Roger McGough reads “Blazing Fruit or The Poet as Entertainer,” and talks to critic Michael Billington about his approach to writing poetry.
McGough came to fame in the 1960s, along with Brian Patten and the late Adrian Henri, as part of the Liverpool Poets. Their seminal volume of collected poems The Mersey Sound, brought poetry out of the academies and into the coffee-houses, bars, and working men’s clubs of swinging England. As McGough said at the time:
The kids didn’t see this poetry with a capital p, they understood it as modern entertainment, as part of the pop-movement.
Associated with The Beatles, as part of the “Liverpool Explosion,” McGough went onto form the popular music, comedy and poetry group The Scaffold, with comic John Gorman, and Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike McGear, which famously led to a number 1 hit “Lily the Pink” in 1968. McGough later teamed-up with Neil Innes for GRIMMS, and since the mid-1970s has been one of Britain’s best known and best loved poets.
While fan conventions always brings out the most imaginative of nerdish costumes, it is rare that I’m truly surprised. However, this little girl from last weekend’s Motor City Comic Con, in full Stan Lee drag, is the living end. The… living… end. (She’s even doing her little Spider-Man web-slinger move!)
Stan’s “Mini-Me” is 7-year-old badass Isabella Cracchiolo whose father Vincent recently covered the convention for Bleeding Cool.
This South African commercial from Allan Gray Investment, with creative by the King James agency, is really a showstopper.
In all my years of advertising, I have never seen a treatment that was so detailed, so carefully thought through, and so deeply researched, than the treatment Keith gave us when pitching to handle this commercial. From beginning to end, his commitment to the job bordered on obsession.” says Alistair King, Executive Creative Director at King James.
“This was an incredibly challenging board, says Rose. You just take it for granted that James Dean is so iconic, so to go and mess with him and replan his life, if it doesn’t work its like you’re desecrating his memory.”
Damn, just when you thought you’ve seen all of ‘em, here it comes, hands down the best marriage equality meme EVER.
Whoever came up with this wonderfully droll Bewitched meets the “Red Equal Sign” gag deserves… something. I don’t know what that “something” is, but give me time to think about it. Something really good.
It’s a pity that Samantha Stevens can’t just wiggle her magic nose and bestow full civil rights upon our gay brothers and sisters. Even a witch has to get out there and make some noise for marriage equality!
The Burning Ghat is a strange, yet revealing short film that reveals something of the relationship between original Beat, Herbert Huncke, and his long-time companion and room-mate, Louis Cartwright.
Huncke was a petty crook and junkie, who hustled around Times Square in the 1940s, where he met William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. It was Huncke who originally introduced these 3 young writers to the “Beat Life,” and became a major inspiration on their writing.
Who is Herbert Huncke? When I first knew him I saw him in what I considered the ‘glamorous’ light of a petty criminal and Times Square hustler who was experienced in the ways, thoughts, and activities of an underground culture which is enormously extensive. The attempt to dismiss him because of his social irresponsibility is something that I was never able to conceive as truthful or productive. I saw him as a self-damned soul—but a soul nonetheless, aware of itself and others in a strangely perceptive and essentially human way. He has great charm. I see that he suffers, more than myself, more than anyone I know of perhaps; suffers like a saint of old in the making; and also has cosmic or supersensory perceptions of an extraordinary depth and openness.
The Burning Ghat was directed by James Rasin (Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar) and Jerome Poynton, and was filmed in Huncke’s apartment on Henry Street, New York.
Allen Ginsberg wrote of the film, “O Rare Herbert Huncke, live on film! The Burning Ghat features late-in-lifetime old partners Huncke & Louis playing characters beyond themselves with restrained solid self-awareness, their brief masquerade of soul climaxing in an inspired moment’s paradox bittersweet as an O’Henry’s tale’s last twist”.
Harry Smith said of the film, “It should have been longer”.
The Burning Ghat was featured at the 53rd Venice Biennial, and included in the Whitney Museum’s “Beat Culture and the New America” show of 1996. It won the Gold Plaque Award for Best Short Film at the 1990 Chicago International Film Festival.
Made the same year Huncke published his autobiography Guilty of Everything, this was to be his only on-screen, acting performance.
