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‘I know that I’m not unfortunate looking.’

Posted on April 30, 2008 by Editor

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‘Michiko Kakutani is the stupidest person in New York City’

from the New York Observer

Jonathan Franzen: Michiko Kakutani Is ‘The Stupidest Person in New York City’


Jonathan Franzen

Getty Images 

Speaking at Harvard yesterday during a discussion with literary critic James Wood, Jonathan Franzen said that “the stupidest person in New York City is currently the lead reviewer of fiction for the New York Times.”

He was referring, of course, to Michiko Kakutani, who presumably got on Mr. Franzen’s bad side with her brutal review of his recent memoir, The Discomfort Zone. In that review, Ms. Kakutani wrote: “there is something oddly preening about [Franzen’s] self-inventory of sins, as though he actually reveled in being so disagreeable.” Also: “Just why anyone would be interested in pages and pages about [Franzen’s unhappy marriage] or the self-important and self-promoting contents of Mr. Franzen’s mind remains something of a mystery.”

During the talk with Mr. Wood—described in the Harvard Crimson as a face-off between Mr. Franzen and one of his fiercest critics—the Corrections author is also quoted as saying” “The reviews tend to be repetitive and tend to be so filled with error that they’re kind of unbearable to read, even the nice ones …. The most upsetting thing nowadays is the feeling that there’s no one out there responding intelligently to the text …. So few people are actually doing serious criticism. It’s so snarky, it’s so ad hominum [sic], it’s so black and white.”

[ click to read original article at the New York Observer ]

Posted on April 30, 2008 by Editor

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Aram Saroyan Smoked Pot

from the NY Times

This book collects nearly all the poems Aram Saroyan wrote in the 1960s, when he was in his early 20s and, as he put it, “the only person available at a typewriter who didn’t have some predetermined use in mind for it.” The resulting pages, tapped in Aram Saroyan by his typewriter, were succinct. Saroyan was the master of the one-word poem. But his works were as musical and meaningful as more conventional poetry, too, and a lot more amusing. The minimal poems were eye openers, ear openers and mind openers, and no one else was doing anything much like them at the time, and no one has since.

Granted — as Saroyan has — he was smoking a lot of grass at the time. But every second person in the United States was, and is, on something or other often enough. The grass factor is interesting because: 1) it’s typical of the era, always an interesting dimension of art; 2) one realizes it couldn’t be an unfair advantage, since no one else wrote like he did; and 3) the reader’s knowledge of it confers a nice extra little psychedelic ting to the pages.

Saroyan and his poetic cohort mostly lived in New York, and it was an exhilarating time for poetry — one of those extended moments, like the advent of Cubism in Paris or rockabilly in Memphis, where the artists who got it could do no wrong. Even the least writers of this Second-Generation New York School, as it’s sometimes called, were gorgeous and exciting for a while there, in the general vicinity of the St. Mark’s Church Poetry Project circa 1966-71. Most of this material appeared in mimeographed pamphlets, but for a short time some of the wildest books were brought out by uptown commercial publishers too. Holt, Rinehart & Winston published Ron Padgett’s starry, blue “Great Balls of Fire” (1969), and Ted Berrigan’s “Sonnets” (1964) went into a second printing at Grove. Clark Coolidge’s “Space” (1970) — he treated words somewhat similarly to the way Saroyan did, but more abstractly — was published by Harper & Row. Saroyan’s 1968 volume “Aram Saroyan” was published by Random House. Its format was a nearly full-size representation of its contents as they would have been in typescript (or mimeograph), in the classic Courier typeface, looking unevenly inked, printed on one leaf-side each, for a total sheaf of only 30 poems. The book could be read in two minutes or so (as it was, aloud, by Edwin Newman on the “NBC Evening News” in New York), but one could look for a long time at its pages as well, repeatedly, and with great interest and pleasure.

Some of Saroyan’s poems could only be looked at; they couldn’t be pronounced.

(Jesse Helms would use “lighght” to mock the National Endowment for the Arts after Saroyan won a cash award for it.)

Some of Saroyan’s other poems were about real-life phenomena made of words, so to speak, like the Joycean whistling in the street a car turning in the room ticking

Others were more about the effects of the sounds of the words, as well as their appearance (similar sounding words tending also to look alike), tangled up with their denotations:

My arms are warm
Aram Saroyan

You could feel him in a room at his typewriter, like a monkey or a cat with a little extra brainpower.

Saroyan was known as a “concrete poet” — that is, he was writing poems meant to be looked at as much as read. His poems aimed to be things as well as words, and they used all the resources of the alphanumeric page (or slab of stone, as Ian Hamilton Finlay did, or poster or other medium) rather than being merely linguistic expression of pre-existing ideas or perceptions. All interesting poems do this to a degree, poetry being a recognition that consciousness is made of language, but concrete poems are an extreme example, which accounts for a substantial part of their poetic pedigree (and high-class license).

[ click to read full article at the NY Times ]

Posted on April 30, 2008 by Editor

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Frey Forgoes Oprah for Hell’s Angels

from the NY Sun

Frey Forgoes Oprah for Hell’s Angels


Who needs Oprah to promote your book when you have friends in the art world, a narrative dripping with sex and violence, and firsthand knowledge that ordinary readers care little about the publishing world’s efforts to shame a former darling?

photo by Terry Richardson

Memoirist James Frey has a novel coming out next month, and it’s a safe bet that Ms. Winfrey won’t be selecting it for her book club. After all, two years ago she publicly excoriated Mr. Frey for having fabricated details of his book “A Million Little Pieces,” after her praise for his saga of drug addiction helped propel the book to best-seller-dom.

Readers didn’t seem to mind the details Mr. Frey had fudged, though. When Random House offered refunds to readers who had purchased the book before the falsifications came to light, only 1,536 people requested their money back. “A Million Little Pieces” remains among the books most frequently borrowed from libraries. Mr. Frey was able to find a new agent and sell his novel, “Bright Shiny Morning,” to HarperCollins.

Mr. Frey’s plans to promote the novel disclose something of what he has been up to in the years since the Oprah flap, and how comfortable he is in the zone of celebrity and spectacle. He is relying largely on connections outside the publishing world, such as friends at Sotheby’s auction house, where a dinner in honor of him is being held, and the artists Richard Prince and Terry Richardson, who have contributed to a limited-edition “companion volume” to Mr. Frey’s novel.

