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‘Ah Pook is Here’: Fantagraphics publishing William S. Burroughs graphic novel from the 1970s
09.13.2010
10:52 am
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During my guest blogging stint at Boing Boing in Spring of 2009, when I posted about the traveling exhibit of the unseen and unpublished William S. Burroughs/Malcolm McNeil graphic novel, collaboration Ah Pook is Here, I suspected that a publication of the work would be announced shortly thereafter. It’s taken a while, but Fantagraphics will finally be putting it out in 2011, as Carolyn Kellog reports at the Los Angeles Times:

The project began with a Burroughs-and-McNeil collaboration in the 1970s on the comic strip “The Unspeakable Mister Hart,” which appeared in the British magazine “Cyclops.” The magazine folded, and the two decided they wanted to turn their work into a full-length project—at the time, Burroughs was 56 and McNeil was 23. What they conceived was so new that they weren’t sure what to call the form, and settled on “a Word/Image novel.” They worked for seven years but never found a publisher.

Fantagraphics, which included some spectacular images from the book in its announcement, describes the story of “Ah Pook Is Here”:

John Stanley Hart is the “Ugly American” or “Instrument of Control”—a billionaire newspaper tycoon obsessed with discovering the means for achieving immortality. Based on the formulae contained in rediscovered Mayan books he attempts to create a Media Control Machine using the images of Fear and Death. By increasing Control, however, he devalues time and invokes an implacable enemy: Ah Pook, the Mayan Death God. Young mutant heroes using the same Mayan formulae travel through time bringing biologic plagues from the remote past to destroy Hart and his Judeo/Christian temporal reality.

McNeil’s story of working with Burroughs on the project is sure to be interesting. “Fictional events in the text would materialize in real life. Very specific correspondences, not just similarities,” he told the website Big Bridge in 2008. “Such events might suggest that things are already in place and that with the right combination of words they can be made to reveal themselves ahead of time. That’s what Bill’s ‘Cut ups’ were about: ‘Cut the word lines and the future leaks out.’”

William S. Burroughs’ lost graphic novel coming in 2011 (Jacket Copy/LA Times)

Ah Pook is Here website (with samples of the artwork)
 
Below, Ah Pook Was Here in the form of a quite amazing short film made in 1994 by Philip Hunt, with Burroughs’ narration.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.13.2010
10:52 am
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Legendary Mersey beat poets and rockers: The Liverpool Scene, 1967
09.10.2010
01:17 am
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The Liverpool Scene was a confluence of poets and musicians who recorded four albums in the late 1960’s. Founded in 1967 by poet Adrian Henri and musicians Mike Evans, Percy Jones, Mike Hart, Andy Roberts and Brian Dodson, The Liverpool Scene tore down the walls between so-called high art (literature) and pop art (rock and roll). The group was championed by John Peel and received a lot of airplay on pirate radio station Radio London and Peel’s weekly radio show in Germany. But despite Peel’s support, The Liverpool Scene’s records were not big sellers and a tour of the United States was a financial bust. They did thrive on the British college and club circuit and garnered the respect and friendship of Allen Ginsberg, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. After several years of struggling to find an audience with only modest results, the group disbanded in 1970.

Adrian Henri continued to write poetry, as well as paint, until his death in 2000.

Fans of Zappa, The Fugs, Ian Dury and Beefheart will no doubt dig these clips from British TV, 1969. Adrian Henri’s satirical, edgy poetry and the band’s avant-rock and jazzy trippiness keeps the group from veering into hippie dippyness.

Ladies and gents, the amazing Liverpool Scene.
 

 
More of the Scene after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Marc Campbell
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09.10.2010
01:17 am
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The word made flesh: literary tattoos
09.08.2010
10:57 pm
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The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide is a guide to the emerging subculture of literary tattoos — a collection of 100 full-color photographs of human skin indelibly adorned with quotations and images from Pynchon to Dickinson to Shakespeare to Plath. Packed with beloved lines of verse, literary portraits, and illustrations — and statements from the bearers on their tattoos’ history and the personal significance of the chosen literary work — The Word Made Flesh is part photo collection, part literary anthology written on skin.

In 1976 I had Rimbaud’s name framed within a heart tattooed on my left shoulder. It cost me $18 at a parlor in Denver where drunks get tattoos on a dare or impulsive lovers get names tattooed they’ll later regret. I was neither drunk or in love. I wanted something permanently etched on my body that I could look at in my later years and be reminded of what helped form my young rock and roll self. Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry, which I started reading when I 15, was a defining part of my evolution as a songwriter. I never wanted to forget that. I made a commitment to one of my literary heroes. Today the tattoo is illegible, a puckered purplish scrawl bisecting a faded red blot that once was heart-shaped. It looks like shit, but I love it. It has history. And it keeps me connected to a part of myself I never want to lose contact with: the punk who believed that rock, poetry and art could change the world. It’s a badge of rebel honor.

