follow us in feedly
Sister Mary Corita, nun, teacher and Pop art pioneer
11.20.2014
03:30 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
pop art
Sister Corita Kent
nuns


 
Corita Kent—known as Sister Mary Corita until her departure from religious servitude in 1968—is one of the great unsung trailblazers of pop art. As chair of the arts department at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, Sister Mary Corita’s approach to arts pedagogy touched Saul Bass, Alfred Hitchcock, Buckminster Fuller, Charles and Ray Eames, and John Cage (whom she quotes in her famous “10 Rules for Students,” below). Her work is known for its political content and explicitly anti-war messaging, but there’s more to her artistic legacy than her identity as a radical nun.

Although her most public pieces are a really bad stamp and a giant natural gas tank of the same ilk, they pale in comparison to her larger body of work—primarily serigraphs (multi-colored screen prints). She used bright shades, thick lines, deconstructed advertising design and erratic typography. She often including literary quotes or her own poetry in scrawl, producing elegant political messaging without heavy-handedness, sanctimony or literalism. The work is bold, triumphant and sometimes spiritual, but never preachy.

Corita Kent died of cancer in 1986 in Boston, where she relocated after leaving the order. She would have been 96 today. I highly recommend you give her classroom rules below a look, and check out the short 1967 documentary, We Have No Art, at the end of the post for her brilliant insight into the creative process.
 

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

 

“Come Alive,” 1967.
 

From the “Circus Alphabet” series, 1968. Kent made multiple prints of this particular Camus quote.
 

“Stop the Bombing,” 1967.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Beatles Electroniques’: The Beatles warped beyond recognition, 1969
11.20.2014
11:31 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Television

Tags:
Beatles
Jud Yalkut
Nam June Paik


Beatles Electroniques, 1969
 
The relationship and eventual marriage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, looked at from a slightly unusual perspective, can be seen as an alliance between the high pop mastery of the Beatles and the playful avant-garde methods of the Fluxus group. Ono was obviously one of the major Fluxus artists of the day, and in taking up with her Lennon exposed himself to avant-garde art in a particularly intimate way—and vice versa.

It would be a stretch to say that the Beatles were authentic pioneers of electronic music, but at the same time it couldn’t be clearer that McCartney and Co.’s relentless experimental incursions into the medium of pop music had an enormous effect on what was regarded as “in bounds” for rock music. The introduction of feedback on “I Feel Fine,” the use of reversed tape loops in “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the maelstrom of nonsense in “Revolution 9,” the symphonic collision of melody in “A Day in the Life,” and so on. In 1967 McCartney contributed a 14-minute tape loop composition called “Carnival of Light” to an awesome-sounding event called the The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave that has never reached the public even to this day (Harrison and George Martin loathed the piece; Harrison vetoed releasing it every chance he got). Meanwhile, Harrison himself made a key contribution to the canon of electronic music with the release of his second album, titled simply Electronic Sound, in 1969; the album consisted solely of two loooooooong Moog compositions, as my colleague Ron Kretsch ably explained on DM a few months back. Of course, Lennon himself was burrowing into weirdo musique concrete with Yoko, in various releases like Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions, Two Virgins, and Wedding Album.

Once dubbed “The Artist Who Invented Video Art,” Nam June Paik was an incredibly prolific and amusing conceptual artist from Korea in the postwar era; he is most associated with his works incorporating the cathode ray tube (we usually call it a TV set), including “TV-Buddha,” “TV Chair,” and “Family of Robot,” the last of which is essentially a series of robots made out of TV sets. Earlier in his career Paik was associated with John Cage, particularly his notorious 1960 work “Etude for Piano,” which culminated in Paik cutting off Cage’s necktie and washing Cage’s hair with shampoo.
 

The Beatles, 1969
 
In 1969 Paik teamed up with Fluxus-associated filmmaker Jud Yalkut to create Beatles Electroniques, a three-minute video in which Beatles footage is messed with electronically. I would argue that Beatles Electroniques is an essential proto-Plunderphonics text. I’m tempted to call it the first important Plunderphonics work in everything but name—the term “Plunderphonics” was coined by composer John Oswald in 1985 to describe works stretching back no earlier than the 1970s. Oswald’s key recordings include the Plunderphonics EP (1988) and the Plunderphonics album (1989). Key inheritors of the Plunderphonics style are Negativland and Christian Marclay. The Residents fucked with Beatles source material in The Beatles play The Residents and The Residents play The Beatles, but that was fully eight years after Beatles Electroniques.
 

