For those with an interest in Aleister Crowley, the Occult, and all things Thelemic, then the U.S. Grand Lodge, Ordo Templi Orientis, have a series of fascinating podcasts available called Thelema Now!. The most recent interview was with Harvey Bialy, a writer, visual artist, and biologist, who talked about putting together a Crowley-centered art show in Los Angeles, his blog, and the early days of the Occult.
Other podcasts in the series include:
Authors J. Daniel Gunther and James Wasserman discuss what it took to create the book Pythagoras: His Life and Teachings, by Thomas Stanley. Pythagoras was first published in 1687 in Thomas Stanley’s massive tome, The History of Philosophy and J. Daniel and James undertook bringing Pythagoras to the masses.
Musician Daniel Ash of Bauhaus/Love & Rockets/Tones On Tail talks about motorcycles, new music, motorcycles, Buddhism, motorcycles, reincarnation and motorcycles.
Ever wonder what the New York City occult scene was like in the 70’s? The Bells of Hell? The Warlock Shop? The Necronomicon? Wonder no more! Acclaimed author Peter Levenda explains it all for you! In this interview, Peter also discusses looking for Nazis in Chile and the secret life of John McCain.
Our mission is to provide listeners with interesting, informative, thought-provoking interviews featuring individuals involved in myriad realms of mysticism, spirituality and magical theory and practice: authors, sorcerers, academics, entertainers. We’ll be looking into everything except inter and intra organizational politics as that’s ground very thoroughly tilled by other programs.
“Hi, I am a 37 year old, single male hoarder looking for a housemate. I have a two-bedroom, one bathroom house in the Silverlake/Los Feliz area of Los Angeles (pictures below). I am looking for someone to help with the rent and bills. Price is negotiable.
Please, no drugs or smoking in the house, or any late night guests or parties. No pets. Perfect for a college/grad student.”
NO PETS?!?!? And WHO would bring someone over to this dump in the first place? WOW!
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:
We’ve sorta banned the word “rare” here at Dangerous Minds, because, let’s face it, nothing’s really rare anymore in the digital age. Nothing. Something might be “seldom seen” (we’ll be using that one a lot at DM) but “rare”? Nah, not in this century, bubbee. If there was ever more than two copies of something made, trust me, it’s out there somewhere in cyberspace, and can be located and downloaded with a little effort. Some of the seriously specialist “art house” and “cult movie” torrent trackers have shit so obscure and previously hard to find, that the word “rare,” especially when it comes to digital media just ought to be retired.
How rare or scare can something you don’t even need to move your ass off the chair for (and is normally free, for that matter) be???
It used to be that certain things were difficult to see, but no more. What about, say, the X-rated Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues. Once one of the rarest of the rare (at least for a watchable copy) during the heyday of the 80s VHS tape trading underground, you can now probably find close to 10,000 torrent files out there in the hinterlands of the Internet. It used to be on YouTube, for fuck’s sake. And again, it’s gone from “rare” to… ahem… free.
Warhol films? That’s easy.
Whenever I’m trying to get across to someone new to the idea of what bit torrent has to offer and exactly what kind of cinematic rarities are out there, the example I usually whip out is Jack Smith’s campy, pervy underground classic from 1963, Flaming Creatures. How many celluloid copies of this film ever existed in the first place? We know that some prints were seized in police obscenity raids, but considering how few places there ever were, historically, to legally be able (and willing) to screen such a confrontational film—subterranean Times Square pre-Stonewall gay porno theaters is the answer—I’d wager fewer than five prints maybe? Flaming Creatures was the limit test case for a rare cult movie. Outside of some institution showing it, or snagging a personal screening as a film scholar at Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan, you could pretty much forget about ever seeing Flaming Creatures.
Until fairly recently. It was even shown on French television.
When Flaming Creatures and another of Jack Smith’s films, Normal Love, were posted on Ubu website, I recall thinking that the paradigm of “rare” was well and truly dead. Another legendary movie that I’d always wanted to see was the At Folsom Prison with Dr, Timothy Leary film, and that I was able to embed in a blog post here last week. Like I was saying, nothing is rare anymore and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Which brings me to George Kuchar and Mike Kuchar, deviant twin filmmakers whose work also used to be difficult to view, but not anymore. The Kuchar Brothers were among the original indie mavericks of 60s cinema. But if you are thinking in terms of a young Martin Scorsese or Roger Corman, guess again. Troma before Troma, would be closer to the mark.
The Kuchar Brothers made silly, smutty, no budget, overblown melodramas and Sci-Fi epics that were part of the “Underground” film movement of the time. Their nearest contemporaries were Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger and Stan Brakhage, but the space between a Douglas Sirk drama and Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space would seem to nicely define the campy aesthetic continuum the Kuchar’s films exist in. John Waters claims the Kuchar Brothers were bigger influences on him than Warhol, Kenneth Anger or even The Wizard of Oz in his introduction to their (amazing) 1997 book Reflections from a Cinematic Cesspool.
In a time long before YouTube, the Kuchar Brothers borrowed their aunt’s Super-8mm camera at the age of 12 and began making their films: poorly-acted, cheapo productions as much parodies as homages to the Technicolor movies they grew up watching in the 1950’s. The sweetly oddball Kuchar sensibility was also informed by the SF underground comix scene (via friends Art Spiegelman and Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith) when George ended up teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute. George, the more prolific of the twins, has made over 200 films, mostly with the help of his SFAI students, with memorable titles such as I Was A Teenage Rumpot, Pussy On A Hot Tin Roof, Corruption Of The Damned, Hold Me While I’m Naked, Color Me Shameless and House Of The White People. His best known film is probably the short, Hold Me While I’m Naked.
