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Sound and vision: Scriabin’s Theosophical score for orchestra and ‘color organ’
09.06.2018
08:07 am
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Jean Delville’s title page for ‘Prometheus’
 
I’m no synesthete, so I’m still not sure what Eddie Van Halen meant by “the brown sound.” Sorry, Eddie: I’m the kind of literal-minded philistine who sees with his eyes and hears with his ears. Regular slobs like me have to make do with the pitch-and-color correspondences of Alexander Scriabin’s Theosophically inspired score Prometheus: Poem of Fire, which included a part for color organ.

(N.B.: As this article points out, a century ago, “synesthesia” did not exclusively refer to a neurological condition, but described “a broad range of cross-sensory phenomena” that could arise from mystical or aesthetic experience. So asking whether Scriabin himself was “really” a synesthete is beside the point.)

There’s ever so much bullshit about Prometheus on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Internet. As a corrective, let’s start with some heavy scholarship from the eminent musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky:

Scriabin made an earnest attempt to combine light and sound in the score of Prometheus, in which he includes a special part, Luce, symbolizing the fire that Prometheus stole from the gods. It is notated on the musical staff as a clavier à lumieres, a color organ intended to flood the concert hall in a kaleidoscope of changing lights, corresponding to the changing harmonies of the music. Unfortunately, the task of constructing such a color keyboard was beyond the technical capacities of Scriabin’s time. Serge Koussevitzky, the great champion of Scriabin’s music, had to omit the Luce part at the world première of Prometheus which he conducted in Moscow in 1911.

 

Alexander Wallace Rimington with Colour-Organ (an instrument that did not, in fact, perform ‘Prometheus’ in 1915)
 
The Russian Symphony Society gave the first performance of Prometheus with lights at Carnegie Hall on March 20, 1915, a little over a month before the composer’s death. James M. Baker’s “Prometheus and the Quest for Color-Music” sets Scriabin’s work in historical context and traces its path to Seventh Avenue. The essay overflows with detail on the particular system of correspondences Scriabin worked out, the history of synesthetic compositions, and Prometheus’ relationship to Theosophical lore. Significantly, Baker agrees with Slonimsky that, when Scriabin wrote Prometheus, he had no clue how the Luce portion of the score would actually be played (much less how “to flood the concert hall” with colors):

Although documents from the time are sprinkled with comments hinting that various color apparatuses had been tried and had failed in preparing earlier performances, in actuality there was no color organ ready and available for which Scriabin had conceived the part. It is true that Alexander Mozer, the composer’s friend and disciple who taught electrical engineering at a Moscow technical school, had constructed a small color device with which Scriabin experimented in his apartment, but this was merely a crude circle of colored light bulbs mounted on a wooden base.

 

Alexander Mozer’s ‘small color device’ at the Scriabin Museum in Moscow
 
Baker writes that Scriabin’s plans for English performances of Prometheus accompanied by A. Wallace Rimington’s color organ were scotched by the outbreak of World War I. In New York, the technical problem fell to the Edison Testing Laboratories, which invented a color organ especially for the show: the Chromola, a keyboard of 15 keys hooked up to a number of lamps behind color filters, with two pedals to control their intensity. While more impressive than Mozer’s “crude circle of colored light bulbs,” the projections on a gauze screen fell short of the composer’s desired effect. The May 1915 issue of The Edison Monthly represented the debut performance of Scriabin’s “special light score” as a modest success:

The theory of the production is roughly this: Following out the analogy of light and sound vibration, Scriabine [sic], the Russian composer, hit upon the notion of writing a color score to accompany his orchestral “Poem of Fire.” In theory, the audience was to sit bathed in floods of changing light whose variations in tint and intensity should follow the sound variations. In practice, however, this became more complex.

It was found impossible to achieve “floods of light,” and in their place a gauze screen was provided on which the changing hues were thrown, controlled from a cleverly designed “color organ” or “chromola.” Scriabine’s original color scale was found defective and a more scientific one was provided, based on rate of vibrations, each octave extending from deep red at one end of the spectrum to violet at the other. Thus pitch was made analogous to hue, loudness to shade and quality to the intensity of illumination. Advocates of mobile color feel sufficiently encouraged by their experiment to wish to attempt another production under more favorable conditions. And apparently one of these will be a score somewhat less bewilderingly dissonant than the “Poem of Fire.”