Nam June Paik
 
As Barbara London’s essay “Looking at Music” described it in the volume Rewind, Play, Fast Forward: The Past, Present and Future of the Music Video,
 

In October 1965, Paik screened his first videotapes as part of a series of “happening nights” at the Greenwich Village nightclub Cafe au Go Go—a venue that included Lenny Bruce and the Grateful Dead among its roster of performers. … Beatles Electroniques, 1966-69, made with the experimental filmmaker Jud Yalkut, is nothing less than an early black-and-white music video. Paik grabbed bits from the mock documentary A Hard Day’s Night (directed by Richard Lester in 1964), refilming and further distorting the footage through his video synthesizer (developed with engineer Shuya Abe). Snippets of the Beatles’ faces are caught in a loop of warped abstraction. To accompany the endlessly folding imagery, Paik created a sound track with Kenneth Lerner, which featured fragmented Beatles songs recited again and again. Whereas the original film is an upbeat paean to Beatlemania, Paik’s strategies of appropriation and repetition are conceptually closer to Andy Warhol’s silk-screened paintings of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, 1962, and Steve Reich’s phasing of spoken words from a publicized racial incident in his sound composition Come Out (1966). Like these works, Beatles Electroniques brought seriality into the realm of sensory overload.

 
Nobody seems to know what these “fragmented Beatles songs” actually are, so transformed are they in Paik and Yalkut’s work. Without further ado, here’s Beatles Electroniques:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ melting Nazi face candle
11.20.2014
11:27 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:
Raiders of the Lost Ark


 
This is one of those clever ideas that make me want to kick myself for not thinking of it first... Anyway, Firebox is selling a face-melting Major Arnold Toht candle (the sinister SS agent whose face melts off at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark).

According to UK-based Firebox, “Thankfully it melts a lot slower than his face does in the film.”

It’s £20 or around $30 + shipping.


 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Hello Arthur? This is your mother. Do you remember me?’: The comedy genius of Nichols & May
11.20.2014
11:25 am

Topics:
Television

Tags:
comedy
Mike Nichols
Elaine May
Nichols & May


 
Something from the Dangerous Minds archives to commemorate the passing of Mike Nichols. This was originally posted on January 31, 2011.  

“Sometimes each of us would be thinking “Oh god, I know where we’re going,” and both of us would race to get there first.”—Mike Nichols

Over the weekend, Tara and I watched a 15-year-old PBS America Masters documentary on the incredibly brilliant 50s/60s comedy duo of Mike Nichols and Elaine May. Titled Nichols & May: Take Two, it features thoughtful discussions of the pair’s work by the likes of Steve Martin, Jules Feiffer and Tom Browkaw. What made the hour-long piece so especially exciting to watch was, well, finally getting to watch them do these great routines that I have listened to over and over and over again on records. Most of it was new to me (visually speaking, that is) and I was just ecstatically happy to see it. (Not to mention how absolutely stunning Elaine May was! Wow! What a fox!)

When I was a kid I absolutely adored Nichols & May. As Steve Martin remarked about their albums, there was really something quite musical about their comedy that leant it to repeated listens. Robin Williams compares the dance of their wit to a beautiful ballet. What they created together wasn’t really like anything else, either before or since. Their comedy albums weren’t stand-up comedy at all, of course. Nichols & May were actors and writers performing their own material, often the result of improvisations (a hallmark of their live act). Both of them have really great, expressive voices and their classic routines are absolute perfection, as honed and as precise as language can be used. Much of their material begins with seemingly random, meandering or nervous conversation that eventually comes into sharp focus. They were great at portraying pompous idiots with nothing to say and no qualms whatsoever about saying it. Although hardly risque, Nichols & May were “grown up” and probably the first satirists to include riffs on post-coital pillow talk and adultery in their repertoire during the Eisenhower administration.

