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Young, loud, snotty: Famous punks just hanging out

Jello Biafra at Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1978 by Jim Jocoy
Jello Biafra at Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1978
 
Jim Jocoy and his family left their home in South Korea and arrived in the town of Sunnyvale, California, when Jocoy was only 17. He enrolled at UC Santa Cruz, but later dropped out once he discovered the burgeoning punk scene that was exploding all around him. Jocoy got a gig at a Xerox store, hung out at punk clubs by night and started up a punk zine with his friends called Widows and Orphans. That’s when Jocoy decided to pick up a camera and started shooting photos of his friends and bands whenever he happened to find himself someplace interesting. Jocoy found himself in lots of interesting places.
 

Olga de Volga of the San Francisco band VS. Geary Street Theatre, SF 1980 Jim Jocoy
Olga de Volga of the San Francisco band VS., Geary Street Theatre, SF 1980
 
Jocoy’s remarkable photos ended up in a book in 2002 called We’re Desperate. I reached out to Jocoy in an email, and the photographer graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions about his days growing up as a young punk in California.
 
Sid Vicious. San Francisco, January 14th, 1978 by Jim Jocoy
Sid Vicious, San Francisco, January 14th, 1978
 
Tell me about your now infamous photo of Sid Vicious.

Jim Jocoy: The photo of Sid was taken after the last Sex Pistols show in SF. They performed at Winterland on Jan. 14, 1978. He took a cab to my friend Lamar St John’s apartment in the Haight-Ashbury district. I was outside as the cab pulled up. He was alone and got out and pissed in the middle of the street before going into the apartment. I ran into him in the hallway and asked if I could take a Polaroid photo. He nodded yes and that was it. He spent most of the evening in the bathroom with a couple of “fans”.
 
William Burrough's at his 70th birthday party in SF, 1984 Jim Jocoy
William Burroughs at his 70th birthday party in San Francisco, 1984

I understand that you presented a slide show of your photos to William Burroughs in honor of his 70th birthday. How did that go?

Jim Jocoy: The party was held at a warehouse in the Mission district belonging to the artist Mark McCloud. He was known for his (real) LSD postage stamp art. Burroughs allowed me to take a photo of him that evening. He wore an nice blue suit and had his briefcase in hand.

What’s your favorite memory of a show you saw back in the day that really blew your mind?

Jim Jocoy: I would have to say it was the first Ramones’ show in SF at the Savoy Tivoli on August 19th, 1976. It lasted about 30 minutes without a break, only “one, two, three, four!” between songs by Dee Dee. It was such a sonic boom of pure rock energy as I had never heard before. It was in the tiny back room of the bar/restaurant. It was like ground zero for launching the punk rock scene in San Francisco. A few weeks later, many of the seminal SF punk bands started performing regularly at the Mabuhay Gardens, the first main punk rock venue in the city.
 
Punk girl in leather SF 1978 Jim Jocoy
Punk girl in leather skirt, SF 1978
 
Jocoy’s photos were only shown in public twice (one of those times was at Burroughs’ birthday party), and then were stored away for almost two-decades before seeing the light of day once again between the covers of We’re Desperate. So here’s a glimpse of what punk rock looked like back in the late 70s and early 80s, through the lens of a simple 35mm camera with an oversized flash taken by a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Many thanks to Jim Jocoy for the use of his photos and captions (written by Jim) in this post.
 
John Waters at the Deaf Club in SF, 1980 by Jim Jocoy
John Waters at the Deaf Club in SF, 1980
 
Regi Mentle Geary Street Theatre SF, 1980 Jim Jocoy
Regi Mentle, Geary Street Theatre in SF, 1980
 
Poison Ivy of the Cramps in the dressing room of the Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1979 Jim Jocoy
Poison Ivy of the Cramps in the dressing room of Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1979
 
More young punks after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Time of the Assassins’: William S. Burroughs’ cut-up version of Time Magazine, 1965
10.30.2014
08:23 am

Topics:
Art
Books

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Brion Gysin
Time Magazine


 
One of the favored forms of Beat author William S. Burroughs was that of the “cut-up,” basically fancy talk for “collage.” After the Dadaists pioneered the technique in the 1920s, the midcentury artist who had done the most with it was Brion Gysin, a close friend of Burroughs, who once called Gysin “the only man I ever respected.” Gysin stumbled on the technique on his own around 1954 when he slashed a newspaper page and noticed that the page underneath created interesting juxtapositions. Gysin showed Burroughs the cut-up concept in the late 1950s, as he related in Cut-Ups: A Project for Disastrous Success:
 

William Burroughs and I first went into techniques of writing, together, back in room No. 15 of the Beat Hotel during the cold Paris spring of 1958. ... Burroughs was more intent on Scotch-taping his photos together into one great continuum on the wall, where scenes faded and slipped into one another, than occupied with editing the monster manuscript. ... Naked Lunch appeared and Burroughs disappeared. He kicked his habit with apomorphine and flew off to London to see Dr Dent, who had first turned him on to the cure. While cutting a mount for a drawing in room No. 15, I sliced through a pile of newspapers with my Stanley blade and thought of what I had said to Burroughs some six months earlier about the necessity for turning painters’ techniques directly into writing. I picked up the raw words and began to piece together texts that later appeared as “First Cut-Ups” in Minutes to Go (Two Cities, Paris 1960).

