The Beauty of the Beast

loureed

Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story by Victor Bockris

A Review by Tobe Damit
A Review by Tobe Damit

Updated after Reed’s death in October 2013, Transformer, The Complete Lou Reed Story definitely offers a lot more than one can possibly expect from a biography. Saying that Transformer encompasses everything you can possibly want to know about the life and times of the rock icon/artist/persona would still be a huge understatement. Going way beyond the usual narration of dates, love stories, anecdotes, arguments, relationships, records and tours reviews, Victor Bockris takes us much deeper, into the artist’s mystifying mind without a single dull moment, unexpectedly delving into the psyche as well as various traumas thus making Transformer a masterpiece that may seem at times closer to an essay written with a truly contagious passion. As I was reading various passages about Lou’s most intimate, meaningful moments, I suddenly became a voyeur, travelling through space and time, only making halts to land, embedded in Lou’s cerebral cortex, at very specific, revealing  moments,  a caterpillar enthralled in a mind-blowing, heart wrenching, enlightening spiritual journey to redemption and self-completion.

Reed©Francesco Scavullo 1974
Reed©Francesco Scavullo 1974

Caterpillar….As I was sifting through other reviews, I paused as I read the word ”butterfly” and pondered. As the biography evolves you really get the sense of a colorful and vivacious punk caterpillar struggling with an acute egoistic hedonism.Reed was constantly and desperately looking for a way to become a magnificent butterfly that proudly spreads its wonderful, astoundingly colorful wings with a rare dignified wisdom that is rarely reached by those who have such a big ego as Reed. Reading the book, you just know that in the end he had reached this point since with an ego, you cannot bend, and with an ego how can one be really dignified? How can an ego give you grace? It would be just a superficial posture, empty, impotent posture. Nothing inside, just an empty shell without any content. Reading Transformer, it is very obvious that Reed tremendously suffered from his ego all through his life. At times he may have had the posture but he was obviously to clever and sensitive to not come to the realisation that something was missing. A man should be able to be undignified too. If you are always dignified you cannot laugh, you cannot joke, you lose all humanity and become inhuman.

Punk Magazine 1976 First Issue with Lou Reed very ''insect'' look drawn by John Holmstrom. Consacrating Lou Reed as the ultimate Punk Rock Godfather.
Punk Magazine 1976 First Issue with Lou Reed very ”insect” look drawn by John Holmström. Consecrating Lou Reed as the ultimate Punk Rock Godfather. Click image for more.

The book bluntly starts, and very rightly so, with the shock therapy treatment Lou received starting in the spring of 1959 after Lou’s conservative parents, Sidney and Toby Reed, sent their son to a psychiatrist, requesting that he cures Lou of homosexual feelings and alarming mood swings. According to Lou, the shock treatment helped eradicate any feelings of compassion he might have and handed him that fragmented approach that took over most of his life. Lou could be so loveable that you wanted to invite him to supper and meet your family but then behaving in such a way that you wanted to kick him out the door the next minute.

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”I’m an artist and that means I can be as egotistical as I want to be”

Bockris really takes his time detailing with an almost scientific manner how screwed up his relationships became from then on, not only because of the treatment itself but also how it put his relationship with his parents in a twisted love-hate trauma because he simply could not fathom how his parents could have agreed to the torture that the shock treatment therapy represented to him, and yet, he simply couldn’t remove his parents from his life, even if he really felt the urge to do so. So there you are, Bockris gets you a privileged seat in the house, an overview of Lou’s entourage through his own mind. Of course it doesn’t explain everything but it sure explains a lot of his writings and the poetry of many of the songs that songs he has written. You get an even more seizing pregnant image of Lou’s relationship with his father towards the end of the book when Bockris hands us a very important of the puzzle when he writes ”One day, as a child, Lou’s hand strayed into close proximity to where his father was standing. He received a sharp smack for this action, recounts Reed’s close friend Julian Schnabel, who adds, “He never got over the cruelty of that.”

Lou Reed performing in UK at Scala Cinema,King's Cross,London on 15th of July 1972.
Lou Reed performing in UK at Scala Cinema, King’s Cross,London on 15th of July 1972. Bowie co-produced Reed’s first solo album Transformer very shortly after. 

Those who see Lou Reed as a punk icon are right, he is and will hopefully remain one  but as you get further down the line reading this biography you get the urge to spread the word that he is way more than that. To me White Light/White Heat was the first punk song ever to be recorded. Far from fast forwarding on that era, Bockris still goes through that era with all the required details even if the book Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story, by Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga and is based on interviews with Nico, Cale, Reed, Morrison and Tucker, as well as others who became part of Andy Warhol’s circle of artistic collaborators. It remains widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest rock books ever published and is an utterly interesting, if not vital complement if you want to know the complete story because in this biography Bockris does not talk about that part of Lou’s life in details. You also get to see how Lou Reed desperately needs to be the center of attention as the original formation rapidly disintegrated. After the release of each album they loose one of the original member. First Nico, followed by Cale and then finally, Reed himself. You get a really good sense of his ”behavioral pattern” in one of Reed’s favorite movies called The Ruling Class featuring Peter O’Toole.

