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Paul Bowles’ recipe for a Moroccan love charm
03.19.2018
09:46 am
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Paul Bowles in Fez, 1947

Paul Bowles’ contribution to The Artists’ & Writers’ Cookbook appeared under “Jams, Jellies and Confections,” opposite Robert Graves’ recipe for Sevillian yellow plum conserve. In it, Bowles explained how the people of Fez make one of his favorite treats: majoun keddane, a kind of jam that requires some dates, figs, walnuts, honey, spices, butter, and wheat, and at least two pounds of cannabis.

Embedded in this recipe was another, for an even more exotic and labor-intensive Moroccan dish called Beid El Beita F’kerr El Hmar. This was a kind of breakfast recipe said to bestow magical powers:

Buy an egg. Find a dead donkey, and the first night lodge the egg in its anus. The second night the egg must be put into a mousehole on top of a Moslem tomb. The third night it must be wrapped in a handkerchief and tied around the chest of the person desiring to perform the magic. The following day it must be given for breakfast, prepared in any fashion, to the other individual, who, immediately upon eating it, discovers that the bestower is necessary for his happiness. (Or her happiness; the sex of the two people seems to have nothing to do with the charm’s efficacy.)

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.19.2018
09:46 am
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Aubrey Beardsley’s ‘obscene’ drawings for Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, and ‘Lysistrata’  (NSFW)
03.08.2018
02:22 pm
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‘Salome.’
 
In 1898, when the artist Aubrey Beardsley was on his deathbed, he wrote to his publisher, pornographer Leonard Smithers, and demanded he “destroy all copies of Lysistrata and bad drawings… by all that is holy all obscene drawings.” Smithers took no notice of the recent Catholic convert Beardsley’s crise de conscience and made a very tidy profit publishing the infamous artist’s work after he died.

Beardsley was a phenomenon. It is quite difficult to grasp just how revolutionary and how utterly shocking this slight young man’s deceptively simple ink drawings were to both the critics and the public of Victorian England. His work was described as the product of a sick mind and damned as “grotesque” and “obscene.” Yet, despite this froth and seething outrage, Beardsley became, for a very brief time, famous, or rather infamous, and his work inspired a legion of imitators who made profitable careers from copying his art.

Beardsley was born into a lower-middle-class family in Brighton on August 21st, 1872. His father was a spendthrift who squandered money on drink and pleasure. His mother had pretensions towards a more genteel existence and did her best to encourage her children into the cerebral pleasures of art and culture. As his father was unable or more likely unwilling to hold down a regular job, his mother frequently sought funds from her own father—a former military officer—to pay the bills. From an early age, Beardsley showed a talent for art and music. He gave piano recitals with his older sister Mabel and the pair devised their own theatrical productions which they performed for the amusement of their mother and her friends.

He was a frail child and became severely ill with tuberculosis, which plagued him throughout his life and was eventually the cause of his death at a mere twenty-five years of age. His mother described Beardsley as being as “fragile as a piece of Dresden china.” However, his consumption fired his frenzied periods of intense work where he spent hours drawing before collapsing from exhaustion.

At school, he developed his own “perverse” style of illustration—first in the borders of his exercise books, then in the pages of the school magazine. After his education, he found work at an architect’s office, but Beardsley was far more interested in life as an artist than starting an office career. He was encouraged by the artist Edward Burne-Jones, who told him he never liked to encourage young men to be artists, but in Beardsley’s case, there was never any other option. Burne-Jones told Beardsley to enroll in classes at the Westminster School of Art where he soon discovered he had a style of drawing that was “freakishly” his own. He claimed he had seven styles of drawing and was determined to develop more. Two important influences on Beardsley came during a trip to Paris when he saw work by Toulouse-Lautrec and an exhibition of Japanese prints. These inspired him to finesse his own style into something new and highly original, something he liked to describe as “grotesque.”