“Despite the fact that he writes books, he’s much more a part of the art world than the literary world,” Mr. Frey’s friend John McWhinnie said of him. With the money from his two memoirs (the second was “My Friend Leonard”), Mr. Frey has purchased works by, among others, Mr. Prince, Matthew BarneyDamien HirstEd Ruscha, and Cecily Brown, Mr. McWhinnie said. (Mr. Frey was unavailable to be interviewed for this article, because, as Mr. McWhinnie put it, he is “in media lockdown” in advance of his novel’s publication, under the terms of his contract with HarperCollins.)

He also recently opened a tiny art gallery on the Lower East Side with his friends Andy Spade and Bill Powers.

The companion volume to “Bright Shiny Morning” was partly the idea of Mr. McWhinnie, who runs a bookstore and gallery on the Upper East Side, where he sells immaculate first editions of 20th-century books, and mounts solo shows of artists including Mr. Prince and Mr. Richardson, Mr. Barney, Cindy ShermanElizabeth Peyton, and Ryan McGinness.

“Bright Shiny Morning,” he explained, tells the loosely intertwined stories of four couples in Los Angeles. Interspersed are dozens of vignettes about L.A., including digressions on immigration, water politics, the porn industry, gang culture, and cars.

Mr. McWhinnie had a vision for a book that would pair a few of these episodes from the novel with photo essays commissioned from Mr. Richardson, who is known for his often louche portraits of celebrities. Mr. McWhinnie selected three vignettes: one about an affair between a politician’s wife and a schoolteacher (an account so torrid, he said, that it was ultimately cut from the American edition of the novel); one about car culture in L.A., and one about gangs. Mr. Frey gave the sections the titles “Wives,” “Wheels,” and “Weapons” — a trinity that is also the title of the book.

Mr. McWhinnie, Mr. Frey, and Mr. Richardson then went out to L.A. and checked in at — where else? — the Chateau Marmont for a week to do the shoot. For the “Wheels” section, Mr. Richardson photographed hot rods and souped-up cars and took shots of L.A.’s freeways from a helicopter. For the “Weapons” section, he recruited Bloods, Cholos, skinheads, and Hell’s Angels.

For “Wives,” Mr. McWhinnie’s idea was for Mr. Richardson to capture quintessential L.A. “MILFs” — an acronym for a phrase, unprintable in a family newspaper, which denotes extremely attractive mothers. Although Mr. Richardson stopped short of depicting actual sex acts, Mr. McWhinnie described the eight photos in this section as “dripping with sexuality.”

Mr. McWhinnie is publishing “Wives, Wheels, Weapons” in both hardcover and softcover, priced at $150 and $75, respectively. He is also publishing a boxed, limited-edition “Wife Girlfriend” edition, so-named for the cover image by Mr. Prince, which is titled “Girlfriend,” and for a special pullout photograph of a “Wife” by Mr. Richardson. The “Wife Girlfriend” edition will be signed by both artists and by Mr. Frey, and will cost in the $30,000–$50,000 range. (Mr. Prince also supplied the cover image for “Bright Shiny Morning.”)

The sections about L.A. history and culture in “Bright Shiny Morning” are “sprinkled with facts that may or may not be accurate,” Mr. McWhinnie said. “The book opens with a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer that nothing in it can be considered true,” he continued. Mr. Frey intentionally mixed true and made-up “facts” — mixing real names of gang members with fake ones, for instance — in order to highlight both the factitiousness of L.A. culture and the ironies in his own authorial past.

To promote the book, Mr. Frey will eschew typical bookstore readings for events at rock venues. He will appear at the Blender Theater in New York, Whisky A Go Go in L.A., and Slim’s in San Francisco. At each venue, he will have music and a light show, with images from “Wives, Wheels, Weapons” projected on a screen while he reads. At the San Francisco and L.A. readings, local heavy metal bands will perform.

Members of the Hell’s Angels will handle security at the events, in what Mr. McWhinnie described as an allusion to the infamous 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway, in which fighting between members of the crowd and the Angels led to one fan’s being stabbed to death. Presumably Mr. Frey will not attempt to carry the historical echo that far, but who knows? Perhaps he can stage an altercation and use it as grist for his next book

[ click to read original piece in the NY Sun ]

Posted on April 28, 2008 by Editor

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Annie Shoots Hannie Montannie


NOTE:  This is the issue of Vanity Fair that will also feature an exclusive interview and fully-clothed spread on James Frey. – Editor

Miley Cyrus ‘Embarrassed’ by Photo Spread

15-Year-Old Says She Thought Photographs Would Be ‘Artistic’ 

Miley Cyrus, the 15-year-old star of “Hannah Montana,” said she is “embarrassed” by a provocative photo spread shot by famed photographer Annie Liebovitz that is appearing in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair.

Hannah Montana Near Nekkid

“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed,” she said in a statement released today. “I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

Cyrus, the daughter of country music star Billy Ray Cyrus, is the singing and acting sensation known to her legions of teenage fans from the Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana.”

In one of the photos, Cyrus is shown from the side, with most of her back bare, clutching what appears to be a satin sheet loosely around herself.

The Disney Channel, after learning of the Vanity Fair photo spread and article also issued a statement critical of the magazine.

[ click to read full article at ]

Posted on April 28, 2008 by Editor

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Working Class Hollywood Relying On Salvation Army For Food

From the Los Angeles Times

TV crew members still feeling effects of writers strike    

Many can’t find work with production down, and their bills are piling up. Some are facing foreclosure and bankruptcy. By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times 


The writers strike ended two months ago. But many in Hollywood remain on the brink. Some are at risk of losing their homes. Some can’t afford groceries. Others have filed for bankruptcy. Still others struggle to work enough hours to hold on to their health insurance.

TV Writers Need Salvation Army to keep from starving
Across Los Angeles, many crew members who work behind the scenes and on the sets of television shows and movies are still quaking from the temblor of the 100-day writers strike that shut down scripted TV production.
Blame the aftershocks. Networks have sharply curtailed the number of TV pilots this year, continuing a trend toward ordering fewer shows for the new season. 

The shows that did return are filming 20% to 40% fewer episodes. And in Los Angeles County, location permits for sitcoms and dramas since the strike ended have plunged 51% and 35% from last year, respectively, according to FilmL.A., which handles film permits.

Although hard figures are not available, union officials say that thousands of crew members who normally would be busy at this time of year are still idled because of the sharp contraction in television production. Some union locals report a quarter of their members are sitting at home.

