Weekend links 587

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Jetpac (1983) by Ultimate Play The Game. Lunar Jetman was the superior sequel but Jetpac had the better loading screen.

• RIP Clive Sinclair. Products made by Sinclair Research Ltd. were among the first electronic gadgets I owned: the Sinclair Scientific calculator which compelled you to learn Reverse Polish notation before you could use it; the ZX Spectrum computer, of course; and the pocket TV that came bundled with the computer, a machine with such feeble reception that it only ever worked outdoors. I’ve still got my Spectrum computer, and it still worked the last time I plugged it in although it’s hardly worth keeping when emulators proliferate. Spectacol for Android is a good example of the latter. Related: World of Spectrum; the early stages of the Spectrum design process by Sinclair designer Rick Dickinson; XL-1 by Pete Shelley, electro-pop with Spectrum-generated lyrics and graphics.

• Mixes of the week: A Lee “Scratch” Perry tribute mix by Dennis Bovell, and Blood Tide Station 1: Breakaway plus Blood Tide Station 2: Force of Life by The Ephemeral Man.

• “It’s not an easy time to be daring,” says Dennis Cooper, talking to Barry Pierce about his new novel, I Wished.

• London under London: Adam Zamecnik interviews Tom Chivers about searching for London’s lost rivers.

• New music: Ode To The Blue by Grouper, and A Shadow No Light Could Make by Nathan Moody.

• At Public Domain Review: 700 years of Dante’s Divine Comedy in art.

• At Wormwoodiana: The Mushroom Man—A Note on EC Large.

DJ Food trips out with a collection of psychedelic drug posters.

Nodnol (1969) by The Spectrum | Spectrum (1969) by The Tony Williams Lifetime | Spectrum (1973) by Billy Cobham

The art of Alexander Cañedo, 1902–1978

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September, 1947.

Harry Harrison used to enjoy referring to the “sexual dimorphism” of the cover art on pulp science-fiction magazines, by which he meant that male astronauts would usually be depicted wearing sturdy spacesuits or functional attire while their female counterparts would be given spray-on outfits with plunging necklines, if they were given any clothes at all. Sexism was still thriving in the future, in other words, with visible male flesh in short supply. This makes the handful of cover paintings produced by Alexander Cañedo for Astounding Science Fiction uncommon enough to be almost unique.

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February, 1948.

Cañedo was a Mexican-American, born Alejandro de Cañedo, whose covers for Astounding were simply credited to “Alejandro”. The editorial policy at the magazine favoured hard-headed, technology-oriented science fiction, with cover art that avoided the scantily-clad women (and, to be fair, shirtless men…) seen each month on the covers of swashbuckling rival, Planet Stories. Robots and rocket ships were still required at Astounding, however, and half the covers produced by Cañedo feature more predictable imagery. The first of the cosmic nudes appeared after editor John W. Campbell spotted an unsold painting during a visit to Cañedo’s studio. Campbell and his readership regarded the naked males as purely symbolic, which they are up to a point, and Cañedo was praised for his art in the magazine’s letters section. When seen in the context of his overtly homoerotic work the pictures evidently reflect more personal proclivities.

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October, 1949.

Cañedo is described today as a gay artist, a claim that can’t easily be verified when the available biographical details repeat the same few facts. But his art away from Astounding returned continually to the human body, a subject where his mastery was sufficient to warrant the publication in 1954 of a short guide for artists, How Cañedo Draws the Human Figure. Most of his drawings and paintings listed on auction sites are nude (or semi-nude) studies, with lovingly rendered male figures predominating. Several of his later paintings could easily have served as additional magazine covers. The manipulation of light and colour in these pictures is outstanding, unlike any treatment of male nudes that I’ve seen before, and by an artist worthy of greater attention.

(Note: Most of these pictures are untitled and undated. I’m also not an art dealer so please don’t ask for valuations.)

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July, 1954. “Inappropriate” is the title of the picture which doesn’t relate to anything inside the magazine.

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Continue reading “The art of Alexander Cañedo, 1902–1978”

Weekend links 585

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Fox Woman (c. 1916) by Bertha Lum.

• “Apparently he had been walking though customs/arrivals with a large cube of weed stuck on the end of his silver Dr Martens and a foot long silver flashlight full of seed, but when they realised who he was, and that today was his 60th birthday, he was released with just a warning.” Radio Lancashire DJ Steve Barker remembers the late Lee “Scratch” Perry, and links to one of his shows with Perry (and Roger Eagle) here.

• “…it’s the chase itself that shapes the film’s distinctive aesthetic—the under-lit interiors and the sunless and frigid exteriors of the many locations across the city, sites that take the cops well beyond their usual beat, to places both above and below ground.” Chris McGinley explains how William Friedkin’s The French Connection reinvented (and exploded) the police procedural.

• “Toibin, who is himself gay, has always extended historical sympathy to sexual outsiders. As he’s written elsewhere, ‘There are no 19th-century ballads about being gay.'” Dwight Garner reviews Colm Toibin’s The Magician, a novel about Thomas Mann.

