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Dear Internet, please find Terence McKenna’s appearance on LAPD Chief Daryl Gates’ radio show
02.05.2016
09:32 am

Topics:
Crime
Drugs
Thinkers

Tags:
Terence McKenna
Daryl Gates


Daryl Gates on the mike at KFI-AM
 
There was a note of delight in arch-psychonaut Terence McKenna’s voice as he read out this question from the audience after a 1993 talk at UC Santa Cruz:

Well, let’s see here… “Recently you appeared on talk radio with L.A. police chief Daryl Gates. What was the inside story, and do you feel you were heard by him?”

Well, yes—I won’t give this too much time—I did appear with Daryl Gates on his radio show. Clearly, they’re desperate to raise ratings—they’ll do almost anything at this point—and Daryl Gates was a pussycat. Very easily intimidated by… I mean, I make no great claims in this area, but intelligence. He completely folded in the presence of, you know, academic calm, big words, citation, that sort of thing.

If you don’t remember Daryl Gates, he was a real nice guy. At a 1990 Senate hearing, the LAPD chief announced that casual drug users—not traffickers, not dealers, but those “who blast some pot on a regular basis”—were guilty of “treason” in the war on drugs and “ought to be taken out and shot.” A few years later, when the program director from KFI, the right-wing talk station that broadcast The Daryl Gates Show, told the ex-chief over breakfast that the station wouldn’t be renewing his contract, Gates “leaned on the table and with his fingers made a gun. He put them in my face and said, ‘I’m going to get you.’” Super nice guy. If you like Ethan Couch, George Zimmerman, Martin Shkreli and Jason Van Dyke, you’ll love Daryl Gates.
 

 
Not a big Germs fan, Daryl Gates. Around 1980, the police chief sent The Decline Of Western Civilization director Penelope Spheeris a letter “requesting that [she] not show the film ever again in Los Angeles.” Nor was music a fan of Daryl. At one end of Gates’ tenure as chief, which extended, roughly, from the punk era to the L.A. riots, Black Flag lampooned him in their local radio ads; at the other, Ice-T gave him a personal shout out in Body Count’s “Cop Killer,” just to say “hi.” (And I always suspected that “hit the gates” in Ice-T’s “Escape from the Killing Fields” had a double meaning.) Race relations? Not Gates’ bag. When he died in 2010, the opinion pages of the Los Angeles Times remembered him as “a tough-talking spokesman for fearful, tradition-bound white Americans” who “found himself locked in bitter combat with the city’s African American community.”

And if some aging hippie tape trader out there would just do the right thing, you could be listening to this fucker discuss Timewave Zero with the apostle of the DMT elves right now.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
What if Werner Herzog wrote inspirational greeting card messages?
01.27.2016
01:30 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Thinkers

Tags:
Werner Herzog

0wernerparrot.jpg
 
Werner Herzog does not like social media. He thinks it is “stupid.” In fact he’s none too keen on the Internet overall describing it as a “massive, naked onslaught of stupidity.” Mr. Herzog’s social media is his kitchen table.

My wife and I cook and we have four guests maximum because the table doesn’t hold more than six.

It’s a small group. Though I am surprised Mr. Herzog eats dinner for surely he’s thinking What is the point? We will all be dead soon… just like the dinosaurs.

Though he is surely aware of his image as “the gloomy Teutonic dangerously living guy” it is difficult to imagine the internationally respected film director, writer and sage as the “fluffy husband” he claims to be.

Maybe his image would be helped if he branched out into say… writing inspirational cards? You know the kind—those nauseating little cards your friends share on Facebook along with all those goddamned pictures of cats. “Greetings pal! Here’s a waste of time!”

Thankfully, some kind individual has already started this new user-friendly career option for Herr H. on a Tumblr site called Herzog Inspirationals. Unfortunately however it appears this potential shiny future did not last long—possibly because of the “massive, naked onslaught of stupidity” that now fills Tumblr’s pages? Maybe. And maybe this is the opportune moment for Herzog to take up the reins and share his gloomy Teutonic wisdom with the rest of us in snappy little postcards or in Tweets of 140 characters or less? Twitter wouldn’t be nearly as stupid if Herr Herzog were active on it.
 
001wernerquotes.jpg
 

I hear the ravens, but a denial is building up inside me. By all means, do not glance upwards! Let them go! Don’t look at them, don’t lift your gaze from the paper! No, don’t! Let them go, those ravens! I won’t look up there now!

 
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...we have to declare holy war against what we see every single day on television.