Wild. Singer/songwriter Joe Henry has co-written (along with his brother David) a biography of Richard Pryor entitled, Serious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him, due out in November. If you’re familiar with Joe Henry’s work, then you already know why this is so cool and appropriate, but if not, then I’ll tell you…
If you don’t know who Richard Pryor was, well then, no wonder you think the universe is kind of boring and tedious. Richard Pryor was Chris Rock before Chris Rock was even born, unleashing his ferocious comedy to both white and black audiences in the 60s and 70s, way before it was “OK” to joke seriously about racial issues and about the experience of being an African American in a nation still trying to suppress the inevitable realization that its cultural roots were about as black as they were white.
Here’s Richard Pryor as the first black president of the US. Like a lot of Pryor’s comedy, you can’t quite see where it’s going until it gets there and, prior to arrival it veers into the surreal.
Wild, no? That’s from the 1970s and I’m thinking popular culture was actually somewhat less brittle back then. The ghost of left-wing culture hadn’t quite faded away yet, though of course in just a few years Reagan’s jackboots would stomp even that poor pitiful thing into the ground. Even in the early 1980s, after Pryor recovered from a disfiguring freebasing accident that left him badly burned and near death, the nation laughed when Pryor explained: “When I dunked the cookie in the milk, it exploded!”
Joe Henry, meanwhile, dedicated one of his better albums (Scar) to Pryor, and wrote one of the songs (”Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation”) in his voice. Here’s “Stop,” from that same album (If you are a Madonna fan, you may have noticed that this song has the same lyrics as “Don’t Tell Me” from her Music album, and indeed Henry wrote those lyrics. Joe Henry is, bizarrely enough, Madonna’s brother-in-law (married to her sister Melanie) and also wrote the Baywatch theme, but don’t hold that against him.)
Henry operates in a nominally popular idiom by placing scraps of jazz, rock, R&B and even country into the athanor of his songwriting craft and then melting them all down and shaping the resultant amalgam into the odd and sometimes frightening little homonculi that are his songs.
When Henry (or his “people”) made the announcement about Serious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him on Facebook and his blog a couple of days ago, it came as both a surprise as well one of those things that seems obvious in retrospect. I’m stoked for the publication of this book and will almost certainly celebrate this news later with a bottle of Monday-night plonk and the very loud cranking of Joe Henry’s Blood From Stars album.
Here’s a rarity of sorts, of Henry singing (or pretending to be singing) the title track from hisTiny Voices album:
Across the world tonight, millions of people are tuning-in to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. There will be the usual twinkly, pant-suited, satin-draped performers, with an excess of dry ice, singing about love, broken hearts, world peace and the weather.
While I like the idea of Eurovision, I doubt I’ll be watching, as I’ve always thought this fun competition tends to overlook better songs by greater artists, who know how to write an unforgettable tune.
The first that comes instantly to mind is “Mr Eurovision” by that great musical genius, Neil Innes.
Is there any other tune that gives the best of what Europe has to offer (in assorted cliches) with such a ludicrously catchy tune? I am still flummoxed as to explain how the UK never took up this work of unparalleled brilliance.
“Mr. Eurovision” originally appeared on The Innes Book of Records, which was one of the great high points in TV history, and now deserves to be repeated.
As punk rock was throbbing in the clubs downtown, Manhattan cable TV was experiencing its own kind of anarchy. D.I.Y programs from cats like Efrom Allen were offering some demented and surreal stuff to get us energized before hitting the clubs or to soften the crash as we wound down from a night on the Bowery. The coaxial pipeline was sending signals into our decrepit little apartments that were raw, spontaneous and often exhilarating, punk rock’s cathode equivalent.
In this episode of The Efrom Allen Show (1978?), a 12-year-old Brooke Shields does a fashion shoot with Stiv Bators while discussing her career with the wisdom of an ancient soul. Stiv seems to enjoy just going along for the ride.
Efrom, a Realtor these days, should try to clean this video up and release it, along with his footage of The Ramones and Marilyn Chambers, on DVD. This is pop culture history and there’s so little of Manhattan cable programming available for viewing. Someone should do a book on this wild era when the TV eye was bloodshot and beautiful.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.