Weekend links 368

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Piazzetta San Marco by Moonlight (no date) by Friedrich Paul Nerly.

• RIP Heathcote Williams (Guardian obit, NYT obit): poet, playwright, actor, artist, anarchist, stage magician, and no doubt many other things besides. Being a product of the counter-culture, and one of Britain’s foremost anti-establishment writers (his polemics against the Royal Family were unceasing), Williams was a regular in the early publications produced by my colleagues at Savoy Books; in fact there’s a piece by him in The Savoy Book itself. Consequently, Williams always felt like a distant relative even though we never met. Of his many film appearances, which ranged from low-budget independent productions to Hollywood junk, he was ideally cast as Prospero in Derek Jarman’s film of The Tempest, and he audaciously steals a scene from Tilda Swinton in Sally Potter’s wonderful Orlando. Elsewhere: Jeremy Harding on Williams’ run-ins with the gatekeepers, and Why D’Ya Do It?, a song by Marianne Faithfull with lyrics by Williams.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 226 by Chihei Hatakeyama, and SydArthur Festival 2: Summer of Love Edition by Head Heritage.

Geeta Dayal on composer and musique concrète pioneer Pierre Henry whose death was also announced this week.

Jonathan Meades reviews Vinyl.Album.Cover.Art: The Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue by Aubrey Powell.

• “Brutal! Vulgar! Dirty!” Polly Stenham on Mae West and the gay comedy that shocked 1920s America.

Hannah Devlin on religious leaders getting high on psilocybin for science.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…In Transit (1969) by Brigid Brophy.

• At Bibliothèque Gay: Matelots (1935) by Gregorio Prieto.

SD Sykes on reconsidering Venice, crumbling city.

Letters and Liquor

This Ain’t The Summer Of Love (1976) by Blue Öyster Cult | Orlando (1996) by Trans Am | Transit (2004) by Fennesz

Weekend links 291

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Femme avec des fleurs (1912) by Romaine Brooks.

• This week’s anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo murders was noted by some of those who defended the magazine last year. “I don’t write about Charlie Hebdo in France,” said Robert McLiam Wilson, “they have plenty of people who can do that. But I’ll do almost anything I’m asked to do in the anglosphere. Why? Well, two reasons. Because none of the other Charlie people bothers to do it. And because, really, that’s where all the bullshit lives.” A year on, and the bullshit-mongers seem to have fallen silent, what with knee-jerk outrage being a short-lived affair, and the Bataclan massacre having demolished one of the main criticisms, namely that the magazine wouldn’t have been attacked if the artists and writers had shown some respect. “[Charlie Hebdo‘s] real crime is not racism but its challenge to what has become an unbreakable commandment for many contemporary liberals: ‘Thou shalt not cause offence’,” says Kenan Malik. At Literary Hub Adam Gopnik explored the same issue in a foreword for Stéphane Charbonnier’s Open Letter.

• “Immersion in the past is no escape from the present, but it supplies a constant corrective to the narrative spit out daily by media, advertising, politics, and all those other forces that attempt to mould our thinking like jelly in a pan.” Luc Sante (again) talking to Simone Wolff about his books, Low Life and The Other Paris.

• “…throwing a lot of money behind vintage equipment? Well, that’s just a millionaire’s game. Dave Grohl can do that, but David Bowie doesn’t care about that. Just stick a microphone in front of him and he’s really happy.” Tony Visconti talking to Allyson McCabe about the music business and producing Bowie.

• “Nico Hogg’s photography captures the transformation of urban London,” says George Kafka who talks to Nico about a collection of his work, Sign & Signifiers, which I designed late last year.

• At Strange Flowers: James Conway talks to Cassandra Langer about her recent biography of artist Romaine Brooks (1874–1970).

• At Dangerous Minds: Godzilla, girls and guns, the science-fiction art of Noriyoshi Ohrai. There’s more at Pinterest.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 420 by Andrey Pushkarev, and Secret Thirteen Mix 172 by Julien Bayle.

• Alan Moore’s magnum opus, Jerusalem, will be published later this year. Gosh Comics has a teaser.

New York Public Library makes 180,000 high-res images available online.

Prints of darkness: macabre vintage posters

Scarfolk Television is coming

Godzilla (1977) by Blue Öyster Cult | Giant Robot / Machines in the Modern City / Godzilla (1992) by Praxis | Free-Bass (Godzillatron Cush) (1995) by Axiom Funk

The Winchester Mystery House

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Winchester House, 525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose, Santa Clara County, CA.

“One of the peculiar traits of Hill House is its design—”

“Crazy house at the carnival.”

