Justine does not consider herself a photographer by definition, but an image-maker carefully curating elements to communicate a feeling. Tjallinks tries to mirror her own emotions in her work. She calls herself “an image-maker carefully curating elements to communicate a feeling.”
It’s amazing how a mother-to-be today can determine if her unborn child has 47 chromosomes — an indicator of Down syndrome. Thanks to science and cautious parents-to-be, fewer children are being born with the condition. When I learned this, I couldn’t help but wonder; could there be no one left with Down syndrome in our near future? No one wants their child to go through life having to cope with a perceived handicap, but when it happens, the parent can’t imagine living without their child regardless of circumstance. This idea inspired me to create portraits of young children with Down Syndrome. To visualize their emotions, unique personality and also to emphasize just how beautiful they are.
Take a look at Justine Tjallinks impressive worksHERE.
”No Name” Maddox a.k.aCharles Manson will die one day. That day whether we like to admit it or not. Some sort of pop icon will die, the devil according to many, Jesus to some others and both intertwined in one according to his followers and the members of The Family.
The name ”The Family” have spread international terror and has now changed to ATWA for Air, Trees, Water and Animals. This frightening character was revered before he went completely overboard with his mind control. I don’t know what is more scary, the fact that this guy manages to convince others to do whatever he wants them to do, even murdering a helpless pregnant women or the fact that he has become a pop idol. Don’t fool yourself. As much as lots of people would love to simply forget about him. On one hand, he influenced a lot of musicians that shaped the very foundation of music in the US and other artists which made No Name Maddox a part of US most (un)popular modern icons .
On the other hand, he is associated to the most gory, scary, surreal, vile murders to ever strike our imagination as he was also in contact with the most dreadful characters of various satanic cults that were so popular in the height of the Summer of Love and San Francisco Haight-Ashbury psychedelic boom.
Personally what keeps me being unable to forget No Name Maddox is the fact that when I look at the circumstances surrounding his birth, the way he was raised, his youth and the abuse he went through, I cannot honestly say that I would have been any better have I been walking in his shoes. He was just another kid like there are so many on the streets, juvenile homes and prisons. He is one of the rejected one, one of the undesirable, the ones we all want to forget about, one of the thousands of kids that the system failed to help them, failed to give them at least the feeling that they were allowed to feel, at least, as if they had the dignified right to be part of the human race.
His Sweet Sixteen Mother Kathleen Maddox, didn’t bother to give him a name since she didn’t know who the father was, she didn’t think he deserved to get one. Furthermore as she didn’t recall his real date of birth, later on she picked the 11th of November. She was wrong by one day, ”No Name” Maddox, as written on the birth certificate, was born 11/12/’34 as Vincent Bugliosi wrote in his book ”Helter Skelter”. It is also a well documented fact that a waitress who thought little No Name Maddox was cute, was told by Kathleen she could have him for a pitcher of beer. And she was serious. A pitcher of beer later she was out leaving her son. Several days later, his uncle had to search the town for the waitress and take the boy back home. Manson went from bad to worse, remaining institutionalised pretty much for the rest of life but getting a short break in 1967 at the age of 32. He begged the warden to keep him in since life outside prison scared him more than everything he had been in contact with since well… his birth? Doesn’t it right there show how much surreal the life of certain people can become? I know some people went to jail and still made it, but you know, some people just are born with a bad sign.
”No Name” Maddox finally landed at636 Cole Street, the Haight’s house where he would live between April and November of 1967 . It was The Summer of Love, sex, drugs, music and satanic cults were pretty much the thing then. He must have thought that he wasn’t that dephased after all! Shortly after playing guitar (Maddox learned from Alvin Karpis, who had once made it to the top wanted man FBI list as part of the Barker-Karpis Gang and later became a respected bluesman in jail), doing drugs and ”preaching” to the Hippie youth in revolt surrounding him, the cultural orphans, the idealists, and the vague dissociation brought on by a barter marijuana economy and $1-a-dose Owsley LSD-25 made a natural magnet for potential followers who were looking for meaning, guidance, or a guru.
”No Name” Maddox fast got to be well-known, respected and admired as Charles Manson, using what he had learned in prison about various religions and cults including Scientology, the Satanic Church and specifically The Process Church of the Final Judgment in which Jesus represents God and Lucifer rolled into one. Manson mentioned more and more frequently that he was the Devil and Jesus into one being. Manson had changed his name earlier but I think for the first time in his life, it actually meant something to be….him. He was very charismatic and also older than most of the kids surrounding him. He also had LSD many times but it is always mentioned that he ALWAYS took it in smaller dosage than all the ones around him to make sure he could somehow maintain a certain degree of self-control. Now I never seen anyone backing that up. Why are we so afraid to admit that there is a possibility that it might be a tiny part of the reason why he lost it somewhere along the way. He totally lost it that’s for sure!!! And for sure it wasn’t JUST because of the drugs, I just would like to know why it is always mentioned each and every time the LSD trips are mentioned in each and every book you read a book about Manson. Is it because it provides a ”good” reason as to why all these typical hippies became bloodthirsty assassins or because it reinforces the notion that it was only, and only because of the drugs that Manson had such power over his followers and therefore he is the very first responsible for these atrocious murders. It would make sense that the CIA and the department of Justice would find that very possible because they were themselves doing very large-scale experiments on mind control within a military agenda, testing LSD 25 on the weaker and most vulnerable people they could find after having tested it on their own soldiers, causing some serious damages, partly because the people who were tested didn’t even know they were tested with dangerous amounts of this powerful hallucinogenic drug..
BTW the only authorised Manson biography is ”Charles Manson Now” by Marlin Marynick. I have read it and recommend it to all the true crime fans out there. there is a lot of ramblings by Manson but it surely gives us a quite unique view of how things go for real from inside the jail and how Manson gets his information in and out from his prison cell from which he has been in solitary confinement ever since he got in for the Tate-LaBianca murders.
On another galaxy not so far away, a guy named Bobby Beausoleil joined a band founded by Arthur Lee called the Grass Roots which name was changed toshortly after Bobby joined . While touring in San Francisco, Bobby Beausoleil met with Kenneth Anger, a filmmaker obsessed with Aleister Crowley and anything related to the occult who made Bobby the star of a movie that was to be named ”Lucifer Rising”. Like Maddox, Anger had been deeply impressed by the theories of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, Aleister Crowley as well as the ones preached by The Process Church of the Final Judgment created by founded by the English couple Mary Ann and Robert de Grimston. Anger also had ties with Anton LaVey, author, musician, circus and carnival performer, and occultist, famous founder of the equally famous Church of Satan which was said to be the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organisation which propounded a coherent satanic discourse. His books The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, have been cited as having “an influence far beyond” the Church of Satan‘s membership. In 1995, the religious studies scholar Graham Harvey noted that although the Church had no organized presence in Britain, LaVey’s writings were widely accessible in bookshops almost worldwide. Take note LaVeywas introduced to Susan Atkins who was with Bobby during that time. LaVey claimed that he had been appointed consultant to the brilliant horror film starring Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby(1968), written by Ira Levin but directed by none other than late Sharon Tate’s husband, the famous movie director Roman Polanski. Sharon Tate was pregnant of the couple’s first child when she succumbed to a horrible death by the hands of the Family at 10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills. The baby she was carrying died too.
Satan was hot stuffbefore and in ‘68, when Rosemary’s Baby was a box office hit. Vampires were hot stuff too back then and it sure is awkward that almost at the same time Polanski was shooting (he was also the leading role) The Fearless Vampire Killer during which he would meet his future wife Sharon Tate who was playing the ”damsel in distress”, LaVey had recruited one of the killers Susan Atkins a.k.a. Sexy Sadie who was present at all three sets of murders ordered by Charles Manson at the Hinman, Tate, and LaBianca homes as a topless vampire in a LaVey show called the Witches’ Sabbath also known as before joining the Manson family. Atkins played the role of a seductive vampiress who emerged topless from a coffin and would point her index finger, which had a long red-painted fingernail, at the leering audience. She would hiss and symbolically beckon for the blood of the trench coat-wearing customers who paid their admission to The Black Pope’s religious ceremony. Her stage act strangely presaged her later criminal activities. It was reported that after viciously murdering the pregnant actress Sharon Tate by stabbing her in the stomach. Susan then compulsively licked the blood of the popular star off of her own fingers. In a sense, I guess she took her vampire role to heart…
I’m not gonna go through the whole process of describing the complete history of The Family and the horrible murders they committed, it has been done so many times before, I’ll save you the process and if you didn’t know about it all in its most tiny and gory details since you can easily find them on the net, in many books and movies… Helter Skelter is probably the most referred to account of ”No Name” Maddox troubled childhood as he became Charles Manson, the beloved and revered leader of the Family, friend with Dennis Wilson from the Beach Boys who was fascinated (and scared) by his newfound troublesome guru, who went on to become one of the most famous killer of all times without having actually killed anyone, nor even being present on the site when the murders actually took place. Now Helter Skelter is a book written by Los Angeles County district attorney Vincent Bugliosi that has been made into a movie. My intention here is rather to acknowledge how huge of an ”(un)pop” culture phenomena Manson has become in the years that followed, especially after the first wave of fear lost its horror factor for most of us who weren’t in the front row seats, even if we were sort of offered those seats via one media or the other. Now most of the accounts that we were given, especially at first, gave a very grim portrait of the Family and its leader but as time went by, I would say relatively fast, some began to stand up and give a different point of view of what happened and especially of how the Justice system treated the whole thing. One of the first that comes to mind being the documentary ”Charles Manson Superstar” directed by Nikolas Schreck in 1989. Most of the documentary (the entire interview) was filmed inside San Quentin Prison. Schreck and Zeena (Anton LaVey’s estranged daughter) narrated the segments while images were shown, and music played in the background.
I have to mark a pause here and obviously make a relation between well know artist Marilyn Manson, the name itself evokes bad and evil, beauty and ugliness intertwined together… That is of course if you forget all the despair and anguish, the drugs and the depression that ultimately led to her death (BTW Marilyn Monroe had a very brief relationship that lasted around 2 weeks in the early 50’s, before she became a star). It is not however not the only thing that led to the choice of this scenic name but rather the fact that both of them represents to him the 2 most iconic names of the USA. Now it’s funny that if you try to link Charles Manson to Marilyn Manson you will not be helped a lot with the details if you are looking on the net. I will help you out here with only a few, main ones, just glancing here and there what I found to be most interesting as I’m doing since I been doing since the beginning of this article about Manson’s omnipresence in today’s culture, mostly modern music.
MM said that 3 of his albums are a trilogy: Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. MM Manson said that the overarching story within the trilogy is presented in reverse chronological order; Holy Wood, therefore, begins the narrative. It was written in the singer’s former home in the Hollywood Hills and recorded in several undisclosed locations, including Death Valley and Laurel Canyon. Holy Wood (not Hollywood) is written the same way it was on the Family’s Black Bus that brought them all from Topanga Canyon to Death Valley. In the tour that followed the release of the album, MM appeared under the disguise of the Pope, Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley and… Charles Manson ”to celebrate the adoration and the martyrdom of famous people and deceased criminals” MM said himself except that Charlie isn’t dead! Did he want to denounce the fact that Charlie was reduced to silence in what was to him a parody of Justice? Mechanical Animal was the beginning of M.M. identification with Charles Manson. One could assume it refers to one of Charles Manson’s song called Mechanical Man without being 100% sure it’s a very strong possibility I would say. As of Antichrist Superstar, One could very well assume it’s a reference to Charles Manson Superstar, the documentary mentioned earlier. A lot of what I just mentioned can be confirmed by quotes by MM himself a the book by Gavin Baddeley titled Dissecting Marilyn Manson. ”Beautiful People” was a term used by Manson to design the people from the music industry and more generally, all those who had a certain power or influence in the artistic world in general. MM song ”Beautiful People” is coined from the first sentence of ‘‘Baby You’re a Rich Man” on the Beatles’ Magical Mystery tour album, ”How does it feel to be a rich man?” It is interesting to note that you won’t find almost no references to Charles Manson about this song on the internet. I could make a very long list of why MM has been influenced in
many ways by Charlie Manson but let’s just start with the first demo title made by MM was called Big Black Bus referring once again to the bus that carried the first members of the Manson Family throughout the California coastline and one of the songs the Spooky Kids were playing back then was called Dune Buggy containing a direct quote from Charles ”Tex” Watson: ”We’d swoop down on the town and kill everyone that wasn’t beautiful”.
This clip above was entirely shot at Cielo Drive where the murders took place.
Trent Reznor who would become MM mentor for several years rented Cielo Drive where the murders took place for the recording of ”The Downward Spiral” and invited MM to record his very first album, Portrait of an American Family (initially known as The Manson Family Album – a direct reference to serial killer Charles Manson’s own band – but was retitled prior to release). The record opens with an eerie intro called Prelude (The Family Trip) followed by ”Cake and Sodomy” which first lyrics are a direct quote from Charlie: ”I Am the God of Fuck”, words used to seduce Lynette Fromme to convince her to join the Family. there are also many references to the Fab Four White Album that was, in the eyes of Charlie, loaded with prophetic statements. In the book Dissecting Marilyn Manson, MM is quoted saying:’‘I think Charles Manson is the greatest rock star of all time. He was all about music. He never even had a hit and he’s one of the biggest stars that you could ever find. That’s something we can thank America for, whether you like it or not, America put him there”. The lack of information concerning the influence that Charlie had on MM must clearly be explained by the events of the Columbine killing during which MM was pointed as an influential factor leading to the tragedy because the killers were MM listeners. What is less known to the majority of people is that the main source of income of that city would come from the manufactured making of mass murder weapons and the fact that immediately very shortly after the Columbine school shootings in 1999, the NRA made the controversial decision to hold its national convention in neighboring Denver, Colorado, making sure no one threatens their sales. Nuf said. I think MM responded very well to the accusations but decided to maybe pull of from Ol’ Charlie as much as possible and avoid mob lynching! That is just my opinion though.
Rob Zombie (who was several time been seen with an X on his forehead too!) has made numerous references to Manson and the Family in his music but even more so in his horror movies.The House of 1000 Corpses, in one of the first sequences of the movie you can see 2 young guys in a car and the other one drooling over photos showing the Manson girls from back in the days coming from a magazine called Helter Skelter. You can see clear shots of pics of Leslie Van Houten, Sadie, Katie, and last but not least, Lynette ”Squeaky” Fromme. Little do they know that they will soon be confronted to a family maybe far more dangerous than the Manson Family and the youngest girl from this Family imagined by Rob Zombie called Baby (played here by Sheri Moon, Rob Zombie’s wife) exposes a little further on the base foundation of her clan saying ‘‘Whatever you need to do, you do it. There is no wrong. If someone needs to be killed, you kill ’em. That’s the way.” You have to admit that is very close in form and meaning to the words used by Sandra Good as an intro in Manson (documentary by Robert Hendricks, 1972) Good’s first word are:”When Somebody needs to be killed, there’s no wrong, you do it. And then you move on”. The sequel called ”The Devil’s Rejects” contains a direct quote Charles ”Tex” Watson used when he was about to kill Voytek Frykowski and said ”I’m the Devil. And here to do the devil’s work”. The family now lives in a ranch in the middle of the desert where a pig’s head is hung over the entrance. Then when the police gets on their trail they are forced to ride in a black bus (the black bus again!! Charlie used one on which he had Holy Wood Productions painted) and one of the family members is name Charlie and they also leave messages written on blood on murders scenes…
The list of bands goes on and on Black Flag, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Boyd Rice/NON/Death in June, Skinny Puppy, Slipknot, Guns N’Roses, Kasabian,Current 93, The Charles Manson Experiment, The Lemonheads, Family Jams, Crispin Hellion Glover, The Ramones, Front Line Assembly, Scraping Foetus, Deicide, Klaatu, Sonic Youth, Sex Pistols, System of a Down, Giddle Partridge, Negative FX, The Mission, The Meteors, The Beach Boys, Necro, Righteous Pigs, Christian Death and many, many more have used Ol’ Charlie, A member of the Family or simply made direct or indirect allusions to what took place. One thing is for sure, Manson is now a modern icon, a symbol of a bloody rebellion against the establishment and everything it represents as well as a symbol of black gory satanism dedicated to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
To me it’s Marilyn Manson (Marilyn Manson is a trademark owned by Brian Warner, his real name, it’s not a stage name), using the sad depressed beauty of Monroe and Manson’s sheer horror who has made the most pertinent links to be made with a society mirrored in all its ugliness as it wants nothing less than wipe out those events that put an end to all the peace and lovey dovey hopes that were born during this memorable Summer of ’67 and ended in a gory bloodbath. As rockstars and criminals face similar fate, maybe we should take a good hard look at how we treat the most unfortunate among us with a growing unsuccessful rate, only making the cut go deeper and deeper, giving way to countless future generations of fatherless (and motherless) families for (mostly black or latino) kids. Maybe Maddox didn’t have a name not because he was a nobody but precisely because he could be anyone of the unfortunate ones. Let’s just hope that repeating his name over and over and showing and hearing the grisly murders that took place under his ”reign” they won’t have less and less impact like it so often happens in those cases. Let’s just make sure on the contrary that we make sure that our institutions give the best they can to make sure that we do what can be done. Most people simply need to be dignified, to feel part of the human race again, is it that much to ask? The problem I see today is that Manson simply confirmed our darkest fears, revealed our hypocrisy when we say we put the need and the love of our peers before our greed. Let’s make him wrong but not only in some cases, let’s make him wrong about EVERYTHING!!! Don’t misunderstand me!! I never meant it was ok to kill any of those people!! I just mean the built up that lead to this ultimate result because in a way, what took place in The Family was a microcosm of what was happening, and still is happening on a larger scale. Let’s learn from our mistakes, let’s listen to our most distraught fellows and find the strength inside us to give what we can. I’m not saying a man is not responsible for his thoughts and his acts but I’m saying that we, as a society are responsible of how we take care of our kids, especially the ones who are in despair. Maddox had No Name, he gave himself one and the medias made him a legend and a pop icon. Manson sells. Sad but true. Greed.. Again!
William Linich (February 22, 1940 – July 18, 2016), the primary architect, foreman, lighting designer and archivist at Andy Warhol’s Factory, film-maker and photographer, who used his camera to immortalize its denizens, has died at age 76.