 

William S. Burroughs, photograph by Brion Gysin
 
In 1965 Gysin and Burroughs collaborated on a cut-up version of Time Magazine that would end up being 27 pages long. According to Jed Birmingham, “Time was published in 1965 in 1000 copies. 886 copies comprised the trade edition. These copies were unnumbered and unsigned. 100 copies were signed by Burroughs and Gysin. 10 copies numbered A-J were hard bound and contained a manuscript page of Burroughs and an original colored drawing by Gysin. 4 more were hors commerce. ... An hors commerce print was used as the color key and printing guide that the printer would use to insure consistency of the print run.”

Apparently, Burroughs and Gysin chose the November 30, 1962, cover of Time to mess with because that issue contained a dismissive review of Naked Lunch under the title “King of the YADs,” where “YAD” stood for “Young American Disaffiliates.” Burroughs was greatly irritated by the review.
 

 
The Time cut-up was described as follows in Robert A. Sobieszek’s Ports of Entry: William S. Burroughs and the Arts:
 

Burroughs created his own version of Time magazine, including a Time cover of November 30, 1962, collaged over by Burroughs with a reproduction of a drawing, four drawings by Gysin, and twenty-six pages of typescript comprised of cut up texts and various photographs serving as news items. One of the pages is from an article on Red China from Time of September 13, 1963, and is collaged with a columnal typescript and an irrelevant illustration from the ‘Modern Living’ section of the magazine. A full-page advertisement for Johns-Manville products is casually inserted amid all these text; its title: Filtering.

 

Here we can see what the cover originally looked like in color. Photograph: Stephen J. Gertz
 
The first few pages (after the “copyright page”) are pretty much pure typewritten text—the metaphor of this being a version of Time doesn’t really obtain until you get to page 5, which has the word “REPUBLICANS” across the top as well as the words “Democratic Governor John Swainson,” who was the Governor of Michigan when the original issue came out (but not in 1965). After that you spot the familiar non-serif typeface here and there. Page 6 is titled “THE WORLD” and is about Red China. Page 8 is simply an unmolested full-page ad for Johns-Manville. Page 10 has a picture of a bunch of dignitaries at Peking Airport and another one with “John and William Faulkner.” Pages 13-16 are a series of ideogrammatic doodles by Gysin, after which the text reverts almost entirely to typewritten text by Burroughs.

Page 22 may be the most interesting page, as it features several short paragraphs of true automatic writing, as for example: “moo moo. .Tally Tillie Valspar Vent flu flu..doo do do. .Ding Dong Bell. .Sell sell sell. .Knee Wall fell. .sell sell sell. .Tele tell yell. .Sell sell sell. .Pell Pow Mell. .Sell Sell Sell. .Pel Tex Mell.”

Here is Burroughs and Gysin’s Time cut-up in its entirety:
 

 

 

 
The rest after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
William Burroughs on cover of National Examiner tabloid along with Burt Reynolds, Delta Burke
07.25.2014
01:01 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
William S. Burroughs


The current issue of the National Examiner newspaper

Of all the people you might see on the cover of the National Examiner supermarket tabloid—Loretta Lynn, Michael Jackson, Honey Boo Boo, the Clintons and of course the Kardashian family—one face that you’d probably never expect to find there is that of junkie novelist William Burroughs, but there he is, in the right upper corner, right above Burt Reynolds and to the left of the bit asking what the fuck Delta Burke did to her face…

See Burroughs there, along with Ted Kennedy, Claus Von Bulow and Susan Cummings, the original affluenza poster children? The question asks “Do the rich and famous get away with killing people?”

The short answer, of course as was most certainly the case with William Burroughs (whose brother bribed Mexican police to let him go after he’d blown his wife’s brains out at point blank range) is that they often do! Predictably there’s a sidebar about Claudine Longet, too.

I’m not normally in the habit of picking up cheesy supermarket tabloids, but I noticed this at the check out this morning at Ralphs (that’s what they call Kroger in So Cal) and had to share. The National Examiner has a reputation for bad reporting—if not just out and out making shit up—but they got the basic facts right for this one. Still, it’s got to be the most unexpected company ever for William Burroughs to keep.