The original formation on the Velvet Underground produced by Andy Warhol in Hollywood 1966 © Gerard Malanga
The original formation of the Velvet Underground and Nico produced by Andy Warhol in Hollywood 1966 ©Photo credit: Gerard Malanga

Fortunately you also get to know other aspects of Lou’s life, especially towards the end his life when he met the one and only person who managed to rekindle all those inner conflicts that were constantly harassing Reed’s mind; his magical, almost mystical, third and last wife, Laurie Anderson. The process had already been put in motion with Robert Quinn without ending well as always but Bockris is the only one who managed to take us to a place that enabled Reed to get closer to functioning as a normal human being with the updated version of the biography. It is through the character of Lulu, who originally came to life in two plays by the ground breaking German playwright Frank Wedekind, an author who came to prominence around the same time as Oscar Wilde in the 1890s. Two great extrapolations of the play are G.W Pabst’s 1929 film Pandora’s Box.

Lou with Rachel, his muse from Metal Machine Music through Take No Prisoners and the subject of Coney Island Baby,1975 (Photo by Gerard Malanga)
Lou with Rachel, his muse from Metal Machine Music through Take No Prisoners and the subject of Coney Island Baby,1975 (Photo by Gerard Malanga). Click on image for more about Lou’s ladies.

Just the fact that Reed finally managed to reach what is the closest thing to serenity through his art and music is revealing of how much of a thoroughly honest and sincere artist Lou Reed always was. Each and every record brought him a piece of the solution, even if he sometimes got lost in the way, he obviously always made sure that each and every single thing he did was meaningful to him  as an artist and as a human being. Lulu is a totally underestimated album, a collaboration between him and the band Metallica, the best band he could think of to help him forge this masterpiece that finally managed to set him free, reconciling this ongoing battle between male-female and female-male, the jealousy, the fear of being rejected, all those complex feelings he was constantly struggling with came to be irremediably exposed and somehow ”tamed”. That is why Bockris in another masterful stroke of genius explains in details everything that was implied in the making of Lulu. You may not like the album, but you must take the time to think about everything it represents. Think of it as Lou and Metallica having violent, bordering non-consensual but this twisted passion is honest and not without hope and can be seen as an exorcism with Laurie Anderson’s precious help. It was the final touch that allowed Lou Reed to spend his final years at peace with John Cale with whom he released Peel Slowly and See, the ultimate Velvet Underground re-edition as well as the Deluxe Edition of White Light/White Heat . During the last six month of his life he also worked on his final collection of photographs Rimes/Rhymes and he even went to England to publicize Mick Rock’s limited edition of Transformer, a great collection of Lou Reed’s photographs.

mick-rock-1975
Lou Reed and Nico ©Mick Rock 1975

Of course this isn’t the only collaboration described in Transformer. You get to witness Lou’s collaborations with some of the most influential artists of his times, from John Cale, Andy Warhol (Reed and Cale made an album called Songs for Drella in Warhol’s honor after his death), and Nico, through David Bowie, Bob Ezrin, Robert Quine, Robert Wilson, Laurie Anderson and the ghost of Edgar Alan Poe on The Raven as well as many, many more. Reading Transformer you do really get the sense that there is a convergence leading to Lulu and get to understand why Lou Reed finally reached a point where he finally got some closure and could sit back and enjoy life, love, friendship and joking around. Maybe he just stopped trying to be perfect in the end, at last. Bockris states that he had learned to enjoy what he had, what he was and was proud of what he had done and was at peace with himself and for that, I think everyone can only be happy for him.

ANNIE LEIBOVITZ - "Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson Coney Island, New York, 1995"
Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson Coney Island, New York, 1995©Photo by Annie Leibovitz

By the way, reading transformer never gives you the overall feeling that Lou Reed was a complete degenerate asshole. On the contrary, you simply learn to get to know him and appreciate him for what he is and respect all the attempt his made to find out what really lies down at the end of every path he could take. Thanks to this book, I know that those of us who dare to try, no matter how fucked up we are, will one day reach a place that can be called home; that perfection can only be found deep inside our heart if only I we have the courage to let it bleed for the things that deeply, truly matters. I now understand that there is no such thing as an end, or death, only constant renewal. Reed reinvented himself so many times and in so many different ways. One MUST take that into consideration despite the despair and the fear the fear of the unknown. There is no ugliness, there is only a beauty that has yet to revealed itself, hidden in our deepest fears. This book is a major statement and is for sure as close as you will ever get to Lou Reed’s Rock’n’Roll Heart. Make sure you give it your undivided attention because just like it’s subject, this book will slap you in the face if you don’t!