The Word Made Flesh has a groovy website here and you can buy the book here.

What literary figure or phrase do you feel passionate enough about to have permanently emblazoned on your flesh?
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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09.08.2010
10:57 pm
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What will become of the unfinished work of Harvey Pekar?
09.02.2010
03:33 pm
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Fascinating article from The New York Times about the travails of finishing up the work of the late Harvey Pekar, in particularly the innovative digital stories told online at Smith magazine’s Pekar Project. Sadly, it looks like some all-too-human jealously is threatening to derail completion of the work. What’s transpired after the writer’s death seems like, well, one of his own autobiographical tales. In fact, it’s pretty much classic Pekar:

As the Pekar Project continued, it became apparent that Ms. Brabner was displeased with one contributor in particular: Ms. Seibel, the only female artist involved, and the only one who worked face to face with Mr. Pekar.

Ms. Seibel, whose husband and three children also became acquainted with Mr. Pekar, said that Ms. Brabner would abruptly pull Mr. Pekar out of their telephone conversations, and that she tried to interfere with a Brooklyn book-signing event at which Ms. Seibel appeared with Mr. Pekar in November. Ms. Seibel said Mr. Pekar told her these conflicts were “for him to worry about,” not her. “He put it under his business,” she said. (Ms. Brabner declined to comment on these matters.)

No one in their artistic circle believes the relationship between Mr. Pekar and Ms. Seibel crossed professional boundaries, but some could see how it strained Mr. Pekar’s marriage.

“A part of him was enjoying the attention he was getting from this very good-looking young woman,” said Mr. Parker, one of the Pekar Project artists. “And, naturally, Joyce, how could she enjoy that? You don’t have to be a psychologist to see that one’s not going to be good.”

Not even Mr. Pekar’s death quelled the tensions between Ms. Seibel, who has said she spent part of his last day alive with him, and Ms. Brabner.

 
The Unfinished Tale of an Unlikely Hero (The New York Times)

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.02.2010
03:33 pm
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The Imp on Jack T. Chick Christian comics
09.02.2010
12:23 am
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If you grew up in the Bible Belt during the 70s, 80s and even well into the 90s, there is a very good chance that you have more than a passing familiarity with the hateful, frightening and just plain bizarre “Christian” comics produced by one Jack T. Chick.

Chick’s twisted message, infused with his peculiar style of fervent, the-end-is-near Fundamentalist Christian insanity, by virtue of appearing in what most parents considered to be innocuous “religious” comic books, enjoyed a long period of widespread cultural popularity. Chick tracts were distributed in Sunday schools, summer camps, motel lobbies and bus stations all across America. There have been over 750 million of them sold!

There can only be one reason such deranged literature was allowed in so many places: Adults never read them. If they had, they’d have been utterly horrified. (My own mother gave me dozens of these comics when I was a kid. I’m sure in her mind they were better for me than the Marvel of DC comics I was reading. LIttle did she know that she was actually providing me with!)

Chick’s scary, angry Fundie diatribes have given many a kid terrible nightmares. His favorite topics tend towards subject matter like “You’re going to Hell,” Halloween is evil, eternal damnation, abortion, the Vatican is evil and created Islam, demons walk amongst us, child molesters, the Antichrist will rise soon, New Age beliefs, Judaism, Mormonism and Islam are Satanic, witches are everywhere, homosexuality is an abomination (Chick’s solution? Fire-n-brimstone, baby!), Darwin’s theories are Satanic, Harry Potter is Satanic, feminists are Satanic, the Satanic plot behind rock music (The Beatles were Druids!), “You’re going to Hell,” the Commies are everywhere (Catholics are to blame for this, of course) and just about any other crazy, fucked up conspiracy theory you can think of. He’s kind of the Glenn Beck (or maybe better still Alex Jones) of paranoiac Christian comic books. Did I mention that a lot of his comics were about how YOU (that’s right you, the person reading this) are going to Hell? Chick’s God is a VENGEFUL God. The Old Testament Jehovah has got nothin’ on Chick’s version.
 
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Not much beyond the basics are known about Chick, who is now 86-years-old. He’s an extremely private man and few photographs have been taken of him. So it’s not like anyone knows about the reclusive Jack T. Chick himself, but show almost anyone in America one of his Chick tracts and they’ll respond with an immediate recognition of the distinctively shaped and wildly deranged mini-comics. For Jack T. Chick, it’s all about saving YOUR soul from eternal damnation, not about being popular.

It wasn’t until 1998 that the first serious examination of the world’s best-read theologian (think about it) appeared and that was in the pages of The Imp a self-published journal of comics criticism from Daniel Raeburn, fashioned via the shape, design and a Daniel Clowes illustration to resemble a Chick tract. I’ve had a copy of this issue of The Imp since it came out, sitting in pride of place on my bookshelf, but it’s now long out of print. Happily Raeburn has put all four issues of his much admired publication online, also including his erudite takes on Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, and Mexican historietas.