Beardsley sent his latest illustrations off to various magazines. These were rejected. His work was considered too weird and too dangerous for the suburban readers of popular magazines. However, some work he had sent on spec to the publisher J. M. Dent, which brought Beardsley his first commission. He was hired to illustrate Thomas Malory’s tale Le Morte d’Arthur for £200. The work was long and hard and demanded considerable concentration, determined willpower, and strong, confident execution. Beardsley alternated between using pen and brush to create his pictures. Over the course of producing this monumental work, Beardsley changed and developed his style of drawing from the overly elaborate to a clan and austere simplicity. This was the start of his meteoric rise into London’s fashionable art and literary world.

According to his friend, the writer Max Beerbohm, no one ever saw Beardsley work at his pictures which he claimed he produced by candlelight in a darkened room. Beardsley was more likely to seen immaculately dressed hosting tea parties at his mother’s house or socializing with the likes of Oscar Wilde and Beerbohm at the Cafe Royale. He became friends with Wilde and drew the illustrations for his play Salome. These illustrations became more famous than Wilde’s so-so drama, in particular, the image of Salome kissing the freshly decapitated head of John the Baptist with his blood spilling down, giving sustenance to a lily. Beardsley was then hired as art director for the legendary and controversial Yellow Book which provided a home to many great writers and artists and was, unfortunately, to be the unlikely cause of his undoing.

When Wilde was arrested on the charge of sodomy, he was described as carrying a “yellow book.” This quickly became confused with the Yellow Book magazine for which Beardsley has supplied his “grotesque” illustrations. This unfortunate association was too much for the magazine’s publisher who immediately sacked Beardsley. Virtually overnight, the young artist’s celebrated career was snuffed out. Thereafter, he eked out a small living by drawing erotica for privately published books and magazines.

Beardsley’s reputation was as controversial as his art. He was considered effete and a homosexual, but was more likely asexual. He was rumored to have been involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister, which supposedly led to either a miscarriage or a stillborn child. He once wrote to his publisher Dent that he planned to dress up as a woman and have tea in drag at the Savoy. These are all most likely nothing more than rumors and schoolboy pranks. Beardsley relished notoriety and never evolved from a juvenile sense of fun. His drawings were filled with breasts and phallic symbols. The aftermath of Wilde’s arrest and trial led Beardsley to reevaluate his life. He became a Catholic (at the encouragement of his sister) and denounced his most scurrilous and offensive work. This included his comic and highly explicit illustrations for a privately printed edition of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, the bawdy Greek drama of one woman’s attempt to end the Peloponnesian War by denying men sex.

Sadly, Beardsley succumbed to tuberculosis and died in France on March 16th, 1898.
 
From Oscar Wilde’s ‘Salome’ (1894).
 
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More ‘obscene’ beauty from Aubrey Beardsley, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.08.2018
02:22 pm
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Boris Karloff & Roddy McDowall go batshit crazy in this wild 50s TV version of ‘Heart of Darkness’
03.05.2018
08:27 am
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Mistah Kurtz… he fucking nuts.

Boris Karloff is a bug-eyed Mr. Kurtz in this hip, bongo-fury, sub-beatnik fifties adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s tale Heart of Darkness. Karloff does his best over-the-top batshit crazy thing and is joined in a face-off by a half-naked, scenery-chewing and equally bug-eyed Roddy McDowall as Marlow, who overacts his way through the proceedings with considerable gusto.

This ain’t no run-of-the-mill take on Conrad’s classic story but one written by Stewart Stern the screenwriter of Rebel Without a Cause. And like that famous paean to teenage acne and angst, Stern has introduced a psychological subtext that gives the matter a topically Freudian twist which, to be frank, doesn’t quite work.

But heck, that don’t matter when there’s so much fever onscreen with Karloff and McDowall ably supported in their psycho-drama by Eartha Kitt as the Queen, Oskar Homolka as the Doctor, Inga Swenson as Maria, and Cathleen Nesbitt as the Crone.
 