Badass
”When I’m talking, listen, goddamn it. When I’m talking to you, you look me in the eyes, goddamn it, or I’ll fucking smash you in the face, and I’m serious, I’m deadly serious’‘- Lou Reed to Robert Quine at CBGB’s, 1977 (extract from V. Bockris’ Transformer)

 

Interview with author Victor Bockris HERE!

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Smash the Control Images!

Now there are some ideas that have been germinating in my mind for a while.. I can’t say how long because it’s not a very definite thought but rather an evolving one. I have hesitated to talk about it since I know for sure that a lot of people are going to go sort of like: ”OK… ( Nooooo!!! Would be more accurate) Another Goddamn Conspiracy Freak Advocate!” Now I feel this thing was there before I was born. For someone my age and look back at the history, culture, politics and music of the 60’s and the 70’s,  most of that time very enthusiastic about what was being thought and done but always being intrigued, revolted and afraid of how something like the Summer of 67 ended up being such an absolute total bad trip. You are left there thinking:”Boy!!! That Vietnam War sure made it seems like it was a really good thing if it was worth the death of millions of US soldiers and all the sufferings that come with it when such a war take place not only on the killing fields overseas but also where it all comes back to in the end, the families, the people  of both sides and when 4 soldiers died in Ohio I think people realised that the impact back in the US (and around the world) was far more important than we could have ever imagined. In fact so many conspiracy theories have the Vietnam War at the epicenter that one could be tempted to think that all that the secret agencies have done behind close doors and in plain daylight, right before our very eyes,  must have been in multiple various cases a blue print of  many, many similar covert and false flag operations to come!! Well, it seems they have learned a lot more than we did. It is so obvious why people won’t admit to themselves it happened, it’s not because they’re stupid or bad, no, far from it, it’s because to most people it would be inconceivable that the people in power, the people who have a part of our fate in their hands, it’s inconceivable that they could do things like that, it’s also impossible to them that the people who would have noticed (let’s say the medias) wouldn’t have allowed it. I do respect that opinion. I don’t either diminish the noble act of being a soldier and fighting at the peril of your life for a cause that you believe in. I just believe that people are given orders from their superior and they execute it. In the army, in the office and as a citizen. 8907391

The CIA was founded in 1947 and has increasingly expanded its roles, including covert paramilitary operations. One of its largest divisions, the Information Operations Center (IOC), has shifted focus from counter-terrorism to offensive cyber-operations. While the CIA has had some recent accomplishments, such as locating Osama bin Laden and taking part in the successful Operation Neptune Spear, it has also been involved in controversial programs such as extraordinary rendition and enhanced interrogation techniques. When the CIA was created, its purpose was to create a clearinghouse for foreign policy intelligence and analysis. Today its primary purpose is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence, and to perform covert actions.

 

The HA would sure Make love but they wouldn't give up one for the other!
The HA would sure Make love but they wouldn’t give up one for the other!

Now where would they start? Some stuff went further back..The complaints were coming from broken homes probably? But not so much from the veterans themselves as they were, themselves very divided on that part. The Hells Angels were started on March 17, 1948, by the Bishop family, American war immigrants in Fontana, California. The name “Hell’s Angels” was inspired by the typical naming of American squadrons, or other fighting groups, with a fierce, death-defying title in World Wars I and II so I would say they would have worked against anyone who or anything that is anti-war. Everyone agrees now that it was a huge monumental mistake to have hired the HA as security for the Free Festival of Altamont. But I’m ahead of myself there..  hells-angels-group-with-jackets

In the 60’s came a new breed of youngsters in large numbers, idealist, contesting the values their rigid parents were fighting the best they could, the flow of new ideas and the magnificence of the movement being such that it was like a beast that would kill you with LOVE. The Beatles part was ok I think… but then came the Rolling Stones! Then in New-York the scandal of Pop Art, TVs (transvestites!), Drugs!! First known casualty Brian Jones (3 July 1969) who mysteriously died a ”death by misadventure” in his pool. Then it was Jimi Hendrix turn (18th September 1970) who died of asphyxia, all dressed up in his bed with wine in his hair and all over his clothes. Then came Janis Joplin (October 5, 1970), Pulmonary edema and congestion, they say due to an injection of heroin overdose but the death certificate says that the eyes show a moderate sign of dilatation, which is very surprising if she indeed died of a heroin injection!! Last but not least, 2 YEARS TO THE DAY AFTER BRIAN JONES on July the 3rd 1971, Jim Morrison died, according to the death certificate of a cardiac arrest. All 4 were died at age 27, within 2 years, all the artists that represented the remains of a movement born with The Beatles, wanting peace and love, the retreat of US and all troops in Vietnam, no more wars, honesty.. JFK wanted honesty! And Peace!! He was killed too!!  