To look through the snapshots taken by Name in the 1960s is to dive into the epicenter of the Pop Art scene in New York, as he chronicled the rise of Andy Warhol from artist to the avatar of an art movement—the shifting of his studio from the place where he made silkscreens to the bustling creative hub known as The Factory. His photographs of Warhol’s “superstars” made that moniker real, and the covers he designed for The Velvet Underground’s classic albums—White Light/White Heat, The Velvet Underground, and the gatefold sleeve to The Velvet Underground and Nico—are all iconic. In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service released a stamp featuring a photo of Andy Warhol taken by Name. The album cover to White Light/White Heat is a faint image Joe Spencer’s tattoo, who played a hustler in a motorcycle gang in Warhol’s 1967 film Bike Boy. Reed selected the image from the negatives from the film, and it was enlarged and distorted by Billy.
After fleeing a dull upbringing in Poughkeepsie, New York, and settling into downtown Manhattan’s hotbed of bohemia—where he met Yoko Ono and John Cage at Fluxus events, and collaborated with La Monte Young in one of his drone performances—he met Warhol fleetingly at Serendipity 3, the fancy dessert joint where he was a waiter, and then later through his mentor Ray Johnson, who brought Name to Brooklyn Academy of Music. Name and Warhol became lovers. “We’d go to movies or art openings,” Name told Glenn O’Brien in Interview. “I was sort of like Andy’s boyfriend.”
Once Warhol saw how Name had tricked out his Alphabet City apartment in all silver, he asked him to come do the same to the Factory, which was then on 47th Street—silver foil from floor to ceiling, silver spray paint over everything.
“In 1962 or ’63 I had a hair-cutting party at my apartment, where the entire interior was silver,” Name told the New Yorker‘s website in 2012. “Andy came and loved it so much that he asked me to do the same thing at his new loft. I began installing foil, and it took so long I finally asked for keys so that I could come up anytime. Eventually, I just moved in, and I lived there from about 1964 to 1970.”
He soon became a jack-of-all-trades at the Factory, helping Warhol with silkscreens and arranging appointments. When Warhol started getting into film, he hipped Name to the pleasures of taking pictures, a hobby that lead him to produce dozens of indelible images of the era’s towering figures: Bob Dylan, Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed, Nico, Jane Holzer.
“Andy decided he was going to make movies, and he gave me his Pentax,” he said in the New Yorker interview. “I got a manual for the camera and set up a darkroom in the Factory. It was so joyous! Really, the joyous part just overshadowed all the work. I was an artist before I worked with Andy, and while I was at the Factory I took photographs mostly for artistic purposes, but over time they’ve became more of an historical record of the time.”
Name obsessed over his photography, spending hours in the darkroom without any human interaction. In his diaries, Warhol noted, dryly, that Name lived in the Factory, but no one ever saw him.
“People would ask Andy where I was, and he would tell them I was in the darkroom out back, and Paul Morrissey would joke, ‘Oh yeah, he hasn’t been out of there for two years now,’” Name told the website Civilian Global.
Despite his obsessive work, the photographs were not recognized for their importance until decades later, and in 1970—two years after Name found Warhol in a pool of his own blood, shot by Valerie Solanas, and went to cradle him in his arms—he left a note for Warhol on the door of his darkroom in the Factory: “Dear Andy, I am not here anymore, but I am fine. With love, Billy.”
He had left for Washington, D.C., and then San Francisco, where he traveled and performed his poetry, but in time the world would come to treasure the images he had created in the Factory. In 1995, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise had a breakthrough Billy Name Billy Name show at its space at 558 Broome Street: over 50 of the black-and-white images that Name had slaved over, a definitive portrait of a New York that had, by the mid-’90s, all but disappeared. More retrospective shows followed, as the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh acquired a number of his works, and his photographs appeared in Warhol exhibitions around the world.
In recent years, Milk Studios staged a large show of Name’s photographs in conjunction with a publication called Billy Name: The Silver Age in 2014, and that year the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s store displayed work by Name to coincide with the institution’s regarding Warhol show.
At the time of his death, Name was residing in an assisted living home upstate on the Hudson. In 2012, he was named Duchess County’s artist of the year.
“I never would have expected it,” he said of the honor. “I’m 72 years old. It was a wonderful thing to happen.”
“Without a doubt, the single most influential thing I’ve done was my haircut,” Richard Hell writes in Massive Pissed Love, his new collection of nonfiction. It’s a characteristically self-deprecating statement from a writer who started as one of the main sparks in New York City’s 1970s punk-rock movement. Hell has authored novels, books of poetry, and an acclaimed memoir—but his most lasting achievement, in his view, is that groundbreaking haircut.
Maybe it’s a strangely fitting legacy: Hell has been fascinated with hair since childhood. “Because it’s dead but personal and because I’m moved by the futility of its attempts to warm and protect the places where it grows,” as he put it in 2013’s I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp. Rachel Kushner’s review of that memoir lauded Hell’s commitment “to the unvarnished truth, about himself and others.” That honesty remains on display throughout Massive Pissed Love; at one point, he imagines asking Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth whether her hair is real or if she scalped an angel.
The collection is divided into three sections: long-form essays (“Massive”), angry takedowns (“Pissed”), and adoring panegyrics (“Love”). Hell, a prolific essayist and critic, has published everywhere: in Bookforum,the New York Times Book Review, GQ, and in the cunnilingus-themed issue of Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal, where he envisions eating out a deer whose “vagina would taste like warm folds of liquefying bubblegum and then like lobster meat drenched in lemon butter sauce.” Elsewhere, he writes on culture, politics, emotions, spirituality—anything he wants, really.
I first spoke to Hell for an essay I was working on about Michel Houellebecq and the nineteenth-century French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans, who figures prominently in Houellebecq’s latest novel, Submission. The discussion below took place soon after Houellebecq, who did a literary eventalongside Hell in Spain in 2008, wrote a widely discussed op-ed for the Times. (Antonin Baudry, The Paris Review’s newly appointed Paris editor, comments on it here.)Houellebecq’s call for France to be run without political parties or a government, through direct democracy, seemed like a fittingly punk-rock place to begin the conversation.
I’m happy that we’re talking again …
Me, too. When I read your e-mail about that Houellebecq op-ed it came flooding back how bizarre that piece was. It was typical, but it was also an extreme example of how he can just not give a fuck—that he could just be so casual and just mouth all this outrageous stuff that didn’t add up. It was fun to see the French government called morons in the Times, but on the whole the op-ed was also kind of disappointing. And that apparent call to close borders to immigrants was ugly. I can’t think of a more extreme example that I’ve seen of him being so … irresponsible.
But I know where he was coming from. When the World Trade Center attacks happened, I immediately wanted to take some kind of action for the first time in a long time, actually get politically active in a time-consuming, energy-consuming way. One of the things I did was start going to these meetings that sprang up where like-minded people who were opposed to invading Iraq would plan how to have an effect. There would be maybe five hundred people in these meetings, but they worked by consensus in a way I’d never seen before. In order for them to agree to do something, whether it was to plan a demonstration or write a petition, or any action whatsoever—everybody in the room had to agree. Every single person. And you had to stay there until everyone at the meeting agreed to do something. I can’t remember what the criterion was for just giving up, saying, Okay, this isn’t going to work. But they would literally spend three hours discussing the wording of a paragraph or something like that. And that drove me crazy. I guess in the most radical left that’s kind of an accepted procedure? Gloria Steinem had a book out recently, and she describes operating in that way—there was no hierarchy, everybody had to agree in order to move forward. I guess it’s kind of like anarchy. But direct democracy, if I understand what that means, is even more ridiculous and impractical. There’s no way that the entire population could have enough grasp of either the facts or the subtleties of the consequences of specific laws and policies to make decent decisions. That would be a full time job, which is why we elect people to make it their full time job. I don’t know, I’m kind of undecided on the question of anarchy versus capitalist democracy. I’d always thought of anarchy as being kind of like a pipe dream, something that couldn’t be a practical political choice—but it has very sophisticated thinkers who believe in it.
Anarchy seemed to be a bigger deal in the British punk movement than in the New York punk movement—the Ramones and Television and the Heartbreakers weren’t political in the way, say, the Sex Pistols or the Clash were. One of the things that surprised me about Massive Pissed Love is how political some of your recent writings have been—your statement objecting to the Iraq war in 2003, or your recollection of the weeks after 9/11, published in Libération. And in another piece you speak of the punk movement in New York in the seventies being political in terms of ignoring big companies and doing it yourself—your art or your music or your writing or whatever it is. That always struck me as an aesthetic decision, so I found it interesting that you characterized it as a political act.
Calling it political is a kind of classification—but that’s what comes to my mind when I think of deciding not to accept the manipulation of your values and choices by corporations. There’s a huge tendency to regard wealth as the primary evidence of success. You’re successful if you’re published by the largest publishers. You’re successful if you wear expensive designer clothes—even having the damn name of the designer featured as a major component of the design. You become an advertisement for them in order to have the status that comes with showing you can afford their stuff. Wouldn’t you call it political to say that you reject that? That you’ll dress in a way that bypasses them, you’ll publish stuff in a way that bypasses them, that in every facet of your life you’ll refuse to be shepherded by these people whose only interest is to make money from you? You’re saying, “I want to make work that I think is interesting rather than take the path of least resistance and surrender to a system.”
How do you see this new book fitting in with your other works?
I don’t make very much distinction, really. I think it’s consistent with all my other work. In my novels, I give myself a lot of the same kind of latitude I give myself in my nonfiction—to make digressions and to follow lines of thought in this sort of meandering way. And also to mix up the genres. The essays in Massive Pissed Love often have completely different forms, and I let myself do that in my novels, too. There’ll be a chapter that’s like an essay and then a chapter that’s all about first-person narrative and then a chapter that has poems in it—you know what I mean? I’m mostly interested in trying to write well, and the pretext for the writing is really minor. A lot of writing well is thinking well. If you think clearly, you’ll write clearly. But then that’s mixed up with the formal and alsomusical qualities you want in good writing. It’s amazing how significant the music of a sentence or a paragraph is, and writing can only really be good when it has this musical quality to it.
One of the most musical pieces in the collection is the essay about the Marilyn Minter piece—it’s totally lyrical, right from the start: “Up along the heart of the galaxy slides a tongue. I want the light on my tongue, always coming, coming from—everything … the desire to orally know a photon. The heart is ice cream.”
That piece kind of kicks out the jams, you know? It goes on feeling, and it’s an immediate feeling. It’s about sensuality. It doesn’t make an intellectual argument. It just kind of rhapsodizes, lyrically—it sort of goes off on a flight.
There’s a musicality to your prose even when you’re discussing music itself. In one of the essays, you mention that the good punk bands were too quick to be pinned down, that it’s impossible to define them. You’ve been a punk, a poet, a musician, a publisher, a novelist, a memoirist, a film critic—what do you most see yourself as?
My vocation is a writer. But I do have this weird—I don’t know if it’s arrogant, or naive—urge to want to try any art medium that interests me. If something stimulates me, I want to try doing it myself. Sometimes I think I might still become a painter. And I always thought I would eventually make a movie. I made a few stabs in that direction before I realized that it wasn’t really feasible. Everything I’ve ever done was me teaching myself how to do it. Usually that’s kind of the case with artists. It can be practical to go to school for a while, when you’re a kid, in that period where you’re, like, casting around to find out what you’re suited to do. But I was really terrible when I started writing. It was awful! Starting from when I was sixteen or seventeen, it took me maybe six years to write a poem that I thought was acceptable, that really had something that I could get behind and stay behind. And that’s when I decided to go into rock and roll. After my first album, I knew I had figured out how to do it. And I could see the trajectory—that I would get better and better. I could see where it would all lead. So I lost interest. I wanted to do something else then, so I started a novel. But I regard writing as my native area. Writing is just like a whole universe. I love that Mallarmé quote about how the world exists in order to be a book.
In one of the book’s essays, you write very forthrightly about what it means to be a singer—how a front man has to be egotistical and difficult, godlike. Basically, they have to be dicks. Were you like that?
Well, I’m talking about a very particular stratum of rock and roll—a particular kind of function—that rock and roll serves. I also acknowledge that there are other types of rock and roll. But, for me, I’m into the rock and roll that works the way I define it in that essay, where the front man is this focal point for all the dreams and ideals and fantasies of the audience. But it’s not because the front man is separated from the audience—it’s the exact opposite. It’s that the front man mirrors the audience. That’s what makes that function of the front person—women, too—so powerful and meaningful, that the performance is shared by the audience—the audience gets to feel their own power by surrendering to it. It’s classic Dionysian shit, you know what I’m saying? It’s like a religious revel of the audience feeling its own resources and depths of ecstatic engagement with life personified in the frontperson. But it’s a hard job for the front person, and it makes them cranky. Did I do that? On my best nights, I had some of that, yeah.
And how do you think that relates to writing?
Not much. It’s really, really different. That was part of what drew me to rock and roll, too, was that it involves so many different phenomena than writing. Rock and roll is so physical. Writing is not physical. As I say, it has this whole musical component, there’s a lot of sensual data incorporated—it can be really lush, it can be really elegant, it can have really subtle gradations of color—but it’s not physical the way music is. Music is waves of physical data pouring into your ears, not to mention all the human beings in front of you, if it’s a live show.
It does, of course, include lyrics, and I took that really seriously. It was a very different form of writing than I had ever done. The form itself of a song lyric was nothing like my poems, nothing like any of the sort of writing that I had done. When I wrote lyrics, they were like little mechanisms. I took a really classical approach to the form of songwriting. They were rhymed, they were obviously rhythmical in this strict way, but the rhythms would vary from song to song. I used all these complex forms of clockwork. My songs are almost like John Donne or Gerard Manley Hopkins, where the form is really strict and everything adds up. You make a statement in a stanza and then the implications are presented in the chorus, and then you make another statement that’s consistent, that moves the discussion along a little further, in the next stanza, and then it gets summed up by the chorus again. It was very formal. People don’t think of punk music as being like that, but my lyrics were really like clockwork. It doesn’t mean it’s cold or mechanistic—it’s just that I liked having the constraints of the form. I imposed them on myself because it was fun. I always wrote the music first, but I wrote the lyrics to fit the construction of the music in this very exacting way.
What is it that made you want to write nonfiction?
My nonfiction is mostly about art. That doesn’t mean that there’s a big distinction between my nonfiction and my fiction. My fiction has probably more to do with reality than my nonfiction does—reality is just a term of convenience. What it refers to can’t be defined. But that’s what’s interesting in trying to make a piece of work—is to try to stay open, as much as you can, to the implications of everything, to have it be present in your writing.
You contend that the most interesting artists are those who aim to make works that correspond to life, but that only three or four people per century achieve that.
That’s the ultimate achievement. And there’s no shame in not being cut out for that or having your area as a writer be more defined and limited. There’s a super-pantheon of unclassifiable masterpieces like In Search of Lost Time, artworks by Borges, Rimbaud, Godard, Bob Dylan, Beethoven. There are three or four artists in a given medium per century who have limitless ambitions and actually have the means to carry them out. I think it was Walter Benjamin who said that the greatest books—I’ll get this completely wrong, you’ll probably have to look it up—the greatest books create their own genre. They follow no preexisting form. There’s no precedent, ultimately, for the way they’re put together and the way they operate. Those are really rare—but it’s not like you’re a failure if you didn’t do that.
Adam Leith Gollner is the author of The Fruit Hunters and The Book of Immortality.
What can I say, I love it! It’s refreshing, ironic, even caustic at times, powerful and definitely surreal. Here are Hayley’s latest works as well as some pointers on how she perceives her own work. Have some pure Aussie redneck fun!
I never know what to say about my work, there is just so much in there. Some stuff I meant, some stuff which just happens and some stuff which happens because I don’t know what I mean yet. My inspirations are all around me and in my head, one in the same! The head up the arse symbol, featured frequently, is from a t-shirt logo I remember from my youth. I approach each painting session with simple intentions, like a series of problems to be solved, but then the painting takes over, I find myself in some kind of meditative state. Things happen out of my control. I am especially fond of using Fluorescent dry pigment at the moment, I mix it into conventional oil paints. Once bitten by these hyper colours its hard to look back!
Music is a key part of my practice, I can’t paint without it. At the moment I am mainly painting to progressive psy-trance or Doom/Sludge metal and Psychedelic rock.
The grotesque and exaggerated characters and abundant use of colour serve to make light of an undercurrent of darkness. The darkness I believe inherent in our collective Australian psyche. Things too unbearable to consider without humour and satire. The degradation of our existence, our society, of people and the environment from greed, apathy and ignorance. Perhaps it is ridiculous to see beauty in any of this, but I am compelled to appreciate my surroundings. With the drastic changes in the landscape from season to season, sky watching for rain, there is much here to inspire.
In the meantime there is also much to make fun of and it’s quite fitting this exhibition opens on Election Day this year, many will identify with the sociopolitical overtones of these works.
Sicko-Delic, an exhibition by Hayley Arjona is happening at CASPA Gallery, Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia from 2nd to 31st July 2016.
Juarez’s Missing Girls Were Sex Slaves—And Everyone Knew It
Hundreds of women have been murdered or simply disappeared!!
What happened in the City of Juarez is so surreal, so horrible that no one can’t stand hearing what truly went on there. It’s a little a combination of everything horrible going on the world resulting in a serie of the most horrendous, repugnant crime It’s might be taking place in Juarez but I think we should all feel responsible since it’s everyone’s civil rights that are being shredded into tiny, insignificant pieces. Since the big corporations can now have plants right on the order side of the border and hire cheap labor, working 24h/24, added to the fact that you can buy in Juarez anything you can think about that is illegal (and more), the nightlife in a city of course regulated by organized crime and mexican cartels that reigns obviously at least a little on both sides of the border, where drugs are sold like candies, the police and all levels of the government are corrupted, some people are getting so rich that they do not know what do do with their time and their money that they truly have no more moral and no sense whatsoever of some limits that are not even put in questions by 95% of humanity. Add to that a severe dose of machismo, that characterise very well this part of Mexico is threatened by the fact that women can now earn a paycheck of their own, while big companies can now very significantly increase their profits since these women are being paid an average of 7 dollars a day.
These are no excuses and if you just have one of those without the other you do not have this storm of horrible rapes and tortures on young women that went on for nearly 2 decades. I have heard understood from the information I gathered that bus drivers were implicated by the independent inquiries led by the FBI as well as gang members, drug dealers, the police, very important people and well-known politicians and/or pillars of the community, judges, macho customs carried on by some macho men. It appears that the guiltiest and meanest of them all have been spared by Justice so far so, since I never can get it out f my head, the least I owe to all those victims (and God knows there are a lot!) is to spread the word aboutwhat happened to them, what is still going on as we speak and that seems to be on its way to go on for many more years.