 
More mind-numbing wisdom from Werner Herzog, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Six Into One’: Seldom seen doc on Patrick McGoohan’s cult TV classic ‘The Prisoner’

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The actor Patrick McGoohan had been kicking around ideas for a new television series when writer George Markstein told him about Inverlair Lodge in Scotland. The Lodge had been used by Special Operations Executive during the Second World War as “a detention or internment camp” for those individuals who refused to take part in covert operations “once they became aware of the full details.”

Some were unable to kill when the occasion was reduced to a one-on-one scenario, as opposed the anonymity of a battlefield exchange. With information being released on a Need to Know basis, their training meant that they were in possession of highly classified and secret information relating to pending missions, and could not be allowed to return to public life, where a careless remark could have compromised their secrecy.

As Markstein later explained the residents were:

...largely people who had been compromised. They had reached the point in their career where they knew too much to be let loose, but they hadn’t actually done anything wrong. They weren’t in any way traitors, they hadn’t betrayed anything, but in their own interest it was better if they were kept safely.

Inverlair Lodge was also known as “No. 6 Special Workshop School.” McGoohan was intrigued by the idea and began developing a series idea set in a similar internment camp, The Prisoner.
 
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Patrick McGoohan started his career as an actor in theater. He was spotted early on by Orson Welles who cast him his production of Moby Dick. Welles thought McGoohan had “unquestionable” acting ability and thought he would become one of cinema’s greatest actors.

McGoohan’s early success in theater led to a movie contract. Unfortunately, the film producers who snapped him up didn’t know what to do with this unique talent. McGoohan was cast in a few B-movies that offered limited scope for him to shine. At his earliest opportunity, McGoohan got out of his film contract and moved into television.

Learning from his ill-fated experience in movies, McGoohan stipulated that he had control over what he did on the small screen. McGoohan was a Roman Catholic and eschewed violence and refused to kiss on grounds that he considered it unnecessary and even possibly adulterous.

In 1960, he starred as John Drake in Danger Man. The series was moderately successful on its first run, but quickly took off after the release of the first James Bond feature Dr. No—a film that McGoohan had knocked back as he disliked its script’s promiscuous sex and violence.

By 1966, Danger Man was a hit across most of the world and McGoohan was TV’s highest paid actor. But McGoohan felt he had achieved all he could with the character and wanted to move on. Determined to keep him working for his TV company, legendary producer Lew Grade asked McGoohan if there was anything he wanted to make. McGoohan pitched him The Prisoner. Grade liked it and agreed to a produce it. The deal was sealed on a handshake.

A secret agent (McGoohan) resigns his commission to his handler—a cameo from the show’s co-creator George Markstein who is seen in the opening titles. Returning to his apartment, McGoohan is gassed. When he awakes he is a prisoner in the “Village” a kind of Psy-Ops theme park on a strange island. He no longer has a name but is identified only as “No. 6.” He is interrogated by No. 2 who demands “information.” In each episode No. 6 attempts to escape the Village while trying to unravel the mystery of who is No. 1.

The Prisoner became one of the most famous TV series of the 1960s. It was hailed as “television’s first masterpiece”—one of the most talked about and controversial shows ever made. Almost fifty years after it was first aired, its appeal continues—and The Prisoner was even remade in 2009 with Jim Caviezel as No. 6 and Ian McKellen as No. 2.

There are numerous theories as to the “meaning” of The Prisoner, but it difficult not to view the series without some small reference to McGoohan’s own religious beliefs. Here is an island where everyone is watched, recorded, and examined by an omnipotent and omniscient overlord; where No. 6 is repeatedly asked to give up information—or to confess his guilt; and where No. 1 is finally revealed to be No. 6—“The greatest enemy that we have” as McGoohan described No. 1 in an interview with Wayne Troyer:

No. 1 was depicted as an evil, governing force in this Village. So, who is this No. 1? We just see the No. 2’s, the sidekicks. Now this overriding, evil force is at its most powerful within ourselves and we have constantly to fight it, I think, and that is why I made No. 1 an image of No. 6. His other half, his alter ego.

McGoohan suggests that “The greatest evil that one has to fight constantly, every minute of the day until one dies, is the worst part of oneself”—which is something he could have lifted directly from the Catholic belief in “original sin.”

Like another Catholic, writer Anthony Burgess—who wrote about the freedom of an individual to do right or wrong in his cult novel A Clockwork OrangeMcGoohan stated that No. 6:

...shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. It’s entirely his prerogative, his God-given right as an individual, to proceed in any way he sees fit. That’s the whole point of it all.