The Vietnam war started in what was called the INCIDENT and the main actor on the field was no other than the Jim Morrison’s father, George Stephen Morrison, United States Navy rear admiral (upper half) and naval aviator. Morrison was commander of the U.S. naval forces in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident of August 1964, which sparked an escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War.  Now isn’t that something? Now you must be saying what about Manson!!! Well I think Manson was the Ace in the Hole! Imagine the secret agencies wanting more than anything that this war goes on and on, in fact when the 4 students were killed in a manifestation, Nixon had been elected by promising he would stop that war, instead he announced the Cambodian Campaign, taking the war on a whole new level and threatening territories that were never suppose to be a  part of it.   

Admiral George Stephen Morrison
Admiral George Stephen Morrison

Now this was only a little part of what went on during those years, because I have nit mention the Tate-LaBianca Murders by the Manson Family. What a perfect setting!! So they had it easy dealing with musicians, they all have vices that could kill them and no one would ask amy questions. Now they needed something even more frightening!! No doubt in my mind that countless affairs were carefully manipulated by secret agencies. Now after the music business comes the actors!!  The Lookout Mountain Air Force Station was founded on the same year as the CIA and ended in 1969, after the Charles Manson trials. Interesting fact: Sharon Tate’s father joined the army in 1947.  Paul Tate spent 23 years in U.S. Army intelligence and retired as a lieutenant colonel soon after his daughter’s death.

Imagine for a second that all the actors and all of Hollywood’s shot callers were under the influence of the Intelligence agencies of the USA government. Imagine that a lot of stuff is being written and/or pre written before it happens. And of course you can use aspects of an event or a company, or a person and make them appear as you like into the heads of people who watches TV. Imagine that Burroughs was right when he wrote in his novel ”The Ticket That Exploded” about ”language being a virus ”.ticket He claimed that language is infectious and exerts limitations and controls over people’s minds by its very existence and utility. He believed that the ability to think and create was limited by the conventions of grammar and usage. For example, most people have not difficulty grasping the idea of a “kitchen sink,” but a “sinking kitchen” gives most of us pause. Most words and phrases in our native language are indelibly linked to the concept they represent. What comes to mind when I say: ”Black Cat!!” I’ll wager it wasn’t a white horse. I’ll further suggest that it wasn’t a dark-colored boat, a dominatrix’s whip, or an African-American jazz musician…. Yet all are possibilities. Burroughs thought that eventually, such associations could eventually lead to complete thought control, by limiting the mind’s ability to free associate. All possibilities would be accounted for by existing words in expected patterns. Burroughs made his living in the medium of words, but he reportedly believed that “‘Word and image locks’ and ‘association blocks’ lock the mind into conventional patterns of thinking, speaking, acting, and perceiving things.”‘ This led him to use a variety of techniques for breaking out of the virus’s control including cutting and folding word groupings to form such gems as “The great skies are open. Supreme bugle burning flesh children to mist.”  He also included a decade long part of his life trying to put to practice some aspects of Scientology and the Dianetics with a few results of his own. Acquiring while doing so the convoited status of what they call:”Clear”.produced_by_lookout_mountain_laboratory_film_credit

There was a studio located in Laurel Canyon that closed in 1969, shortly after the Tate-LaBianca murders. Los Angeles, California is the epicenter of the movie-making industry, so it should come as no surprise that the US military had its own studio in LA. Known as Lookout Mountain Air Force Station, or Lookout Mountain Laboratory, what made this studio special is that the films produced there were all classified.Let’s say out of pure fabulation that they closed after this because they had managed to infiltrate the main private industry, slowly but surely. One movie and one book translate that idea very well: First the movie called ”Mulholland Drive” by none other than David Lynch and the book, Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis. The Church of Scientology has acquired the power to influence the courses of things. It has been scientifically verified by Burroughs and other well-esteemed members of the human race learned how to use multi -media images in a certain way, superimposing them, etc. to influence the course of events.

