Wonderful addition to the bottomless pit of greatness offered over at Ubu, American assemblage artist Wallace Berman‘s first and only film, Aleph. Best known, perhaps, for spearheading the SEMINA art publication, Berman labored on Aleph from ‘56-‘66. Here’s what Ubu says of the film:
Aleph is an artist’s meditation on life, death, mysticism, politics, and pop culture. In an eight-minute loop of film, Wallace Berman uses Hebrew letters to frame a hypnotic, rapid-fire montage that captures the go-go energy of the 1960s. Aleph includes stills of collages created using a Verifax machine, Eastman Kodak’s precursor to the photocopier. These collages depict a hand-held radio that seems to broadcast or receive popular and esoteric icons. Signs, symbols, and diverse mass-media images (e.g., Flash Gordon, John F. Kennedy, Mick Jagger) flow like a deck of tarot cards, infinitely shuffled in order that the viewer may construct his or her own set of personal interpretations. The transistor radio, the most ubiquitous portable form of mass communication in the 1960s, exemplifies the democratic potential of electronic culture and serves as a metaphor for Jewish mysticism. The Hebrew term kabbalah translates as “reception” for knowledge, enlightenment, and divinity. According to the artist’s son Tosh Berman, Wallace Berman treated Aleph ‘...as a creative notebook, and like a true diary, it has no beginning and no end.’
Iceberg Slim is well-known as the literary progenitor of gangster rap (Ice-T, Ice Cube and Jay-Z have all listed him as a formative influence), mostly for his groundbreaking autobiography Pimp. Check out this great tribute to Slim by Josh Alan Friedman:
Like the painter Grandma Moses, Iceberg Slim was reborn an artist after age 40. His third, and harshest prison sentence - 10 months in steel solitary at the Cook County House of Corrections - finally crushed the pimp right out of him. Vilifying past predatory values, he exorcised his demons into folklore, leaving a seven-book legacy. Pimp: The Story of My Life, contained bookend warnings against the life. But Iceberg’s masterpiece only bolstered pimp liberation amidst the blaxploitation movie craze. In Times Square, for instance, a hundred fur-coated Superflys lorded over a thousand streetwalkers, taking renegade control of 8th Avenue. For them, Pimp declassified the sorcery of whore control, became a textbook for wannabe’s, and lent ethnic pride to the hideous profession.
Pimp still holds as perhaps the greatest chronicle ever written on male-female relations. In the flush of literary success, white feminist-journalist types sought out interviews like intellectual groupies. Pimp philosophy, Iceberg believed, might be adapted to mainstream relationships. “My theory is that some quantum of pimp in every man would perhaps enhance his approach to women,” he told the Washington Post. “Because I think it’s a truism that women gravitate to a man who can at least flash transient evidence of heelism. . . Women are prone to masochism, anyway. I think if you are able to manufacture a bit of ‘heelism’ in your nature and give them a sense of insecurity as to whether some voluptuous rival might come along and steal you, then you are a treasured jewel.”
I read Pimp when I was 13. I’m not sure it exactly uh helped my skills with women, but it certainly gave me a new vocabulary to irritate my friends with.
However, nothing compares to Slim’s readings of his own work on the album Reflections. Hearing Iceberg Slim’s renditions of key points in his life?
Edward Woodward, mostly known as the vindictive cop from The Equalizer and The Wicker Man, died yesterday at the age of 79. Who will save us from the never-ending onslaught of street thugs and dirty pagans now? The Independent has released an obituary:
Veteran actor Edward Woodward, who was known for his roles in The Wicker Man and The Equalizer, died today.
The 79-year-old had been suffering from various illnesses, including pneumonia, and died in hospital, his agent said.
Janet Glass released a statement praising his “brave spirit and wonderful humour”.
It said: “Universally loved and admired through his unforgettable roles in classic productions such as Breaker Morant, The Wicker Man, Callan, The Equalizer and many more, he was equally fine and courageous in real life, never losing his brave spirit and wonderful humour throughout his illness.
Featured below, a trailer for the Wicker Man featuring Woodward in full form.
This young man, Will Phillips, a ten year-old student in Washington County Arkansas is very, very impressive. He’s smart, he’s articulate, he’s logical and he is passionate about doing the right thing. This kid is awesome. When Will took his stand—or rather kept his seat—against a rote recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in his classroom until there really is liberty and justice for all Americans—including lesbians, gays and transgendered people, he had no idea that his small gesture of defiance would end up with him on CNN. But there he was and wow, this kid is just unflappable. He even looks smart, and that’s impossible to fake (Compare his countenance to Sarah Palin’s!) You can see the wheels going round in his head before he opens his mouth. And when he speaks, he speaks the truth. God bless you Will, go out there and make your mark on the world.
When you watch the video clip note how Will’s father, Jay Philllips, is obviously bursting with pride over his son’s principled act of civil disobedience. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, a private/public moment of great empathy Jay shows toward Will. Jay and his wife, Laura, are active supporters of the local LGBT community, and have clearly instilled a sense of right and wrong in their son and they, too, deserve a round of applause—make that a standing ovation—for having raised a child this fantastic.
For the first time in a very long time, an interview with Philip Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Proctor, the legendary Firesign Theater. (Jan 8 & 9, 2010 shows in Whidbey Island, Washington, see www.firesigntheatre.com for more information)
Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker has been given an honorary degree in his home city of Sheffield. Cocker, who has also had success as a solo artist and radio producer, studied at the institution when it was Sheffield Polytechnic. Receiving his certificate at a ceremony at City Hall, the 46-year-old said: “I’m called a doctor now. Don’t worry, I won’t open a surgery.” He added: “But I guess if you are a songwriter maybe I could have some kind of musical surgery. If you had a song with a swollen chorus, or a varicose verse, or if you need a little bit of help I could try and heal your song for you.”
And while Jarvis won’t be delivering them anytime soon, “Babies” the song follows below:
The below clip of William Burroughs showing off his weaponry was shot, presumably, for non-American television. “So, if you had a razor-sharp, double-edged knife, you could whip it out and cut someone’s throat before he knew what was happening.” Umm…yes, sir!
The New Yorker‘s great Alex Ross (The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century) alerts us to the first major museum exhibition in years devoted to “arch-magus of the musical avant-garde,” John Cage. Unfortunately, though, it’s happening not in America (nor is it scheduled to), but in Barcelona at its Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA).
The Anarchy of Silence?
Lenore Kandel hung out with Beat poets and was immortalized by Jack Kerouac, wrote a book of love poetry banned as obscene and seized by police, and believed in communal living, anarchic street theater, belly dancing, and all things beautiful.
Ms. Kandel, a lyric poet and one of the shining lights of San Francisco’s famous counterculture of the ‘60s, died on Oct. 18 in San Francisco. She was 77 and had been diagnosed with lung cancer two weeks earlier.
“I met Lenore in 1965 at a citywide meeting of artists opposed to the war in Vietnam,” said actor Peter Coyote. “Lenore was physically beautiful and physically commanding. She had this voluptuous plumpness about her and an absolute serenity.”