Karen Hartjen is one. She can’t bring herself to open the utility bills lying on her kitchen table in Simi Valley. 

The 53-year-old assistant prop master has been out of work since early November, when a string of jobs on TV shows such as “CSI: New York” and “Medium” came to a halt after the writers walked out.

Although Hartjen is accustomed to earning $100,000 a year, she is now $10,000 in debt and her home is threatened with foreclosure. She has turned to her church and the Salvation Army for help with groceries. 

“I’ve been in this business for two decades, and I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Hartjen said. “I’m just fighting for my life.” 

[ click to read full article at the LA Times ]

Posted on April 28, 2008 by Editor

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Win a Free Copy of GODS BEHAVING BADLY by Marie Phillips

courtesy of Kelly Hewitt’s LOADED QUESTIONS blog

Marie Phillips’ first novel finds a number of the famed Greek Gods and Goddesses living in modern day London, all packed in a dilapidated house that no one takes the time to upkeep. Far from the powerful beings they once were these gods find that their powers are wanning, the monotony of holding down mortal jobs taxing. In Gods Behaving Badly we find Apollo working as a television psychic, his aunt Aphrodite passes her days working as phone-sex worker and Artemis a dog walker all while Zeus ages slowly in the attic under the watchful eye of the dangerous Hera.Gods Behaving Badly picks up steam as Aphrodite and her son Eros hatch a plan to make Apollo fall in love with a mousy cleaning lady who continually dodges his attempts at wooing her.

I read this book before it was released and really enjoyed it, Phillips does a great job of keeping the story moving while offering the reader a very new view of otherwise ancient Greek mythological characters.

[ click to read Kelly Hewitt’s LOADED QUESTIONS ]

Posted on April 27, 2008 by Editor

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One-Hour Scorcese Revisited

I love this commercial so I posted it – the best of the AmEx ads…

Posted on April 27, 2008 by Editor

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Revamping East L.A. – One Artist At A Time

from the LA Times


A rediscovering of East L.A.’s core

Latino artists help revamp a place where the community (and freeways) intersects.

By Agustin Gurza, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 26, 2008


People often refer to the heart of East Los Angeles, but it never seems to be in the same place. In newspapers, the term turns up all over the map. That’s because the area is more identified by its busy arteries — Whittier, Atlantic or Cesar Chavez — than by any essential center.

Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times

Finding the heart of this sprawling Latino neighborhood was on the mind of artist Linda Arreola when she won her first public art commission recently. Her task was to design a sculptural piece for the expansive new courthouse plaza at the East Los Angeles Civic Center, a refurbished and repurposed government complex that will be dedicated next month. Her design started with the idea of a public square that would serve as a focal point for residents.


“I really wanted to create a space for gathering of the community,” says Arreola. “I felt our community really needed that.”


The result is “Meso-American Dream,” a tranquil network of gardens and water fountains leading to an open space defined by stone blocks laid out in a square. The 1,300-pound blocks, made of red and gold travertine from New Mexico and Peru, are stacked two and three high, to create seating areas that evoke the shape of a pyramid.


Arreola is one of several East L.A. artists commissioned to beautify the park-like complex that once was a foreboding, military-like compound used primarily by law enforcement. Near the intersection of the 60 and 710 freeways, the Civic Center features a new bilingual library with a mosaic mural by Jose Antonio Aguirre, a pristine lake with two leaping fish sculptures by Jose Rude Calderon and two inviting gateways marked by Michael Amescua’s towering steel sculptures carved to recall papel picado, the traditional Mexican folk art of intricate designs on colored paper.


[ click to view full article in the LA Times ]

Posted on April 26, 2008 by Editor

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American Idol Tragedy

Posted on April 26, 2008 by Editor

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Graffiti is Writing As Well As Art

from the NY Daily News

‘Bomb It’ looks at all sides of graffiti issue

Wednesday, April 23rd 2008, 1:52 AM

Jon Reiss‘ latest documentary, “Bomb It,” explores the controversial subculture of graffiti through themes of public space, freedom of speech, corporate advertising, and social and political issues. The film visits cities from around the world – Los AngelesPhiladelphiaNew YorkLondonParisAmsterdamHamburgBarcelonaCape TownSao Pãulo and Tokyo – and delves into how writers have incorporated graffiti into each of their varying cultures as a means of expression, protest, and beautification.


Around 200 graffiti artists were interviewed for the documentary, including prominent names such as Cornbread, Taki 183, Terrible T-Kid 170, Os Gemeos, Blek Le Rat, Faith 47, Zypher, Revok, 2ESAE, and many more. Reiss also spoke with people who opposed graffiti including government officials from around the globe, anti-graffiti groups like T.A.G. (Totally Against Graffiti), and even New York’s own City Councilman Peter Vallone. The film brings both views to the fore, presenting a comprehensive look at how graffiti is viewed throughout the world and revealing the depths of graffiti culture.

“We made [“Bomb It”] so that it would appeal to all people not just people interested in graffiti and street art,” says Reiss. The film succeeds in this mission by presenting a riveting narrative with a mix of global music, striking interviews, amusing animated segments and stunning artwork.

Award Winning director Jon Reiss discuses his explosive new documentary and what to expect with the May DVD release.

Daily News: What inspired you to create this film?

Jon Reiss: I was approached in Los Angeles to write a narrative, like a regular feature film about graffiti writers. Even though it was kind of interesting to me, I realized I didn’t know enough about graffiti to write a script for a Hollywood studio without doing some research. When I made a film called “Better Living Through Circuitry,” I became friends with some people I met and one of them, who was a DJ, said, “Oh, I’m a writer, I know lots of writers”.

In terms of graffiti writers, most of them don’t consider themselves artists, they call themselves writers, it depends on who you’re talking to. She introduced me to a couple of people and that was when I interviewed my first “old school” guy, [Sharp], who had amazing depth and understanding of not only graffiti, but also its relationship to society and its relationship to history. Then I also met an up and coming writer, 2ESAE, they’re both in the film. Between those two guys I was kind of hooked. Usually when I find a culture or a subculture that has so much more depth to it than most people are aware of, to me, that’s a pretty interesting story to tell.