warhol-andy-12-electric-chairs-2807474
12 Electric Chairs by Andy Warhol

You don’t have to believe that though… Just look at the work of Andy Warhol. He multiplicated an image to diminish it’s impact. Some say he was influenced by Dali.  All his life, Dali was obsessed with doubles, copies and replicas because he  had an older brother who died before he was born and his grieving parents named him exactly the same name! Warhol took it to another level, duplicating the same image time and time again! Anyone knows that after you have heard about an event repeatedly the magnitude because almost insignificant, YOU GET USED TO IT!  140131142437-exp-promo-cnn-series-sixties-janteaser-00001025-horizontal-gallery

There’s a program called ”Beyond Scared Straight”. The first time I saw it I was appalled by how young the kids were and how insignificant the nature of their crime was versus the treatment they were given. I told someone, without even thinking, ”they” are going to get more and more vicious and daring as time goes. I watched it again maybe 2 seasons later (because people love that shit!) and I saw an 11 year old girl, at her wits end, on the edge of a panic attack, breathing in a brown bag because she had skipped class and was STARTING to take after her 15 year old older brother who had skipped class and was smoking pot. WOW!! That’s it???? Two seasons earlier you had much heavier crimes and teens that were older… like 17 with a load of criminal charges that were about to get them to appear before an adult  court, so I guess they told themselves they should get them before it happens but any fools know that teenage is a difficult time and no one should be judged according to that specific period of your life.  And what about ”Campus PD”? The motives and the way they arrest these poor students!! My God!!! What does that tell you?? It tells me that there’s a war against the youth. A youth that in the 60’s tried to change things, tried to stop a war. They were stopped too. The hippie movement died with Charles Manson and later on with Jim Morrison and all  the martyrs of the defunct revolution. Anyway, the point is that after awhile you get accustomed to certain things if you see them again and again on TV. A few years ago violence in films and on video games was a big thing, nobody cares now. The sexuality, the language and the level of violence have gone up the roof!!! To Be Honest it’s not what scares me the most. What scares me the most is the level of influence the medias have and how it belongs to a very few privileged, greedy hands. A retired CIA agents was asked what would be his best advice if you wouldn’t want to be influenced by the secret agencies in a negative way and he said: ”Don’t watch TV, Never watch TV or movies unless you watch it in a critical manner.” Right away you get the image of these poor guys who think the TV is talking to them and telling them to do stuff… Well, maybe they aren’t so far off… It’s just not literal, it’s just is a little more subtle then how they put it, but not by that far. It’s very easy to influence the people. It’s so easy to demonize someone, you all know that right?? Just put his quotes in horror movies character or anything related to evil, quote him out of context, associate him (or her) to murders, rapes, blood or the occult before, during and after the facts and very soon you will have fabricated what represents the very essence of evil in the minds of the mass.

Now if I make some general observations about the medias in general, I can see that the more is more and more sexualized, violent, that the black guy or the old guy always dies first, that beauty and money are more important than anything, horror movies always end up bad, think of yourself first or you’re going to get fucked, you can’t trust anyone, you have to fit into the mold or you will be attacked AND youth is under attack.  childrens-tv-011

Add to that the fact that movie and TV tend to look more and more like reality and you get a pretty weird picture…. If you would be holding a major part of the medias, wouldn’t you use them to your ends? I get this image popping in my brain, day after day, a granite monument erected in 1980 in Elbert County, Georgia, in the United States. The structure is sometimes referred to as an “American Stonehenge”. The monument is 19 feet 3 inches (5.87 m) tall, made from six granite slabs weighing 237,746 pounds (107,840 kg) in all. One slab stands in the center, with four arranged around it. A capstone lies on top of the five slabs, which are astronomically aligned. An additional stone tablet, which is set in the ground a short distance to the west of the structure, provides some notes on the history and purpose of the Guidestones.In a book written by the man who called himself R.C. Christian. I discovered that the monument he commissioned had been erected in recognition of Thomas Paine and the occult philosophy he espoused. Indeed, the Georgia Guidestones are used for occult ceremonies and mystic celebrations to this very day. What really bothers me is the first rule written on the Stone:

1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

georgia_guidestones_night

Now that is scary don’t you think?? The fact that most Americans have never heard of the Georgia Guidestones or their message to humanity reflects the degree of control that exists today over what the American people think. We ignore that message at our peril.

PS: It was proven that AIDS is a virus that wouldn’t have never survived in nature. It is proven to be man-made. I’m thinking about this movie in which our hero manages to create a movement in the masses but we’re not mad! We swallowed every little pill they made us take, little by little, leaving us with the illusion that we could still make it in our own way and that we are not hurting anyone!! Well, today was Jimi Hendrix death anniversary and I can honestly say that we are heading towards a very grisly, frightful, , loathsome and abhorrent future, a NEAR future. BTW Lennon got his day too remember? The Beatle who was the most active on the political scene. Making Bed ins for peace…. Could they really do that you think???

