Sion Sono Interview

Himizu

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Format: Cinema

Release date: 1 June 2012

Distributor: Third Window Films

Director: Sion Sono, Japan

Writer: Sion Sono

Based on the manga by: Minoru Furuya

Cast: Shôta Sometani, Fumi Nikaidô, Tetsu Watanabe

Directed by Sion Sono, who brought us Suicide Club (2001), and more recently Cold Fish (2010), Himizu is an urgent and topical film. Located in the midst of the devastation in the aftermath of the tsunami of 2011, the film shows a society that is not only physically destroyed but also socially falling to pieces. Fifteen-year-old Yuichi Sumida (Shôta Sometani) lives with his neglectful mother in a boat hire shop. His drunken father only lurches into view when he needs cash and curses Sumida, wishing him dead and reminding him about the time he saved Sumida from drowning, an act he bitterly regrets on account of the insurance he could have claimed. Sumida is also the object of a school girl crush on the part of the hyper Keiko (Fumi Nikaidô) – ‘Am I a stalker? Yes, I am’ – to whom he is (at best) indifferent. The boat house is also a gathering place for a disparate bunch of refugees who serve as a Greek chorus and attempt to help Sumida in his troubles even as he hopelessly pursues his wish to lead an ordinary, normal and boring life.

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Tragedy overtakes him, however, and with his chances of normality gone forever, he teeters on the edge of madness, haunted by recurring dreams of apocalypse. Threatened also by the yakuza, who are pursuing his father’s gambling debts, Sumida considers suicide but wants to do something genuinely good that will redeem him before he dies.

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Sono’s film is a deeply unsettling view of modern day Japan. It is a society in which the adults have an antagonistic, if not downright hostile, relationship to their offspring. Sumida’s parents are blandly negligent on one side and furiously hateful on the other, but this isn’t simply an isolated case. Keiko interrupts her mother and father, who are in the process of building her a gallows. ‘You’ll use it when we’ve finished,’ they tell her. School is an irrelevance that spouts new age platitudes about hope and individuality while having no real impact on the lives of the pupils. The only sympathetic adults in the piece are the refugees, but they themselves have had their lives reduced to vagabondage that in its precarious vulnerability is not that far from childhood.

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Although originally based on a manga by Minoru Furuya, the script was changed at the last minute by Sono to incorporate the tsunami and the subsequent nuclear drama that was played out. Sono took his crew to one of the most devastated areas for some of the scenes. The film was premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2011, a mere six months after the tsunami had hit Japan. It treats the aftermath in a tangential manner, alluding rather than depicting. But the whole film is imbued with an out-of-joint surreality, a topsy-turvy universe in which the generations are pitched against each other. There is no sign of authority and every now and then an ominous growling roar is heard as if there is another earthquake on its way, waiting to happen on the margins of the frame. This is a much more serious film than the dark comedy of Cold Fish. Despite the freakishness of the plot, there is a mournful tone that the use of Mozart and Samuel Barber reinforces. This is a satirical and in some ways despairingly angry film. In its privileging of the point of view of the young, Himizu is reminiscent of The Tin Drum (Volker Schlöndorff, 1979). Hope, if it is to come at all, will be brought out by the young kids who play out their relationship in the worst possible conditions and yet have an independence and resilience that will allow them in some way to survive.

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John Bleasdale talked to Sion Sono at the Venice Film Festival in September 2011 and asked him about adapting a manga, incorporating the tsunami in the film, and softening his trademark violence.

John Bleasdale: When did you decide to adapt Minoru Furuya’s manga?

Sion Sono: It was before the earthquake: what we refer to as 3/11. Actually, I had already completed the screenplay when 3/11 happened, but I had to adapt the script after 3/11. The original screenplay was very faithful to the manga, but I could not ignore what had happened and continue to make the film.

The film is very different from the manga, especially the ending.

The manga was published 10 years ago, when Japan was a little more peaceful, and a little milder compared to now. Minoru Furuya wrote about a life of boredom and peace and the endless continuum of those days, but after 3/11 we were in a situation where we were living the unordinary, and the unordinary became our daily lives. The unending unordinariness is what we’re living now. The time has completely flipped. The manga is more depressing, because it was written in a more peaceful time. Now we’re not living in a peaceful time; we’re not secure enough to show these depressing things. That’s why it changed.

How did Furuya react to the changes?

He is very jealous, and he said, ‘I’m not going to read the screenplay because if I do, I’m probably going to give lots of notes, but as long as I don’t read the script I won’t feel I have to make any suggestions. So I’m just going to wait until you finish the film and then watch it.’

During the production was there any difficulty shooting the film?

The schedule for the principle photography didn’t change that much, as it was a low-budget film, and my crew wasn’t too open to incorporating the events of 3/11 into the film. But it was what I wanted to do, and so I very hurriedly rewrote the script because we already had a date to begin shooting.

In the film the protagonist seems to become a comic-book superhero, a masked vigilante, but that seems to be a parody almost, an idea that fails him.

[SPOILER] Looking back I agree, but he was in no way trying to be heroic. By committing parricide, he actually wants to kill himself, but in the time that he’s deliberating, he decides he wants to commit one good act for society, for mankind, before taking his own life. And he felt that to find and kill somebody who is obviously evil would help others.[END OF SPOILER] So it’s not like he’s a Kick-Ass type of character – he’s not a geek, he doesn’t read superhero comics – it’s not as if he’s emulating those heroes.

Like the anti Kick-Ass?

Maybe not even that, because he doesn’t have the reference.

Can I ask about the use of music? What influenced you in choosing Mozart’s Requiem and Samuel Barber?

When I was in editing, there was a melody that would haunt me. I wanted to be faithful to that, and I thought Mozart’s Requiem would be too easy a choice, but it’s just the best. It’s not about it being a requiem – that’s not the significance. It’s more about the melody. And I had seen a couple of films where there is a main theme that is repeated with variations, and I found that effective, so I always wanted to try that with the Requiem.

Were the ruins used in the beginning and closing of the film real?

I did actually go on location to a place that was hit by the tsunami, but I didn’t shoot the location like a documentary at all because Himizu is a feature film, a drama. I wanted to film the place in an un-documentary way, which is to say we had a different way of shooting. We had a very long tracking shot that showed the rubble, which is something a documentary film wouldn’t do – it will give you an idea of how vast that landscape is. It is very dramatic, as nothing in particular is going on, but it just shows you the scope of the devastation.

How did the actors react to being in a ruined place?

We actually shot the scenes very quickly, right before the light failed, so maybe three hours, four hours tops, and within that time frame I didn’t want to make it a big production, so we just had the actors and the cameraman. It was beyond a director directing it. The actors hadn’t been there before, they hadn’t seen the place where the tsunami hit, and so I was just filming their raw reaction.

What is the film’s relationship with violence? Is it an aesthetic choice?

In just this film?

In all your films.

I haven’t really compared them to others, and I can’t really talk in relation to other people, but it is quite normal for me. Say you have a Francis Bacon painting, and you go to Francis and you say: ‘Francis, you have very violent, grotesque expressions – why is that?’ He’ll probably just say, ‘that’s the way I draw, that’s the way I paint’. It’s like a tick. Like a tendency, or habit. It’s not that it has come out of a place of intent, it’s not planned in a conscious way. Like you see the sky, and some people will see it red. They don’t see the blue in the sky, and you might say where’s the red. I don’t see that.

There is much less violence in Himizu than in your previous work. The film is softer.

Yes, you are absolutely right. I think I was more restrained in my expressions of violence, but it’s funny because people keep asking about the violence in the film. I feel that it is much tamer than my previous films. Violence isn’t a theme of the film, and there are so many violent films, so why do mine stand out? I didn’t want to show the murder too graphically, because it is such a sad scene. I didn’t want to emphasize it.

There is poetry in the film. Do you still write poetry?

Before I started making films, I wrote poems. One day I realised that I had started making films instead of poems, and now I don’t write films any more, but all the impulses and passion I put into poetry, I now put into my cinema. It’s like making films is like writing a book of poetry.

The adolescent point of view is very isolated. The parents and the schools are not there, and the kids have to do it themselves. Were you influenced by any films told from the child’s point of view, for instance The Tin Drum?

The Tin Drum is one of my favourite films, but this was an adaptation of a manga. Within it, there was the character of a policeman who showed understanding for the boy. I didn’t put him in the film, because I wanted the boy and the girl to be (as you said) isolated. I wanted them to work things out, to drive the story; the world’s most isolated and alienated characters.

On TV we see that everything is in order now in Japan, but in the film there is chaos.

Journalism, I think, may not reflect the truth, so maybe it shows only a part of what the youth in Japan are going through now. Some journalists will say that the smiles are returning to the faces in Fukushima, but actually I went back a week ago to where we shot, and I didn’t see anyone smiling. Everyone is living in misery, and you can see the disparity between what is being reported and what is happening. In this sense my film is truer than the journalism.

Throughout the film we hear the sound of the earthquake, giving us the feeling that the earthquake is about to happen again. Could that be a social earthquake?

Yes. Absolutely, the apprehension of not knowing what is going to happen at any time. Ambiguous worries about what will happen in the future. To visually or cinematically convey that sense, I used that sound.

The community act as a second audience in the film. They seem to be the only community that works…

Yes, those characters had suffered so much. They had hit rock bottom and so they are able to bond. I went to the area that was hit most by the tsunami, and there were many bonds that were created as families lost members.

Is this an optimistic film?

I am going to make a film about Fukushima next, which is going to be much more about dealing with reality. This film in a way doesn’t feature radiation leakage issues that much, because if I delved into that, it would be too much. But with my next film I’ll deal with it. Talking to people, interviewing people, investigating – that is not optimistic or hopeful at all. The process itself… I am doing it so that I will find hope, but it isn’t optimistic now. To cover your ears isn’t good. You have to have the clarity and everything out in the open in order to find hope.

Interview by John Bleasdale in  electrichseeplogo

60’s Paraphernalia

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Andy Warhol:

Andy Warhol’s sphere of influence defined 60’s subculture in New York. Though most remember Andy as an artist, he should be coined as a collector, collecting characters at The Factory who he manufactured and preserved as icons. His taste was impeccable; his instincts dead on. “Anybody who Andy discovered and found and ‘named’ as his ‘superstar’ became his superstar. Andy had the best taste. I mean, he’s my favorite artist…he knew a good thing”, said Betsey Johnson. From 1965-1967 Andy delivered an explosion, giving rise to three of the most memorable icons of the era. The intersection of Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Betsey Johnson, and The Velvet Underground illuminated a generation, culminating in the most influential icons of the 60’s social scene.

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Brian Jones with Andy Warhol in New-York boutique Paraphernalia 1966

Edie Sedgwick:

Edie met Andy at a party in January of ’65 and she became a regular at Andy’s studio, The Factory, by March. During this time Andy shot footage of Edie getting ready in her apartment, later used in his film Poor Little Rich Girl. Andy and Edie became quite inseparable, and in April of ’65, Andy brought Edie to an art opening of his in Paris. When they got back to New York, Andy said that he wanted to make Edie the ‘Queen of The Factory’. He had a script written for just for her, resulting in a film called Kitchen, shot in the kitchen of a friend’s studio apartment. Around this time Andy also shot Vinyl, which featured Edie in an otherwise all male cast. By the spring, The Factory hosted a “Fifty Most Beautiful People” party where many celebrities, including Judy Garland, came. It was said that at this party, “the stars went out and the superstars came in; that there were more people staring at Edie than at Judy”. By the early summer, Edie starred in her most famous Warhol film, Beauty No.2, which opened in July. The film showcased Edie lying in bed with a male lover while an offscreen voyeur berated her with personal questions. That same month Edie was named the “Newest Superstar” in the New York Times.

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Edie became notorious by age 22, frolicking around the city in heavy eye make up with her hair sprayed silver, donning black leotards, tights, and big chandelier earrings. “Edie ran with the wild horses. Edie was not only ‘the look’, she had the head, she had the body, she had the screwed up background, I mean she’s the perfect candidate. Young, gorgeous, the look of the time, on Andy’s arm, and able to really hold her own, falling down, standing up, or whatever. She was a one in a zillion,” said Betsey Johnson. In November, Edie appeared in a LIFE magazine feature titled “The Girl with The Black Tights”. After hanging out with Bob Dylan for a bit, Edie got the impression that Bob’s manager would offer her a film contract. She then veered astray from Andy in February of ’66 after he filmed her last Factory role in “Lupe”. Betsey reflects, “We were passionate, tormented kids with visions, stuff to do, and things to make. Edie led a sixties acceptance and love and wannabe population of copycats. She was gorgeous.”

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Edie_Sedgwick dressed like Betsey
Edie dressed like Betsey

Betsey Johnson:

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Betsey Johnson tinsel motorcycle jacket 1966 Paraphernalia showroom
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Betsey 1970

 

Betsey designed the fashion that defined the look of The Factory. Before being introduced to Andy, Betsey was one of the in-house designers for a Manhattan boutique called Paraphernalia. Metallics, plastics, and minis filled the shop, where all clothes retailed for less than $99. “People would walk into the store dressed in their straight clothes. They’d buy something and put it on. Then and there they’d apply an outrageous make-up, before heading directly to a party. They were buying something to wear tonight and more or less throw away tomorrow” said Paraphernalia’s owner, Paul Young. The boutique itself looked like a minimalist art gallery, designed by Architect Ulrich Franzen, and it sat right next to the Vidal Sasson salon. Paraphernalia and Vidal Sassoon provided the essential components for any woman to transform into a mod mistress, an enormously radical shift from the conservative look of the 50’s. After designing for Paraphernalia for about a year, Andy introduced Betsey to Edie who immediately fell in love with Betsey’s designs. Betsey lent Edie a collection of her signature silver clothing, and Edie became Betsey’s fitting model for the following year.

Twiggy at Paraphernalia, New York City
Twiggy at Paraphernalia, New York City
Paraphernalia, dress, copper lamé knit, circa 1967, USA, gift of Mrs. Ulrich Franzen. The Museum at FIT
Paraphernalia, dress, copper lamé knit, circa 1967. Bronze lamé sleeveless A-line mini shift; squared neckline, shoulder yoke, princess torso and wide hem band with CF kick pleat; vertical stand pockets below hip line; topstitched

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Edie became a regular at Paraphernalia where she simultaneously established and consumed the notorious look of the 60’s. By dressing Edie, Betsey developed an integral role in The Factory which continued to expand. The Factory was the new master of media, manufacturing film, art, and celebrity status. If that wasn’t enough, in ’65 The Factory began to manufacture music when Andy became the manager for a band called The Velvet Underground. The Velvet underground was formed by Lou Reed and John Cale, two talented 23 year olds who bonded over music and heroin. Betsey was dating John Cale at the time, and she readily began to design clothes for the band once Andy had brought them into The Factory. The web was woven; the stage was set. Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Betsey Johnson, and The Velvet Underground became the incubators of an era, producing a radical wave and cult phenomenon that has yet to be rivaled.

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The Velvet Underground:

In March of ’66 Betsey hired Andy to stage a party at Paraphernalia. The Velvet Underground played music at the party, ultimately selling a look, a sound, and a scene. Andy suggested that the band feature German singer, Nico, on several of their songs. Nico was a 5’10”, German born, blonde model who’s stoic beauty and deep, soft voice gave the male band a female offset. She famously sang the song, “Femme Fatale”, which Lou Reed had written about Edie at Andy’s request. Between ’66 to ’67 Andy organized a series of multimedia events called the “Exploding Plastic Inevitable”, also referred to as “EPI”. The series featured musical performances by The Velvet Underground and Nico, showcasing notable regulars from The Factory as dancers. The “EPI” officially began in January of ’66 at a dinner for the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry. Edie and another of Andy’s superstars, Gerard Malanga, danced on stage as The Velvet Underground and Nico sang. Establishing its roots in New York City, the “EPI” roadshow continued throughout the United States and Canada until May of ’67. In April of ’66 The Velvet Underground and Nico album was recorded in New York City, featuring Nico on three of the songs. Andy designed the album cover; a yellow banana sticker with “peel slowly and see” printed near the tip, revealing a fleshy, pink banana underneath. Brian Eno is credited with saying, “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” The album was named the 13th “Greatest Album of All Time” by Rolling Stone in March of 2003.

The Velvet Underground at The Factory

Velvet Underground EPI

Revolutionaries:

Andy, Edie, Betsey and The Velvet Underground had a huge influence on culture during and after their fame in the 60‘s. Each of these icons possessed peculiar characteristics that helped challenge the rigid, societal norms of their time. For instance, Edie suffered from mental illness since she was a child, primarily due to a troubled family life. Though Edie was born into wealth, her affluence only made her more susceptible to dependence on prescription pills and party drugs which ultimately led to an overdose that killed her at age 28. Andy too had his own troubles. He grew up as a hypochondriac and outcast who isolated himself in his room, immersing himself in magazines and radio. Andy was undeniably insecure, and perhaps he surrounded himself amongst his large crew of eccentrics as a way to camouflage his own insecurities. The Velvet Underground frontman, Lou Reed, also suffered from a troubled upbringing. At 17, Lou received 24 electric shock therapy under his parents wishes to “cure” him of his homo-erotic tendencies and mood swings. The dosage of the shock treatment was incredibly high, and it made him feel like a vegetable for the entire following year. Lou was quick to leave home after that.

Many of the regulars at The Factory thought of themselves as misfits, sharing a resentment towards their upbringing and a desire for life anew. The Factory provided an exciting, alternative lifestyle to those young people who had never fit into the box that their parents tried desperately to confine them in. Drugs, particularly heroin and speed, became a common habit amongst The Factory crowd. Though they were popular, the drugs were hardly glamorized due to the drastic consequences they caused. The fame and notoriety of The Factory icons helped publicize the gritty reality of youth that had been banned from media in the 50’s. Andy successfully showed America these beautifully talented and troubled artists as pioneers of a new 60’s generation. These icons broke through the social molds of conservatism, establishing a wave of culture that radically embraced the beauty within the harsh realities of life.