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Gone Daddio, solid gone…
 
Heart of Darkness was loosely based on Conrad’s own experiences of his time spent in Africa and was intended as a condemnation of the racist imperialism he had witnessed firsthand. This might get a bit lost in Stern’s script where the Africans are mainly presented as little more than enthusiastic child-like bongo players—but it is what it is and you’re all grown-up enough to make up your own mind about this strange and quite daring television drama.

And if you can’t, well, take a taste of what it’s all about from Gonzo-theorist Erich Kuersten’s long essay “Ride the Snake” over at his blog Acidemic, where he explains just how this “primitive TV broadcast of Heart of Darkness spews forth an admission of evil and in the process exorcises it.” Kuersten is one of those rare original and essential writers who really should have a book of his articles published. ‘Nuff said.

Any-old-how, enjoy the madness of King Boris.

Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.05.2018
08:27 am
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H.P. Lovecraft HATED T.S. Eliot
03.02.2018
08:48 am
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H.P. Lovecraft with Felis, the cat of Frank Belknap Long

It’s fitting that I learned of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Waste Paper” by listening to some interview or other Alan Moore did. Of course, as a parody of “The Waste Land,” Lovecraft’s poem begins with a totally obscure epigraph, unsourced, and in the original Greek: Πἀντα γἐλως καἱ πἀντα κὀνις καἱ πἀντα τὁ μηδἐν. This turns out to be part of the sole surviving verse by Glycon—not the snake god whose priest on Earth is Alan Moore, mind you, but the eponymous poet and inventor of “glyconic meter.” Just as Glycon the god was a hoax, “exposed as a glove-puppet in the second century” (Alan Moore), the Oxford Classical Dictionary says Glycon the poet probably didn’t even write the lonely couplet that comprises his entire literary oeuvre.

And, as John Brannon would say, check it out: the second line Lovecraft left out of this two-line poem, presumably because he didn’t know it existed, elegantly summarized his worldview in seven Greek words: πάντα γὰρ ἐξ ἀλόγων ἐστὶ τὰ γινόμενα. It’s enough to make you agree with what Glycon, or whoever, was saying all along in his single, slender entry in the Greek Anthology, to which one translator added the heading “NIHILISM”:

All is laughter, all is dust, all is nothing,
for all that is cometh from unreason.

Or if you prefer Christopher Isherwood’s translation:

All is but laughter, dust and nothingness
All of unreason born. . . .

HPL omitted the line about “unreason,” according to this Lovecraft scholar, because it didn’t appear in the Greek lexicon that was his source. But “all that is cometh from unreason” would have been the perfect title for the horrified reaction to “The Waste Land” Lovecraft published in his journal, The Conservative, if not the perfect title for his entire collected works:

Do our members realise that the progress of science within the last half-century has introduced conceptions of man, the world, and the universe which make hollow and ridiculous an appreciable proportion of all the great literature of the past? Art, to be great, must be founded on human emotions of much strength; such as come from warm instincts and firm beliefs. Science having so greatly altered our view of the universe and the beliefs attendant upon that view, we are now confronted by an important shifting of values in every branch of art where belief is concerned. The old heroics, pieties, and sentimentalities are dead amongst the sophisticated; and even some of our appreciations of natural beauty are threatened. Just how expansive is this threat, we do not know; and The Conservative hopes fervently that the final devastated area will be comparatively narrow; but in any case startling developments are inevitable.

A glance at the serious magazine discussion of Mr. T. S. Eliot’s disjointed and incoherent “poem” called “The Waste Land”, in the November Dial, should be enough to convince the most unimpressionable of the true state of affairs. We here behold a practically meaningless collection of phrases, learned allusions, quotations, slang, and scraps in general; offered to the public (whether or not as a hoax) as something justified by our modern mind with its recent comprehension of its own chaotic triviality and disorganisation. And we behold that public, or a considerable part of it, receiving this hilarious melange as something vital and typical; as “a poem of profound significance”, to quote its sponsors.