Below, a 2010 performance of Prometheus approximates the totally bitchin’ immersive light show Scriabin imagined, with the help of 21st century lighting tech and Yale’s massive endowment (that’s Ivy League coin, perv!).
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.06.2018
08:07 am
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A beam in the shade from a silvery blade: Own Ronnie James Dio’s sword collection
09.04.2018
05:00 pm
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Over the course of his decades-long career as a singer, Ronnie James Dio (RIP 2010) became as well known for wizards-and-demons-and-swords-and-sorcery lyrical themes as for his astoundingly powerful voice. But, to our amazement, we were able to locate the actual word “sword” in only one Dio song, “Push,” from his eponymous band’s 2002 LP Killing the Dragon:

You’ve ridden on a carousel
So you know the feeling as the ring slips through your fingers
Sometimes you justify it
But there’s the sword and you’re bleeding once again

To discover this bit of nearly unbelievable trivia, I combed as closely as I could through all of the lyrics of every album he sang on looking for the word “sword”, starting with his early-’70s hard rock band Elf—a tedious and not at all illuminating enterprise that I quite regret undertaking—and the only other reference I found was from Rainbow’s “Lady of the Lake” off of Long Live Rock ’N’ Roll, the lovely “silvery blade” line in this post’s headline. If I missed something, please do tell in the comments, but all the same, his rep for medieval mysticism was justified, and underscored by his penchant for brandishing swords in LARP-y promotional photos. And next weekend, swords from Dio’s personal armory will go up for public auction.
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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09.04.2018
05:00 pm
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Dennis Hopper is private detective H. P. Lovecraft in the occult noir TV movie ‘Witch Hunt’
08.31.2018
06:23 am
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Night Tide it isn’t, but I like this cheapo TV movie with Dennis Hopper as hardboiled private dick H. Phillip Lovecraft. In Witch Hunt, the sequel to Cast A Deadly Spell, Hopper takes over the role from Fred Ward, and Paul Schrader relieves Martin Campbell of the director’s chair.

Both early nineties HBO features are set in a post-WWII Hollywood where everyone dabbles in black magic—the Portuguese title of Witch Hunt is Ilusões Satânicas, “Satanic Illusions”—and all dirty work is left to gnomes, sylphs, undines and salamanders.

Eric Bogosian plays Senator Larson Crockett, a McCarthyite anti-magic crusader whose voice emanates from every TV and radio, speechifying about the threat the dark arts pose to the American way of life. When the actress Kim Hudson (Penelope Ann Miller) hires Lovecraft to investigate her husband, the case draws them toward some mass-movement jingoistic witchery that makes Hollywood look sweet.

The score is Twin Peaks-y jazz by Angelo Badalamenti. One scene echoes Dean Stockwell’s performance of “In Dreams” from Blue Velvet, only this time it’s Lypsinka miming “I Put A Spell on You” as Hopper looks on with pain and delight.

Have a look after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.31.2018
06:23 am
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Drugs, witchcraft & werewolves: The fantastic weirdness of paranormal magazine Fate


The cover of the January 1956 issue of Fate magazine. Read the entire cover story, ‘In The Magical Land Of Mescaline’ here.
 
Fate magazine published their first issue in 1948 featuring an illustration of gold flying saucers along with an accompanying article by Kenneth Arnold of his first-hand account of seeing UFOs while piloting his plane around Washington State. Arnold was more than a credible witness as far as the public was concerned. A professional pilot with approximately 9,000 hours of flying time to his credit, his story was a national sensation. Fate publisher and science fiction writer Raymond A. Palmer got together with Arnold to polish up his paranormal tale for publication in Fate’s first issue making it hugely popular.

Palmer’s love of the paranormal and science fiction started as a child, mostly to find solace as he was recovering from a horrific accident in which his spine was broken when he was hit by a truck at the age of seven. The injury would leave the young Palmer with a disfigured back (or humpback) as well as limiting his adult height to four feet. None of this stopped Palmer from writing, editing and publishing science fiction stories under various names during his long career which includes the notable distinction of publishing Isaac Asimov’s first professional piece, Marooned Off Vesta while he was an editor for Amazing Stories magazine. In 1948 he would turn his attention to Fate magazine (with partner Curtis Fuller, who eventually bought him out) which is still going and to date has put out over 700 issues full of supernatural tales, the afterlife, the occult, witchcraft, spiritualism, ESP, telepathy, cryptozoology and anything else residing on the fringe and beyond our plane of existence. Writer John Keel, he of the Mothman mythos, wrote regularly for Fate and even edited the magazine for a period.