The least I owe the Mexican of Juarez or to any of them who is suffering because of the delinquent people who are so horribly taking advantage of their situation is to make sure I would recognize it if it was to happen anywhere near me and that I can help to make sure it doesn’t happen. This is my statement for Ciudad Juarez and all the people that were affected by it.
Here is a very accurate documentary in English by Lourdes Portillo ‘‘Senorita Extraviada”
It’s time for the next installment in the Metal Injection artist series, Artists in Metal and it’s a big one! got a chance to speak with John Dyer Baizley, one of the most renowned visual artists in the metal/hardcore community and the vocalist/guitarist of Baroness!
Baizley recently completed work for Coliseum and Black Tusk, but has worked with several other acts such as his own band Baroness, Darkest Hour, Kavelertak, Kylesa, Pig Destroyer, Skeletonwitch, Torche, and even Metallica just to name a few. In this interview we chat about his beginnings as an artist, look into his process, and much more…
Michael: You’re a rare exception in that you are an established visual artist and in a successful band. What came to you first the visual arts or music?
John Dyer Baizley: When I was really young, I gravitated towards the visual arts first. I feel that’s what comes most naturally to me. I’ve always had an immediate proclivity towards making visual art and I was a really tactile kid. Both of my parents had a background in the arts; so that was a language both of them spoke fluently and as such, I developed my interests in art prior to music.
I should note: I think they both saw the creative impulse or drive in me; they tried to surround me with all of the tools that creative people would need in order to express themselves. At a very young age, I had access to a to many of the artistic implements which I continue to favor, and I was also given a guitar at a very young age. My parents weren’t musicians themselves, so I didn’t have anybody to help me work through those immediate musical issues, but honestly I’m glad that I didn’t. When I hit adolescence I discovered punk rock, where you didn’t need any training at all. I saw it as counterproductive in those days to have a formal or technical skill set.
Michael: Did you end up going to art school for college, or where you mostly self-taught?
JDB: At first I did teach myself and took the classes that were available to me, which were admittedly quite limited given my geography, in the Shenandoah Valley, southwestern Virginia. In middle school and high school I got the opportunity to develop a bit by getting involved in some of the local college courses. Once a week, I would drive up from my hometown of Lexington a half hour up to a little town called Staunton where they had life drawing classes. In Lexington, I took what art instruction was available. The importance of drawing and painting from life were impressed on me from a very early age.
Art came fluidly, so I was able to teach myself many of the things I thought were important by copying and mimicking my artistic idols. When I graduated high school I really had no other inclination other than going to art school. I ended up going to Rhode Island School of Design for a very productive three years, before dropping out in 2000.
Michael: RISD is a very established art school. Would you say it helped you a lot in evolving your art process, or did you gravitate towards you early beginnings from the DIY punk scene?
JDB: It’s hard for me to say what would happen if I didn’t go to art school. It wasn’t that I learned any specific painting or drafting skills at school that I felt I couldn’t have taught myself. However there is something quintessentially unique and important that you gain by immersing yourself in a scholastic and creative universe, and being held to certain academic standards while being surrounded by artists of varying disciplines. I think that the critical thing was to help me open up mentally and be exposed to a wide variety of artists with wildly different styles, mentalities, and processes. Through my exposure to such a diverse collection of artists I was learned to separate the artistic wheat from the chaff, and find the sort of things that would become useful to me in the future.
I’ll say it would have been a much slower process if I hadn’t gone to art school, but I don’t think it was critical towards my eventually becoming an artist. As far as I was concerned, that had already happened.
Michael: I’m not sure if this was during your time at RISD, but what got you into doing commission work for bands?
JDB: That’s sort of a funny thing. I was only in art school for three years, I dropped out because of some personal and substance-abuse related issues, and I stopped creating anything at all for about a year and a half. When I finally felt I was starting to get ready to re-enter the arts I moved from Virginia down to Savannah Georgia, where Baroness officially started. I began making album artwork out of necessity, though I certainly wanted to do it. Baroness needed merchandise, we needed covers for our EP’s and demos, so that started kicking me back into making visual art.
Baroness started out by sometimes playing 250 shows a year and, as it goes, we met a lot of other bands. They saw our merchandise and often said, “Would you be interested in working with us?” I also made a lot of friends on the road and always offered my help; it was just something that felt like an easy fit. I loved the sense of community, and I wanted to be part of it.
Several years down the line I realized that, whereas I had started out with an interest in becoming a fine artist, I now saw myself taking on commissions in the more proper role of an illustrator or designer, which I’ve never been entirely comfortable with. Through every path that I’ve chosen, I have tried to claim full authorship over what I make, so it can suit my needs as an artist first, and then, by proxy, the musicians and artists that I work with are happy with what they get. It’s a hard-line stance, but one which bears the most fruitful results.
Michael: Not entirely comfortable with commission work?
JDB: Not at all. I guess I’m skirting around the issue here, I hate art direction and the necessity to sell a product. It was one of the major hang-ups that I had with art school or art/design as a profession: that the idea that making a living off of making personally-driven art would at some point have me wrestling against art direction and commission-driven work. With that struggle comes the understanding that you’re ultimately trying to appease someone else with your art. That’s never been the impulse for making art. I must satisfy my needs as an artist first, and then if the message is good and the theme or the content is worthy, then the audience may find those qualities as well. I think that’s true of most good art, so yeah, I’ve always had this contentious relationship with doing commissions trying to “make other people happy,” or see their vision come to fruition.
Michael: With doing those commissions, I notice that you go back to a lot of bands. For instance you’ve done work for Skeletonwitch with two major releases, Beyond the Permafrost and Serpents Unleashed. Do you go out of your way to be a little more selective about the people you try to work with to allow a more artistic license?
JDB: Yeah, I think you have to. If you want to create something that’s worth doing you have to self-edit from the get-go. You really must be careful and selective with whom you work, you must constantly ask yourself the hard questions about your art, and you must set a nearly unattainable standard for yourself. If I’m in the business of making artwork that is designed on some level to sell a product, then I have to be very comfortable with the people I’m working with and I’d like to be proud of the end result regardless of its sale-ability.
I can say thirteen years into doing this full time, I really appreciate the artists I have had the chance to work with, even if it’s something slightly outside the box or something that’s very obvious, it’s what I want to do. I’m not going to put myself into a project that I’m disinterested in, because I think that the integrity of the end result will be threatened.
Skeletonwitch was one of the bands we hooked up with when Baroness first started touring, playing in basements, warehouses and anything just shy of actually playing inside a club. We’ve had this connection since the DIY days, they have changed so little in their enthusiasm, and that’s something I find myself gravitating towards, even though I’ve recently made a concerted effort to move away from focusing entirely on the punk/hardcore/metal community. Punk rock and metal has always been a home to me, it’s where I cut my teeth; and those are the friends that I have, and the bands that I love.
I really try to work with an artist who is trying to create a long legacy of quality rather than trying to jump aboard a trend. Frankly I don’t need to do that, but, and I can’t stress this enough, I’ve been fortunate in that I can eke out a living being this selective. A lot of my friends who are commercial designers and proper editorial illustrators often have to take whatever jobs are given to them. I’ve made a very strong effort to have the power to say no to something, and I think that’s a crucially important right for every artist. No one wants to be in a position where they are desperate for work; desperation breeds sub-quality artwork. I can’t say I love 100% of every mark that I’ve made, but more often than not I’m pretty happy, and I’ve learned the value of making personal improvements as a result of mistakes and missteps.
Michael: It really seems to me like you created this great situation with Baroness gaining popularity in conjunction with your artwork. Would you agree that’s what’s gave you the ability to be selective?
JDB: Oh yeah, for sure! They are both equally important projects for me, and I’m really lucky to be a part of both. I’m not like most album artists who have to create off of another artist’s pre-existing imagery. I make the music and the art simultaneously and there is really an elevated level of synchronicity happening, allowing me to be a little bit more personal. I don’t have to have conversations with the artist to find out what’s going on. I’m able to have that insight without a conversation; there is something nice about that; it streamlines the process as well. This ability to work on Baroness’s vision, has allowed me create and expand my style.
Michael: Would you say that it’s difficult as a commission artist to really take the time to do your own personal work, or do you feel that merch and album art of Baroness becomes that personal work, since you are involved in all aspects?
JDB: That’s a tricky question. For the better part of a decade I didn’t really delineate the difference between commission work and personal work, I just say “If I’m getting paid to do it, by virtue of that fact it is a commission; but I’m going to make it a personal work for myself, and I’m going to fulfill the need of the artist that I’m working for simultaneously.” It requires a little bit of pig-headedness and self-confidence to adopt that kind of stance.
I also get to create album art as a fan of the music, enhanced with the insight that the band gives me. Therefore, I know what they think it’s about, and as a fan I can make the artwork from the standpoint that I’m trying to figure out the music in a separate way. Concurrently, I have the insight of what it’s like to be the musician, the visual artist, and the listener. Working amongst these three tiers can offer a broader perspective on the work.
I think a lot of musicians have a very difficult time articulating what their music is about in a visual sense, and at the same time visual artists can have great difficulty taking something sonic and translating it to a focused visual work. There is such a great divide between the audio and visual. When the pairing works well it can open up new layers and insight for the music, and it makes the experience a much more rewarding one. That being said, when you miss-fire and when ideas don’t synchronize, things can be very confusing. No artist wants to have the weight on their shoulders of the failure or misrepresentation of a record, based on their visual content. Musicians are handing you their baby, this work that they have crafted and put all this love into, and you don’t want to fuck that up, you want to elevate it. You can’t honestly say your going to achieve perfection 100% of the time, there is always going to be that little bit of risk involved, which for me makes it exciting.
However, to get back to your original question, having done what I do in a somewhat linear direction for a while now, I’m starting to realize I do need to carve out some time and do something more personal, some art that that won’t have a logo and barcode attached to it. There is a space in my life that needs to be filled, concerning the purely visual side of things, where the concept for the artwork comes from somewhere other than packaging. I’ve started working on that recently, I’ve been lowering the number of projects that I take on, because I don’t want to become a market-flooding-ubiquitous -album-cover-artist.
Depending on labels release schedules, even if I try to space all of my projects out, sometimes three albums will come out the same month that will have a cover I have done. It’s not as if my work is incredibly dissimilar one piece to another; its all very recognizably mine. I know as a fan I will gripe about it whenever somebody seems to be ”too visible”, devaluing the individual pieces that they are doing. In light of all of this I have made an effort over the past two or three years to work with bands I am familiar with and pare back the overall output. I’ve also been quite busy with music.
It’s not like there aren’t good new bands starting; I just have limited time. I could spend all year just doing visual art and the same is with music. It’s become a difficult balancing act… For which I’m very fortunate! I am, however, an avid listener, and I’m always trying to find some great new artists to work with, as contradictory as that sounds.
Michael: Would you say you split the time you work on the visual arts and the time you work on Baroness, or do they sometimes have to happen in tandem with one another?
JDB: It would be probably be really nice if I could dedicate myself to split my time up evenly, but that’s almost impossible for me at the moment. The fact of the matter is that the average life span of a band is much shorter than that of an artist. Music is working well for me right now; it’s giving me what I need at this point in my life, and so I would say for the moment that it has become more of a priority. I realize that at some point the band won’t be there. I could become too old to play, or the well- spring of creativity will dry out more quickly than it will as a visual artist. On the other hand, I can’t stop making the art that I make, it’s important to me and to my sanity.
We schedule the band first, and we’re not active every week of the year, so whatever spaces open up I just schedule for art. It does sort of work out to be a nice balance, nearly 50/50. Sometimes there is scheduling cross-over, sometimes I have to make art projects on the road, or make sacrifices in order to meet a deadline.
I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where when I get tired of making art I can make a smooth transition into making music and vice versa. There is always something to do.
Michael: You mentioned you sometimes have to work on art on the road. Does the process become more limited in that scenario, for instance can you only work on drawings instead of paintings?
JDB: We were just in Australia for a couple weeks touring, I took a condensed but complete set up. I took pens, paints, paintbrushes, pencils, and paper, everything I would normally use. I spent a good deal of time in hotel rooms and in the back of clubs, working.
It’s definitely not the optimal environment to work, but sometimes you’ve simply got to get something done. I tend to overextend myself without really thinking through the realities of completing so many projects in a year, which generally means I’m going to be a little bit behind. I suppose that’s the nature of the beast.
Michael: So the road doesn’t stop you…
JDB: As long as the tour can support that. There are some tours where the entire day is spent working on tour-related issues. Some are easier and have more down time, and those are the ones where I can get artwork finished.
It drives me insane; it’s really draining to do both at once, so I try not to when possible. I do need to sleep at some point right?
Michael: What influences in your artwork? I do sense an Art Nouveau angle, mixed with heavy metal / hardcore punk art like Pushead, but you have a certain romance to your work with your use of female figures.
JDB: As I stated before, when I was young I was given a fairly comprehensive art history background. Both my parents, my mother especially, gave me that exposure. I was in museums frequently, and was exposed to the great masters from the Italian Renaissance, the Impressionists and the Northern Europeans like Caravaggio, DaVinci, Monet, Degas, Rembrandt, Bruegel, etc.
As a teen when I got into punk and metal and saw those record covers that changed me, Metallica, all the Black Flag records, that became my initial exposure to the importance of album art. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained a broader variety of influences from other album artists, especially those from the 70’s. For example I’m a huge Roger Dean fan, very much into his Hipgnosis and especially Storm Thorgersonalbum covers. I have a preference for 12”x12” vinyl layouts, so I try to refer to those artists a lot.
The classical elements I spoke about before, work for compositions, referring to those old master paintings. The Art Nouveau thing works very well for album covers, those bold lines and bright, but not comic-book-like colors, allows the imagery to be graphic, colorful, and expressive all at the same time.
There also is a little bit of a comic book reference to my work as well, and occasional pop-culture references. I do like to add a bit of classicism and romanticism to the artwork that I do. It’s always about my particular visual vocabulary; I think asalbum artists we all use certain elements unique to ourselves, and I feel in some way we try to keep our lexicon limited in order to be recognizable as an artist, allowing us to get our message across over the course of different records by different bands.
Each band has it’s own musical language that you have to pay respect to, but what I like to do is then take those things that are direct, immediate, and obvious. I‘ll start with the obvious imagery and themes and work backwards, utilizing my style and technique along with less-obvious references: icons and metaphors from old stories, a lot of Greek/Roman mythology (if the project I feel demands it). Of course there is a lot of pseudo/quasi religious stuff in there from the types of images that I make, they require a very specific sort of imagery.
It’s my intention to make something stand outside the realm of album art, but it also feels comfortable to me to be in it. It’s tricky and definitely a requires striking a delicate balance. I take myself seriously and want my image to me more than just something aesthetically suited towards selling records. I find the most intriguing covers those that least heavy-handedly refer to the direct album concept or title. In fact, many musicians are the happiest when the artist and audience re-interpret or re-imagine the content of the songs. Drawing from art history and mythology allows me to connect with viewers in a familiar, yet loose visual framework. Blending disparate histories and themes can give the overall presentation a recognizable, yet unique flavor.
Michael: When you work on album artwork, do you work together with the artist/band or is it more or less give me the record and I’ll listen to it and give you my interpretation?
JDB: I’ve learned over the years how important it is to be really up front with bands that I work with. When I first talk with bands the set-up usually goes like this: “I want to do this album, I will put 100% of myself into it, my aim is to make this the best album cover that you have, but I can’t take art direction.” It’s just not who I am, or how I work. I have no problem if a band moves on to somebody else because of that stance. If they want to have more influence that’s perfectly fine, I respect a band being in total control of their visual identity. Similarly, I know how important it is for me to adhere to my method. I’d rather not waste everyone’s time getting bogged down in a situation I know to be artistically harmful.
It can be difficult to mediate a compromise between what I have in my head and what the musician has in mind, which is often 180° different when it comes to the finished product, so it requires that element of trust from somewhere. The point I make to them is “You’ve seen what I do, so just trust me and we will come up with something exciting.”
Michael: Referring back again to you working with similar bands over the years, that trust is already there.
JDB: The times I run into problems are when the musicians get stuck on those very little details that to me, as a visual artist, are inconsequential. Sometimes they want something like a portrait and they are unhappy with their likeness, or they want less red or less blue, those elements don’t really cut to the core of what we’re trying to achieve. That’s the kind of criticism I struggle with, in order to give the collaborator a finished product that I’m proud of.
Michael: What is your typical process like when it comes to image creation?
JDB: The first thing I do is research, as I talked about before, most of my work wants to have an outside reference point to it, so whenever possible I get the music or the demos from somebody first and then get the artist’s interpretation of what it’s about. Then I try to figure out what effect the music has on me, and try to find some old story, maybe from mythology or from religious or historical text, something that I feel can work in conjunction with what I think the album is about. From that literary standpoint I can then start to develop a set of images, subvert things, twist them around, use them in an obvious or a figurative way, all to help get my point across. After all that prep work I start sketching.
I draw everything from life, so I’ve got to find models and go out and take pictures, set up lights, all that sort of stuff. I work a sketch until its finished and I show the band that sketch and say “Now is the only opportunity you have to weigh in on anything, if this isn’t working for you I have to start from scratch.” The main reason for that final warning is that I work in permanent watercolors and inks. It’s not like oils or acrylics where you can paint over things; once it’s there it’s there. So the whole set up for the band is “This is how I see it going, it’s going to change, it’s going to grow into something totally different once the color and the line weight is put in, but if your cool with this sketch I’ll get going and show it to you when it’s all done.”
After that nobody hears from me in a month, and then, “here is your album cover I hope you like it.”
Michael: With your visual artwork, are you trying to work on one piece at a time or are you doing projects in tandem?
JDB: I usually work on one thing at a time. I get pretty immersive in the process.
Michael: You also seem to do a fair amount of screen print work that seems based mostly off your paintings. Do you ever do screen print work that is planed form the start to be a print?
JDB: Yeah, the screen print thing is nice because one of my goals, from the get go really, was to make things that were worthy of collecting but not prohibitively expensive.
I don’t actually silk-screen them, I work with my friends at BRLSQ of North America who do that. For the longest time though the only place where you could get my work was at a Baroness show, which for me was really important, to have that kind of connection with the people who understand the sense of community in the little realm of the music industry that I’m a part of.
Since then I’ve outgrown that because of a larger demand than I could satisfy by hand-to-hand art sales, so I’ve taken on bigger silk-screeners, and its not because I love silk-screen, I just want to make things that people will display that don’t have to be super expensive.
