Like many of you out there, we here at Dangerous Minds are waiting patiently (or not so patiently as the case might be) for the DVD and Blu-ray release of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s fantastic (in every way) film Santa Sangre from the fine folks at Severin Films (you can also blame them for Birdemic), due to drop this month. In an effort to sate your Jodorowsky fever, here’s a link to a blog with several dozen examples of Jodorowsky’s Sunday comic, Fabulas panicas, written, drawn and colored by the great filmmaker, writer, composer and shaman in the years between 1967 and 1973 for the rightwing Mexican newspaper, El Heraldo de México.
Like most of Jodorowsky’s work, these comics aim to teach a life lesson or produce a psychological epiphany in the reader. Can you imagine how much the original panels would be worth, and will be worth in the future? Hopefully while Alejandro Jodorowsky is still living, a museum level survey of his graphic work will occur. It’s a honor he richly deserves.
347 of the Fabulas panicas strips appear in a book published by Grijalbo.
Poet, pilgrim, spiritual warrior and prisoners’ rights activist, Janine Pommy Vega has passed on.
Janine Pommy Vega, a poet and intimate of the Beat generation luminaries Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky whose lifelong quest for transcendence took her to San Francisco in the 1960s and on a pilgrimage to neolithic goddess-worship sites in the 1980s, died on Dec. 23 at her home in Willow, N.Y. She was 68.”
In the early 1970s, I was involved in a literary scene in Boulder, Colorado revolving around the Jack Kerouac School Of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute. At the time, I was managing the Hotel Boulderado, a funky century old building in the middle of downtown Boulder. Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs were staying at the Boulderado and it was through Ginsberg that I came to know the poetry of Janine Pommy Vega. While visiting Allen, I noticed a copy of “Poems to Fernando” by Vega sitting on the desk in Allen’s room. It was a City Lights publication and I was reading everything that Lawrence Ferlinghetti published. Plus, the fact that Ginsberg had it in his possession was more than enough to make me immediately seek the book out. Reading it was the beginning of my being enthralled by Vega’s poetry and prose and an awakening to the beauty of the goddess unleashed.
In addition to being a stellar writer, Vega was one of the few women of the Beat Generation who held her own in a male dominated scene. Along with Diane di Prima, she would break down walls that existed even in the so-called counter culture. Vega opened up pathways that Patti Smith, Lydia Lunch and Exene Cervenka would later walk.
Peter Orlovsky was her first lover at a tender age. They lived together and she confronted the complicated sexuality and male chauvinist ethos early on when Allen took Peter off to India, with nary a thought to her feelings. “Is this the way it is with the poets? This is my first lover and this is the way it goes? Fuck those people, man, I don’t want to know about the writers. I rather meet the painters, the musician, the magicians, let’s get to the street.” And meet them and the street she did. Janine was a populist, a street fighter, a survivor, a world traveler and hugely prolific writer many decades. Tracking The Serpent: Journeys to Four Continents is an amazing account of an adventuresome life. She spent the last 11 years with poet Andy Clausen, tending her garden when she wasn’t traveling the world performing her magnetic and politically engaged poetry, and doing the scholarly work as well, burning the midnight oil. Even after being hampered with debilitating arthritis she was out on the road, her uplifted voice and spirit cutting through anyone’s gloom.”
In this video from 1981, Pennsylvania State Trooper Charles Ash discusses music and drugs with Frank Zappa at Manhattan’s Mayfair Regent Hotel.
The video was part of an anti-drug campaign developed for the Pennsylvania public school system. I’m not sure that Zappa’s comments about legalizing drugs is exactly what Ash was hoping for, but the Officer seems so pleased to be in Zappa’s presence he goes along for the ride.
Watching a cop in uniform telling Zappa “the LP you have out right now, ‘One Size Fits All,’ is a personal favorite of mine” is mildly jaw-dropping. Who are the brain police?
I’ve always found it ironic that Zappa was never into drugs and yet his 1966 debut album Freak Out! was a magnet for acidheads everywhere. How many teenyboppers burned that album’s cover into their retinal tissue while tripping on Purple Owsley? It wasn’t until “We’re Only In It For The Money” that some hippies started to figure out that Zappa was satirizing the counter culture as well as “straights.” The joke was on everybody. “What will you do when the label comes off?”
Pianist Billy Taylor died yesterday at age 89, leaving a lasting legacy as America’s consummate jazz advocate.
Soon after getting his degree in Music Education, the Washington D.C.-raised Taylor became the house pianist at New York’s legendary Birdland, where he stayed throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s, playing with Bird, Dizzy and Miles and solidifying his role as a fixture and statesman in the city’s jazz scene.
But Taylor is perhaps best known as this country’s premier jazz educator, among the first to declare jazz “America’s classical music.” His long-running Jazzmobile project has produced concerts and educational programs throughout the American Eastern seaboard for 45 years.
Taylor was also the first to bring jazz thought and theory to mainstream American radio and TV. He was the jazz correspondent on CBS News Sunday Morning and on NPR.
But before all that, as the McCarthy era faded and Jim Crow was on its last gasp, Taylor was music director on an NBC show called The Subject is Jazz, which ran in 1958.