The Prisoner was not just a Cold War series about individual freedom in the face of totalitarianism but the freedom of each individual to choose one’s own path and take responsibility for their own actions in a materialist society. McGoohan was against the materialist/capitalist world of the Village and when The Prisoner ended in 1968, he aligned himself with the rioting students in Paris. He hoped his series might inspire a revolution, a point he discussed in an interview as to why the French were so obsessed with his series:

...there comes a time when revolt is necessary: In the last episode…there was no room for niceness anymore. There were machine guns, and people died. It was time for the Revolution. The French know that: Allons z’ enfants…

 
Watch ‘One Into Six’ plus McGoohan’s lost ‘LA Tapes,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Visionary artist and genius Paul Laffoley has died
11.16.2015
07:03 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes
R.I.P.
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley


 

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be . . .  “

Henry David Thoreau

I knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, it absolutely sucks as much as I thought it would: It is with great sadness that I report that the great genius artist and thinker Paul Laffoley is dead. He was 75.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my close friend Douglas Walla, Paul’s longtime gallerist letting me know that Paul had a heart attack and was in the hospital in Boston and that I might want to give him a call. Like immediately. I did and we spoke for about an hour, mostly chit-chat about his health and his upcoming book and then we talked about the architecture at the University of Cincinnati’s campus. He coughed like crazy—really, really HARD coughs that rattled his chest, I could practically feel the spittle hitting my eardrum through the telephone. Apparently he’d coughed so hard that he’d given himself a heart attack.

The problem was, this hacking cough was something, that he’d been, as he put it, “working on my entire life.” The cough was a permanent condition, in other words, it wasn’t going to go away. Already in poor health for many years—he had an amputated leg, diabetes and heart problems—the combination of this persistent HARD cough and congestive heart failure was the kind of “Catch 22” that meant he wasn’t going to be long for this world.

I asked him if the nurses were treating him well. He said yes, but I teased him that I wanted to speak to the one who had just entered the room, so that I could explain to her how “important” her charge was. “Oh you don’t have to do that,” he said.

I laughed: “Hey, look what happened to Andy Warhol. It couldn’t hurt!”
 

 
Douglas Walla let me know a week or so ago that Paul had entered hospice care. He died quietly today.

The visionary artist and luminary, Paul Laffoley, has died today after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He had an extraordinary grasp of multiple fields of knowledge compulsively pursing interests that often lead him into uncharted territory. His complex theoretical constructs were uniquely presented in highly detailed mandala-like canvases largely scaled to Fibonacci’s golden ratio. While an active participant in numerous speculative organizations including his own Boston Visionary Cell since the early 70s, his work began to attract an increasing following in his late career with shows at the Palais de Tokyo (2009), Hamburger Bahnhof (2011), Hayward Gallery, London, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2013). The first book on Laffoley’s oeuvre was The Phenomenology of Revelation published by Kent Fine Art in 1989, followed by several subsequent publications beginning with his first retrospective organized by the Austin Museum of Art (1999).

Forthcoming in March of 2016, the University of Chicago Press will be releasing the long awaited book entitled The Essential Paul Laffoley. He was a kind and generous giant, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Today the world lost one of its greatest minds, but it might be a few years before the world realizes this. I am gratified to know that although Paul didn’t live long enough to see the publication of the catalogue raisonné of his work, he did see the galley proofs. Doug Walla worked for decades, really, on this book and it will be an intellectual and cultural EVENT when it’s published next year, mark my words. Many years ago, I can recall discussing Paul with Doug and he told me that what drove him so hard to develop Paul’s career is how tragic it would have been if Paul died in obscurity, and was regarded historically as an “enigma” or as an outsider artist, someone like Henry Darger instead of the Ivy League-educated polymath “Sci-Fi Leonardo” that he truly was. As of today there are several books that have been published about Paul Laffoley, and there will be many more in the future and many doctoral dissertations that will be written about him. I’m sure he died with the satisfaction that his work was not only valued by mankind, but will live on with greater notoriety after his passing.
 

 
I don’t have any more words. I lost a friend today, someone I greatly admired and loved. More importantly, the world lost a great genius. The New York Times recently called Paul Laffoley “one of the most unusual creative minds of our time.”

Too true. And now he’s gone.
 