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

John Waters Conversation Portrait

ROLE MODELS by John Waters 

From NYPL LIVE 

“Pink Flamingoes” director and Pope of Trash JOHN WATERS discusses how his odd roster of role models inspired him to achieve neurotic happiness. In this conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Waters also offers subversive tips for how to dress, steal flowers and die.

—————————–
JOHN WATERS is an American filmmaker, actor, writer, and visual artist best known for his cult films, including Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Cecil B. DeMented. He lives in Baltimore.

PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER is the Director of Public Programs – known as LIVE from the NYPL– for The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library. This conversation occurred on June 7, 2010.

~ Conversation Portrait by Flash Rosenberg ~

Artist-in-Residence, LIVE from the New York Public Library
~ ideas drawn as they are discussed in real time ~

2011 LES Film Festival Winner for ‘Best Animation’
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executive producers: Ron Qurashi, Diane Charles
– for Intelligent Life Productions
sponsor: Lexus for L/Studio.com
– for Team One Advertising: Chris Graves
– for Lexus:Robin Pisz
live-drawing and direction: Flash Rosenberg
video editor: Sarah Lohman
music: Ken Rosenberg

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© Flash Rosenberg 2010
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flashrosenberg@gmail.com

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The Man Who Fell to Earth and Sold the World

The Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud. 

badsongs-david-bowie-590x350

British musician David Robert Jones aka David Bowie died in New-York on Sunday January 10, 2016, two days after his 69th birthday. His death really hit me hard. I had often fantasized that if there was a movie to be made about my life, for sure they would have been more than a couple of Bowie’s songs on the soundtrack. I can without a doubt  say that Bowie’s music has been a constant throughout my life, no matter how I changed, no matter what place I ended up being watching the sunrise or whom I found myself to be with, Bowie was there, humming along as I walked passed through life, no matter which path I had chosen nor how wild was the wind, Bowie always seemed either to fit perfectly or to be perfectly unfit for the situation. Each tune telling me in a very special, unique way that I’m ok, and if I’m not doing ok, that, at the very least, I am not the only one who feels alone and locked away in space and time, huge thanks to aliens and Major Tom. 

 THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH 1976 British Lion film with David Bowie
The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)

clockwerk bowie 

   I vividly remember myself setting myself up to listen Space Oddity from start to finish. That album was the first of a long and important part of my vinyl record collection. I was expecting something very new wave, very edgy. I was so pleasantly surprised  by the deep felt lyrics and conquered by the very planetary folk essence. It definitely had a knack to it and I felt a deep intimacy and sensitiveness through the whole album. I was conquered and intrigued.

Arnold Layne’s Moonage Daydream

Syd Barrett by George Underwood who was David Bowie's childhood friend. David owns this painting, he is a huge Syd fan.
Syd Barrett by George Underwood who was David Bowie’s childhood friend (Underwood is the one responsible for punching him in the left eye during a fight over a girl that left David with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil, which gave a false impression of a change in the iris’ colour) . David owns this painting and is a huge Syd fan (and always remained Underwood’s close friend).

     I was already a huge fan of Pink Floyd’s early days with Barrett and everything that was shining behind those ”crazy diamonds”. David Bowie first released “Moonage Daydream” under the project name Arnold Corns,  inspired by Pink Floyd’s song “Arnold Layne”. Arnold Corns’ version of “Moonage Daydream” was recorded in April ‘71 and released as a single in May of that year, with “Hang on to Yourself” as its B-side.  The song tells the story of an alien messiah, who is born to save the world from impending disaster. Surprisingly, it was a flop, but Bowie recognized he had hit on an idea that was too good to waste, and developed it for the album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  Later, on PIN-UPS ,  Bowie showed again his admiration by making a cover of  Pink Floyd’s early tracks, ”See Emily Play” written by no other than the original frontman Syd Barrett .  I saw in Bowie the same Oddity coupled with some space, alien, extraterrestrial, Life on Mars and the wild psychedelic thoughts of The Man Who Sold the World .  For sure Bowie’s deep sympathy and interest for Barrett must also have a little something to do with his half-brother Terry, who had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic. A lad insane… As some would put it…   david-bowie-aka-ziggy-stardust-wallpaper

So If you try and follow that thread all the way one can gather all the main roots of Bowie’s first albums…. From Syd Barrett‘s psychedelic fascination for astronomy, LSD and schizophrenia coupled with Bowie’s appreciation for Brian Eno and Roxy Music, VU and Iggy to a lad insane all dolled up!!  I’m referring here to The New-York Dolls who certainly had something to do with Bowie’s early very openly effeminate look of his early days, giving birth to Glam Rock as Bowie saw it. The thread being picked up later on by krautrock, leading to ”space” music which in turn influenced largely techno music… Now this no small influence… Bowie never invented anything of this but per se but he sure did picked it up because the vibes were in the air, moonage daydreaming with Arnold…  Bowie space

