In 1978, Anger re-cut his landmark 1954 film, Inauguration Of The Pleasure Dome by several minutes as well as changing the score of the film he had previous selected, “Glagolitic Mass” by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček. This re-constructed version, offered here today features Anger’s choice of the 1974 Electric Light Orchestra album, ‘Eldorado’ as score. This edition of the film would be labeled by Anger as his “Sacred Mushroom Edition.” Anger successfully screened this E.L.O. version of the film at the 1978 Boston Film Festival. This festival exhibition would be the only time in history this version of Anger’s film had been seen, until now.
ELO’s Eldorado concept album about the fantasy life of a “Walter Mitty”-esque character seems an old choice for a soundtrack to such a beautifully evil film, I must say. Interesting, to be sure, but I can see why Anger orphaned this in favor of the classic version of the film.
This feels a bit like the Giorgio Moroder scored and colorized version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to me. Maybe I’ve just seen the classic Pleasure Dome too many times.
Dean Cavanagh is that very rare breed – a maverick whose talents have been successfully proven over several different disciplines.
He is an award-winning artist; a screenwriter and playwright, writing the highly acclaimed Wedding Belles with Irvine Welsh and the forth-coming movie version of the hit on-line series Svengali. He has also been a journalist, with bylines in i-D, NME, Sabotage Times and the Guardian. Dean is also a documentary-maker, a film and TV producer and a musician, with along list of collaborators, including Robert Anton Wilson.
Now the multi-talented Cavanagh has written and directed (with his son Josh), his first movie - the much anticipated Kubricks.
In this exclusive interview with Dangerous Minds, Dean talks about the ideas and creative processes behind Kubricks. How he collaborated with Alan McGee, and developed the film with his son Josh, discussing his thoughts on cinema and synchronicity, and explaining howKubricks came to be filmed over 5 days, with a talented cast this summer.
Dean Cavanagh: ‘Stanley Kubrick has always fascinated me in that he was clearly trying to convey messages through symbols, codes and puzzles in his films.
‘For me his genius was in the way he presented the ‘regular’ audience with a clear narrative structure and for those who wanted to look deeper he constructed hidden layers of subjectivity. He was clearly a magician working with big budgets in such an idiosyncratic way that it’s hard not to be intrigued by him and his oeuvre.
‘I’ve been following Kubrick researchers like Rob Ager and Jay Weidner for the last few years and I really wanted to dramatize a story based around Kubrick as an inspirational enigma. There is a wealth of material about the esoteric side of Kubrick on the net and Ager and Weidner are great places to start the journey from.’
DM: How did you progress towards making ‘Kubricks’?
Dean Cavanagh: ‘I’ve been writing screenplays and theatre on my own and also with Irvine Welsh since the 1990’s. Up until last year, I never really had any desire to direct a film but Alan McGee encouraged me to have a go. He offered to produce a film if I would write and direct with the emphasis being on us having total control. This was music to my ears after having mainly dealt with people who are always looking for reasons not to make a film. Alan’s credo was “just do it and let’s see what happens”. There’s a great freedom in working with him.’
Read more of Dean Cavanagh’s exclusive interview, plus free ‘Kubricks’ soundtrack download, after the jump…
Recording his first proper album The Slim Shady LP with Dr Dre in LA, Eminem decided he wanted to get his infant daughter Hailie on the work-in-progress “97 Bonnie and Clyde.” Then-wife Kim Mathers was curious to know what the song in question – in which father and daughter together dispose of mother’s murdered corpse – was about. Playing it safe, Eminem told her the lyric detailed his taking Hailie on a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s, a Will Smith “Just the Two of Us”-style scenario the song parodies. When Kim heard the finished track, Eminem believably claims, she “bugged the fuck out.”
“97 Bonnie and Clyde” was the kind of composition that got Eminem in trouble with the Tipper Gore parade as well, along with others who would supply the controversy (those “picket lines” for his “wicked rhymes”) that would go on to inspire so much of the material for his next record The Marshall Mathers LP. One of the most thematically coherent albums in hip hop history, The Marshall Mathers LP features verse upon verse ridiculing the wider culture for its apparent inability to distinguish between word and deed, fiction and fact, often mimicking the confusion for poetic effect:
“Put lives at risk when I drive like this [screech]/ Put wives at risk with a knife like this [scream]”
In “Stan,” for example, the song’s famous protagonist has fatally confused Eminem (or Marshall Mathers) with Slim Shady, and ends up killing his own girlfriend in a manner reminiscent of “97 Bonnie and Clyde.” Elsewhere, Eminem reprised the wife-killing theme for the gothic murder-ballad “Kim,” a slower, crueler and darker version of its predecessor that ends with the following “dying” refrain:
While the rest of the accompanying album would be quick to remind us that “no actual Kims were harmed in the making of ‘Kim,’” did anyone ever wonder how the tune played chez Mathers?