 
An overview of Paul Laffoley’s work, courtesy of yours truly…
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Sympathy For The Devil’: The True Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment


 
The Secret Teachings Of Sam Walton

How do we give form to the formless? How do we name that which is unnameable? How do we describe the indescribable? These are challenges that religion, the occult and magic have addressed since humanity first appeared on this planet. In an effort to communicate the divine, the transcendent, the psychedelic, we use devices like art and ritual. We cloak the mystical in words and images in the same way that GOD cloaks itself in the visible world to tell its story. Is life a great metaphor representing something that we cannot see, but know is there? Anyone who has had a “spiritual” experience has had a glimpse into, or a sense of, something greater that we are all a part of. Some go toward this experience alone—St. John or Jesus. Some go as a group, feeling that the odds are better that someone among them will serve as antennae, to dial into the radio of the gods and share the signal. These groups require focus and ceremony (a process) in order to cement the bonds of community, to attain a group consciousness that elevates one and all. We see this kind of collective mindset in everything from sports to business teams to religious organizations. But communities we don’t understand, that we deem weird or esoteric, we pejoratively call “cults.” The fervent devotion of sports fans, the mind-obliterating, soul-destroying Wal-Mart cheer forced upon its employees, the idolization of Steve Jobs and sheep-like behavior of Deadheads, Ben Carson and his groupies for God, all have cult-like aspects to them. But we dare not call them cults. We reserve the word to marginalize and demonize spiritual movements we do not understand or forms of art considered degenerate. “Cult” is a dirty word.

Confessions Of A Teenage Hippie Pervert

I’ve often wondered if I’ve ever been a cult member. During the Summer Of Love I lived in the Haight with a dozen or more teenagers my age who dropped acid, fucked each other and danced to psychedelic music in the glow of black lights and incense haze. We chanted “OM” and passed joints and waited for some kind of magic to happen. And it was happening. It just wasn’t the dramatic type of magic we were hoping for. I do think we collectively levitated once. I lived in a Los Gatos home owned by an ordained priest of The Church Of Tomorrow. He had the best LSD and his stream of consciousness talks seemed to be filled with all kinds of mindblowing heaviness. He had a gravitational pull that seemed superhuman. Young beautiful women flocked to him and I flocked to them. Was this a cult or was it just a groovy hangout? I lived in L.A. in 1967 and worked for a telemarketing agency (definitely a cult) and my young longhaired co-workers were the kinds of Southern California hippies that seemed more like extras from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls than actual hippies. I spent a night tripping with them in a suburban ranch house and all they talked about was having rough sex with each other involving beatings, leather and whips. I love all kinds of sex, but this talk was brutal, chilling. The words coming out of their mouths were ugly,  flailing through the room like syntactical succubi. What the fuck was I hearing? I fled the scene and ended up having a seriously intense trip in a telephone booth trying to call the only other people I knew in L.A. to come rescue me.

To this day I’m not sure that what I experienced with those “kinky perverts” actually happened. I may have been projecting my id into the situation, my repressed fantasies. After all I was raised in one of the biggest cults of them all, Catholicism. Were they a sex cult? Was what I was hearing all in my own head. Cults are crazy that way. They’re open to interpretation and are often victims of what people think they’re perceiving as opposed to what’s actually happening. Cults are often the repository for the desires we fear. And some cults are created to fuck with those fears, fantasies and projections.
 

Processeans
 
Altamont: Hitler’s Woodstock

The French surrealists and dadaists employed occult imagery to shake up the status quo.They were called a “movement.” They could have just as easily been called a cult. New York’s Living Theatre used confrontational ceremony and transgressive ritual to tear apart the restraints that bound their audiences to dead and archaic modes of thinking. As a theater group, they worked intensely and constantly with each other and often lived communally. Were they a cult? Was Altamont the biggest black mass ever held and were those of us who attended unwitting members of some kind of Satanic sacrifice? (I was there. It sure looked like Hell to me.) Is Facebook the ultimate cult, dwarfing any cult or religion known to man or woman, unstoppable in its indoctrination of every living breathing human being on this earth? I see more devotion directed toward Facebook than any religion I’ve ever encountered. More people are facing their monitor screens than Mecca or reading from their Bibles.
 

The Living Theatre

Facebook: The Bible Of The Damned

Dr. Timothy Leary was vilified for turning on a generation of young people to the vast beauty and possibilities of their own minds. Mark Zuckerberg is celebrated for reducing our consciousness to the dimensions of a 14-inch screen filled with pictures of food, cats, obituary notices and forlorn pictures of aging rock and rollers. Jesus (who had a cult of just 12) was crucified for being a weirdo. Joel Osteen has made a fortune playing Jesus in a Brooks Brothers suit. Given the choice between Aleister Crowley   or Ted Cruz for President, The Beast gets my vote. I always go with the Devil I know. They turned David Koresh and a bunch of innocent children torched to a pile of ash and yet war criminal Dick Cheney still walks among us, his mechanical heart still beating, his rictus smirk still mocking us all. Donald Rumsfeld lived in Taos, New Mexico within spitting distance of where Marshall Applewhite leader of the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult ran a health food restaurant. Did Rummy eat Beezlebub’s bean sprouts? Did he dream of weapons of mass destruction hurtling toward us like a comet. In a world where companies make billions selling video games (talk about cults) in which teenage boys roleplay as carjackers, murderers and thugs, a kid named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. The mass hypnosis taking place in this world right now makes Charles Manson look about as intimidating as Chuck Woolery. Most Americans have been, and will continue to vote for a government that is actively working against their best interests. Under what spell have we fallen? We follow blindly, faithfully, surrendering our will to higher powers, both political and religious. Welcome to the biggest cult of them all: the United States Of America. Rant over.