To reduce the situation to its baldest terms, man has suddenly discovered that all his high sentiments, values, and aspirations are mere illusions caused by physiological processes within himself, and of no significance whatsoever in an infinite and purposeless cosmos. He has discovered that most of his acts spring from hidden causes remote from the ones hitherto honoured by tradition, and that his so-called “soul” is merely (as one critic puts it) a rag-bag of unrelated odds and ends. And having made these discoveries, he does not know what to do about it; but compromises on a literature of analysis, chaos, and ironic contrast.

TL;DR: one racist reactionary prefers his own flavor of nihilism to another’s. Sounds like the narcissism of small differences to me! The poem, at least, is funny in parts. There are certain lines (“Meet me tonight in dreamland . . . BAH”) I can’t read without hearing the voice of the late Mark E. Smith.

Read H.P. Lovecraft’s “Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance,” after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.02.2018
08:48 am
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‘Bare-ass naked’: The KLF and the live stage production of Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Illuminatus!’


Prunella Gee as Eris in ‘Illuminatus!’ (via Liverpool Confidential)

In 1976, the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool mounted a 12-hour stage production of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy. It was a fateful event in the life of the show’s set designer, Bill Drummond, for reasons he’s detailed in the Guardian: for one thing, it was in connection with Illuminatus! and its director, Ken Campbell, that Drummond first heard about the eternal conflict between the Illuminati, who may secretly control the world, and the Justified Ancients of Mummu, or the JAMs, who may be agents of chaos disrupting the Illuminati’s plans. (Recall that in Illuminatus!, the MC5 record “Kick Out The Jams” at the behest of the Illuminati, as a way of taunting the Justified Ancients—or so John Dillinger says.)

Before they were known as the KLF, Drummond and Jimmy Cauty called themselves the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, appropriating the name for the eschaton-immanentizing hip-hop outfit they started in 1987. Over the next few years, they seized the pop charts and filled the airwaves with disorienting, Discordian hits, until a day came when you could flip on the TV and find Tammy Wynette singing “Stand By The JAMs,” or Martin Sheen narrating the KLF’s reenactment of the end of The Wicker Man.
 

Bill Drummond in Big in Japan, live at Eric’s (via @FromEricsToEvol)
 
After the Liverpool run of Illuminatus!, Drummond rebuilt his sets for the London production, but he suddenly bailed on the show, walking out hours before it was to open. I guess he missed the nude cameo appearance Robert Anton Wilson describes in Cosmic Trigger, Volume I:

On November 23, 1976—a sacred Discordian holy day, both because of the 23 and because it is Harpo Marx’s birthday—a most ingenious young Englishman named Ken Campbell premiered a ten-hour adaptation of Illuminatus at the Science-Fiction Theatre of Liverpool. It was something of a success (the Guardian reviewed it three times, each reviewer being wildly enthusiastic) and Campbell and his partner, actor Chris Langham, were invited to present it as the first production of the new Cottesloe extension of the National Theatre, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.

This seemed to me the greatest Discordian joke ever, since Illuminatus, as I may not have mentioned before, is the most overtly anarchistic novel of this century. Shea and I quite seriously defined our purpose, when writing it, as trying to do to the State what Voltaire did to the Church—to reduce it to an object of contempt among all educated people. Ken Campbell’s adaptation was totally faithful to this nihilistic spirit and contained long unexpurgated speeches from the novel explaining at sometimes tedious length just why everything government does is always done wrong. The audiences didn’t mind this pedantic lecturing because it was well integrated into a kaleidoscope of humor, suspense, and plenty of sex (more simulated blow jobs than any drama in history, I believe). The thought of having this totally subversive ritual staged under the patronage of H.M. the Queen, Elizabeth II, was nectar and ambrosia to me.

