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When Keith Moon was barman to Ronnie Lane and Vivian Stanshall

Just a great photograph of Keith Moon as barman fixing drinks for Ronnie Lane, Vivian Stanshall and music journalist, Chris Welch.


DM reader dogmatique passed on the following message (via a friend of a friend, and the all-connecting power of the internet) in which Mr. Chris Welch explained some of the background to this wonderful photograph by Barrie Wentzell:

“It was a wonderful night at the Crown & Cushion where Keith was ‘mine host’ I only saw this photo by Barrie [Wentzell] fairly recently, years after the event and it brought back many memories. Sad to say I’m the only survivor of this jolly scene. Incidently Keith took his role in running the pub very seriously and was most excited about his latest purchase, a Microwave oven, the first we’d ever seen. An elderly customer demanded to see the manager to complain about the service, prompting Keith to bark ‘I AM the manager’. I now realise this was a ‘set up’ planned with Viv Stanshall for my benefit. Note we are ALL smoking. No ban in those days. Freedom man!”

Many thanks to dogmatique for passing on this info, and to Chris Welch.
Via nineteen67

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Charles Bukowski: ‘I drink, I gamble, I write…’ the making of ‘Barfly’

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Charles Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical movie Barfly, with Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, director Barbet Schroeder and the great, Bukowski, who explained the film’s title:

‘I was the barfly. I would open the bar and I would close the bar and I had no money. It was a place to be. It was my home.’

Bukowski wrote the script for Schroeder, who was so passionate about making a film with the poet, that when backers Canon planned to exclude the project form its production schedule, the director threatened to cut-off his own finger with a battery-powered saw if he didn’t get the finance to make it.


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Oliver Reed interviews Oliver Reed

Since I couldn’t have a dog when I was a child, it became my ambition to become a werewolf. Vampires were dull and foolishly superstitious. Frankentstein’s monster whiney and self-pitying. Though the Invisible Man appealed, he was too cracked and not much company. So, it was the werewolf that clicked, for here was a creature driven by things that could not be so easily explained.

This fascination led me to Oliver Reed and The Curse of the Werewolf. I’d already seen Henry Hull in The Werewolf of London, which was running as favorite, putting Lon Chaney jnr’s The Wolfman into second, that was, of course, until I saw Reed possessed by the cast of a silver moon.

It was a metaphor I liked - life usurped by genetic code, oddly confirming Philip Larkin’s belief we are but dilutions of dilution. In its way it was an easy metaphor for Reed, that instinctual, soft-eyed actor possessed by a brilliant talent and a greater thirst for life.

There was great sense of joy about Reed, no matter how drunk or sober he always exhibited a relentless joy for living. It may have damaged his career, and limited his talents, but it was part of who he was - like Leon Corledo or Larry Talbot and lycanthropy. It made him always worth watching, even in his shittiest of films, for Reed was a life force, the like of which we have rarely seen since.

Here, Reed interviews himself on French TV, in a bizarre publicity package for The Return of the Musketeers in 1989. In it Reed asks himself questions other interviewers would never dared ask - that his career owed everything to Ken Russell, like Eliza Doolitlle to Henry Higgins in the play Pygmalion; and why did he drink? His answers range from the unfocussed to the honest, but underneath, there is the growl of a beast waiting to get out.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Incredible Friendship of Oliver Reed and Keith Moon

In Praise of Oliver Reed


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Luis Buñuel’s Perfect Martini

Luis Buñuel was one of cinema’s greatest film directors. From his first short, the Surrealist classic Un Chien Andalou in 1929, through The Exterminating Angel in 1962, to Belle de Jour in 1967, and his last, That Obscure Object of Desire in 1977, Buñuel created a brilliant body of work, which has rarely been equalled.

But film wasn’t his only passion. In his autobiography, My Last Breath, Buñuel gave his own special recipe on how to create the perfect Martini.

‘To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini. To be frank, given the primordial role in my life played by the dry martini, I think I really ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen “like a ray of sunlight through a window-leaving it unbroken.”

‘Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won’t melt, since nothing’s worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients-glasses, gin, and shaker-in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Stir it, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, stir it again, and serve.