Crazy Wisdom Drove Me Crazy

Back in simpler days when a cult was a cult and easily identifiable—they wore robes or funny hats—a group of young men and women gathered together in 60s London to form The Process, a quasi-religious group that were part spiritual seekers, part performance art and more than a little bit rock and roll. They had long hair, were beautiful and dressed like priests styled by a Carnaby Street tailor. Their methods were a mashup of Scientology, occultism, psychedelia, pop culture and dada. The members of The Process Church Of The Final Judgement were genuinely on a path to find out the answers to life’s most profound questions: how did we get here, what are supposed to do here and where the fuck are we going? But unlike most religious folk, the members of The Process realized that the journey was the goal and didn’t have to be deadly serious. The Process was all about the process. Enjoy it. In many respects it resembled Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings on crazy wisdom. I was a student of Trungpa’s. From an idiot’s point of view, Trungpa was a cult leader.
 

Chogyam Trungpa

Attack Of The Hooded Snuffoids

In their zeal to shake things up, The Process occasionally went off the deep end and this is where they ran into problems. People, particularly the British press, could not separate the theatrical from the real. And the The Process was very theatrical. Like Antonin Artaud or Andy Kaufman, The Process was adept at elaborate mindfucking. They were the mystical turd in the very bland punch bowl of British society. In mocking religious hypocrisy, they were often mistaken for being the very thing they were mocking. Their shock tactics often backfired. Surrounding themselves with the iconography of Satanism was a heavy metal move years before Black Sabbath had ever released a record. But try explaining that to the tabloids who called them Satan worshippers and sex deviants. Or worse, Ed Sanders’ hate-filled description of The Process as “hooded snuffoids” and “an English occult society dedicated to observing and aiding the end of the world by stirring up murder, violence and chaos, and dedicated to the proposition that they shall survive the gore as the chosen people.” I’m as big a Fugs fan as anyone out there, but Sanders really missed the irony of him, of all people, writing this shit. Sanders’ band The Fugs were themselves quite skilled in the art of the mindfuck. Using majikal incantations to Egyptian gods, The Fugs attempted to levitate the Pentagon in protest of the Vietnam war. When you’ve successfully conned a con artist like Ed Sanders, you’ve managed something to be quite proud of.

Power to The Process. And Ed, to quote the title of your once infamous literary ‘zine, fuck you.
 

Ed Sanders’ exorcism chant
 
Skinny Puppy Housebroken By Satan

While I’m not an expert on any of this cult stuff, like most people, I find it immensely fascinating. The Manson Family creeps me out in ways that deeply disturb me, although groups like The Source, The Process and even Scientology provide me the kind of amusement that diffuses some of the darker shit. If you want to delve further into The Process from the point of view of someone who knows far more than me and does it objectively and with just enough wit and empathy, check out filmmaker Neil Edwards’ insightful and thoroughly entertaining new documentary Sympathy For The Devil. Full of interviews with surviving members of The Process and various experts in the field of all things “cult,” Edwards’ film will introduce you to the real truth behind the head games, rumors, bullshit and theater. And as Edwards told me, like its subject, the movie is a work in progress. There is more to be told and probably more that will never be told.
 

 
After the jump, an interview with director Neil Edwards…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Seven Up’: The mind-expanding Krautrock album Timothy Leary made on the run from the law


 
The tale of acid sage Dr. Timothy Leary’s prison escape and subsequent exile is among the most amusing stories in the annals of drug culture lore—though sentenced to an absurd twenty years for utterly petty offenses including possession of a couple of roaches, Leary was able to game the prison system: as a reputable Harvard psychologist, it happened that he himself had designed the psychological examinations he was given by prison administrators to determine his security and work situations. He got himself assigned to a cushy gardening job in a minimum security facility, from which he handily escaped, issuing an outlandish revolutionary screed to taunt authorities shortly after he fled. Via a series of sneaks involving the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, an arms dealer, and a socialite whom he eventually married (how has this not been a TV mini-series yet? Get on this, Netflix…) Leary ended up in Switzerland, where he met with the German Kosmiche band Ash Ra Tempel, with whom he recorded the album Seven Up.
 