It’s been fun to continually have some prints going on and things like that; it’s just not my primary goal. It’s what people like, and it’s a great way to get the work out there.
Michael: It could be my bias as a printmaker, but I feel it’s a great medium for the metal/punk community. While some of us are doing well financially, the majority of the culture is working class, so having that accessible art is extremely important.
JDB: When I was younger I was impressed when I could actually get my hands on something that I wanted. It’s important for me to have different tiers of value for the art. Some of the silk-screens are really affordable, but I do have some high-end silk-screens that are several color layers and a little more expensive, and then I have the paintings that can get way up there.
Michael: I’d be remiss not to discuss this a little bit, but after the accident that Baroness was involved in during 2012 a lot of reports focused on your recovery to playing guitar. I was wondering if you were still able to work on visual art during your recovery?
JDB: For the first eight months of recovery I couldn’t do anything, I was just in too much pain, too bent out of shape, and just too broken to make anything. Once the acute/extreme stuff had healed or at least scar over, I found it pretty easy to pick up a pencil again and start working.
I was fortunate that the side of me that was destroyed was my left side, and I’m a righty, so that was working perfectly by the time that I needed it to. Guitar was more difficult though, because I needed both hands to do that.
I think the first thing I did after it was the Kvelertak ”Meir” album cover. That was a big piece, lot of paint, lot of stippling. It was nice to get back into making artwork with a band I have a good relationship with, and to work on an album I knew a lot of people would dig.
Michael: Did you find it even more therapeutic than before, seeing as it was a part of your recovery in a way?
JDB: It had always been very therapeutic before the accident, but afterwards even more so. I would say that I have a high level of gratitude to still have the ability to create art. It was very nearly not the case, and I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about how lucky I am to have survived, but I did, and I’ve got both arms still firmly attached.
There is an elevated sense of gratitude for that, its good.
Michael: You’ve done a lot of work in the metal scene and a little bit outside of it. Is their any artists you look at today that you would like to work with in the future?
JDB: Yeah, there are plenty of them. The thing is, I don’t want to mention any of them. I will stop making album art when there aren’t goals to me, or bands that I have yet to work with that I find important and they are still around. That’s in part what keeps me involved, I recognize that no matter how old I get, how many records I’ve done, or what the public perception of me is, there are still exciting things that I haven’t done. As long as that’s the case I will keep doing this.
Michael: What projects are you working on currently? I noticed your doing something with Coliseum.
JDB: I just did a re-boot of their self titled first record. Personally that was a fun project to work on. In fact, I remember back in the day when Baroness was coming up with Coliseum playing the first show they ever did. Ryan (Guitarist and Vocalist of Coliseum) and I have had that close relationship for many years. That makes it not just a passion project for me, but something that I can put a lot of history and a lot of weight behind.
Right now I’m finishing up something with Black Tusk that will be coming out on 7”, I got some big prints that are coming down the pipeline, and I’ve done some work on the new Baroness album.
Baroness records tend to be big, hundreds of hours, lots of research, development, and attention to detail. When I’m done with all those things I just don’t want to be seen for a week.
Michael: For sure, because it’s your representation on both ends, you got the full package on your plate.
JDB: It’s masochistic! I know it’s going to punish me and run me through the ringer. That’s the feeling I always get before getting into these things. I think it’s why I keep doing them, that demand of so much attention. The concept has to be strong, the heart, soul, and expression has to be strong, the presentation has to be strong, the music has to be awesome, the lyrics have to be good. It’s a total beast.
Michael: What advice would you give to younger people coming up in the art world that would like to do artwork for bands?
JDB: It’s the same advice I’ve given for years. If what you want to do is make artwork for bands, you have to love doing it because there is almost no money in it. In order to start doing it, you just have to put yourself out there, work for bands you love and for as little as possible to start, if not free, that’s what I did for years. Give your stuff away and if it’s good, people will come to you.
Do the work, and always ask yourself why, ask yourself what its about, be able to answer the questions other people will have about your work. Don’t try to make some overly pretentious statement, be direct and make your own shit. The important thing isn’t that your technically great, I think it’s the power of your expression. Speak with your own voice and be as unique as you possibly can.
This is a creative field and it’s all subjective, not everybody is going to love what you do, but you have to be yourself, that’s what’s most important. Bring it as hard as you can.
Interview by Johan Kugelberg, The Velvet Underground:New York Art, 2009.
Maureen Tucker had a front row seat to punk rock history being conceived before her very eyes. An average high school girl from Levittown, Long Island, her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll when she heard the Rolling Stones on the car radio. From the Velvet Underground to Andy Warhol to Nico, Moe was there—making history herself as the first female drummer in one of the most revolutionary bands of all time. With Lou Reed by her side, they both share precious memories and a very sincere mutual admiration in this interview I chose amongst many others for its sheer authenticity and simplicity.
Lou Reed: I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone go through so much trouble for a book about the Velvet Underground . Maureen , have you seen it?
Maureen Tucker: Yes! I have in front of me!
Lou : Is it a little goldmine of information, tell me?
Moe: Yeah! While I’m thinking about it, It says in it that you and Sterl’ you played together for the first time in 1963-1964 . I think it was earlier than that?
Lou : Well, we played in 1963 at Syracuse University , so it was definitely in 1963, not in 1964, during college.
Lou: I got my diploma in ’64.
Moe: Yes, and that’s where you met each other, you and Jim, my big brother, you both went to Syracuse in ’60 . Sterling was there too and you met him roughly a year after, maybe 2 years.
Lou: Yeah, because he lived with Jim!
Johan Kugelberg: Lou, is it true that the first song you ever played was ”It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” from Ike and Tina Turner?
Lou: I don’t know exactly, but it seems to be something we might have done. Many people think that Ike Turner was the first rock guitarist, so it’d be perfectly logical. But you know, me and Sterl ‘ simply adored this song! In fact I do not know anyone who didn’t like it. I’m pretty sure Maureen also loved it.
Johan: How did you discovered all those unbridled rock’n’roll albums that you were listening to before forming the band?
Lou: Well, I don’t know about Moe but in my case it was the radio, the radio or albums I heard because other people had them and were listening to them.
Moe: Yes it was on the radio as well, I lived in Levittown and there was not many … well, in fact, there was no record store apart of the supermarket, but they didn’t have anything interesting. Lou had a great collection of 45s! You remember Lou?
Lou: I remember, yes, I wonder what became of them……
Moe: The burglary on Grand Street! Don’t you remember?
Moe: Damn that was a blow!
Lou: You mean when we lost everything during our first concert at the Dom? While we were playing..
Moe: When the apartment was broken into and someone stole almost all of your 45s.
Lou: The first night we played there, someone knew there would not be anyone in the apartment because we finally had a job and they took everything we had.
Lou: Well, it’s not like we had a job we were getting paid for, but we were performing in an official way. And when we got back, there was nothing. I had ”Stay With Me Baby” by Lorraine Ellison and I had to go up to Harlem to find it because back then, no record shop in the center had that kind of stuff. At the time, John Cale and I were playing as streets musicians in Harlem. It’s amazing enough to imagine myself with my guitar and Cale with his viola da gamba, on 125th Street or St-Nicholas Avenue, or whatnot. God!! For my birthday Moe ”Bill” Bentley had given me the 45 original tower ”Outcast” by Eddie and Ernie.
Moe: Oh my God! It’s true!! Wow!!!
Lou: Yes, and it seems that they were from LA.
Lou: I don’t know which one was first but it probably had a huge influence on Sam & Dave. It came straight out from Eddie and Ernie’ world, who were pioneers, they were the first!
Moe: Yes, Yes! You still have it ??
Lou: Nah! Someone Somewhere, I dunno who, has in his stuff a sacred value.
Johan: There is indeed a little touch of Velvet Underground on that record from Eddie and Ernie. One can only guess to what extend you were immersed in the craziest of black music from the 50’s and early 60’s.
Lou: I personally think that you can take any Velvet track and if you scratch the surface a bit you will find blues and rhythm’n’blues, What do you think Moe?
Lou: Is this Maureen coughing ?
Lou: Well then give her a cigarette! Someone!
Moe: (Both laughing) Will you stop it?!! You’re making fun of me ‘cuz you stopped!?
Lou: I’m not making fun of you! I most sincerely emphatize with you!
Lou: But yes, I stopped.
Moe: That’s good. You’re a good boy.
Lou: I wouldn’t go so far as to say that! I envy smokers every God-given day!
Moe: Did you ever play at Cafe Wha?
Moe: Was it not at Cafe Wha when Dick Gregory or was it…. a charity concert… or something like that? It Was Dick Gregory who had organized it all and they told we sounded like shit or something like that?
Lou: WOW!! But how can you remember that?
Moe: I believe that’s the day Dick Gregory said you weren’t worth shit, it was for the April Fool’s Dance and Models Balls with THE FUGZ at the Village Gate in 1956.
Lou: Wow! Yeah, that’s it! We are so shitty Allen Ginsberg himself came to dance around us with cymbals and all!!
Johan:Was it very frustrating for you that the album took so much time for it to be available?
Moe: It broke our heart! It was because if I understand … in fact there are 2 explanations, it depends on who you’re talking to but there is a version in which some Eric Emerson guy was on the photo at the back of the album and he wanted us to pay him 10 000$. So they erased it, and you will see when the album came out, it was no longer in the picture, though on other albums I’ve seen later on there he is again. The other one is that it took a year to find something ”Andy’s banana”.
Johan: We managed to get ahold of a Craig Brown. He was the person in charge of printing those album covers and he told us that it was a real nightmare having to paste the sticker with the banana on the cover of the album and that they had to rent a special customized machine to do it. It was very hard for them to put the bananas where they belonged.
Lou: It’s very funny, see, nowadays, of course, nobody makes bananas we can peel off, so it had to be to be some real technical feat back then!
Johan: Absolutely! It also was a huge cost for the record company!
Lou: Well, we never got anything from it anyway so I’m glad that at least it COST them something. (whom has rifled through the book) Ha! This is going to be a very expensive book!!!! You saw that Moe!! We’re going to be one of those huge coffee-table book filled with huge pictures!
Johan: I hope people will realize that this is the first time we do a huge artist monograph for a rock band, you even can put it next to a book on Marcel Duchamp or Magritte. The idea is to consider a rock band as an example of Great Art from the twentieth century as well as New York Art, because this exactly is how many people see you.
Lou: This wouldn’t hurt ..Right Maureen?
Moe: Yeah! That would be great! It would be fantastic!!!
Lou: A little late…
Moe: (laughing) Yep! Right on time!
Johan: You’ve both been active musicians and artists over the years ever since the time of the Velvet Underground, do you think, looking back, do you consider the V.U. as your debut as musicians?
Moe: No I don’t. I’ve never seen it that way. My debut… I can’t explain why, but no, it just never even occurred to me to see things under that light.
Lou: Well, quite often, in fact, as soon as I left New York! (laughs). Especially in Europe, much more in Europe than here. I think it’s always been the case for almost all types of music, such as jazz for example, that’s for sure. Europeans are simply more receptive to different stuff. I don’t know why. I’ve thought about it a lot and asked myself many questions…
John: I’ve always thought we could compare the way in which the Velvet was received, to the way we treated Ornette Coleman or Albert Ayler in the 60s. Back then, they mostly played in France or Scandinavia.
Lou: Yeah, fortunately things have changed. Today Ornette has the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Award, and there’s the Lincoln Center Festival.
Johan: But it has been slow, it is still a common point. You were so ahead of your time it took a while before all these institutions finally wake up.
Lou: Yeah it’s been a good thing. It made me truly happy. I think that there should be a wing for the Velvet Underground, known as the ”Velvet Underground University” for those of us who are intellectuals. Personally, I would have liked for all of us, including Sterl’, to keep on doing small experiments. Nobody, no one among us could do alone anything that even comes close to what the Velvet Underground are like.
Moe: Yeah. That is true.
Lou: When you find other musicians and you feel there’s something going on, that something’s really happening, I miss that feeling tremendously.
Johan: I played a guitar solo that you did on ”What Goes On” for a friend of mine who was a jazz guitarist throughout his life and the first thing he said was it sounded like it was Albert Ayler playing guitar.
Lou: Now that was a very nice to say. I take it as a really great compliment.
Johan: And right away, I asked myself : Wow! Were you seeing your guitar solos as some kind of free jazz at the time but…heavier?
Lou: Absolutely! It goes without saying. That’s what I’ve wanted to do my whole life! That’s what I was intending to do back then, I’m still doing it today and will always continue to do so . It’s exactly what I have in mind; Albert Ayler, Johan Griffin, they’re fantastic but to be honest it’s mostly Ornette and Don. Period. I always thought that the sound of distorted guitars felt like a sax solo. I could play pieces for brass you know. It was more or less the idea. What I liked is that the note was sustained. I could take a note then modulate it to catch the next or make it an acute and sharp sound and if I could do that, then I could pretend to be Ornette and keep on going. Even today you know, I can sing solos of Ornette such as ”Ramblin’ ” from ”Change of the Century”. That’s the perfect example of Ornette playing the rhythm’n’blues. I learned from the best.
Johan: You also liked this rhythm’ blues’ way of playing the sax that we would hear back then.
Lou: A lot. Very much. Like that sax player character, you know …Mr Lee, Lee Allen …I loved all the Little Richard albums in which he did all these solos. Even today I am in awe of these solos. But this is not what I wanted to do! I wanted to do Ornette! I wanted to do Albert Ayler. That’s what I wanted to I do using all these rhythm ‘blues’ arrangements . It was misleading because we have could have gone right pass next without even realising they are these small rhythm ‘blues’ arrangements but it don’t care..
Johan: You were completely successful and everybody has been trying to catch up to you for 40 years!
Lou: You know Maureen has almost invented all alone the fact of playing the drums standing. A real African drum girl. Still no drummer in the world knows how she does it. Maureen is very talented, and I think it is invariably underestimated by people. They do not understand everything else this way of playing has brought ! But her fellow musicians know! I think they should make a coin bearing the likeness of Maureen or something like that. This way of playing creates its own kind of rhythm and we didn’t even recognize her the credit when it is actually being reused by absolutely everyone, especially the younger bands. When I was at South by Southwest, I saw so many groups which played standing EXACTLY like Moe.
Lou: Absolutely! I imagined you being there and seeing that, roaring with laughter, because it was so cool It was absolutely your style, the way you play drums.
Moe: I’m stoked !!
Lou: And they darn well know where it’s coming from I’m telling you, they know it and they pay you homage! You can hear it non-stop,constantly. It’s a very particular rhythm and she, for certain, is the one who invented it, and she found it thanks to her and all those good things she listened to and I think we do not give her all the credit she totally deserves..
Moe: That’s very nice of you to say so honey!
Lou: I really do mean it. I listen to people all day and I can’t find a single person that is able to play the way you do.
Moe: I understand.
Lou: It’s just impossible!
Moe: I see what you mean..
Lou: It’s impossible, it’s downright impossible, and once we understand the fact that this is impossible, we understand why some other things are impossible too.
Moe: What makes me very happy in what you’re saying is that now I can be 100% sure you loved the way I was playing and what I was doing back then.
Lou: But how could you even doubt it???
Moe: Well, I never thought you hated it!! It’s just … It makes me so very happy that you thought it was real good.
Lou: Sometimes I happened to put on a Velvet Underground album and say: ”Now, listen very well to what she does, and how she plays ” But people can listen for hours without hearing it. Some people just don’t get it.
Moe: You know, what I was doing … the drummer, Orville..I don’t know if you remember this guy from my band? That’s the only person I’ve ever met who… I took his cymbals away so he wasn’t able to reach/play them.
Lou: You know in these parts of those electronic beat box that we hear today, if you listen well, the first thing that we get rid of are the cymbals. This way, we get rid of that line of barbaric drumming that’s always been played the same way everyone has always been playing them since the beginning… and for one reason or another … I mean I’ve had very good drummers whom I tied one arm behind their back to prevent them from playing this way!
Lou: And when I took their hi-hat they would getvery angry and fly into a rage!
Lou: You know there are drummers that are very good at what they do but that should be told: ”Do not play the hi-hat, ever, ever, it is prohibited, it does not exist anymore, it’s just over!”
Moe: Yeah, eight or ten years ago, a friend of mine sent me a compilation he had done when I was about to make this girlie band-like album, you know and there were, oh there must have been 30 songs of girls band he had put in the comp so that I could reflect and see if there was anything I wanted to play and there were plenty that I had never heard and some that, of course, I had already heard and loved and after going through half of the tape or maybe more I’ve realized that I had not heard a single cymbal! It was like a revelation !! Holy shit!! I was right!!!!
Lou: You bet! And you know it eventually got to the point where you didn’t need them at all!
Lou: And it liberates the rhythm!
Moe: Yeah! That’s exactly how I see it. I always had the feeling that the cymbals were too much, like a nuisance. Drummers hit on them every opportunity they get and in a 3-minutes song, it can be done 3000 times!
Lou: Yeah they also blast over the sound of the guitar and there’s no good reason for them to be. It’s not the kind of music we want to play, we don’t need that.
Lou: There are lots of things we can do instead. But you know, to find a drummer who understands that is very, very difficult
Johan: Well, Now we will give Moe all the honors she deserves in our book through your own words. Have you ever played a duo? Just the two of you, guitar and drum?
Moe: Hum No
Lou: Maybe we should. I think it is important to say that Maureen has created a certain way of playing drums that should be called the Maureen Tucker Style. Understand? It didn’t go unnoticed amongst other musicians, they realised what she had accomplished and they are right for it.A friend of mine who happens to be a producer once told me: ”Listen to this beat. You know you should do your own album because you see, it’s you guys who have invented this kind of beat, and you should really do it because everyone is doing the same thing now.” And he made me listen to a load of albums and yes, we could hear it everywhere, the beat from ”I’m waiting for the Man”, basically.
Lou: BAM BAM BAM BAM!… This one. You know you’ve got to have muscles to play it, if you are too weak, you’ll just crumble down…
Moe: (Laughs gently)
Lou: Either way, I’m Lou Reed, President of the Society of Maureen Tucker’s Admirers.
Moe: You’re too cute!
Lou: Yes, my little bunny!
To end this well, I thought of posting a clip of After Hours, a song Lou wrote in 1969 especially for Maureen because as Lou stated himself, the song was “so innocent and pure” that he could not possibly sing it himself. She couldn’t do it at first in the studio with all the other bands member there, joking around. They had to evacuate everyone from the studio, except Lou who helped her to get it right. Tucker’s vocals are accompanied by acoustic and bass guitar. The style of the lyrics and the music is somewhat reminiscent of Tin Pan Alley songs of the 1930s. It is the tenth and final track on their 1969 self-titled album.