Many of the stories published in Fate were submitted by readers from all walks of life sharing their far-out experiences such as one published in 1956 called In The Magic Land of Mescaline. In the piece written by Claude William Chamberlain, Ph.D., the good doctor recounts the time he allowed himself to be the subject of a scientific experiment where he dropped a half-gram of mescaline.

Here’s an excerpt from In The Magic Land of Mescaline from the January 1956 issue of Fate:

“I sat in the laboratory for an hour discussing current matters with my two friends—and nothing happened! A short time later, I closed my eyes for a moment and began to see “things.” I call them “things” because I have no words to describe them. Not living creatures, people or tangible objects but forms of light and color that slid and expanded and revolved in constantly changing pattern. Something like a blooming, bright red rose evolved into a scarlet dance of lights and shadowy contrasts. Golden spheres melted into azure and pink sunsets, becoming flat planes of intense beauty. A glorious aurora borealis flashed at an angle and became a series of rainbows that developed into showers of glittering raindrops of amazing splendor. Up to this point, there had been no untoward sounds, odors or other sensations. I didn’t have any feelings either pleasant or unpleasant. But, I was looking upon everything dispassionately, with cold objectivity. The warm friendship that existed between my two companions and me had not carried over into my new world. I felt nothing toward them. Except that I continued to talk to them, they might have been strangers a thousand miles removed from the scene. I realized who they were, well enough, but it left me unmoved. They were quite outside the new me. In my own case, I was far removed from the actualities of the workaday world, with highly increased perception and hypersensitivities to what ordinarily passes for unimpressive realities. It was a fantastic experience.”

While Dr. Chamberlain’s story is not the first to be documented by a physician (proper credit likely belongs to Havelock Ellis and his self-experimentation with the drug in 1896), it does precede the well-documented travels taken by actor Cary Grant during his acid awakening period starting in 1958 and concluding in 1961 where Grant claimed to have dropped at least 100 tabs of acid ultimately declaring himself “reborn” thanks to his experience under the influence (explored in the 2017 documentary Becoming Cary Grant). I’ve posted some of the more intriguing covers of Fate below, including one done by Robert Crumb in 2000 featuring his wicked Yeti Woman Some are slightly NSFW.
 

March 1953.
 

May/June 1951.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.13.2018
08:59 am
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Concrete ‘death masks’ by Tom Gabriel Warrior of Celtic Frost and Hellhammer
04.26.2018
10:49 am
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‘Self, Deceased XLVI,’ 2011 (via Antecedent Death)
 
I think of myself as a dedicated Celtic Frost fan, but these art objects escaped my notice. Since 2007, Tom G. Warrior has been making these death masks, many of which belong to the series “Self, Deceased.” They’re cast in concrete and decorated with enamel, epoxy, and occasionally semen (BUT WHOSE???). Though much of the work displayed at Warrior’s Antecedent Death blog, last updated in 2011, has long since sold, some pieces are still listed as available; they range in price from $495 to $6,900.

Warrior (born Tom Fischer) was an assistant to HR Giger during the last decade of the artist’s life. The two Swiss surrealists started corresponding in 1984, when Hellhammer sent Giger a demo tape and he recognized the extreme metal band as kindred spirits. Giger let Hellhammer’s successor, Celtic Frost, use the paintings “Satan I” and “Victory III” on their second album To Mega Therion, released the following year, and he didn’t charge them a sou.

During a discussion of Giger and his work in this 2016 interview, Warrior’s interlocutor asked him about his own visual art. Protesting that his work paled into insignificance beside Giger’s, Warrior was self-effacing about his death masks:

I do these death masks because I was always fascinated, ever since I was a child, [by] death masks. And there was a point in my life where I was wondering what my death mask will look like one day, and I realized, when I’m dead, I’m not going to see it. So at the end of the 2007 Celtic Frost U.S. tour, Les Barany, Giger’s agent in America, arranged for me to go to Fangoria magazine’s premises, and they have a workshop there, and a few friends of his took a life cast of me, and enabled me with this life cast to do my own death masks. It was just a curiosity of mine for my own purpose. To my astonishment, somebody wanted to buy a death mask, and then two people wanted to buy a death mask, and then it became “an art project.” But in reality, it was just some spleen of mine to use my face as a canvas, like I do onstage, and to see my death mask while I’m still alive to see it. That’s really all there is to it.

