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Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey
01.10.2019
08:15 am
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Cultural critic Mark Dery, whose erudite essays have appeared in the pages of the Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, Village Voice and his own collections, The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink and Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, returns with his remarkable biography of the comically sinister author and illustrator Edward Gorey. This delightful combination of biographer and subject has been praised in the New York Times, the New Yorker, at NPR Vogue and other prestige outlets. We’re pleased to present a short excerpt from Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown) at Dangerous Minds.

In the following excerpt from my just-published biography, Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown), I explore Gorey’s role, alongside Seuss and Sendak, in the postwar revolution in children’s books, a gleeful insurrection that killed off those insufferable, simpering Goody-Goodies, Dick and Jane, for good. In so doing, Gorey and other writer-illustrators reshaped American notions of kids lit and even childhood itself, making way for a more honest acceptance of the facts of life: divorce, death, racial tensions, queer desire. As well, the new wave slyly satirized not only the mainstream culture of the ‘50s and ‘60s but the conventions of children’s literature itself, many of which dated back to the cautionary tales and nursery-rhyme sermonizing of the Victorian era, when the children’s book as we know it was born. Whether Gorey’s work really was kiddie fare or arsenical treats for adults ironically disguised as picture books is still up for debate. Regardless, his influence is stronger than ever, identifiable at a glance in the YA novels of Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), the twee-goth movies of Tim Burton, and somber memoirs of “the miseries of childhood,” as Gorey put it, such as Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home.

— Mark Dery

Nineteen-sixty saw the publication of Edward Gorey’s sixth book, The Fatal Lozenge, by the New York publisher Ivan Obolensky. Subtitled An Alphabet, The Fatal Lozenge was his first foray into the ABC genre. He would go on to perform variations on the abecedarium theme in six books, one of which, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, would become his best-known title. [They are, in chronological order, The Fatal Lozenge, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Utter Zoo, The Chinese Obelisks, The Glorious Nosebleed, and The Eclectic Abecedarium.]

The alphabet book is one of the oldest forms of children’s literature. Rhyming couplets, illustrated by woodcuts, aided memorization. Early examples wedded ABCs and Calvinist catechism. The New England Primer, ubiquitous in late-seventeenth-century America, is typical of the genre:

A In Adam’s Fall We sinnèd all.
B Heaven to find; The Bible Mind.
C Christ crucify’d For sinners dy’d.
D The Deluge drown’d The Earth around.

Gorey’s interest in the alphabet book was undoubtedly a byproduct of his interest in Edward Lear, well known for loopy abecedaria like “Nonsense Alphabet” (1845) (“P was a pig, / Who was not very big; / But his tail was too curly, / And that made him surly”). His library reveals a longstanding fascination with the form, with a predictable focus on the nineteenth century. On Gorey’s bookshelves, we find A Moral Alphabet (1899) by Hilaire Belloc, A Comic Alphabet (1836) by George Cruikshank, a Dover facsimile of The Adventures of A, Apple Pie, Who Was Cut to Pieces and Eaten by Twenty Six Young Ladies and Gentlemen with Whom All Little People Ought to Be Acquainted (circa 1835), and of course Lear in abundance. 

At the same time, he couldn’t have been oblivious, as an illustrator working in commercial book publishing, to the waves Dr. Seuss was making in kid lit. Alphabet books were playing an important part in reshaping American ideas about childhood. Consider Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra! (1955), whose boy narrator dreams up a new alphabet for kids who think outside the Little Golden box (“In the places I go there are things that I see / That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z”). Or Maurice Sendak’s Alligators All Around (1962), in which “shockingly spoiled” reptilian protagonists throw tantrums and juggle jelly beans with abandon. These and other unconventional abecedaria celebrate Romper Room radicals who flout the rules. Seen in their cultural and historical context, they look like premonitions of the hippie era, with its worship of nonconformity and its elevation of the child to a cultural icon, not to mention its stoner humor and acid-soaked song lyrics.

