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Kurt Vonnegut: How to get a job like mine
08.07.2010
03:55 pm
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In the 1970s, it seemed as if most literate, well-informed Americans who read books could agree that Kurt Vonnegut was probably the most important American author since Mark Twain. Vonnegut, when you think about it, was really the last author who nearly everybody who read books, read. You could gauge his popularity when I was a kid by looking at all the copies of his novels on offer at garage sales. Jethro Tull, Allman Brothers and Cheech and Chong albums along with dog-eared copies of Jaws, The Godfather, The Exorcist and one, if not several, Vonnegut paperbacks were jumble sale staples of the late 1970s. Despite the fact that Kurt Vonnegut himself seems to think that writers were over the hill at the age 55, this never seemed the case to me where his writing was concerned and I was always excited to sit down with a new book from him. Watching this video I started to wonder who would replace Vonnegut as he himself took over from Mark Twain to a great extent. No one I can see on the horizon, I’m afraid.

Vonnegut is seen here giving a speech in 2002 at Albion College, where he received an honorary doctorate. The lecture’s title is How to Get Job Like Mine.
 

 
Click through to YouTube for the rest of the speech.

Bonus: Fox News did an entirely disrespectful obit of Vonnegut the day after he died. Something tells me the author would have found this screamingly funny.

Via Fishbowl LA

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.07.2010
03:55 pm
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Gay Couple in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man
07.30.2010
11:35 am
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Hopefully Spider-Man isn’t sulking over it.
 
(via WOW Report)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.30.2010
11:35 am
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Foreskin Man
07.28.2010
09:02 am
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Well this is a new comic concept for me:

Frustrated by societys failure to protect its most vulnerable citizens, Foreskin Man has taken up the fight agains male genital mutilation.

Aided by the power of his technologically advanced plasma boots, Foreskin Man flies above the city to hunt down criminals who cut the genitals of innocent boys.

It is the dawn of a new era. Circumcisers, beware!

Foreskin Man
 
(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.28.2010
09:02 am
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The gentle VHS madness of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives
07.14.2010
03:42 pm
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Electronic and text-sound music pioneer Robert Ashley‘s video opera (developed over a period of time from the mid 70’s to the early 80’s) is, in retrospect, the kind of VHS artifact you might find deconstructed at Everything is Terrible or parodied on Tim & Eric. Only thing is, this piece comes pre-deconstructed ! it’s already one of the most fragmented and inscrutable pieces of “TV” you’re ever likely to stumble upon. Following the narrative is an experience akin to being stuck inside Ashley’s mind for a long stretch. That he also happens to suffer from a mild form of Tourette’s only serves to make that mind a very interesting place.

 
More info about Private Lives
 
Get Robert Ashley’s Private Lives on DVD

Posted by Brad Laner
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07.14.2010
03:42 pm
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Harvey Pekar RIP
07.12.2010
11:46 am
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A sad day for American literature, writer Harvey Pekar has passed away at age 70. My first thought is that it’s great that he lived long enough to see his work embraced by a large audience due to the success of the American Splendor film but it’s hard to swallow the loss of another singular and utterly unique American voice. Bon Voyage, Harvey.

(Cleveland) - Famed Cleveland underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar has died at the age of 70.

Cuyahoga County Coroner’s spokesman Powell Caesar confirmed the news to WTAM 1100 Monday morning.

Pekar was found just before 1:00 am by his wife, Joyce Brabner, in their home in Cleveland Heights. The cause of death is not yet known.


Coroner: Harvey Pekar dies (WTAM Cleveland)
 
thx Ned Raggett

 

Posted by Brad Laner
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07.12.2010
11:46 am
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Beat’s Lost Angel
07.11.2010
11:55 pm
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Alden Van Buskirk and his girlfriend Freddie
 
Alden Van Buskirk is the lost angel of Beat poets. He died at the age of 23 in 1961. His only book of poems, Lami, was published posthumously in an edition of 1000 copies.