Godfather of Beat Generation Posthumously Drops ”Naked Lunch” Wildest, Dirtiest, Most Shocking Parts on New Psychedelic Spoken Album!
Khannibalism and Ernest Jennings Record Company have just announced the release date for a highly-anticipated album, called Let Me Hang You, featuring the late Beat generation artist and legendary postmodern author William S. Burroughs in a never-before-heard series of recordings, reading aloud from his seminal novel Naked Lunch with the accompaniment of King Khan and other acclaimed musicians.
Near the end of his life, William S. Burroughs was recorded reading some of the most shocking sections of “Naked Lunch,” his 1959 fever dream of a novel, which follows the descent of a drug addict into the underworld, for a release that paired the passages with experimental music.
The world may not yet have been ready for such an experience.
“The project got buried and put out of print very quickly,” said the producer Hal Willner, a longtime Burroughs associate who helped record that abridged audiobook, which was released by Warner Bros. (and pops up now and again on eBay).
57 years after the publication of William S. Burroughs’ seminal novel and 19 years after the death in 1997 of the legendary writer at the respectable age of 83, those surreal recordings — which featured music from the guitarist and composer Bill Frisell, along with the pianist Wayne Horvitz and the violist Eyvind Kang — are getting a second life as an album with an assist from the independent musician King Khan, best known for his raucous live shows as an eccentric punk and soul frontman. Billed as psychedelic spoken word, “Let Me Hang You” (Khannibalism/Ernest Jenning Record Co.) will be released on July 15 viaKing Khan’s new label, with updated ambient accompaniment for the author.
Described as “a collection of depraved genius straight from the godfather of punk’s very own mouth,” – think sex, drugs and defecation — in pop-song-length chunks across 13 tracks, using a variety of amusing voices and a lot of foul language. The focus was sections of the novel “that we found very funny in an outrageous way,” Mr. Willner, 60, said. fans of Kerouac, Ginsberg and other writers of the ‘50s anti-establishment era will no doubt embrace this revival of Burroughs’ most famous and controversial work, now modernized and given additional edge.
The producer revived the recordings that became “Let Me Hang You” — which the album’s liner notes describe as being “abandoned and collecting dust on a musty shelf as forgotten as a piece of rancid ectoplasm on a peep show floor” — recently with Mr. Khan in mind as the composer who could finish the job.
Mr. Khan, who was born Arish Ahmad Khan to Indian parents in Montreal and is now based in Berlin, said he had first discovered “Naked Lunch” as a teenager, around the time his father became addicted to cocaine. “Reading ‘Naked Lunch’ gave me a completely different view into addiction that made me sympathize with my father’s situation and helped me cope,” he said. “It made a mutation in my mind and left an ooze in my brain that I still go to for inspiration even 30 years later.”
After the 2013 death of Lou Reed, whose collaborations with Mr. Willner and artistic support of Mr. Khan brought them all together, the remaining pair found some solace in collaborating on what Mr. Khan called the “dissident art” of Burroughs, who “broke all these boundaries of sexuality and narrative, paving the way for the birth of punk.”
With contributions from the Australian garage-punk band Frowning Clouds and the vocalist and composer M. Lamar, Mr. Khan added to the work of Mr. Frisell in an attempt to heighten the unsettling mood of Burroughs’s narration. “I was making a lot of strange music, so it was perfect timing,” he said.
The writing in “Naked Lunch” “is really heavy and perverse at a time when society needs to be reminded that you can explore these nether regions of life and bring back something really beautiful,” Mr. Khan said.
On top of that, he added, “It’s hilarious.”
Let Me Hang You is scheduled for release on July 15 and is now available in vinyl, CD, and digital format. For pre-order here. For full details surrounding the album’s inception, click here and take a look at the track listing below:
Let Me Hang You tracklist:
1. The Exterminator
2. Manhattan Serenade
4. This You Gotta Hear
5. Disciplinary Procedure
6. The Afterbirth Tycoon
7. Leif The Unlucky
8. Let Me Hang You
9. Islam Inc.
10. The Queen Bee
11. Clem Snide
12. Gentle Reader
David Godlis was eyewitness to the 1970s New York punk scene. Here’s a very small sample of what you can find i his photo souvenir book on the CBGB with an intro by Jim Jarmusch who just did a documentary about The Stooges ”Gimme Danger”.
10 Ramones Clips You Need To Watch!
Just click on pic for the clips!
“When you boo the Ramones, you are booing rock’n’roll”; So said Supersuckers’ frontman Eddie Spaghetti. They could be the truest words ever uttered. Tommy Ramone, who died Friday on July 11th 2014 at the age of 65, was the band’s first official drummer and the cool, streetwise rogue in the shrunken black T-shirt and oversized shades staring out from the cover of that 29-minute-sprint-to-the-finish first album. An original member of the band, Tommy’s tenure in the group would last until 1978. During that time he played on arguably their three greatest records (Ramones, Leave Home and Rocket To Russia), co-producing each and underpinning the songs with a high-energy, no-frills style that combined with Johnny Ramone’s buzzsaw guitar to propel their music to thrillingly unhinged heights. And if proof were needed of the NY punk icons’ foundation status in rock’s edifice, one need only survey the video evidence corralled below. Strap yourself in, and prepare to break the sound barrier with the Ramones Mark I at their very, very best.
The Cannes Film Festival is going to be rocking next Thursday, thanks to the special midnight premiere screening of Jim Jarmusch’s Stooges-centric documentary, “Gimme Danger.” The film aims to “presents the context of the Stooges’ emergence musically, culturally, politically, historically, and relates their adventures and misadventures while charting their inspirations and the reasons behind their initial commercial challenges, as well as their long-lasting legacy.”
Jarmusch has commented: “No other band in rock’n’roll history has rivaled The Stooges’ combination of heavy primal throb, spiked psychedelia, blues-a-billy grind, complete with succinct angst-ridden lyrics, and a snarling, preening leopard of a front man who somehow embodies Nijinsky, Bruce Lee, Harpo Marx, and Arthur Rimbaud. There is no precedent forThe Stooges, while those inspired by them are now legion.“He added that the film “is more an ‘essay’ than a document. It’s our love letter to possibly the greatest band in rock’n’roll history, and presents their story, their influences and their impact, complete with some never-before-seen footage and photographs. Like the Stooges and their music, ‘Gimme Danger’ is a little wild, messy, emotional, funny, primitive, and sophisticated in the most unrefined way. Long live The Stooges!”
And Every Stinking Bum Should Wear a Crown!!
Iggy presence will be felt on the silver screen in a long term project with horror master movie director Dario Argento’s The Sandmanin which Osterberg will have the leading role playing THE SANDMAN HIMSELF!!
Iggy never ceased to amaze his fans, always hitting us with his best shot since the 60s! Iggy is a cockroach. If we were to live in a post-apocalyptic nuclear world, Iggy would still be very much alive AND kicking ass!
The two books go well together, giving a representative look at the intersection of music, art, scene-making, fashion, hustling, and hanging out that made the early New York City punk scene so indelible.
Vintage Photos of New York City’s 1970s Punk Playground
Two notable recent books fromGlitterati Incorporated take readers deep into New York City’s 1970s punk underground.Playground: Growing Up In the New York Underground by Paul Zone, with Jake Austin (of Roctober fame!), features photos and firsthand accounts from a foot soldier in the rock and roll wars waged in the city’s now infamous clubs, including Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. White Trash Uncut, meanwhile, comes out of Andy Warhol’s factory scene and, as you might expect, takes an artier look at the New York scene.
Given that my tastes tend more towards the Ramones/Dead Boys/Dictators and less Warhol/Waters, Playground hits a real sweet spot. Zone’s photos pull back the curtain on that time and place in a way few other books on the ’70s NYC scene have done. Being in a band at the time (The Fast), Zone was in the thick of it from the beginning. Sure, you get plenty of (mediocre) performance photos. But that isn’t why you’re here. Where Playground shines is in its casual photos of friends—famous and not—behind-the-scenes, after hours and off guard, almost 240 pages of them. It also brings Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s awesome oral history of the early New York punk scene,Please Kill Me, to life. It’s a perfect companion.
With the recent passing of Tommy Erdelyi/Ramone, Playground is particularly timely. It’s an exciting visual romp through a unique period in the history of rock and roll. Looking through the photos, it’s hard not to notice how many of the people featured have died, many way before their prime: drugs (too many to list), AIDS (which also took Zone’s brother, Miki), cancer (three of the original Ramones) and weird car crashes (Stiv Bators). How the hell are all the Stones still alive and the Ramones all dead? Here are some samples from that book:
Crayola at Max’s. (1977)
Originally published in 1977, White Trash Uncut, by Andy Warhol Factory devotee and one time Interview staff photographer Christopher Makos, quickly went out of print and became something of a collector’s item. Finally reprinted, the book consists of a mix of artsier photos—close-ups of body parts and portraits of players in the art and music scenes, focusing on that point of intersection between the two in venues like Max’s Kansas City. It leans heavy on photos of the well-known, if not outright famous: Richard Hell, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, the Dead Boys, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones, David Bowie, Divine, Man Ray, John Waters, Marilyn Chambers and plenty other luminaries of that era. The reprint includes 25 photos not included in the original book. Here’s a sampling:
CBGBS BLITZKRIEG BOP FEAT. RAMONES , DEBBY HARRY & DEAD BOYS
LONDON SCENE 1978
The Way They Were
Old Punk documentary from Granada TV on Channel 4. Features (in order):-Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, Iggy Pop, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Penetration, Blondie, Fall, Jam, Jordan, Devo, Tom Robinson Band, Johnny Thunder, Elvis Costello, XTC, Jonathan Richman, Nick Lowe, Siouxie & the Banshees, Cherry Vanilla & Magazine….. The tape fails there!I have left the adverts in for historical reference – TSB, Once, Cluster, Coke is it, Roger Daltrey in American Express, Ulay, Swan, Our Price, Gastrils, Cluster & Prestige.All content remains the copyright of the current holders ~ I claim none.
The Punk Rock Movie
A revealing look into the bands comprising the 1978 London punk-rock scene, and a peek back-stage at the lives behind the facade. Includes performances by Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees and other concurrent bands.
Most of the bands were filmed at the Roxy club in London, where Don Letts worked as a DJ. Letts filmed the bands very simply with a Super-8 camera, and also filmed on the tour bus and at shows with The Clash and The Slits. The Sex Pistols were filmed at Screen on the Green in London on 3 April 1977, Sid Vicious’s first show with the band.
”I love to create worlds where the dark side of human nature is present. Life isn’t always good times. While in our youth we experience many things we would rather forget but this is what defines us. That’s why my characters have an adolescent quality to them. I’ve been very fortunate in experiencing and hearing many great stories in my life which now find their way into my paintings.”
Each time I see or hear about the tragic death of a young talented musician, actor, performer or artist, it reminds me of the cinematographic adaptation by Fellini of a short story by American author Edgar A. Poe, first published in 1841 ”Never Bet The Devil your Head–A Tale with a Moral” that is precisely about the sacrifice of those stars that we so freely create now and then, those who made it far enough to see themselves exposed to a decaying life, falling apart into superficiality and eventually totally lose sight of everything that really matters… You see guys likeLayne StaleyandKurt Cobain (both incidentally died on April the 5th) who were terrified, unable to cope anymore, feeling so alone and abandoned that they chose death. I won’t tell their kids or any kid at all that ”it’s better to burn out than to fade away” like it’s written to Boddha — Kurt ‘s childhood imaginary friend that later became his alter-ego — in Cobain’s suicide note. I know they will have to be either so pained by it all that they will chose to stay away from it all or either suffer more or less the same fate.As I was saying, I was talking about this Fellini’s movie calledToby Dammit, played here by Terence Stamp who gives an astonishing performance in this superb short from the collective ”Spirits of the Dead” (1968 – I was 1-year-old!) I never forgot that face, never will and I totally freaked out when I later learned that it was in fact THE DEVIL HIMSELF who was represented here! I had for sure seen it when I was young, I have no idea how old, but one thing is for sure, I never forgot it. It really haunted me; Fellini creates both haunting and magnificent visions based on our lives.. He resembles a child.. One second he can be so naive and full of a sense of amazement but in a flash you’ll be thrown in something very ”Tragédie Grecque” and he will bring you to a caricatured degree that is so satirical, surreal, maniacal and nightmarish that you will want to escape this bad dream where everyone looks and acts in such strange manners. Nope I never forgot it, I never could forget the first time I saw the devil’s face…
Here it is for you, the only horror movie Federico Fellini ever did, watch it here from Spirits of the Dead, TOBY DAMMIT!
Music/Lyrics:Lou Reed Original Album:Loaded/The Velvet Underground
“Oh! Sweet Nuthin‘” is the final song off of Loaded, the last real Velvet Underground album (1970). It tells the stories of the disaffected, the poor Jimmy Brown, the homeless and depressed Ginger Brown, his fellow street person Polly May, and poor Joanna Love who finds herself in an endless stream of failed relationships. Between that and the chorus of, “Oh, sweet nuthin’/She ain’t got nothing’ at all,” you’d think this was a miserable song, one to listen to when you’re looking for that last bit of motivation to slash your wrists. That would be the easy approach. Rather, “Oh! Sweet Nuthin‘” is incredibly life affirming, especially in the end section where drummer Doug Yule – filling in for Moe Tucker who was on maternity leave – suddenly kicks the whole jam into overdrive. The guitars soar and the drumming continues to pound and it builds until it finally resolves to a reprise of, “She ain’t got nothing at all,” which suddenly feels like a reward instead of a lament. Who says that you can’t make something out of nothing? –Mark Toscano, David Steinberg
I’m Sticking With You!
One of the first generally available Velvet Underground bootlegs was an EP released around 1976 that served up four songs cut during the bridges between the band’s second and third (“Temptation in Your Heart”) and third and fourth albums — “Foggy Notion,” “Ferryboat Bill,” and “I’m Sticking With You.” All offered very different views on the band, at a time when the plethora of studio outtakes and oddities that we know today had still to see the light of day. However, even in this company, the plaintively swinging “I’m Sticking With You” (“cos I’m made out of glue”) came as a major shock to anybody raised on the delights of “Sister Ray” and “Heroin.” A straightforward duet between Lou Reed and Maureen Tucker, “I’m Sticking With You” was as sweet and unaffected as any classic pop duo (Captain & Tennille would have killed for this song!), its lilting melody and gauchely realistic sentiments all the more touching for their simplicity. Tucker would subsequently re-record the song with Jonathan Richman; the Velvets’ own version, meanwhile, finally made its official debut on 1985’s VU compilation. –Dave Thompson
Warhol directed over 400 screen tests, and they serve now and forever as a remarkable archive of the personalities of the New York art scene and the Factory. Artists, male and female prostitutes, art dealers, transexuals, collectors, critics, writers, musicians, lesbians, actors, poets, dandys, painters, sculptors, dancers, strippers, athletes, sinners and saints, servers and patrons are all very well represented, as are the celebrities of the ”Factory’s Studio System” themselves. Those series of portrait films were shot from 1964 to 1966 and each test was about four minutes long. Warhol would place his subject in front of a 16mm Bolex with instruction to face the camera until the film stopped. In many cases, Warhol would walk away from the subject as the film was shooting without any further instructions, giving them absolute freedom to be and to do whatever they wanted as long as they remained in the frame.
William Burroughs never sat for a screen test. Given the hype and excitement that surrounded Burroughs during his time in New York City in 1964/1965, this is somewhat surprising. At the time, Burroughs was an underground celebrity, a perfect subject for a screen test. Yet Burroughs and Warhol did not hit it off in the 1960s. Panna Grady, a rich heiress and a groupie of underground poets and writers, took Burroughs to meet Warhol for dinner. They went to a Chinese restaurant, where Burroughs was offended by the manners of those in Warhol’s entourage. Burroughs walked out.
The personalities of the two men were quite a bit different, as must have been obvious when they met. Warhol cultivated a camp and effeminate gay persona that was the polar opposite of Burroughs’ gun-toting machismo. Burroughs’ letters of the 1950s are filled with his dislike for swishes, so coming face-to-face with Warhol must have aroused some level of distaste. Creatively, however, the two had much in common. Before their ill-fated dinner, Warhol arrived at Burroughs’ loft with a bag of tape-recording equipment. Surely this piqued Burroughs’ interest because Burroughs asked Warhol to leave the recorders at the loft.
I am fascinated by Warhol during the Factory years, and it is an interesting “what if” to me to wonder what a collaboration between Burroughs and Warhol would have been like. How would Burroughs have reacted to a screen test? If anybody could have out-stared a Bolex, without a doubt, it would have been Burroughs. For my part, I catch myself fantasizing about it and think that the camera would have blinked, tore up, or broke down under the strain of Burroughs’ impassive, sullen gaze or that, on the contrary, Burroughs would not even register on the film…. After all, In Mexico City, Peru, Panama, and Tangier, Burroughs stalked back alleys anonymously, melting into the shadows without leaving a trace on his surroundings. The banker’s suit and the grey hat were the uniform of the 1950s Everyman. Or maybe a Nobody. Not for nothing did Burroughs’ ability to blend in and disappear earn him the name “El Hombre Invisible.”
Face to Face
Ironically, Burroughs’ non-descript clothes became iconic by the 1970s. Immediately recognizable, precisely because he was invisible. The banker’s clothes disguised a revolutionary: a wolf in sheep’s clothing. When Burroughs returned to New York City from 1974 to 1981, Warhol was still holding court, although the Factory gave way to Studio 54. The screen tests were replaced by celebrity portraits painted for a sizable fee. Interestingly, it was at this period, when Burroughs truly broke into mainstream consciousness, that Warhol and Burroughs would connect. When Burroughs lived in New York City at the Bunker, he and Warhol met again for dinner, and the results were much more cordial than 1965. Victor Bockris who wrote A Report from the Bunker taped several of these meetings, made all the transcripts, added his personal notes and photos as well as others by Marcia Resnick, Bobby Grossman, Jenny Moradfar and David Schmidlapp in a very interesting book that was released first under the title ”The Warhol-Burroughs Tapes”, later changed to ”Conversations”. At first glance the conversations appear to be somehow superficial but nevertheless, because of its honesty, you still can very well get a good insight of each participant’s particular behavior ”au naturel”. ”Conversations”gives you the same feeling that one would get from looking at Warhol screen tests; It may seem superficial at first but you get to see the real person if you wait, watch closely and pay attention without waiting for ”something” to happen. For some reason this book was controversial and I will not go into the details of why because to me, no matter what people say, it still is a very important document that would not have seen the day if it wasn’t for Bockris relentless efforts to make it happen. Let me give you a delightful example here as Bull and Warhol have an open conversation, talking sex, sharing about their ”First Time”:
Burroughs: Cocteau had this party trick that he would pull. He would lie down, take off his clothes, and come spontaneously. Could do that even in his fifties. He’d lie down there and his cock would start throbbing and he’d go off. It was some film trick that he had.