Iggy Pop and The Stooges

Absolutely, Definitely RAW!

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As Iggy Pop and The Stooges are my all time favorite group and the best show I have ever seen I really felt I had to post more about them even if I already did in the one called Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell and in A Shaded view on Fashion20140926033300-THE_SANDMAN_POSTER but I still thought it was unsatisfactory of my appreciation considering how I feel about The Stooges so I thought the best thing I could do was to hook you guys up on this article written by James Marshall in pleasekillme.com that is really complete and interesting. I also included a few clips that I thought you might enjoy as well. It is really important to me to pass the word that punk wasn’t born with the Sex Pistols in the UK as so many people think… Not that it matters so much but it’s always nice to have all the facts… I mostly wanted you to be aware if you are not already, of the immense contribution that Iggy and The Stooges has brought not only to Punk Rock but to music in general… So …just keep in mind to click on images to read the articles I have chosen to be amongst so many I have read and have fun looking through some footage I have chosen as well while we all wait for the movie Sandman by Dario Argento in which Iggy will play the main character… So I hope you enjoy these chosen samples of what Iggy and The Stooges have in store for their fans.

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Ron Ashton in his Nazi suit!!Ron Ashton in his Nazi suit by Jenny Lens MFA

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The-Stooges

FUTURO HOUSES

A FAILED 1960’S ATTEMPT AT UFO LIVING

Abandoned Futuro House in Royse City, Texas 9photograph by Steve Rainwater)
Abandoned Futuro House in Royse City, Texas (photograph by Steve Rainwater)

The UFO-shaped house in Royse City, Texas, sits alone in an overgrown field, a vision of some solitary failed retrofuture dream. The Futuro House was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late 1960s. Made of new materials like plastic and manufactured to be portable and adaptable to diverse terrain with its raised legs, the capsule house was imagined as a ski chalet with a quick heating system. You entered through a hatch to an elliptical space with a bedroom, bathroom, fireplace, and living room. Suuronen soon saw its potential beyond the slopes, and through the Futuro Corporation built the lightweight houses as a prefabricated, compact housing solution adaptable for any corner of the globe.

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Due to its unusual space age-influenced design, and the oil crisis of 1973 that made plastic expensive, under 100 of the houses were made. Around 60 of those survive, and they’ve dispersed all over the globe like a covert invasion of extraterrestrials that got canceled decades ago. Some look new, such as one in gleaming yellow on top of the WeeGee exhibition center outside of Helsinki, or another recently restored as a study space at the University of Canberra in Australia. Others are anomalies in the urban landscape, including one in Tampa, Florida, that’s a strip club VIP room, while at Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston, Illinois, a battered model mingles with other kitsch from the past like a Twistee Treat shack and a Muffler Man.

The Futuro House in Pensacola Beach, Florida, which survived Hurricane Ivan (photograph by Ken Ratcliff)
The Futuro House in Pensacola Beach, Florida, which survived Hurricane Ivan (photograph by Ken Ratcliff)

The site TheFuturoHouse.com carefully maps the whereabouts of the world’s remaining Suuronen UFOs, from New Zealand to Greece. You can also cruise by them on Street View through Google Sightseeing’s round up of the saucers. And while you can’t buy one for $14,000 like when they were made, the houses do periodically turn up for sale — one appeared on eBay this May.

Matti Suuronen wasn’t the only architect to attempt UFO-style living — there were also the Sanjhih UFO houses in Taiwan built in 1978, unfortunately now demolished. But there is something enduringly endearing about the homes, and there’s definitely room now in our current housing situation for houses that can be quickly built in varying topography. It’s easy to imagine them touching down on top of New York City’s apartment buildings as additional living space, or braving the rugged landscape of Antarctica as research bases (there are in fact similar structures in use by the Australian Antarctica Division).

Through December 14, you can visit a freshly restored 1972 Futuro House adopted by artist Craig Barnes on top of Matt’s Gallery in London. But to really go back in time, check out the 1971 footage below from when the Futuro House was a brand new vision for futuristic living.

Örebro, Sweden (photograph by Sebastian F.)
Örebro, Sweden (photograph by Sebastian F.)
Warrington, New Zealand photograph by (Peter Dowden)
Warrington, New Zealand photograph by (Peter Dowden)
Outerbanks, North Carolina (photograph by Elizabeth)
Outerbanks, North Carolina (photograph by Elizabeth)
New Zealand (photograph by Adam Fletcher)
New Zealand (photograph by Adam Fletcher)
Conjoined Futuro Houses in Germantown, Ohio (photograph by Rob Lambert)
Conjoined Futuro Houses in Germantown, Ohio (photograph by Rob Lambert)
Berlin, Germany (photograph by Georg Slickers)
Berlin, Germany (photograph by Georg Slickers)
Livingdton, Illinois (photo by  Citizen Fitz)
Livingston, Illinois (photo by Citizen Fitz)

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Creepy Nightclubs

Weird but Awesome

Those that are drawn to the more creepy side of life will be thrilled to find out that 1920s Paris was obsessed with all things macabre. And that goes for nightclubs, too. During the 20th century, a number of different cabarets opened across the city, complete with gargoyle ceilings, bone chandeliers and nightly shows that were just as creepy as they were strange.

Le Cabaret du Ciel de de L’Enfer on Boulevard de Clichy 

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Boulevard Clichy

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Les Cabaret du Ciel et l'Enfer

 

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 Cabaret du Neant

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Le Cabaret du Néant

L’Araignée-Cabaret des Truands

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Cabaret des Truands

L'Araignée-Cabaret des Truands

 

 H.R. Geiger

On a more modern ote I thought you might be interested to see 2 bars that were designer by HR Geiger who recently died. The first one he tried to open was in Tokyo but because of restritions that are very strict in Japan due to frequent earthquakes and the likes, the project was (very unfortunatelty) abandonned by Geiger but some of associates persevered and managed to open it. Still it will never be nothing like he wanted it to be in Japan but nonetheless it is quite striking. Here is the official link to this bar that is now officially closed.  Just click on the main entrance picture below.

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H.R. Giger’s art is among the most recognizable in existence—it’s very easy to identify something he made, and the unbelievable bar attached to the museum dedicated to his work in Gruyères, Switzerland, is no exception. Amazingly, it’s not the only one in existence—at various times four locations have been able to boast a Giger Bar, two in Switzerland (the other one is in Giger’s birthplace, the town of Chur), one in New York City, and one in Tokyo. But the ones in Switzerland are the only ones that are open today.

The New York branch was located in Peter Gatien’s legendary Limelight nightclub in the Chelsea neighborhood, but once it closed in the 1990s, the Giger Bar closed with it.

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The Day Valerie Solanas Got Her 15 Minutes of Fame.

You Only Get One Shot…

 

by Tobe Damit

 A little after 4 pm on Monday, June the 3rd, 1968,Valerie Solanas marched into The Factory and fired 3 bullets at Warhol. Just one of them missed, but when Billy Names rushed over to cradle Warhol’s head in his lap while blinking away tears, Warhol only words where ”Please don’t make me laugh, it hurts too much”.

   I always was curious to know who she was and what were the exact reasons that led to that tragic day that would have many ramifications in the way it affected modern arts, cinema, music, theatre, live performances, and so many other forms of art as Warhol was most definitely involved in so many projects. Warhol was never the same after that and there is no way to precisely mesure the importance this had but it sure did modify the face of what was happening in the late sixties and early seventies. Let’s have a closer look at the sad life of Valerie Solanas and the events that led to the day she got her 15 minutes of Fame.Valerie Solanas.jpg

     On April 9, 1936 in Ventor, New Jersey, Valerie Jean Solanas was born to Louis and Dorothy Bondo Solanas. Her father sexually molested her; sometime in the 1940’s her parents divorced, and Valerie moved with her mother to Washington, D.C.. In 1949 Valerie’s mother married Red Moran. Rebellious and stubborn, Valerie disobeyed her parents and refused to stay in Catholic high school; in response her grandfather whipped her.

  At the age of 15 in 1951, Valerie ended up on her own. She dated a sailor and may have gotten pregnant by him but still managed to graduate from high school in 1954. She was a good student at the University of Maryland at College Park, supporting herself by working in the psycology department’s animal laboratory. She did nearly a year of graduate work in psychology at University of Minnesota.

  After college, Solanas panhandled and worked as a prostitute to support herself. She traveled around the country and ended up in Greenwich Village in 1966. There she wrote “Up Your Ass”, a play ” about a man-hating hustler and a panhandler. In one version, the woman kills the man. In another, a mother strangles her son.”

  Early in 1967 Solanas approached Andy Warhol at his studio, the Factory, about producing ” Up Your Ass”, as a play and gave him her copy of the script. At the time Warhol told the journalist Grechen Berg: ” I thought the title was so wonderful and I’m so friendly that I invited her to come up with it, but it was so dirty that I think she must have been a lady cop…. We haven’t seen her since and I’m not surprised. I guess she thought that was the perfect thing for Andy Warhol.”

  Also in 1967 Solanas wrote and self published the Scum Manifesto. While selling mimeographed copies on the streets, she meant Maurice Girodias of Olympia Press (French publisher of Lolita, Candy and Tropic of Cancer) who gave her an advance for a novel based on the manifesto. (With this $600 cash she visited San Francisco.)During this time Ultra Violet read the Manifesto to Warhol who commented, ” She’s a hot water bottle with tits. You know, she’s writing a script for us. She has a lot of ideas.”

Viva and Andy Warhol’s mother after the shooting

  Later, in May 1967, after Warhol had returned from a trip to France and England, Solanas demanded her script back; Warhol informed her he had lost it. Apparently, Warhol had never any intention to produce Up Your Ass as either a play or a movie; the script was simply lost in the shuffle, thrown into one of the Factory’s many stacks of unsolicited manuscripts and papers. Solanas began telephoning insistently, ordering Warhol to give her money for the play.

  In July 1967 Warhol paid Solanas twenty-five dollars for performing in “I, a Man,” a feature-length film he was making with Paul Morrissey. Valerie appeared as herself, a tough lesbian who rejects the advances of a male stud with the line that she has instincts that “tell me to dig chicks—- why should my standards be lower than yours?” Solanas also appeared in a nonspeaking role in “Bikeboy,” another 1967 Warhol film. Warhol was pleased with her frank and funny performance; Solanas also was satisfied enough that she brought Girodias to the studio to see a rough cut of the film. Girodias noted that Solanas “seemed very relaxed and friendly with Warhol, whose conversation consisted of protracted silences.”

  In the fall of 1967 at the New York cafe, Max’s Kansas City, Warhol spotted Solanas sitting at a nearby table. He instigated Viva’s insult of Solanas; “You dyke! You’re disgusting!” Valerie answered with the story of her sexual abuse at the hands of her father.”No wonder your a lesbian,” Viva callously replied.

  Over the winter of 1967-68, Solanas was interviewed by the Robert Mamorstein of the Village Voice. The article,”Scum Goddess: a Winter Memory of Valerie Solanas” was not published until June 13, 1968, after the shooting. Solanas commented on the men interested SCUM:”… creeps. Masochists. Probably would love me to spit on them. I wouldn’t give them the pleasure…. The men want to kiss my feet and all that crap.” Her comment on women and sex: ” The girls are okay. They’re willing to help any way they can. Some of them are interested in nothing but sex though. Sex with me, I mean. I can’t be bothered …. I’m no lesbian. I haven’t got time for sex of any kind. That’s a hang–up.” She told Mamorstein that Warhol was a son of a bitch: ” A snake couldn’t eat a meal off what he paid out.” Solanas also talked about her life; she had surfed as a little girl. She panhandled and even sold an article on panhandling to a magazine.” I’ve had some funny experiences with strange guys in cars.”

  According to the interview, she wrote a few sex novels and was paid $500 for one. (Could this have been the novel that was to have been based on the SCUM Manifesto?) She was interviewed on Alan Burke”s TV talk show; when she refused to censor herself, he walked off the set. The interview was never aired. According to Paul Morrissey in a 1996 interview with Taylor Meade,the contract that Solanas signed with Olympia Press ” this stupid piece of paper, two sentences, tiny little letter. On it Maurice Girodias said: ” I will give you five hundred dollars, and you will give me your next writing, and other writings.” Solanas had interpreted it to mean that Girodias would own every thing she ever wrote. She told Morrissey: ” Oh no, everything I write will be his. He’s done this to me, He’s screwed me!” Morrissey believed Solanas couldn’t write the novel based on the SCUM Manifesto she had promised to Girodias and used this idea that Girodias owned all that she wrote as an excuse. In Solanas’ mind, Warhol, having appropriated Up Your Ass, wanted Girodias to steal her work for Warhol’s use and never pay her so he got Girodias to sign this contract with her.

In early 1968 Solanas went to writer Paul Krassner to ask him for $50. According to Krassner, writing in 2009 and rejecting part of Morrissey’s account, she asked Krassner for the money for food and he loaned it to her. Krassner also speculated in 2009 that she could have used the money to buy the gun as the shooting was a few days later. According to Freddie Baer, when she asked Krassner for money in 1968, she told him she wanted to shoot Girodias and she used the $50 Krassner gave her to buy a .32automatic pistol . In any event, in 2009 Krassner denied that he knew in 1968 that Solanas intended to kill Warhol. 

But in 2009, Margo Feiden said in an interview with James Barron of The New York Times that she did know that Solanas intended to kill Warhol, but could not prevent it. (A New York Times assistant Metro editor responded to an online comment regarding the story, saying that the Times”does not present the account as definitive.”)

According to an unquoted source in The Outlaw Bible of American Literature, on June 3, 1968, at 9:00 am, Solanas arrived at the Chelsea Hotel, where Girodias lived. She asked for him at the desk but was told he was gone for the weekend. She remained for three hours before heading to the Grove Press, where she asked for Barney Rosset, who was also not available.

Noted Solanas scholar Breanne Fahs, in her 2014 biography, Valerie Solanas, rejects as unlikely that Solanas appeared at the Chelsea Hotel looking for Maurice Girodias. Professor Fahs states that Girodias may have fabricated the account in order to boost sales of the SCUM Manifesto, which he had published. Dr. Fahs states that “the more likely story…places Valerie at the Actor’s Studio at 432 West Forty-Fourth Street early that morning.” Actress Sylvia Miles states that Valerie appeared at the Actor’s Studio looking for Lee Strasberg, asking to leave her play for him. Miles said that Valerie “had a different look, a bit tousled, like somebody whose appearance is the last thing on her mind.” Miles told Valerie that Strasberg would not be in until the afternoon. Miles said that she accepted a copy of the play from Valerie and then “I shut the door because I knew she was trouble. I didn’t know what sort of trouble, but I knew she was trouble.

Fahs records that Valerie then traveled to producer Margo Feiden’s (then Margo Eden) residence in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, as Valerie believed that Feiden would be willing to produce her play. As related to Fahs, Valerie talked to Feiden for almost four hours, trying to convince her to produce the play and discussing her vision for a world without men. Throughout this time, Feiden repeatedly refused to produce Valerie’s play. According to Feiden, Valerie then pulled out her gun, and when Feiden again refused to commit to producing the play, Valerie responded, “Yes, you will produce the play because I’ll shoot Andy Warhol and that will make me famous and the play famous, and then you’ll produce it.” As she was leaving Feiden’s residence, Valerie handed Feiden a copy of her play and other personal papers. 

Fahs describes how Feiden then “frantically called her local police precinct, Andy Warhol’s precinct, police headquarters in Lower Manhattan, and the offices of Mayor John V. Lindsay and Governor Nelson Rockafeller  to report what happened and inform them that Valerie was on her way at that very moment to shoot Andy Warhol.” In some instances, the police responded that “You can’t arrest someone because you believe she is going to kill Andy Warhol,” and even asked Feiden “Listen lady, how would you know what a real gun looked like?”

Fahs additionally cites Assistant District Attorney Roderick Lankler’s handwritten notes on the case, written on June 4, 1968, which begin with Margo Feiden’s stage name, “Margo Eden”, address, and telephone numbers at the top of the page. So..In Short..Let’s just say that in the spring of 1968, Solanas approached underground newspaper publisher (The Realist) Paul Krassner for money, saying “I want to shoot Maurice Girodias.” He gave her $50, which was enough for her to buy a .32 automatic pistol.

  On June 3, 1968 at 9 a.m. Solanas went to the Chelsea Hotel where Maurice Girodias lived: she asked at the desk for him and was told that he was gone for the weekend. Still, she remained there for three hours. Around noon she went to the new relocated Factory and waited outside for Warhol. Paul Morrissey met her in front and asked her what she was doing there. “I’m waiting for Andy to get money,” she replied. To get rid of her, Morrissey told her that Warhol wasn’t coming in that day. “Well that’s alright. I’ll wait,” she said.

  About 2:00 she came up to the studio in the elevator. Once again Morrissey told her that Warhol wasn’t coming and that she couldn’t hang around so she left. She came up the elevator another seven times before she finally came up with Warhol at 4:15. She was dressed in a black turtleneck sweater and a raincoat, with her hair styled and wearing lipstick and make-up; she carried a brown paper bag. Warhol even commented “Look doesn’t Varlerie look good!” Morrissey told her to get out”. . . We got business, and if you don’t go I’m gonna beat the hell out of you and trow you out, and I don’t want . . . ” Then the phone rang; Morrissey answered— it was Viva, for Warhol. Morrissey then excused himself to go to the bathroom. As Warhol spoke on the phone, Solanas shot him three times. Between the first and second shot, both of which missed, Warhol screamed, “No! No! Valarie, don’t do it.” Her third shot sent a bullet through Warhol’s left lung, spleen, stomach, liver, esophagus and right lung.

  As Warhol lay bleeding, Solanas then fired twice upon Mario Amaya, an art critic and curator who had been waiting to meet Warhol. She hit him above the right hip with her fifth shot; he ran from the room to the back studio and leaned against the door. Solanas then turned to Fred Hughes, Warhol’s manager, put her gun to his head and fired; the gun jammed. At that point the elevator door opened; there was no one on it. Hughes said to Solanas, ” Oh, there’s the elevator. Why don’t you get on, Valerie?” She replied: ” That’s a good idea” and left.

