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Beat philosopher and American renegade Poppa Neutrino R.I.P.
01.25.2011
01:08 am

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Thinkers
Unorthodox

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Poppa Neutrino (William David Pearlmam) was born in San Francisco in 1933. Neutrino died on January 23, 2011 in New Orleans, LA.

Poppa Neutrino was a friend of mine and one the most fascinating men I’ve ever met.

During the mid-1980s into the 90s, I was booking bands into several music venues in New York City. Poppa had a family band called The Flying Neutrinos fronted by his daughter Ingrid Lucia and son Todd Londagin. They’d been street musicians for years, traveling all over the world, eventually landing in Manhattan. I saw the group evolve from a somewhat ragged ensemble into a world class jazz band with a heavy New Orleans influence. Poppa receded into the background as the group became increasingly in demand and successful. But his spiritual influence was very much alive in the soul of the group. He encouraged not only their art but their fierce independence. Which considering his own wild and uncompromising past was to be totally expected. He was a renegade with a streetwise philosophy and a hustler’s instincts. An American Gurdjieff.

David Pearlman, a restless and migratory soul, a mariner, a musician, a member of the Explorers Club and a friend of the San Francisco Beats, a former preacher and sign painter, a polymath, a pauper, and a football strategist for the Red Mesa Redskins of the Navajo Nation. When Pearlman was fifty, he was bitten on the hand by a dog in Mexico and for two years got so sick that he thought he would die. When he recovered, he felt so different that he decided he needed a new name. He began calling himself Poppa Neutrino, after the itinerant particle that is so small it can hardly be detected. To Neutrino, the particle represents the elements of the hidden life that assert themselves discreetly.

Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki, Neutrino is the only man ever to build a raft from garbage he found on the streets of New York and sail it across the North Atlantic. The New York Daily News described the accomplishment as “the sail of the century.” National Geographic broadcast an account of the trip as part of its series on extreme adventures.

The philosophical underpinnings of Neutrino’s existence are what he calls Triads, a concept worked out after years of reading and reflection. He believes that each person, to be truly happy, must define his or her three deepest desires and pursue them remorselessly. Freedom, Joy, and Art are Neutrino’s three.

There’s a wonderful book about Poppa written by New Yorker contributor Alec Wikinson called “Poppa the Happiest Man in the World: An Account of the Life of Poppa Neutrino” that is genuinely inspirational.

As recently as last year, Poppa was still pushing the envelope when he attempted to circumnavigate the Globe in a 37 foot raft with a crew consisting of three sailors and three dogs. But on November 9 their raft was tossed by big surf onto the rocks near Thompson’s Point, VT.

Only a few months later, Poppa died of a heart attack in the city he always seemed to return to, New Orleans. His family is having him cremated and will set his ashes afloat on the Mississippi River. In the words of his daughter Ingrid, “He’s always been free, so we’ll set him free.” 

Like many artists and musicians, Poppa had little money and no insurance. If you’d like to contribute toward his funeral expenses go here.

Victor Zimet and Stephanie Silber’s documentary Random Lunacy explores the life and philosophy of Poppa Neutrino. This your chance to meet a remarkable man.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Dangerous Minds Radio Hour Episode 14: Laner at the controls
01.23.2011
10:55 pm

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Art
Heroes
Music
Unorthodox

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What is the through-line in this batch of tunes I’ve selected to present to you, the discerning Dangerous Minds consumer? Perhaps it’s what Brian Eno refers to as idiot glee. At least that’s the emotional state that these songs tend to evoke in yours truly. That is until the last few tracks when my stock-in-trade taste for melancholic melody and downer sentiment kicks in. Whatever, hope you enjoy being inside my head for an hour. It’s a weird place to be.
 
Don Van Vliet - What Are We Gonna Do With You ?
Wild Kingdom - Roma-Destiny
Shoukichi Kina - Haisai Ojisan
Rick Grossman - Mellow Heaven Clout
Bobby Brown - Hawaii Nei I’ll Miss You
Lila Downs - Pinotepa
Albert Ayler & Don Cherry - Ghosts
Aksak Maboul - A Modern Lesson
Can - Turtles Have Short Legs (original 7” version)
Vogel - Flaschenzug
Eno (with The Winkies) - Totalled (I’ll Come Running)
The Van Dyke Parks - Do Want You Wanta
T2 - J.L.T.
Toru Takemitsu - Sky, Horse and Death
Nick Lowe - Endless Sleep
 

 
Download this week’s episode
 
Subscribe to the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour podcast at Alterati
 
Serious video bonus: The internet debut of the only video footage of the band Wild Kingdom that I know of from my personal collection of New Wave Theatre episodes. I’m truly hoping a member or two of this band will turn up and tell me where the other recordings are (or at least what the incredible drummer ended up doing!)
 