Not so much Claus Von Bulow, but Delta Burke?
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa, John Cage, Patti Smith & others celebrate William S. Burroughs at the Nova Convention

Nova Convention
 
In 1978, after many years of living in London and Tangiers, William S. Burroughs decided to return to his home country. For a small group of artistic weirdos, this was a significant event, and a convention was held in his honor at the Entermedia Theater from November 30 through December 2, 1978, on Second Avenue and 12th Street in New York City (it’s no longer there). Much earlier, it had been announced that Keith Richards would be on hand, but after his heroin arrest in Toronto, his management calculated that it would not be wise to appear at a festival honoring the legendary deviant drug addict William S. Burroughs. Frank Zappa was enlisted to read the “Talking Asshole” section from Naked Lunch. Patti Smith, who wore “a glamorous black fur trench” in the words of Thurston Moore, objected mightily to having to follow Zappa and had to be placated by Burroughs confidant and organizer of the convention James Grauerholz, who explained to Smith that Zappa’s appearance was a last-minute necessity and not intended to show Smith up. You can listen to Smith’s contribution, in which she addresses Richards’ absence, here. At the “event party” for the convention, the musical performances included Suicide, The B-52s, and Debbie Harry and Chris Stein from Blondie. The inclusion of The B-52s is most fascinating, as they hadn’t even released their first album yet.
 
William S. Burroughs
 
Other participants included Terry Southern, Philip Glass, John Cage, Laurie Anderson and Allen Ginsburg. You can read a writeup of the event from the December 4, 1978, edition of the New York Times: “Of the other performers, Mr. Burroughs himself was the most appealing, and this had less to do with what he was reading than with how he read it. Although he has created some enduring characters, he is his own most interesting character, and he was in rare form, sitting at a desk in a business suit and bright green hat, shuffling papers and reading in his dry Midwestern accent.” An LP and cassette documenting the event were released in 1979 and they fetch top prices today at Discogs.

According to Ted Morgan in Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs,
 

The Nova Convention took place on November 30, December 1, and December 2, 1978, with the principal performances being held on the last two days at the Entermedia Theater, on Second Avenue and Twelfth Street, which had in the fifties been the fabled Phoenix Theater. Attending were an odd mixture of academics, publishers, writers, artists, punk rockers, counterculture groupies, and an influx of bridge-and-tunnel kids drawn by Keith Richards, who made the event a sellout.

-snip-

Saturday night the Entermedia was packed, largely with young people waiting to see Keith Richards. There was a small hitch, however, which was that Keith Richards had cancelled. He was having problems as the result of a heroin bust in Toronto, and his office convinced him that appearing on the same program with Burroughs was bad publicity.

But the show had to go on, and the composer Philip Glass, playing one of his repetitive pieces on the synthesizer, was thrown to the wolves. The disappointed kids who wanted Keith Richards shouted and booed. Then Brion Gysin went on amid cries of “Where’s Keith?” and found himself hoping that the riot would not start until he had done his brief turn.

In a last-minute effort, James Grauerholz had recruited Frank Zappa to pinch-hit for Keith. He volunteered to read the “Talking Asshole” routine from Naked Lunch. But as Zappa was preparing to go on, Patti Smith had a fit of pique about following him. James did his best to make peace, saying “Frank has come in at the last minute, and he’s got to go on, and he’s doing it for William, not to show you up.” Patti Smith retreated to the privacy of her dressing room, and Zappa got a big hand, because that’s what they wanted, a rock star.

 
From July 1 through July 13, the Red Gallery in London is putting on an exhibition dedicated to the Nova Convention. The exhibition is curated by Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz; Moore, who was present at the event in 1978, supplies a short piece called “Nova Reflections” to the exhibition catalogue; here are some snippets of that:
 

What I remember of the Nova Convention, in my teenage potted reverie, was a palpable excitement of the importance of Burroughs’ return to NYC. He had been living and working in London for some time, and before that, was residing in Tangiers. My awareness of the poets and performers on the Nova Convention bill was obscure, but I did realise everyone there had experienced a history in connection to the man. The poet Eileen Myles performed, and I have a hazy memory of what she has since reminded me was a polarising moment that night: She and a femme cohort came out on stage and performed the so-called William Tell act where in 1951 Burroughs tragically sent a bullet through his wife Joan Vollmer’s skull, killing her instantly. According to Eileen she was hence persona non grata backstage, and frozen out from the coterie of avant lit celebrities shocked at her “reminder” performance.