Though he seemed barely to notice the counterculture of the ’60s, beyond the Beatles, Gorey was in his own quietly perverse way more iconoclastic than Seuss or Sendak. In The Fatal Lozenge, as in The Listing Attic, his earlier book of macabre limericks, his combination of a children’s genre (in this case, the ABC book) with dark subject matter and black comedy is both mordantly funny and unsettling, especially when he crosses the line, as he occasionally does, into the “sick humor” of contemporaries such as the cartoonist Gahan Wilson. When an interviewer mentioned to Sendak that the grisly drawing of an infant skewered on the point of a Zouave’s sword in The Fatal Lozenge was the moment when Gorey went “down the road of no return as far as publishers were concerned,” Sendak quipped, “That’s why he was so loved. There’s never enough dead babies for us.”
 

 
The literary theorist George R. Bodmer places Gorey’s ironic, sardonic ABCs in the context of a postwar pushback, among children’s authors such as Seuss and Sendak, “against the limits of imagination, or the limits the outside world would impose on imagination . . .” In his essay “The Post-Modern Alphabet: Extending the Limits of the Contemporary Alphabet Book, from Seuss to Gorey,” Bodmer calls Gorey’s “anti-alphabets” a “sarcastic rebellion against a view of childhood that is sunny, idyllic, and instructive.” Gorey’s mock-moralistic tone satirizes received wisdom about the benignity of parents and other authority figures: a magnate waiting for his limousine “ponders further child-enslavement / And other projects still more mean”; two little children quail in terror at the sight of their towering, bearded uncle, for they “know that at his leisure / He plans to have them come to harm.” Yet Gorey also punctures the myth that children are little angels: a baby, “lying meek and quiet” on a bearskin rug, “Has dreams about rampage and riot / And will grow up to be a thug.” (The rug’s enormous, snarling head, with its bared fangs, is an omen of mayhem to come.)

Talking about The Fatal Lozenge in 1977, Gorey said, “This was a very early book and at that date I was not above trying to shock everyone a bit.” In that sense, his sixth book is so similar to his second that it might as well be called Son of Listing Attic. A good part of the book consists of the usual droll riffing on stock characters and situations borrowed from gothic novels, penny dreadfuls, Conan Doyle, and Dickens.

But just as clearly, there’s more going on in The Fatal Lozenge than enfant terrible-ism (“trying to shock everyone a bit”) or the larger trends identified by Bodmer: the bohemian backlash against the suffocating normalcy of the Eisenhower era and the growing resistance, led by Drs. Spock and Seuss, to outdated, repressive ideas about childhood and parenting. The recurrence of themes closer to home—the beastliness of babies, the depravity of the clergy (a nun is “fearfully bedevilled”), the furtiveness and shamefulness of homosexual desire, here associated with child molestation and even more monstrous perversions (“The Proctor buys a pupil ices, / And hopes the boy will not resist / When he attempts to practice vices / Few people even know exist”)—makes us feel, at times, as if we’re eavesdropping on a psychotherapy session. That these disconcerting images come to us in the reassuring wrappings of a children’s book makes The Fatal Lozenge even more disquieting.

It’s precisely that insinuating knowingness that Sendak loved about Gorey’s little books. “They all had what appealed to me so much—aside from the graphics and the writing—[which] was the wicked sexual ambiguity that ran through all of it.” Even Gorey’s artlessly brilliant covers for Anchor Books, Doubleday’s tasteful paperback line, exhibited an arch wit, Sendal thought. “I remember a jacket he did for…a novel by Melville, Redburn. And the jacket summed up completely the kind of confused homosexuality of that novel….So erotic and yet so simple. You can look at it any way you like. . . . [H]e buried a lot of information about himself in the art.”
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.10.2019
08:15 am
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A Classic Ghost Story for Christmas: ‘Whistle and I’ll Come to You’
12.26.2018
09:31 am
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The sole object of a ghost story, wrote M. R. James, is to inspire “a pleasing terror in the reader”. James was an academic and writer who reinvented the ghost story for a new era. He believed ghosts should be “malevolent or odious” rather than those “amiable and helpful apparitions” that appeared in stories by authors like Charles Dickens in say A Christmas Carol. In an essay on ghost stories, he claimed the most successful tales “make us envisage a definite time and place, and give us plenty of clear-cut and matter-of-fact detail” but:

...when the climax is reached, allow us to be just a little in the dark as to the working of their machinery. We do not want to see the bones of their theory about the supernatural.