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
The sauerkraut synthesizer
01.13.2011
11:22 am

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Amusing
Food
Music
Science/Tech
Unorthodox

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Better yet, keep your Italo disco. Here’s some actual Krautrock. Yes, It’s the Sauerkraut synthesizer, the work of one Gordon Monahan.

Gordon Monahan’s Sauerkraut Synthesizer is an experimental synth, built around fruits, vegetables, and a jar of sauerkraut as voltage controllers for a software synthesizer, built with ppooll-max/msp and an Arduino interface.
The video captures a live performance on the Sauerkraut Synthesizer at the Subtle Technologies Festival, on board a cruise ship in Toronto Harbour, June 5, 2010.
The Sauerkraut Synthesizer is based on a technical prototype using lemons (The Lemon Synthesizer), developed as a collaboration between Gordon Monahan, Akemi Takeya, and Noid, in Vienna, March, 2009.

 

 
Witness the majesty of the Lemon Synthesizer after the jump…

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
In a moment of sobriety… Glenn Beck finds his son
01.12.2011
03:09 pm

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Current Events
Politics
Unorthodox

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Good Lord is this disturbing! And yes, I know the photo has been tinkered with.

(via BB Submitterator)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Fat Man on a Beach’: The Dying Words of Brilliant Novelist B. S. Johnson
01.10.2011
09:19 pm

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Books
History
Literature
Television
Thinkers
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The ending to B. S. Johnson’s film Fat Man on a Beach proved rather prophetic, as the author walked fully clothed into the sea, until he disappeared. It was the last sequence filmed for his documentary, and recalls the opening scene to the BBC comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, and, more significantly, Stevie Smith’s poem “Not Waving but Drowning”. Three weeks after filming this scene, in 1973, B. S. Johnson killed himself.

I’ve liked Johnson since I first read him as a teenager, and he is one of the many authors whose books I still return to all these years later. Although I like his work there is something about Johnson that reminds me of the well-kent story of Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman during the making of Marathon Man, where each actor approached their role through their own discipline. Olivier had learnt his technique from treading the boards and performing Shakespeare alongside John Gielgud; Hoffman was a different breed, his muse was Method Acting, where motivation is key. When Hoffman’s character was supposed to have been without sleep, Hoffman decided to stay up all night in order to perform the scene. When Olivier heard the length to which Hoffman had gone to interpret his role, the aging Lord, said, “Have you tried acting, dear boy?”

There was something of the Hoffman in Johnson, or at least, in the shared need to have the experience before creating from it. What Johnson did not do was write fiction - or so he claimed. He saw stories as lies, citing the term “telling stories” as a childish euphemism for telling lies. Johnson did not believe in telling lies, he believed in telling the truth. And it was this that would ultimately destroy him. For once one has abandoned imagination, there is no possibility of escape, or creative freedom.

In 1965, Johnson wrote a play called You’re Human Like the Rest of Them - a grim, unrelenting drama, later made into an award-winning short film in 1967. In it, the central character Haakon realizes his own mortality and the inevitability of death.

We rot and there’s nothing that can stop it / Can’t you feel the shaking horror of that? / You just can’t ignore these things, you just can’t!

For Haakon, and so for Johnson, from “the moment of birth we decay and die.” An obvious proposition, as Jonathan Coe, pointed out in his excellent biography on Johnson Like a Fiery Elephant, one which any audience would have understood before watching. Not so for Johnson the realist - death is the final answer to life’s question, and once realized nothing else is of significance. You can see where this is heading, and how Johnson started to unravel. Though he did go on to write three of his greatest novels after this: Trawl, about life on a fishing vessel; The Unfortunates the episodic tale of a friend’s death from cancer; and the brutally comic Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry, in which the titular hero becomes a mass murderer and succumbs to a sudden death form cancer; you can see the pattern, all three were shadowed with death. However, each is so brilliantly and engagingly written their dark heart is often overlooked.

There is a key moment in Fat Man on a Beach, when Johnson described a motorcycle accident in which the cyclist was diced by a barbed-wire fence, like “a cheese-cutter through cheese.” He explained the story as a “metaphor for the way the human condition seems to treat humankind,” then digressed and said, life is:

“...really all chaos…I cannot prove it as chaos any more than anyone else can prove there is a pattern, or there is some sort of deity, but even if it is all chaos, then let’s celebrate chaos. Let’s celebrate the accidental. Does that make us any the worse off? Are we any the worse off? There is still love; there is still humor.”

This in essence is what is so marvelous about Johnson and Fat Man on a Beach, as Jonathan Coe later wrote as an introduction to the film:

One evening late in 1974, the TV listings announced that a documentary about Porth Ceiriad was to be broadcast. It was being shown past my bedtime (I was 13), but was clearly not to be missed. After News at Ten, we settled down to watch en famille.