 
Formed by musicians from Eruption and Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel mostly shunned structured songs in favor of lengthy and often downright fierce improvisations. Their albums typically featured two side-length compositions, a feral freakout on side one, and a more ambient, electronics-driven suite on the flip, presumably to help sand the edges off from side one. From Peter Buckley’s Rough Guide Rock:

Manuel Göttsching (guitar) and Hartmut Enke (bass) had played together in various psychedelic blues and pop combos for a few years before they formed Ash Ra Tempel in August 1970 with drummer/keyboardist Klaus Schultz, who had just left Tangerine Dream. The most cosmic of the Krautrock bands, Ash Ra Tempel became legendary for their wild improvisational free-form live jams, influenced by Pink Floyd but eschewing songs to take the concept of space-rock much further, enhanced by both Schultz’s and Gottsching’s interest in experimental electronic music.

Schultz soon left for a solo career but several other musicians passed through the group’s revolving door, and with some of them Göttsching and Enke recorded the amazing Schwingungen (1972). With the idea of recording the ultimate psychedelic trip, Ohr label-head Rolf Kaiser next took Ash Ra Tempel to Switzerland to party endlessly and to record the album Seven Up with LSD guru Timothy Leary, who was living there in exile. The results were a more song-orientated first section, with Leary singing, followed by several conventional rock songs melded into a single track divided by spacey electronic segues.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Paul Laffoley: Penetrating the Kitsch Barrier
09.08.2015
03:27 pm

Topics:
Art
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley
Douglas Walla


 
For those of you lucky to be in NYC this month, there’s an especially exciting new Paul Laffoley exhibit opening at Kent Fine Art (210 Eleventh Ave between 24th and 25th) in Chelsea.

“The Force Structure of the Mystical Experience” will provide a rare glimpse at some of Laffoley’s seldom-seen models and sculptures, as well as some early work from the 1960s and a few key paintings not exhibited in recent years. The artist will be present at the gallery on September 10, 11, and 12th.

An online publication for the show was edited by Douglas Walla with detailed notes from Paul Laffoley on each piece. I wrote the intro, which follows. If you would like to look at the entire full-color 132 page PDF catalog, it can be downloaded here.
 

 
Penetrating the Kitsch Barrier

How does one approach the work of Paul Laffoley?  It’s not really like anything else and doesn’t fit neatly into any easy category that the art world routinely employs.  How do you even begin to wrap your head around the vastness of his cosmic vision?

He’s not merely a painter whose work sells for six figures and has been exhibited internationally at some of the world’s best and most forward-­thinking museums, or the subject of several books, TV segments, newspaper and magazine articles. He’s also a Harvard-­trained architect who has dreamt up living buildings grown from seeds and a bridge connecting the Moon and the Earth. A philosopher. An alchemist. A science fiction-style inventor of a time machine. He speaks Latin, Greek, French, German and several other languages. Laffoley majored in the classics as an undergrad at Brown and is an expert on the most cutting­ edge and far­ out worlds of scientific discovery. I think he’s one of the great living geniuses of our time and I know that I’m not alone in that assessment.

Paul once detailed an erudite impromptu dinnertime dissertation on modern engineering by informing me that each and every futuristic invention anticipated by Jules Verne had been realized (submarines, rocket ships, space travel, etc) and that science fiction really stopped being “prophetic” around the mid 20th­century, with anything a science fiction writer could dream up eventually getting “invented” and put into mass production by a large corporation. (“How closely did the communicators on Star Trek anticipate the flip phone?” he asked.) Scoff if you will at his schematic for a gigantic genetically engineered ectoplasmic jellyfish that allows for communication with not only the dead, but the yet­-to-be­-born (for the purpose of intergenerational planning which would avert catastrophes), Leonardo’s cronies probably laughed at that crazy thing he sketched out back in the day that resembles our modern-­day helicopters. It’s all relative.

Once I described Paul in print as a Bodhisattva reincarnated in the form of a mild-mannered sci­ fi-­loving Boston architect, but years later (although I still see some value in my earlier call) I’d rather ask the reader to imagine what Buckminster Fuller would have done if he were a fine artist in addition to all that other cool stuff he got up to.
 