Not that well, funnily enough, as I confirmed last week stumbling upon a 2011 interview with (the real) Kim (Shady) Mathers herself, a rather beleaguered woman horrified by her frequent cameos in the work of the twenty-first century’s most famous living poet. Indeed, in the Mathers’ fairly fraught marital home, Kim reveals that “Kim” was such a contentious issue that it was solely referred to (in passing or – you imagine – the odd nucleur domestic squabble) as “that song”…
So when Kim was planning to attend a show on her husband’s stadium tour in 2000, the occasion warranted a special conversation that afternoon as to whether Eminem planned to perform “that song” that night. Sensitive Mr. Mathers reportedly answered in the following reassuring fashion:
“No, because I know that you’re going to be there and I wouldn’t do that to you.”
Syke! At the concert, Eminem, would perform a robust “Kim” – acting it out with a blow-up doll, no less – before the sixty thousand strong crowd, including not only his wife, but her sister and some accompanying friends (must have been awkward for ‘em, eh?) – in the interview, the former Mrs. Mathers describes the surreal horror of being embedded in a stadium rocking with festive hatred – all indirectly directed at her – watching “everyone singing the words and laughing and jumping around in approval.
“BLEED! BITCH BLEED!/ BLEED! BITCH BLEED! BLEED!”
Sure enough, Kim went home and attempted to kill herself, slashing her wrists; so a song in which Eminem fantasizes about killing his wife… almost kills his wife. Words become deeds, fiction fact. Odd.
As a film, Anger Me is almost the antithesis of a Kenneth Anger film . It’s about as artful as an industrial training movie. But it does feature one of the great visionaries of cinema speaking to a camera for 70 minutes and for fans and admirers of Kenneth Anger, that is something to be grateful for. This is a talking head well-worth listening to.
Director Elio Gelmini clearly believes that Anger can carry the film on his own and given Anger’s fascinating history and storytelling gifts the film succeeds despite its threadbare production. The film would have greatly benefited from a more expansive approach. As Anger discusses his work, scenes from his films have been added to a blue screen background and the effect diminishes the evocative mystery of Anger’s imagery. You yearn to enter the mystical caverns of Anger’s world, but instead are left with a kind of retro MTV effect. Ironic, considering Anger hugely influenced the world of music videos, pointing a direction away from glossiness into something more magical and dreamlike. But putting aside my criticism of the film’s technique, I applaud Gelmini for shining a light on one of the most remarkable human beings to have had an impact on my life.
So here have it, Anger Me. For those unfamiliar with Kenneth Anger, this is a solid introduction. Watch it and then seek out his work on DVD. It’s mindblowing stuff.
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the death of rocket scientist and occultist John Whiteside “Jack” Parsons. In addition to being a pioneer in the filed of rocketry—at the age of 25, Parson was part of the first US Government’s first official rocket group. He later invented the formulation of the solid rocket fuel that eventually put man on the moon—Parsons was a follower of Aleister Crowley, a one-time associate of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and a self-proclaimed Antichrist.
MARVEL WHITESIDE PARSONS, always know as Jack, was born October 2, 1914 in Los Angeles, California. A chemical engineer and explosives expert, he was a principal scientist in the experimental rocket research group attached to the California Institute of Technology during the 1930’s. Their testing range in the area of Devil’s Gate Dam above Pasadena has since grown to become the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Parsons was also a co-founder of the Aerojet General Corporation.
Together with his first wife, Helen Parsons Smith, Parsons joined the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) in 1941, the same year as his most successful scientific achievement, Jet Assisted Take-Off (JATO). He was very much the young lion of the occult Order and, under the tutelage of Aleister Crowley, briefly served as the acting master of Agape Lodge. His now famous invocation, “The Babalon Working,” was first performed in 1946, with former WAVE Marjorie Cameron serving as Scarlett Woman and L. Ron Hubbard, future founder of the Church of Scientology, channeling words from the ether as Scribe while Jack performed as Priest.
The “Working” reset the course of Parsons’ life, ending his relationship with Aleister Crowley and the O.T.O. In his surviving essays and polemical writings, Parsons anticipated by many years the ethical, moral, religious and social dilemmas of the future.
Parsons died in an explosion of mysterious origin at his chemical laboratory at home in Pasadena on June 17, 1952. His second wife and collaborator, the artist Cameron, preserved and carried on his work until her death in 1995. In 1972 the International Astronomical Union named a crater on the moon (37°N 171°W) after Parsons in recognition of his pivotal role in developing the solid fuel rocket.