  That evening at 8 p.m. Solanas turned herself in to a rookie traffic officer in Time Square; she said, “The police are looking for me and want me.” She then took the .32 automatic and a .22 pistol from the pockets of her raincoat, handing them to the cop. As she did so, she stated that she had shot Andy Warhol and in way of explanation offered, “He had too much control of my life.”

  A mob of journalists and photographers shouting questions greeted Solanas as she was brought to the 13th Precinct booking room. When asked why she did it, her response was, “I have lots of reasons. Read my manifesto and it will tell you who I am.” Solanas was fingerprinted and charged with felonious assault and possession of a deadly weapon.

Later that night Valerie Solanas was brought before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge David Getzoff. She told the judge: “It’s not often that I shoot somebody. I didn’t do it for nothing. Warhol had me tied up, lock stock, and barrel. He was going to do something to me which would have ruined me.” When the judge asked if she could afford an attorney, she replied: “No, I can’t. I want to defend myself. This is going to stay in my own competent hands. I was right in what I did! I have nothing to regret!” The judge struck her comments from the court record, and Solanas was taken to the Bellevue Hospital psychiatric ward for observation.

Solanas appeared in front of State Surpreme Court Justice Thomas Dickens on June 13, 1968, represented by radical feminist lawyer Florynce Kennedy. Kennedy asked for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that Solanas was being held inappropriately at Bellevue. The judge denied the motion and sent Solanas back to Bellevue. On June 28, Solanas was indicted on charges of attempted murder, assault, and illegal possession of a gun. She was declared “incompetent” in August and sent to Wards Island to be hospitalized. That same month, Olympia Press published the SCUM Manifesto with essays by Girodias and Krassner. 215px-Shotandywarhol

The night before Christmas, 1968: Warhol answered the phone at the factory; it was Solanas calling. She demanded that Warhol pay $20,000 for her manuscripts that she would use for her legal defense.She wanted him to drop all criminal charges against her, put her in more of his movies and get her on the Johnny Carson Show. Solanas said if Warhol didn’t do this, she “could always do it again.”

In January, 1969, Solanas underwent psychiatric evaluation and was diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia. In June, she was finally deemed fit to stand trial. She represented herself without an attorney and pleaded guilty to “reckless assault with intent to harm”.She was sentenced to three years in prison, with the year she spent in a psychiatric ward counted as time served.  It has been suggested that Warhol’s refusal to testify against Solanas contributed to the short sentence.

According to Robert Marmorstein in 1968, “she has dedicated the remainder of her life to the avowed purpose of eliminating every single male from the face of the earth.” Feminist Robin Morgan (later editor of Ms. Magazine) demonstrated for Solanas’s release from prison.  English professor Dana Heller argued that Solanas was “very much aware of feminist organizations and activism”, but that she “had no interest in participating in what she often described as ‘a civil disobedience luncheon club.'” Heller also stated that Solanas could “reject mainstream liberal feminism for its blind adherence to cultural codes of feminine politeness and decorum which the SCUM Manifesto identifies as the source of women’s debased social status. After Solanas was released from the New York State Prison for Women in 1971, she stalked Warhol and others over the telephone and was arrested again in November 1971. She was subsequently institutionalized several times and then drifted into obscurity. In 1973 Solanas was in and out of mental institutions; she spent eight months in South Florida State Hospital in 1975.

The attack had a profound impact on Warhol and his art, and the Factory scene became much more tightly controlled afterward. For the rest of his life, Warhol lived in fear that Solanas would attack him again. “It was the Cardboard Andy, not the Andy I could love and play with,” said close friend and collaborator Billy Name. “He was so sensitized you couldn’t put your hand on him without him jumping. I couldn’t even love him anymore, because it hurt him to touch him.”

In the July 25, 1977 Village Voice, Howard Smith interviewed Valerie Solanas. She claimed to be working on a new book, about her life “bullshit,” titled Valerie Solanas. She was supposed to have received $ 100,000,000 in advance from “The Mob”, whom she describes as “the Money Men;” she talked at length about “the Contact Man” for this entity.

  In the interview she discussed the Society for Cutting Up Men: “It’s hypothetical. No, hypothetical is the wrong word. It’s just a literary device. There’s no organization called SCUM. . . . Smith: “It’s just you.” Solanas: “It’s not even me . . . I mean, I thought of it as a state of mind. In other words, women who think a certain way are in SCUM. Men who think a certain way are in the men’s auxiliary of SCUM.”

  She also protested a 1968 statement of Smith’s: “The part where she said, ‘ She’s a man-hater, not a lesbian’ . . . . I thought that was just totally unwarrented. Because I have been a lesbian . . . Although at the time time I wasn’t sexual, I was into all kinds of other things. . . . The way it was worded gave the impression that I’m a heterosexual, you know. . . . “

  The next issue of the Village Voice on August 1, 1977 has another piece by Howard Smith,”Valerie Solanas Replies.” In it Solanas corrected misinterpretations from previous issue’s interview. Included are: 1) Olympia Press’s editions of the Manifesto were inaccurate, “words and even extended parts of sentences left out, rendering the passages they should have been incoherent;” and 2) The Voice refused to publish the address of the Contact Man, which she considered one of the important reasons for the interview. She called Smith journalistically immoral and said ” I go by an absolute moral standard.” . . . Smith: ” Valerie do you want to get into a discussion now about shooting people?” Solanas: “I consider that a moral act. And I consider it immoral that I missed. I should have done target practice.” Also in 1977 she mailed a rambling letter to a Play boy editor on the theory that he was a contact man for The Mob. Then there is no record of Solanas until November 1987 when Ultra Violet tracked her down in Northern California. When Ultra Violet, Ultra telephoned her for an interview, according to her somewhat unreliable report, Solanas was then known as Onz Loh. Solanas stated that the August 1968 version of the manifesto had many errors, unlike her own printed version of October 1967, and that the book had not sold well. She also said that, until told by Violet, she was unaware of Andy Warhol’s death.

  April 26, 1988: broke and alone, Valerie Solanas died of emphysema and pneumonia in a welfare hotel in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. When she died at the age of 52, she had a drug problem and continued to turn tricks to support her habit. Prostitutes who knew her from that time said that she looked elegant and slender, and she always wore a silver lame’ dress when she worked the street.

She was buried in Virginia, near the home of her mother.

Solanas’s role as a cult figure was solidified with the publication of the SCUM Manifesto and her shooting of Andy Warhol. Harding explained that, by declaring herself independent from Andy Warhol, after her arrest she “aligned herself with the historical avant-garde’s rejection of the traditional structures of bourgeois theater”, and Harding explained that her anti-patriarchal “militant hostility … pushed the avant-garde in radically new directions.” Harding believed that Solanas’ assassination attempt on Warhol was its own theatrical performance. At the shooting, she left on a table at the Factory a paper bag in which she carried a gun, her address book, and a sanitary napkin. Harding stated that leaving behind the sanitary napkin was part of the performance, and called “attention to basic feminine experiences that were publically [sic] taboo and tacitly elided within avant-garde circles.”

Feminist philosopher Avital Ronell compared Solanas to an array of people: Lorena Bobbitt, a “girl Nietzsche”, Medusa, the Unabomber, and Medea. Ronell believed that Solanas was threatened by the hyper-feminine women of the Factory that Warhol liked and felt lonely because of the rejection she felt due to her own butch androgyny. She believed that Solanas was ahead of her time, living in a period before feminist and lesbian revolutionaries such as the Guerilla Girls and the Lesbian Avengers.Solanas has also been credited as instigating radical feminism, according to Harding and Victor Bockris feminist revolutionaries supported her, and Catherine Lord wrote that “the feminist movement would not have happened without Valerie Solanas.”Lord believed that the reissuing of the SCUM Manifesto and the disowning of Solanas by “women’s liberation politicos” triggered a wave of radical feminist publications. As women’s liberation activists denied hating men, Vivian Gornick said that a year later the same women would change their stories, developing the first wave of radical feminism. At the same time, perceptions of Warhol were transformed from largely nonpolitical into political martyrdom because the motive for the shooting was political, according to Harding and Bockris.

However, writer Breanne Fahs describes Solanas as a contradiction which “alienates her from the feminist movement.” Fahs argues that Solanas never wanted to be “in movement” but she nevertheless fractured the feminist movement by provoking N.O.W. members to disagree about her case. Many contradictions are seen in her lifestyle (a lesbian who sexually serviced men, claim of being asexual, confusion), a rejection of queer culture, and a non-interest in working with others despite a co-dependency on others. Fahs also brings into question the contradictory stories of Solanas’ life. Solanas’ life is described as one of a victim, a rebel, a desperate loner, yet Solanas’ cousin says she worked as a waitress in her late 20s and 30s, not primarily as a prostitute, and friend Geoffrey LaGear said she had a “groovy childhood.” Solanas also kept in touch with her father throughout her life, which makes one question and complicate the notion that Solanas hated her father and acted out this hatred in the shooting/manifesto. Fahs believes that Solanas embraced these contradictions as a key part of her identity.

Whatever people say, she probably wouldn’t even be remembered today if she wouldn’t have shot Andy Warhol.  Of course this is my perswonnal opinion but I stand by it. I think it is very lame to use someone to make a name for yourself. She was obviously totally disoriented,  schizophrenic and narcissic. She makes me think in a way of Charles Manson, ruining the Summer of Love or  maybe more Mark David Chapman, breaking down a movement that was obviously depending a lot on Warhol’s influence helping and stimulating whoever he thought had a talent on an artistic level. Warhol never forced anyone under a contract, never used brutality or blackmail to to do so. I’m even sorry now that I know the whole story I gave her some importance. She deserves none.  Plus she is such a loser cuz she missed almost at point blank distance!!!! And I’m glad she did… Warhol went on with his life and is still remembered and revered today as one of the most modern artist, that’s no secret of course… 

  

Iconic Set Design

The Shining’s Overlook Hotel

The Shining’s Overlook hotel remains one of the most disturbing locations in horror. Ryan looks over its history, and how it tells Kubrick’s story…

Cinema is full of set designs so beautiful, you almost wish you they were real. Fritz Lang had vast chunks of city built forMetropolis. Joseph Mankiewicz nearly brought 20th Century Fox to its knees, so huge and sumptuous were his sets for 1963’sCleopatra.

Thinking back over the course of movie history, how many films can you think of where the set itself is as big a star as the actors that emote within it? In Alien or Blade Runner, perhaps. The impossibly creepy motel and Victorian house of horrors in Psycho, maybe. The set in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, I’d argue, towers over all these.

In no other film has an interior felt so mundane and yet so palpably evil – Jack Nicholson may rant and rave spectacularly as unhinged writer Jack Torrance, and Shelley Duval may act convincingly exhausted and terrified as his beleaguered wife, but it’s production designer Roy Walker’s set design that constantly dazzles.

Credit must also go, of course, to John Alcott’s prowling cinematography, aided Garrett Brown and his wonder invention, the Steadicam, which allowed Stanley Kubrick, ever the technician, to pull off some of the most striking long takes in all cinema.

Nevertheless, it’s the Overlook Hotel, at the time the biggest indoor set ever built, that bears so much of the film’s dramatic weight. This is partially because The Shining has such a simple story to tell. Pared back even by the standards of Stephen King’s source novel, the movie contains none of the rampaging elephant-shaped hedges or infernos of the original book. Instead, Kubrick’s film presents us with little more than embittered, failed writer, Jack, slowly growing crazy in a remote hotel. His wife Wendy (Duvall) and telepathic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) can do little more than look on in horror.

At first glance, Kubrick and Walker appear to have created the perfect fusion between exterior and interior shots. At the start of the film, the outside of the Overlook we see is actually the Timberline Lodge, located in Oregon. The rest of the film’s exteriors and interiors, meanwhile, were immaculately constructed back at Elstree Studios in the UK.

A world away from the dusty, peeling interiors usually seen in horror movies, the hotel interior envisioned by Kubrick is spacious and modern. The set generates tension not through claustrophobia and dark spaces, but with high ceilings and lonely expanses. Characters are frequently dwarfed by gigantic columns or huge windows. Even the carpets accentuate the how small and vulnerable Danny and his mother are; one shot shows the little boy playing on a carpet whose huge geometric patterns surround him like a cage.

As he did in 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick uses violent contrasts of colour to heighten the feeling of unease. There’s a key moment, where Grady (Philip Stone) ushers Jack into a bathroom and urges him, rather unsubtly, to “correct” his family. The acting in this scene is so intense that it’s easy to miss just how striking the actors’ surroundings are; unlike the warm, boozy golds of the ballroom Jack was drinking in seconds before, the bathroom is bathed in stark artificial light. The pure white ceiling and floor merely accentuate the startling crimson of the walls.

The room is utterly unlike any other in the hotel – it’s as though it’s a direct projection of Jack’s violent mind, which it almost certainly is. It’s but one example of how Kubrick uses colour and design to reflect the mood of his characters.

As an example of how The Shining’s set takes us through those moods, take a look at the manager’s room, where Jack is interviewed at the beginning of the film – it’s a typical 70s office, its ugly salmon-coloured walls festooned with framed pictures. It’s vastly different from the supernatural ballroom or evil-looking bathroom seen in the film’s final act.

When Walker set about designing the film’s rooms, he took inspiration from real hotel rooms from around America, and went all over the country photographing different interiors. On his returm, Kubrick leafed through the pictures, chose the ones he liked, and had his production team construct rooms that looked exactly the same. The director described the process of designing the film’s sets in an interview with writer Michel Ciment.

“We wanted the hotel to look authentic rather than like a traditionally spooky movie hotel,” Kubrick said. “The hotel’s labyrinthine layout and huge rooms, I believed, would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere. This realistic approach was also followed in the lighting, and in every aspect of the decor it seemed to me that the perfect guide for this approach could be found in Kafka’s writing style. His stories are fantastic and allegorical, but his writing is simple and straightforward, almost journalistic.”

Writer Rob Ager made an exhaustive and brilliant examination of The Shining’s set design, and suggested that Kubrick deliberately built anomalies into the hotel’s layout in order to confuse the viewer’s spatial awareness. (It’s a fascinating piece of work, and you can read it, and watch an accompanying video, here.)

From a plan view, as one might see in an architect’s drawing, the Overlook’s layout doesn’t make any sense; hotel rooms open out straight onto balconies; what should be internal windows appear to have light coming from outside; corridors lead to abrupt dead ends.

Not everyone agrees with Ager’s thesis, but I’d argue it’s too plausible to dismiss entirely. While it’s possible that Kubrick and his designers may have cut a few corners to cram their already enormous sets into the space available at Elstree, it’s unlikely that a director as meticulous and obsessed with minor detail as Kubrick would make so many glaring errors.

Besides, Kubrick makes it obvious from the outset that the hotel’s architecture is vital to his story. His use of Steadicam isn’t merely a gimmicky use of new technology – it allows him to lead us around this weird interior landscape, across horrid carpets, polished floors and rugs, through its sprawling kitchen and storage rooms. He wants us to know how gigantic and dehumanising this place is – before the psychological wargames begin, he shows us the battleground on which they’ll take place.

In the Overlook, Kubrick created a hotel that acts as a kind of psychological torture chamber, trapping its victims in a labyrinth of impossible corridors and rooms. Its design mirrors that of the hedge maze outside, cunningly built from a wood and wire mesh frame, with foliage threaded through it. This maze, with its eight-foot high walls, was complex enough for the crew to get lost in.

Kubrick’s daughter Vivian shot a candid documentary of The Shining’s making, and the director and his crew are seen consulting maps of the maze’s layout. It’s been said that, at one point in The Shining’s year-long shoot, Kubrick had the maze walls rearranged, without telling certain members of the crew. When they became lost in its new layout, their cries for help were met with peals of laughter from Kubrick – laughter that, disconcertingly, seemed to becoming from all directions at once.

The Shining is the perfect example of the use of set design to enhance a narrative. Combined with its cinematography, the viewer is left with the impression of a building that isn’t merely haunted, but alive, and actively observing its occupants’ every move. No other set in cinema is quite so oppressive, or so convincingly depicted – we barely notice the spatial anomalies that Ager points out, but it’s likely that on some subconscious level, our brain notices, and shudders.

The Shining’s shoot was long and arduous. In his quest for perfection, Kubrick went through take after take. Scatman Crothers and Shelly Duvall clashed with the director. The latter even collapsed, exhausted, which was caught on camera by Vivian Kubrick.

The film’s extraordinarily realistic lighting also took its toll: the pale sun shining through the vast windows in the main room was achieved with a bank of powerful studio lights – so powerful were these, the set eventually caught fire. Rather than work with the footage he’d already shot, Kubrick, perfectionist to the last, had the set rebuilt from scratch.

Kubrick’s maniacal approach to filmmaking resulted in one of the most unusual entries in the horror canon. Its performances are desperate and sometimes bizarre, its images wavering violently between the starkly real and the surreal. And then there’s the Overlook itself, watching, waiting – it’s entirely unforgettable, and perhaps the most striking haunted house in all cinema.

The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.

odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
odditiesoflife:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

 the shinning

CRASS

There Is No Authority But Yourself

There is No Authority But Yourself is a Dutch film directed by Alexander Oey documenting the history of anarchist punk band Crass. The film features archive footage of the band and interviews with former members Steve Ignorant, Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher. As well as reflecting on the band’s past the film focusses on their current activities, and includes footage of Rimbaud performing with Last Amendment at the Vortex jazz club in Hackney, a compost toilet building workshop and a permaculture course held at Dial House in the spring of 2006.

The title of the film is derived from the final lines of the Crass album Yes Sir, I Will; “You must learn to live with your own conscience, your own morality, your own decision, your own self. You alone can do it. There is no authority but yourself.”

There is No Authority But Yourself premiered at the Raindance Film Festival at the Piccadilly Circus, London Trocadero in October 2006 and was part of the Official Selection film programme at the Flipside film festival in May 2008.

