Weekend links 518

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In Voluptate Mors (1951) by Philippe Halsman.

• “Equation to an Unknown (1980) is [Dietrich de Velsa’s] only film, and stands without a doubt as a masterpiece and the best French gay porn ever made.” Related (sort of): the US division of Amazon Prime had been showing a censored print of Francis Lee’s gay romance, God’s Own Country, until the director was informed and complained.

• “They lasted just one night as tour support for U2 before being thrown off. The outraged and hostile audience threw bottles of urine. The band responded by throwing iron bars back at them.” Daniel Dylan Wray on the wild times (and cookery) of Blixa Bargeld and Einstürzende Neubauten.

• “Japanese art evolved, in Saunders’s words, ‘from a distinctive alchemy of silk, soot, gold, fire, and fur,’ from a playful and curious fascination with the subject matter and tools provided by the natural world.” Tamar Avishai on art in isolation: the delicate paintings of Edo Japan.

To me, the Diggers were a phenomenon. I don’t know that there’s been anything like them in history—yes, history repeats itself, so there probably was somebody at some time, I’m just not aware of it—a situation where you have a group of people whose goal is to help other people, to bring them not just the basic necessities you need to survive but the things that you need for your imagination, your brain, your growth on other levels. It was like an opium dream or something.

Siena Carlton-Firestone (aka Natural Suzanne) talking to Jay Babcock for the fourth installment of Jay’s verbal history of the hippie anarchists

• A psychic has been ordered to pay the costs of exhuming Salvador Dalí’s corpse for a failed paternity test.

• Feel the crushing steel: David Bennun on Grace Jones and the Compass Point Trilogy.

Sleep Tones by Six Organs Of Admittance, name-your-price music for insomniacs.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 645 by Juan MacLean.

Playing the Piano for the Isolated by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

• David Lynch Theater presents: Fire (Pozar).

Fire (1967) by Koko Taylor | Fire (1984) by 23 Skidoo | Fire (2002) by Ladytron

Weekend links 507

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The next release on the Ghost Box label will be Puzzlewood by Plone, “unironically joyful and melodic electronica; informed by library music, music for children’s TV and a deep passion for the history of music technology”. The album will be available in April. Design, as always, is by Julian House.

• “With his panting breath and dripping sweat infused in each page of his memoir, Patrick Cowley describes himself on his knees, bending over and ‘worshipping Phallus.'” Maxwell Shand on Dark Entries‘ “holy trinity” of Patrick Cowley’s Mechanical Fantasy Box, Hot Rod To Hell by Roy Garrett & Man Parrish, and Maxx Mann’s gay synth-pop.

• “We’re gonna do economic activity—without money!”: Inside the criminal glamour of the San Francisco Diggers with Kent Minault. The third installment of a verbal history of the hippie anarchists by Jay Babcock.

• “Susanna Hoffs and friends remember David Roback, who stayed creative, and enigmatic, to the end.” By Randall Roberts.

My connection with [raga] was not to be able to duplicate or emulate it but to learn from it. I combined it with the electronics and the harmonizer and things like that. But I would have a line that was being drawn. You’re thinking about it like a shape that’s being drawn on a canvas. It’s a line that’s being drawn and another. You’re holding three pencils at once while you’re drawing on the wall. So, you’re able to get the shapes. This was my thing with it, because I was into the harmony that it would make. So, it was an easy and natural thing to do, was to go and move into the electronics. Then we had equipment that was doing transposition and all that kind of thing. So that’s one little part of it.

Jon Hassell talking to Aquarium Drunkard about his first album, Vernal Equinox, which is reissued later this month

• Published next month by Strange Attractor Press: Rated SavX: The Savage Pencil Skratchbook.

• They came from outer Finland: the town where everyone saw UFOs, as photographed by Maria Lax.

• Mix of the week: Through A Landscape Of Mirrors Vol. VI – Sweden II by David Colohan.

Moonstrips Empire News (1967) by Eduardo Paolozzi.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Shelley Duvall Day.

Graham Massey‘s favourite albums.

Phallus Dei (1969) by Amon Düül II | Wrong Eye (1990) by Coil | Red Scratch (1994) by ELpH

Weekend links 452

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Colors (1967) by Ken Nordine.

• “The Do was the thing”: a lengthy chat with Chuck Gould of the San Francisco Diggers. The second interview from Jay Babcock’s oral history of the Diggers.

Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950–1980 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre.

Adrian Shaughnessy‘s Krautrock Top Ten. (People who know me well won’t be surprised to hear that I own everything on this list.)

See “queer” as a term has become an umbrella that accommodates not only the type of sex you have and with whom, but also how you identify the sex you have, how you identify your personality, your aura, the ineffable je ne sais queer that may or may not be related in any way to your sexuality, or even the way you present yourself to the world, but simply some deeply held, internal feeling. You don’t actually need to share a common oppression or a common romantic or sexual behavior.

[…]

The reason I mind is because queer, in functioning as a catchall, serves to obscure what it is about my life, my community, my partners, that I needed to learn to be proud of in the first place. Because for me and all the other lesbians I know, figuring out your sexuality is hard enough, but the real work is in accepting yourself, demanding acceptance from others, being willing to walk away when that acceptance is denied.

Lesbians are women, and women are taught that we’re supposed to be sexually available objects of public consumption. So we spend a lot of time saying “No.” No, we won’t fuck or partner with men; no, we won’t change our minds about this; no, this body is a no-man’s land. Lesbian, straight or bi, women are punished whenever we try to assert a boundary. Queer as a catchall term makes it really hard for lesbians to assert and maintain this boundary, because it makes it impossible to name this boundary.