The National Theatre flew Shea and me over to London for the premiere and I fell in love with the whole cast, especially Prunella Gee, who emphatically has my vote for Sexiest Actress since Marilyn Monroe. Some of us did a lot of drinking and hash-smoking together, and the cast told me a lot of synchronicities connected with the production. Five actors were injured during the Liverpool run, to fulfill the Law of Fives. Hitler had lived in Liverpool for five months when he was 23 years old. The section of Liverpool in which the play opened, indeed the very street, is described in a dream of Carl Jung’s recorded on page 23 of Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. The theatre in Liverpool opened the day Jung died. There is a yellow submarine in Illuminatus, and the Beatles first sang “Yellow Submarine” in that same Liverpool Theatre. The actor playing Padre Pederastia in the Black Mass scene had met Aleister Crowley on a train once.

The cast dared me to do a walk-on role during the National Theatre run. I agreed and became an extra in the Black Mass, where I was upstaged by the goat, who kept sneezing. Nonetheless, there I was, bare-ass naked, chanting “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” under the patronage of Elizabeth II, Queen of England, and I will never stop wondering how much of that was programmed by Crowley before I was even born.

 

Robert Anton Wilson (via John Higgs)
 
In 2017, 23 years after they split up, Drummond and Cauty reunited as the JAMs. Instead of a new chart-burning house record, they released their first novel…

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.27.2018
10:08 am
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Gore Vidal and Roy Cohn debate McCarthyism, 1977
02.22.2018
09:59 am
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In 1977, Gore Vidal went head-to-head with Roy Cohn, onetime mentor of the president*, on the NYC talk show Midday Live. Cohn was promoting his new book, which sported a cover blurb by, uh, Roy Cohn: an “answer to” the recent TV movie Tail Gunner Joe, in which Peter Boyle portrayed Joe McCarthy as a crapulous commie-baiter who lied about his military service. Roy was hopping mad. He published his book-length screed a month after NBC aired the movie, and he sued the network for libel, and fought all the way to the Supreme Court. (He lost.)

Cohn’s performance is a master class in demagoguery. He accuses everyone else of lying. McCarthy is the victim of a vicious smear campaign. If elites in New York and Washington, D.C. don’t like what McCarthy stands for, it’s because they’ve lost touch with the decent, vital, God-fearing people of the heartland, who understand the stakes in the fight against Communism. Most instructive is his fluid interpretation of the word “McCarthyism.” Vidal defines the term early in the broadcast and uses it consistently throughout; for Cohn, it means anything that confers a momentary rhetorical advantage. In the same breath, he casts doubt on the validity of the concept (the word first appeared in The Daily Worker!) and tries to use it like a curse (the real exponent of McCarthyism is… Gore Vidal!).

The real fun starts when Vidal brings up the topic of personal sexual habits, which is right in the wheelhouse of Jack Kerouac’s seducer, and a subject Cohn would rather avoid:

Vidal: To me, the nicest thing—let’s be affirmative. The nicest thing that I have ever heard about Joe McCarthy was told me by Senator Flanders of Vermont: that he was a full-time homosexual. Is this true?

Cohn: No, I’m sure you’d think that merited a badge of honor, but it is not true.

Vidal: Well, I’m getting to you in a minute, but what about Senator McCarthy?

Cohn: Oh, sure, that’s your favorite topic of conversation. I know that.

Vidal: I know; it’s aroused by the obvious.

Vidal later remembered telling Cohn on this broadcast, “We regarded [you and G. David Schine] as the Damon and Pythias of the homosexual movement,” and said Cohn responded by “shaking all over in a ghastly way.” This moment, alas, does not appear on the tape; I like to believe it occurred during a commercial break. But Cohn does appear shaken by all this talk of manly love, and eager to change the subject. Immediately, he produces a sheet of paper and reads some of Vidal’s cutting remarks about LBJ, Jimmy Carter, and General MacArthur, to prove that Vidal is the real McCarthyite. (As if “McCarthyism” just meant “saying unfavorable things about public figures.”)