The Art Of Punk – Crass – The Art of Dave King and Gee Vaucher – Art + Music – MOCAtv

On the next installment of The Art of Punk, we tear into the art of Crass. From the assaulting black and white photo-realistic paintings of protest, anarchy, and social satire, to their legendary adopted brand and two headed snake and cross symbol. We head up to the Anarchist Book Fair in San Francisco to meet up with Gee Vaucher, and founding Crass member, writer, and activist, Penny Rimbaud. We discuss the art and the lifestyle stemming from the infamous Dial House, where they have lived, worked, and crated their own brand of anarchistic beauty, for more than 3 decades. We have a sit down with artist Scott Campbell, at his own New York tattoo shop, and talk about how the art of Crass, and one single t-shirt created a fork in his own road of life. Owen Thornton talks some shit. Finally we hang out with British graphic designer Dave King – the creator of the infamous snake and cross symbol, and discuss post war England, hippies, punk, graphic design, and more, that led him to the creation of the symbol made legend by Crass.

Created, directed, and Executive Produced by writer/author of ‘Fucked Up + Photocopied’, Bryan Ray Turcotte (Kill Your Idols), and Bo Bushnell (The Western Empire), The Art Of Punk traces the roots of the punk movement and the artists behind the iconic logos of punk bands such as: Black Flag (Raymond Pettibon), The Dead Kennedys (Winston Smith), and Crass (Dave King).

In addition to profiling the artists, the series includes intimate interviews with former band members, notable artists, and celebrities who have been heavily influenced by the art of punk rock including Jello Biafra, Tim Biskup, Scott Campbell, Chuck Dukowski, Flea, Steve Olson, Penny Rimbaud, Henry Rollins, Owen Thornton, and Gee Vaucher.

The filmmakers Bryan Ray Turcotte and Bo Bushnell take a unique approach to exploring the rich histories of these three seminal punk legends by focusing on the influential imagery and seeking out stories that have not been told yet through the artwork, which is integral to the importance and influence of each band.

photo

Created By:

BRYAN RAY TURCOTTE
http://www.KillYourIdols.com

Sharon Tate

THE SIX DEGREES OF SHARON TATE| MAO, MCQUEEN, MANSON AND MAD MEN

Sharon Tate esquire mao

1967– Sharon Tate for a spread in Esquire Magazine, 1967, in a t-shirt printed with the Vietnam Star. –Photo by William Helburn

May 30, 2013

So this is what the internets are recently abuzz about– The Mad Men costume designer channeling the essence of Sharon Tate, circa Esquire Magazine 1969, by placing the same Vietnam Star T-shirt on Megan Draper. Which, mind you– was probably not for sale at your local Hot Topic, head shop, or Amazon.com back then, so kinda random and creepy. It’s a pretty good ploy to generate some buzz– made me look twice, and I haven’t watched the show in a few years now. Probably exactly what they were going for. I will say, for the record, that the original photography by William Helburn is amazing– downright titillating, even.

But if you find this kind of stuff remotely interesting, the real tingler is how Steve McQueen himself almost ended up a part of the Manson massacre, and could have shared in Sharon Tate and the other’s gruesome fate…

 

sharon tate pear

Sharon Tate for Esquire magazine, 1967 –Photo by William Helburn

Saron tate esquire gun mao

Sharon Tate for Esquire magazine, 1967 –Photo by William Helburn

 

Sharon Tate esquire magazine mao 1967

1967– Sharon Tate for a spread in Esquire Magazine, 1967, in a t-shirt printed with the Vietnam Star. –Photo by William Helburn

 

From The Daily Mail, the alleged accounts of McQueen’s infidelities and loathsome ways that put him on the road to creeps-ville, and in the path of Manson’s murderous crew–

”For years, as his [a young Steve McQueen’s] career failed to ignite, he leeched off a successful dancer called Neile Adams — spending her earnings on new cars, drugs and other women.

Eventually marrying her in 1956, he landed a small role soon afterwards in the film of Harold Robbins’s trashy novel, Never Love A Stranger. Within days, he’d embarked on an intensely sexual affair with the film’s leading lady actress Lita Milan — and then proudly told his wife about it. According to Neile: ‘Lita would be the first in a long line of flings that would plague me throughout our married life. OK, I thought, I can handle it — I have to — as long as he doesn’t flaunt it.”

But, as McQueen’s career gathered pace, he never stopped flaunting his affairs — with co-stars including Jacqueline Bisset and Lee Remick, not to mention a host of starlets and fans. Perhaps as a test of his wife’s devotion, he made indiscreet phone calls within her hearing and left lipstick smudges on his shirts (and trousers) and love notes in his pockets.

By 1960, Neile had given up work and given birth to a son and daughter. Still struggling to be the kind of wife he wanted, she’d boil up the high-grade peyote he bought from Navajo Indians, and then disappear while McQueen got stoned with his friends.

He also started going for all-night benders at the Whisky a Go Go club on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, where he met one of his chief partners in crime: a womanising hairdresser called Jay Sebring. The two men, fuelled by alcohol and cocaine, shared the sexual favours of a Bambi-eyed starlet called Sharon Tate, often in the same bed at the same time. And their friendship continued even after she married the director Roman Polanski.

sharon tate esquire magazine mao

Sharon Tate for Esquire magazine, 1967 –Photo by William Helburn

On the afternoon of August 7, 1969, Sebring went to McQueen’s house to give him a trim and suggested they attend a party that evening at Sharon’s house. McQueen said he’d be there. Before setting out, however, he was called by a young and beautiful blonde he was seeing at the time. Come along to the party, he said — but she told him she had a better idea for just the two of them.

Thus, by a whisker, Steve McQueen avoided being massacred by the Manson ‘family’, the hippie followers of the manipulative psychopath Charles Manson, who butchered Tate and three guests — including Sebring, who was shot and stabbed. Ironically, McQueen’s adultery had saved his life.

Two months later, when the killers were arrested, police discovered McQueen’s name on a hit-list of people whom Manson had decided to kill. It turned out that someone at McQueen’s production company had once rejected a screenplay by Manson. From then on, the actor carried a loaded Magnum at all times.

steve-mcqueen-letter

Letter written to McQueen’s attorney, Edward “Eddie” Rubin on Le Mans / Solar Productions letterhead, by Steve McQueen, documenting his concerns about Charles Manson and his murdering crew of misfits. He, as well as, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Tom Jones (good company…) were believed, through an investigation of the murders, to be targeted for assassination by Charles Manson’s crew.

 

Original article published in

 

SOCIAL DISEASE

”I WILL GO TO THE OPENING OF ANYTHING, INCLUDING A TOILET SEAT”

Andy_Warhol_by_Jack_Mitchell

-Andy Warhol

I have social disease, I have to go out every night. If I stay home one nogtht spreading rumors to my dogs. Once I stayed home for a week and my dogs had a nervous breakdown. I love going out every night. It’s so exciting. I paint until the last minute and then go home for my first dinner of the night. I always have something simple and nutritious, because I don’t trust food anywhere but home. My favorite dinner is turkey and mashed potatoes-it looks clean.

I usually go out with one kid from my office-the Factory-like Fred Hugues, my business manager, or Bob Colacello, the editor of my magazine Interview. Enployees make the best dates. You don’t have to pick them up and they’re always tax-deductible. I also like the feeling of having several of having several of my employees all around a party-it’s like being at the office.

You really have Social Disease when you make all play work. The only reason to play hard is to work hard, not the other way around like most  people think. That’s why I take my tape recorder everywhere I can. I also take my camera everywhere. Having a few rolls of film to develop gives me a good reason to get up in the morning.

I love the new, small, automatic-focus 35mm cameras like Minox and Konica. That’s what I used for the photos in this book. I think anybody can take a good picture. My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and a famous person doing something unfamous. It’s being in the right place at the wrong time. That’s why my favorite photographer is Ron Galella.

But back to m,y nightlife. After I’ve filled my plastic shopping bag from Brownie’s Health Food Shop with TDK ninety-minutes tapes, Kodak, TX-36 black-and-white film, and Duracell Alkaline AA batteries, I run out to my first party of the evening. I ususally catch the tail end of a cokctail party, then go to a couple of dinners, stop off at Le Club, Regine’s, or Xenon, and end up at Studio 54. Or I go to a SoHo opening, a Broadway opening, a boutique opening, a restaurant opening-when it opens I go. When it cloeses, I go too. I just go. That’s Social Disease.

The symptoms of Social Disease: You want to go out every night because you’re afraid if you stay home you might miss something. You choose your friends according to wether or not they have a limousine. You prefer exhiliration to conversation unless the subject is gossip. You judge a party by how many celebreties are there-if they serve caviar they don’t have any celebrities. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is read the society columns. If your name is actually mentionned your day is made. Publicity is the ultimate symptom of Social Disease. But you know it’s fatal when you don’t want to get rid of it. You couldn’t anyway. How do you catch Social Disease? By kissing someone on both cheeks. Kissing people on both cheeks started out in France, like most diseases. It’s the society thing to do. Socialites never shakes hands. It hurts too much.

People say there’s no such thing as Society anymore. I think they’re wrong. There’s a new kind of Society. Now it doesn’t matter if you came over on the Mayflower, so long as you can get in Studio 54. Anyone rich, powerfull, beautiful, or famous can get into Society. If you’re a few of those things you can really get to the top.

This book is about the people at the top, or around the top. But the top’s the bottom. Everyone up there has Social Disease…

It’s the bubonic plague of our time, the black and white life and death.

Andy Warhol

Andy and some of the Factory regulars, photo by Dennis Hopper, 1963.
Andy and some of the Factory regulars, photo by Dennis Hopper, 1963.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Coolest Year in Hell

NEW YORK CITY IN 1977: A BEAUTIFUL ROCK AND ROLL HELLHOLE

by Marc Campbell  in Dangerous Minds

Punk, disco, hip hop, the blackout, Son of Sam, Tony Manero, CBGB, Studio 54, Max’s Kansas City, Show World, Paradise Garage, cocaine, polyester and leather—1977 in New York City was exhilarating, a nightmare, fun, dangerous and never boring. It was the year I arrived in downtown Manhattan with a beautiful woman, no money and a rock and roll band. I hit the streets running and never looked back…unless it was to watch my back.Blackout

 

I was living in the decaying Hotel Earle in the West Village when NYC went black. The power failure of July 13, 1977 knocked the city to its knees. I was sitting on the window sill of my room keeping cool or as cool as one could keep during a sweltering summer night in the city. I was drinking a nice cold beer and listening to the music of the streets when at around 9:30 p.m. everything suddenly went completely dark…and I mean dark, dark as Aleister Crowley’s asshole. It was the strangest fucking thing you could imagine. One moment the city was there, then next it was gone. The only illumination came from automobile headlights lacerating the night like ghostly Ginsu knives. My girlfriend and I clutched hands and felt our way down the stairs and out onto the sidewalk. We walked to Bleecker street in spooky darkness. We weren’t alone. The avenues were teeming with the dazed and confused. Not that unusual for the Village, but the confusion was different. Was the world coming to an end? disco fever

By midnight the streets were mobbed with people who had figured out that civilization wasn’t ending, it was on vacation. There was a festive vibe in the air. It was like Mardi Gras for the blind. The bars and pubs that stayed open were candlelit and booze was flowing for free. Refrigerators weren’t working and there was no way to keep perishables from spoiling so instead of facing the prospect of throwing food away some joints were feeding people for free. A few cabbies got into the spirit of things and maneuvered their taxis in such a way as to shine their headlights into the cafes providing diners with surreal mood lighting. It was a prison break theme park. And this wild night was bringing out the best in New Yorkers. But it didn’t last. As the blackout continued through the next day and night, things started to change. The novelty of the crisis wore off and it got ugly. What had started out as a party turned into looting and violence. An unexpected payday for the poor and desperate.

The blackout put the whole gamut of what makes New York marvelous and miserable on display: the “I got your back, brother” slamming into the “fuck you!”ra1

These were times when the city was an unseemly beast, a scabrous, moulting fat rat that was exciting to look at but terrifying. Part of the excitement came from the ever present sense that things could go haywire at any minute. I lived intensely in the moment, acutely aware of everything around me, jacked up in a state of heightened consciousness that was both Zen and manic. Being in the here and now of New York City in 1977 wasn’t a hippie thing, it was survival. And when I got inside the safety zone of Max’s or CBGB, among my tribe, I was ready to get fucked up, to get high, to dance and celebrate.

In the city of night, we went to bed at dawn and rose at dusk. We were vampires before vampires became hip.

NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell is a terrific documentary that captures a pivotal moment in the history of a city and its pop culture. Here’s the whole beautiful mess.

BTW check this site I just stumbled on to: GetWildCards I’m trying to get a story up there.

Uncensored.

Bukowski.

In 1993, candid conversations between Charles Bukowski, his wife, and his producer took place in Bukowski’s home during the recording session for his classic Run With the Hunted.

We brought the outtakes to life for HarperCollins.

Animation by Drew Christie  &   harperaudioclassics.com

Emotional Response

sas_logo

Sat-Night-Sun-Morning

Sas Christian was born in London in 1968, the eldest of four. She was a shy introverted child lacking in self confidence with a passion for drawing.

Sas worked in a department store, at a commercial art studio and a PIP printing (where she quit on her first day, before lunch)! It was around this time that she first saw an issue of Juxtapoz with a cover by Mark Ryden – and was struck. The urge to paint was growing, but she lacked the knowledge and confidence to do anything about it. It seemed so complicated. Her very early attempts were very graphic, comic book style. Hard colors. ”

”Jam Sandwich” was the first layered painting she produced, and is the only one of her pieces that she will keep.

National Health
National Health

Her original inspirations relied heavily on anime, Tamara De Lempicka and Mark Ryden. She loved the creative expression of the Harajuku kids in Tokyo. They filled her with such hope and excitement. Originally the intention of her paintings was just about creating a strong image, purely visual. She wanted to impart a modern tongue-in-cheek humor, incorporating her experiences. Contemporary, ballsy, flirty, weepy girls; punk, catholic, no-nonsense, damaged but not broken girls. Funny, intelligent, unusual, independent, odd ball, outsiders. Lovely.

The next logical step for her was to move into oils. With no formal fine art training whatsoever, and no knowledge of art history and even less of art technique it seemed like the most complicated thing in the world — fat over lean? What the hell did that mean? So, in 2003 she bought a book off the Internet “How to Paint with Oils.” she decided to give it a go, and has never looked back. Oils have a whole new set of rules.

As time goes on she finds herself relying less on the narrative and more on the emotive. She hopes that her work can connect with people on different levels. She is trying to harness a single moment in time, an emotional response, seemingly insignificant gesture that can mean so much.

Angel of Vengeance
Angel of Vengeance
Takes a Lickin'
Takes a Lickin’
Sun Stroke
Sun Stroke

 

 

Looking InLooking In

Karma Killer
Karma Killer
Good Morning Sunshine
Good Morning Sunshine
Fast Forward
Fast Forward
Easter Bonnet
Easter Bonnet
Crash
Crash
Colette
Colette
Cold Front
Cold Front

 

 

Candyland
Candyland

 

”If you have a creative impulse, whether it be art, music, writing, theater, cooking, whatever — express it. Don’t let you own hang-ups, caution, fear of failure or ridicule stop you…?”

1972 – FRENCH TV

LOU REED, NICO AND JOHN CALE VELVET UNDERGROUND MINI-REUNION 

velvet-underground550
JUST CLICK ON IMAGE FOR FULL FILM VERSION

Posted by Richard Metzger on the PKM website page by Legs’ which is utterly interesting. Pleasekillme.com, make sure you go check on them.

In 1972, Velvet Underground alumni Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico reunited before the cameras of the POP2 TV program at Le Bataclan, a well-known—and very intimate—Paris venue. It was Cale’s gig originally and he invited Reed and Nico to join him. Reed, who hated rehearsing, spent two days with Cale working out what they were going to do. According to Victor Bockris’ Lou Reed biography Transformer, rock critic Richard Robinson videotaped these rehearsals, which took place in London.

Both the videotape and the audio from this show have been heavily bootlegged over the years. A legit CD release happened a few years ago, but it still sounds like a bootleg. A high quality video turned up on various torrent trackers and bootleg blogs after a rebroadcast on French TV. It’s fairly easy to find. Now if only some of the outtakes from the Le Bataclan filming (if there were any) would slip out—they did “Black Angel’s Death Song” which I’d dearly love to see—not to mention what Richard Robinson might have (There is an audio only recording of the rehearsals attributed to Robinson’s tapes already making the rounds on bootleg torrent trackers.)

This is Reed coming off his first solo record (which had not even been released yet) and just a few months before he recorded “Walk on the Wild Side” with David Bowie and took on a totally different public—and we can presume, private—persona. This is “Long Island Lou” last seen just before Reed’s druggy bisexual alter-ego showed up and took his place. Cale does the lush “Ghost Story” from his then new Vintage Violence album and Nico looks stunning and happy here singing “Femme Fatale.” It’s before the damage of her drug addiction took its toll on her looks.

I will direct you here for the full version, but I can’t embed the file.

One thing worth pointing out here is that during “Berlin” you can see Nico’s face as Reed sings a song which he told her was about her. She might even be hearing it for the first time.

Here’s a version (oddly in color, the only one on YouTube, the rest are all B&W) of Reed and Cale performing a languid, stoned and thoroughly unplugged “I’m Waiting For The Man”:

Aquarium Drunkard

Nico :: Icon  Documentary (1995).