[ click to read full article at NY Daily News ]

Posted on April 25, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art | | 2 Comments »

50 Best Cult Books

from the London Telegraph

Our critics present a selection of history’s most notable cult writing. Some is classic. Some is catastrophic. All of it had the power to inspire

What is a cult book? We tried and failed to arrive at a definition: books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula “<Author Name> whacko”; books our children just won’t get…

50 books that changed our lives 

Rebuilding Dresden after the WW2 bombing described in Slaughterhouse 5
Rebuilding Dresden after the WW2 bombing described in Slaughterhouse 5

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

Sideways fantasy from the Diogenes of American letters, a comic sage who survived the firebombing of Dresden and various familial tragedies to work out his own unique brand of science-fictional satire. Like much of Vonnegut’s stuff, this is savage anger barely masked by urbane anthropological sarcasm. Very much the place to start. TM

The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (1957-60)
The great modern Baroque novel. Made it possible for the middle classes to embrace the Mediterranean. No such Alexandria ever existed, nor did the potboiler thriller plot of space/time exploration, Kaballa, sex, good food and drink (it came out during rationing) or philosophical enquiry. Some beautiful sentences, sure; but lots of them don’t make sense. AMcK

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (1991)
The woman who made feminism sexy by being gorgeous and shaving her legs also taught her readers to eat a hearty meal. This book argues that a cult of thinness has desexualised and disempowered women just when, after the acceptance of free love and the introduction of the contraceptive pill, the opposite should have happened. The most important feminist text of the past 20 years. SD

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)
In one of the original misery memoirs, Sylvia Plath delivered an intense, semiautobiographical story of growing up at a time when electroshock therapy was used to treat troubled young women. The narrator is a talented writer who arrives in New York with every opportunity before her, but buckles. The Bell Jar became a rallying call for a better understanding of mental illness, creativity and the impact on women of stifling social conventions. Plath killed herself a month after its publication. CR

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

Bitterly bouncy military farce, responsible for inventing the dilemma to which it gave its name: you’re only excused war if you’re mad, but wanting an exemption argues that you must be sane. Literary history would be entirely different if Heller had followed his original intention and called it Catch-18: it was changed to avoid confusion with a Leon Uris book. TM

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)

 Ur-text of adolescent alienation, beloved of assassins, emos and everyone in between, Gordon Brown included. Complicated teen Holden Caulfield at large in the big city, working out his family and getting drunk. You’ve probably read it, be honest. TM


The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart (1971)
Blame a burgeoning mistrust of conventional psychiatry for the immediate impact of The Dice Man – a novel whose hero, a disillusioned psychiatrist, vows to make every decision of his life according to the roll of a die. As one might have expected from the times, chance sends him into violence and anarchy, which also explains the book’s enduring appeal. AC

Chariots of the Gods: Was God An Astronaut? by Erich Von Däniken (1968)
Those Easter Island things, they’re blokes wearing space suits, aren’t they? Er, no. Hugely influential work of mad-eyed fabricated Arch & Anth, responsible for decades of pub pseudoscience as well as for splendid stuff such as The X-Files. Increasingly common at jumble sales these days, though Von Däniken happily got another 25 books out of the idea. TM

The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley (1954)

 The book that launched a thousand trips. William Blake said that if we could cleanse the “doors of perception” we would perceive “the infinite”. Huxley thought mescalin was the way to do so. In this essay, he pops a pill, goes on about “not-self” and “suchness”, and decides love is the ultimate truth. He also took LSD when dying, but hardly stuffed it down the way his fans did. Jim Morrison was one: he named the Doors after Huxley’s book, gobbled mouthfuls of acid and was dead by 27. SD

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)
Forget Asimov or PKD. Douglas Adams was so brilliant a visionary that even in the late 1970s he was able to foresee a time when digital watches would look pretty silly. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – a radio show before it was a novel, and a film, and a game, and a TV show – was incredibly clever and wildly funny. Thanks to the Guide, an entire generation of Britons was nursed to adulthood with the phrases “Don’t Panic” and “Mostly Harmless”, and the number 42. SL

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968)
New journalism, non-fiction novel – however you define it, Tom Wolfe’s 1968 account of the novelist Ken Kesey’s psychedelic bus ride across America with his “Merry Pranksters” established a style of free-associating, hyperbolic writing (count the exclamation marks!!!) that spawned countless imitations. To a generation of readers it fostered a burning envy that they had not been in San Francisco when the Kool-Aid dispensers were being spiked with “Purple Haze”. Now a vivid social history of a period that seems as remote as Byzantium. MB

The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)
Women should taste their own menstrual blood to reconcile themselves to their bodies, declared Germaine Greer in the seminal feminist text of the 1970s. Greer told a generation of women that society had turned them into meek, self-hating, castrated clones. The book was an international best-seller which earned Greer a mixed but enduring legacy. CR

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)

Bewilderingly popular and extremely silly Nietzschean melodrama, in which Ayn Rand gives her mad arch-capitalist philosophy a run round the block in the person of Howard Roark, a flouncy architect. Loved by the kind of person who tells you selfishness is an evolutionary advantage, before stealing your house/lover/job. TM

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
Supposedly filled in under three caffeine-fuelled weeks, the roll of paper on which Kerouac typed his seminal novel recently sold for more than two million dollars, and has spent the past few years on the road itself, travelling from museum to museum in the US, where it attracts queues of bearded jazz fanatics. It is the result of seven years of road-trips across America during the 1940s. Initially it celebrates the alternative lifestyle, although by the end it is coloured by disappointment. TC

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson (1971)

Needs little introduction. Bad craziness as the Duke of Gonzo and his helpless attorney blaze a streak of pharmaceutical havoc across 1970s California, all in demented bar-fight prose and fever-dream set-pieces. Now also a core text for ex-public school drug bores, which tends to obscure the anarchic excellence of HST’s journalistic talent. TM

The Outsider by Colin Wilson (1956)

Required reading in the coffee bars of the East Midlands in the late 1950s; unbelievably, some people paid good money for this study of the outsider figure in Western literature. The TLS found 285 mistakes in a sample of 249 lines, but in its young author’s eyes, it confirmed him as “the major literary genius of our century”. Modesty was not one of his virtues; nor, sadly, was literary ability. DS

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám tr by Edward FitzGerald (1859)
This is among the best-selling volumes of poetry of all time, and does all that a translation should: it introduces the idea of an exotic, different culture; and it expresses what its readers feel, but lets them blame it on someone else. Here, in an age of doubt, aesthetics and Darwinism, these mysterious verses, drawn from 11th-century Persian, stand as little examples of how to celebrate life even as it slips away. TP

The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)