A large part of the appeal for ardent Nichols and May fans was the cultural signifiers they—well, their stuffy, insecure characters—would casually drop into their routines. College-educated, upscale fans who made the high IQ duo such a success on Broadway would feel a part of the “in crowd” when presented with material referencing Béla Bartók or Nietzsche, although no one was exactly excluded by their brainy comedy, either. Routines about phone calls from foreign countries, getting ripped off by funeral homes and psychotically nagging mothers could be enjoyed by anyone, but the high falutin’ grad school references were the dog whistles that garnered them their staunchest fans. Amusing to consider that these “sophisticates” were usually the very people skewered most savagely by the double-edged sword of Nichols & May’s humor.

Often, it was Elaine May’s characters who set about psychologically torturing the hapless male creations of straight-man Nichols. Gerald Nachman relates several examples of May’s emasculating wit in a pre-feminist era in his book Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s. One tale is told of May getting wolf whistles and noisy kisses from two guys who followed her down the street. “What’s the matter? Tired of each other?” she asked. One of them yelled back, “Fuck you!” and she fired back, “With WHAT?

 

 
In their famous “Telephone” sketch, Nichols plays a hapless man, stranded and down to his final dime, trying to use a pay phone with disastrous results. May plays three different telephone operators, none about to give him his “alleged die-yum” back. To SEE them do this&8230; Ah! I was in heaven:
 

 
Plenty more Nichols & May after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Norma Bates: Woman slept with dead mother for five years
11.20.2014
08:22 am

Topics:
R.I.P.
Unorthodox

Tags:
death

smmpsych123.jpg
 
The emotional trauma caused by the death of a loved one can cause humans to grieve in some tragic and bizarre ways. I was once at a funeral where a distraught wife attempted to hurl herself on top of her husband’s coffin as it was lowered into the ground. This is nothing compared to the poor grief-stricken 55-year-old German woman who slept beside the mummified remains of her dead mother at their home in the suburb of Blumenau, Munich, for five years.

As The Local reports, neighbors became suspicious over the mother’s disappearance and contacted authorities. A local social worker then tried several times by telephone to arrange a visit to the daughter, but was fobbed off with various excuses. The social worker then decided to visit the apartment in person.

When the daughter wouldn’t open the door, he called the police. They and the fire service were able to get the door open and discovered the body inside in a double bed which the daughter had been sharing.

The daughter later admitted during questioning that her mother had died during March of 2009. She has been sent to a psychiatric institution.

An autopsy produced no evidence of foul play in the mother’s death.

Sleeping with the bodies of dead partners or relatives is not that uncommon. In 2013, New York police made a grim discovery when they visited the apartment of 28-year-old Chava Stirn, where they found the distraught young woman had been living with the skeletal remains of her dead mother. Stirn would sleep beside her mother’s remains she had placed on a chair. She would also lay the body on the table during meal times.
 
mndbyhjhe34
The body of Marcel H.
 
In 2013, Belgian police discovered a 69-year-old woman had been sleeping with the mummified remains of her dead 79-year-old husband, Marcel H. for almost a year. The woman had been too distraught to notify the authorities over her husband’s demise after an asthma attack and had kept him in bed. The police were only notified after the woman had failed to pay her rent.

Le Van, a 55-year-old Vietnamese man, exhumed his dead wife, wrapped her in a paper effigy, and slept with the corpse for five years.
 
addcpsghgh345.jpg
Le Van and his dead wife.
 
In 2003, Xie Yuchen was found to have slept with his dead wife for eight years, after she died of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1995, while a woman in Argentina traveled to Mexico to sleep in the mausoleum of her dead husband. She told police:

“When you love someone, you do all sorts of things.”

 

 
H/T The Local.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
follow us in feedly
New boxed set reveals John Coltrane created ‘terror’ during final tour with Miles Davis, 1960
11.20.2014
08:05 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Miles Davis
jazz
John Coltrane

All of You: The Final Tour, 1960
 
In 1955, Miles Davis hired an up-and-coming musician named John Coltrane to play in his group. Over the next couple of years, the team-up produced some incredible music, but the personal relationship between the trumpeter/leader and the saxophonist was never steady. Backstage at a gig in the spring of 1957, Miles slapped Coltrane and then punched him in the stomach; Trane’s only response was to quit the band.

