‘Henry Miller, Asleep And Awake’: 1975 documentary
10.13.2010
12:35 pm

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Henry Miller

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Henry Miller, Asleep And Awake is a charming visit with the Buddha of Brooklyn.

Tom Schiller’s 1975 documentary follows Miller from the microcosmos of his very own shit-hole to a mock-up 1890s New York of his childhood—or “that old shit-hole, New York’” (in fact the set for Hello Dolly, with Barbra Streisand & Walter Matthau, 1969). Schiller describes his documentary this way: ‘A guided tour of the pictures and artifacts of his bathroom’ ... though it feels to be very much more than that.

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Alejandro Jodorowsky interview on BBC TV 1991

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British TV personality Jonathan Ross interviews Alejandro Jodorowsky on the BBC in 1991. Jodowsky had released Sante Sangre a year earlier and had just completed The Rainbow Thief when this show was filmed.

“Most directors make films with their eyes; I make films with my testicles.”

“I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs.”
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Sun Ra: Rocket Number Nine 7” single (1968)
10.12.2010
10:19 am

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Sun Ra
Rocket Number Nine

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Sun Ra’s Rocket Number Nine is an exuberant, joyfully child-like expression of excitement at the notion of space travel. It is one amongst many catchy anthems the man created during his time on Earth. This version from a 1968 self-released 7” single and compiled on the wonderful 1996 double CD Sun Ra: The Singles is probably my favorite. Slowed down to a New Orleans swagger, I could listen to that glorious Monk-esque riff all day long.
 

 
Hear a few more versions of Rocket Number Nine by Sun Ra after the jump…

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
B. S. Johnson: ‘The Unfortunates’

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The experimental writer, novelist, poet and film-maker, Bryan Stanley Johnson was born in February 1933. He was the author of several highly original and important works of modern literature, of which the autobiographical Alberto Angelo (a novel that had holes cut in the text to give a premonition of what was to come); the sinister and darkly comic House Mother Normal ( a novel split into equal internal monologues, except the last, which turns the story on its head); the brilliant and hilarious Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry (a novel Auberon Waugh declared should win Johnson the Nobel Prize); and The Unfortunates are amongst his most acclaimed and best known. 

In 1968, Johnson was approached by the BBC to make a short documentary about his latest book The Unfortunates - a novel split into twenty-seven separate sections contained in a box, of which only the first and last were to be read in order, with those in-between were to be read in any order of the reader’s choosing.

The story dealt with Johnson’s visit to Nottingham to cover a soccer match, and his memories and thoughts on the death by cancer of his closest and most trusted friend, Terry Tillinghast.  The structure of The Unfortunates, or the book in a box, was a “a physical metaphor for randomness….I wanted the novel to be a transcript or version of how my mind worked in this random way.”

As both novel and documentary film, The Unfortunates is a powerfully moving and intelligent meditation on death, drawing reader and viewer into a contemplation of their own existence.
 

 
Bonus clip of B. S. Johnson’s ‘The Unfortunates’ after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Leaving your holes open with Captain Beefheart: 1969 interview LP

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And the Beefheart mania continues in the Laner household: Long a treasured possesion of mine, this is a very amusing promo only interview LP conducted by one Meatball Fulton in July 1969. There are other poor quality versions of this floating around the innerwebs including this link to the full, unedited thing which is in the blasted RealAudio format and alas wouldn’t play for me, but this pristine copy is straight from my personal copy of the LP. Enjoy !
 

 
Much more Beefheartian wisdom after the jump…

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
Creative, Intellectual Lives are Not Self-Indulgent
10.04.2010
09:30 am

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William Deresiewicz

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Wonderful and thought-provoking essay at The Chronicle of Higher Eduction website from Nation/New Republic contributor, William Deresiewicz about not boxing yourself and your life into what others think you should do with your short time on this planet. You will only ever get one life, so live it wisely, but of course, that’s easier said than done and Deresiewicz counsels constantly questioning the choices you’ve made and not being afraid to face up to what your heart desires.

This was adapted from a talk delivered to a freshman class at Stanford University in May, 2010 and comes near the end. Absolutely worth reading, no matter if you are a student or a senior citizen. A straight life and a job or career is not for everyone and Deresiewicz, while not exactly saying “fly your freak flag high,” offers much to ponder here for iconoclastic and creative personalities who might be pressured to conform:

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce has Stephen Dedalus famously say, about growing up in Ireland in the late 19th century, “When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.”

Today there are other nets. One of those nets is a term that I’ve heard again and again as I’ve talked with students about these things. That term is “self-indulgent.” “Isn’t it self-indulgent to try to live the life of the mind when there are so many other things I could be doing with my degree?” “Wouldn’t it be self-indulgent to pursue painting after I graduate instead of getting a real job?”

These are the kinds of questions that young people find themselves being asked today if they even think about doing something a little bit different. Even worse, the kinds of questions they are made to feel compelled to ask themselves. Many students have spoken to me, as they navigated their senior years, about the pressure they felt from their peers—from their peers—to justify a creative or intellectual life. You’re made to feel like you’re crazy: crazy to forsake the sure thing, crazy to think it could work, crazy to imagine that you even have a right to try.

