In this fascinating but (far too) short clip, Alan Moore gives an introduction to the work of artist Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956), who he describes as “one of the most over-looked figures in British art history”. The obituaries for Spare’s death remarked “England had lost one of its best ever nude study artist.” Nearly sixty years after his death, little is known about the artist outside of knowledgeable and specialist circles.
But Spare wasn’t only an incredible artist, as Moore points out, he was also “possibly the greatest English magician of the twentieth century.”
“I think that Magic offers the artist a new way of looking at their consciousness, and of looking at where they get their ideas from.”
Spare was an artistic prodigy, who was the youngest exhibitor at the Royal Academy, London. At the same time, he was developing his own esoteric beliefs, which brought him into contact with Aleister Crowley, and a relationship of sorts began, with Spare contributing illustrations to Crowley’s magazine Equinox. However, the friendship foundered and Spare alluded to Crowley in his book The Book of Pleasure:
“Others praise ceremonial Magic, and are supposed to suffer much Ecstasy! Our asylums are crowded, the stage is over-run! Is it by symbolising we become the symbolised? Were I to crown myself King, should I be King? Rather should I be an object of disgust or pity. These Magicians, whose insincerity is their safety, are but the unemployed dandies of the Brothels.”
Yet Spare did not give up on magic completely, rather he began his own particular mix of “repressed magic”, which fed directly into his art work. Spare became known for his “automatic drawing” - allowing himself to act as a medium to spirits to guide his pencil, creating inter-twined images of figures and faces on a page.
There are many different stories (some more incredible than others) about Spare and his involvement with magic and the spirit world. He was said to have the power of divination and premonition, and could accurately predict events long before they took place. He was also know for his dialog with “spirits” and “demons”, and after a fire at his studio, he fell under a mysterious ailment which left him unable to paint for 5 years.
Spare’s work had some odd admirers, in particular Adolf Hitler, who asked him to paint his portrait. Spare refused believing Hitler to be evil, and if he were a Superman, Spare was claimed to have said in reply, then he would prefer to live as an animal.
Étienne Sauret’s documentary Dirty Pictures is warm-hearted and appropriately shambolic look at the life of Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the man who discovered the psychedelic effects of MDMA and a variety of other home-brewed synthetic compounds that alter, expand and raise consciousness.
A former Dow Chemical drug developer who early on saw the light (a mescaline trip), Shulgin moved on to independent research in the mid-1960s. With his wife Ann, he developed and tested hundreds of psychoactive drugs, mostly analogues of phenethylamines (which include MDMA and mescaline) and tryptamines like DMT and psilocibyn.
“I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability.” A. Shulgin.
Shulgin’s books PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved) and TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved) combine autobiography and research into essential reading for anyone who is interested in the science and history of psychedelics and the life of a spiritual revolutionary who has fearlessly led the fight to wrest consciousness from the brain police.
Directed by Tim Pope, Soft Cell’s Sex Dwarf video, released to promote their debut album, created quite a scandal in 1981. Claiming it was pornographic, British police actually confiscated copies of the video. It was banned from MTV at the time and has been banned from YouTube…though it pops up now and then.
The Sex Dwarf clip reminds me of the films of Jack Smith and The Kuchar Brothers, mashed up with Texas Chainsaw Massacre: a Bacchanalian group grope full of writhing bodies, hot flesh and a chainsaw. Enjoy it in all its sleazy glory.
Tim Pope and Marc Almond discuss the making of “Sex Dwarf.”
A ripping New Years Eve concert from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers taped in Santa Monica, CA in 1978.
My first ever concert was seeing Tom Petty on April 19, 1977 in Wheeling, WV when I was eleven years old. The Heartbreakers—who were in the charts at the time with their second album and the “I Need to Know” single (which I thought was the greatest song ever recorded except for “Live and Let Die”)—were the opening act for the Doobie Brothers, who I just hated. Tickets were like $4.
Speaking of doobies, this occasion also marked the very first time I smoked weed. My friend and I were so stoned that we went to the area behind the stage—where no one was sitting as the area was roped off—and fell asleep. Yes, sound asleep at a loud rock concert in a hockey arena! The trouble was, during the Doobie’s set, during the obligatory big 70s drum solo, the drummer did this thing with an electrified gong that he touched with a “magic sword” that caused massive electrical bolts and sparks to fly out of it (out of the gong).
This was a hell of a way to wake up out of a stupor, believe me. It was obvious after the fact why that section had been cordoned off. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were amazing, though!
Here’s a clip from Acid Delirio Dei Sensi (Acid, Delirium Of The Senses), a very obscure acid exploitation film directed by Giuseppe Maria Scotese. Italian language bootlegs on DVD are available of this over-the-top psychedelic mindbender. I’ve yet to find one with English subtitles.
While few people have actually seen the film, poster art for Acid Delirio Dei Sensi is coveted among collectors. I own two, which I purchased 20 years ago before they became priceless.