ScreenTest-Nico 

“She was almost proud of the fact that her teeth were rotten, that her hair was grey…her skin was bad, she had needle tracks all over. She liked that. That was her aesthetic.”The above quote, attributed to James Young – Nico’s keyboard player from 1981-86 – summarizes the often harrowing watch that is filmmaker Susanne Ofteringer’s 1995 documentary, Nico Icon. It was Young who penned the fascinating on-the road-with-Nico tell allSongs They Don’t Play On The Radio, chronicling his days in her ad hoc touring band. But unlike Young’s book, which is frequently injected with (and buoyed by) levity, Ofteringer’s Icon is a meditative, often dark, look at the woman born Christa Päffgen. While hardly wholly representative of Nico the artist/muse/person, the film is an engaging 67 minutes beginning with Nico’s early years modeling in Germany and France, onto to her Zelig-like existence moving through sixties pop culture (Iggy Pop, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Alain Delon, Bob DylanAndy Warhol…) and beyond. And it’s the beyond, Nico’s “desire for her own annihilation”, and heroin, that looms heavily over the remainder of the film

A Shaded View on Fashion

Now I Wanna Be Your Dog

Check out this subversive fashion video for House Casting in New York City. It is based on the Iggy Pop song ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and was played at the Center George Pompidou in Paris in September 09, as part of the ‘A Shaded View On Fashion’, during the larger fashion week.. Directed by Leg’s Georgie Greville. 

Exploited Teen Models from Russia

It kinda works like either a pimp or a cult…Your pick… At first glance it seem’s all good but after awhile you are like hmmmm…There is definitely something wrong … BTW The Girl on top in the video is now the trainer in the documentary film for those who haven’t noticed…and she speaks quite frankly and honestly.  

 SWEET SIXTEEN | Iggy Pop

William S. Burroughs, F.F. Coppola – 1993 Short

The Junky’s  Christmas.

Danny, a poor unfortunate junkie who reveals his last remains of selflessness and humanity despite his urgent physical predicament. Directed by Nick Donkin and Melodie McDaniel. William S. Burroughs wrote the story and narrates the film; he also appears in live-action footage at the beginning and end of the film. The story originally appeared in the 1989 collection Interzone and the recording of Burroughs reading the story was also released on the CD Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales. 

 

Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell

ypfigth

An extract from YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL by Dave Thompson:

 Aylesbury Friars would be Bowie‘s final show for a month, before he headed into the studios first and then Mott the Hoople. It was also designed to be Bowie’s introduction to an American press that MainMan had flown in for the occasion, writers and taste makers who had read so much about the new British superstar in the imported papers, but where still waiting  to be convinced themselves.

téléchargementThe Spiders’ U.S. tour was now scheduled for September 1972, and if all went according to MainMan’s plan, reviews and reports from the Aylesbury show would see the excitement reaching fever pitch right around the time of the first concert. 

    On Saturday July 15th, wined and dined at the height of luxury, lodged in the finest hotels, and shepherded every place they needed to go, the American journalists felt like royalty as they were driven into the leafy confines of Aylesbury ushered into the Friars club-and confronted with an audience that was even more rabid than the British press reports  had ever warned them. Boisterous though they most have been, and determined to remain aloof, that first rush ofadrenalined shrieking caught them off guard, sending their ears reeling before they’d even found a place to stand. Then their eyes took over, bombarding their senses with the sight of a thousand wide-eyed Bowie clones, Angela doubles,Ronson doppelgangers. 

Ziggy Ronson

     ”Ode to Joy” piped throught the PA, Loud enough to shake coherent thought from their heads, but not deafening as to be painful, and then the band appeared, ripping straight into ”Hang Onto Yourself”, and all reservations fell away. The show was stunning, the performances seamless, and when Bowie started throwing his silk scarves into the crowd, the writers were as desparate to catch them as the kids.

     The Lou Reed show the previous evening had been a revelation. Taking the stage shortly after midnight and kicking right into a deliciously clunky ”White Night White Heat”, Reed was at his best, a spectral ring-leader, not quite ad-libbing his lyrics but certainly having a wonderful time teasing the Tots with his timing, and if he was the only person in the room who didn’t cringe a little when the band unleashed their backing vocals, that didn’t detract from the sheer thrill of seeing him up there.

  ”Waiting for my man”, layered with flourishes that the song had never before carried; a resonant ”Ride into the Sun”; a fragile ”New Age”, Reed singing instead of mumbling as expected,; on and on through the best of Lou Reed and the finest of the Velvet Underground, Reed may have been leading the crowd into unchartered territory for much of the set, but the roar that greeted ”Sweet Jane” was as heartfelt as the smile with which Reed repaid the recognition.”I Can’t Stand It” was punchy, ”Going Down” was gentle,”Wild Child” was brittle, ”Berlin” was beautiful, and if ”Rock’n’Roll” picked up more appplause than the eerie, closing ”Heroin”, that just proved how much easier it was to find Loaded in a British record store than any of the records that preceded it.

The Stooges would really need to be on form to top that.  Again the show started after midnight, allowing the handful of Bowie fans who’d also hit Aylesbury to race back in time for the Stooge’s, together with all the journalists who accepted MainMan’s offer of a bus back into London. A few of them might have thought they knew what to expect, nursing memories of the shows the band had played back in New-York a couple of years before. But they left their expectations on the dance floor. Mick Jones, four years away from forming the Clash at the birth of the British punk movmement, was there, astonished by the incandescence of the show. ”The full-on quality of the Stooges was great, like flamethrowers!”

       Iggy lived up to his outrageous reputation, dressing in silver leather trousers, with matching silver hair, black lipstick and made-up eyes. After lurching and prowling over every inch of the stage in the first two numbers, he decided to wander into audience, followed where possible by spotlight. He stopped occasionally to stare deep into people’s eyes, talking about wanting to find something “interesting” and calling the crowd hippies that didn’t inspire him.Pop was everywhere trailing a mix cord the length of the building as he wandered out into the audience, alternately grabbing and caressing whoever lay in his path. One girl discovered him sitting in her lap, staring into her eyes as he serenaded her; one boy found himself being shaken like a rat as Pop grabbed hold of his head and used it to cath the rythm of the song. At some point, there was a problem with the sound. Pop stood still for a moment, stock-still and scowling, then howled with rage  and hurled his mic to the ground. It shattered on impact., so he walked to another one, and treated the silent crowd to ”The Shadow of your smile” a suave accapella that kept everyone entranced while the problems were solved. Then it was back to the programmed set, loud, lewd and brutal.   The concert was attended by a group of noisy skinhead types, who voiced their impatience during one of several breaks due to technical problems, which caused Iggy to respond, “What did you say, you piece of shit,” as he advanced threateningly across the stage. The cat-caller’s memory suddenly failed him as he melted back into the crowd.  After the microphone was fixed, the Stooges commenced another song but halfway through one of the amplifiers broke down, causing a long delay. Later in the show, the leader of the skinhead gang went down to the front of the stage to shout obscenities. This time, Iggy went berserk, leaping across the stage to aim a boot in the guy’s face. Roadies pounced on the guy and bundled him out of a side exit; the rest of the mob shut up completely. 

     ”We did a bunch of things that were new and we started wearing lots of makeup for one thing.and that was different, Williamson recalled. II think we had rehearsed pretty much by that point. It didn’t seem unique to me. We did a lot of stuff with the crowd at that show, which was bizarre for the Londoner, but it was typical for us. That’s what we were used to doing.”

They took Pop’s activities in stride, It was part of the show, but we had to really cover a lot for him because he was very improvisational, as was the whole band. We knew, but if you weren’t used to it, you didn’t know when he was going to start a song or when it was going to stop or what to do in the middle because it wasnt exactly youd recorded it. He was very unpredictableIggyPopRawPowerCover1972(c)MickRock

    In attendance at the King’s Cross Cinema were several aspiring musicians, who would go on to become highly influential in the British punk rock movement which exploded a few years later, including Joe Strummer (the Clash), Johnny Rotten (the Sex Pistols), Brian James (the Damned), and Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees). The concert has been called the birth of British punk rock. “That show changed the history of English music, because of who was there,” notes Iggy. “People checked us out and realised we had changed the playing field for what was possible.” 

   The Stooges drew predominantly positive reviews, although it was obvious that they made the British critics somewhat uneasy. “The total effect was more frightening than all the Alice Coopers and Clockwork Oranges put together, simply because these guys weren’t joking,” said Nick Kent in New Musical Express. Michael Oldfield of Melody Maker felt Iggy and the band were on the verge of the dangerous, “It’s like a flashback 200 years, to the times when the rich paid to go into insane asylums and see madmen go into convulsions.”

      Photographer  Mick Rock admitted that he felt “distinctly intimidated” as he photographed the show.He never did precisely know what he was preserving.  When MainMan called him down to the show, he was told only that the night needed to be captured in all its flaming Glory. It would be another year before one of the shots he took  that evening was blown up for the cover of the Stooges’ third album, a close up of the singers torso, leaning on his mic stand, his face set and beautiful, staring into space. Pop later claimed that he hated it.

     Pop, Rock said, ”was already in my mind more mythological than human. His appeal was omnisexual;  he was physically very beautiful, (and) the silver hair and silver trousers only added to the sense of the mythological. He seemed to have emerged from some bizarre primal hinterland, so much bigger than life, emoting and projecting a tingling menace. He was…a cultural revolutionary, operating well ahead of his time.” The question that nobody dared ask was, was anybody truly ready to take the burden on? …..

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 Set Lists:

Lou Reed

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14-07-72 (technically this was really 15-07 because Lou did not play till after midnight)
SCALA CINEMA, KING’S CROSS, LONDON, UK
White Light/White Heat – I’m Waiting For The Man – Ride Into The Sun – New Age – Walk And Talk It – Sweet Jane – Going Down – I Can’t Stand It – Berlin – Cool It Down – Wild Child – Rock And Roll – Heroin

 

 David Bowie 15-07  

Dubbed The most celebrated gig in Friars history  

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Friars Aylesbury, Borough Assembly Hall, Market Square, Aylesbury, UK
HANG ON TO YOURSELF; ZIGGY STARDUST; THE SUPERMEN; QUEEN BITCH; SONG FOR BOB DYLAN; CHANGES; STARMAN; FIVE YEARS; SPACE ODDITY; ANDY WARHOL; AMSTERDAM; I FEEL FREE; MOONAGE DAYDREAM; WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT; GOT TO GET A JOB; SUFFRAGETTE CITY; ROCK N ROLL SUICIDE

 Iggy Pop and The Stooges:

15-07 (technically this was really 16-07 because they did not play till after midnight)
SCALA CINEMA or King Sound (I guess was the name of King’s Cross Cinema, at least temporarily), KING’S CROSS, LONDON, UK
I got a right, Scene of the Crime, Gimme Some Skin, Im Sick of you, The Shadow of your Smile (Tony Benett cover) , Money That What I Want (Barret Strong Cover), Tight Pants,Fresh Rag, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Search and Destroy, Penetration 

 

Charles Bukowski

Born Into This

Born Into This, a film documenting the author’s life, was released in 2003. It features contributions from Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton and Bono (U2’s song “Dirty Day” was dedicated to Bukowski when released in 1993).

Henry Charles Bukowski was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife”. Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, in San Pedro, California, aged 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp. The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks. An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin’s book Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet. His gravestone reads: “Don’t Try”, a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity. Bukowski explained the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington: “Somebody at one of these places […] asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: ‘not’ to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.”

Bukowski published extensively in small literary magazines and with small presses beginning in the early 1940s and continuing on through the early 1990s. These poems and stories were later republished by Black Sparrow Press (now HarperCollins/ECCO) as collected volumes of his work. In the 1980s he collaborated with illustrator Robert Crumb on a series of comic books, with Bukowski supplying the writing and Crumb providing the artwork.

Bukowski often spoke of Los Angeles as his favorite subject. In a 1974 interview he said, “You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every bitch on the street corner and half of them you have already messed around with. You’ve got the layout of the whole land. You have a picture of where you are…. Since I was raised in L.A., I’ve always had the geographical and spiritual feeling of being here. I’ve had time to learn this city. I can’t see any other place than L.A.”

One critic has described Bukowski’s fiction as a “detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free”, an image he tried to live up to with sometimes riotous public poetry readings and boorish party behaviour. Since his death in 1994 Bukowski has been the subject of a number of critical articles and books about both his life and writings. His work has received relatively little attention from academic critics. ECCO continues to release new collections of his poetry, culled from the thousands of works published in small literary magazines. According to ECCO, the 2007 release The People Look Like Flowers At Last will be his final posthumous release as now all his once-unpublished work has been published.

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The Winchester Mystery House

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What Lies Beneath?

Winchester Mystery House™ is an extravagant maze of Victorian craftsmanship – marvelous, baffling, and eerily eccentric, to say the least. Tour guides must warn people not to stray from the group or they could be lost for hours. Countless questions come to mind as you wander through the mansion – such as, what was Mrs. Winchester thinking when she had a staircase built that descends seven steps and then rises eleven?

Some of the architectural oddities may have practical explanations. For example, the Switchback Staircase, which has seven flights with forty four steps, rises only about nine feet, since each step is just two inches high. Mrs. Winchester’s arthritis was quite severe in her later years, and the stairway may have been designed to accommodate her disability.

The miles of twisting hallways are made even more intriguing by secret passageways in the walls. Mrs. Winchester traveled through her house in a roundabout fashion, supposedly to confuse any mischievous ghosts that might be following her.

This wild and fanciful description of Mrs. Winchester’s nightly prowl to the Séance Room appeared in The American Weekly in 1928, six years after her death:

“When Mrs. Winchester set out for her Seance Room, it might well have discouraged the ghost of the Indian or even of a bloodhound, to follow her. After traversing an interminable labyrinth of rooms and hallways, suddenly she would push a button, a panel would fly back and she would step quickly from one apartment into another, and unless the pursuing ghost was watchful and quick, he would lose her. Then she opened a window in that apartment and climbed out, not into the open air, but onto the top of a flight of steps that took her down one story only to meet another flight that brought her right back up to the same level again, all inside the house. This was supposed to be very discomforting to evil spirits who are said to be naturally suspicious of traps.”

A House Built By Spirits.

Winchester’s Building Methods

According to legend, Mrs. Winchester enacted a nightly séance to help with her building plans and for protection from “bad” spirits. While she sometimes drew up simple sketches of the building ideas, there were never any blueprints….or building inspectors! In the morning, she would meet with John Hansen, her dutiful foreman, and go over new changes and additions.

During the early years of construction, this resulted in some awkward and impractical concepts such as columns being installed upside down – though some suggest this was done deliberately to confuse the evil spirits.

But this is how the Winchester Mystery House™ became known as “the house built by the spirits.” John Hansen stayed with Mrs. Winchester for many years, redoing scores of rooms, remodeling them one week and tearing them apart the next.

It is doubtful whether John Hansen ever questioned his boss. Mrs. Winchester may have been trying to confuse evil spirits, or simply making mistakes, but there were no budget ceilings or deadlines to meet. This resulted in many features being dismantled, built around, or sealed over. Some rooms were remodeled many times. It is estimated that 500 rooms to 600 rooms were built, but because so many were redone, only 160 remain. This naturally resulted in some peculiar effects, such as stairs that lead to the ceiling, doors that go nowhere and that open onto walls, and chimneys that stop just short of the roof!

See some of the actual Winchester house floor plans by clicking HERE.

Furnishings

Once a room was completed, and most importantly, not targeted for further alterations, it was adorned with some of the best furnishings money could buy. Mrs. Winchester appreciated beauty, and she was a woman with exquisite taste. Freight cars loaded with gold and silver plated chandeliers, imported Tiffany art glass windows then valued up to $1,500 each, German silver and bronze inlaid doors at twice that amount, Swiss molded bathtubs, rare precious woods like mahogany and rosewood, and countless other items were docked onto a side track at San Jose. Everything was then transported to the house where much of the material was never even installed. At the time of Mrs. Winchester’s death in 1922, there were rooms full of ornate treasures still waiting to find a niche in the massive home.

Parquet Floors

Among the most remarkable features of the house are the parquet floors. One craftsman worked for thirty-three years doing nothing but building, installing, and tearing up the floors! They are made of mahogany, rosewood, teak, maple, oak and white ash, arranged in impressive mosaics. Mrs. Winchester’s favorite bedroom, the one in which she died, has a notably special floor. It is laid so that the sunlight streaming through the windows appears to change the dark strips to light, and then back again, when viewed from the opposite ends of the room.

Art Glass

Though Mrs. Winchester could be very frugal in her approach to building, at times she was extravagant as a person could be. The mansion’s dazzling art glass windows are a good example of her exquisite taste. Many were made to order in Austria and imported by Tiffany’s of New York. They are spectacularly designed, utilizing both concave and convex glass “frames” inset with glittering “jewels.” Mrs. Winchester herself designed the special daisy and spiderweb patterns that are embedded in many of the window. The daisy was her favorite flower, and some believe the spiderweb pattern had a special occult meaning for her.

Cabinets

The finest cabinetmakers toiled for years, using richly polished woods, to create built-in chests with deep drawers and tremendous bins and lockers. Inside were stored the rarest satins and silks; hand-embroidered linens from China, Ireland, and the Philippines; and bolt upon bolt of elegantly woven cloth from Persia and India. Legend has it that Mrs. Winchester bought whole bolts of material so that nobody else in the valley would have the same pattern.

Great Hall of Fires

Because of the mansion’s immense size, it contained forty-seven fireplaces and seventeen chimneys. One rambling section in particular, the Hall of Fires, was designed to produce as much heat as possible – perhaps to ease Mrs. Winchester’s extreme arthritis. In addition to many windows that let the sunlight stream through, the three adjoining rooms have four fireplaces and three hot air registers from the coal furnace in the basement.

The Grand Ballroom

Mrs. Winchester’s elegant Grand Ballroom is built almost entirely without nails. It cost over $9,000 to complete at a time when an entire house could be built for less than $1,000! The silver chandelier is from Germany, and the walls and parquet floor are made of six hardwoods – mahogany, teak, maple, rosewood, oak, and white ash.

The most curious element of the Grand Ballroom are the two leaded stained glass windows, each inscribed with a quote from Shakespeare. The first, “Wide unclasp the table of their thoughts,” is from Troilus and Cressida (IV:5:60). The lines are spoken by Ulysses, and refer to Cressida’s sometimes flirting nature. The second, “These same thoughts people this little world,” is from Richard II (V:5:9). The imprisoned Richard means that his thoughts people the small world of his confinement. Nobody knows for certain what these lines meant to Mrs. Winchester. While they apparently held some special meaning for Mrs. Winchester, their significance remains a mystery today.