 

‘Death Mask 3,’ detail from ‘Transmutation I’ (via Antecedent Death)
 

‘Self, Deceased XXXIX,’ 2011 (via Antecedent Death)
 
More death after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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04.26.2018
10:49 am
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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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‘Time Machines’: When Coil interviewed Terence McKenna
03.08.2018
06:29 am
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Coil’s hallucinogenic drone album Time Machines is back in print (with Tattvic stickers!) 20 years after its initial release. (I guess, strictly speaking, Time Machines existed as a Coil side project—the credit on the live record is “Coil Presents Time Machines.”) The project, a collection of “4 tones to facilitate travel through time,” was inspired by Coil’s tryptamine friendship with arch-psychonaut Terence McKenna, as John Balance explained to Fortean Times in a 2001 interview:

FT: Psychedelics have become a more apparent theme in the more recent Coil material…

JB: And paradoxically we don’t do them any more! We were so busy doing them before that we didn’t get any records out! After Horse Rotorvator (1987) we were completely psychedelicised for about five years, and hooked up with Terence McKenna - “Coil rule!” he said in an email. It’s a great shame about his death, though I’m sure he wouldn’t see it in those terms, but as a transformation.

FT: He’s with the Machine Elves now.

JB: The self-transforming Machine Elves.

FT: Psychedelics must have transformed the way you approached sound. How do they relate to the Time Machines project?

JB: They did more than that. I was taking magic mushrooms from the age of 11 - a lot, until I was about 18, just at school. And they never did a bad thing, always taught me wonderful things. They taught me how to appreciate music and eventually told me to make music. As I’ve said before, I feel that I was brought up by mushrooms. They are teachers. Time Machines is explicitly to do with combining sounds with psychedelic tones. The Harmaline B molecule, like any other complex alkaloid, is represented as a ring, but when you take DMT, or Yage or Ayahuasca, there’s also a ringing tone, a psychic tone. And with DMT there’s a kind of crumpling sound. So Time Machines was inspired by Terence McKenna’s idea that Time Machines will only ever appear here once they have been made, and will come back to us.

McKenna, like William S. Burroughs, Taylor Mead, and John Giorno, was one of John and Sleazy’s interview subjects during the mid-Nineties; apparently, they were working on a never-realized project called Black Sun Magazine. During the 54-minute interview with Coil below, Terence plays his greatest hits—the alien consciousness encountered by psilocybin users, rave culture, Timewave Zero—but it is a pleasure to hear them as they sounded in the relaxed atmosphere of a Sunday rap with John and Sleazy.

Terence confesses (at 14:26) that he wouldn’t mind having his own Coil-type group:

The reason I like Coil is because it’s so weird. I mean without a doubt—I was talking to somebody yesterday about it who’d never heard of you, and I said “If I were making music, I would make music something like that,” that that’s my idea of what experimental music is supposed to sound like.

Guy could talk. Around the 41-minute mark, McKenna, contemplating the collapse of institutions, offers this hopeful message to the future:

There are many very dark scenarios of scarcity, fascism, disease, infrastructure collapse. But I think that the creativity that can be called upon once the old institutional structures begin to dissolve is going to create… as James Joyce said, “Man will be dirigible”!

I suppose a brave soul could use Time Machines to drop in on the transcendental object at the end of time and see if McKenna was right. Just pack your umbrella and galoshes for the end of the Mayan calendar in the incredible future year 2012. I hear tell it’s going to be a ripsnorter!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.08.2018
06:29 am
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David Bowie, Dion Fortune, and the occult history of soymilk
03.01.2018
09:52 am
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During the mid-Seventies, when David Bowie subsisted on a diet of cow’s milk and cocaine, one of his favorite books was Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defense. It’s an instruction manual by a major-league Golden Dawn magician for diagnosing and guarding against attacks by other sorcerers.