Think of what we’ve come to. It is one of the great testaments to the intellectual—and moral, and spiritual—poverty of American society that it makes its most intelligent young people feel like they’re being self-indulgent if they pursue their curiosity. You are all told that you’re supposed to go to college, but you’re also told that you’re being “self-indulgent” if you actually want to get an education. Or even worse, give yourself one. As opposed to what? Going into consulting isn’t self-indulgent? Going into finance isn’t self-indulgent? Going into law, like most of the people who do, in order to make yourself rich, isn’t self-indulgent? It’s not OK to play music, or write essays, because what good does that really do anyone, but it is OK to work for a hedge fund. It’s selfish to pursue your passion, unless it’s also going to make you a lot of money, in which case it’s not selfish at all.

Do you see how absurd this is? But these are the nets that are flung at you, and this is what I mean by the need for courage. And it’s a never-ending proc ess. At that Harvard event two years ago, one person said, about my assertion that college students needed to keep rethinking the decisions they’ve made about their lives, “We already made our decisions, back in middle school, when we decided to be the kind of high achievers who get into Harvard.” And I thought, who wants to live with the decisions that they made when they were 12? Let me put that another way. Who wants to let a 12-year-old decide what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives? Or a 19-year-old, for that matter?

 
Read the entire essay: What Are You Going to Do With That? (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Joey Ramone sings John Cage
09.28.2010
09:11 am

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John Cage
Joey Ramone

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Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Here’s the late, great Joey Ramone doing a smashing job of singing the beautiful early John Cage piece The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs which is itself based on text by James Joyce. This comes from an Italian Cage tribute LP from the early 90’s that I was previously unaware of which also features a ton of other luminaries such as DM super-pal Ann Magnuson, David Byrne, Debbie Harry, John Zorn, etc.
 

 
Hear Robert Wyatt and Cathy Berberian’s versions of the same song after the jump…

Posted by Brad Laner | Discussion
Killin’ It! with Paul Crik goes International!
09.28.2010
07:39 am

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Paul Crik

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Surreal self-help guru Paul Crik’s been killin’ it lately with his basically nonsensical New Agey affirmations taking the online world by storm. This weekend, “Killin’ It with Paul Crik” was Johnny Dee’s top Internet pick of the week at the Guardian:

Killin’ It, in the words of internet philosopher Paul Crik, is “the soughtafter peaceful union of the free individual with functioning society” or perhaps “spiritual fullness unfettered by the reigns of institutionalism”. It is also Roger Federer’s audacious between-his-legs shot at the US Open or the woman who grew her fingertip back. Delivered in a series of blog entries and short YouTube clips, Crik may be taking a comedic swipe at America’s self-help industry, but he’s still full of life-enhancing brainhacks. Any situation, he says, can be faced by remembering three key phrases: “this is it”, “fuck it” and “it is what it is”; oh, and it’s important that you have all three phrases “in your heart”. Elsewhere he’s a bit more blatant, encouraging swearing at babies and comparing Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones to Yosemite Sam. Just by visiting this website you will, in fact, be killin’ it.

Agreed! Here’s his latest, a meditation on passive-aggressive behavior wherein Paul takes a deeper look at himself:
 

 
Follow Paul Crik on Twitter

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Jill Johnston: hardcore high priestess of the lesbian nation, R.I.P.
09.21.2010
12:37 am

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Literature
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Jill Johnston

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Jill Johnston, a longtime cultural critic for The Village Voice whose daring, experimental prose style mirrored the avant-garde art she covered and whose book “Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution”spearheaded the lesbian separatist movement of the early 1970s, died in Hartford on Saturday. She was 81 and lived in Sharon, Conn.” New York Times

I read Jill’s Village Voice column religiously in the 1970s. She was an outlaw and she captured my heart and mind. She once described her style of writing as “east west flower child beat hip psychedelic paradise now love peace do your own thing approach to the revolution.” Her book ‘Lesbian Nation’ (1973) had a huge influence on me and the way I approached the word, the world and women. Like Bukowski and Lester Bangs, Jill’s prose was energetic, alive and provocative. As a young man, reading her essays on the feminist movement, sexual politics and lesbianism wasn’t an act of penance for being male, they were exhilarating, a punk rock call to arms that transcended the subject of sexual identity and became a universal “fuck you” to stale attitudes and broken down systems of thought. Johnston was my hero. The dyke of my dreams.

This video clip is from D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus documentary Town Bloody Hall.

At a debate on feminism at Town Hall in Manhattan in 1971, with Germaine Greer, Diana Trilling and Jacqueline Ceballos of the National Organization for Women sharing the platform with Norman Mailer, the moderator, and with a good number of the New York intelligentsia in attendance, Jill Johnston caused one of the great scandals of the period. After reciting a feminist-lesbian poetic manifesto and announcing that “all women are lesbians except those that don’t know it yet,” Ms. Johnston was joined onstage by two women. The three, all friends, began kissing and hugging ardently, upright at first but soon rolling on the floor. Mailer, appalled, begged the women to stop. “Come on, Jill, be a lady,” he sputtered. The filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker captured the event in the documentary “Town Bloody Hall,” released in 1979. Mary V. Dearborn, in her biography of Mailer, called the evening “surely one of the most singular intellectual events of the time, and a landmark in the emergence of feminism as a major force.”

Jill Johnston was a revolutionary with a take no prisoners approach and an enormous sense of humor. I will miss you, my sister.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Sigmund Freud’s ‘thinking cap’

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Hand-sculpted illustration by artist Jessica Fortner.

Freud Puts On His Thinking Cap

(via EPICponyz)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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