Don’t worry; host Bill Boggs circles back to Joe McCarthy’s sex kicks—a hot topic since the early Fifties, when, as McCarthy ginned up the Lavender Scare, the Las Vegas Sun reported that the senator himself was “the queer that made Milwaukee famous”—and Vidal makes Cohn squirm some more.

Cohn: I hate to eliminate or eradicate the one plus you ever did give to Senator McCarthy, but the statement and the charge is totally untrue.

Vidal: You would know.

Cohn: Well, I don’t know, you’ve been around a man for a certain period of time, you know his wife, uh, you know his family, uh, you see him, I suppose you can know as well as anybody can know, and if I knew or didn’t know, I’d wanna have a little more proof before I start throwing it around the way you’ve done.

Vidal: But Senator Flanders did.

Cohn: Well, that’s McCarthy—Senator Flanders apologized for having made a statement which was not based on fact, but based on something somebody told him, which when he checked it out, felt was so unfounded that Senator McCarthy deserved and received an apology from Senator Flanders—

Vidal: I would be happy to see that.

Me too. When 67 senators voted to condemn McCarthy on December 2, 1954, the New York Times reported that Flanders apologized for one thing only: comparing McCarthy to Hitler.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.22.2018
09:59 am
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Frankenstein and his Bride get mind-melting makeovers
02.19.2018
09:23 am
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Frankenstein’s monster reimagined as Franken Berry (the General Mills cereal monster mascot) by Michael Burnett.
 
In 2011, 80 artists were invited to create their own version of Hollywood’s most famous monster of filmland—no, not Harvey Weinstein, but rather the creation of author Mary Shelley, James Whale and Boris Karloff, Frankenstein’s monster—for a charity art endeavor called the It’s Alive Project. For the show, the artists were simply required to utilize a bust of actor Boris Karloff in character as Frankenstein’s monster and do whatever they wanted. Over the next few years the It’s Alive Project would take on the monster’s better half, as famously portrayed by actress Elsa Lanchester in the 1935 film, Bride of Frankenstein. Updates to the monster’s made-to-order bride and her black and white look were quite imaginative—such as depicting Lanchester as a punk rocker with a dangerous looking blue mohawk or a sinister-looking version of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

The impressive life-sized busts were sold for equally impressive prices in various auctions—some going for several thousand dollars each. All proceeds from the sale of the various tricked-out monsters and his bride were donated to the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides cost-free treatment to children diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Some of the images that follow are slightly NSFW.
 

Frankenstein’s monster as Spock from ‘Star Trek.’
 

“The Bride of Oz” by John Allred.
 

“Punk Bride” by Barry S. Anderson. Other work by Anderson can be seen in the 1986 film ‘Day of the Dead,’ and 2001’s ‘Jeepers Creepers.’
 
More monsters after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.19.2018
09:23 am
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Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture
02.05.2018
10:30 am
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Recently I have become rather mopey and down-in-the-mouth, to be quite honest. No, it’s not politics and it’s not due to some dumb horrible break-up either. It’s simply due to the realization that I will never have the chance to live my best life and rock out to bands like Wild Asparagus or The Ding Dings. I will never be able to see shit go down at The Sound Spot or The Stomp House.

These things have been keeping me up at night. It’s just not fair. Why can’t I go back in time to the East Village and have a drink with Beebo Brinker? And why the fuck isn’t North Beach in San Francisco as steamy, sexy and crime-laden as it used to be? I wanna get myself a grumpy-ass detective man who hates hippies and reluctantly gets dragged into investigating a drugged-out cult killing. I never got my shot to take up with some doped-up horn player who lives in a jazz club and parties until dawn, dammit.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Ever since I read the shatteringly great Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980, I am a mess! If I was once nostalgic for a past I wasn’t even alive for, I am now pining for characters and circumstances that never happened at all! Editors and authors Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette have created something unbelievable with this volume. Something that seems almost unthinkable: it is a reference book for pulp work written in a pulp-style. What I mean by this is that it is addictive, a quick read, and it leaves you wanting more.