THE PSYCHOKENETIC WATER BALANCE: A DEVICE FOR TESTING PSYCHOKENESIS, 1980. Homage to: Isamu Noguchi [1904-1988] and Robert Hare [1781 – 1858]. Oil, acrylic, wood, wire mesh, string, shells and water. Fully hand carved, unique, 18 ½ x 35 x 17 1/2 in. 47 x 89 x 44.5 cm.
 
This is my favorite Paul Laffoley story and I think it’s particularly revealing about the way his beautiful mind works:

It was late February of 2000. I arrived home at my West Village apartment one evening to find a package waiting for me from Paul containing a most peculiar object, by name, “The Anti­kitschkitron” a “device for penetrating the kitsch barrier.” It was a small box, hand­made, black-­painted wood save for the top, which was a clear plastic sheet with a plastic bubble that read “TIME DILATION” in the Helvetica press type Laffoley is known for using. Inside were all sorts of light­-emitting diodes, circuitry, electronic capacitors and exposed wiring—­­in other words, the machine’s guts were plainly visible­­ and a coil of copper wire coming out the top with a circular sun-­like ornament affixed to it like exposed bicycle tire spokes. It seemed like something that might transmit a “beam” of an electronic or cosmic nature.

The device, which resembled some sort of curious text­-covered mutant dowsing machine, or a Star Trek version of one of Joseph Cornell’s boxes crossed with a metal detector. On the top was a big red clunky on/off switch.

Thrilled by this incredible gift, I immediately picked up the phone and dialed Paul in Boston. The ritual when calling him is that he screens all of his calls. The voice on the outgoing message is not Paul’s, and the caller is informed that he or she have reached the Boston Visionary Cell and to please leave a message after the beep—a drill developed when avoiding credit card collection agencies as he once humorously admitted to me. I started to leave a message, Paul picked up right away and I started gushing my gratitude about the amazingly weird—and absolutely beautiful—object/device that I was holding in my hand. What a thrillingly strange thing to get in the mail, I’m sure you’ll agree, but at this point I noticed that there was no obvious power source.

“Where do you put the battery?” I innocently inquired.

“Oh, there’s no battery,” he said with his strong, slightly stuttering Bostonian accent. “You know my concept of the… a… the uh.. luxe theater of the mind? Well it’s like that. You have to interact with the device and connect the circuitry to your mind, um, uh, in that way.”

I paused for a moment before mentally recalibrating and moving myself as much as possible into Paul’s philosophical framework before (I thought) redeeming myself with “Okay, so it’s like like Yoko Ono’s “Box of Smile” where you open it up, you see that there is a mirror inside and invariably everyone who interacts with the piece smiles, right?”

“Well, yes…” he said slowly, indicating a “yes” that was about to be uniquely qualified, “...but with my device, you have to actually turn it on.”
 

 
The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell, an oversized, comprehensive, annotated catalogue raisonné edited by Laffoley’s longtime friend and gallerist Douglas Walla, with several essays by the artist and others, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Spring 2016. I have a B&W print-out of the book and it’s one of the most exciting and stunning art books I’ve ever seen. Mark my words, it’ll be a cultural event when this book comes out. It’s TIME for it.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Juror wears Metallica ‘electric chair’ shirt to Aurora theater murder trial
07.25.2015
01:25 pm

Topics:
Music
Stupid or Evil?
Thinkers

Tags:
Metallica
Shooting
trial


 
There’s a metalhead in the jury box of the Aurora mass shooting trial and the news is on it!

Colorado’s News 9 reports that an alternate juror in the mass murder trial against James Holmes wore a Metallica Ride The Lightning t-shirt which may have been in violation of a court order banning display of clothing which may influence the jury.

Neither the judge nor lawyers appeared to notice the shirt worn by juror 983, which features bolts of lightning hitting an empty electric chair on the front and the skeletal remains of a prisoner being electrocuted on the back side.

Judge Carlos Samour has “strictly prohibited” from his courtroom the “display of insignias, symbols, pictures, clothing, or any other items that may influence the jury” in an order that appears on a laminated placard in front of every spectator seat in court.

Since the matter was never brought up on the record Thursday, we don’t know whether the judge would have found the attire in violation of his order.

On Thursday, the 12 deliberating jurors delivered a verdict on aggravating factors, the first of three possible phases in the death penalty sentencing hearing.

Juror 983, who has sported heavy-metal themed tees in court before, is not on the panel of 12, but could be called on to deliberate if a juror should be excused for any reason.

The Metallica track “Ride The Lightning” is written from the point of view of a prisoner awaiting death by electrocution. According to James Hetfield, the song “was not a criticism of capital punishment, which I’m actually a supporter of. Rather, it’s simply about a man who faces death in the electric chair for a crime he didn’t commit.”