Painting of Jack Parsons by his widow, Marjorie Cameron
The marketing campaign for director Paul Thomas Anderson’s fictionalized L.Ron Hubbard flick, The Master, is starting to heat up. Yesterday a mysterious trailer with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix was released and it looks like this is going to be a fascinating film.
“A 1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as “the Master” whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man.”
Hoffman as Hubbard is an inspired bit of casting (although I think the ultimate portrayal of Hubbard will come one day from The Mighty Boosh‘s Rich Fulcher) but are Adams and Phoenix supposed to be based on Marjorie Cameron and Jack Parsons? It kinda looks that way.
One of the film’s producer, JoAnne Sellar, denied any connection to Hubbard or Scientology: “It’s a World War II drama. It’s about a drifter after World War II.”
With a tense soundtrack from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. The Master is scheduled for release on “Crowleymass,” October 12th. I wonder if that is a co-incidence or deliberate?
What interests Horgan the most pertains to McKenna’s so-called Timewave Zero theory of history, which holds that something “novel” and mind-bending would happen on December 21, 2012. This notion was “revealed” to him by an “alien intelligence” during a psychedelic experiment conducted by McKenna and his younger brother Dennis, in the Amazon jungle in 1971 (Dennis McKenna, today a respected ethnopharmacologist, was the “channel” through which this entity supposedly spoke, has apparently never been much of a believer in his brother’s apocalyptic theories).
The Timewave Zero formula purports to mathematically “decode” the 64 hexagrams of the King Wen sequence of the I Ching into something that graphs fractal patterns of “novelty” and particularly active eras in history, culminating in a singularity point of infinite complexity that he predicted would happen at the end of the 13th b’ak’tun of the Maya calendar.
McKenna believed that all of human history and cultural and scientific evolution were moving inexorably towards a “strange attractor” at the end of time. Timewave Zero was later codified into a software program that seemingly mapped major moments in humanity’s evolution with the Timewave’s peaks and valleys.
McKenna’s theory, as written about at length in his books The Invisible Landscape and True Hallucinations, is a fascinating hermeneutic intellectual construction, and one that allowed for him to spin poetic and truly mind-bending thoughts about history, man’s place in the cosmos and of course, a sort of psychedelically-constructed apocalypticism that kept audiences absolutely spellbound, but rationally speaking, it’s wild-eyed, tied-dyed nonsense for soft-brained people…
John Horgan went to hear McKenna speak at a 1999 talk in Manhattan sponsored by the Open Center (I was in attendance at the talk myself, more on this below) and interviewed the psychedelic spokesman the following day. The object of Horgan’s line of inquiry was, not so surprisingly, to ask McKenna if he was actually serious about his 2012 predictions:
So what did McKenna really think would happen on December 21, 2012? “If you really understand what I’m saying,” he replied, “you would understand it can’t be said. It’s a prediction of an unpredictable event.” The event will be “some enormously reality-rearranging thing.” Scientists will invent a truly intelligent computer, or a time-travel machine. Perhaps we will be visited by an alien spaceship, or an asteroid. “I don’t know if it’s built into the laws of spacetime, or it’s generated out of human inventiveness, or whether it’s a mile and a half wide and arrives unexpectedly in the center of North America.”
But did he really think the apocalypse would arrive on December 21, 2012? “Well…” McKenna hesitated. “No.” He had merely created one mathematical model of the flow and ebb of novelty in history. “It’s a weak case, because history is not a mathematically defined entity,” he said. His model was “just a kind of fantasizing within a certain kind of vocabulary.” McKenna still believed in the legitimacy of his project, even if his particular model turned out to be a failure. “I’m trying to redeem history, make it make sense, show that it obeys laws,” he said.
But he couldn’t stop there. His eyes glittering, he divulged a “huge–quote unquote—coincidence” involving his prophecy. After he made his prediction that the apocalypse would occur on December 21, 2012, he learned that thousands of years ago Mayan astronomers had predicted the world would end on the very same day. “And now there has been new scholarship that they were tracking the galactic center and its precessional path through the ecliptic plane. What does all this mean?” McKenna leaned toward me, his eyes slitted and his teeth bared. “It means we are trapped in software written by the ghost of Jorge Luis Borges!” He threw his head back and cackled. “Tell that to the National Academy of Sciences!”
McKenna, when pressed said to Horgan, “I’m Irish! What’s your excuse!”
Although I have listened to (literally) hundreds of hours of his recorded talks, attended many, many speeches and even a weekend-long seminar (incongruously held on the outdoor “western village” set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman) I can’t claim that I really knew Terence McKenna all that well, but I was most certainly acquainted with him and, in fact, was due to take him over the bridge to meet Howard Bloom in Brooklyn (Bloom was bedridden at the time) later in the very same day that Horgan interviewed him (McKenna cancelled because he was feeling tired; two weeks later he would have seizures and be diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer).