Montague Rhodes James was a scholar of medieval history, who served as Provost of King’s College, Cambridge University. Each Christmas Eve, he would invite a small group of friends and colleagues and students to share some sherry around a fire while he read his latest ghost story. He wrote one story a year and most of his tales of the eerie and the supernatural were set in the world of antiquities and academia, where an individual might accidentally stumble across some ancient secret or forgotten artefact that unleashes unnameable horror. 
 
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Among the best known of James’ short stories is “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” (1904) in which a rational, you might say somewhat skeptical, and bookish academic called Parkins discovers an ancient whistle among the dunes of a deserted beach while on holiday. The whistle has strange occult markings on one side and an inscription on the other that reads “Quis est iste, qui venit?” which Parkins translates as “Who is this, who is coming?” By removing the whistle from its burial place, Parkins soon finds out what rather than who it is that comes after him.
 
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In 1968, the multi-talented Jonathan Miller brought the tale to television. Miller edged more towards a psychological (if not quite Freudian) drama in his adaptation of James’ tale which made the film’s supernatural elements all the more disturbing. Parkins or rather Parkin as he is called in Miller’s film, was played by Michael Hordern as a slightly stuffy, retiring man, who mutters and mumbles his way through the story—much of his performance was improvised—as if he is subconsciously aware his actions in finding the whistle symbolizes his own repressed desires and fears. Or as horror writer Kim Newman put it:

...a case of severe sexual frustration leading to absolute dementia

It’s a classic tale beautifully told and one of television’s most chilling and effective ghost stories.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.26.2018
09:31 am
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The annual Dangerous Minds foolproof last minute shopping list for hard-to-buy-for rock snobs!!
12.12.2018
07:14 pm
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Each year around this time, I compile a list of what I consider to be the best Christmas gifts for that difficult-to-buy-for rock snob in your life. You know the one. And if you happen to be the rock snob reading this, this is the good stuff. Buy it for yourself.

You will perhaps sense a bit of a 50th anniversary theme going on here, nonetheless, first let me recommend the super deluxe reissue of The Beatles’ White Album. On last year’s Sgt. Pepper’s box set, Giles Martin bestowed upon the world the album that the Beatles would have made had there been 5.1 surround sound in 1967. It stayed true to the original, but nicely expanded it for 21st century audio system capabilities and consumer expectations. In short, it was mind-blowing. This season his gift is this nicely enhanced White Album. Unlike Pepper’s more uniformly hi-fi sound, the White Album is a hodgepodge of various musical and recording/production styles that’s all over the map, which of course is the reason why the collection is so revered five decades later. A different, dirtier, animal, if you will, from its cinemascope predecessor, Martin’s newfangled White Album in 5.1 reveals much and lets each instrument and voice have its own PLACE in the mix. It’s a cleaner White Album to be sure. Obviously there’s more bottom end—McCartney’s bass lines have been nicely accentuated in all Beatles releases issued since 2009—and there are certain elements that stand out in ways they didn’t before, many of them drum fills courtesy of Ringo Starr and the nicely accentuated backing vocals. It also comes with the so-called “Escher Demos” recorded at George Harrison’s house, a sort of “White Album Unplugged,” the original 1968 mono mix in 24bit and outtakes galore. The highlight for me was hearing “Revolution #9” in 5.1 surround. Apocalyptic!
 

 
Isn’t it about time that the Kinks got a pricey box set to call their own? Seems like it’s no coincidence that the 50th birthday of The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society is being celebrated with this bursting-at-the-seams box which contains no fewer than FOUR—I mean FIVE—versions of the exact same album. Vinyl in mono, stereo and the Swedish issue (with different cover and two additional songs). CDs with mono and stereo mixes, alt versions, session tracks, audio tracks from BBC TV appearances, live numbers, interviews, etc. You could say that it’s a bit repetitive, overkill even—and you would not be wrong about that—but we’re talking about a Christmas gift here. To be honest, just the Swedish album on vinyl would probably have been enough for me if I was paying the tab, but if I got this as a gift, yeah, I’d be pretty pleased.
 