Jocelyn Macdonald on how the increasing dilution and commodification of “queer” as a label does little to serve the interests of the people to whom it was applied in the first place

• Two sets of live electronica from last year: Pye Corner Audio at The State51 Factory, and Tangerine Dream at Dekmantel.

• “LSD can get deep down and reset the brain—like shaking up a snow globe,” says Amanda Fielding.

• Ewan Wilson on the impossible architecture of video games.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 279 by Marcos Cabral.

• RIP Betty Ballantine, Bruno Ganz and Ken Nordine.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: They will never exist.

Cosi Fanni Tutti‘s favourite records.

She Comes In Colors (1967) by Love | Colors (1969) by Pharoah Sanders | Balthus Bemused By Color (Mix II) (1988) by Harold Budd

Weekend links 446

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The Ghost Box label releases a new album by the excellent Pye Corner Audio in February (previews are here). The spectral design, as ever, is by Julian House.

• “In October 1966, Phyllis Willner arrived on motorcycle in San Francisco as a teenage Jewish runaway from Jamaica, Queens. She quickly fell in with the Hell’s Angels, the San Francisco Mime Troupe and, most crucially, the Diggers, who were just getting their street radical thing together in the Haight-Ashbury. The next two years would be eventful: many extraordinary highs, some really terrible lows.” Jay Babcock talks to Phyllis Willner about her involvement with “the executive branch of the hippie movement”, the Diggers.

• At Expanding Mind: Erik Davis talks with religious scholar Diana Pasulka about UFOs, scientific believers, book encounters, elite cabals, studying weirdness, and her new book American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology.

• Kenneth Anger is now 91 but he still appears hale, and looks even more magus-like than ever. This short film by Floria Sigismondi finds him reminiscing in the antiquated confines of the Chateau Marmont hotel on Sunset Boulevard.

David Wojnarowicz did not write dark fantasy. He wrote real life. In The Waterfront Journals he brilliantly captures electric tales from the mouths of strangers, those he described as “junkies, prostitutes, male hustlers, truck drivers, hobos, young outlaws, runaway kids, criminal types”, whose lives echo his own ostracized existence. He was thirteen when he was first paid for sex and sixteen when he started “turning tricks” regularly. His mother kicked him out of the house. By the time Wojnarowicz came out to friends in New York, he was in his early twenties. He was on the cusp of finding his voice as a writer and his confidence as an artist. It was the mid-1970s. AIDS was about to tear through the gay community.

Lara Pawson reviews three books by artist and writer David Wojnarowicz

John Banville reviews Kafka’s Last Trial by Benjamin Balint: “A scrupulous study of the squabble between Germany and Israel over Kafka’s papers, and the two women caught in the middle.”

• A sitting with the diva of the diode: electronic musician Suzanne Ciani in conversation with Christine Kakaire.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 076 by KK Null, and XLR8R Podcast 574 by SHXCXCHCXSH.

Cassie Packard on the colorful and clairvoyant history of aura photography.

Edward Gorey’s Children’s Books Illustrations, Revisited.

Alison Flood on the fascination of miniature books.

Magic Hollow (1967) by The Beau Brummels | Hollow Stone (1972) by Khan | Through Hollow Lands (For Harold Budd) (1977) by Brian Eno

Weekend links 353

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The Critics (1927) by Henry Scott Tuke.

• Geeta Dayal talks to ambient musician Midori Takada about Through The Looking-Glass (1983), an album being reissued this month by Palto Flats/We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records.

Jacob Brogan reviews The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann, a graphic biography of writer, occultist, explorer and determined cannibal, William Seabrook.

• More from the usual suspects (on these pages at least): Jonathan Meades on his new cookbook and a recent bout of heart surgery; and Iain Sinclair on The Last London.

The law only applied to men, but that didn’t mean same-sex relationships between women were immune to opprobrium. Dorothy Todd was hired as the editor of British Vogue in 1922. Under her visionary stewardship, the magazine became a bastion of high modernist style, swapping petticoats and corsets for Picasso, Cocteau, Man Ray and Woolf. Todd lived with her lover, the fashion editor Madge Garland. Sacked in 1926 because of declining circulation, she planned to sue the magazine, but was silenced when the publisher Condé Nast threatened to publicly expose her “morals”.

In such an inimical climate, it’s not surprising that art became a zone of enchantment as well as resistance. The plenitude of camp aesthetics, the lush excess, the cross-pollination of high and low forms might be conceived as a direct response to the paucity and hostility of the culture at large. From the mannered decadence of Aubrey Beardsley’s naughty woodcuts, to Cecil Beaton’s portraits of Stephen Tennant as a radiant boy prince, to the cabaret high jinks of Danny La Rue, to the wickedly doctored library book covers made by the playwright Joe Orton (a crime for which he received a jail sentence), camp offered a way of remaking the world, cutting it down to size and reassembling it in richly strange and strangely rich new forms.

Olivia Lang on the British artists working in defiance of iniquitous laws prior to the (partial) decriminalisation of homosexual acts in 1967.

• Due for publication later this year, You Should Come With Me Now, a new collection of short fiction by M. John Harrison.

Daniel Marner reviews Scarred For Life Volume One: The 70s, a book about the dark side of British pop culture.

Jay Babcock talks to Erik Davis about the end of Arthur magazine and his new life in the Californian desert.

• The nature photography of Nobuyuki Kobayashi and the ruin photography of Gina Soden.

Jon Forss of design team Non-Format on his time designing The Wire magazine.

Mac McClelland on how doctors treat mental illness with psychedelic drugs.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 216 by WSR.

Hisham Matar on Jorge Luis Borges.

London Boys (1976) by T. Rex | Last Train To London (1979) by Electric Light Orchestra | London (2004) by Patrick Wolf