‘(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)’

This wasn’t the first time, the genius director had shared his favored drink, in his Oscar-winning film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Buñuel had his actors prepare the perfect Martini.

This was no affectation, as Buñuel had his cocktail everyday and once remarked:

“If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.”

As discussed in his essential autobiography, Buñuel’s passions for drinking, smoking and a love of handguns, defined who he was. It was a combination which would, you would think, make Buñuel the perfect choice as a director for one of those 1960s or 1970s James Bond movies. David Cairns, over at his excellent film blog, Shadowplay suggested this idea a couple of years back, proposing a Bond movie cast from some of Buñuel’s previous casts, with Dan O’Herlihy as Bond and Fernando Rey as the villain. Cairns also proposes:

Could we resist Catherine Deneuve as Bond girl Anne Dalou, and could she resist playing it if the high priest of cinematic surrealism were in charge? Zachary Scott, fresh from THE YOUNG ONE, could play Bond’s CIA counterpart Felix Leiter. Oh wait, he died in 1965. Damn. OK, Bernie Hamilton then. Sean Connery always thought Felix should be black — I presume on the basis that it was the kind of thankless part where nobody would object, and therefore you should make the effort.

Ken Adam, I submit, would have had a great time building sets for Bunuel, who loved “secret passages leading on to darkness”.

THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL would make a great title for a Bond. Imagine what Shirley Bassey could do with a lyric like that. Much better than QUANTUM OF SLOSH, anyway.

But let’s call our imaginary Bunuel Bond GRAN CASINO ROYALE. The globe-trotting narrative will take us through Spain, the U.S.A., Mexico and France. Bond will battle tarantulas, snakes and flesh-eating ants, and face enemies armed with razors, rifles, burlap sacks and buggy-whips. All in search of a mysterious box with undisclosed, buzzing contents…



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Pint-sized Mark E. Smith: Coming to a bar near you

This must be on some “100 Things To Do Before You Die” list - have a beer named after you. Something Mark E Smith can tick off, as The Fall’s legendary frontman has just had an Indian Pale Ale named after him.

Produced by Northern Brewing, an artisan brewery in Nantwich, Mark E. Smith IPA is currently only available in one bar in the UK, the Snooty Fox in Islington, London.

It was Snooty Fox’s owners Nicole Gale and Jonathan Tingle, who commissioned MES IPA for their “Hit the North Festival”– (also named after the Fall song – which is celebrating northern beer and music. As Nicole explained to the Manchester Evening News:

“Jonathan is a massive, massive Fall fan so we thought it was only right to name a beer after the great man. It was the most popular beer at the festival.”

The Snooty Fox sold their order of 72 pints in just two hours.

Mike Hill, director of Northern, said: “I had never heard of him to be honest. We prefer Northern Soul, which inspired the names of most of our beers.”

If you want a taste of Manchester’s famous son, then have your local put in an order for Mark E. Smith IPA.

Previously on DM

Mark E. Smith Fabric Doll

Mark E. Smith’s Guide to Writing


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Through a Glass Darkly: Malcolm Lowry, Booze, Literature and Writing

When the DTs were bad, the writer Malcolm Lowry had a trick to stop his shaking hands from spilling his drink. He would remove his tie, place it around the back of his neck, wrap either end around each hand, take hold of his glass, then pulled the tie with his free hand, which acted as a pulley, lifting the glass straight to his mouth. Lowry drank anything, hair tonic, rubbing alcohol, after shave, anything. But unlike most drunks, Lowry was a dedicated writer, a constant chronicler of his own life - everything was noted down as possible material for his novels, and generally it was. He couldn’t enter a bar or cantina without leaving with at least four pages of hand-written notes. That’s dedication.

In 1947, when Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano was published, he was hailed as the successor to James Joyce, and his novel hit the top of the New York Times Best Seller List. Move ten years on, to the English village of Ripe, Lowry is dead from an overdose, at the age of forty-eight, penniless, forgotten, with his books out of print. It was an ignoble death for such a brilliant writer, a death that has since been clouded with the suspicion he was murdered by his wife, Margerie Bonner, who may (it has been suggested) have force-fed him pills when drunk - for the pills he swallowed were prescribed to Margerie, and Lowry was unlikely to have taken his own life without writing copious notes of his final experience.