-snip-

Glass’s idiosyncratic high-speed minimalist pianistics was natural, gorgeous and sublime. Zappa came out and read a Burroughs excerpt “The Talking Asshole” which seemed appropriate and was mildly entertaining. Patti hit the stage in a glamorous black fur trench, purportedly on loan from some high-end clothier. She rambled on a bit, brazenly unscripted, testing the patience of the long night when out of the audience some fan-boy freako leapt on stage and bequeathed her with a Fender Duo-Sonic guitar. She accepted it cooly and before long was gone. And we stumbled into the 2nd Avenue night.

 
In his catalogue piece, Moore leads with an anecdote about photographer James Hamilton, whose astonishing pictures of rock icons are collected in the book (Moore was intergral in putting that book together as well) You Should Have Heard Just What I Seen. Hamilton was covering the event for the Village Voice, and while it’s not stated as such, presumably many of Hamilton’s photographs, are featured in the exhibition.
 
Here’s Timothy Leary, Les Levine, Robert Anton Wilson and Brion Gysin engaging in “conversations” about Burroughs’ work:

 
And here’s Frank Zappa reading “The Talking Asshole” from Naked Lunch:

 
Preview video of the “Nova Convention” exhibition at the Red Gallery:

 
via {feuilleton}

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
William S. Burroughs and industrial music all-stars in dystopian 80s cult film ‘Decoder’


 
If your life needs a little-seen dystopian ‘80s German film about Industrial music sparking revolutionary change in a society of fast food and cultivated complacency—and I believe it does—then your life needs Decoder. Largely illuminated in lurid reds and TV-tube blues, the 1984 film starred Einstürzende Neubauten’s then-percussionist F.M. Einheit as a sonic experimenter who discovers that playing back recordings of disturbances in public spaces can create actual disturbances among the public, a concept developed by William Burroughs in the “Electronic Revolution” essay found in some editions of the collection The Job. (In fact, Burroughs briefly appears in the film, as does Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV’s Genesis P-Orridge.)

Einheit uses this esoteric knowledge to cultivate increasingly widespread defiance and mayhem, attracting the attention of a Muzak corporate hit-man (I love the conceit that Muzak would have an assassin in its employ) whose task is complicated by his crush on F.M.’s peep-show dancer/amateur herpetologist girlfriend, played by Christiane F. The film’s themes and inspirations are illuminated by its writer Klaus Maeck in this interview from Jack Sargeant’s Naked Lens: Beat Cinema, excerpted here from the film’s web site.

I wanted to realize Burroughs’ ideas and the techniques which he described in the ‘Electronic Revolution’, and in The Revised Boy Scout Manual and in The Job. These were my favorite books … And I loved Johnny Rotten for his revolution in show business (and I still do). I was convinced that the only valuable political work must use the enemy’s techniques. From the ‘Foreword’ of the Decoder Handbook: “It’s all about subliminal manipulation, through words, pictures and sound. It is the task of the pirates to understand these techniques and use them in their own interest. To spread information is the task of all media. Media is power. And nowadays (1984!) the biggest revolution happen at the market for electronic media. To spread information is also your task. And we should learn in time to use our video and tape recorders as Weapons. The fun will come by itself.”

Being in the music business and participating in the punk and new wave explosion I became more interested in music. Muzak was one thing I found. Subliminal music to influence people’s moods, to make them function better, or buy more. So my conclusion was similar to that of ‘bands’ like Throbbing Gristle; by turning around the motivation, by cutting up the sounds, by distorting them etc. one should be able to provoke different reactions. Make people puke instead of feeling well, make people disobey instead of following, provoke riots.

Though it deals thoughtfully with provocative ideas, the film is laden with Euro art-film pretense that feels like fit matter for a “Sprockets” gag. Early on there’s a montage of video games cut with military stock footage, and another that alternates gore and erotica while Soft Cell’s “Seedy Films” plays. And it features this exchange:
 

 
But as strange as it can be, Decoder still holds a coherent, if dreamy, narrative, filled with captivating imagery and a gorgeous soundtrack composed by Einheit, P-Orridge, and Soft Cell’s Dave Ball. You can watch it in its entirety right here. I’ll throw the trainspotters a bone: Burroughs’ cameo is in the scene that starts at about 37:30, and P-Orridge’s appearance is at about 49:00.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
When Derek Jarman met William Burroughs, London 1982

jarburrmanoughs.jpg
 
Early one Saturday morning in September 1982, Genesis P-Orridge met filmmaker Derek Jarman at his apartment in central London. The pair then drove to Heathrow Airport, where they were to collect William S. Burroughs. Jarman brought his camera, and took a few “shy snaps” as Genesis welcomed Burroughs and then drove him to Chelsea, where he was booked into the Arts Club. A full itinerary of events had been organized for Burroughs during his visit, as Jarman later wrote in his journal.