 “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.” The beach, the sun, the Arab, the gunshots, the chaplain: the stuff of millions of adolescents’ fevered imaginings. If you don’t love this when you’re 17, there’s something wrong with you. In the film Talladega Nights, Sacha Baron Cohen’s snooty French racing driver reads it on the starting grid. Strange but true: George W Bush read it on holiday two years ago. DS

The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda (1968)

 Take an enterprising anthropology student (Castaneda) and a Mexican shaman (Don Juan), mix in liberal quantities of peyote, and you end up with a text rooted in “nonordinary reality”. Castaneda’s multi-part account of his adventures, which started to appear in 1968, and includes lessons in how to fly and talk to coyotes, has always elicited queries as to its veracity. But when you’ve taken that many drugs, it may not matter. AC

Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird
Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird

Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1883-85)
Incendiary declamation through a megaphone. If only one knew what he was on about. Put six Nietzscheans in a room and it ought to be a bloodbath; except, since they’re all nancies who fancy themselves as Supermen, there wouldn’t be one. Nietzsche was brave and mad enough to kill God: but look what happened to him. His acolytes are, largely, less brave. AMcK

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
Economical Deep South drama around perennially hot-button racial questions, further exalted in literary mythology by being the only thing its author ever wrote. Even those who think they haven’t read it often have. TM

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsig (1974)

 Burnt-out hippy takes son on bike trip. Remembers previous self: lecturer who had nervous breakdown contemplating Eastern and Western philosophy. Very bad course in Ordinary General Philosophy follows. If he’d done Greek at school and knew what “arête” meant, we could have been spared most of the 1970s. AMcK

  • Reviews by Mick Brown, Alex Clark, Toby Clements, Sarah Crompton, Serena Davies, Christopher Howse, Sam Leith, Tim Martin, Andrew McKie, Tom Payne, Ceri Radford, Sameer Rahim and Dominic Sandbrook
  • [ click to view full list at Telegraph UK ]

    Posted on April 25, 2008 by Editor

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    The Oldest Living Master, Maria Lassnig

    from the Guardian UK

    Truth and dare

    At nearly 90, the painter Maria Lassnig is producing the most confrontational work of her life. She talks to Adrian Searle

    In pictures: Maria Lassnig’s new exhibition

    Thursday April 24, 2008
    The Guardian

    Maria Lassnig, You or Me 

    You or Me by Maria Lassnig. Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth Zürich London and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York © 2008 Maria Lassnig

    The painter greets us, naked. She holds a gun to her own head, and aims another at her spectators. Maria Lassnig, approaching 90, might be trying to tell us something. You or Me is the title of this self-portrait, painted in 2005 and the first thing you see in her exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London. As well as an introduction, the painting is a test: bolt and run, or stay and face the consequences. I plunged right in. 

    Born in Austria in 1919, Maria Lassnig is little known in this country. This exhibition of her awkward, confrontational, strange and tender paintings is her first show in a public space in Britain. Lassnig’s works have sometimes been regarded as pathological caricatures. In Austria, one might almost take this as a compliment, or a sign of her authenticity. Lassnig, on the other hand, insists that her art is completely rational.

    The World Destroyer by Maria Lassnig 

    I sat with her among her paintings, some still being positioned on the walls, and she told me she often begins with no idea in mind at all. Nevertheless, there are constant themes. War, love, the battle of the sexes, the subjective experience of the body. Most of all, the body: dressed, undressed, veiled in plastic, malleable, devilish, sexual, grotesque. In one recent painting, a man pulls himself upwards on a gymnast’s rings – “I hate sport,” Lassnig remarks – and in another, someone gets tangled in plastic sheeting. There’s comedy here, but it never comes unalloyed.

    [ click to read full article at Guardian UK ]

    Posted on April 25, 2008 by Editor

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    You see the dude singing and shredding… he’s 15-years-old.


    (Or, check this alternate Travis Kopach video of ‘Shockwave’ featuring a sweet in-living room half-pipe. It’s the censored version of the song tho which sucks.) 

    You can catch BLACK TIDE with JAMES FREY and JOSH KILMER-PURCELL at the Whisky A Go-Go in L.A., May 15th.

    Posted on April 24, 2008 by Editor

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    Bullies, Addicts and Losers: A Poet Loves Them All

    from the New York Times


    Bullies, Addicts and Losers: A Poet Loves Them All

    Published: April 24, 2008

    A couple of years ago, writing in Poetry magazine, August Kleinzahler lighted a string of firecrackers under Garrison Keillor and his “Writer’s Almanac” segments on National Public Radio

    Kleinzahler whacking Keillor by Robert GrossmanMr. Kleinzahler criticized the “anecdotal, wistful” poems Mr. Keillor often chooses to read — poems he summarized as “middle-aged creative writing instructor catching whiff of mortality in the countryside.” Mr. Kleinzahler wasn’t very nice about Mr. Keillor’s “treacly baritone” either.

    Ultimately Mr. Kleinzahler boiled his case against Mr. Keillor down to these three-and-a-half sentences: “Multivitamins are good for you. Exercise, fresh air, and sex are good for you. Fruit and vegetables are good for you. Poetry is not.”

    It makes a certain kind of sense, then, that Mr. Kleinzahler’s career-spanning new book of poems, “Sleeping It Off in Rapid City,” features on its cover a nighttime photograph of a White Castle hamburger franchise. Like White Castle’s pint-size hamburgers, Mr. Kleinzahler’s poems are of uncertain if not dubious nutritional value. And while there is nothing made-to-order about them, his poems arrive salty and hot; you’ll want to devour them on your lap, with a stack of napkins to mop up the grease.

    Mr. Kleinzahler is an American eccentric, a hard man to pin down. Born in New Jersey, he writes poems that have a pushy exuberance and an expert recall of that state’s tougher schoolyards — of bullies with names like Stinky Phil and of “fire trucks and galoshes,/the taste of pencils and Louis Bocca’s ear.” And he writes with elegiac insight about life’s losers, the people he calls “strange rangers,” the addicted, insane or destitute.

    [ click to read full article in the NY Times ]

    Posted on April 24, 2008 by Editor

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    Linda Savage Will Be Pissed

    from the San Jose Mercury News

    Anti-addiction pills set back

    Risk of depression dims enthusiasm

    By Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press 

    CHICAGO – Two years ago, scientists had high hopes for new pills that would help people quit smoking, lose weight and maybe kick other tough addictions like alcohol and cocaine.

    from an unknown artist - found at The Jist blog

    The pills worked in a novel way, by blocking pleasure centers in the brain that provide the feel-good response from smoking or eating. Now it seems the drugs may block pleasure too well, possibly raising the risk of depression and suicide.