Coltrane returned to join Davis’ sextet later in the year, but during that short time away he had continued to make a name for himself as a group member, bandleader and recording artist in his own right. Trane played on Miles’ Kind of Blue (1959), now considered one of the cornerstones of the jazz genre, and accompanied Davis on a European tour in 1960, but mentally he was focused on his own music. Miles later admitted Coltrane “was ready to move out before we left.”
 
Kind of Blue
 
The spring 1960 European tour was spread out over twenty cities in nine countries. The new boxed set, All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 includes recordings from eight of those performances. Though the Quintet sounds fantastic as a unit, Coltrane’s solos are so unusual they caused quite a stir at the time. Kind of Blue is a lovely record that is also easy on the ears, but Trane was doing his best to make this music sound ugly.

Journalist Frank Tenot witnessed the first show of the tour in Paris: “People were very surprised why there was no John Coltrane like on Kind of Blue. So, part of the audience thinks that Coltrane doesn’t play too well, that he was playing the wrong notes, involuntarily.” Tenot went backstage after the show to tell the saxophonist, “You’re too new for the people… you go too far.” Coltrane just smiled and said, “I don’t go far enough.”

Other critics who witnessed the shows wished that Trane had held back. One reporter called his solos “scandalous,” and wrote that they “bore no relationship whatsoever with playing the saxophone.” Another writer was so horrified he equated Coltrane’s solos with the very concept of “terror.”
 
Trane in pain
 
As the leader, Davis takes the first solo during every song on these recordings, and as much as I dig Miles—his solo turns are as interesting and as exquisite as ever—after a couple of tracks, I found myself waiting for Coltrane to step up and blow me away. And he would do just that. Every time. It’s fascinating to hear him push the material—and thus, the band—especially as this was Miles’ group, not his. The fact that we now know he had mentally moved on from his role with Davis, as well as facing negative reactions to his output, only makes listening to these tracks all the more absorbing.
 
John Coltrane and Miles Davis
 
The Miles Davis Quintet returned to the states on April 11th, and it wouldn’t be long before Coltrane would make his exit. By then, Trane had made a name for himself and was well on his to becoming one of the titans of jazz.
 
John Coltrane
 
Some of the recordings on the boxed set are taken from radio broadcasts, while others were captured privately by audience members. Initially, my expectations were somewhat low as far as the fidelity of these live tapes—which date from over a half century ago—but aside from a couple of muddy sounding tracks and occasional issues with how the musicians were mic’d, the sound quality ranges from very good to surprisingly great. Hear for yourself, as we have an exclusive preview track, an up tempo version of “So What,” recorded in Stockholm, Sweden on March 22nd, 1960. The faster beat and Trane’s dissonant solo result in something excitingly different than the subdued mood created for the familiar Kind of Blue version. Enjoy.

All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 will be released on December 2nd.
 

 
Here’s a 1959 TV clip of “So What” played at a pace that more closely resembles the one found on Kind of Blue, but with Coltrane beginning to stretch, feeling his way towards the type of solos he would play on his final tour with Miles:
 

 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Punish or be damned: LA punk legends The Screamers live at the Whisky A Go Go, 1979
11.20.2014
07:48 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Screamers


Gary Panter’s iconic Screamers logo
 
High-quality recordings of the Screamers, the legendary LA synthpunk band fronted by the late Tomata du Plenty, have always been elusive—the band’s entire audio legacy consists of demos and live recordings. So this crisp, color, clear-sounding video of the Screamers’ May 1979 engagement at the Whisky a Go Go is a real treat.
 