All pulp is of the “betcha can’t eat just one” variety and so is this book. You can’t just read the chapter on 1960s British Youthsploitation Novels and you can’t just read the bits on early juvenile delinquent pulps. It’s simply not possible with this book. The way that Girl Gangs infiltrates your senses could easily be equated to the experiences of the characters in the counterculture pulps it documents: the volume starts slow like a neatly rolled joint, then kicks off mad like a killer acid trip and doesn’t let go until the contributors page and acknowledgements, at which point you find yourself the last person to leave the party, saying: “That’s it? No more? Should I just start it again from page one? I probably missed something. Okay. Here goes!” Drop that tab. Just smoke that bowl. There’s many layers to this book. It goes down just as smooth the second time around.

There are many writers who attend the Girl Gangs shindig, and every one of them should be well praised for their hard work. On a personal note, the inclusion of the YA fiction work at the close was so brilliant as there is an entire world of literature that I treasure that (apparently) only the writers of this book and perhaps a few others have recognized as pulpy, dangerous, subversive and REAL. And no, I’m not talking about Go Ask Alice (although that is one of the books discussed).

What makes McIntyre and Nette’s book such an achievement is the fact that not only does it include actual passages from extremely difficult and impossible to find pulp novels, many works are not US-based. Due to the fact that many of the contributing writers are UK or Australian-based, this book has one of the most uniquely international looks at pulp I have ever come across, period. It is glorious.

I have seen plenty of coffee table books on pulp cover art, academic publications, and merchandising galore (who hasn’t seen the card holders/compacts/cigarette cases for Don Elliot’s Hot Rod Sinners or Edward De Roo’s Go, Man, Go!) but I have never met a book that is as pleasingly exhaustive as Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, And Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980. I have never been so aware of Australian crime, women pulp writers, queerness in pulp and the influence of social/political events on the genre. I was well aware of how subversive the genre was, but the interviews with authors floored me and the amount of deep research in this book on a rather obscure literary genre blew my mind.

I don’t care who you are you this book will thrill you. It’s a bookcase necessity. If you have any interest in rock ‘n roll, lesbians, cult murder, car racing, leather jackets, skinhead violence, surfing spies, girl gangs or adolescents trying pot for the first time, THIS IS YOUR BAG, BABY. You will not get most of this material anywhere else. Trust me, I’ve looked. I have a list now of the things I want to read/find but I know I will be screwed when it comes to getting them. Most of them are either out of my price range collectibles or simply nowhere to be found except in the hands of exceptional weirdo wonderfuls like Iain McIntyre, Andrew Nette and their fearless crew. As an archivist, I trust them with these treasures implicitly. And await their next title with bated breath!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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02.05.2018
10:30 am
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That time Bill Murray interviewed William S. Burroughs on Ken Kesey’s farm
01.19.2018
10:46 am
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Bill Murray, Ken Kesey, and the video crew at the First Perennial Poetic Hoo-Haw, 1976 (photo by Clyde Keller)
 
“Everybody with his fucking hand out,” William S. Burroughs slurs, deep in his cups. He and Bill Murray are discussing the custom of bribing officials when traveling south of the border.

Murray calculates how much it will cost to keep things friendly in TJ. “We figure we’d buy off everybody in Tijuana, just give ‘em two dollars every time they came by.”

Burroughs shakes his head. “No, listen—as soon as you give ‘em two dollars, the next time they come back, they want four dollars. It’s geometric!” He pulls another smoke from his pack of Senior Service. “See, you do not get rid of people by giving them money.”