    Margaret Bastian of suburban Rochester, N.Y., was among patients who reported problems with Chantix, a highly touted quit-smoking pill from Pfizer that has been linked to dozens of reports of suicides and hundreds of suicidal behaviors.

    “I started to get severely depressed and just going down into that hole . . . the one you can’t crawl out of,” said Bastian, whose doctor took her off Chantix after she swallowed too many sleeping pills and other medicines one night.

    It may be possible to improve the drugs so they act more precisely. Chantix targets a different pathway – nicotine pleasure switches – and in a different way than the obesity drugs, which aim at the same pathway that gives pot smokers the munchies. That is one reason many doctors are optimistic that any risks about Chantix will prove manageable.

    But doctors are no longer talking about so-called “super pills” for a host of addictions.

    [ click to read full article at ]

    Posted on April 24, 2008 by Editor

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    BLACK TIDE – Full EPK Uncensored

    BLACK TIDE rips. Check ’em out at the BRIGHT SHINY MORNING reading in Los Angeles at the Whisky A Go-Go. 

    Posted on April 23, 2008 by Editor

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    “It’s Real…. We saw. What was left was tiny.”

    snipped from Reuters

    Penis theft panic hits city..

    Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:06pm EDT

    By Joe Bavier

    KINSHASA (Reuters) – Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

    Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

    Wandering Penis 

    Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo’s sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

    Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

    Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

    “I’m tempted to say it’s one huge joke,” Oleko said. “But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it’s become tiny or that they’ve become impotent. To that I tell them, ‘How do you know if you haven’t gone home and tried it’,” he said.

    Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.

    “It’s real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny,” said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.

    (Editing by Nick Tattersall and Mary Gabriel)

    [ click to read full article at Reuters ]

    Posted on April 23, 2008 by Editor

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    Things To Do When You’re Bored And The Toilet Doesn’t Work

    Posted on April 23, 2008 by Editor

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    Mysterious Moose Seen Holding Inflatable Deer Head Emblazoned With Miller High Life Logo

    from the New York Times

    A Broadway Flop Again Raises Its Antlers

    It is generally not a good sign for a Broadway show when people leave the opening-night party early. That is what Arthur Bicknell noticed at the celebration for the premiere of his play. As soon as the dessert forks were down, there they went, acquaintances, cast members, even family, out the door of Sardi’s restaurant. A friend finally approached with a report on the reviews.

    Two words: “the worst.”

    Indeed they were. The play was “Moose Murders,” and even now, 25 years later, it is considered the standard of awfulness against which all Broadway flops are judged.

    photo by Gerry Goodstein 1983

    Things weren’t so grim at the L & M bowling lanes in Rochester, N.Y., on Friday night, when a cast of nonprofessional — most barely even amateur — actors had just finished a second performance of “Moose Murders” at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center. The show, a staged reading but with original music, was put together by John Borek, 58, a self-described “part-time conceptual artist” who works by day as an aide to a Rochester city councilman. 

    “Maybe Broadway had its chance, and they blew it,” Mr. Borek said. “Maybe it will have a more receptive audience as a work of art.” It is certainly true that Broadway audiences were less than receptive.

    “If your name is Arthur Bicknell — or anything like it — change it,” declared Dennis Cunningham, the critic at the CBS affiliate in New York.

    Critics described “Moose Murders” as “titanically bad” and “indescribably bad,” a play that “would insult the intelligence of an audience consisting entirely of amoebas” (Brendan Gill, The New Yorker), that looked as it were staged by “a blind director repeatedly kicked in the groin” (John Simon, New York magazine). The columnist Liz Smith had some nice things to say, Mr. Bicknell recalled.

    Years later, Frank Rich, who was then the theater critic for The New York Times, would call it “the worst play I’ve ever seen on a Broadway stage.” (Mr. Rich’s writings about “Moose Murders” have become such a part of its lore that a recent production of the play in Manila credited Mr. Rich with having written the play.)

    The reviews, which were not helped by the man reeking of vomit who sat in the third row during a press preview, made the 14 performances of “Moose Murders” legendary in theater history.

    [Mr. Bicknell] tried to move on, writing another play and even a midnight drag show, but eventually gave up and worked for a few years as a literary agent. Someone tried to get permission to turn the play into a musical called “Moose Murders: The Afterbirth,” Mr. Bicknell said, but he was not ready for that.

    [ In the new production,] the mysterious moose character was a woman dressed in black holding an inflatable deer head emblazoned with the Miller High Life logo. Sidney Holloway, the mummified quadriplegic, was played by a mannequin, whose head rolled off during the first act.

    The audience members, most of them anyway, seemed to love it.

    [ click to read full article at ]

    Posted on April 22, 2008 by Editor

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    Poster for BRIGHT SHINY MORNING L.A. Event @ The Whisky

    Poster for BRIGHT SHINY MORNING L.A. Event @ The Whisky

    Posted on April 22, 2008 by Editor

    Filed under Bright Shiny News, Literary News, Los Angeles | | 1 Comment »

    AIDS Trashman Says Jim Jones Paid Him to Kill Stack Bundles

    Posted on April 22, 2008 by Editor

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    The Cowboy At Heaven’s Gate

    A Texas cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly gates.

    Ball Peen Hammer“Have you ever done anything of particular merit?’ St Peter asked.

    “Well, I can think of one thing,” the cowboy offered.

    ”Once, on a trip to the Black Hills  in South Dakota, I came upon a gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn’t listen. So, I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker, smacked him in the face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground.’ I yelled, ‘Now back off!! Or I’ll kick the crap out of all of you!!”

    St. Peter was impressed, “When did this happen?”

    ”Just a couple of minutes ago, ” the man replied.

    Posted on April 22, 2008 by Editor

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    One Man I wouldn’t Want Pissed at Me

    Hells Angel Barger sues HBO over biker drama

    PHOENIX (Reuters Life!) – Veteran Hells Angel Sonny Barger has sued cable firm HBO alleging it cut him out of a biker drama he helped to develop, Barger’s attorney said on Monday.
    Sonny Barger’s TongueBarger lodged the suit against HBO in federal court in Los Angeles last week, saying it sidelined him from the pilot of a drama called “1%”, about a troubled Arizona motorcycle club.