During the next week Mr. B. was banqueted at the B2 Gallery, filmed and interviewed across London, and did four nights of readings at the Ritzy in Brixton and one night in Heaven.

Burroughs was publicizing his latest novel, Cities of the Red Night, as well as reading extracts from past works and his forthcoming book The Place of Dead Roads. Having made three critically successful art house films (Sebastiane, Jubilee, and The Tempest), Jarman was struggling to raise money for his next feature on the Baroque artist Caravaggio. Genesis, finished with Throbbing Gristle, had formed the video art and music group Psychic TV, who were working with Jarman on a film portrait of Burroughs.

Jarman “clicked away” with his Nizo Super 8 camera filming Burroughs, Brion Gysin, John Giorno and others. The results were edited together into a short film Pirate Tape, with a soundtrack by Psychic TV.

In his memoir Dancing Ledge, Jarman described a reading by Burroughs and Brion Gysin:

WSB emerges tortoise-like to greet his audience. He stoops like a cadavre in the catacombs of Palermo and talks of mummies and immortality. To speak to him is almost impossible, as he is always on the move in little erratic circles. At rest he retires into himself and puts out a signal, ‘Leave me alone.’ The only thing to do is to be photographed with him, and that is what everyone attempted to do. His readings are immensely funny. He drawls out his lines in a Southern monotone, punctuating it only for sips of water. What might give you the shivers on the page becomes the blackest of black comedy. Brion Gysin fights an old battle with him; but William’s junk vision has won out against Brion’s magic and the battle isn’t joined. Brion described William fishing for inspiration in the sewers of Paris. They do not share accommodation on this trip, and their friendship now seems cemented by the common platform that their young admirers have provided. Time has parted them: Brion the Parisian with his dream-machine and Bill in Kansas with his junk.

Sometimes the bare facts of history create a romantic notion that the participants in such culturally important events were happy, successful and generally financially secure. When usually, in truth, the opposite was often the case.

So it was for Jarman, who by January 1983 was broke, his bank account shut, and all his holiday change spent. He was reduced to selling clothes and books to pay the rent. Genesis P-Orridge, on hearing of Jarman’s financial plight, gave him £50 towards the cost of the Super 8 film he had shot for Pirate Tape.

Pirate Tape is an experimental portrait of William Burroughs, which features a loop of the writer’s voice cut to images of his visit to London. This film tends to disappear quickly, so watch it while you can.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages’: Incredible vintage movie photos up for auction
03.05.2014
09:53 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Occult

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Häxan


 
What’s your budget for occult-related artifacts? Well, it probably needs to be a lot bigger, because some gorgeous vintage photos from the 1922 Swedish/Danish documentary, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages are up for auction. The opening bid was $2,000, and the lot is expected to go for somewhere between $4,000 and $8,000.

For the uninitiated, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages is only a “documentary” in a very abstract sense. Intrigued by the Malleus Maleficarum—a 15th century German guide to witch and demon identification—director Benjamin Christensen depicted the occult hysteria of the Middle Ages by actually portraying the delusions and superstitions themselves. So instead of a movie made up entirely of inquisitions and trials and executions (which, to be fair, are certainly scary), he delivered a motion picture depicting mental illness, satanic masses, baby killing, sex with the devil, broom rides, the seduction of clergy and all manner of cinematic evil. The film was once banned in the United States.

I highly recommend you watch it, and I also highly recommend the 1968 William S. Burroughs-narrated version I posted at the bottom. The film was originally silent (obviously), but whatever score might have been played at a screening couldn’t be any creepier than hearing William S. Burroughs’ nasally voice over psychedelic jazz and electronic noises. Plus, the Criterion Collection version is 104 minutes long, whereas the Burroughs version is 77 minutes, since a narrator eliminates the necessity of title cards.

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages was the most expensive Swedish film ever made at the time, and it shows. There are lush, eery sets, clearly created with careful attention to detail, and the early special effects are haunting, even in our cynical CGI-laden present day. The cinematography is also very sophisticated, using odd angles and unsettling close-ups. It’s absolutely gorgeous, a true fantastic horror—disturbing, violent, and sometimes sexy—pretty much everything you want in an occult documentary, no? To give you a taste, some of the lot is below, (the first four are larger sized, the others are smaller photos).

But really, watch the movie. In the dark.