We’re guessing Juror 983 didn’t put that much thought into it.

We’d like to see “justice for all” in this case.
 

 
Via: News 9

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Real total war has become information war’: ‘This Is Marshall McLuhan’ wild experimental NBC TV doc
04.15.2015
04:01 pm

Topics:
Media
Television
Thinkers

Tags:
Marshall McLuhan


 
In the 60s and the 70s, Marshall McLuhan, the pithy and eminently quotable Canadian philosopher of media and electronic communications occupied a rarefied niche (along with R. Buckminster Fuller) that really doesn’t seem to exist much in American culture anymore, that of the “public intellectual.” More to the point, McLuhan, who never met a TV camera he didn’t take an immediate liking to, was an intellectual celebrity.

Marshall McLuhan was once such a ubiquitous part of the media landscape that you could turn on the TV and see him hamming it up on the Today show or read Sunday funnies where cartoon characters debated his ideas. McLuhan even appeared as himself, employed as a human punchline in Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning Annie Hall. These days only someone like Slavoj Žižek has anything even close to that same sort of “smart guy” star power, but it’s difficult to imagine NBC devoting an entire hour to his work, like they did with 1967’s This Is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium Is the Massage.
 

 
An episode of the NBC Experiment in Television series, this was in fact pretty experimental stuff. A quasi-documentary cum visual essay (based on McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore’s best-selling coffee table book, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects) it was heady and decidedly avant garde programming for middle America in 1967. Just how avant garde was it you ask? Well, it’s got Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman in it for starters. She’s not playing her cello topless here of course, but is seen wrapped in plastic. Artist Allan Kaprow, father of “the Happening” also makes an appearance. There’s a long quoted passage from John Cage and the piece is littered with Pop art trappings and evocative visuals. The producers, Ernest Pintoff and Guy Fraumeni, were obviously making a sincere effort to be forward-thinking. And it was, and is still very much a satisfying viewing experience nearly half a century later. The only thing I can think of today that would be similar in any way would be one of Adam Curtis’ films. (There’s one section where the VO discusses how all pervasive the mediasphere is on all of our lives while onscreen hands are seen kneading dough as a stand-in for our collective brains. It practically screams Adam Curtis.)

McLuhan reveals that many of the subjects he investigates are things that he in fact finds irritating and exasperating, causing him to wish to mentally “take apart” things like television and radio. It’s might seem counterintuitive to view him as a Luddite, yet here he all but describes himself that way (which makes him even more fascinating, if you ask me.)
 

 
Topics include the “causes” of go-go dancing and “the discothèque,” the passing of one style of humor in favor of one favored by younger people (Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and Bill “My name — José Jiménez” Dana are shown as examples of the new!), how politics had become show business, why teens often seek out corporate involvement for their fashion trends, the influence of the Beatles, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and Pablo Picasso, how images of abundance (things as commonplace to us as refrigerators) seen worldwide via our television programs would have inevitable and far-reaching consequences in poorer nations who would perceive themselves as deprived of something which they would then aspire to.
 

The Velvet Underground and Nico make an appearance in McLuhan and Fiore’s book in this two page spread.

We hear McLuhan’s blunt musings on the Vietnam War, the first televised war, which the nation was then in the middle of. Also touched upon is how the media revolution would eliminate entire classes of jobs. That would have seemed an eerie thought at the time, a sci-fi prediction if you will, but flash forward to today and we’re living in that future.

As Tom Wolfe once asked “What…if…he…is…right?” In retrospect, McLuhan was right about practically everything! From the perch of nearly fifty years ago, he was extraordinarily prescient. His track record as a futurist is much better than… well, anyone’s, when you get right down to it.
 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Dr. Timothy Leary, MTV VJ
02.27.2015
08:55 am

Topics:
Drugs
Music
Television
Thinkers

Tags:
Timothy Leary
MTV


 
In 1987, Dr. Timothy Leary paid a visit to MTV to be a guest VJ. He had a few more IQ points than some of their regular contributors. It’s a treat to hear him set up the video for Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”:

Now this is a real heavy one—I don’t know what this means. It has something to do with the third world and the exploitation by the first world and our hopes that the third world will get behind the camera and start becoming part of the cybernetic age. I don’t know. Watch it and make up your own mind. It’s a good tune.

Leary also talks about playing percussion on “Give Peace A Chance,” shows off some early CGI in the video for “Hard Woman” from Mick Jagger’s unloved She’s the Boss, and shares his thoughts on Nancy Reagan’s drug policy. It ends with a spectacular Ike and Tina Turner rendition of “Proud Mary” that’s worth sticking around for.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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