After the jump: Watch Nina Simone sing the Taylor-penned Civil Rights movement anthem “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”…
“Naturally, love’s the most distant possibility”—Georges Bataille
Georges Bataille—the French academic and author of Story of the Eye, the pervy, transgressive erotic novel beloved by Susan Sontag, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida—was only interviewed on television one time, in 1958. It’s fairly easy to see why after viewing this clip! Seen here, Georges Bataille discusses his book Literature And Evil with interviewer Pierre Dumayet.
Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’F—ing fly then you lunatic.”
This, is of course a spirituality issue, religion is a different matter. As an atheist, I see nothing “wrong” in believing in a god. I don’t think there is a god, but belief in him does no harm. If it helps you in any way, then that’s fine with me. It’s when belief starts infringing on other people’s rights when it worries me. I would never deny your right to believe in a god. I would just rather you didn’t kill people who believe in a different god, say. Or stone someone to death because your rulebook says their sexuality is immoral. It’s strange that anyone who believes that an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens, would also want to judge and punish people for what they are. From what I can gather, pretty much the worst type of person you can be is an atheist. The first four commandments hammer this point home. There is a god, I’m him, no one else is, you’re not as good and don’t forget it. (Don’t murder anyone, doesn’t get a mention till number 6.)
When confronted with anyone who holds my lack of religious faith in such contempt, I say, “It’s the way God made me.”
A must-read article from The New York Times about brilliant, 70-year-old physicist Geoffrey West, who has found a way to crack the code of what happens when population density occurs. West, has, in essence, turned the concept of a “city” into an elegant mathematical formula:
After two years of analysis, West and Bettencourt discovered that all of these urban variables could be described by a few exquisitely simple equations. For example, if they know the population of a metropolitan area in a given country, they can estimate, with approximately 85 percent accuracy, its average income and the dimensions of its sewer system. These are the laws, they say, that automatically emerge whenever people “agglomerate,” cramming themselves into apartment buildings and subway cars. It doesn’t matter if the place is Manhattan or Manhattan, Kan.: the urban patterns remain the same. West isn’t shy about describing the magnitude of this accomplishment. “What we found are the constants that describe every city,” he says. “I can take these laws and make precise predictions about the number of violent crimes and the surface area of roads in a city in Japan with 200,000 people. I don’t know anything about this city or even where it is or its history, but I can tell you all about it. And the reason I can do that is because every city is really the same.” After a pause, as if reflecting on his hyperbole, West adds: “Look, we all know that every city is unique. That’s all we talk about when we talk about cities, those things that make New York different from L.A., or Tokyo different from Albuquerque. But focusing on those differences misses the point. Sure, there are differences, but different from what? We’ve found the what.”
It caused nausea and vomiting when first shown at the Cinephone, Oxford Street, in London. Some of the audience demanded their money back, others hurled abuse and shouted “That’s sick,” and ““Its disgusting.” This was the idea, as writer William Burroughs and producer, Antony Balch wanted to achieve a complete “disorientation of the senses.”
Balch had a hard-on for the weird, unusual and sometimes depraved. It was a predilection born from his love of horror films - one compounded when as a child he met his idol, Bela Lugosi, the olde Austro-Hungarian junkie, who was touring Britain with the stage show that had made him famous, Dracula. Film was a love affair that lasted all of Balch’s life.
He also had a knack of making friends with the right people at the right time. In Paris he met and hung out with the artist Brion Gysin and druggie, Glaswegian Beat writer, Alexander Trocchi, who was then writing porn and editing a literary mag called Merlin, along with the likes of Christopher Logue. Through them, Balch met the two men who changed his life, Burroughs and Kenneth Anger.
Anger helped Balch with his ambitions as a cinema distributor, getting him a copy of Todd Browning’s classic Freaks, which was banned the UK, at that time. Balch paid Anger back when he later released his apocalyptic Invocation of My Demon Brother as a support feature.
Burroughs offered Balch something different - the opportunity to collaborate and make their own films. This they did, first with Towers Open Fire, an accessible montage of Burroughs’ routines, recorded on a Grundig tape recorder, cut-up to Balch’s filmed and found images of a “crumbling society.” Put together stuff like this and the chattering classes will always take you seriously. But don’t doubt it, for it was good.
But it was their second collaboration, Cut Ups which for me is far more interesting and proved far more controversial. Cut Ups was originally intended as a documentary called Guerilla Conditions, and was filmed between 1961 and 1965 in Tangiers and Paris. It included some footage from Balch’s aborted attempt to film the unfilmable Naked Lunch. The finished material was collated and then conventionally edited - but the process didn’t stop there, no. For Balch divided the finshed film into four sections of equal length, and then...
Gary Valentine (birth name Gary Lachman) was a founding member of Blondie, playing bass with the group from 1975 to ‘77. He wrote one of the band’s defining songs ‘X Offender’ and one of their biggest hits, ‘(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear’. He went on to form his own band The Know in 1978 and briefly played guitar with Iggy Pop in 1981.
Valentine became a dedicated writer in 1996 and published his first book ‘Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius’ in 2001. His memoir ‘New York Rocker: My Life in The Blank Generation’ is one of the few accounts of the NY punk scene that gets it right. Since then he’s published a series of books on the occult, philosophy, psychology, suicide and politics. In this interview with Cherry Red Records’ Iain McNay, Gary discusses his musical past and his life long interest in the inner workings of the human psyche.