 
And what do you know there’s a 50th anniversary box set of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland? Who’d have thought someone at the record label would want to turn that event into product? Well…I gotta say, this one is a ripper. In terms of the new 2018 5.1 surround mix, this has to be at, or very near, the top of the list of the best examples of a classic rock album getting a multichannel remake that I’ve ever heard. When Electric Ladyland was originally released it was considered one of the finest illustrations of the capability of two-channel audio (stereo) as had ever been created up to that point and THIS SURROUND MIX DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. As I wrote in a longer post about the 5.1 mix, the “velocity” of Jimi’s playing is taken to another level here entirely; a song like “Crosstown Traffic” makes it from point A to point B without its tires ever touching the ground. This one is safe bet for almost any rock snob, even ones who are only lukewarm Hendrix fans. After this gift, they’ll become the most rabid Jimi fans, trust me. Also unlike the two north-of-$100 items listed above, you can pick this one up for less than fifty bucks. With lots of outtakes, a documentary, book and a new stereo mix, but the star attraction here is the inspired surround mix.

I am a huge, massive, very very big Bobbie Gentry fan. What a great talent she is, occupying a self-created niche somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Las Vegas showbiz. Everything you could possibly want—and more—is present and accounted for on The Girl From Chickasaw County: The Complete Capitol Masters, an 8 CD set in a slick package. The book-length essay about Gentry’s pioneering career—not only was she one of the first major female artists to write and produce her own albums, she was an extremely shrewd businesswoman, and one of the first to collect a really huge paycheck from doing a Vegas residency—is first rate, giving proper context for Gentry’s work for those too young to remember her. I’ve heard that this box set completely sold out of the first run and it rightly deserved to.  A very high quality product. Any major artist would be lucky to get this treatment, even ones that didn’t totally disappear off the face of the Earth nearly 40 years ago.
 

 
Keychains and Snowstorms: The Soft Cell Story box set boasts ten discs (nine CDs and one four-hour long DVD) which is quite a feat for a band that only ever put out three albums proper during its short existence. Much of the material here comes from their 12” releases and EPs, of which there were many. Soft Cell always put a lot of effort into their remixes and b-sides and the quality here is uniformly very high. The mastering is muscular and charges the atmosphere of your listening room like a nightclub’s booming sound system (I could easily see my woofers moving). This is one of those extremely completist sets (like the Gentry box above) where it’s easy to lost in something new. Not that Soft Cell is exactly new, of course, they broke up for the first time in 1984, but it’ll be new to anyone who doesn’t know them beyond “Tainted Love.” With an extremely good book length essay on the career of these unlikely deviant chart toppers.
 

 
I’ve been getting into a lot of 60/70s English folk music during past year—aided ably by Rob Young’s book Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music, an exhaustive 650 page volume that would make a great Xmas gift itself for your rock snob—and I consider the Dust in the Nettles 3 CD anthology (Grape Fruit/Cherry Red) to be an indispensable collection for someone who is always looking for “something new to listen to” as dozens of leads are to be found there. Subtitled “a journey through the British underground folk scene,” it starts off strong with Pentangle’s “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme,” which is immediately followed by the seductive “Willow’s Song” from The Wicker Man soundtrack. (Listen to those two songs in a row and see if you don’t agree.) Also included are stunning numbers by Joan Armatrading, Bill Fay, the Incredible String Band and Vashti Bunyan, but the song here that I became obsessed with is “Amanda” by Steve Peregrin Took’s Shagrat, the tale of a smiling cropier, gambling on love and much amphetamine. I simply cannot recommend Dust in the Nettles highly enough, it’s amazing from start to finish and it’s a gift that will keep on giving with the discovery of new artists on it. (If you don’t have anyone to buy this for, just buy it for yourself.)
 

 
In late 2017 several early Brian Eno classics came out pressed across two twelve inch 180 gram vinyl platters that play at 45rpm. Using the half speed mastering process at Abbey Road, albums like Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy) and Here Come the Warm Jets had a new coat of audiophile gloss put on them that I found mighty attractive and now they’re releasing four of his ambient albums, Discrete Music, Ambient 1: Music for Airports, the enigmatic Music for Films and the mighty On Land, which is my favorite. The sound of these is, predictably, the best you’re ever gonna hear, much more tactile than any CD could ever be, but I couldn’t help but to notice that the meditative “put it on in the background” functionality of Eno’s ambient works is disrupted, if not made entirely moot, by the fact that you have to get up and flip the platter every ten minutes! (The first piece on Discrete Music is cut in half.) Still they’re pretty cool and I will admit to listening to On Land loud enough to threaten a tectonic shift underneath my house. Background music? Only if you want it to be. These also comes in standard single LP 33rpm versions which are apparently made from the exact same master.