    The suit also named the executive producer and writer of the pilot, Michael Tolkin, and his holding company, White Mountain Co, Barger’s attorney Fritz Clapp said.

    “Basically, Michael Tolkin stole our show and sold it to HBO,” Clapp said in a telephone interview.

    “Everything that he knows about motorcycle clubs he knows from Sonny Barger,” he added.

    The term “1 percenter” was coined by the American Motorcycle Association decades ago to describe the 1 percent of motorcycle riders that they deemed troublemakers.

    The pilot focused on a chapter of the fictional Death Rangers motorcycle club in Arizona, and centered on a veteran member who is sent from California to bring it under control.

    In the complaint, Barger said he and Tolkin pitched HBO on a motorcycle club-centered series, and HBO subsequently turned to Tolkin to create it.

    After Barger objected to some of the elements in the pilot, HBO “refused to acknowledge the contributions or authorship” of Barger and did not seek permission to “use or publish the name, trademark, persona or likeness of Sonny Barger for any purpose,” the lawsuit suit said.

    Barger, 69, is a founding member of the Hells Angels chapter in Oakland, California, and is the most famous member of the club that turned 60 last month.

    He moved to Arizona from California a decade ago. He now raises horses and rides with the club’s Cave Creek, Arizona, chapter.

    Posted on April 22, 2008 by JF

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    Share A Dream – Build A Future

    from The Buffalo News

    Books For Kids 

    Having books in the home encourages reading and the lifelong love of learning.

    Books for Kids drive is changing lives

    Margaret Sullivan 

    In my childhood home, my mother was in charge of birthday presents and what went under the Christmas tree. And she did it thoughtfully and well, month after month, year after year.

    My father, by contrast, rarely got into the gift-giving business. But one Christmas when I was in high school, he came up with a spectacular present for his word-happy daughter: A full set of Shakespeare’s plays — four volumes, bound in red leather. More than three decades later, the books are within my line of vision, on the top shelf of a bookcase in my office. Nowthat was a gift with enduring value.

    Two of the best possible gifts for children, I’m convinced, are the love of reading and the presence of books in the home. This is true now, in the Internet Age, every bit as much as it was in the 1970s when I got to know “Hamlet” and “Macbeth.”

    In fact, it may be more valuable now than ever, since reading develops a child’s attention span, balancing the effects of the fast-flickering digital world that 21st century children increasingly live in.

    Seeing my own children — both teenagers now — reading for pleasure has been one of the great satisfactions of motherhood for me. That’s because I know it has helped them, making them better students, more informed citizens and more interesting people.

    I have no doubt that adult success is tied closely to childhood reading. This is true whether a child grows up in an affluent suburb or the inner city. It’s probably more important for those who lack other advantages.

    But not every parent, and not every child, has the opportunity to make books — especially one’s own books — a part of everyday life.

    In Buffalo, the nation’s second-poorest city, many families simply don’t have the money to buy books. Trips to the public library are wonderful, of course, and irreplaceable. But so is the presence of books that are owned by the family, or better yet, the child.

    Study after study has shown that having books in the home encourages reading and the lifelong love of learning.

    That’s where an effort called Books for Kids comes in.

    [ click to read full article at The Buffalo News ]

    Posted on April 21, 2008 by Editor

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    Charlie Bit Me

    Posted on April 21, 2008 by Editor

    Filed under Mirth | | 1 Comment »


    From the Los Angeles Times


    ‘Bonk’ by Mary Roach

    The scientific exploration of human sexuality.

    By Tara Ison

    April 20, 2008

    Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
    by Mary Roach

    W.W. Norton: 288 pp., $24.95

    What Mary Roach won’t do for a book! In her delicious “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,” Roach hung out with severed heads in a dissection lab, sniffed around a body farm (more politely known as a forensic anthropology facility) and studied smashed corpses donated for automobile-crash research — all to aid her investigation of an aspect of existence most of us prefer to ignore.

    Bonk by Mary RoachNow, in “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex,” Roach has chosen a topic that is perhaps the antithesis of death: our sexual physiology and psychology. Like “Stiff,” “Bonk” (almost interchangeable titles, no?) is rich in dexterous innuendo, laugh-out-loud humor and illuminating fact. It’s a compulsively readable, informative history of the scientific inquiry into the hows and wherefores of engorged tissues and sweaty palms, from Leonardo to Kinsey and on to Annie Sprinkle, including coverage of “artificial coition machines,” panda porn, the challenges of conducting sex studies in Islamic countries and the workings of the orgasm in people with spinal cord injuries.

    She details gender bias in research and language (such as the longtime male-dominated debate between the “vaginocentrists” and the pro-clitoral orgasm team), but she too often glosses over the tragic effects of misguided “treatments.” The profit-seekers or perpetrators of scientific sexual brutalities (such as Leo Stanley’s experimental testicular grafts of animal gonads into San Quentin inmates in the 1920s) often get off easy. And for a writer so conscious of the power of language, her discussion of “clitoridectomies” as the treatment for female “hysteria” up to the 1950s, with no mention of the continuing crisis of female genital mutilation, is too determinedly apolitical.

    Beware, too, the queasy-making or cringe-inducing sequences. There wasn’t a sentence in “Stiff” that made me squirm, but Roach’s needles-and-tubes descriptions of Dr. Gen-Long Hsu’s surgical treatments for erectile dysfunction were hard to bear.

    [ click to read complete review at the LA Times ]

    Posted on April 21, 2008 by Editor

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    Happy 4th Of July!

    Posted on April 20, 2008 by Editor

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    A guy gets into a three-way with two girls draped in the American flag…

    from the NY Daily News

    Odd forms follow funk with Was (Not Was)

    Sunday, April 20th 2008, 4:00 AM

    Was (Not Was)

    It’s safe to say there’s only one living funk band who would record a lyric with the following plot:

    A guy gets into a three-way with two girls draped in the American flag, then meets an insane skinhead who hurls an anti-Semitic comment at him, causing him to kill and dismember the lout, after which our narrator sees a UFO land on the Hollywood sign, out of which emerges Tom Cruise and Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard in postcoital bliss.

    Who but the twisted talents of Was (Not Was) would dare match such a heady scenario to the low-down fire of funk?

    Was (Not Was) Boo!

    Not that they’re entirely without antecedents. George Clinton made surreality a central part of his shtick. And Frank Zappa pioneered the whole universe of nut-case funk, even if he never got the sexual chemistry part quite right.