Says Raeburn:

“People who dismiss hate literature offhand are going to miss the point of this tribute to Chick, which is that hate literature reveals not only its own corruption but the sick society that hatched it. Examine the historical and theological forebears of little Chick and you’ll find an awful, and I do mean awful, lot of mainstream beliefs. Like the Protestant zealots who colonized and raped this country, Chick tracts and the violence in them are as American as apple pie.”

 

 
Above, an episode of Boing Boing TV featuring Syd Garon and Rodney Ascher’s animated take on the Chick “classic” You Goofed.. This is Jack T. Chick in a nutshell. (Reportedly he’s seen this and liked it!)
 
This might be a recent photograph of Jack T. Chick

Huge online compendium of Chick racts

Thank you Taylor Jessen of Burbank, California!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.02.2010
12:23 am
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The final resting place of Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky
09.01.2010
10:21 am
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The ashes of poet Allen Ginsberg and his lover Peter Orlovsky were interned in Colorado on Sunday.

Via Steve Silberman

Posted by Richard Metzger
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09.01.2010
10:21 am
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Allen Ginsberg (and Harry Smith) slept here (and now you can, too)
08.25.2010
08:54 pm
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I lived in Manhattan’s East Village from 1984 to 1991 and the sight of the great poet Allen Ginsberg around the neighborhood was a pretty common one, although it was still cool to see him each and every time, I must admit. Now the apartment where Ginsberg lived until the mid-90s has been renovated and come on the rental market. There is a link to the listing today—$1700 for the one-bedroom—on Gothamist:

Allen Ginsberg spent 21 years of his life (1975 to 1996) living in a fourth floor walk-up in the East Village, and now—following the death of his partner Peter Orlovsky, it’s on the rental market. Earlier this month, The Allen Ginsberg Project stopped by as it was undergoing renovations, and there’s little left of the poetic madman’s presence. For example, the bedroom that his pal Harry Everett Smith once resided in is now a bathroom (read an interview Ginsberg did with Paola Igliori in 1995, where the two discussed his one-time roommate)

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Above: Harry Smith’s in the guest room, now a bathroom.
 
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Above: Here’s how Wired’s Steve Silberman remembers the apartment:
 
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Left to right: Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Louis Cartwright, Herbert Huncke, William Burroughs, Allen & Peter’s new apartment, 437 East 12th Street, New York City, December 1975. Photographer unknown. (Via)
 

 
Above: Allen Ginsberg on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line TV program in 1968.

There’s also a link on Gothamist to some photos of the converted YMCA on the Bowery where William Burroughs used to live, famously dubbed “The Bunker.” John Giorno, who took over the place when Burroughs left, kept his bedroom exactly as it was.

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.25.2010
08:54 pm
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Charles Bukowski painted with red wine
08.20.2010
03:07 pm
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Red wine paintings by artist Marcelo Daldoce.
 
(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.20.2010
03:07 pm
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The American: New Norman Mailer documentary
08.18.2010
10:05 pm
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Dangerous Minds pal Paul Gallagher write at his Planet Paul website about a new documentary called Norman Mailer: The American:

Norman Mailer claimed he was “imprisoned with a vision” which would “settle for nothing less than making a revolution in the consciousness of our time.”  Unfortunately for Mailer, he was far too good a writer to ever do that.

The writers who have achieved such a “revolution” have always produced poorly written and unrelentingly dull books.  Marx and Hitler may have changed history, but ‘Das Kapital’ and ‘Mein Kampf’ will never be page turners, let alone literature.

As for Mailer, he wrote over 40 books, a dozen of which are important works of literature.  No small feat when considering how often Mailer was reckless with his talents. Now Joseph Mantegna has directed a documentary film, called ‘Norman Mailer: The American‘, which examines the life of the great novelist, journalist, film director, and actor and promises to reveal the man behind these multiple lives, with unseen footage, and interviews from his wives, his children, his lovers, his enemies.

When Martin Amis unflatteringly compared Mailer and his legacy to the ruins of Ozymandias‘ two vast and trunkless legs of stone, languishing in the desert, Amis failed to appreciate how Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s poem had made the great King immortal.  Mailer’s life and books don’t need a Shelley, but it’s certainly about time someone assessed the great man’s life and work, and thankfully it looks like Joseph Mantegna has stepped up to the plate.

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.18.2010
10:05 pm
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‘Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury’
08.17.2010
04:30 am
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Rachel Bloom
wrote and stars in Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury and embodies just about everything I love about women. As Dr. Tim said, “intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” A woman with a well-stacked bookshelf is my idea of bliss. And anyone who wants to fuck Ray Bradbury is a friend of mine.

Ray’s 90th birthday is on August 22nd. There’s a groovy article on the master at the L.A. Times website. Click here.

Posted by Marc Campbell
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08.17.2010
04:30 am
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