Dylan Jones’ superb oral history David Bowie: A Life came out last year, but I was a bit Bowie’d out at the time and although I bought it, I never actually picked it up and read it until recently. Having read practically every major book about David Bowie (starting with The David Bowie Story by George Tremlett, which I had memorized when I was a lad) this is without question my favorite of them all. I enjoyed it immensely and wish it had been ten times as long as its 500+ pages. It’s a terrifically entertaining book full of candid and charming anecdotes about the man. The matter of his work ethic (even when he was out of his mind on heaps of cocaine) comes up often, as does his graciousness and true kindness. David Bowie as a human, in other words, not a rock god. The wonderfully hilarious Roger Moore story is my absolute favorite, but there are several more.

The “rock” memoir is, I will admit it, one of my favorite literary genres, and Playing the Bass with Three Hands by Will Carruthers—who’s been in Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spectrum, and others—is one of my favorites in recent memory. Extremely well-written, this look back at a life lived to the chemical extreme, often in hand-to-mouth poverty and working (literally) shitty jobs to avoid penury whilst a member of several world famous rock bands, has got to be the most brutally honest rock memoir since… The End by James Young? Carruthers has a gift for charmingly observed first person narration that makes this book such a pleasure despite all the drugs, destitution and offal. In the future this book will be read as history to understand what it was like to live in the 80s and 90s.
 

 
And lastly there is the beautifully published Stories for Ways and Means published by Waxploitation’s Jeff Antebi and featuring “grown up” children’s story collaborations from the likes of Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Joe Coleman, Laura Marling, Alison Mosshart, Gary Numan, Gibby Haynes, Kathleen Hanna, Anthony Lister, Frank Black, Devendra Banhart, Will Oldham and many others. The world of contemporary art meets some of the most compelling storytellers in music and the results are between the cover of this gorgeous, slick book with a mission of supporting nonprofit children’s organizations and NGOs around the world. Buy it here.
 

Watch ‘Circus,’ an animated short of Joe Coleman’s art set to a short story by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan and narrated by Ken Nordine, as seen in the book ‘Stories for Ways and Means.’
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.12.2018
07:14 pm
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Not for the faint-hearted: Gruesome medical illustrations from the 19th-century (NSFW)

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Surgery to correct strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes.
 
The artist Francis Bacon spent many hours poring over illustrated medical books looking at surgical procedures on mouth and tongue cancer, hare-lip correction, and tracheotomies. He declared these image beautiful, in particular the way in which the artist had used color to represent a tongue or a mouth. It was something he tried to recreate in his own paintings. Bacon was a voracious reader. After his death, more than 1,000 of his books were donated to Dublin’s Trinity College History of Art Department and the City Gallery, the Hugh Lane. Among this collection are works by Beckett, Nietzsche, T. S. Eliot, De Beauvoir, Elizabeth David cookery books, and a well-used set of medical textbooks, some illustrated by Frank Netter, others containing work by Joseph Pancoast (1805-82).

Pancoast was an American surgeon who pioneered many techniques in surgery and in particular plastic surgery. He also wrote the highly influential book A Treatise on Operative Surgery, first published in 1844, which compiled various surgical procedures or “processes” that exhibited the “state of surgical science in is present advanced condition.” The book contained some 80 color-plates and 486 illustrations, and was further enlarged in 1846.

Illustrations from another medical book that caught Bacon’s interest was Précis iconographique de médecine opératoire et d’anatomie chirurgicale by Claude Bernard (1813-1878), a French physiologist, who has been described as “one of the greatest of all men of science.” Bernard was the first to use “blind experiments” by which information is kept from the participants to eliminate any possible bias. He also believed scientists must endeavor to disprove their own theories as scientists can “solidly settle” their ideas “only by trying to destroy [their] own conclusions by counter-experiments.”