It is a visionary book, ahead of its time, written while Alden was living in Oakland and experimenting heavily with drugs, including, pot, LSD and morning glory seeds. In theme and style, he draws inspiration from Blake, Whitman, the French Surrealists and Allen Ginsberg. In fact, Allen wrote the introduction to Lami.

There is virtually no information on this brilliant young poet other than some anecdotal musing by the poet David Rattray who died in 1993 while working on a Buskirk biography.

In his introduction to Lami, Ginsberg writes that in Van Buskirk’s verse “all sorts of weird electronic references, images of robot paranoia, city impulses of supersonic nerve thrill are recorded. What a lovely companion he would have been to talk to on top of roofs and bridges, or sitting with a bottle of wine or delicate martini in the middle of a living rm. floor at 3 a.m.” Indeed.

Van Buskirk should be a legend among devotees of the Beat movement. That he isn’t, astonishes me. His poetry and prose incinerates most of that written by poets far better known. His writing is as edgy and uncompromising as anything being written today. And it is time for you to check it out.
 

Van Buskirk wrote the following while tripping on four packages of blue morning glory seeds and a few hits of pot:

LAMI IN OAKLAND
9/17/61

I am ready to come back to you. I’ve lived my life a million times over in a few hours, seen everything, known too much, & now I’m burnt out, want only love & peaceful madness of America seen & shared with your eyes.
Last night I saw my whole life illumined over & over.
Each time one image/hallucination set it off. Nuance of a line on the gold/black statue tells all childhood sorrows, a tracer on the shell curving through past of dream & real life
too much for anyone, I will burn up, pray for God or codeine pills (I left them behind in Oakland) to stop them, the endless picture/ideograms that spell all knowledge, unlock forgotten nightmares, diabolic comic strip of old illusions running on the wrong reel too fast.
Don’t take It unless you want to know everything simultaneously, hell & heaven, terror & ecstasy -
to be Faust too & endure the humility of weeping repentence for what your life or the distorted images that say this is your life & you believe it helplessly,
perfect knowledge - its terror - wild hallucinations, but hallucinations that won’t stop, but devour time & leave you hung up for eternity;
to take yr imagination out on the straightaway & see what it’ll do
but some other foot steps on the gas:
IMAGES: I wanted to see them all : dig my own mind-movie - hungry-eyed poets of the universe live it all so you can die in an armchair in Oakland,
loose wires burnt out & still sputtering -
clenched jaws, mouth aches today from it. Teeth grated & startled me from Dali comic movies of Mickey Mouse war, troops, guns, explosions, loves in toppling picture puns -
unclench, relax the mouth, dig it, get in there, don’t back off, it’s what you always wanted, all the perfect gestures, classic dada poses of the diabolic genius, angel-monster showman, the stage, its depth - curtains drawn back reveal the scene, but its background unfolds: another universe of actors - they play out in the skull-theater, more rooms, each more painful than the last, one life lived over & over each time triggered by an image whose colors/lines stretch tentacles of remembered sensations into the past, a million deja vues , no one can stand this I say, this is the entire scene, no THIS is,
each image perfect & bottomless, the pain of each registering -
O sleep, blankmind, a drink, imagine blankwall but it breaks open into new shapes more revealing than the last…
is this what you want?
Sure, I dig pretty pot dreams, geometric puns, abstract poem-memories gentle & easy they unfold, body warm, high, a new chevrolet purring easily, not
madmind rocket acceleration at speeds of 4 universe-lives per second, pain of too many mental G’s the take off continues, never levelling out…
apocalypse is a barrage of milleniums / continual explosions of death / birth death / birth, lives
illuminated in the flame.
When I tell you to try it it is afterwards in a room with solid furniture, remember that.

 
You can read Lami in its entirety at the following link: The Lami Book

Posted by Marc Campbell
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07.11.2010
11:55 pm
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U.S.A. at 234, Leaves of Grass at 155, Alice in Wonderland at 145: Dangerous Minds of History
07.04.2010
03:22 pm
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A 36-second wax cylinder recording of what is thought to be Walt Whitman’s voice reading four lines from the poem “America.” [MP3]

As the sky lights up over Hometown U.S.A. tonight, let’s remember that today’s also the anniversary of two literary masterpieces of proto-freak culture. In 1855, Walt Whitman had 800 copies of his Leaves of Grass pressed by the Scottish-born Rome brothers at their Fulton St. shop in Brooklyn.