Bockris: How’d he pull that off? Have you ever been able to come through total mental—
Burroughs: Oh, I have indeed. I’ve done it many times. It’s just a matter of getting the sexual image so vivid that you come.
Warhol: How old were you when you first had sex?
Burroughs: Sixteen. Just boarding school at Los Alamos Ranch School where they later made the atom bomb.
Warhol: With who?
Burroughs: With this boy in the next bunk.
Warhol: What did he do?
Burroughs: Mutual masturbation. But during the war this school, which was up on the mesa there thirty-seven miles north of Santa Fe, was taken over by the army. That’s where they made the atom bomb. Oppenheimer [the scientist who invented the bomb] had gone out there for his health and he was staying at a dude ranch near this place and said, “Well, this is the ideal place.” It seems so right and appropriate somehow that I should have gone to school there. Los Alamos Ranch School was one of those boarding schools where everyone rode a horse. Fucking horses, I hate ‘em. I had sinus trouble and I’d been going to New Mexico for my health during the summer vacations and then my family contacted the director, A. J. Connell, who was a Unitarian and believed very much in positive thinking, and I went there for two years. This took place on a sleeping porch, 1929.
Warhol: How great! Was the sex really like an explosion?
Burroughs: No no … I don’t remember it was so long ago.
Warhol: I think I was twenty-five when I first had sex, but the first time I knew about sex was under the stairs in Northside, Pittsburgh, and they made this funny kid suck this boy off. I never understood what it meant…
Burroughs: Made him do what?
Warhol: Suck this boy off, but I didn’t know what it meant, I was just sitting there watching when I was five years old. How did you get this kid to do it, or did he do it to you?
Burroughs: Oh I don’t know, sort of a lot of talking back and forth…
Here’s a remarkable clip of the pair chatting in the very room in which Arthur Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey! The footage is from an episode of the BBC documentary program Arena about the Hotel Chelsea and there are a couple of odd narrative elements to it, but the clip mercifully ends with Nico singing a haunting rendition of “Chelsea Girls”—in the Chelsea Hotel itself, one wonders if it was in Room 506…..
In 1974 William S. Burroughs and David Bowie got together for a little chat, documented by Rolling Stone. Here’s a particularly weird part where Burroughs and Bowie talk about the alien and reptilian nature of Andy Warhol:
Burroughs: Have you ever met Warhol?
Bowie: Yes, about two years ago I was invited up to The Factory. We got in the lift and went up and when it opened there was a brick wall in front of us. We rapped on the wall and they didn’t believe who we were. So we went back down and back up again till finally they opened the wall and everybody was peering around at each other. That was shortly after the gun incident. I met this man who was the living dead. Yellow in complexion, a wig on that was the wrong colour, little glasses. I extended my hand and the guy retired, so I thought, ‘The guy doesn’t like flesh, obviously he’s reptilian.’ He produced a camera and took a picture of me. And I tried to make small talk with him, and it wasn’t getting anywhere.
But then he saw my shoes. I was wearing a pair of gold-and-yellow shoes, and he says, ‘I adore those shoes, tell me where you got those shoes.’ He then started a whole rap about shoe design and that broke the ice. My yellow shoes broke the ice with Andy Warhol.
I adore what he was doing. I think his importance was very heavy, it’s becoming a big thing to like him now. But Warhol wanted to be clichi, he wanted to be available in Woolworth’s, and be talked about in that glib type of manner. I hear he wants to make real films now, which is very sad because the films he was making were the things that should be happening. I left knowing as little about him as a person as when I went in.
Burroughs: I don’t think that there is any person there. It’s a very alien thing, completely and totally unemotional. He’s really a science fiction character. He’s got a strange green colour.
Bowie: That’s what struck me. He’s the wrong colour, this man is the wrong colour to be a human being. Especially under the stark neon lighting in The Factory. Apparently it is a real experience to behold him in the daylight.
Burroughs: I’ve seen him in all light and still have no idea as to what is going on, except that it is something quite purposeful. It’s not energetic, but quite insidious, completely asexual. His films will be the late-night movies of the future.
Despite the coldness of their first meeting, Burroughs and Warhol briefly bonded in Burroughs’ loft over the tape recorder. This machine proved central to the creative work and philosophies of both artists in the 1960s. Burroughs: “I am a recording instrument.” Warhol: “I want to be a machine.” Burroughs utilized the tape recorder from the late 1950s on. In his essay ”The Invisible Generation”, Burroughs proclaims such technology as an agent for revolutionary change. Warhol relied on the tape recorder for most of his literary projects. A: A Novel is at its simplest a transcription of Warhol star Ondinetalking about the events of his day. Tape transcriptions made up the bulk of Popismand The Philosophy of Andy Warhol as well. Ideally, Warhol sought to just let the tape run and present verbatim transcriptions. There would be no stopping or re-starting of the tape, no edits, no cuts. On the other hand, Burroughs aggressively manipulated the tape. He inched it backwards and forwards, recording and re-recording. He cut and spliced the tape. The resulting transcripts were heavily revised and altered. These two creative icons are on the opposite ends of the spectrum concerning the process of editing. Yet the goal is the same: a dissolving of the control of the artist, a striving for the impersonal.
The major difference between the films of Warhol and Burroughs is, again, the cut. Burroughs’ films are full of aural and visual cuts, and Warhol uses the cut sparingly, if at all. Despite opposing editing techniques, the desire to displace the artist is the same. Of course, just the reverse occurs. Reading Burroughs cut-up texts, his personal obsessions and style shine through. The same occurs with his films. The selection of images and sounds betray his hand. He cannot help but impose his personal imprint. The same holds true for Warhol. Within the seemingly very strict parameters of the screen test, extremely individual, personal performances result. No screen test is exactly the same, even with the same subject filmed for several different tests. If you doubt this, view the several different tests taken of Baby Jane Holzer or Edie Sedgwick. Each test has its unique qualities. The personalities of the sitter show through as does that of Warhol.
UPPERS, DOWNERS & WITHDRAWALS SYMPTOMS
Watching the films of Burroughs and Warhol from a drug perspective, I feel that their styles could have been reversed. The drug of choice for Warhol and his art was amphetamine, while Burroughs preferred heroin. One would expect rapid cuts of image and sound from Warhol, and yet it was Burroughs’ cut-up films that reflect the speed freak’s sense and sensibility. Conversely, Warhol films like Sleep and Empire seem to capture the perspective of the junkie on the nod. Burroughs famously wrote in Naked Lunch that while on junk he could stare with interest at his shoe for hours. What would Burroughs have thought of a movie like Empire? Given his interest in editorial manipulation, Burroughs might have found it boring, preferring instead a movie like Chelsea Girls with its split-screen projection. Burroughs’ fascination with multiple perspectives hammers home the point that the world he described is largely seen through the lens of withdrawal. The kicking junkie is besieged by sensation. Spontaneous orgasms, crawling flesh, runaway thoughts. Burroughs’ art, cinematic and literary, captures and reproduces the experience of withdrawal more than the sensation of the fix. The hardcore addict fails to experience the euphoria of heroin in the same manner as a first-time user. Part of the kick is trying to recapture that initial rush. Burroughs’ strong sense of nostalgia stems in part from the longing of the addict for the first fix.
As Warhol was making screen tests in the 1960s, so in a way was Burroughs (along with Brion Gysin, Anthony Balch, and Ian Sommerville). Towers Open Fire (1963) opens with a long static shot of Burroughs which mirrors the portraits Warhol would begin creating a year later. In Guerrilla Conditions, later to become the basis for The Cut-Ups (1966), Burroughs introduced chance / found techniques similar to Warhol’s. Barry Miles writes, “The Cut Ups was literally that, with four reels of film being cut into twelve-inch lengths and assembled in rotation by a lab technician… No artistic judgment was made, and Balch was not even present.” The similarities to the restraints imposed on the screen tests are obvious.
I am more intrigued in considering a film like Bill and Tony(1972) as a Burroughsian screen test. The movie consists of the image of Burroughs mouthing Balch words, and Balch doing likewise to Burroughs’ words. Balch and Burroughs experimented with merging images to form a composite person. Burroughs was very interested in such superimpositions. Burroughs states, “Anthony Balch and I did an experiment with his face projected onto mine and mine onto his. Now if your face is projected onto somebody else’s in color, it looks like the other person. You can’t tell the difference; it’s a mask of light.” He states further, “Another experiment that Anthony and I did was to take the two faces and alternate them twenty-four frames per second, but it’s such a hassle to cut those and replace them, even to put one minute of alternation of twenty-four frames per second on a screen, but it is extraordinary.” Burroughs and Gysin also played with such techniques in The Third Mind experiments. The New Reformers photographs, produced in connection with the Colloque de Tanger in 1975, utilized such superimpositions. In 1971, Jan Herman visited Burroughs and Balch at St. Duke Street in London. At this time, the two men were making Bill and Tonyand performing the experiments Burroughs describes above. Herman took part in these experiments and recorded a session on videotape. The results are available exclusively on RealityStudio.
As the video shows, Burroughs introduces montage to the screen test. Montage, collage, assemblage, like the cut-up technique, all center on the cut. In the screen tests, Warhol avoided the edit, the physical cut. The duration of the movie was dictated by the length in feet of the packaged roll of film. No takes, no director yelling cut, no splicing of the film. On the other hand, Burroughs urged a generation to cut up everything. Film, text, audio tape all was fair game for the scissors. Warhol and Burroughs’ editing techniques differed but their goal of depersonalization (and eventual failure to achieve those goals) were the same.
Both Warhol and Burroughs were well exposed to the world of experimental film from Russian avant-garde film of the 1920s to Surrealist film of the 1930s to the New American Film of the post-WWII era. Warhol was a fixture at The Filmmakers’ Co-op and a friend of numerous underground filmmakers like Jonas Mekas, Jack Smith (before their falling out), Willard Maas, and Marie Menken. These filmmakers were subjects for screen tests. Through Gysin and Balch (who distributed European soft-core films), Burroughs would have been exposed to a number of experimental films. I suspect Burroughs and Warhol were well aware of each other’s films as well.Towers Open Fire was completed in 1963 before the underground film boom of the next year. Much of what became The Cut-Ups were filmed around that time. Sections ofThe Cut-Ups were filmed in the Chelsea Hotel in 1965, the year Warhol and Burroughs first met. Given his connection with Mekas and others, Warhol may have heard about Burroughs’ film experiments as early as 1963. Interestingly, despite Burroughs’ absence from Warhol’s films, particularly the Screen Tests, they are Burroughsian in spirit (alternatively Burroughs’ films are Warholian) as both men had similar obsessions and interests. Burroughs’ films of the mid-1960s have images of young men in bed, of static portraits, of artwork being created in Factory-type fashion.
One day a young man appeared at the Factory introducing himself as Julian Burroughs, the son of William Burroughs. The man was in fact Andrew Dungan. Here is the real actual story of what happened, as told by the man himself (see comment section for current post):
”I was drafted into the army in 1966 and deserted in June 1967. In October, after the March on the Pentagon in Washington D.C. I arrived in NYC. Walking down the street I met Warhol and Paul Morrissey by chance and they asked me to be in a movie that evening. They had asked me my name and I did give him my fugitive name which I had constructed from the knowledge that he did have a son, (who oddly enough I later met as he was a friend of my brother), and I felt it would get me off the hook if I was busted by the FBI agents presumably looking for me. Well, we made the movie that night and I sort of got along with Andy and Paul and the others and, being straight, was passed around among the females in the entourage. Heady experience, but the heavy paranoia of living in NYC made it difficult. Still, I hung out, dined on the Warhol tab at Max’s Kansas City, and came up with the concept for Lonesome Cowboys- based on Romeo and Juliet, hence Ramona and Julian in the film. The police did get word I was connected with Warhol and I got out of town to Paris in April 1968. Lived there for six years before getting an amnesty when Nixon got his pardon, saw Andy a few times, but returned to California, and have led my quiet life here in LA though I still am in contact with people like Viva. Saw William Burroughs once and told him my story and he enjoyed it. But it was really a chance encounter not a con or an attempt to get into the Warhol scene.”
The idea of a doppelganger of this type always appealed to Warhol (who probably got that from Dali who was obsessed by doubles and copies). He played such tricks himself. Before all that took place Warhol had already sent Allen Midgette (who sat for a screen test) on a speaking tour of the United States posing as Warhol himself in October 1967 before the time of the Julian Burroughs hoax. Most famously, Edie Sedgwick had dyed her hair silver and accompanied Warhol to parties and openings as a female version of Warhol. Quite possibly, the hoax perpetrated on the Factory inspired Warhol to try it himself, although forgery and impersonation were already staples of the Factory aesthetic. In any case, Warhol cast Dungan / Julian in Lonesome Cowboys and Nude Restaurant. So indirectly Burroughs was a Warhol superstar. Burroughs appeared on Saturday Night Live, was the Godfather of Punk, was profiled in People. Such flash and recognition captivated Warhol. The pinnacle of this type of attention would be the Nike adin 1994 that capitalized on Burroughs’ iconic status in the realm of, not Punk, but Cyber-Punk. Burroughs may never have set foot in the Factory but his presence was felt there and bled into Warhol’s films of the period. Similarly in the screen-test feel of Bill and Tony, Warhol proves to be a ghost in the machine in Burroughs’ films.
This article is largely inspired by Jed Birmingham and his ideas on the cinema of Burroughs and Warhol. The links have been updated and some have been added but you don’t have to check every single one of them although I really made a big effort to make this interesting to people who aren’t that much into this kind of stuff.
I always have been a fan of Joy Division for as long as I can remember. Closerwas and still is one of my all time favorite albums. I always thought Ian Curtis is one of the greatest lyricist ever. I saw ”24 Hour Party People”with an immense pleasure and I kinda liked ”Control” but always thought there was something missing still. I needed more. Finally reading Peter Hook autobiography I got to know everything I wanted to know and totally enjoyed the very bold style of Peter Hook. Once I started I could hardly put it down. For the first time I felt that my thirst to know more and more about Joy Division and the tragic death of their legendary frontman was satisfied at last although Joy Division will always have a mysterious aura to it. It is not because a lack of information or a marketing trick but simply because it is within the very essence of Joy Division. You are given a variety of choice to resolve some of the enigmas surrounding JD but most of the answers are totally subjective and depends on the point of view you stand for. Nobody will ever know what truly led Ian Curtis to think that there was no more hope and what could have been done to save him from getting to this point of no return. We feel Hooky is constantly asking himself those questions. It’s as if they were written in the margins of every page. And that just a couple out of many others unanswered question but it’s easy to imagine that they are the ones that haunted Hook for many many oh so many sleepless nights….Ever since that tragic night of May 1980…Precisely on the eve of what could have been the ultimate achievement of his wildest dreams.
Peter Hook tells us the story from his point of view, very boldly, very honestly, not trying to save anyone’s image nor pointing an accusative finger at anyone either, just trying to set the record as straight as possible. Through him, we finally get to know the real story of Joy Division and Ian Curtis. The starting point of it still being a Sex Pistols concert….In fact Ian Curtis wasn’t at the first one but he did was at the second one and Hooky hardly remember him being there. From there, Peter Hook marches us very thoroughly and even if it isn’t always sad, one can still feel the tremendous pain and the disastrous effect of the forever burning hell that he was thrown, that they were all thrown in when Ian decided to put himself out of his misery in a very intimate book in which you get to like the boys from Joy Division and their entourage for what they really where as he recalls their boyish pranks on each other, the lousy venues, the fights and the jealousy and backstabbing that existed at the time between bands, the lack of organisation and knowledge, the overall misunderstanding and deception that would come from your family and your co-workers and their daytime job they had to keep for so long so that they wouldn’t have to make any compromise on their music. There is a lot that they had to put up with but we also realise that the DIY that comes with it has become an inherent trademark of Punk. Peter Hook also does his mea culpa as to the general lack of concern towards what additional mental and physical pressure that Ian had to deal with considering he was married with a first newborn baby, his illness and his affair with Annick Honoré. You get to realise that Ian’s persona and tragic end was far more complex than meets the eye but at the same time it is so very understandable when you always are reminded that they were so young and well, as it is said in the book ”they didn’t have a clue”. Joy Division was a band that started from nothing and had fought hard for every inch of fame and glory they managed to grab ahold of and they were having more and more success, the dream they all had was now becoming a reality and Ian, just like the others, didn’t want his illness to be in the way… They just wanted to keep on going and who can blame them…I think no one in particular is to blame, but maybe at the same time, everyone is, including Ian himself.
I didn’t like the movie ”Control” so much because I thought it was more about who Ian wasn’t then about who he was. I also thought it was a very biased vision since the writer was Ian’s unfortunate widow and mother of his daughter Nathalie. Now I do understand that Ian was far from being a good father, we all know that. Of course he should have been more responsable but I think despite the sad fact he wasn’t the father he should have been, we all want to know, more than anything, who he was as an artist. Debbie was the wife at home, abandoned and put aside by Ian who had married her at a very young age so she didn’t get much to know him as an artist. Ian Curtis to me is the singer, the captain of a band called Joy Division and to me that what’s matters the most. I’m not a fan of those gossip magazines and never have been so I have very little concern about people’s private life unless they have a very direct effect on their art. Unfortunately it did have a direct effect on Joy Division, his complex love affair, amongst other things, drove him to kill himself and put a very abrupt end to Joy Division who was bound to leave for a US tour the very next day so it does help me to understand but that is one of many aspects about Ian’s life and Joy Division but ”Control” nevertheless did left me unsatisfied. Now ”24 Hour Party People” did reveal a bit more about the boys and Ian. In the book, Hook says that in his opinion, the Ian they present in ”24 Hour Party People” is much closer to the real Ian than the one that is presented in ”Control” but the bit that is about Joy Division is just a small part of the movie so it did left me very unsatisfied too in this regard. I wanted to know how Ian Curtis was when he was on tour with his lads, how he was when no one was looking, what drove him, how did he write his lyrics, how big was his influence on Joy Division, how did the others saw his illness as it grew more and more important, how was the relation between members of the band, how come no one told him to rest, what the boys felt they should or could have done to help him… It turns out that Peter Hook did all that with a fresh, bold, honest look at it all. It is very well written and gives you a very clear picture about everything you want to know. Now Peter Hook himself is a character that you get to like from the get go… His boldness and honesty, his sensitivity or lack of, at times makes the book very real, funny, sad… You can feel the excitement, the ups and downs of Joy Division. He also gives a very detailed description of how the albums were recorded and a very good description of the larger than life character of their producer and technical engineer, the well-respected Martin Hannett.