Like Bacon, I’ve had a long fascination with old medical textbooks and their illustrations as I find the artists’ depictions of surgery and disease beautifully capture the essential frailty of the human condition. However, some readers may find a few of the following illustrations potentially disturbing. You have been warned.

 
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The removal of cataracts.
 
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Surgery for correcting a harelip.
 
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Ear surgery.
 
Far more disturbing surgical procedures, after the jump….
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.12.2018
09:22 am
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Miscreants rejoice! Artist Krent Able’s new ‘appallingly filthy’ illustrated book is coming!
11.19.2018
01:54 pm
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The cover of the forthcoming book ‘The Second Coming of Krent Able’ by Steve Martin.
 

“This book will make the perfect Xmas gift for elderly relatives, beloved friends, and hated enemies.”

—London-based artist and illustrator Krent Able (the alter-ego of author Steve Martin) on his upcoming book, The Second Coming of Krent Able.

If you think Mr. Able’s statement about the follow-up to his gritty Big Book of Mischief (2012), The Second Coming of Krent Able, sounds like a warning wrapped in a delicious piece of candy, you would be correct. There is nobody quite like Krent Able, a long-time illustrator of morally questionable comics, that initially ran in the UK bi-monthly mag The Stool Pigeon (RIP, 2013). Able’s work has also disgraced the pages of the Guardian and NME, often depicting musician Nick Cave as the no-good chain-smoking “Doctor Cave.” Or meat-is-murder crusader Morrissey, looking forward to devouring a plate of bloody entrails topped with a skinned animal head—one fixated dead eyeball staring right at you because, even though it’s dead, it is as confused about this fucking situation as you are. 

Does this mean Krent Able is a malapert of the highest order, here to provide us with “appallingly filthy” comic book tales full of mayhem, dicks, and death? Assuredly the answer to this question is yes, and knowing Krent’s Second Coming is coming is great news indeed. As a graphic novel enthusiast (amusingly, my last was 2017’s Nick Cave: Mercy on Me), and proud owner of Big Book Of Mischief, I can safely say The Second Coming of Krent Able will be chock full of vitriolic comics which will disgust and delight you at the same time. If you enjoy subversive subject matter, I’m sure you will enjoy looking at some NSFW images from Able’s forthcoming book, courtesy of the artist himself. If you’d like to learn more about Able, check out the engrossing, award-winning short documentary, Ink, Cocks, & Rock ‘N’ Roll (2017) which will give you yet another reason to appreciate the artist and his ultra-salacious take on satire.

The Second Coming of Krent Able is due out in the UK and U.S. on December 13th, 2018. Signed copies of the book can be pre-ordered here.
 

The not-so-good Doctor Cave by Krent Able.
 

William Burroughs and his creepy pal.
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.19.2018
01:54 pm
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Watching ‘The Prisoner’ with ‘Repo Man’ director Alex Cox
11.12.2018
06:34 am
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It turns out leaving your house still pays sometimes: if I hadn’t stepped into a bookstore last weekend, I would be unaware of Alex Cox’s latest volume, I Am (Not) A Number: Decoding the Prisoner. Kamera Books published it in the UK last December to mark the series’ 50th anniversary, and the book came out in the US this May.

Like his introductions to cult movies on Moviedrome—like his interpretation of his own Repo Man, for that matter, a movie Cox insists is really about nuclear war—the director’s reading of The Prisoner is idiosyncratic and ingenious. Even though I don’t buy them yet, the solutions he proposes to the series’ riddles are brilliant and original; I won’t spoil them here, but it’s safe to say you’re unlikely to have come up with them yourself.
 

 
The 17 episodes of The Prisoner were broadcast in a different order in the UK and the US, and their correct sequence has never been settled. The Wikipedia page on the subject compares the production order (“not an intended viewing order,” the alt.tv.prisoner FAQ of blessed memory asserts) with four plausible running orders advanced or defended by fans over the years, based on the original broadcast or on different kinds of internal evidence in the shows: dates mentioned, logical sequence of plot developments, etc.