     I see Bowie as a one of the pioneer of  ”modern” music along with The Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop and Joy Division. He also committed some of the best glam rock and art rock stuff with glitters of gold that was ever done along with The Dolls, The Heartbreakers, Brian Eno/Roxy Music and to his credit he was aware of the Velvet Underground and The Stooges before a lot of people, before he was known himself . What he added was this theatrical and artistic dimension that was first introduced by VU, managed in their early days by Andy Warhol,  plus the whole persona/opera aspect that the Who have also explored on very early. The Velvets and Warhol, were one of the first to really exploit the aspect of performance other than the musicians themselves, in modern rock. Andy Warhol’s lights engineer Danny Williams pioneered many innovations that have since become standard practice in rock music light shows.  

The Exploding Plastic Inevitable effects featured while VU were performing onstage but the show was offstage as well with lots of special effects.
The Exploding Plastic Inevitable effects featured while VU were performing onstage but the show was offstage as well with lots of special effects.

From May 27-29 the Exploding Plastic Inevitable played The Fillmore in San Francisco, where Williams built a light show including stroboscopes, slides and film projections onstage. At Bill Graham’s request he was soon to come back and build more. Film maker Jonas Mekas (who pioneered film projections during concerts at New York’s Cinematheque), Andy Warhol and Danny Williams influential ideas contributed much to the legendary Fillmore Auditorium’s prestige and were also used at the Fillmore East and Fillmore West, both opening in 1968. Bowie was clever enough to realise that there definitely was something there. He used all these ideas in his very own way, perfecting the art of performing an opera like show, impersonating Ziggy while at the same time pushing the whole concept of space and extraterrestrials and alien life. Don’t get me wrong here.. I’m not saying he was a plagiarist… He just so happened that everything he was about was probably at least partly incorporating all of these ”trends” already and of course I’m totally skipping T-Rex, Slade, Suzy Quatro, Glitter, etc, etc, etc… But Bowie just caught the vibes that were in the air and made a mold that would be his from then on to Eternity… From Cosmic Folk to… everything else…. Bowie was always inspired by what was the very best and he made sure he got the very best in order to create the very best. It seems that everything started with the new folk created by Bob Dylan back then in one way or another… So…. Barrett and Bowie ”invented” ”Cosmic Folk” and from there, it was like…..Ziggy played guitar and took it so very far… Became the Thin White Duke..and so much more… 

English model Twiggy poses with David Bowie in Paris for the cover of his 'Pin Ups' album, 1973. (Photo by Justin de Villeneuve/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
English model Twiggy poses with David Bowie in Paris for the cover of his ‘Pin Ups’ album, 1973. (Photo by Justin de Villeneuve/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

I heard recently that this gut instinct attraction to anything that glows or shines like gold, silver, diamonds and any precious stones comes from a very primal need we had for water during the pre-historical times of our evolution and has now become part of our genes legacy. So in a very poetic manner, one could say that we needed glam rock like we need  water. The relief we got from drinking the source of life that is water was and is still related to seeing the ripples and twinkle the sun would make when playing on the surface of this precious vital liquid, reminding us of our Gods and of the very sources of life on Earth. The Sun and the Water. While Richard Hell rightly felt we were the Blank Generation, Bowie made us realise how small we are under the stars… And we felt it, we felt the immensity of our Universe. I always felt that Bowie’s contribution to music was rarely bleak but rather uplifting, he always made us stare into the mystery of the universe without losing sight of all that was going inside another parallel universe, one filled with an overactive imagination and very deep, heartfelt but nevertheless human feelings.  BTW I always felt that those Diamond Dogs were inspired by the Nova Trilogy written by William Burroughs…. It just precisely the kind of creatures that would come out of his novels and bite your balls.

As befitting a post-apocalyptic work, Dogs was born from the frustration of failed opportunities. Bowie initially endeavored to create a TV musical adaptation of George Orwell’s totalitarian milestone 1984—until the social critic’s widow refused permission. Around the same time, Rolling Stone’s London bureau arranged for Bowie and William S. Burroughs to interview each other, which introduced the singer to the author’s Nova Express. Immediately thereafter, Bowie began penning lyrical non sequiturs via that novel’s cut-up technique, and planned a Ziggy musical to be similarly shuffled each night. This, too, faltered, although it inspired new tunes. These two projects, sharing dystopian themes, fused together to form the mutant Dogs.”Barry Walters for Pitchfork

Bowie and Burroughs
Bowie and Burroughs

I always saw Bowie as universal as he was intimate and had the power of attracting us to the most mysterious but positive sources of life.  