Here is the key point: to experience such marvels you have to risk an unsophisticated, even credulous love for corn, and part of that love involves a willingness to submit to what [Phil] Ford calls a “magical hermeneutics” capable of transforming marginal chunks of pop culture. As he writes in the wonderful 2008 essay that inspired the episode, exotica is “less a genre of music than a class of cultural objects that share a characteristic projection of the self across boundaries of space and time.” This makes it essentially psychedelic—“film music for daydreams”—and Ford draws out that historical connection in his essay, which argues that while the hippie movement that Nature Boys like Ahbez prophesied looks like a radical rejection of the space-age bachelor pad of ’50s consumerism, tendrils of transcendent yearning link the exotica imaginary to the earnest if stoned mysterioso to come.

Erik Davis on Eden Ahbez and Californian exotica

Edgar Froese interviewed on WSHU radio in 1974 where he talks about Tangerine Dream, live performance and the future of electronic music.

• At Dangerous Minds: A momentary lapse of reason…when Dario Argento interviewed Pink Floyd in 1987.

• It’s that man again: John Doran interviews Kevin Martin, aka The Bug.

David McKenna on The Strange World of France, La Nòvia & friends.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Tape deck.

Exotica (1958) by Martin Denny | Exotica Lullaby (1976) by Harry “The Crown” Hosono | Exotica (1979) by Throbbing Gristle

Weekend links 578

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The Witch (1920) by Mila von Luttich for Die Muskete.

• “One thing that used to annoy Geff in particular—I don’t think Sleazy cared so much—was that the gay press hardly ever paid any attention to Coil. It really was the cliché of, if you’re making disco bunny or house music then you might get covered in the gay press, but if you’re not doing something that appeals to that rather superficial aesthetic, which was the hallmark of the gay scene, they didn’t even deign to glance at you.” Stephen Thrower talking to Mark Pilkington about Love’s Secret Domain by Coil, and touching on an issue that I’ve never seen referred to outside the occasional Coil interview. Coil’s sexuality was self-evident from their first release in 1984 but they always seemed to be too dark and too weird for the gay press, and for the NME according to this interview.

• “Gorey collected all sorts of objects at local flea markets and garage sales—books, of course, though also cheese graters, doorknobs, silverware, crosses, tassels, telephone insulators, keys, orbs—but he especially loved animal figurines and stuffed animals.” Casey Cep on Edward Gorey’s toys.

• Last week it was a giant cat opposite Shinjuku station; this week at Spoon & Tamago there’s a giant head floating over Tokyo.

DJ Food delves through more copies of The East Village Other to find art by underground comix artists (and Winsor McCay).

• New music: My Sailor Boy by Shirley Collins, and Vulva Caelestis by Hawthonn.

• “€4.55m Marquis de Sade manuscript acquired for French nation.”

• At Dangerous Minds: The Voluptuous Folk Music of Karen Black.

• At Greydogtales: Montague in Buntlebury.

Aaron Dilloway‘s favourite music.

Toys (1968) by Herbie Hancock | Joy Of A Toy (1968) by The Soft Machine | Broken Toys (1971) by Broken Toys

Weekend links 576

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Cover art by Bob Haberfield, 1976.

• I’ve been reliably informed that Australian artist Bob Haberfield died recently but I can’t point to an online confirmation of this so you’ll have to take my word for it. “Science” and “sorcery” might describe the two poles of Haberfield’s career while he was working as a cover artist. His paintings made a big impression on British readers of fantasy and science fiction in the 1970s, especially if you were interested in Michael Moorcock’s books when they appeared en masse as Mayflower paperbacks covered in Haberfield’s art. Haberfield also appeared alongside Bruce Pennington providing covers for Panther paperbacks by HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and others, although his work there isn’t always credited. Dangerous Minds collected some of his covers for a feature in 2017. (The US cover for The Iron Dream isn’t a Haberfield, however.)

• “Like Alice, who can only reach the house in Through the Looking-Glass by turning her back to it, Gorey reversed the usual advice to ‘write what you know’ and wrote the apparent opposite of his own situation.” Rosemary Hill reviewing Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery.

• “Orvil…wanders the countryside, visits churches, rummages in antique shops, and encounters strange men to whom he is no doubt equally strange.” John Self reviewing a new edition of In Youth Is Pleasure by Denton Welch.

• At the Wyrd Daze blog: Q&A sessions with Stephen Buckley (aka Polypores), Gareth Hanrahan, and Kemper Norton.

• “Fellini liked to say that ‘I fall asleep, and the fête begins’.” Matt Hanson on Federico Fellini’s phenomenal films.

• A Beautiful Space: Ned Raggett talks to Mick Harris about the thirty-year history of Scorn.

• Deep in the dial: Lawrence English on the enduring appeal of shortwave radio.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins on making a picture for Annie Darwin (1841–1851).

DJ Food looks at pages from Grunt Free Press circa 1970.

• Mix of the week: Fact Mix 814 by Loraine James.

• New music: Clash (feat. Logan) by The Bug.

• At BLDGBLOG: Terrestrial Astronomy.

LoneLady‘s favourite albums.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Porn 2.

Tilings Encyclopedia

Betrayal (Sorcerer Theme) (1977) by Tangerine Dream | Science Fiction (1981) by Andy Burnham | Sorceress (2018) by Beautify Junkyards