Oh, and buy me these photographs. I need them for apartment ambiance whilst summoning the dark forces
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Thank you, Eric Bradley!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Happy 100th birthday William S. Burroughs!
02.05.2014
02:00 pm

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
William S. Burroughs


 
William S. Burroughs was born one hundred years ago today, February 5, 1914, in St. Louis, MO. Unsurprisingly, this year there will be countless celebrations of his life, work and still very profound cultural influence. The best place to keep up with the events of the Burroughs’ centenary is at the Burroughs100 website.

Here are some past Dangerous Minds posts about the author:

When Bowie met Burroughs

Jimmy Page and William Burroughs discuss magick and eat burritos, 1975

Cover Versions: Worldwide covers of William S. Burroughs books

The William S. Burroughs/Beatles connection

Everybody Loves William Burroughs: A photographic collection

When Kurt Cobain met William Burroughs

William S. Burroughs on the occult

When William Burroughs met Joy Division

Ah Poop is Here! William Burroughs’ actual turd used in bioart project

When Madonna met William S. Burroughs

Below, an excerpt from NOVA EXPRESS: “Last Words of Hassan Sabbah” by Andre Perkowski:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Talking sex with Andy and Bill: William S. Burroughs and Andy Warhol discuss ‘the first time’
01.21.2014
05:53 am

Topics:
Art
Literature
Queer
Sex

Tags:
Andy Warhol
William S. Burroughs


 
Two cultural icons of the twentieth century, William S. Burroughs and Andy Warhol, enjoying dinner and amiably discussing the first time they had sex with another man—whatever could be more salubrious? Horses are part of the conversation, too. Read on in the excerpt from Victor Bockris’ classic book, With William Burroughs, A Report from the Bunker
 

Burroughs: Cocteau had this party trick that he would pull. He would lie down, take off his clothes, and come spontaneously. Could do that even in his fifties. He’d lie down there and his cock would start throbbing and he’d go off. It was some film trick that he had.

Bockris: How’d he pull that off? Have you ever been able to come through total mental—

Burroughs: Oh, I have indeed. I’ve done it many times. It’s just a matter of getting the sexual image so vivid that you come.

Warhol: How old were you when you first had sex?

Burroughs: Sixteen. Just boarding school at Los Alamos Ranch School where they later made the atom bomb.

Warhol: With who?

Burroughs: With this boy in the next bunk.

Warhol: What did he do?

Burroughs: Mutual masturbation. But during the war this school, which was up on the mesa there thirty-seven miles north of Santa Fe, was taken over by the army. That’s where they made the atom bomb. Oppenheimer [the scientist who invented the bomb] had gone out there for his health and he was staying at a dude ranch near this place and said, “Well, this is the ideal place.” It seems so right and appropriate somehow that I should have gone to school there. Los Alamos Ranch School was one of those boarding schools where everyone rode a horse. Fucking horses, I hate ‘em. I had sinus trouble and I’d been going to New Mexico for my health during the summer vacations and then my family contacted the director, A. J. Connell, who was a Unitarian and believed very much in positive thinking, and I went there for two years. This took place on a sleeping porch, 1929.

Warhol: How great! Was the sex really like an explosion?

Burroughs: No no … I don’t remember it was so long ago.

Warhol: I think I was twenty-five when I first had sex, but the first time I knew about sex was under the stairs in Northside, Pittsburgh, and they made this funny kid suck this boy off. I never understood what it meant…

Burroughs: Made him do what?

Warhol: Suck this boy off, but I didn’t know what it meant, I was just sitting there watching when I was five years old. How did you get this kid to do it, or did he do it to you?

Burroughs: Oh I don’t know, sort of a lot of talking back and forth…

Here’s a remarkable clip of the pair, this time chatting about, er, chicken fried steak—in the very room in which Arthur Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey! Phew, so much history! The footage is from an episode of the BBC documentary program Arena about the Hotel Chelsea and there are a couple of odd narrative elements to it, but the clip mercifully ends with Nico singing a haunting rendition of “Chelsea Girls”—in the Chelsea Hotel itself, one wonders if it was in Room 506…..
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘FLicKer’: Brion Gysin’s Dreamachine, tripping without drugs, w/ Iggy Pop, Kenneth Anger and more

image
 
Some artists, like Picasso and Dali, were discovered when they were young and their talents grew to maturity before the public eye. Sometimes, however it takes… well, dying before the art world sits up and takes notice of you, This was certainly the case with Brion Gysin, the Canadian/British painter and author who long stood in the shadows, figuratively speaking, of William S. Burroughs, his lifelong friend and collaborator. Burroughs once said that Brion Gysin was the only man he ever truly respected.

Gysin is an artist whose work must be seen in person to be truly appreciated. Of course this is said about every artist’s work, but it’s particularly true with Brion Gysin. What might appear to be random chicken scratch calligraphy when reproduced in a book, becomes ALIVE when seen in person. Seemingly careless hash marks become scenes of hundreds of people around a bonfire or a crowded Arab marketplace when you’re staring right at it.