Marc Spitz’s biography points out how one part of Bowie’s coke-and-milk diet violated a basic tenet of Dion Fortune’s program (“Keep away from drugs”), but the magician probably would have nixed the other staple, too. She didn’t invent soymilk, but she played an important role in its history as an advocate and experimenter. During World War I, while working in a laboratory for the Food Production Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fortune apparently discovered a means of making soymilk, as well as a method of turning it into soy cheese. In 1925, writing under her birth name, Violet Mary Firth, she published a book on the subject, The Soya Bean: An Appeal to Humanitarians.
 

David Bowie, 1969 (Photo by Brian Ward)
 
While I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet, a volume called History of Soymilk and Other-Non Dairy Milks (1226-2013) reproduces the table of contents and some of the foreword. Part I considers the ethical reasons to avoid animal products (chapter three: “Milk Is Not A Humane Food”), and Part II describes the wondrous properties of the soybean. She argues that commercial solutions to the problem of animal exploitation are more effective than “individual abstention from flesh-food.” The foreword begins:

The manufacture of a vegetable milk from the soya bean is a matter in which I was much interested during the war, and I think I may claim to be the first person, in this country at any rate, who succeeded in making a cheese from vegetable casein.

In Sane Occultism, however, Dion Fortune cautions against making “a religion” out of vegetarianism and says the practice is not for everyone, so maybe she would have just advised Bowie to lay off the yayo and put a few more sandwiches in his diet. Below, the Thin White Duke guzzles lowfat milk from the carton in a scene from Cracked Actor. (Maybe someday John Oswald will get around to making a Plunderphonics version called Lactose Cracker.)
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.01.2018
09:52 am
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‘Out There’: The Transcendent Life and Art of Burt Shonberg

01shonb.jpg
 
Scene: A medical facility in California, December 1960. Dr. Oscar Janiger, a research professor at the University of California-Irvine, carries out a series of investigations into the impact of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide 25, or LSD to you and me, on the creative processes. Janiger enlisted a variety of artists, writers, and actors as test patients, tasked with discovering the drug’s potency. Among those who signed-up for the trials was an artist named Burt Shonberg who had two sessions with Janiger. During his first session, Shonberg received an injection of 100ml of LSD. This led him to see a hidden structure to the universe where “Humanity is literally hypnotized by the Dream Reality of momentum caused by life (meaning external influences).”

There is an illusion of movement in life which is not the truth. This all relates to so-called time. Time is motion—is evolution. One might say that the Big Criminal in all this is identification. To be apart from the form is the answer to real vision—consciousness. To be awake is to be really alive—to really exist.

March 1961: Janiger carries out a second experiment with Shonberg upping the dose of LSD to 150ml. At first, the artist didn’t think the trip was working but suddenly he was propelled into an experience that led him to believe he had left the clinic and had witnessed an undiscovered world where giants danced in the sky. He quickly understood that this “psychedelic experience” could “possibly reach to actual magic and beyond.”

There are, of course, certain things that one experiences in the transcendental state that are not possible to communicate in the usual way, so new types of parables would have to be created to get the message through. These discoveries I refer to could be insights or revelations into various aspects of the world we live in, nature, the mind itself, the universe, reality, and God.

The experiments radically altered Shonberg and his approach to painting. He continued his own experiments with LSD which eventually led him to believe he was, in fact, a living embodiment of Baphomet—“a divine androgyne, a unification of light and darkness, male and female and the macro and microcosm,” or Aleister Crowley’s pagan, pre-Christian deity, or “the Devil in all his bestial majesty.”
 
06burtshonb.jpg
‘Waking State Consciousness’ (1965).
 
Burt Shonberg was born on March 30, 1933, in Revere, MA. He had a talent for art and started his artistic studies before enlisting in the U.S. Army. After his discharge in 1956, he continued his studies at the Art Center of Los Angeles. He had interest in the occult, UFOs, and horror movies, in particular, Frankenstein’s monster which was a suitable avatar for his life and work as a creature made from disparate elements with no understanding of his true significance. His paintings drew various admirers including Forrest J. Ackerman who signed him to his talent agency and introduced him to the film world. He gained respect and began painting murals for a selection of hip nightclubs and coffee houses including Theodor Bikel’s Unicorn Cafe, the Purple Onion, the Bastille, Cosmo Alley and Pandora’s Box, eventually opening his own venue Café Frankenstein in 1958 at Laguna Beach, CA, where he decorated the walls and windows with startling imagery of his favorite movie monster.