The occasion, I learn from RealityStudio, was Ken Kesey’s First Perennial Poetic Hoo Haw, held on Kesey’s farm and the University of Oregon campus in June 1976. Photographer Clyde Keller says Murray was there as part of the crew from Eugene’s KVAL-TV, and the gig may also have been related to Murray’s work with the TVTV video collective. Too bad the clip of this historic meeting, with Murray in between The National Lampoon Radio Hour and Saturday Night Live, is only a minute long.

But wait—there’s more! Keep scrolling down for the full, hour long documentary Murray and crew shot at the Hoo Haw, which turned up on YouTube about a week ago. The video includes the moment Burroughs and Murray met in Kesey’s blueberry patch, Burroughs’ reading of “When Did I Stop Wanting to Be President,” and performances by Anne Waldman, Allen Ginsberg, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Watch it all, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.19.2018
10:46 am
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Photoplay Editions: A forgotten generation of movie tie-ins and novelizations
01.16.2018
04:29 pm
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Everyone loves paperback movie tie-in novels. If you don’t, you really should. From their accessible prices and lurid covers to their not-always-screen-accurate content, this literary genre has provided joy for its fans for many decades. Reaching its peak in the 1970s as mass-market paperbacks along with genre novels of the romance, horror and sci-fi variety, the popular conception of media tie-in literature has been that it belongs to the more contemporary era of film and television work. Pop culture fandoms and collector advocacy have accelerated the idea that film novelizations are a recent phenomenon. Due to the observable vividness of their covers and the familiarity (or fucked-up bizarreness) of many of their titles,  the movie tie-in paperbacks published from the 1950s onwards have become the standard by which we define the “movie novelization” or “movie tie-in” paperback.

A few useful definitions: a novelization is a book based on a cinematic property. The writer uses an early version of the script or screenplay and, like movie tie-ins, these works are active parts of the film’s marketing. Tie-in novels are re-publications of previously written literary properties that films have adapted but with a “tie-in” feature to the upcoming movie. This could be a new title, a star on the book cover, etc. If a studio has changed the name of said book, the tie-in will carry the new name, not the original literary title (although the original name might be there as a “formerly known as”). A tie-in will also refer to books written after a film’s release in order to continue making money off the film property but have no connection to previously written literature. Both novelizations and tie-ins are pretty interesting. Obviously, some are more faithful to the, uh, original material than others. 

Novelizations and tie-in paperbacks are still some of the most widely available of such items due to their large publication runs. You could buy them anywhere, put them in your back pocket, and they were cheap (in quality and in price). These titles, from the most cultish to the most famous, are the most talked about, well-known and collected movie-related books. Some of the older titles have even been reprinted. But these works were not the first in movie tie-in history. For that, you’ll have to start in the silent film era.

From the 1910s into the 1940s, Grosset & Dunlap and A.L. Burt were two of the main publishers of what are known as Photoplay Editions. This title came, of course, from the fact that they were designed to be released in tandem with the photoplays (aka films) that they were connected with. Yes, these were the first novelizations and movie tie-ins. These hardcover volumes had a similarity to their paperback brethren: they were rather plain on the inside. There was no gilding, no special binding, no ribbon bookmarks or dignified artwork, unlike many books of the time. On the other hand, they did include pictures from the film!!! Cool, right? These books were a brilliant marketing concept and the money the publishers saved on the fancy binding and silk endpapers? That got spent on the MIND BLOWING book jacket art.
 

 

 
The most incredible part of these Photoplay Editions is that many still exist whereas the actual films they were promoting are considered lost. As a film archivist, I get the same tired jokes about finding Tod Browning’s London After Midnight (1927) all the time. Look, if it happens? You’ll be the first to know. But it won’t. The closest we may get is the beautiful Photoplay Edition that was released in conjunction with the film. And London isn’t the only lost film that we still have the book for. Murnau’s Four Devils (1928) also exists. And many more. Photoplay Editions are a virtual treasure trove- for movie tie-in fans, for film nerds, for art lovers. Enjoy these images!
 

 

 
More movie tie-ins and novelizations, after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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01.16.2018
04:29 pm
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