The man was a master. And he left an awful lot of work behind. Although there were various Gysin gallery exhibits in New York while he was still alive—I recall being astonished by some large works on paper in a great 1985 show at the Tower Gallery—there was never a museum-level retrospective of Gysin’s work in the United States until 2010 at the New Museum in Manhattan:

One of the things Gysin is best know for is inventing the Dreamachine—a kinetic light sculpture that utilizes flicker effect to induce visions—a drugless turn-on.

FLicKer is a 2008 Canadian documentary about Gysin’s Dreamachine, directed by Nik Sheehan. Kenneth Anger, Marianne Faithfull, Gysin biographer John Geiger, Iggy Pop, Genesis P-Orridge, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, DJ Spooky and yours truly are interviewed.
 

 
H/T R.U. Sirius

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
William S. Burroughs and Tom Waits team-up for ‘The Black Rider’
11.22.2013
09:32 am

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Music

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William S. Burroughs
Tom Waits


 
The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets is a lesser-known project of William S. Burroughs (who wrote the opera’s book) and a somewhat better-known work of Tom Waits (who composed the majority of the music and lyrics). The pair collaborated on the piece at the behest of theatrical visionary Robert Wilson, who staged and directed the avant-garde production which premiered in a German-language version at Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre on March 31,1990.

The Black Rider is based on a gruesome German folktale with supernatural themes called Der Freischütz, which had previously been made into an opera by the Romantic school composer Carl Maria von Weber. Historically, it is considered to be one of the very first “nationalist” German operas.

The story is simple: A mild-mannered clerk falls in love with a hunter’s daughter and seeks his approval in order to marry. He is offered magic bullets in a Faustian bargain. On the day of their wedding, the final bullet kills his love. He loses his mind and joins other of the devil’s victims in a hellish carnival.

Worth noting that while The Black Rider is based on German folklore, the book has a bit of unavoidable overlap with William Burroughs’ own life, the sordid “William Tell” incident that ended in the death of his common-law wife Joan Vollmer in Mexico in 1951.

In the late 90s, English language versions of the opera started to occur. In 2004, Robert Wilson and Tom Waits teamed up again for an English language version of The Black Rider that would tour the world. Casts members included performers such as Marianne Faithfull (who essayed the devil character), eccentric Canadian chanteuse Mary Margaret O’Hara and Richard Strange from The Doctors of Madness. The opera has been staged several times since then by various companies.

Waits’ own version of his songs from The Black Rider came out in 1993 and featured William Burroughs’ distinctive vocalizing on “‘T’ Ain’t No Sin”:

 

 
h/t Open Culture

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch the William S. Burroughs-narrated ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages’


 
The trouble with classic silent movies is that they can be a bit of a schlep. If you’re not down to read title cards and accept nearly 100-year-old conceptions of cinematic pacing, silent film may not feel like leisurely entertainment. This is why when I suggest folks watch the 1922 Swedish/Danish documentary, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, I strongly recommend they go for the 1968 William S. Burroughs-narrated version.
 
Haxan
 
For one, the Criterion Collection version is 104 minutes long to the ‘68 version’s 77 minutes, cutting out some “fluff.” Bigger doesn’t always mean better, film buffs! Second, you get Burroughs’ genuinely spooky-as-hell voice perfectly setting the mood. Third, the new soundtrack is absolutely amazing! We’re talking weirdo jazz and early groovy synth work. I like a little camp in my horror, but it in no way relegates this classic to kitsch.
 

 
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages was the most expensive Swedish film ever made at the time, and the movie itself is absolutely beautiful. The high production values are apparent in the elaborate scenery, costumes and props. While the film itself is nominally a documentary chronicling the hysteria surrounding the occult in Europe (primarily during the Middle Ages), most of the actual footage is reenactment of these superstitious delusions. We’re talking satanic masses, sex with the devil, broom rides, and all kinds of black magic.
 