Lowry was born in Cheshire in 1909, and educated at The Leys School and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. At school he discovered the two passions that were to last the whole of his life - writing and drinking. He wrote poetry and became friends with the American poet and novelist, Conrad Aiken, sending him letters about his drunken excesses. Aiken recognized Lowry’s natural talent and encouraged the teen literary tyro to write. But Lowry didn’t have the experience to write from, so between school and university, he enrolled as a deckhand and sailed to the far east. This provided him with the material for his first novel Ultramarine (1933), the story of a privileged young man, Dana Hilliot, and his need to be accepted, by his shipmates. The story takes place during 48-hours on board a tramp steamer, the Oedipus Tyrannus, “outward bound for Hell.” Like all of Lowry’s work it is semi-autobiographical, and contains the nascent themes he would develop in Under the Volcano (1947), Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid (1968) and October Ferry to Gabriola (1970).

Booze flows through Lowry’s writing. It’s a way of escape, as much as the sea voyages and plane journeys he wrote about. In Medieval times, a definition of possession included drunkenness, and Lowry was well aware of drink’s shamanic association:

“The agonies of the drunkard find their most accurate poetic analogue in the agonies of the mystic who has abused his powers.”

Few writers physically endured the excesses of alcohol or wrote about them so powerfully. While everyone knows Under the Volcano and its tale of the descent into Hell of alcoholic British consul, Geoffrey Firmin, during the Day of the Dead, in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac, it is his novella Lunar Caustic which gives the clearest insight into the cost of Lowry’s alcoholism. It’s the harrowing tale of Bill Plantagenet, a pianist and ex-sailor who, after a long night’s drinking, awakens to find himself in New York’s Bellevue psychiatric hospital surrounded by the dispossessed and insane.

The story is as much about Lowry as it is about the “collective and individual anxieties of the age,” and it was a story Lowry worked on repeatedly during his life. Early versions were published in literary magazines, and Lowry eventually spliced it together into a novella he thought too “gruesome” to publish in his lifetime, though he gave it a most interesting title:

Lunar Caustic as a sardonic and ambiguous title for a cauterizing work on madness has, | feel, a great deal of merit. But lunar caustic is also silver nitrate and used unsuccessfully to cure syphilis. And indeed as such it might stand symbolically for any imperfect or abortive cure, for example of alcoholism.

Like many drunks, Lowry teetered between self-pity and self-loathing, but the writer in him kept careful watch on his often disastrous and eventful life, and it is because of this his writing never indulged in the worst excesses of the bar-room drunk of being boring. Indeed, Lowry’s books are complex enough to deserve more than one reading, for as Schopenhauer once wrote:

“Any book that is at all important ought to be at once read through twice; ... on a second reading the connection of the different portions of the book will be better understood, and the beginning comprehended only when the end is known; and partly because we are not in the same temper and disposition on both readings.”

Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry is an Oscar nominated documentary which:

focuses on Malcolm Lowry, author of one of the major novels of the 20th century, Under the Volcano. But while Lowry fought a winning battle with words, he lost his battle with alcohol. Shot on location in four countries, the film combines photographs, readings by Richard Burton from the novel and interviews with the people who loved and hated Lowry, to create a vivid portrait of the man.

It does create a vivid portrait, but one under the shadow of Lowry’s last wife Marjorie Bonner, and it was not until after her death, in 1988, and the publication of Gordon Bowker’s top class biography, Pursued by Furies: A Life of Malcolm Lowry, that a complete picture of Lowry came to fruition. Still it’s a damn fine documentary, and well worth the watch. As for an epitaph, I’ll leave that to the man himself:

Malcolm Lowry
Late of the Bowery
His prose was flowery
And often glowery
He lived, nightly, and drank daily
And died, playing the ukelele


Previously on Dangerous Minds

Kerouac’s Boozy Beatitudes on Italian TV, 1966


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