    Was (Not Was) has that part down. In fact, no band has so perfectly balanced the pull of funk with language worthy of the theater of the absurd.

    To broaden the band’s already sprawling music, they brought in a special guest orator – Kris Kristofferson – who grumbles his way through the existential poem “Green Pills in the Dresser.” No less a talent than Bob Dylan came along too, co-authoring the crazed tale “Mr. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”

    But it wasn’t the great bard who came up with lines like this typical Was quatrain: “High in fiber/low in fat/come at your mama/with a baseball bat.”

    Even on the odd chance that someone else could have written those lines, only the Was brothers could make them dance.

    [ click to read full article at NY Daily News ]

    Posted on April 20, 2008 by Editor

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    Leading a contemplative literary life isn’t dead…

    From the Los Angeles Times


    Young authors embrace the thought process

    Leading a contemplative literary life isn’t dead even in these hectic times. Just ask Nathaniel Rich, left, Keith Gessen and Ed Park.


    By Scott Timberg, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


    All The Sad Young Literary Men by Keith GessenNEW YORK — Is it possible to lead a dedicated literary life in the billionaire-filled, media-crazed New York of today? To be heedless of the material world as you burrow into novels and ideas the way the old Partisan Review gang did in the ’40s and ’50s, to come up with notions that rock the intellectual landscape? And if so, who exactly is still paying attention?

    Those are questions three reasonably young men are asking now in much-awaited first novels that emerge over the next few weeks. Each novelist takes a very different position toward rendering literary life in a city where bohemian writers have been forced out by hedge-fund guys. And each co-edits a journal that is proud, almost defiant about its print status — in a nation where the image has been replacing the word for at least half a century now, and even some well-funded publications are in free-fall.The Mayor's Tongue by Nathaniel Rich

    Outside of a few college towns, perhaps, it’s hard now to embrace the cerebral unapologetically without a sense of irony, of operating a bit out of time. But that didn’t stop Keith Gessen and some Ivy League-educated friends from launching, in 2004, the ambitious and pugilistic journal n+1, which was greeted by some as a kind of knowing, intellectual stunt. “Oh, no,” Gessen, who has heavy brows and a wide Russian mouth, said one recent evening. “It wasn’t a joke.”

    That first issue was dedicated mostly to outlining what it opposed. “We were against the New Republic, we were against McSweeney’s, we were against the war, we were against exercise,” Gessen continued, sitting in a dive bar on the Upper West Side, where he once lived in an illegal sublet before decamping for Brooklyn, like most of the city’s other literati. ” And to this day we’re against many things.”

    Personal Days by Ed ParkAt this point he’s kidding, but he’s a serious guy: His journal is dedicated first and foremost, he said, to bringing “a fighting spirit” back to a conflict-averse literary culture.

    The Moscow-born Gessen, 33, may be the end of the line, the last of the bold, hungry, text-based thinkers, a throwback to the heyday of Dissent, the quarterly at which he once toiled. His semi-autobiographical novel, “All the Sad Young Literary Men,” came out last week to mostly strong reviews. His journal, meanwhile, takes what might be called the hard-line position on intellectual life: We don’t need more creativity, it says, we need more rigorous argument and political commitment. With Nathaniel Rich, a Paris Review editor whose surreal novel, “The Mayor’s Tongue,” came out last week, and Ed Park, the Believer co-founder and author of the upcoming “Personal Days,” which takes the glamour entirely out of the world of literary journalism, Gessen shows the pleasures and perils of taking ideas seriously in a city attuned more to Dow Jones than Irving Howe.

    click to read full article at the LA Times ]

    Posted on April 20, 2008 by Editor

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    Fight Night

    Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Calzaghe on HBO.

    Matt Serra vs. George St. Pierre for UFC  Welterweight Championship on PPV.

    I predict Calzaghe and St.Pierre will win. Make fun of me tomorrow if I’m wrong.

    Posted on April 19, 2008 by JF

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    “Remember when we got the toy for you the first time and it hurt so much…”

    Posted on April 19, 2008 by Editor

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    CBGB’s Remains


     CBGB’s Reincarnation: Take A Tour Of The Boutique In The Once-Great Punk Club’s Location

    ‘We wanted to marry history, rock and roll and fashion,’ designer John Varvatos says of his shop.

    NEW YORK — From the outside, 315 Bowery — the former address of New York’s CBGB — looks nothing like its former self.

    The stickered head at CBGB

    There’s no Sharpie-inflicted graffiti praising the likes of the Dictators or Black Flag adorning the entrance. Instead, a security guard wearing a black tailored suit is manning the space’s humongous glass door, across which the words “John Varvatos” are stenciled in black. Through the glass, one notices an array of church candles flickering wildly and a 6-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty.

    Inside, the smell of fine Italian leather and $190 blue jeans has replaced the tang of a million stale cigarettes, rat poop, spilled beer and all manner of bodily fluids. Instead of aged gutter punks with protruding gray nose hairs, there are rail-thin models — including Daisy Lowe, daughter of Bush’s Gavin Rossdale — and other types of beautiful people here, splayed across antique chaise lounges, all as the final preparations for the store’s impending opening are being made.

    This isn’t CBGB — the once-great punk club that helped launch the careers of the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Bad Brains and Sonic Youth. It’s now a John Varvatos boutique. Since the club’s sole owner, the late Hilly Kristal, had a moving company pack up all of CBGB’s contents — including the pee-stained, vomit-lined urinals — before the venue shut its doors for the last time, there isn’t much in the way of “artifacts” here. But there are a few relics left.

    (Click here for photos of the store’s interior.)

    And covering the walls on either side are concert posters for bands like the Dillinger Escape Plan, the Ramones, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Kiss and Social Distortion. There are rare and imported vinyl records and autographed Stratocasters, all from Varvatos’ personal collection. There’s also Ramones memorabilia on loan from Arturo Vega, who created the band’s logo.

    CBGB’s dubious bar is gone too, packed up and lying in wait somewhere inside a storage truck in Connecticut. But as part of his vision to restore the space as much to its original design and layout, Varvatos had an old wooden bar shipped in from Pennsylvania that looks very similar to the original and is just as long. The bar serves as the store’s checkout area. Flanking the wall behind the bar is a set of four stained-glass windows, which were extracted from an old church.

    click to view full piece at ]

    Posted on April 19, 2008 by Editor

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