 
Based largely on the Malleus Maleficarum, the 15th century German guide to witch and demon identification, director Benjamin Christensen makes it perfectly clear that the mass delusion of witchcraft was the true horror, and the inquisitors the real monsters. My favorite part is the depiction of witches cursing the clergy with lust; isn’t that convenient? That way, anytime a priest couldn’t keep it in his pants, he could blame a woman for seducing/bewitching him! I guess some things never change!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Own a William S. Burroughs methadone bottle
10.08.2013
12:23 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Literature

Tags:
William S. Burroughs
Beats

burroughs methadone bottle
 
What do you get the Beat-lit enthusiast who has everything? How about one of William S Burroughs’ prescription methadone bottles, filled with rocks from his grave and a shell fired from one of his guns? No lie, this is a thing you can actually obtain. San Francisco’s PBA Galleries are auctioning a MASSIVE collection of books and memorabilia, including, among many wonderful books, a first edition hardcover of Dune, a signed 1959 copy of Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island Of The Mind, a complete run of all 14 issues of Avant Garde magazine, an original drawing by Charles Bukowski, a collection of Henry Miller vinyl records, and a William Burroughs grocery list, disappointingly bereft of ammunition or narcotics. Plenty of marvelous old comics and pulp mags, as well, but nothing else in the auction even comes close to the methadone bottle in terms of sheer what-the-fuckness. Bidding opens on Thursday, October 10, at 11 AM Pacific Time.

While you’re browsing the lots and drooling over the temptations contained therein, enjoy Destroy All Rational Thought, the Burroughs/ Bryon Gysin documentary that includes one of Burroughs’ final interviews.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
William Burroughs sings
09.26.2013
03:46 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Literature
Pop Culture
Punk

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William S. Burroughs


“Bill Burrough’s Recurring Dream,” David Wojnarowicz, 1978

I think it’s safe to say that many, many more people have heard William Burroughs’ 1990 Dead City Radio album than have ever picked up one of his books and read it from cover to cover. I don’t feel this way at all, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that they think it’s the best thing Burroughs ever did.

Ignoring that uniformed sentiment and moving on, for most people, seeing the “A Thanksgiving Prayer” video every year on bOING bOING is practically the only exposure to Burroughs they’ll ever get and so therefore Dead City Radio assumes an unwarranted, out-sized importance in his body of work. (Personally I don’t find it that satisfying. Nothing Here Now But The Recordings, a selection from Burroughs’ archive of his occult reel-to-reel tape-recorder experiments, is 100x more interesting, but would be of no use whatsoever to most people who might profess to like “weird” stuff and just sound like someone messing around. That’s the material they should’ve slapped the Sonic Youth music over.)

Ultimately what can be gleamed from this is that it’s more Burroughs’ “image” than anything else about him that has so much continuing—and even widespread—iconic currency in popular culture.

Timothy Leary? Abbie Hoffman? Younger people hardly have any idea of who they were or what they were all about. William S. Burroughs on the other hand? Well, do a search for his name on Tumblr and you’ll see.

He’s well on his way to becoming as iconic as Che Guevara, James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. Give it more time, he’s only been dead since 1997. In terms of ready-made rebellious iconography for the Facebook generation, William Burroughs is the ultimate semiotic symbol for a truly dangerous mind.

So let’s celebrate him today, with a selection of lesser heard Burroughs-related musical material that’s not from Dead City Radio:
 

 
“T’aint No Sin” from The Black Rider
 

 
“Sharkey’s Night” from Laurie Anderson’s Mister Heartbreak album
 

 
Burroughs reads poetry by Jim Morrison over music by The Doors on “Is Everybody In?”
 

 
Guesting with Ministry on “Just One Fix.”
 

 
“Star Me Kitten” William Burroughs and R.E.M. (This comes from the Songs in the Key of X-Files album. It’s terrible. Loutallica terrible!)
 

 
“What Keeps Mankind Alive?” from Brecht and Weill’s Threepenny Opera, as heard on September Songs

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
William S. Burroughs offers some advice for young people in ‘Commissioner of Sewers’
07.14.2013
06:53 am

Topics:
Heroes
Thinkers

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William S. Burroughs

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Portrait of William S. Burroughs by AtelierBagatelle

“Art makes people aware of what they know and don’t know.”

William Burroughs said in this interview with (“pilot & writer”) Jürgen Ploog.

“Once the breakthrough has been made there’s a permanent expansion of awareness. But there’s always a reaction of outrage at the first breakthrough.

The artist expands awareness, and once the breakthrough is made, it becomes part of the general awareness.”

The conversation between the two men forms the basis of Klaus Meck’s documentary William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers. Filmed in what looks like a hotel room, the duo’s dialog is inter-cut with clips of Burroughs reading extracts from his work, including “The Do Goods” and “Advice for Young People.”

Ploog’s questions rather randomly move from writing (where Burroughs claims if he hadn’t succeeded getting his novel Junkie published, he might never have become a writer); to religion and reincarnation; through Cezanne and Art and onto animals (where WSB discusses why humans empathize more with predatory animals than with their prey). Their disjointed Q&A has a strange “episodic” quality to it but Burroughs (and his encyclopedic knowledge) is fascinating throughout.
 

 
Bonus track: Burroughs reads “When did I stop wanting to be President?” after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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