Mike Kuchar, often in collaboration with his brother and his brother’s students, made films with tiles like Sins of the Fleshapoids, The Secret Of Wendel Samson and The Craven Sluck. He also made an amazing short with Dangerous Minds pal, Kembra Pfhaler called The Blue Banshee and collaborated with gay German underground auteur Rosa von Praunheim.
These days, rare no more, the films of the Kuchar Brothers can be purchased on DVD, downloaded for free from Ubu’s website and are posted on YouTube. There’s even a documentary, 2009’s It Came From Kuchar, which you can stream on Netflix’s VOD. Below, 1966’s Hold Me While I’m Naked:
Dangerous Minds pal Steven Daly sent this Hollywood Reporter article my way this morning about a novel new way the beleaguered video rental store industry is fighting the severe downtown in their fortunes. With Hollywood Video and Blockbuster getting crowed out of the marketplace by bit torrent, VOD, Netflix and Red Box, how will the “mom-n-pop” indies survive? Well, that’s an interesting question and no, it’s not April Fools Day, either:
“Please enjoy the movie. Would you like a tan with that?”
At the rate big video-rental chains are closing up their shops, the 10,000 or so independently owned stores are getting creative to ensure they don’t suffer a similar fate. Combining movie rentals with tanning beds is one popular move.
More than 3,500 independently owned video-rental stores have added a tanning salon to their stores, estimated Ted Engen, president of the Video Buyers Group, an industry trade association.
A good tanning bed—one that consumers won’t mind paying about 50 cents a minute to use—can cost up to $15,000. Despite the hefty upfront cost and fattened energy bills, rental time combined with ancillary product sales like suntan lotion translate into a profitable business.
Engen said peak hours, days and seasons for tanning coincide nicely with the slow times in the movie-rental business, so traffic is drawn to the combo stores fairly consistently. A store with a half-dozen beds typically will garner 40% of its revenue from tanning and 60% from DVDs.
Video Rental Stores’ Bizarre Survival Strategy (THR)
Chicago-based Iraqi director Usama Alshaibi seems to be one of the most prolific Arab filmmakers in the American independent film scene—and he’s almost certainly the most experimental. Working often in close collaboration with his wife Kristie, Alshaibi has jump-started the canon of what we might term transgressive Arab-American film.
In his over 50 short films, Alshaibi has updated the techniques of transgressors like William Burroughs and Kenneth Anger to transmit his obsessions with culture-clash, technology, religion, violence, sexuality and identity. He’s finished four features, two of which deal with porn and STDs, one with cross-cultural relationships and another with the personal reality of post-Saddam Iraq. He has three in production or post-production now, two of which—American Arab and Baghdad, Iowa—portray growing up Arab in the heartland in the in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and today, and the third, Profane, about a Muslim dominatrix in spiritual crisis.
As the news media shamelessly reduces the complex relationship between America and its Arab and Muslim communities into a dopey controversy over where to build a friggin’ cultural center or mosque, we need the perspective and imagination of Alshaibi’s work now more than ever.
Like most hard-working indie filmmakers, Alshaibi can always use financial help making his vision manifest. Click to donate to help him finish Profane or American Arab.
After the jump, check out a clip from American Arab…
I lived in Northern New Mexico during the late 1960’s and from 2003 to 2008, right at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo (blood of Christ) mountain range. This is an area that has drawn artists, outlaws, visionaries and lost souls for decades, from D.H. Lawrence to Dennis Hopper to the New Buffalo Commune and the Rainbow Tribe. The mountains are thought to have mystical powers, both good and bad. It is said they can mess with a man’s mind. I lived in Taos, which a friend once called “the world’s largest open air mental institution”, and I saw the flow of neo-hippies coming into town blending with the old guard who had been living there for decades. It was a wild mix of 1960’s Aquarian Age values and a kind of longhair punk nihilism - a fascinating blend turning a bit moldy at the edges and slightly rotten at the core.
Dennis Hopper was busted in the mid-1960’S in Taos for walking into a town council meeting brandishing a shotgun.
Shot in New Mexico, the “fat Jew on shrooms” video (Rob Tyner, is that you?) is a comically surreal version of the kind of madness you’ll find in the high desert, on the mesas and in the bloody mountains. The altitude can turn a simple psychedelic trip into something straight out of a Castaneda book and, in this dude’s case, something gonzo from Hunter Thompson. I don’t know how ‘real’ it is, but at 10,000 feet above sea level shit happens. Whether shroom boy is having a bonafide mystical experience or just going apeshit for the camera doesn’t matter. It’s the vibe, man. And the vibe is spooky.
In New Mexico, guns, pot and longhair are totems of some new bizarre breed of hippie outlaw.
The other video included here is from a film called “Off The Grid” and is the real deal. I knew these folks in the video. I had a store not far from where they lived on the mesa and they were my customers. Many were Vietnam vets, a few were clinically insane, others were social outcasts or folks just looking to live the simple hippie life. I liked most of them. But a few had feral children that saddened me. Dirty and hungry, these little kids were living in poverty and squalor, not by their own design, but by the choices their parents, mostly quite young themselves, had made in deciding to live outside of society.
The directors of “Off The Grid” were told by the folks depicted in the film never to screen the movie in Taos. If they did, they’d regret it.
A little comedy followed by something a bit more serious. The connection between these videos is kind of tenuous; longhairs with guns. That’s something I never imagined during the Summer Of Love.