Ironically, the ballroom was probably never used to hold a ball. According to one story, Mrs. Winchester once heard that a celebrated orchestra was performing in San Francisco. She invited the musicians to play at her home, but scheduling conflicts prevented the visit. In any case, Mrs. Winchester sealed off the ballroom after the earthquake of 1906.

The 1906 Earthquake

If Mrs. Winchester took precautions to enlist the aid of friendly spirits, they were nevertheless unable to protect her from the Great San Francisco Bay Area Earthquake of 1906. The quake registered 8.3 on the Richter scale and stretched all the way from Oregon to Los Angeles. It severely damaged Mrs. Winchester’s home, toppling the seven-story Observation Tower and some cupolas. She herself was badly shaken, trapped in her favorite Daisy Bedroom near the front of the mansion. It took servants several hours to locate her and then pry open the bedroom door and rescue her.

Its is said that Mrs. Winchester felt the earthquake was a warning from the spirits that she had spent too much money on the front section of the house, which was nearing completion. After having the structural damage repaired, she immediately ordered the front thirty rooms – including the Daisy Bedroom, Grand Ballroom, and the beautiful front doors – sealed up.

The heavy, ornate front doors, which had been installed just prior to the earthquake, had only been used by three people – Mrs. Winchester and the two carpenters who installed them.

Exterior Architecture

The outside of the mansion received nearly as much care and attention as the inside. The cast external facade is bursting with Queen Anne Victorian architecture feature like turrets, towers, curved walls, cupolas, cornices, and balconies, all outlined with finely detailed trimwork.

When viewed from different angles, the towers, some topped by ornamental spires called finials, give the house a castlelike appearance.

Built For Spirits?

We may never know for sure if Mrs. Winchester built her house to accommodate the spirits, but over the years the story has come down that she believed her life was unavoidably affected by departed souls. Presumably she wanted to be friendly with the “good” spirits and avoid the “bad” spirits – and the way to be friendly with the “good” spirit, it seemed, was to build them a nice place to visit.

According to this theory, Mrs. Winchester accommodated the friendly spirits by giving them special attention. For example, it is said that there were only three mirrors in the entire house at the time of Mrs. Winchester’s death. Legend has it that spirits hate mirrors, since the sight of their reflection causes them to vanish.

This is why Mrs. Winchester’s servants and secretary reportedly used only hand mirrors or went without.

The mansion also contained a profusion of light sources, from gas jets and countless candles, to electric light bulbs. Supposedly spirits feel conspicuous and humiliated by shadows, since they cannot cast their own.

Was Mrs. Winchester making a special effort to please her spirits companions?

In any case, for nearly thirty-eight years, the round-the-clock sawing, sanding, and hammering at the Winchester Mystery House™ never ceased – not even on weekends or holidays. It was never a rush job. Mrs. Winchester had all the time in the world – at least, all the time needed to maintain a steady pace. With her financial freedom, she was content to honor whatever whims came from her imagination and from the spirits she believed were guiding her.

The Lore

Fact or Fiction?

Speculation is bound to pursue a wealthy, eccentric recluse like Mrs. Winchester. Many wild rumors circulated about her during her residence in San Jose – her house was even known locally as “The Spirit House” – and some say the rumors may have actually added to Mrs. Winchester’s isolation. But when she died peacefully in her sleep at the age of eighty-two, the curiosity of local people was unleashed.

Mrs. Winchester The Spy

Bizarre explanations of how Mrs. Winchester had lived flourished. Many long-time employees became very superstitious over the years and even believed that Mrs. Winchester could walk through solid walls and unopened doors. She did, in fact, have elaborate spying features built into the house to keep an eye on her servants. There are also stories of how she sometimes appeared noiselessly behind them to watch them work.

An Amazing Memory

Mrs. Winchester was renowned for her memory. She knew the location of every item on her estate and kept track of it all, even down to the last screw. After her death, a workman told of the time he was asked to repair a gate, which he did using six colored screws from one of the storerooms. Later, when Mrs. Winchester discovered the screws were missing and asked if he knew where they were, she reportedly said, “Those screws were gold plated! I was saving them for something special. Let’s using something cheaper.”

The Lady’s Demands

Mrs. Winchester occasionally tested the loyalty of her help. Once she told a painter to paint the walls and ceiling of an entire room with red enamel; three days later, she had him repaint the same room white. Another time, she was trying to decide which of 3 applicants to hire as a new gardener. She asked each to plant a row of cabbages upside down. The first did so with-out saying anything, and the second refused her request. The third one agreed to do so but suggested to Mrs. Winchester that cabbages were normally planted with the roots in the ground. The third gardener got the job. He was not afraid to speak up, but recognized that Mrs. Winchester was the Boss!

In 1924, Harry Houdini toured the house on a midnight visit in his attempt to communicate with the spirits.

A Nephew Comes To Call

Mrs. Winchester could be curt and dismissive, even to her own relatives – but she usually had her reasons. Once a nephew from the east coast made the long train trip, supposedly to pay his respects to “Auntie Sarah.” However, she guessed exactly what he was after. Upon his arrival, he was met by a maid carrying a silver tray with a check on it. The young man never set foot in the house.

The Visit Of A President

No amount of effort has resolved conflicting versions of current events, such as this one involving President Theodore Roosevelt. One story goes that the President, who was an ardent fan of Winchester firearms, was on his way to the nearby town of Campbell. Knowing that he would pass by Mrs. Winchester’s house, he sent a message to her saying that he would stop to pay his respects.

Some say the President personally knocked on the front door. No one answered, and one of the gardeners, failing to recognize him, told him to go around back “just like everyone else.” The President reportedly felt insulted and left. Another account says that the San Jose Chamber of Commerce tried to arrange this visit for President Roosevelt, but Mrs. Winchester turned them down with a sharp no!

Mrs. Winchester’s Organ

Mrs. Winchester was an accomplished musician. She regularly practiced the The-Winchester-Mystery-Housepump organ, and she undoubtedly fueled many rumors about the spirits in the great house by playing late at night. Later in life, Mrs. Winchester suffered from severe arthritis, and she felt the disease mainly in her hands. It is believed that by playing the organ she was able to keep her fingers from deteriorating.

The Safe

After Mrs. Winchester’s death, her safe was opened with much anticipation. However, no fortune was found within – only reminders of her deceased husband and daughter. The safe contained fishing lines, newspaper clippings, socks, underwear, and a lock of baby’s hair in a tiny purple velvet box. The New Haven newspaper clipping along with it was from the obituaries and read, “WINCHESTER. In this city, July 24, 1866. Annie Pardee, infant daughter of William Wirt Winchester and Sarah L. Winchester.”

The Wine Cellar

There may be a real treasure hidden away in the Winchester mansion. At one time Mrs. Winchester enjoyed the finest vintage wines and liqueurs. But one evening when she went to the wine cellar to locate a special bottle, she came across a black hand print on the wall. It was most likely a dirt smudge left by a workman, yet she took it as a omen and ordered the cellar boarded up. To this day the wine cellar has not been rediscovered, which means that there might still be spirits in the Winchester Mystery House™ – if only the intoxicating kind!

Mrs. Winchester And The Spiritssarah-lockwood-pardee-winchester

It has been said that Mrs. Winchester slept in a different bedroom every night, supposedly in order to confuse evil spirits. Some say that she also held special dinner parties for her spirit friends. Legend has it that she would serve her phantom guests in gold plates, offering them dishes like caviar, truffles, and pheasant stuffed with pate. On the other hand, this theory might have come from rumors about the mansion’s well-fed servants!

Houdini

Though Houdini is the most remembered for his magic shows and his feats as an escape artist, he also devoted much of his time to exposing fraudulent practices by mediums. In 1924, on one of his many lecture and magic tours, he stopped in for a private midnight tour and séance at the Winchester House. Unfortunately, the results of his late-night excursion have been lost to time, but his visit was written about in the Portland Oregon Daily Journal, in November 1924.

A Caretaker’s Story

Over the years many people have occupied the massive home, wither the caretakers or as students of psychic phenomena. Brent Miller and his wife were caretakers of the mansion from 1973 to 1981.

He reported several odd incidents, like hearing someone breathe in an empty room, and hearing footsteps in the bedroom where Mrs. Winchester died. One night, he was awakened by the sound of a screw being unscrewed, then hitting the floor and bouncing onto a carpet runner. He jumped out of bed and explored the house, but found nothing.

In another incident, a friend of Miller’s came over one New Year’s Eve and took pictures of the house with a brand new camera. When the film was developed, there was a picture of moving lights and a ghostly figure of a man in coveralls. Only one negative produced this image, and the rest of the film was normal.

Paranormal Investigators

In the Winchester Mystery House™, some people have temporarily lost their eyesight, felt icy chills in spots where there were no drafts, and seen locked doorknobs turn. Researchers of the paranormal have spent the night in the house, employing their special skills to investigate these claims and dispel any wild rumors.

The Nirvana Foundation

Five researchers from the Nirvana Foundation, a psychic research institute in California, spent the night in the mansion, setting up electric equipment to record any psychic occurrences. Definite organ sounds were picked up by the tape recorder, and while walking through the house, the entire group saw moving lights.

Two members of the group, psychic investigators Sylvia Brown and Antoinette May, claimed to see great balls of red light in Mrs. Winchester’s bedroom. Brown also described two spirits, a man and woman, watching the group across the room. The clothing they wore was appropriate to the time of Mrs. Winchester, and it was thought that they might be the spirits of departed servants.

A Modern-Day Seance

On Halloween in 1975, Jeanne Borgen, one of California’s foremost psychic investigators, conducted a midnight séance in the bedroom where Mrs. Winchester died. The results were reported by Alvin T. Guthertz in the magazine Psychic World:

“Suddenly it appeared as if Mrs. Borgen’s face had somehow aged – her hair appeared grey and deep lines creased her forehead. She felt staggering pain and was unable to walk. It was as if she were having a heart attack and, as she started to fall, she shouted, “Help me. Someone get me out of here!”

Jeanne Borgen awoke a short time later. Her breathing was then normal; the pain, or what had seemed like pain, was gone….”She was an overpowering woman, a powerful woman. I felt a tremendous buildup of energy.”

The Number 13

Which many believe was intended to ward off the Haunted Souls

 

Whether or not one believes in Mrs. Winchester’s superstitions about spirits, it’s harder to dismiss occurrences of the number 13 throughout the house. Many windows have 13 panes and there are 13 bathrooms, with 13 windows in the 13th Bathroom. There are also 13 wall panels in the room prior to the 13th Bathroom, and 13 steps leading to that bathroom. The Carriage Entrance Hall floor is divided into 13 cement sections. There are even 13 hooks in the Séance Room, which supposedly held the different colored robes Mrs. Winchester wore while communing with the spirits.

Mrs. Winchester’s will had 13 parts and was signed by her 13 times.


Here are even more thirteens: 13 rails by the floor-level skylight in the South Conservatory, 13 steps on many of the stairways, 13 squares on each side of the Otis electric elevator, 13 glass cupolas on the Greenhouse, 13 holes in the sink drain covers, 13 ceiling panels in some of the rooms, and 13 gas jets on the Ballroom chandelier. (Mrs. Winchester had the thirteenth one added!)

Restoration and Upkeep

A Work in Constant Progress…

Just like the original construction, restoration and maintenance work at the Winchester Mystery House™ never stops. The actual amount of material required is staggering. For example, its over 20,000 gallons of paint to cover the exterior – and by the time the workers have finished, they have to start all over again!

Continuous work is being done on the massive structure, with carpenters, painters, and gardeners toiling away just as they did during Mrs. Winchester’s day. The sons and grandsons of Mrs. Winchester’s original employees have been some of these workmen!

Since 1973, millions of dollars have been invested to ensure that this unique landmark will be preserved as the premiere showcase of Santa Clara Valley’s gracious past.


The restoration work is very demanding. Each curved shingle has to be hand cut before being nailed down onto a turret. All of the doors and windows have to be specially shaped and angled. “There’s not a square corner in the house,” says one of the craftsmen who has been working on the restoration of the house for over fourteen years.

A single room can take months to be perfectly redone. Often the hardware, Victorian fixtures, moldings and other materials have to be specially ordered or manufactured on the spot to match the originals.

Fortunately, Mrs. Winchester had a substantial supply of replacement materials on hand, such as windows with magnifying glass, priceless Tiffany doors, and rolls of beautiful Lincrusta wall coverings imported from England.

Almost everything will be restored, although you can find spots where the cracked plaster hasn’t been fixed after the 1906 earthquake. This has been left on purpose, like a frozen moment in time, to show people how the house actually looked when Mrs. Winchester lived there.

An ongoing search continues for fine examples of period furnishings, similar to what Mrs. Winchester herself would have used. Her original furnishings were auctioned off after her death and have never been recovered.

The job overseeing the restoration is a painstaking one. The historical accuracy of every project is researched and approved by the Restoration Board of Directors. Winchester Mystery House™ receives no funds from any government agency; the continuous restoration and maintenance programs are funded entirely from tour, café, and gift shop revenues. Since 1973, millions of dollars have been invested to ensure that this unique landmark will be preserved as the premier showcase of the Santa Clara Valley’s gracious past.

The Gardens and Grounds

Victorian Elegance…

A mansion is not a mansion without its stately grounds, and Mrs. Winchester was just as attentive to the exterior of her estate as she was to the sprawling house. An avid gardener, she imported plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, and herbs from over 110 countries around the world. Some of the original plantings still flourish today – among them, 100-year-old rose bushes, ferns, and feather and fan date palms.

Mrs. Winchester employed eight to ten gardeners. Her head gardener was “Tommy” Nishiwara, who was responsible for seeing that the beautiful gardens, plus the tall hedge around the house, were well maintained. It is said the hedges were once so tall that only the top floor of the house was visible from the road!

Mrs. Winchester loved to spend time in her gardens, and she had gazebos built where she could sit and enjoy her trees and flowers. After her death in 1922, the grounds were opened to the public as Winchester Park, where Santa Clara Valley residents came to have parties and picnics.

Over the years, time took its toll on the gardens, but they were brought to life again when the restoration of the estate began in 1973. Nearly 12,000 box wood hedges were planted along the pathways that wind through the gardens. In addition, all the lawns were replanted, and some 1,500 major plants, shrubs, and trees were replaced. Today the home and its gardens are once again the showplace of the Santa Clara Valley, a reminder of the area’s gracious past.

The Victorian Gardens

In some ways, the design of the gardens is typically Victorian, with geometric designs and neatly trimmed shrubs. The emphasis is placed on the front yard, with many exotic plants and bright flowers such as roses and bulbs.

Though Mrs. Winchester had her own ideas, she often referred to a book of horticulture published in 1841 by A.J. Downing, which was still popular at the turn of the century.

Like most Victorian gardens, Mrs. Winchester’s grounds included plants with medicinal uses. For example, persimmons were supposedly a cure for intestinal disorders. The fruit of the sourberry bush was said to purify the blood, and peonies were thought to cure headaches. Even rose plants could be made into an eye lotion for medicinal purposes.

Trees

The trees on the property are from all over the world – European black locust, English yew and English walnut, Peruvian pepper, Spanish and Norfolk pines, and more. The unique collection includes a towering monkey puzzle tree, as well as persimmons, grapefruits, oranges, catalpas, lemons, bayleafs, and pink flower crepe myrtle. Some of these, like the English yew by the corner of the garage, and the large elm tree near the back of the house, are original plantings.

Flowers

Flowers abound throughout the grounds, including Mrs. Winchester’s favorite, the daisy. There are also abundant beds of star jasmine and pink Indian hawthorne.

During Mrs. Winchester’s lifetime, the Greenhouse was used to cultivate and nurture flowers which, when ready, were brought into the mansion for display. Later, they would be returned to the Greenhouse and tended to again. In this way, the lushness of the living space was constantly replenished.

Fountains and Statuary

Four fountains add a soothing touch to the cultivated grounds in the front of the house. They include the Egret Fountain, the Cupid Fountain, the Cherub Fountain, and the Serpent Fountain.

One of the best known statues here is that of Chief Little Fawn, a Native OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmerican who died defending his homeland. It is said that Mrs. Winchester erected this statue to placate the spirits of the hundreds of thousands of Indians who were killed by the Winchester repeating rifles. The chief, with his bow and arrow, is gazing towards a statuary deer in the midstride across the lawn.

Other statues represent figures from Greek mythology. One of these, located by the Serpent Fountain, is the Greek goddess of agriculture, Demeter.

Orchards

Mrs. Winchester transformed her 161-acre estate into a working farm. The orchards produced bountiful crops of plums, apricots, and walnuts. She kept about ten field hands busy all year long and hired an additional ten to fifteen men at harvest time.

After being picked and boxed in the field, the fruit was dried in Mrs. Winchester’s special dehydrator, which had a large coal furnace and could dry half a ton of fruit in thirty hours. Most of this fruit was sold at market to supplement Mrs. Winchester’s income. Her orchards were listed in the early San Jose City directories for fruit growers.

Practical Amenities

Mrs. Winchester’s estate was a little town within itself. She had everything she needed: plumber’s shops, her own water and electrical supplies, and complete sewer and drainage systems.

Until the 1930’s, the thirty-five-foot water tower on the grounds supported a 10,000 gallon storage tank – the main water supply for the estate. The elaborate water drainage system is still in use today. Miles of drainpipe run through the house into several collection basins. Then the water is carried to several cisterns around the house.

In the past, gas pumps fueled an electric generator which produced electricity for lighting, several pumps, and the Otis electric elevator. In the days before electricity, Mrs. Winchester even had her own gas manufacturing plant. It produced carbide gas by adding a small amount of water to a drum containing calcium carbide. The resulting gas was pressed through the gas lines to the house by a large piston and cylinder. The gas lights in the house were then lit by electromechanical strikers that created a spark to light each lamp.