Lou Reed performing in UK at Scala Cinema,King's Cross,London on 15th of July 1972.
Lou Reed performing in UK at Scala Cinema,King’s Cross,London on 15th of July 1972.

Personally I see 1972 as a stepping stone in Bowie’s career mainly because it was then that he so kindly invited over in England Iggy and The Stooges and Lou Reed for a memorable series of shows , seizing this occasional dream and turning it in one of the most important album in the history of modern rock by producing Lou Reed’s Transformer‘. I thought that it was really nice of Bowie to offer a helping hand, share his technical, musical and artistic abilities/facilities,  the place he had in the spotlight by then by opening his arms, and the Gates of England (Europe?),  by showing to the world who were his greatest, most important, I could almost say revered (?)influences, Lou Reed (formerly from the Velvet Underground) as well as Iggy and the Stooges.  This was not as you all know a one time thing… He really helped Iggy Pop as much as he could to write and produce The Idiot and Lust for Life, even touring with Iggy!Brian Eno was a major producer on at least 3 of Bowie’s album known as the Berlin Trilogy” (”Low” , ”Heroes” and ”Lodger”)  though the album was mainly recorded in France and only mixed in West Berlin. Iggy Pop was of course cited by many as THE major influence for Ziggy Stardust.Iggy…. Ziggy… But the opinion as to the inspiration behind Bowie’s 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, has always been divided; Mick Ronson, guitarist on the album, who died in 1993, credited Iggy Pop. “Mick said Bowie was looking for a rock star name beginning with Z – just like a plumber looks for a name beginning with A, to be at the front of the phone book,” said Christopher Sandford, Bowie’s latest biographer. “He met Iggy in 1971 and put a Z in front.” But we all know there’s more to it .  Another Bowie biographer, Peter Gillman, claimed the name was a composite of Iggy Pop and a US performer called The Legendary Stardust Cowboy. He is sceptical about Bowie’s announcement. “Look at how the lyrics describe him. `Loaded’, `Well hung’, `God given ass’. He was talking about himself.”

Bowie on the cover of his 1977 album "Low.
Bowie on the cover of his 1977 album “Low”

The album ”Low” marked a decisive shift in his musical style toward an electronic and avant-garde approach that would be further explored on the subsequent albums “Heroes” (1977) and Lodger (1979). Despite all these influences and collaboration Bowie was more than the sum of it. He always added is own touch and constantly went out of his way to give us the very best.  I think Bowie should be remembered as the ”Warhol” of music, always seeing and seeking the very best out of everyone and everything that was ”in the Universe”,  had the humility to help as well as being helped. Let’s not forget that even if he wasn’t the first one to do so, he really helped to change the perceptions towards homosexuals, cross dressing (”TV”s) and transgender, helping perpetuate the movement started in New-York by Warhol that the Velvet Underground had already strongly approached in NYC as well as throughout the US and Bowie somehow managed to making it a mainstream thing in the UK! We all know how much admiration Bowie had for Warhol (there’s a track called Andy Warhol on Bowie’s album Hunky Dory that was of course dedicated to Warhol) and how deceived David was to only get a remark on how nice his shoes were by the master of Pop Art! Nevertheless, glam rock really was the musical embodiment of Warhol’s thinking as well as many universal truth like the principal of the yin and the yang, the fact that there are greater forces at work here such as the universal attraction and major power that the sun and water still hold over each and every human being, only proving that this fascination we have from gold, diamonds and other shiny things only being a lure whereas we should be more focusing on, as mentioned before, water, fire, stars, planets and..loving the aliens?

David Bowie as Alex from A Clockwork Orange with a background that says a lot to me..
David Bowie as Alex from A Clockwork Orange with a background that speaks for itself.
Artwork ©Butcher Billy
Spiffy GIF Artwork ©Butcher Billy

Candy Darling

The Best Role She Ever Played Was Her Own

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Click!

Those Chelsea Girls with their Slurpy Names…

New Documentary Tries to Solve the Riddle of Andy Warhol’s Candy Darling, by .

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George Haimsohn
HUJP.PH.21233-3, 9/15/04, 4:52 PM, 16G, 5552x5616 (320+991), 100%, Eakins, 1/100 s, R69.3, G54.8, B77.9
Peter Hujar
2010-05-21-CandyDarling3
Candy (never a bore!) and Andy by Anton Perich
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CANDY CAME FROM OUT ON THE ISLAND
IN THE BACK ROOM SHE WAS EVERYBODY’S DARLING
BUT SHE NEVER LOST HER HEAD
EVEN WHEN SHE WAS GIVING HEAD
SHE SAYS, “HEY BABE,
TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE.”