The Wikipedia oracle notes that Walt was definitely considered an original dangerous mind:

When the book was first published, Whitman was fired from his job at the Department of the Interior after Secretary of the Interior James Harlan read it and said he found it very offensive. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier was said to have thrown his 1855 edition into the fire. Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote, “It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote ‘Leaves of Grass,’ only that he did not burn it afterwards.” Critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold reviewed Leaves of Grass in the November 10, 1855, issue of The Criterion, calling it “a mass of stupid filth” and categorized its author as a filthy free lover. Griswold also suggested, in Latin, that Whitman was guilty of “that horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians”, one of the earliest public accusations of Whitman’s homosexuality. Griswold’s intensely negative review almost caused the publication of the second edition to be suspended.  Whitman included the full review, including the innuendo, in a later edition of Leaves of Grass.

Seven years later to the day, math teacher Charles Dodgson and a friend took the three young daughters of Henry Liddell (the Dean of the Christ Church College where Dodgson taught math) on a short rowboat trip. Dodgson published the surrealist story he aimed at Liddell’s middle daughter Alice as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the name Lewis Carroll on July 4 1865.

Without forgetting Robert Cauble’s fantastic depiction of Alice’s search for Guy Debord, below are some amazing film interpretations of Alice:

 

READ ON
Posted by Ron Nachmann
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07.04.2010
03:22 pm
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Independence: Allen Ginsberg’s “America” Interpreted
07.03.2010
09:13 pm
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My college friend Alex Marshall surfaced this excellent montage (done apparently by a filmmaker named Azure Pepe Valencia) of Ginsberg’s classic 1956 poem to the country, the ideal, the situation. Hurrah for independence!
 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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07.03.2010
09:13 pm
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How to Abandon Earth: Your House without You
06.29.2010
01:48 am
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Talk about timeless. Journalist Alan Weisman’s book The World Without Us came out in 2007 just as the implications of the mortgage crisis started coming into focus. This video speculating on how the earth swallows a house over 500 years was produced in conjunction with the publication, and in view of so many foreclosed American houses trashed out by their owners and the oily cancer temporarily zombifying the Gulf of Mexico, it seems rather tranquil.
 
Get: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman [Paperback]

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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06.29.2010
01:48 am
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Harvey Pekar and Douglas Rushkoff team up to take on Corporatism!
06.29.2010
12:22 am
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Have you been keeping up with the delightful Pekar Project at the Smith website? The latest installment is my favorite, with Dangerous Minds pal Douglas Rushkoff co-starring with our hero! With terrific—kinda perfect—art by Sean Pryor.

Editor Jeff Newelt writes:

A year ago, our own cuddly curmudgeon, Harvey Pekar, joined author / media theorist Doug Rushkoff on his WFMU radio show, The Media Squat, to talk about a pet peev to both authors: the corporate takeover of society. Doug recently wrote LIFE INC: How the World Became A Corporation and How to Take It Back and Harvey legendarily bashed GE on Letterman in the ’80s, so jamming on this was a natural. To create this comic, “Pekar & Rushkoff Kibbitzin’ About How Life Got Incorporated” (part one of a four-part epic collaboration), we treated the transcript of their talk like the first track laid down for a jazz record. Harvey & Doug remixed the script and then artist Sean Pryor brought the dialogue to life. Note the masterful switch in coloring technique whenever the story shifts from the conversation itself to images of subjects being talked about. Sean first collaborated with Harvey on “Gauntet of Rock” a story for Royal Flush Magazine, and has since rocked out three Pekar Project stories, “Searchin’”, “Jungle Music,” and “Two Working Stiffs.” Sean also designed and contributed a Harvey Head to the new Pekar T-shirt.

This is fucking excellent!

Pekar & Rushkoff Kibbitzin’ How Life Got Incorporated by Harvey Pekar & Sean Pryor (Smith)

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.29.2010
12:22 am
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