I’ve written before of how Timothy Leary expressed extreme exasperation about McKenna’s theories (In 1996 Leary shouted at me as I tried to defend him, that “Terence McKenna is a High Episcopalian!”) and how coldly dismissive Robert Anton Wilson was of his ideas (Bob would just roll his eyes and shake his head whenever the topic of Terence or 2012 came up). My take on the whole Timewave Zero/2012 thing and whether or not he truly believed it or not, is that “No,” I do not think that Terence McKenna wholeheartedly believed in his own psychedelic blarney. I think that he DID believe it at one time, but from personal observations on several occasions throughout the 1990s, when I would see him after one of his talks and observe his interaction with others, I don’t think this belief stayed with him.
To be perfectly honest, he often felt downright cynical to me when he discussed the Timewave Zero theory because it seemed like he knew he was spouting bullshit and it caused him to be curt, even disrespectful at times, to some of the people—especially the New Age true believer-types—who were in attendance at his talks.
Granted I might have only been around McKenna when he was feeling grumpy or wasn’t up for playing his expected role as a “guru” that day, but this is what I saw with my own eyes.
All such occurrences recall to me a curious chat I once had with an engaging crank who claimed disembodied and malevolent spirits liked to haunt pubs and bars, as sufficiently inebriated souls (if sufficiently weak-minded) were easy to “hitch a ride with” – hence the middling mayhem that forever orbits serious boozing.
Accordingly, might we posit that PCP can open channels to some very unpleasant (not to mention peckish) entities indeed?
If you keep an eye out for these incidents, you might also observe that some of the other, generally better-regarded recreational drugs appear to induce comparable states of spiritual vulnerability. To my mind, one of the most illustrative (not to mention blackly comic) examples of this phenomenon took place in 2004, when the then 24-year-old Daniel Gonzales – aka “Zippy” aka “The Freddy Krueger Killer” and the “Mummy’s Boy Killer”– ended up going on a four day knife-wielding killing spree around Sussex and North London after a night’s raving – killing four and attacking two others.
An insight into the singularly bizarre turn of Zippy’s mind was provided when an old friend of his sold their correspondence (conducted after Zippy was convicted and locked up in a maximum security psychiatric institution) to an English tabloid. In this correspondence, Zippy comes across as a truly ungodly mixture of Ali G and Jack the Ripper. Generally buoyant – “Bruv, it’s Zippy, your favourite serial killer!” – but forever pining for his beloved Ketamine and Doomcore (a fast, particularly unpleasant form of techno), the least effort at introspection reduces Zippy to a state of bewildered incoherence.
“Did you read my story in da paper? Enuff of dat cos it’s doin my head in, I just wanted to be like the guy in Scream or Halloween nuffin wrong wiv dat iz there? Wouldn’t you wanna be like Mike Meyers? But it ain’t worth it. U ’ave to pay the price.”
Deep. But however hard our “favourite serial killer” on occasion tries to meditate upon his actions (“I done somefin sick + I can’t believe it”), Zippy’s thoughts tend more towards raving than redemption:
“I know you will still be partying when I get out so we can go to Amsterdam together and all that. I won’t be in here forever so not to worry – as long as you stay goin partys and snortin K.”
You’ve got to admire Zippy’s conviction that, in the extraordinarily unlikely eventuality of his release (Zippy’s judge recommended he be incarcerated indefinitely – and poor Zippy actually died in custody in 2007), his old pals would be so keen to pick up where they left off – skipping over to the ’dam to feast on psychedelics with a geriatric serial killer. Certainly Zippy’s “eccentricities” were generously tolerated prior to his arrest, as the following vignette (offered by Zippy’s correspondent in the accompanying tabloid interview) vividly demonstrates:
“Only a year before the murders we were round a friend’s house when Zippy pulled a map out of his pocket and unfolded it. He’d marked several churches in red ink and also named vicars serving at each. Someone asked what it was and he said he was studying it because he planned to kill all of the vicars in one, long rampage. Everyone just burst out laughing.”
A retrospectively sinister moment, you imagine! And one that arguably fits the hypothesis of possession – as might the following account of the killings themselves. Walk us through it, Zip, how did it all come to pass?
“Well I guess u wanna no wot happened! Remember that party wot we went to, it all happened after that party. I went out + killed 4 people cos I was so bored, basically I don’t know why I done it.”
So it would seem. At the time, the tabloids launched a half-baked witch hunt for Doomcore, but quickly lost interest after establishing that Zippy was one of about seven people who actually liked it. You’d think they’d have gone after recreational drugs (or even slasher films) instead. But, possession theory aside, I would recommend steering clear of anyone whose ideal night in consists of Doomcore, Freddy Kruger, and a gram of Ketamine. And whatever you do, don’t give them any PCP.