If you are a Joy Division fan you absolutely have to read this book. You will fall under the spell of this such unusual band that have at heart everything tiny thing they do and have it at heart to own even their worst mistakes because it is part of who they are. They are not for sale and always have managed to do what they wanted, how they wanted it. They could deal with the shitty venues, sleeping on the floor, the fights but they would never indulge in being a sell out. Here is an extract of the book I have chosen for you. In fact they are 2 separate extracts. It was very hard to choose because it depends on what aspect you want to insist. Hooky talks about them all, I picked this one simply because I thought it told a lot about many aspects and you can really read the word ”honesty” between the lines…
”Ian had responded by trying to kill himself (…) sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t the gigging break that did him in in the end. At least when we were playing we were away, our minds were distracted. With the gigs canceled and us staying close to home. Ian also ended up staying much closer to the source of all his domestic problems.
Not that we were aware of all these troubles, the depth of his problems, at the time, mind you. It’s only recently, since the explosion of interest in Joy Division, you might say, and while I’ve been researching the book, that I’ve really started to get a clear picture of the kind of shit Ian was going through and the very short timescale involved.
At the time he kept mainly to himself. as far as we were concerned he was dead excited about going to America, really looking forward to it. Yet you read about him telling people that he didn’t want to go. According to Genesis P-Orridge (from Throbbing Gristle), Ian said he’d rather ”die” than go on tour, and maybe he did say that, but not to us, he didn’t: no way. With us Ian was bang into the idea maybe if he’d been spent more time with us, and less at home, and less talking to the likes of Genesis, then he’d have been buoyed up by it all. I think he’d have gone to America, where, looking at it, the schedule wouldn’t have been exhausting, and I think he would have loved it.
I’m not saying his problems would have gone away, of course. Just that they wouldn’t have been crowding in on him quite so much. I really think that if he’d made it to America he’d had lived.
Or maybe I’m just talking out my arse again. Barney always said that it was his medication that made him suicidal, and that could have happened anywhere; Macclesfield or New-York.
(…)Our ultimate aim was to be ourselves, to do things the way we wanted them doing, and we’d insist out of sheer bloody-mindedness. Rob was always in our corner. Tony was always on our corner. You might call them mistakes but at least they were mistakes made on our own terms. Mistakes that then became legends.
A few days later we played Birmingham. We didn’t know it then, of course, but it would be our last-ever gig as Joy Division.
It was a good one too. We later released it on the album ”Still”. Ian had a bit of a wobble during ”Decades” but was fine for ”Digital”. Even so, it was one of those gigs-like all of them were around then-where you were looking at Ian wondering if, or when, it was going to happen, and that was because it was now happening at every show. With hindsight you can look back and say he probably wasn’t going to be right at any gig, whether in America or outer space. Even so, the idea of cancelling or rescheduling America never came up.
We were so excited about going, so wound up about it and desperate to do it. Ian, the fan of the Doors and Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and Burroughs, especially. I don’t care what Genesis P-Orridge says, he was looking forward to going. I mean, we had so much going for us then. The word was getting out that we were a great group to see live. We had ”Love Will Tear Us Apart” up our sleeve. We were on the way up.
That’s what always gets me about what he did. Sometimes you can see just why he did it, and it makes a kind of sense.
Other times, it just makes no fucking sense at all”
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 studio 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 tastemakers who had read so much about the new British superstar in the imported papers, but we’re still waiting to be convinced themselves.
The 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 of adrenalined 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.
”Ode to Joy” piped through 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 desperate 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 applause 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 movement, 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 catch the rhythm 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. I 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 Londoners, 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 wasn’t exactly you’d recorded it. He was very unpredictable”
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? …..
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
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, I’M Sick of you, The Shadow of your Smile (Tony Benett cover) , Money That What I Want (BARRETT Strong Cover), Tight Pants,Fresh Rag, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Search and Destroy, Penetration
Originally filmed in 1922, this version was updated in the mid 1960’s to include english narration by William S Burroughs while he was in London. The writer and director Benjamin Christensen discloses a historical view of the witches through the seven parts of this silent movie. First, there is a slide-show alternating inter-titles with drawings and paintings to illustrate the behavior of pagan cultures in the Middle Ages regarding their vision of demons and witches. Then there is a dramatization of the situation of the witches in the Middle Ages, with the witchcraft and the witch-hunts. Finally Benjamin Christensen compares the behavior of hysteria of the modern women of 1921 with the behavior of the witches in the Middle Ages, concluding that they are very similar.
Most of the pictures in the archive have little backstory, and the captions have been reprinted verbatim. One constant in many of these pictures is the police tripod that gets the overhead shots. Don’t you just miss the days when most people seemed to get murdered in bed? If this is all too much for you, check out these old photos of places people used to eat at—if you haven’t spoiled your appetite.
The UNPOP ART Movement was founded in 2003 by Boyd Rice, Brian Clark and Shaun Partridge. Its other members include: Jim Goad, Adam Parfrey, Larry Wessel, Lorin Partridge, Nick Bougas, Beth Love, Gidget Gein and Charles Krafft. It has been described by Brian Clark, the movement’s “Minister of UnPropaganda” as follows: is any form of art, music, writing or film which has as its conceptual basis, the fusion of unpopular, offensive, disturbing or otherwise frowned-upon ideas with Fun, yummy, pop-art sensibilities, aesthetics or techniques. It’s a modernization of the age-old alchemical concept of blending polar opposites; in this case, of combining unpleasant ideas with innocuous pop-culture Fun. Good UNPOP ART should, in theory, be upsetting and Fun at the same time, and – like pop art or corporate advertising – ideally it should operate on a level of emotional immediacy that’s universally understood (most often via symbolism, but not always)…
The circulation of obscure fascist imagery and themes by a number of neo-folk and goth bands has encountered resistance from anti-fascist fans, who regard it as a form of crypto-fascism.
The Prisoner (known only as Number Six) is a former government agent who has abruptly resigned from his job and finds himself imprisoned in an idyllic yet bizarre seaside village isolated from the world by the sea and mountains where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. Number 6 desperately wants to find his way to freedom without revealing anything to anyone, being loyal to his employers but also true to himself and the sets of values he believes in. The Village seems to be inhabited by other prisoners as well as enemy agents and guardians but it is very difficult to know who is who, Most (but not all) guards wear the same style of resort clothing and numbered badges as the prisoners, and mingle seamlessly among the general population. Thus, it is nearly impossible for prisoners to determine which Villagers can be trusted and which ones cannot.
The only one that obviously seems to be in charge of the Village is Number 2. Number Six is monitored heavily by Number Two, the Village administrator acting as an agent for an unseen “Number One”. A variety of techniques are used by Number Two to try to extract information from Number Six, including hallucinogenic drug experiences, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination. All of these are employed not only to find out why Number Six resigned as an agent, but also to extract other purportedly dangerous information he gained as a spy. The position of Number Two is filled in on a rotating basis: in some cases, this is part of a larger plan to confuse Number Six; at other times, it seems to be a result of failure in interrogating Number Six.
Starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan, the show’s combination of 1960s countercultural themes and surrealistic setting had a far-reaching effect on science fiction/fantasy programming, and on popular culture in general became the base for what is now known as one of the best cult series from the 60’s , it combined spy fiction with elements of science fiction, allegory, and psychological drama.
The opening and closing sequences of The Prisoner have become iconic. Cited as “one of the great set-ups of genre drama”, the opening sequence establishes the Orwellian and postmodern themes of the series;its high production values have led the opening sequence to be described as more like film than television.
The bicycle that is always at the forefront of anything related to the Prisoner is without a doubt the symbol of LSD and all the fuss that was made round its discovery. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide was discovered April 19, 1943, asAlbert Hofmann, a chemist for Sandoz, in Basel, Switzerland, ingested a minute amount—just 250 micrograms–of a compound derived from the ergot fungus. He soon felt extremely disoriented as he rode his bicycle home, where he experienced all the heavenly and hellish effects of lysergic acid diethylamide. Pink Floyd even had a song immortalising this event simply called ”Bike”.
Many secret services around the world were very intrigued by various hallucinogenic drugs (especially but not exclusively, LSD) and a shitload of secretive research around mind control were set in motion by various governments after WWII. Without a doubt, the Village where most of the action takes place his he and specifically is a reflection of those mind control covert operations, at least it is one aspect of it. One in particular, Project MKUltra—sometimes referred to as the mind control program—was the codename given to an illegal program of experiments on human subjects, designed and undertaken by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Experiments on humans were intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations and torture, in order to weaken the individual to force confessions. Their purpose was to study mind control, interrogation,behavior modification and related topics. It is therefore obvious that the serie was very much aware of all the implications of LSD (mainly but not exclusively) during this period and for sure the bicycle that is omnipresent throughout the serie reflects the importance it had back then.
Another part of the inspiration for the Village came from research into World War II, where some people had been incarcerated in a resort-like prison calledInverlair Lodge. Actually the Village is a brutal dictatorship, best described by Number Six himself as “This farce, this 20th century Bastille that pretends to be a pocket democracy.” It is ruled by a revolving series of Chief Administrators designated “Number Two”, some of whom return to the office after lengthy absences. They vary greatly in personality and in methodology: some of them are quite amiable, some are sadistic, and some are mere bureaucratic functionaries bordering on functional impotence. Sadly, I must admit that it seems to resemble more and more today’s or even tomorrow’s ”ideal” society, “Work units” or “credits” serve as currency in its shops, and are kept track of with a hole-punched credit card (no money), its unique, controlled newspaper, its taxi service (no individual cars allowed implicating that you cannot go anywhere outside the village on your own), It’s camera surveillance system (Big Brother), No alcohol or drugs, no gambling, no radio, rigged justice system… It is baffling to think how far the resemblance has gone with what is actually well on its way… Exactly who operates the Village is deliberately obscured. Ostensibly, the Village is run by a democratically elected council, with a popularly-elected executive officer known as “Number Two” presiding over it and the Village itself, although internal dialogue indicates that the entire process is rigged. Number Two appears to be directly answerable to unseen superiors, the shadowy “They” or “Number 1″ pulling all the strings from behind the scenes, with direct contact via a red hotline phone. Undoubtedly resembling today’s Illuminati, Bilderberg, Skulls & Bones, NSA, Isis and similar shadowy organisations whose influence is felt but whose motives and goals are far from being clear. Do I need to say more?? If you watch the serie you will, without a doubt take note yourself of these little ”insignificant” things that are indeed very troubling.
It was probably one of the most influential pieces of television of the 1960s not only in the UK and USA but also in France, Australia and many other countries. Even The Beatles were fans. Its cult status was confirmed with the establishment in the 1970s of the official Prisoner Appreciation Society, Six of One.
Apparently there is a chance that it will be brought up to life again by none other than the creator of (among many others) ”Blade Runner”, Ridley Scott! The movie director already had plenty of momentum heading into Golden Globes weekend with a Best Director nomination, and now he has even more. Scott is in early negotiations on a deal to come aboard and direct The Prisoner, the screen version of the 1968 Patrick McGoohan British TV series. This has been a plum project at Universal for some time with numerous A-list scribes including Christopher McQuarrie writing drafts. The most recent version was by The Departed scribe William Monahan. The film is being produced by Bluegrass Films Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark. Scott’s Scott Free team will likely become part of it as they get the script that makes the director happy. Numerous writers are circling to do that, and the elbowing by several top actors has also begun, now that word is getting around that Scott is coming aboard.
In 1963, two people met at the L Ron Hubbard Institute of Scientology on Fitzroy Street, London. They were both studying to be ‘auditors’. Based on his earlier system of Dianetics, ‘auditing’ was Hubbard’s method of discovering and eliminating ‘engrams,’ the psychic residue from past traumas. The aim of auditing was to become ‘clear,’ to wipe the psychic slate clean and become, in effect, a kind of superman, no longer enthralled to neurotic fears and hang-ups.
Robert DeGrimston Moore and Mary Ann McClean were both fascinated by auditing and soon grew proficient. Although they came from considerably different backgrounds, both were enthusiastic Scientologists. Born in Shanghai in 1935, Robert had served in the military as a cavalry officer, for awhile stationed in Malaya. He had a middle class upbringing, and had studied as an architect. He boasted an IQ of 163 and claimed to have been a member of MENSA. Tall, handsome, dreamy and charismatic, Robert was passive and emotionally dependent. A perfect match, it turned out, for Mary Ann.
Born in Glasgow in 1931, Mary Ann had a different sort of life. Her father left before she was born; not long after, her mother abandoned her. She was raised by relatives in an atmosphere of poverty and neglect. Attractive, driven and ambitious, by the early 1950s she had emigrated to the States; it’s a good chance she paid her way through prostitution. For a time she was married to the US boxing champ Sugar Ray Robinson. In the early 1960s, Mary Ann left Sugar Ray and moved to London. The split must have been profitable: she took a lease on an expensive flat and set up a high class call-girl service. She entertained some top flight customers, and had connections with the Profumo scandal. Manipulative, demanding and volatile, she knew how to exploit emotional needs and fostered dependence in those around her. She was attracted to Robert’s intelligence and charm. She knew she could use both, and she did.
It was soon clear they were too intelligent and wilful to remain Hubbard’s followers. Robert (left) and Mary Ann had ideas of their own, and tested these successfully on some clients. Security on Fitzroy Street was high; when Mary Ann discovered her session rooms were bugged, she and Robert left. Mary Ann, who was sensitive to appearances, convinced Robert to drop Moore, which she thought sounded too common, and to adopt DeGrimston. They married soon after, and in 1964 they set up their own system.
They were both interested in the work of Alfred Adler, a Freudian who had broken away to develop his own ideas. Adler, who developed the idea of the inferiority complex, believed that people were driven by what he called ‘secret goals,’ hidden agendas that gave rise to compulsions and neuroses. The idea was to discover these goals and make them conscious. Putting Adler and Hubbard together, Robert and Mary Ann created a new system – Compulsions Analysis.
When they tried the new therapy on some friends, the results were encouraging. The circle grew, with the initial people who had undergone ‘the process,’ as it began to be called, initiating others – all paying considerable fees to the DeGrimstons. Most of the early clients came from Robert’s set. Mary Ann’s friends tended to be from the shady side, but Robert moved among the bright lights of English youth. Young professionals – architects, artists, scientists, economists – formed the first core of the DeGrimstons’ following.
They took an office on Wigmore Street. Strange things began to happen. The group, which now numbered around 30, began to feel various ‘group mind’ effects. They also began to feel set apart from the rest of society. Like many ‘alternative’ groups in the Sixties, Compulsions Analysis moved from self-help to a kind of spiritual quest, as those that had gone through ‘the process’ began to regard the rest of society as a kind of bad dream. The DeGrimstons began to feel that what they had created was something more than a new therapy. They looked around for a new name, and decided on something that must have seemed obvious. In 1965, Compulsions Analysis, a derivative of Scientology, became the Process Church of the Final Judgement.
Mary Ann and Robert felt inspired. Divine powers were guiding them. When a member came into an inheritance, they convinced him to take out a lease on a mansion in Balfour Place in Mayfair and donate it to the Process. They also convinced him to decorate the place lavishly, even putting a brass plate on the door, featuring the new Process symbol Robert had designed. Four Ps joined in a kind of mandelic wheel, the symbol had an uncanny resemblance to the Nazi swastika .
But they were not long for Mayfair. The divine hand was pressing them on. Robert and Mary Ann began to yearn for some retreat from a world they increasingly regarded with disgust. In June, 1966, the DeGrimstons and a group of about 30 ‘Processeans’ – as they called themselves – left for Nassau. They were accompanied by the six Alsatian dogs the DeGrimstons had recently acquired – another suggestion from the divine powers. (Further suggestions included an $80,000 yacht and first class journeys to Turkey and Asia for the DeGrimstons.) Later, members emulating the leaders would acquire these dogs too.
After three months they left Nassau, still in search of their sanctuary. In Mexico City a group mind session suggested they hire a rickety bus and follow the Yucatan coast. Near Sisal they came upon a spot they had envisioned in their meditations. Xtul, a place of ruins, was near the beach, hugged by coconut palms; pronounced ‘Shtul’ the word meant ‘terminus’ or ‘end’ in Mayan. For the Process, however, it was only the beginning.
It was like paradise. Living on fruit and fish, swimming, making love, having group encounters – like many people in the Sixties, the Process had ‘gone back to nature’; they had escaped the rat race and were finding themselves. They wrote songs, chants, and poems about Xtul; everyone there would remember the time for the rest of their life, as if they had gone back to Eden. It had a profound effect on Robert, who began to identify with Jesus Christ.
But then disaster hit. A hurricane pummelled the group for three days. 200 mph (322 kph) winds in absolute darkness. Their shelters were flattened. It was as if demonic forces had been unleashed; yet miraculously the group survived. Local villages were devastated, but the Process emerged from the upheaval unharmed but not unchanged, Degrimston knew. It had been their rite of passage. The true nature of the universe had been revealed to him.
They had met the twin Gods of love and violence. At Xtul, he had begun to receive inspired teachings, what he called The Xtul Dialogues, communications from the god forces that ruled existence. He called them Jehovah, Satan and Lucifer. And now they had a mission: to return to London and preach the word of their imminent apocalyptic unification. For Christ and Satan, it was time to come together.
They returned to London filled with a sense of purpose. Their return, however, wasn’t a total triumph. While at Xtul, the parents of some underaged Processeans sent a solicitor to retrieve their children. In paradise, the solicitor encountered a bikini-clad Mary Ann DeGrimston, fawned on by ragged and underfed Processeans; he made a note of her long, silver-polished fingernails, and talked to the press. The Sunday Telegraph ran a negative story on the “Mind Benders of Mayfair.” The ‘alternative’ press wasn’t too keen on them either; a highly critical article appeared in the counterculture gazette, Oz. But the DeGrimstons weren’t deterred. Back at Balfour Place they opened a 24-hour coffee bar called Satan’s Cave.