Cox has no use for any of these. Along with the series’ call sheets and screenplays, his interpretation is based on watching the episodes in the order of their filming—i.e., the production order most cultists reject as totally unsuitable for viewing. While this sequence is as reasonable as any other, it radically shuffles the narrative. For instance, “Once Upon a Time,” which is the second-to-last episode in every other programming of the series because it seems to lead directly to the finale, is sixth in Cox’s.

I’ve just started rewatching the series as Cox recommends. It’s too early to say whether the production order supports his conclusions, but I’m enjoying the shake-up so far. Below, the director discusses his book in a short promotional video.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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11.12.2018
06:34 am
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Nirvana, Mudhoney, and the audience battle shitty security guards during Sub Pop’s ‘Lame Fest,’ 1989
11.02.2018
09:51 am
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Lame Fest poster
 
Sub Pop is one of the most important and influential American record labels. Started in 1988 by Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt, and based in Seattle, Sup Pop put out early recordings by such groups as Mudhoney, the Afghan Whigs, the Flaming Lips, Soundgarden, the Screaming Trees, and Nirvana. Poneman and Pavitt not only have good taste and a keen sense for what will sell, but are also masters at branding and marketing. For example, their Sub Pop Singles Club, in which subscribers willingly fork over their money with no prior knowledge of the participating bands, was a game changer, and the label came up with a t-shirt with the word “Loser” emblazoned across the front, and the Sub Pop logo on the back. The shirt is now iconic.

On June 9, 1989, Sub Pop’s “Lame Fest” was held at the Moore Theater in Seattle. Nirvana, Mudhoney, and another young Sub Pop group, TAD, were on the bill. It was a wild night, with the bands and the crowd battling the security guards.
 
Marquee
 
Dangerous Minds has an excerpt from the upcoming Gillian G. Gaar book, World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story, in which details of the event are told. The passage also gets into the second Lame Fest, as well as the Nirvana contract, insisted upon by the band, that would one day benefit the label. The text begins with reference to the recent attention Sub Pop acts had received in the British press.

Sub Pop’s profile was further heightened stateside at the label’s first “Lame Fest,” held on June 9 at Seattle’s Moore Theatre, featuring Nirvana, TAD, and Mudhoney and billed as “Seattle’s lamest bands in a one-night orgy of sweat and insanity!” Initially, there had been doubts that the show would make any money; local bands played clubs, not a fifteen-hundred-seat theater. But the concert ended up selling out.

“Booking the Moore was an epic gesture, which is how we did things,” Bruce Pavitt notes with pride. “The bands were killing it live, so we knew Seattle would go o if we could get people there. The theater’s manager let most of his security staff go prior to the show, thinking that nobody would show up. And there was complete pandemonium. Google those YouTube videos, kids, it’s an epic moment!” The show doubled as a release party for Nirvana’s first album, Bleach (the first thousand copies on white vinyl).

 
Nirvana 1
 

Nirvana had also recently become the first act to sign a record contract with Sub Pop. Earlier in the year, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic had turned up at Bruce’s house one evening, demanding a written contract; previously, Sub Pop had only made verbal agreements with its artists. Jon [Poneman] hastily drafted a one-year contract, with options for two further years; the contract was signed on June 3 but backdated to January 1, 1989. “Righteous heaviness from these Olympia pop stars,” was the Sub Pop catalog’s assessment of Bleach. “They’re young, they own their own van, and they’re going to make us rich!”

 
Nirvana 2
 

The success of the first Lame Fest led to a second one being held overseas. “Jon and I had very little resources but a lot of enthusiasm at that time,” Bruce recalls. “And we were constantly brainstorming and trying to piece together strategies that would help convince the rest of the world that Seattle had an amazing rock scene. Once we saw that model work in Seattle, we were really dead set on getting all three bands playing in London and getting as many press people and photographers there as possible.”

With Nirvana, TAD, and Mudhoney all touring the UK and Europe that fall, a Lame Fest date was arranged for December 3 at London’s Astoria Theatre. Bruce cites the concert as “a true turning point in the international stature of the Seattle music scene.”