Instead of a tourist’s-eye view of local beauty spots, what we saw that evening was baffling. A corpulent yet athletic-looking man, bearing some resemblance to an overweight Max Bygraves, ran up and down the beach for 40 minutes gesticulating, expostulating, reciting strange poetry and chattering away about the randomness of human life, his quasi-mystical feelings about the area and, most passionately, the dishonesty of most modern fiction and film-making. With disarming bluntness, the programme was called Fat Man on a Beach. We could not make head or tail of it.

And yet memories of this film, so unlike anything seen on television before or since, stayed with me, and 10 years later, when I was a postgraduate student, I stumbled upon a reissued paperback novel by someone called B. S. Johnson and realised that this was the same person. Amazingly, it came with a puff from Samuel Beckett, someone not known as a regular provider of jacket quotations. Encouraged by this, I bought the novel, which was called Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry, devoured it in a matter of hours (it’s less than 30,000 words long) and realised that I had found a new hero.

When I thought about the film that we had watched in a daze of collective bewilderment all those years before, I remembered the sense of fierce engagement, combined with a spirit of childish fun, that had characterised BS Johnson’s virtuoso monologue to camera. I remembered his strange, unwieldy grace - the sort of fleet-footed grace you find unexpectedly in a bulky comedian such as John Goodman or Oliver Hardy. And I remembered the wounded eyes that stared at you almost aggressively, as if in silent accusation of some nameless hurt. It was impossible not to recognise the pain behind those eyes. Even so, I had not realised at the time that I had been looking at a dead man.

The writer David Quantick has uploaded this and some other excellent films by Johnson onto You Tube, which I hope will provide a stimulus to reading his exceptional books.
 

 
Previously on DM

B. S. Johnson: ‘The Unfortunates’


 
More form ‘Fat on a Beach’ after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Papoose Board: Immobilize your kid or loved one in style
12.28.2010
01:59 pm

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Unorthodox

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Well, here’s something you don’t see everyday…a Papoose Board! From Olympic Medical:

imageOlympic Papoose Boards solve the frustrating problem of temporarily restraining injured, frightened children (also teenagers and adults) for medical or dental treatment. A struggling, frantic child can be completely immobilized in less than 60 seconds on a Papoose Board. Then, while the patient is securely and safely held, the physician can expose any part of the child’s body for examination or treatment.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The many faces of Charles Manson t-shirt
12.22.2010
03:12 pm

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Fashion
Unorthodox

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Um, errrr, great gift for the sociopathic teen in your life?

T-shirt design by Los Angeles-based artist, Ben Tegel, and you can get ‘em here.

(via Beautiful Decay)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
McDonald’s Drive Thru Center Play Set For Kids
12.17.2010
02:23 pm

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Amusing
Unorthodox

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Here’s a nifty last minute gift idea for your kid this year. You’re welcome. Oh, and calories not included.

Mc Donalds Mcd Drive Thru Center (Closed Box)

(via TDW)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Vodka and shovel: Man gets hit repeatedly by shovel, doesn’t flinch
12.15.2010
01:51 pm

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Unorthodox

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I like towards the end how his friend lovingly strokes his head. Also, I can only imagine the terrific headache this dude suffered the next day.

(via BuzzFeed)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
BOY: Jerry Lewis on racism and childhood
12.14.2010
02:00 pm

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Movies
Unorthodox

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Dangerous Minds pal, Chris Campion writes from Berlin:

“With all the sensitivity you’d come to expect from the creator of The Day The Clown Cried.”

Witness the enigmatic short “BOY” made in 1993 by Jerry Lewis. Part of a portmanteau film produced by UNICEF with different filmmakers (Jean-Luc Godard made one, too). Here’s what Temple of Schlock had to say about it:

BOY is the story of the only white Jewish-looking kid in an otherwise all black world. In school, the teachers applaud the efforts (all excellent) of the other students, but Boy cannot excel. His teacher seems to be teaching the entire class, but it appears that Boy just can’t grasp the lessons. For this, he is ridiculed and humiliated by all.

That the entire scene (and the remainder of the film as well, except for one line at the end) is pantomimed recalls a similar scene from THE PATSY (1964)—a flashback to Lewis’s character being humiliated at a school dance by all the other students. Ahhh, that old Lewis bag of psycho-autobiographical tricks sure comes in handy.

In the end, the punchline is that Boy’s family is black, too. I have no idea what the fuck this is really all about and I doubt anyone else does, either. No one save for Jerry Lewis himself, that is. Presumably it would have to mean… something, wouldn’t it?
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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