration and destruction. That for a few years, this collection of longhaired slackers and punks managed to re-animate a dying music industry is almost as heroic as it was unexpected. Mark Yarm’s deeply immersive book lets the front lines of this rock revolution speak for themselves and it is never less than enthralling.  I can’t imagine a better book to turn your head around if you didn’t “get’ grunge. It did mine.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Crimes In Southern Indiana’: Dope and death in America’s heartland
07:00 pm


Frank Bill
Crimes In Southern Indiana

Writer Frank Bill’s monosyllabic appellation could be attached to any number of the sociopathic characters in his unrelentingly brutal and bloody debut Crimes In Southern Indiana. With its drug-addled, inbred, white trash knuckleheads doing each other dirt and worse, Bill’s southern Indiana is a place of dark deeds and vengeance doled out via perverse systems of arcane backwoods justice. Imagine the ninth circle of hell cluttered with double-wides and clapboard shacks populated by dead-eyed redneck gangsters twitchy with meth-fueled bad intentions and lots of fire power. These crazed fuckers make Robert Mitchum’s angel of death in Night Of The Hunter look like the Fuller Brush salesman. One bloodshot glance from any of Bill’s hoosier badasses would make Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth spew his Pabst across the bar and shit his sharkskin slacks.

Crimes In Southern Indiana is a genuine jaw dropper. It contains bursts of brilliant writing that come at you like a sawed-off shotgun loaded with prose so hard and wicked it’ll knock you flat to the ground as sure as a blast of buckshot. I’m not kidding. This is intense stuff, mean, cruel and darkly beautiful, with more memorable lines than a dozen pulp fictions.

Bill’s tales of dope deals gone bad, incest, and blood vengeance in America’s heartland is gothic noir that scrapes at the coffin lid that separates the dead from the not-so-dead - a netherworld where the only sign of life are the insects tap dancing on the inside of your skull and the palpitating heart under the pale bruised flesh of your step-daughter’s tit. 

When Bill describes acts of violence he does so with a mix of blunt force and twisted delicacy. A man shot in the head point blank and his “complexion disappeared across the soil.” The line “Pitchfork buried a .45-caliber Colt into Karl’s peat moss unibrow” is, like all good noir, hardboiled and funny. A rapist named Melvin has “the scent of coagulated chicken swelled in hundred-degree heat.” Blood peels off a man’s face like “three day old biscuits.” A loudmouth psychotic killer has the tables turned on him by a knife in the neck, his karmic check cashed “like a dog chasing and biting at a passing car’s tires only to have its bark replaced by the crunch of its skull between rubber and pavement.”

For fans of Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, Boston Teran, Donald Ray Pollack, Joe R. Lansdale and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, add the name Frank Bill to your list of profane pleasures.

Crimes In Southern Indiana should come wrapped in butcher paper tied with a ribbon of barbed wire. It’s bloody great entertainment.

Check out Frank Bill’s website. He’s on a book tour and may be coming to a town near you. Check out his schedule. Consider it advance warning to lock your doors and draw your blinds.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Hugh Hefner interview on New York City cable TV from the mid-1970s

I’m not going to go into the whole song and dance about how Playboy provided a forum for some of the most progressive thinkers and artists on the planet including Lenny Bruce, Robert Anton Wilson, Paul Krassner, Timothy Leary, Joan Baez, R. Buckminster Fuller, Jane Fonda, Muhammad Ali and many more. I’m not gonna tell you how I bought the magazine to read the interviews and fine fiction from writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, Gabriel García Márquez, Joseph Heller, Margaret Atwood, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. No, I’m not gonna tell you all about that because it won’t make any difference in anyone’s opinion of Playboy magazine. You’ve got your opinion, I’ve got mine.

Playboy and its creator Hugh Hefner have been polarizing people for the past half century. I happen to like Hefner and his magazine, though the nude spreads have rarely featured much that floated my boat. My taste in women rarely coincided with the picture perfect All-American, mostly white, women of Playboy. I was also never into the “Playboy philosophy” when it came to stuff like cars, fashion and cocktail culture. I never wore an ascot or cufflinks and I wouldn’t know the difference between a Cuban cigar and a dog turd or good champagne from Everclear and 7-Up.