God help me, but not only do I once again find myself agreeing with something that David Frum has written, I’m actually finding myself drawn to his byline these days.
One of us has changed. It ain’t me!
Frum’s short piece on The Daily Beast yesterday rather eloquently summarizes what will happen after the Supreme Court makes its ruling and was pretty much on the money, I thought. After making the case that Justices who have made their careers decrying judicial activism probably shouldn’t go there themselves—everyone is looking at you, Antonin Scalia—Frum predicts in favor of ACA standing. I wish I could say I was as optimistic as he is, but his analysis of the fallout is still sound:
What then is that healthcare comes roaring back as a campaign issue, to which Republicans have failed to provide themselves an answer. Because of the prolonged economic downturn, more Americans than ever have lost—or are at risk of losing—their health coverage. Many of them will be voting in November. What do Republicans have to say to them?
Make no mistake: If Republicans lose in the Supreme Court, they’ll need an answer. “Repeal” may excite a Republican primary electorate that doesn’t need to worry about health insurance because it’s overwhelmingly over 65 and happily enjoying its government-mandated and taxpayer-subsidized single-payer Medicare system. But the general-election electorate doesn’t have the benefit of government medicine. It relies on the collapsing system of employer-directed care. It’s frightened, and it wants answers.
“Unconstitutional” was an answer of a kind. But if the ACA is not rejected as “unconstitutional,” the question will resurface: if you guys don’t want this, want do you want instead?
In that case, Republicans will need a Plan B. Unfortunately, they wasted the past three years that might have developed one. If the Supreme Court doesn’t rescue them from themselves, they’ll be heading into this election season arguing, in effect, Our plan is to take away the government-mandated insurance of millions of people under age 65, and replace it with nothing. And we’re doing this so as to better protect the government-mandated insurance of people over 65—until we begin to phase out that insurance, too, for everybody now under 55.
Mitt Romney, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night said the following and it’s blandly revealing of where the GOP stands on the matter:
JAY LENO: Well, suppose if they were never insured before?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, if they’re 45 years old and they show up they say ‘I want insurance because I’ve got a heart disease,’ it’s like hey guys, we can’t play the game like that. You’ve got to get insurance when you are well, and then if you get ill then you’re going to be covered.
Let me translate that for you: “Hey guys, if you’re 45 and don’t have health insurance because you’ve been out of work for the last two years due to the mess me and my Wall Street buddies in the oligarch class have put you in, YOU’LL JUST HAVE TO DIE.”
Or you know, Google “WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE?” (Google should do the public a service and link the first result to a Willy Wonka meme that says “Don’t have health insurance? You’re fucked”)
Leno pressed him, but Romney kept the line:
JAY LENO: I know guys at work in the auto industry, and they’re just not covered…they’ve just never been able to get insurance. And then they get to e 30, 35, and were never able to get insurance before. Now they have it. That seems like a good thing.
MITT ROMNEY: We’ll look at a circumstance where someone was ill, and hasn’t been insured so far. But people who have had the chance to be insured — if you’re working in an auto business for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure all their employees — you look at the circumstances that exist. But people who have done their best to get insured, are going to be able to be covered. But you don’t want everyone saying, `I’m going to sit back until I get sick and then go buy insurance.’ That doesn’t make sense. But you have to find rules that get people in that are playing by the rules.
What an asshole! But this is what the GOP is running on! Does this make any sense? It seems suicidal to me!
“Nothing” is what 31 million uninsured Americans—many of them with pre-existing conditions and children—will get if the Republicans get their way. 31 million people—many of them voters—is a lot of people to fuck over and make angry. If the SCOTUS decides that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, the GOP is going to regret what they wished for.
Because if that happens, all Hell is going to break loose.
No one’s going to be talking about “Obamacare” anymore. They’ll be talking about HEALTH CARE and why so many people DON’T HAVE IT in this fucking madhouse of a country. The issue is going to CRUSH the GOP. The BEST outcome for them would be the Supremes letting ACA stand as is because it’s the only thing that would (or could) save the Republicans from themselves.
The thing that’s not getting brought up in all of this, and I think it’s a valid thing to ponder: What happens to 31 million pissed-off people who’ve been counting down the days until they can get health coverage? Do they just shrug it off? Tell their sick kids that it’s what’s best for the country???
Imagine needing a hernia stitched up for years and now that’s off for you, buddy. Just like Denzel Washington in John Q or the main character in Bobcat Goldthwait’s new dark comedy film God Bless America—a guy who is diagnosed with a terminal disease and decides to kill off a bunch of rightwing assholes before his own demise—should they yank away all hope for that many Americans, just imagine the repercussions to the individuals—people with names, social security numbers and street addresses—who will be seen as responsible for destroying the lives of people for whom there was once a light at the end of the tunnel?
My prediction: If the Supremes deep-six Obamacare, things will get fucking nuts.