The group had made a sudden shift. They began to wear black capes and black turtlenecks, and to sport shiny silver crosses. They also wore badges featuring the sinister Goat of Mendes, the devil headed demon of the witches’ sabbath. The Process symbol too was prominent. Divine intervention continued. They set up a lecture hall and bookshop, and an Alpha Room, where they held their Sabbath Assemblies. (Novelist Robert Irwin, whose Satan Wants Me is set against the backdrop of occult 1960s London, recalls some deflowered virgins at Process gatherings, but doubts if there were any virgins in London then.) A movie theatre ran films dominated by destruction and violence. They gave classes in telepathy, self-expression and communication, and got on their soapbox in Hyde Park to preach the apocalypse trip. Processeans hit the streets asking for donations. Mary Ann was a fanatical anti-vivisectionist; cult members were told to say the money was going to ‘animal welfare,’ although most of it landed in the DeGrimstons’ pocket.
Robert’s vision convinced him that people were divided into four types, based on the four god forces. Each was an extreme, and the idea was to discover which path suited you and to follow it wholeheartedly.Jehovans were disciplined, authoritarian, ascetic puritans (Mary Ann was a classic example). Satanists were dedicated to violence, chaos and lust. Luciferians were self-indulgent sensualists (the most popular type in the 1960s, I’d imagine). Christ, as unifier of all three, was the symbol of the new man to emerge after the coming destruction. All the rest were what DeGrimston called ‘The Greys,’ the great mass of lukewarm mediocrities, who take the safe path of compromise and conformity. John Grey “hides, even from himself, his own intensity of feeling” and “has wrapped himself in a cocoon of compromise and mediocrity.” People like him would burn in the purging fires of the last days – which, according to DeGrimston, were soon approaching.
Along with inspired works like The Gods On War, Humanity is The Devil and As It Is – written during his time in Turkey, and which provided the cult with their catchphrase “As it is, so be it” – the main organ of Process theology was their glossy magazine,The Process. Sporting blaring red, purple and black psychedelic graphics, the editorial policy favoured Hitler, Satan and gore. “Humanity is doomed” was the brief. The Tide of the End had come. “The Earth is prepared for the ultimate devastation…The scene is set.”
This they hawked on the streets of Swinging London, hitting the King’s Road, marching into places like the Indica Bookshop, run by Peter Asher (the brother of Paul McCartney’s girlfriend, Jane Asher), Sixties chronicler Barry Miles and John Dunbar, husband of pop chanteuse Marianne Faithfull. Faithfull even appeared in an issue of The Process devoted to death; she later backed away, claiming: “There was something almost like fascism about the Process…” In the “Fear” issue, McCartney revealed that he had no “fear of the world ending or anything like that,” but did fear fear itself. Jane Asher, however, admitted that she used to be afraid of the end of the world, but has since “learned not to think about it.” An issue dedicated to “Freedom of Expression,” had Mick Jagger on the cover. The editors wisely assumed that Mick’s mug would sell more issues than Satan’s, although there would be more sympathy for the Devil later on.
As the cult grew, the DeGrimstons withdrew further from the outer world, occupying a zone of secrecy and exclusion, penetrated only by the oldest members. They called themselves The Omega (see symbol, left); apparently they had fused into a single, psychic entity. Robert, whose long hair, beard and dreamy expression made him look increasingly like Christ, could still be seen at lectures, where his charismatic voice preached the approaching conflagration. Mary Ann was rarely seen by lower ranking members; the hierarchical system of neophytes, initiates, priests and ‘Brothers’ was strictly enforced, and the secret rituals of the Omega were a matter of some speculation among new devotees.
For an unprepared initiate to encounter Mary Ann was a devastating experience. Totalitarian, Mary Ann kept an iron rule, imposing a strict sexual abstinence on new members, although the Omega themselves apparently got up to some tricks. Luciferian Robert advised to “release the fiend that lies within you”; he had several ideas about how to go about that, some of which may have included bestiality.
By 1968 the cult had spread to the States, establishing churches in New York, Boston, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Francisco. They also canvased Europe; in Germany they sent representatives to the neo-Nazi NPD.
Always in search of intensity, Nazi chic attracted them. In Haight-Ashbury they visited the offices of the San Francisco Oracle, hoping to bring the underground newspaper over to the cause. The Oracle was too busy hyping the coming Age of Aquarius to give Satan much time. They paid a visit to the Black Pope, Anton LaVey, head of the Church of Satan, but he had no use for them either. Or did he?
They set up a church at 407 Cole Street. Their neighbour at 636 Cole was someone who would cause them a lot of grief in a year or so. His name was Charles Manson, soon to become the head of the Family responsible for the gruesome Tate-Labianca murders in August of 1969. At that time, Charlie was still an ex-con petty thief, strumming a guitar among the debris of the flower children, languishing amidst the ruins of the Summer of Love. By the end of the decade he was one of the most famous people alive, a cause célèbre in the counter-culture, Satan incarnate for the Establishment. For the Process he spelled doom.
In 1971, Ed Sanders, singer/songwriter with the Fugs and chronicler of New York’s East Village hippie scene, published The Family, a history of Charles Manson and his cult. Like many of the Woodstock Generation, Sanders was appalled at what had happened to the hippie dream.
The innocence of the mid-1960s had given way to bad drugs, maniacal gurus and violence. The Rolling Stones disastrous concert at Altamont, in which Hells Angels terrorised the crowd and murdered at least one person, had sounded a death knell. The Tate-Labianca killings were the final blow. How did “All You Need Is Love” give birth to slaughtered innocents and “Helter Skelter”? Sanders’ answer? The Process.In some of the most sensational hippie prose, Sanders claimed that the Process more or less taught Charlie everything he knew. Sanders made connections. Both Charlie and the DeGrimstons were into Scientology. In 1968 Charlie sent Family member Bruce Davis to visit Process headquarters in London; while there Davis, too, had a brief stint with Scientology. Two Processeans visited Manson in jail; Manson later contributed a stream-of-unconsciousness rant for the Process “Death” issue, calling death “total awareness, closing the circle, bringing the soul to now.” DeGrimston wrote of Satan and Christ coming together; to those in the know, that was just another name for Charlie.
The Process was keen on the Nazis. Manson carved a swastika in his forehead that bore a resemblance to the Process insignia. Both Charlie and Robert were big on fear. For Charlie “feeling the fear” meant “total awareness,” for DeGrimston only after we do “that which we are afraid to do,” can we be saved. Processeans wore black capes and the Family dressed in black when it creepy-crawled. The Process saw biker gangs like the Hells Angels as the shock troops of the coming Armageddon. Manson too tried to ingratiate himself with a bunch of different cycle gangs, like the Straight Satans, Satan Slaves, and Jokers Out of Hell. ‘In’ members of the Process referred to themselves as the Family. Most tellingly, both preached an imminent cataclysm.
Suggestive enough. But Sanders didn’t stop there. Processeans were “hooded snuffoids,” and formed a “black-caped, black-garbed, death- worshipping church.” The DeGrimstons were the head of “an English occult society dedicated to observing and aiding the end of the world by stirring up murder, violence and chaos and dedicated to the proposition that they, the Process, shall survive as the chosen people.” With little evidence Sanders linked the Process to outright sinister cults like Jean Brayton’s renegade Solar Lodge of the OTO – a pirate offshoot of Aleister Crowley’s occult organisation. He also alludes to a series of weird ritual mutilations and animal sacrifices he claims were committed in the Santa Cruz Mountains by a group called the Four Pi.
Needless to say, the Process wasn’t very happy with the book. They lodged a $1,500,000 libel suit against Sanders, and his publishers, and a $1,250,000 suit against a series of magazine articles on the same theme Sanders had written. Dutton, Sanders’ publisher, eventually settled out of court, extracting all reference to the Process in later editions, and adding a disclaimer written by Process members. But the damage had been done.
In 1968, the House of Commons enacted policy to restrict the growth of Scientology. The Process was hit by this when American recruits weren’t allowed into England, immigration officials figuring that one cult is as bad as another. DeGrimston sent his flock to the continent. This began the Mark 10 trip, its name taken from the Gospel. Processeans were to abandon their churches and roam from city to city, embracing whatever the gods sent. Hood in hand, DeGrimstons’ Satanic warriors threw themselves on the mercy of a public who were already being tapped for donations by a collection of other cults. (It brought in some income and got rid of church rents.) After Manson, soliciting Processeans were asked: “Are you devil worshippers?” Public interest dropped. Satan was hot stuff in ‘68, when Rosemary’s Baby was a box office hit. Post-Manson it smelled bad.
A massive and ultimately disastrous facelift was in store. The Process made strenuous efforts to shed their satanic skins, losing their black capes and inverse pentagrams, and adopting first a grey leisure suit – shades of John Grey – and then a blue get-up, reminiscent of late hippie hot tub wear. They took to community service, desperate to show a post-Sixties world that they were love, peace and charity folk after all. They had some success. In Boston, where they were well established, they broadcast on local station WBZ, doing interviews with rock folk like Chicago, the Beach Boys (a Manson link, as Charlie’s Angels lived with drummer Dennis Wilson for a spell), Dr John the Night Tripper, and the aptly named Blood, Sweat and Tears. But the end was in sight. Xtul was just a memory and the DeGrimstons’ greed grew to include Mount Chi, a secret mansion in Westchester County, New York, where the Omega enjoyed their exclusive pastimes. The Process magazine dropped the blood and guts and now pleaded for ‘love.’ Past glories were behind them.
In a frantic bid to stay afloat, the Process threw itself into the grab bag of early Seventies pop occultism, offering classes on astrology, ESP, Tarot and astral travelling. But by then the market was glutted. The end came when the Omega split. Robert, who had been plagued by sexual inhibitions throughout his life – engrams missed in his initial auditing – told Mary Ann he wanted a nubile young female Processean to join their bed. Jehovan Mary Ann refused. Fission started. After a few other incarnations, the council of high ranking Processeans decided that the problems started with Robert’s visions. A struggle ensued. In the end, DeGrimston and his gods were ousted, his name and work stricken from the Process records. Mary Ann, sticking close to Jehovah, carried on, renaming the cult the Foundation Church.
DeGrimston shuffled on for a spell, starting up small groups of followers in different cities, but these didn’t amount to much. Broken, defeated, abandoned by Mary Ann, the final end came in 1975. Crossing Boston Common with a few dedicated believers and his current paramour, DeGrimston suddenly stopped and told his loyal few “We’re just going to leave you now, okay?,” and walked with his partner across the Common, into the land of Grey. Last reports were that he found work with an American telephone company.
Mary Ann kept the Church going for a time, but then she too dropped out of sight. It was rumoured that in the late 1970s she started an occult bookshop in Toledo, Ohio, under the name Circe, but this hasn’t been corroborated. In any case, it’s clear that by that time they had both had enough of the process. De Grimston was forced out by Mary Ann in 1974, and after unsuccessfully trying to start a Process revival, gave up and got a real job. Mary Ann kept revising and renaming the group, gradually removing all references to Satan and Lucifer before realizing that it was easier to persuade the rubes to part with their hard-earned jack for the protection of poor little defenseless animals than to facilitate the immanentization of the eschaton. Ultra-ironically, rumor is that her death in 2005 was the result of an attack by feral dogs that had broken out of their “sanctuary.” Who says Jehovah doesn’t have a sense of humor? Find The Process Church of the Final Judgement http://bestfriends.org/ for real!!! Furthermore, even Son of Sam used to get his orders on who would be the next victim from his neighbor’s dog! Anyone who knows a little about the serial killer will remember this! (or check out the clip about Berkowitz). Andre Rand was also said to have offered the unlucky 7 missing kids of Staten Island to the Process Church for them to be sacrificed on its unholy altar (click on the cross with a snake in bottom left to view complete documentary) and to be possessed himself. Only one body was found and Rand never admitted to any guilt. I strongly suggest you check out his story in fascinating documentary about the called simply CROPSEY.
The one-time lover of Jack Kerouac on why she’ll avoid the new film of the book that made his name
By Peter Stanford
Carolyn Cassady will not be watchingOn the Road, Francis Ford Coppola’s eagerly awaited screen version of Jack Kerouac’s legendary novel, which opens on Friday. This is curious, as Cassady is the model for Camille, one of the main characters, while Dean Moriarty, star turn in the profoundly autobiographical book, is based on her late husband, Neal. And to add to her role in the drink, drug and sex-fuelled inner circle of the beatniks, Kerouac was once her lover.
In part, explains the 89-year-old, she won’t be watching because she is not well enough for a trip to the cinema. Her leg is heavily bandaged after an operation to remove a cancerous growth. As we talk, she’s waiting in her nightie for a nurse to come and change the dressing. Kerouac once described her as “my darling blonde, aristocratic Carolyn”, and her fine bones and patrician manner remain, even with her white hair piled on the back of her head.
Thirty years ago, she settled in Britain – “for the culture” and because “there is nothing I like about America”. So this sole survivor of the hedonistic Beat Generation now lives somewhat incongruously in a park of static mobile homes in suburban Berkshire.
Her reservations about the new film are deep-rooted. For a start, while she has been consulted by the filmmakers, she doesn’t like the casting. “Jack was a big, athletic man, and Neal was very muscular. But the actors they’ve chosen to play them are such wimps.”
Garrett Hedlund, as the hard-drinking, pill-popping, womanising Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady, has talked to her on two occasions, and did not impress. “I think he was the most boring person I have ever met,” she recalls. “He didn’t ask me a single question about Neal, but instead told me how his turkeys in Minnesota bobbed their heads to Johnny Cash music. And then he came here, chauffeur-driven car waiting outside, sat in the chair where you are now, and read to me from his diary for what felt like four hours.”
I can’t decide whether Carolyn Cassady has reached the age where she doesn’t mind any more whom she offends, or whether she was always this outspoken. Perhaps Hedlund saw her as a great literary muse, and his diary-reading was a way of paying homage? “No,” she says with a stuff-and-nonsense firmness, “he was totally self-absorbed, so unlike Neal.”
Kerouac described Neal Cassady on their first meeting as “a side-burned hero of the snowy West”. In many ways, the two couldn’t have been more different. “They each had what the other wanted,” says Carolyn. “It made them admire each other more.”
In the original manuscript of On the Road, currently on show in the British Library, Kerouac uses Cassady’s name. Only later does the character become Dean Moriarty in this fictionalised version of the series of road trips the two took in the late 1940s, complete with beer, grass, jazz, poetry and sex. Cassady’s first wife, LuAnne, would often accompany them, as did the poet Allen Ginsberg (who was Neal Cassady’s lover), leaving Carolyn behind, looking after the couple’s three small children.
“I didn’t want to read On the Road when it came out in 1957 because I didn’t want to know what Neal was doing with Jack when he left me,” she reflects. “And, anyway, it was not my type of literature. I prefer Dickens, Shakespeare and the classics,” she adds, gesturing around the book-lined walls.
“I don’t think Neal ever read it either.” It emphasises the gap between the myth and the reality that she alone remains alive to highlight.
Curiously for someone so enduringly associated with counter-culture, Carolyn has almost nothing of the ageing hippie about her. “I’m such a traditional person,” she agrees. “I was brought up so strictly. I was still hanging on to those principles all the time I was with Neal. That was the problem.”
It sounds as if she is blaming herself for his serial infidelities. “It took me 50 years to understand how much my upbringing affected me.”
The memories – though regularly shared in the 45 years since Neal’s death, not least in two volumes of autobiography – clearly carry with them some pain. “Someone once wrote me and asked if eventually I had stopped crying, and I hadn’t.” She lights up another cigarette.
‘Neal was such a genius. He could psych out who a person was, and fit himself in with where they were. He only showed that side of his personality that fitted with them. That’s what he did to me. It was marvellous.” She pauses. “Before it went haywire.”
Carolyn Robinson was 23 when she first met Cassady. The couple’s backgrounds were worlds apart. She had grown up in a world of privilege, with a comfortable home and private schooling, and was studying for an MA in fine arts. Cassady’s Denver childhood was chaotic. His mother died when he was 10, his father was an alcoholic and they lived in the red light district. He was a hustler from an early age, but also a voracious reader of Proust, Spinoza and Schopenhauer, with dreams of being a writer and intellectual.
They married in 1948 – after he had divorced LuAnne – and spent 20 years together. Carolyn divorced him after 15, but says he hung around her “like a shadow” until he died in 1968. His body was found next to a railway track in Mexico, with high levels of drugs and drink in his blood. His ashes were returned to Carolyn by the woman who had been with him.
She tried, she says, to tame him. “Neal had a lot of responsibilities [to their three children, Cathleen, Jami and John Allen], and he worked hard to support us. He’d take any job – on the railroads, tyre retreads. He always had a job, but then he was gone for two years in prison.”
With the publication of On the Road, Cassady suddenly became well known. He was caught with drugs by two undercover FBI men in San Francisco and jailed. “That whole Beat Generation thing didn’t really happen until later,” says Carolyn. “It was Ginsberg who started it. Jack always said he wanted nothing to do with it. Neal was the same. Jack was crushed by feeling responsible for all these youngsters dropping out of school, running round the country, wanting freedom. He’d been to university. He wrote.”
Far from being carefree, her husband was, she remembers, tormented and torn. On the one hand, there was the stable, domestic world at home in California that she provided – though it was unconventional enough that Neal gave his blessing to Carolyn’s affair with Kerouac.
“We were always very discreet,” she insists. And then there were the times he would go off for long periods and live the beatnik life. Neal always wanted to write, she recalls, “but he could never sit still long enough and find the mot juste”. A single slim volume, The First Third, appeared after his death.
Carolyn wrote her books as a corrective to what she sees as the Beat Generation myth – which will only be encouraged, she feels, by the new film. “I’ve tried to share my memories,” she says. “But people just don’t seem to want to hear. They prefer to believe the other version.”
It feels as though this literary widow has finally bowed to the inevitable. Fighting the legend that has swallowed up her life is beyond her now dwindling powers. And anyway she needs what energy she has left for her ongoing battle with the UK Border Agency over its refusal to allow her 60-year-old son, John Allen (“named after Jack and Allen Ginsberg”), to visit her. He was turned back at Heathrow earlier this year because he had a one-way ticket, though he’d been here many times before.
“I’m getting old and I need his help. I can’t even get to the shops for groceries. So I told him to leave his return open. Now he’s been sent back, and they are treating him as if he is a terrorist.” Next to such a practical dilemma, whether or not to watch a certain film must seem irrelevant.
What’s her son’s attitude to On the Road, I wonder. “Oh,” says Carolyn casually, “he hasn’t read it either”.