What I dug about about Playboy is that it introduced my young Catholic-corrupted brain to the idea that sex could be fun and intelligence could be sexy. In retrospect, the nudity objectified women, but at the time, for me, it opened up a world in which women’s bodies were wondrous and beautiful. I may be one of the only teenage boys of the Sixties that didn’t use Playboy as jerk-off fodder. I gazed upon the full-bodied Playmates during breaks in reading the genuinely mind-opening interviews with some of my counter-culture heroes. There literally was nowhere else to get some of the insights that Playboy published (I wasn’t reading Evergreen or Paris Review yet). Between bouts of being battered mentally and physically at school by malevolent Nuns, it was liberating to come home, lock my bedroom door, and read about psychedelics, beatnik culture and the pleasures of the flesh in a girlie magazine. And the nudes did steer my thinking away from perceiving the human body as a vessel of sin and shame toward an appreciation of it as something delightful and fulfilling.

Here’s an interview with Hefner from the mid-1970s that was conducted for City University of New York TV show Day At Night hosted by James Day. I like Hefner’s belief in the liberating power of a healthy sex life. And I bet the Bunnies did too. I can’t recall any of Playboy’s models ever complaining about their jobs and several books have been written about and by them.

As we once again enter an era of prudishness, over-zealous political correctness and sexual repression, some of what Hefner has to say sounds as relevant as it did 40 years ago. While the bunny costumes may seem silly and dated, the truth is always hip.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Marilyn Manson reads the poetry of William Blake
01:11 pm

Pop Culture

Marilyn Manson
William Blake

Attention poetry fans: Over at the LA Times “Jacket Copy” blog, Carolyn Kellogg posts about an event this weekend at the Getty Museum here in Los Angeles that will see Marilyn Manson reading the work of the great English poet, artist and mystic, William Blake:

The goth rocker adds star power to an event that’s focused on poetry, which tends to be a little quieter than your basic stadium rock show. Six poets will be reading original works inspired by the current Getty exhibit “Luminous Paper: British Watercolors and Drawings.”

Poets on the bill include Patricia Smith, a 2008 National Book Award finalist; Whiting Award recipient Ilya Kaminsky; Jeffrey McDaniel, who has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; poetry slam champ Rachel McKibbens; and poets and educators Brendan Constantine and Suzanne Lummis.

The readings will be accompanied by live music from Timmy Straw, who combines classical string training with electronics, and Roberto Miranda, an improvisational bassist.

The event, called “Dark Blushing,” is organized by the Write Now Poetry Society, a nonprofit founded by actress and poet Amber Tamblyn and poet Mindy Nettifee.

“Dark Blushing,” 7:30 p.m., free; parking at the Getty is free after 5 p.m. Reservations are already full, but the Getty will give out standby tickets starting at 6 p.m.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Patti Smith receives prestigious Swedish music award
03:30 pm


Patti Smith
Polar Music Prize

Jersey punk receives the 2011 Polar Music Prize from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf.
Patti Smith was awarded Sweden’s highest musical honor this past week.

Billboard reports:

The Polar Music Prize was first presented in 1992 and has gone to pop artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and classical names such as Isaac Stern, Renée Fleming, José Antonio Abreu and Ennio Morricone.

Smith’s award was presented by one of her favorite authors, Sweden’s Henning Mankell. Speaking without notes, he credited Smith for inspiring women all over the world to write poetry and create music. He then read the citation, which lauded Smith for “devoting her life to art in all its forms” and for demonstrating “how much rock ‘n’ roll there is in poetry and how much poetry there is in rock ‘n’ roll.” Calling Smith “a Rimbaud with Marshall amps,” the citation said that she “has transformed the way an entire generation looks, thinks and dreams.”

In her acceptance, a visibly moved Smith had to stop for a moment to collect herself as she thanked her daughter Jesse Paris and son Jackson, as well as the musicians she has worked with for years, including “Lenny Kaye, who has played guitar by my side for over 40 years.” Smith also acknowledged the late Stig Anderson and “my late husband, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith,” guitarist for the rock band MC5.

“Receiving the prestigious Polar Music Prize is both humbling and inspiring, for it fills me with pride,” Smith told the audience at the Stockholm Concert Hall. “It also fills me with the desire to continue to prove my worth. I am reminded always how collaborative the music experience is and so I would like to thank the people, for it is the people for whom we create and it is the people who have given me their energy and encouragement for four decades.

No longer outside of society, punk’s elder stateswoman discusses her past, the present and the creative process with Stockholm journalist Jan Gradvall.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Classic Covers: Fabulous dust jacket facsimiles to novels by Vonnegut, Woolf, Kerouac and more

Over at Facsimile Dust Jackets you can find (and purchase) an incredible selection of scans of dust jackets from classic novels by Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K Dick, Doris Lessing, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Christopher Isherwood, Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Agatha Christie, Aleister Crowley, Dennis Wheatley, Robert Bloch, Len Deighton and many, many more. Have a look for yourself here.
More fab facsimile dust jackets, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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