As his reputation grew, Shonberg started a relationship with Marjorie Cameron—widow of the notorious rocket pioneer, occultist, and Crowley-devotee Jack Parsons. Cameron believed she was Babalon incarnate and initiated Shonberg’s interest in magick and the occult. Together they started an artist’s colony called ERONBU—a name composed from “camERON+BUrt.” But Cameron was a “Lady Macbeth figure, with hooks in Burt that penetrated deep,” and their relationship was doomed to failure.

His mural work drew the attention of independent movie-maker Roger Corman who hired Shonberg to paint the family portraits for his film version of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher starring Vincent Price. Corman and Price (an avid art collector) were deeply enamored of Shonberg’s work, which led to more movie, magazine, and album cover commissions in the sixties and seventies.
 
05burtshonb.jpg
Vincent Price in front of two of Shonberg’s portraits for Roger Corman’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’
 
Biographer Spencer Kansa was hipped to Burt Shonberg when writing his biography of Marjorie Cameron. Kansa is an acclaimed novelist, writer, and outsider maverick who is ideally positioned to write the first major biography of Shonberg, Out There: The Transcendent Life and Art of Burt Shonberg.

Spenser Kansa: I discovered Burt’s work while I was researching my biography of Marjorie Cameron, Wormwood Star, in Los Angeles in the mid-2000s. I knew they’d been lovers but I got to meet two of Burt’s chums who raved about him and showed me some examples of his incredible artwork. And the more I got to know about him, the more I realized I just had to chronicle his life story once the Cameron biography was completed.

DM: Why do you think Shonberg is important?

SK: Firstly, he’s the pre-eminent psychedelic artist of the 1960s. Plus he’s an intriguing figure who straddles a mid-century cultural nexus that encapsulates the rise of alternative religions, the UFO phenomenon, the Beat Movement, the popularity of monster movies, sixties counterculture and psychedelia. 

DM: How did he meet Marjorie Cameron?

SK: My educated guess would be that they probably met at the Unicorn, L.A.’s first beatnik-era coffeehouse, which stood next door to what became the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip. Burt designed its décor and menu and Cameron was known to frequent the place, as well as the bookshop upstairs.
 
07burshonb.jpg
‘Self Portrait’ (1958).
 
DM: What was Shonberg’s relationship to drugs? How important were they to him?

SK: His mural work was often quite time-consuming and laborious, and amphetamines helped fuel the necessary energy he needed to complete such undertakings, without losing his concentration. He would stay up for days at a time working on pieces, and his speed usage helps explain why he was so industrious and prolific. His use of hallucinogens, firstly, peyote then LSD, sparked his inner visions, and on canvases like “Seated Figure and a Cosmic Train,” he captured his transcendent state in such a moving and powerful way that many of his contemporaries, who’d also experienced such altered states, instantly related to it. Also, it’s important not to forget that he was able to translate onto the canvas, not only the occult and Crowley-inspired themes he’d been exposed to by Cameron but some rather weighty metaphysical concepts, particularly those deriving from his deep interest in Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way system.
 
More from Spencer Kansa talking about Burt Shonberg, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.22.2018
12:40 pm
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‘Babalú’: Ricky Ricardo big-ups Santería’s ‘Lord of Pestilence’
02.15.2018
07:02 am
Topics:
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Babalú-Ayé
 
Is I Love Lucy the real Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, the Vault of the Adepti, the Island Beneath the Sea? Robert Anton Wilson used to talk about “the sect of Fred Mertz, Bodhisattva,” and its adherents’ simple creed:

They believe that if you look at enough I Love Lucy re-runs when you’re really wasted, even­tually you’ll hear Fred reveal the most esoteric Zen teachings. . . .

If that sounds far-fetched, consider this: Ricky Ricardo’s signature song was addressed to a fearsome deity in the Yoruba pantheon. For practitioners of Santería, Babalú-Ayé is the orisha who controls health and prosperity. You want to be very cool around Babalú-Ayé because he can cover you with boils or give you the Ebola. The next time a conga drum tempts you to do your impression of Ricky Ricardo singing “Babalú,” remember that you might be mocking the god who decides whether you catch leprosy. Ixnay on the abalúbay!

After the jump, Ricky puts on voodoo drag for a big number at the Tropicana, and the Ricardos and the Mertzes fly to Cuba…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.15.2018
07:02 am
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