“Precisely. Have you not wondered at our extreme difficulty in finding our way around? An ordinary house would not have had the four of us in such confusion for so long, and yet time after time we choose the wrong doors, the room we want eludes us. Even I have had my troubles.” He sighed and nodded. “I daresay,” he went on, “that old Hugh Crain expected that someday Hill House might become a showplace, like the Winchester House in California or the many octagon houses; he designed Hill House himself, remember, and, I have told you before, he was a strange man. Every angle”—and the doctor gestured toward the doorway—”every angle is slightly wrong. Hugh Crain must have detested other people and their sensible squared-away houses, because he made his house to suit his mind. Angles which you assume are the right angles you are accustomed to, and have every right to expect are true, are actually a fraction of a degree off in one direction or another. I am sure, for instance, that you believe that the stairs you are sitting on are level, because you are not prepared for stairs which are not level—”

They moved uneasily, and Theodora put out a quick hand to take hold of the balustrade, as though she felt she might be falling.

“—are actually on a very slight slant toward the central shaft; the doorways are all a very little bit off centre—that may be, by the way, the reason the doors swing shut unless they are held…”

The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson.

I re-read Shirley Jackson’s novel a few months ago but neglected at the time to follow-up the reference to the Winchester House. News this week that Sarah Winchester’s sprawling folly in San Jose is to finally allow overnight stays prompted some investigation. The most remarkable thing about the Winchester Mystery House is that it’s much more of an oddity than its fictional relation, if you overlook (so to speak) the fact that Shirley Jackson’s house is a home to malevolent spectres. Sarah Winchester was heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, and instituted a process of continual and completely uncoordinated house-building for thirty-seven years, believing that this would confound the ghosts of those killed by the weapons bearing her name. Among the house’s 160 rooms are extraneous chambers and closets, doors to nowhere, and stairways serving no purpose. The spirit-trapping decorations include repeated spider-web motifs, and a recurrence of the number 13; one room at least was originally a Séance Room. This blog post concerns a tour round the house as it is today, while the Library of Congress has a number of views of the place.

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View looking west from top floor.

It’s unfortunate that the house was built in California’s earthquake zone, the structure had reached seven stories until the 1906 earthquake forced the removal of the three topmost floors. I had to go looking for views of the pre-quake building, and happily there are a few preserved on old postcards. When Blue Öyster Cult chose Adolph Sutro’s Cliff House for the cover of their Imaginos album they certainly picked the more immediately photogenic building, but the Winchester Mystery House a few miles to the south has it beat when it comes to metaphysical cachet.

The Winchester Mystery House at Pinterest.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The Cliff House revisited
Adolph Sutro’s Gingerbread Palace

The Cliff House revisited

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Adolph Sutro’s Cliff House restaurant, San Francisco, has appeared here before but these are some additional photos of the improbable structure from the Library of Congress archives, including a picture of the fire that destroyed the building in 1907. As noted in the earlier post, Blue Öyster Cult aficionados may recognise the house from the cover of the group’s 1988 album, Imaginos.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Adolph Sutro’s Gingerbread Palace

Weekend links 33

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Blue Sky Noise (2010) by Esao Andrews.

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt is the first exhibition in the United States devoted exclusively to the 18th-century sculptor. Related: an earlier post about the artist’s work.

• How are the team behind War Horse planning to follow up their smash hit? With a gay love story performed by puppets. Related: Achilles (1995) by Barry JC Purves.

• More great posts at A Journey Round My Skull: Czechoslovakian Expose VI and Black Cradle of Bright Life, fifteen works by the Macedonian artist Vangel Naumovski (1924–2006).

Top 10 Anti-Gay Activists Caught Being Gay. Related: “Fuck your feelings,” in which columnist Dan Savage gets righteously impatient when a correspondent complains. As Savage says, people who use their faith as a stick to beat gay people contribute to an atmosphere of intolerance in which kids are bullied for being gay (or appearing to be), or transgender, or merely different, and kill themselves as a result. Over the past couple of weeks there’s been an upsurge of US media attention to the most recent suicides; Savage inaugurated the It Gets Better project in order to help. Also related: God Loves Poetry.

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Meigh (2010) by Esao Andrews.

Antony Hegarty enthuses about Shoot Yer Load, one of the scurrilous 12″ singles released by my Savoy colleagues in the 1980s. Antony and the Johnsons have a new album out, Swanlights, on Secretly Canadian.

When the future of music was a rainbow hued parabola: book designer John Gall collects old synthesizer manuals.

Fantastic Memories (1944) by Maurice Sandoz, illustrated by Salvador Dalí.

Urban optometry: life as a London crane operator at BLDGBLOG.

• Today is 10/10/10 which means it’s Powers of Ten Day.

These New Puritans: a band like no other.

Art Nouveau: a virtual exhibition.

Diaghilev: Lord of the dance.

Flaming Telepaths (1974) by Blue Öyster Cult; Flaming Telepaths (2005) by Espers.