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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11.02.2018
09:51 am
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Indie rock and new wave hits reimagined as pulpy 1950s ephemera


 
There’s a fellow out there named Todd Alcott who has put together an enchanting series of prints reimagining popular songs by some of the most vital musical artists of the 1970s through the 1990s as various graphical items mostly dating from before the rock era—e.g., pulpy paperbacks, “men’s life” mags, lurid sci-fi posters, and so on. They’re quite wonderful and you can procure them for yourself in his Etsy store. Each print will run you £19.78 (about $26) for the smallest size and prices escalate from there.

One endearing thing about Alcott’s images is that they are so clearly driven by the most beloved albums in his own collection—and his taste is excellent! So he transforms multiple songs by King Crimson, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, the Stones, David Bowie while also hitting a bunch of other faves (NIN, Nirvana, Fiona Apple) just the one time.

Alcott told Ayun Halliday of Open Culture that “these are the artists I love, I connect to their work on a deep level, and I try to make things that they would see and think ‘Yeah, this guy gets me.’”

My favorite thing about these pop culture mashups is Alcott’s insistence (usually) on working in as many of the song’s lyrics into the art as possible. That does admittedly make for busy compositions but usually in a way that is very true to the pulp novel conventions or whatnot.

According to his Etsy site, Alcott is also available for custom jobs should inspiration strike you! Here
 
More of these marvelous images after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.10.2018
08:57 am
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Before they were Black Flag: New book unearths shots of Panic in 1978
09.21.2018
05:30 am
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Forty years ago, the ink was still wet on Bomp! Records’ deal with a South Bay punk band called Panic. Several months would elapse before the group played its first real show at a Moose Lodge on the Pacific Coast Highway, but Panic had already committed eight well-rehearsed songs to tape, and Bomp! had agreed to release half of these on a seven-inch record before Thanksgiving. “Nervous Breakdown,” “Fix Me,” “I’ve Had It,” “Wasted”: all pure expressions of the Southern Californian desire for an immediate, total brainectomy.

Bomp! sat on the Nervous Breakdown EP. The 60-day period stipulated in the contract came and went. By February ‘79, when guitarist Greg Ginn released his band’s debut record through his ham radio mail-order company, SST, they had changed their name to Black Flag. But in October ‘78, when they were still called Panic and still expecting Bomp! to bring Nervous Breakdown into the world, Ginn sent the label a packet of photos and negatives for promotional purposes. These sat in a filing cabinet until about 2007, when they turned up in the excavation of the Bomp! warehouse that followed the untimely death of label boss Greg Shaw. Now, Ryan Richardson has collected them in the handsome hardcover volume PANIC!
 

 
It’s a mystery who shot these photos of Keith Morris, Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukowski and Robo. The letter Ginn enclosed with the pictures in ‘78 indicates they are the work of two different photographers, but Richardson tells me none of the band members recalls who they were. Producer and shutterbug Spot disclaimed the shots, Richardson says; Morris guesses that Ginn’s then-girlfriend (and co-writer of “Thirsty and Miserable” and “Room 13”) Medea Jones might be responsible for some of these pictures, or maybe not.
 

 
A few more shots, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.21.2018
05:30 am
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Animated children’s stories by Nick Cave, Gary Numan, Will Oldham, Tom Waits, Laura Marling & more!


Cover illustration by Daniel Nayeri

Stories for Ways and Means is a new book that features original “grown up” children’s story collaborations by some of this era’s most compelling storytellers from the worlds of music and contemporary art. It’s being published by the long-running indie record label Waxploitation run by entrepreneur and photojournalist Jeff Antebi. The Stories for Ways and Means project lends support to several non-governmental organizations and nonprofit groups aiding children’s literacy causes around the world including Room to Read, Pencils of Promise, 826 National and many more.

Some of the featured musicians contributing to the project include Frank Black, Laura Marling, Del the Funky Homosapien, Gibby Haynes, Alec Empire, Kathleen Hanna, Devendra Banhart, Nick Cave, Alison Mosshart, Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, Will Oldham, Gary Numan and ska great, guitarist Ernest Ranglin.

You can order the Stories for Ways and Means book at SFWAM.org
 

“The Lonely Giant,” narrated by Andre Royo (The Wire), written by Nick Cave, illustrated by Anthony Lister.
 
Many more after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.12.2018
08:44 am
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