Mrs. Winchester’s Cars

With the advent of the automobile, Mrs. Winchester spent an extravagant $8,400 for a 1909 French Renault with a battery-operated starter – quite a luxury back then. When mechanical problems became an annoyance, she called in Fred Larson, a mechanic from San Francisco. After he fixed the car, she offered him a high salary to work just for her, but he declined. Mrs. Winchester persisted by finally asking him to name his price. To his surprise, she instantly accepted his seemingly outrageous request.

Fred Larson remained with Mrs. Winchester until she died. His duties included the maintenance of two more vehicles Mrs. Winchester acquired, a 1917 Pierce Arrow limousine, black and grey with lavender pin stripes, and a Buick truck for inspecting the estate.

The estate’s garage is now used as a storeroom for leftover building materials – trimwork, moldings, windows, turned posts and spirals, and more. Adjacent to the garage is the carwash, which had two ingenious adaptations for the time. Not only was the water heated, but the hose was attached to a 360 degree rotating pipe in the ceiling, in order to spray all parts of the car.

Mysteries on the Grounds

The grounds have their share of unexplained mysteries. Even the name Mrs. Winchester gave her estate, Llanada Villa, is a mystery. The words are Spanish for “house on flat land,” but no one knows what special meaning they had for Mrs. Winchester.

The number 13 occurs often on the grounds as well as in the house; for example, there are 13 cupolas in the greenhouse and 13 fan palms lining the front driveway.

The design on the estate’s wrought iron gates was thought to have a spiritualistic meaning for Mrs. Winchester – but we can only guess what that might have been. And then, in the inner courtyard, there is a crescent-shaped hedge that points toward Mrs. Winchesters bedroom – the one where she died. Coincidence? Maybe….but again, we’ll never know for sure.

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A short clip on the subject. Enjoy!

 

Nick Cave Talks About Being on Earth

Nick Cave/Interview

ANDREW DOMINIK
CRAIG MCDEAN

Nick Cave’s mind is a deep spring of dark beauty and improbable inspirations. He is a restless creator, skipping blithely across genres and forms, from music and literature to screenwriting, acting, and even theater. After cutting his teeth in the late ’70s and early ’80s with the bombastic Australian goth-rock progenitors the Birthday Party, Cave assembled the seminal post-punk outfit the Bad Seeds in 1983, refining his music’s mix of blues, gospel, and experimental elements. He also fully came into his persona as a noir antihero with his elegiac baritone and a narrative songwriting style that has always suggested a deeper mythology. But the role of rock musician has never been enough to contain Cave’s overflow of creative energy. He published his first book, King Ink, in 1988 and since then has published four more (And the Ass Saw the Angel in 1989, The Complete Lyrics in 2001 and 2006, andThe Death of Bunny Munro in 2009). He has written screenplays for the spectacularly gory Western The Proposition (2005) and the 1930s crime drama Lawless(2012); and, with his longtime collaborator Warren Ellis, he has composed numerous original films scores, including those for Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and John Hillcoat’s The Road (2009). He has even found himself in front of the camera on occasion, appearing in the 1989 Australian filmGhosts … of the Civil Dead and the 1991 indie classic Johnny Suede, and has worked with Ellis to score stage productions ofWoyzeck, Metamorphosis, and Faust for the Vesturport and Reykjavík City Theatre companies in Iceland.

Following a five-year hiatus during which Cave explored garage-rock ferocity with his side band Grinderman, the Bad Seeds returned in February with their 15th studio album, Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd.), a quieter, more minimalist collection of songs than the group’s previous effort, 2008’sDig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, but one that still manages to convey the Seeds’ brand of mystery and menace.

Cave, now 55, recently reunited with Jesse James director Dominik at the Sunset Marquis hotel bar in West Hollywood, where their conversation spanned the Cave oeuvre and even included a surprise guest appearance by the original Wild Rose herself, Kylie Minogue, who was in Los Angeles recording an album.

ANDREW DOMINIK: I’m curious about when you write a song about a particular person or an event in your life—like the song “Far From Me.” Do you think of that person or thing when you hear the song?

NICK CAVE: Yeah. And when I sing those songs at a gig, they bring me to that person, like they kind of regenerate the memory of that person over and over and over again—an imagined memory of that person. When I’m singing “Deanna,” for example, which I sing pretty much every night, it brings forward a kind of imagined, romanticized lie about this particular person, which I find really comforting and exciting to sing about. Sometimes the song isn’t strong enough to contain the fiction, because memories are fictions. And the songs kind of break down and are not singable, so they don’t ever get played live, because they’re not strong enough to contain the memory of that person. But “Deanna,” who you know, because she became your girlfriend and you have a child from her …

DOMINIK: Actually, when I started going out with Deanna [Bond] was when the song came out.   

CAVE: Oh, really? I didn’t know that! [laughs]

DOMINIK: I don’t find your lyrics obtuse or difficult to understand in any way. I’ve been listening to you for 25 years. Those songs have always been a part of my life, so I have ideas about all of them—all the ones that have meant something to me. With “Deanna,” the one thing I always used to wonder about was the chorus: “I ain’t down here for your money / I ain’t down here for your love / … I’m down here for your soul.”

CAVE: For me, that particular chorus is beautiful in that song because in a live situation, it takes that song out of the personal and becomes something that I’m singing to everybody, and then it kind of telescopes back into this song about this mythic relationship that I had with your former girlfriend. [laughs]

DOMINIK: She told me you’d known her for, like, two weeks, and you’d gone to England and come back, and she went to the recording studio, and the first thing that she was presented with was you singing the song to her. And the song predicts the life that you’re going to lead together to some extent.

CAVE: Songs do do that, and that’s the uncanny and sometimes scary thing about a song. Susie [Bick], my wife, understands that very well. I wrote a song off the new record called “Wide Lovely Eyes,” which is about a woman going away and their sort of disassembling of a relationship. She’s like, “Why did you write that?” Not that she would ever ask me what a line is in a song, because she’s an artist at heart, and artists don’t ask other artists that because they understand that you just write what you can write. But the songs do kind of feel like they know something sometimes that I don’t know. Or even that they are more courageous, in the sense that your art can pave the way for what might follow. But “Wide Lovely Eyes” is really about the anxiety I feel when Susie goes away. It’s basically a song where I watch her out of the windows of my place do this walk that goes through the gardens in front of my house and down to the sea. And there is an anxiety that one day she won’t come back. Not that she’s going to leave me or something, but in the most abstract sense that’s what drives the melancholy of that particular song.

DOMINIK: Do you worry, then, if you come across a bit of grit in a song? A line might suggest that there’s a loose thread in your life?

CAVE: Well, I think our relationship is in much better shape if I’m writing songs like that than, you know, “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You.”

DOMINIK: I agree. There has to be room for all sides of a person, otherwise, if something’s repressed, it’s going to pop at some point.

CAVE: Going back to the “Deanna” song, even though it’s a wildly imagined universe—it’s a mythic kind of song, obviously—there’s much in it that is quite accurate in a weird sort of way about that short period of time I spent with her. Those songs do, in a live situation, if they’re any good, springboard me back into the past or encourage the ghosts of the past to come that little bit closer. And the older I get, the more I feel those kinds of ghosts—especially the women in my life—moving out of the shadows a bit more and becoming more present in my life.

DOMINIK: What do you mean?

CAVE: Those kind of memories—before it was kind of one after another and you found a new one. But the value of those relationships is much more important to me now than 10 years ago. Maybe it’s because I’m settled in a relationship. They feel like they’re coming out of the shadows. I’m only talking in the most abstract way. I have no interest in reconnecting on Facebook with these people or something like that. But those memories are becoming clearer to me.

DOMINIK: Movies are the same way. They have an unconscious thing going on inside them. The song comes into being in a certain period of time before it’s lost its mystery, before you know what it means to you. You can write a script and you’re following some impulse, but you’re not really aware of its meaning. But after you live with it for, like, three years, you start to see that the things that are predicted come true, or you start to see what it’s about, and it’s like the unconscious energy dissipates.

CAVE: Your movies seem to be about fiction and myth and what happened and what didn’t happen, or at least Chopper[2000] and The Assassination of Jesse James feel very much about that. I know you were meticulous, or as meticulous as you could be, with Jesse James, but that film seems to me to be very much imagined, mythic.

DOMINIK: Yeah, but there’s two people—one of them is very anxious and the other one’s depressed—and it’s really a sort of tale of suicide. It reminds me of events in my life, things that I’ve been around. It’s a fantasy, but still it has emotional energies, and they come from somewhere.

CAVE: Is it easier for you to do that in a period film? You were saying on the bus last night, when we were going to the gig [in San Diego], that they’re the books you’re most interested in—books that occur in another period of time. Is that because it’s easier to fictionalize and to imagine?

DOMINIK: I just think it’s more mythological somehow. There’s something more archetypal about it. They say that stories are how we give meaning to our lives; they’re how we organize reality. Fairy tales are descriptions of unconscious processes that a child has in order to deal with abandonment, and this is potentially the use of movies, of stories. And I think songs are the same. A song can offer advice on how to deal with a situation. It can be a conduit to grief—to being able to feel something.

CAVE: I think it can work in that way. But I would hate to think my songs were giving advice to people.   DOMINIK: It’s more in the sense of survival.

CAVE: Yeah. I often get people writing to me about how these songs helped them through a situation. But I would have thought the power of a good song is that it draws you out of your own situation and that you enter a completely different world. And that’s what I like about watching a movie: you enter an imagined world that’s more interesting, more engaging than your own. Or less painful than your own.

DOMINIK: The fantasy gives you the courage to feel things.

CAVE: Movies are wonderful like that. Where you  find yourself weeping in the cinema, and it’s over a little thing. One of my triggers is a man trying to do the right thing. It gets me every time.

DOMINIK: Do you want to know how the subject of the song reacts to it?

CAVE: No. Early on I realized when you write a song about someone, it flatters them on some level, and gives you a lot of room to move within a relationship. A song can kind of get the girl, for sure. But for me and Susie, there is a kind of pact that goes on between the writer and subject, or the particular muse at the time. There is nothing private and there’s nothing sacred—there’s nothing that isn’t food for the songs.

DOMINIK: This is a conversation that you’ve had?

CAVE: I have talked to her about this: “You’ll get immortalized, you’ll be in songs. But you’ve got to understand that anything vaguely interesting that happens between us will end up mashed into some sort of song.” [laughs] But it doesn’t really matter what’s said about the person, ultimately. That someone sat down and spent that amount of time thinking about them, no matter how they’re thinking about them, is a compliment in some way.

DOMINIK: Like “Scum.”

CAVE: I was just thinking about “Scum.” Mat [Snow, the music journalist] loves that song.

DOMINIK: I’m sure he does. What do you think of “Scum?” Is it something that was tossed off?

CAVE: Musically, it was very much tossed off, because we didn’t want to spend any time doing the music to it—it would have defeated the purpose.

DOMINIK: It’s a favorite of mine, because it’s so vicious. The feeling in it is so palpable.

CAVE: The thing about that song is that what initiated it was the tiniest thing. I remember to this day that I’d opened up the paper … Snow had written a review of the first Bad Seeds record, From Her to Eternity [1984], calling it one of the greatest rock records ever made. Then we put out the next one, that bluesy one—

DOMINIK: The Firstborn Is Dead [1985].

CAVE: Which he said in a review of a single by [the German industrial band] Einstürzende Neubauten, something like, “Unlike the Bad Seeds’ latest record, which lacks dramatic intensity, this record, blah blah blah …” I just grabbed hold of those fucking three words like, “You fucker.” As I do, I stewed on that and sat down and wrote this bilious song about him, because I had lived with him.

DOMINIK: You weren’t living there at the time.

CAVE: No. But that kind of rage behind something like that is infectious and ultimately really enjoyable.

DOMINIK: It must be great to be able to vent things immediately. That’s the thing that I look at with such envy about music.

CAVE: Well, I’ve watched you make movies. I’ve watched John Hillcoat making movies, and I cannot understand how he can do what he does. Hang on to an idea and just push on and push on …

DOMINIK: Orson Welles said making a movie is like playing with the biggest train set any boy ever had. It involves every discipline: you write, you deal with performance, you deal with architecture, you deal with sound, you deal with music. And there’s a certain point in the making of a film when you feel like you’re in charge of an orchestra, and every little piece of it is building to something. What you really need more than anything is just the ability to endure frustration.

CAVE: Yeah … John has that ability.

DOMINIK: The other thing I wanted to ask about songwriting is about the relationship between words and music. I know that some people will come up with a riff, and then they have to get vowel sounds—”ar,” “eh”—the sound that will sound good with that music. They almost scat along before the words appear.

CAVE: That happens when we do songwriting together as a band, which we do with Grinderman. I ad lib initially, and that has just as much to do with what sounds good as with what something means. There is a great thing that goes on with that, because we do it for five or six days solid—playing from the morning till late at night without stopping. That does create a certain type of hysteria in the studio—lyrical hysteria, where you’re singing just to entertain the troops. You’re singing about stuff that, taken out of context, you can’t even believe is coming out of your mouth. And sometimes that stuff works really well with Grinderman, where it’s a kind of theme that you can develop.

DOMINIK: And then there are other songs that start with words?

CAVE: Yeah, they go in different ways. But it’s kind of a private thing—other than those Grinderman sessions where I’m dealing very much with the band members, I’m alone in an office somewhere writing songs with a pencil.

DOMINIK: And what’s it like when you have to present a song to the band?

CAVE: It used to be terrifying. There’s much more communication within the Bad Seeds now than there used to be. No one talked about music or ever said anything like, “That sounds good.” So you would say, “Right, this one goes like this,” and you start playing at the piano and singing, and then you finish and everyone just stands there, and they drift off and pick up the thing. So you never knew the effect that the songs had back then. Now, with Warren in the band, he talks about music all the time.

DOMINIK: At least they enjoyed playing it, right?

CAVE: Blixa [Bargeld, former Bad Seeds guitarist], usually after a record, would come up to me and go, “Darling, we’ve made a good record.” And then, “Goodbye.” That always meant a whole lot to me.

DOMINIK: Would he tell you if he didn’t like something?

CAVE: Oh, yeah. One time I wrote this song called “Sheep May Safely Graze,” which was about my child, and how I’ll protect him from the wolves and the crocodiles. It was, to be fair, a pretty sentimental kind of thing. Blixa came over and said, “Darling, let’s leave that one for the child.” [laughs] “Go home and play it to him. Let’s not inflict that on the world.”

DOMINIK: The new record seems less narrative.

CAVE: I’ve always hated narrative songs. I hate those songs where, basically, it’s an unfolding of a story. Dylan wrote like that. I can’t bear them, to be honest—you know, “The Ballad of Such and Such.” You listen to the story—and it’s beautifully written. But on some level, you hear it once and you’ve got the gist of it. There’s this kind of tyranny of the narrative, where you have to engage from the beginning of the song and listen to the end. But I’ve always found that that’s just the way I write. If I can’t visualize the thing on the page, it’s completely meaningless to me. I can’t write that “I love you, baby,” which are the songs I love, like a James Brown song, that just come and “get funky!” They’re the songs that I really respond to myself. But I’m a storyteller. I felt really pleased with this record and, to a certain extent, the last record, that the narrative structure had been shattered, but there are still highly visual songs where you enter a kind of world when you listen to them and things are going on, but you don’t have to get locked into them.

DOMINIK: I was thinking, watching the show last night, that that’s sort of similar to “Stranger Than Kindness.” It is an unusual song because it is like a collection of poetic non sequiturs that describe a relationship that you see in a dream fashion. That’s similar to the new record.

CAVE: I love that song because I didn’t write it, for one thing. Anita [Lane] wrote the lyrics, and I don’t fully understand it. I know it’s about me.

DOMINIK: You certainly get pictures—you get the essence of something. And therefore it’s larger. 

CAVE: It all connects me very much to that memory of Anita. That’s what I was talking about before. That’s what all the songs to me are largely about: memory. That’s why when I hear that our record’s been bought, that we’ve lost our catalogs to some multinational company—EMI—and then they sold them to somewhere else, and there’s someone there that’s looking at the figures and seeing whether they should delete this record, you know, whether it’s worth it even being manufactured anymore … It is terrifying.

DOMINIK: Do you think there’s any danger of that?

CAVE: Oh, yeah, for sure.

DOMINIK: Well, Bella [Heathcote, Dominik’s partner] got up this morning and bought the entire Bad Seeds back catalog.

CAVE: Did she? [laughs] Very good. You know the great thing about the internet is that it’s gonna save that. Maybe nobody’s making any money on it—I don’t really care about that aspect—but at least you can listen to pretty much any song I’ve ever done, or anybody’s ever done. And those songs’ fate isn’t at the whim of some fucking bean counter at EMI.

DOMINIK: Why did you get into being a musician?

CAVE: I was talking to my kids, actually—they’re 12—I remember being that age and deciding I wanted to be a painter. I went to school and really got into painting and learned all about art history. It was the one subject that I excelled at because I had a genuine interest in it. I went to art school and then failed second year. I just thought I was the fucking greatest painter in the world. I was—we all were—heavily influenced by Brett Whiteley, the Australian painter, or Francis Bacon. We were makin’ Bacon, as they say. But I wasn’t actually painting very much in my second year. I was more meeting people and hanging out with the other artists. Being in art school was just amazing.

DOMINIK: Film school was the same.

CAVE: I’d gone from this stultifying grammar school and suddenly I was considered to be a fag and all the rest of it, and I was amongst these artists. It was amazing, but I failed. So my only option was this band; it had just been this thing we did on the weekends …

DOMINIK: Did you have any anxiety about getting up and singing? Did you have any shyness about it?

CAVE: I do have huge anxieties about it, not shyness. Maybe it’s shyness …

DOMINIK: You do now?

CAVE: I always do, yeah.

DOMINIK: But you didn’t feel that last night when you played your gig …

CAVE: No, I didn’t. You know, it’s just a thing about the voice. Last night was a good night for me—at least vocally. Some nights it’s not good. I was the singer because I was the unmusical one—I didn’t play anything amongst a group of friends at school. I had a certain way about being on stage, I guess. And then I could sort of scurry through the door of punk rock with my voice.