 
By this point in the Screamers’ career, the band was working with director Rene Daalder, who shot the Whisky shows. Part of the reason the Screamers never recorded an album is that Daalder convinced the band to forget about the LP format and make a “video record” instead. Of course, they never got around to doing that, either. Drummer K.K. Barrett, keyboardist Paul Roessler (the brother of Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler) and Daalder provide a bit of context in the L.A. punk oral history We Got the Neutron Bomb:

K.K. BARRETT: Following a nine-month hiatus the Screamers returned to the Whisky in May ‘79 for six sold-out shows over three nights. We augmented the regular lineup, which now included Paul Roessler on keyboards, with two violinists and a backup singer named Sheila Edwards, sometimes known as Sheila Drusela.

PAUL ROESSLER: [The Screamers] thought they’d never really be able to capture the experience of the Screamers just with recordings. They wanted to do film and video years before MTV. They hooked up with Rene Daalder, but in the process it broke up the group, after he tried to turn it into something that was no longer a rock band.

RENE DAALDER: We were assembling a sort of repertory company that would become the cast for the movie Mensch, which would take place in a Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-like German expressionist setting. Musically it was going to be a reinterpretation of the original Screamers material. The cast would be the Screamers, Penelope Houston of the Avengers, and many other stalwarts of the punk scene, as well as Beck’s grandfather, Fluxus artist Al Hansen. As we were waiting for everything to come together I directed a bunch of videos art-directed with great economic resourcefulness by K.K. We didn’t have the financing for the movie, so we were reduced to shooting scenes on and off. It seemed high time to do some live shows again after a nine-month hiatus.

 

 

Tomata and Sheila kiss during “I Wanna Hurt”
 
The Screamers gradually disintegrated over the next few years while Daalder directed du Plenty in the ill-fated movie Population: 1, not a project beloved of the surviving Screamers (Roessler: “It’s retarded”).
 

“I Wanna Hurt”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
follow us in feedly
New Yorkers & Angelenos absolutely losing their sh*t over a bicoastal video hook-up in 1980


 
It’s obscene how we take technology for granted. The Internet is the greatest communication tool since the written word, and what do I do with it? I (expertly) evaluate dick jokes for wage labor, and look at videos of cats soothing babies to alleviate my Seasonal Affective Disorder. We’ve not always been so cynical though.

Artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz created an installation called “Hole in Space” in 1980. Utilizing cutting edge satellite technology, life-sized audio-visual transmissions were displayed in real-time between New York’s Lincoln Center and an open air shopping mall in Century City, Los Angeles. Not only was the installation setup utilizing technology few had ever seen (much less used), no explanation was given for what was transpiring and no sponsors or artists were credited—it was sort of a huge, impromptu guerrilla video-chat.

Unlike say, a Google Hangout or Skype chat, participants in the piece (who were completely random passers-by), had no “video reflection” of themselves—they couldn’t see their own transmission as the other line did, because there was no extra window mirroring them. This made for a completely organic, unselfconscious moment of communication. The piece ran in two hour increments, for three days (November 11, 13 and 14) and as news of the public-space, bicoastal party line spread, the crowds grew.
 

 
The video below is taken from those impromptu interactions between New York and LA, and it’s absolutely amazing. Viewers/communicators are so shocked and delighted by such a seamless connectivity across the country—it’s an incredibly moving thing to witness. I can’t actually think of a time in my entire adult life where I’ve been as surprised or affected by technology as these people were—much less in public.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Concept Barbie doesn’t just have realistic proportions—she has scars, acne, freckles & cellulite
11.19.2014
02:55 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Feminism

Tags:
Barbie


Acne
 
Graphic designer/amateur toymaker Nickolay Lamm plays with Barbies a lot. First he came up with the make-up-free Barbie—worrying that she was “a little bit too hypersexualized,” which is strange, since I see women walking around my neighborhood with a face fulla slap, and the kids don’t seem to be scarred from it. Then he came up with a “proportional” Barbie, whose body matched that of an average 19-year-old woman (according to the Center for Disease Control)—a noble aim, but I find it misguided, and a little patronizing.