DOMINIK: When did you start to take it seriously?

CAVE: I don’t know how to answer that question, but I do know the moment when I realized we were on to something. We’d made the Birthday Party record [Prayers on Fire, 1981] with the song “King Ink.” I remember really clearly listening to the record with Rowland S. Howard after it had come out. It was like, “There’s something going on there. That’s not like other people’s songs.” There was something going on narratively and musically that was kind of gelling in that song that was different—that not only surpassed our influences but raised its head or broke free of the influences that are so apparent on that earlier Boys Next Door [Cave’s previous band] stuff.

DOMINIK: Rowland has said many times that it was fantastic to be in the Birthday Party, because he was in the best band in the world. They seemed like a thing that could explode at any moment. It kind of ended at the peak, right?

CAVE: Well, who knows where the peak was. But it ended very suddenly.

DOMINIK: Do you remember those times?

CAVE: I remember that there was a gig at a university or something like that, and this guy doing our publicity got all the record companies to come, and all these celebrities were there. It was a big showcase of the Birthday Party, and it was a night of absolute horror on every level. Tracy [Pew] had OD’d in the band room—we literally had to inject him with amphetamine to get him to wake up to get him on stage. Mick Harvey knocked me out on stage—there was some altercation with someone out front between me and the microphone stand and his head. And then Tracy kept falling over. And I think Rowland OD’d after the show. We got a big audience because of those sorts of gigs, I guess. [laughs] In a way, the Birthday Party set up something that we could react against for years to come. It was kind of a lovely force field that existed in people’s imaginations to propel the Bad Seeds’ career, where we could do different sorts of records. That kind of feeling of confusing or confounding the audience has always been one of those things that holds us together.

DOMINIK: Are you a contrary person by nature?

CAVE: There’s definitely a love of defending the indefensible. I’m sure you know that very well. [both laugh]

DOMINIK: Yeah. There’s a real joy that I feel in doing that, but much less as I get older.

CAVE: Exactly.

DOMINIK: Do you find life is easier with a project to organize it around? Have you gone through periods of doing nothing?

CAVE: Yeah. After the first time I went into a rehab, I came out and did nothing for, like, eight months—didn’t write a song, didn’t do any touring, just was supposed to be getting clean. And I just sat in this room on my own. I lived with Evan English—do you know him? He’s a producer …

DOMINIK: Yeah. That would’ve been awful. [laughs]

CAVE: I think I was watching seven videos a day.

DOMINIK: Would you not go to meetings and all that stuff?

CAVE: No, I didn’t get into that whole scene. People would come over and I would just sort of sit there with the remote like some mad person. They would try to talk and I would just turn up the volume.

DOMINIK: Did you not have the feeling of being restored when you got clean? Any sense of joy?

CAVE: No. I just thought, Okay, this is what life is; this is the fucking hell.

DOMINIK: You were just white-knuckling it.

CAVE: Then someone decided to do a tour of Brazil … [laughs] I just walked out into the sunshine there, grabbed a beer, and fell in love on the second day. And just never went home—stayed in Brazil. So that was not doing anything.

DOMINIK: That’s the last time?

CAVE: Well, no. There were other times where I couldn’t do anything because I was so fucked up. But since I stopped taking drugs 14 years ago, I’ve just worked, worked, worked. And progressively so. You may not remember saying this, but we were talking about scriptwriting, and you said, “What the fuck are you doing that for?” It had quite an impact. When I got asked to write The Proposition, it was this really exciting thing. I didn’t know anything about scriptwriting, so it was really exciting to just write the story I wanted to write. Then I did Lawless—and I had written a couple in between them, which were fun, too—and was suddenly like, “Oh, I’m a scriptwriter. This is what scriptwriters do; they get their notes and dash out something and send it back.” Around that time was when you said, “Why do you do this?”

DOMINIK: I guess I knew you took songwriting really seriously and that you took screenwriting less seriously, but if it’s fun—

CAVE: And I think you also said, “Maybe you should hack it out.” [laughs]

DOMINIK: Look, I figured it would be unpleasant for you to have to be taking notes, because you don’t have to. So why do it? I mean, if you can make music …

CAVE: Yeah. But the problem with making music is that no one wants you to make more than one record every three years. It’s different now because of the internet and the whole collapse of the record industry. But back in those days, it fucked up their marketing schedule if you made a record every two years, let alone one every year. It just wasn’t enough work, so that’s why I started doing extracurricular activities like writing books and that sort of stuff.

DOMINIK: The other thing I wanted to ask you is whether you believe in god.

CAVE: Well, I believe in the idea more than the actuality. I think it’s a part of us as human beings that we search outside of ourselves for meaning. It’s a hugely endearing aspect of our characters as human beings, despite how corrupt and destructive some of those ideas can be. But whether I actually believe in a god, in the traditional sense? I don’t. Religion is an act of the imagination, but on some level, it can be seen as a kind of failure of the imagination, because the idea is not that great. The idea is as small as our collective imagination can be, if you know what I mean. I’ve got to say that the first thing that disappeared for me when I got clean was my belief in god. I was fucking crazy. Towards the end, I was waking up cold turkey and going to church, sick as a fucking dog. I’m sitting there sweating and listening to everything, and then trotting down to the golden road and scoring and getting back home and shooting up and going, “I’m living a well-rounded existence.” [both laugh] You know, a bit of this and a bit of that. So the first thing that went was that supposed spiritual need of that conventional kind. But I don’t know why we went from nothing to something.

DOMINIK: What do you mean?

CAVE: The origins of the world and all that sort of stuff. I guess we know the how with the Big Bang, but what exists behind that gives me a certain kind of vertigo, even getting my head around that.

DOMINIK: So it’s the stories.

CAVE: Personally I find the story of Christ incredibly moving. And the way that the Gospels were written—despite the kind of hell those stories unleashed upon the world, even to this day, I find those stories very powerful and moving.

[Kylie Minogue and a rep from her management company enter the restaurant]

DOMINIK: Hey, some fancy ladies.

KYLIE MINOGUE: Hey, how are you?

DOMINIK: God, you look beautiful. How are you? I’m wearing these because I’m deaf and blind from seeing the Bad Seeds last night.

CAVE: We’re doing an interview.

MINOGUE: And I come in just at the end?

DOMINIK: Yeah, you can make a cameo appearance.

CAVE: Why are you here?

MINOGUE: I’m recording.

CAVE: Are you making a record here?

MINOGUE: I’ve actually got a listening session. I’ve got to go back to play it for the label.

CAVE: Oh, really? They haven’t heard it?

MINOGUE: It’s nearly done.

[Tape recorder pauses, then comes back with Minogue and Dominik talking]

MINOGUE: Okay. So while Nick is away, rustling up a menu, I can tell you that few men have really been very influential in my career, but he’s one of them.

CAVE: Are you on?

DOMINIK: We were talking about you.

CAVE: How influential?

MINOGUE: Super-influential. I don’t want to embarrass you.

CAVE: It doesn’t embarrass me.

MINOGUE: It’s only good things. [laughs]

DOMINIK: So do you remember when you became aware of Nick Cave?

MINOGUE: Yeah. When Michael Hutchence [the late lead singer of INXS] said to me, “My friend Nick wants to do a record with you.”

DOMINIK: I remember Mick Harvey had been ringing me to try to find your number for Michele [Bennett, a former girlfriend of Hutchence’s]. No, I think it was Mick rang me to get Michele to get Michael’s number.

MINOGUE: Wow, convoluted. So you spoke to Michael?

CAVE: I can’t remember. But anyway, Michael got spoken to [Minogue laughs], like, “Where’s Kylie? Because we want to ask her to sing.” And he goes, “She’s sitting right here.” You were at a hotel.

MINOGUE: Yes, maybe we were on holiday somewhere. Anyway, the message got passed, and then nothing happened for six years.

CAVE: Really?

MINOGUE: When did we do “Where the Wild Roses Grow”?

CAVE: I thought you came straight away and did it.

MINOGUE: No, because we did that in the mid-’90s, and I was dating Michael in, like, 1990, ’91.

CAVE: Are you sure about that? Because I thought we talked to you and said we got this song.

MINOGUE: Yeah, but that was years later in Melbourne, where it came through Mushroom Records. You were signed on Mushroom for a bit, right?

CAVE: Suicide Records, which was a subsidiary.

MINOGUE: Somehow we were on the same label, and I was asked about it, and a CD was sent over with your vocals and Blixa’s. And then I called you, but you were out, so I left a message with your mum. I said to her, “Well, he can call me at my mum’s house.” [laughs] And then the first day I met Nick was in the studio, which was cool because—

CAVE: We were all sitting there on our best behavior.

MINOGUE: You’ve always been on your best behavior when you’re with me. But it was great because it was like you were directing me.

CAVE: You sang it first take and there was a little bit of warbling on the end of the notes. Then we just asked you to not—

MINOGUE: To not sing it so much.

CAVE: To not sing it so well.

MINOGUE: Almost talking singing, and very fragile.

CAVE: And then you sang it.

MINOGUE: I don’t know how many takes, but it was really fast.

CAVE: Two takes.

MINOGUE: Was it? [laughs]

CAVE: Legend has it. 

ANDREW DOMINIK IS AN AUSTRALIAN SCREENWRITER AND DIRECTOR.

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20,000 Days on Earth 

Drama and reality combine in a fictitious 24 hours in the life of musician and international cultural icon Nick Cave. With startlingly frank insights and an intimate portrayal of the artistic process, the film examines what makes us who we are, and celebrates the transformative power of the creative spirit.

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One of the best rock documentaries in years, precisely because it deliberately ignores the genre’s conventions. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard create a fictionalised world for an artist well familiar with inhabiting them – Nick Cave – and the sets and scenarios in which they place him in, chatting with Kylie Minogue or visiting his archive, allow for illuminating insight, focusing on his drive to create and the obsessions that permeate his body of work.

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I remember when I saw Nick Cave in Wim Winders’ Wings of DesireI had then such an impulse to jump into this dark world and allow myself to feel those sudden passions and impulses without losing my lucidity, rather exploring them as if they were a part of me that always has been there but that I wouldn’t allow to exist because I didn’t know thw way to do it in style. All of a sudden I wanted to become Nick Cave because he knew… But beware of Nick Cave because he can come as a friend and feed you some rotten chicken that will get you sick or he could lead you into thinking he’s a sadistic jumping devil jumping on his tender prey when he is in fact just a guy wandering through a broken night with a dark heart but always, always a clear head….

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Since my first Birthday Party, I always knew he was the guy I wanted to be and this guy could be anyone without being a poser. There are no conflicts in his many faces.  I even went to the funerals of Bunny Monroe without any doubts that the sensitive crooner with a deep sensitive graveyard voice could always resurface when it would be getting too creepy for other people to be around but does it ever get too creepy???  It doesn’t matter because we always know that there is another side. Enuf said, I simply cannot wait to see this fictitious reality based movie, now knowing that I will never be Nick Cave but that I can learn so much from him to be a little bit more of myself and so can all the dreamy Henrys of this Earth….

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Sylvia JI

Land of Retinal Delights 

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 Possessing an artistic voice as unique as the times we live in, Sylvia Ji is at once contemplative, spiritual, enigmatic, and yet whimsically funny. Above all else, it is perhaps beauty that emerges as her defining characteristic, and her art reflects this: an extension of herself; a passionate appreciation of simple aesthetic pleasure fused with intimately complex subject matter.

Make no mistake – Sylvia Ji is the real deal: an artist of genuine, sometimes brutal, sincerity in a world of swirling uncertainty and constant change. Yet, she does more than consistently adjust to the change that life brings, she thrives on it; taking life as it is, content to simply “be”. Using the simplest of materials to create her work….she would say “letting it magically happen”… the results obliterate the antiquated lines between ostensibly “high brow” and “low brow” art.

A self-professed lover of travel and life long student of international culture and art, Sylvia’s experiences and relationships continue to shape her exploration of indefinable human emotion. And while the future remains as mysterious to her as she may be to her audience, Sylvia stands confidently poised to continue to surprise. Now, and in the years to come, her life’s journey is more than the sum of its parts – drawn from her past, built on the present and beyond fascinating expressions of love and lust, beauty and decay, delicacy and passion.

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Sylvia Ji-1982 BFA Illustration ‘05, Academy of Art, San Francisco Currently resides in Los Angeles, CA

 

Haroshi

Japanese Skateboarder and Self-Taught Sculptor Turns Old Skateboards Into Art

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Japanese skateboarder and self-taught sculptor Haroshi has creatively combined his two passions by creating striking and stylish pop-culture images out of the wood of trashed skateboards.

The unique appearance of his sculpturesis all thanks to the composition of the skateboards he uses, which are created from multiple layers of processed wood. These layers are sometimes dyed as well, which gives his sculptures their distinctive striped appearance. The skateboards are then glued together and carved into various pop-art forms like hearts, skulls, and even sneakers. As an avid skateboarder, Haroshi often recycles his own skateboards into hisartwork. As he writes on his site, “To Haroshi, his art pieces are equal to his skateboards, and that means they are his life itself. They’re his communication tool with both himself, and the outside world.”

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Haroshi makes his art pieces recycling old used skateboards. His creations are born through styles such as wooden mosaic, dots, and pixels; where each element, either cut out in different shapes or kept in their original form, are connected in different styles, and shaven into the form of the final art piece. Haroshi became infatuated with skateboarding in his early teens, and is still a passionate skater at present. He knows thoroughly all the parts of the skateboard deck, such as the shape, concave, truck, and wheels. He often feels attached to trucks with the shaft visible, goes around picking up and collecting broken skateboard parts, and feels reluctant to throw away crashed skateboards. It’s only natural that he began to make art pieces (i.e. recycling) by using skateboards. To Haroshi, his art pieces are equal to his skateboards, and that means they are his life itself. They’re his communication tool with both himself, and the outside world. The most important style of Haroshi’s three-dimensional art piece is the wooden mosaic. In order to make a sculpture out of a thin skateboard deck, one must stack many layers. But skate decks are already processed products, and not flat like a piece of wood freshly cut out from a tree. Moreover, skateboards may seem like they’re all in the same shape, but actually, their structure varies according to the factory, brand, and popular skaters’ signature models. With his experience and almost crazy knowledge of skateboards, Haroshi is able to differentiate from thousands of used deck stocks, which deck fits with which when stacked. After the decks are chosen and stacked, they are cut, shaven, and polished with his favorite tools. By coincidence, this creative style of his is similar to the way traditional wooden Japanese Great Buddhas are built. 90% of Buddha statues in Japan are carved from wood, and built using the method of wooden mosaic; in order to save expense of materials, and also to minimize the weight of the statue. So this also goes hand in hand with Haroshi’s style of using skateboards as a means of recycling. Also, although one is not able to see from outside, there is a certain metal object that is buried inside his three-dimensional statue. The object is a broken skateboard part that was chosen from his collection of parts that became deteriorated and broke off from skateboards, or got damaged from a failed Big Make attempt. To Haroshi, to set this kind of metal part inside his art piece means to “give soul” to the statue. “Unkei,” a Japanese sculptor of Buddhas who was active in the 12th Century, whose works are most popular even today among the Japanese people; used to set a crystal ball called “Shin-Gachi-Rin (Heart Moon Circle)” in the position of the Buddha’s heart. This would become the soul of the statue. So the fact that Haroshi takes the same steps in his creation may be a natural reflection of his spirit and aesthetic as a Japanese. info@haroshi.com

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Thanks to Bored Panda!!

PLUS!

Dogtown and Z-Boys

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A Stacy Peralta documentary (2001). Awesome authentic images. The birth of skateboarding as we know it and the people that were only in it for the money but mainly those who weren’t. The clip is the real stuff. Not the Hollywood mainstream movie they made about it.

Was Football Season Really Over ?

The Death of Hunter S. Thompson

”Shortly after Thompson’s death, I read Hey Rube, a collection of his columns for ESPN.com. His most chilling column was the one he wrote just hours after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

Last Words: A Testament to Hunter Thompson

Washington Post Staff Writer By Henry Allen

Friday, September 9, 2005

They found Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide note, and it twists our moral telescopes back into the focus we had when we first heard that he’d shot himself in the head.

You recall that on Sunday, Feb. 20, when he took himself out, we wanted to think that it was a .45-caliber hara-kiri, an act of honor by a 67-year-old cultural hero who hadn’t written much major work for 30 years, and now faced old age with a broken leg, a hip replacement, an addiction to alcohol and a habitual fondness for whatever else would light his crazed Christmas tree of a mind.

But no, we quickly learned that it wasn’t that pretty. He killed himself while talking on the phone with his wife, Anita. In the house with him were his son Juan, and his grandson. Not so honorable.

You’re supposed to go out behind the woodshed, face the existential solitude and let your loving survivors find you later.

Oh, well. His ashes were fired into the sky near his home in Woody Creek, Colo., on Aug. 20 with lots of fireworks. That seemed to bring us some kind of suitably mad “closure,” as the TV shrinks say.

Now, Rolling Stone magazine, for which he wrote a lot of his best stuff in the ’70s, has published a note he wrote to Anita four days before he killed himself in the kitchen.

The note doesn’t make you feel any better about his timing with the phone call and the son and grandson hearing the gun go off, but it turns out that our first, and nobler, explanations had some truth to them after all.

Gonzo

“No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”

With a sort of cryptic, ironic, metaphorical hilarity, he took a black marker and titled the note: “Football Season Is Over.”

Douglas Brinkley, a historian and Thompson’s “official biographer,” had a more mundane explanation for the title. In his piece on the Rolling Stone Web site, he wrote: “An avid NFL fan, Hunter traditionally embraced the Super Bowl in January as the high-water mark of his year. February, by contrast, was doldrums time.”

How bizarre that Thompson, who despised all that was official, and spent his life writing his own stone-loon autobiography, has an “official biographer.”

Those who would like to think that Thompson killed himself over something more crucial than professional football can re-read the note.

 © 2005 The Washington Post Company

Thompson’s prediction of what was to come was uncannily accurate” -Dump Terry McAuliffe