I tend to think projects like this misjudge children’s intellect—not everything in a child’s play or fantasy world is somehow internalized like some kind of insidious timebomb of self-loathing, and while Barbie’s uncanny proportions certainly indicate something rotten about our perspective on women’s bodies, I honestly think their effect on little girls is negligible. I’d argue Barbie’s freaky shape and perpetual Tammy Faye Bakker-ish makeup is a symptom—but not the cause—of self-esteem problems with women and girls—but what do I know? I’m just a woman who grew up healthy and happy playing with Barbies! As I have said before:

On some level, hyper-realistic dolls are a bit silly anyways, since anyone who’s ever been around kids will admit you can draw a smiley face on a jar of pickles and they’ll play with it like a doll. In many parts of the world, dolls don’t attempt the detail of Barbie, and people don’t have to think about dolls’ “bodies.”

That being said, what children do like about dolls—far more than any adult-invented concept of body idealization—is interaction, and Lamm may have actually come up with something a little girl (or at least John Waters), might be really interested in playing with. The Lammily doll now comes with decals for acne, freckles, moles, blushing cheeks, scrapes, bruises, scars, stretch marks and even cellulite. I do believe children are better at distinguishing fantasy and reality than Lamm thinks, and I do not think little girls give two shits about the literalism of their dolls (I also played with pink unicorn dolls—they did not leave me disappointed with regular old brown horses, I assure you), but it is a scientifically proven fact that stickers and accessories are basically crack for kids!

Lamm says he “wanted to show that reality is cool,” and asks, “a lot of toys make kids go into fantasy, but why don’t they show real life is cool?” Maybe it’s because doll-play is literally a fantasy, in that children are animating an inanimate object! Kids will have plenty of time to contend with reality; they still play with dolls that “wet themselves,” for example, so the doldrums of domesticity have not lost their appeal to young eyes, even in the wake of Barbie and her Dreamhouse. I think Lamm should have a bit more faith in little girls—their intellectual independence and their critical reasoning skills—but playing with scars and bruises? That’s something I think they could get into, even if it’s not for the reasons he thinks.
 

Mole
 

Scrape
 

Scar
 

Cellulite
 

Stretch marks
 
Via TIME

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Freeze, you dirty dopers’: The ‘Heroin Haikus’ of William Wantling
11.19.2014
12:46 pm

Topics:
Art
Books
Drugs

Tags:
poetry
heroin
William Wantling


 
If the American poet William Wantling (1933-1974) had not existed, it would have been up to Charles Bukowski  to invent him—in fact, the two men did know each other. Wantling spent most of his life in Illinois but served in Korea and also did time in San Quentin for unspecified crimes, although it may have been forging prescriptions, which would make him the original drugstore cowboy. (His inmate number in the California Dept. of Corrections system was A45522.)

After prison, Wantling studied and eventually taught at Illinois State University. Samuel Zaffiri said of Wantling that his post-prison life was “a constant search for things which would get him drunk or high.” Zaffiri also wrote of Wantling, “He was a manipulator and all with whom he came in contact, whether best friend or casual acquaintance, were game for his wiles. He wheedled, begged, lied.” According to Kevin E. Jones, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the poet, “Wantling lied, cheated, ripped off his friends, shat in their bathtubs.” Sounds like quite a guy.

And, as it happens, exactly the guy to think up the idea of writing haikus about the heroin life. Spero was a literary magazine published in Flint, Michigan, in 1965 and 1966. The first issue featured William Burroughs and LeRoi Jones; the second issue had a tiny little booklet tucked into a tiny little pocket—the booklet was Wantling’s Heroin Haikus.
 

William Wantling
 
It should be noted that Wantling’s understanding of the haiku form was looser than yours or mine, most likely. Wantling ignores the line lengths and focuses on the syllable count, the poem has to have 17 syllables. I guess that’s why, in a beautiful bit of purposeful modesty, they’re called “some seventeen-syllable comments.”

Here are three of them:
 

THE FIX

Give me the moment
that will join me to myself
in a mad embrace

LOS ANGELES—2

I bring a can of weed.
Grady brings pills and peyote.
Party time!

THE BUST

A knock, the door
flumps down.
Shotguns, the heat screams—
Freeze, you dirty dopers!

 
At the Division Leap bookstore and gallery in Portland, Oregon, you can buy a copy of Spero #1 and #2—complete with Heroin Haikus tucked in a little pocket—for just $350.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
More heroin haikus after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 1 of 1676  1 2 3 >  Last ›