Weekend links 479

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Cover art by Mike Hinge.

• “[The Family] is an unforgettable fusion of journalism and poetic prose that still holds up precisely because it has no use for category, for genre, or for being anything other than its own unique, obsessive self.” Sarah Weinman on how Ed Sanders wrote the definitive account of the Manson murders.

• “The best-known detail of Sartre’s bad trip is Simone de Beauvoir’s anecdote of him being haunted for weeks after by lobster-like creatures scuttling just beyond his field of vision.” Mike Jay on Jean-Paul Sartre (and Walter Benjamin) under the influence of mescaline.

• The MGM film of The Wizard of Oz had its US premiere 80 years ago today. Of Oz the Wizard is a cut-up of the entire film by Matt Busy which rearranges every piece of dialogue (and all the credits) alphabetically.

• “The screenwriter Nagisa Oshima complained that Mishima’s suicide ‘failed to satisfy our Japanese aesthetic’ because it was ‘too elaborate.'” Anna Sherman on Yukio Mishima in Ichigaya.

• “Anarchists don’t like restrictive labels, including the word ‘anarchism’.” Terry Eagleton reviewing The Government of No One by Ruth Kinna.

• At Strange Flowers: Schloss Zwickledt, home of artist and author Alfred Kubin.

• More French music: Zeuhl collection, a list of recommended listening.

• Caro C on Janet Beat, a pioneer of British electronic music.

John Boardley on pomp, type and circumstance.

10 Goth cheeses and what to pair with them.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Peter Sellers Day.

Longing, Love, Loss by Majeure.

The Lobster (1968) by Fairport Convention | Death Valley 69 (1985) by Sonic Youth | Return To Oz (2004) by Scissor Sisters

The Case of the Mukkinese Battle-Horn

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I probably should have posted this when the Monty Python reunion shows were in progress since the first time I saw it was as the support film for a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in 1974.

The Case of the Mukkinese Battle-Horn (1956) is one of the few film outings for The Goons, the radio-comedy troupe who famously influenced the Pythons and The Beatles. Joseph Sterling was the director. The 27-minute film features a diminished Goons cast: regulars Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, with Dick Emery replacing Harry Secombe; all three have multiple roles, as they did in the Goons, and Emery did later in his TV shows. It’s a cheap production but packed with silly sight gags, some of which draw attention to the film medium: no wonder the Pythons liked it. Most surprising of all is seeing Michael Deeley listed as producer; Deeley started out producing lowly fare such as this but went on to produce some very notable British films including The Man Who Fell to Earth and Blade Runner.

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The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film

The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film

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The Beatles’ second feature, Help!, was released on Blu-ray last month. The origin of the film’s visual humour and frenetic style can be found in this short directed by Richard Lester over two weekends in 1959, a collaboration between Lester, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and others. It may be nothing more than ten minutes of sight gags but it was enough for The Beatles to seek out Lester as director of their first two features. (Leo McKern, the actor in the opening shot, also appears in Help!) Considering the subsequent influence of those films—from The Monkees’ TV show on into numerous pop videos—this little film is very influential indeed. Watch it here.

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Petulia film posters

Weekend links 151

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Untitled art by Yang Yongliang. There’s more at But Does It Float.

• “Newly unearthed ITV play could be first ever gay television drama“. Writer Gerald Savory, incidentally, also adapted Dracula for the BBC in 1977, still the version that’s closest to the novel.

Craig Redman and Karl Maier‘s poster designs for the Bavarian State Opera.

Lustmord: ambient’s dark star, and The Strange World of Scanner.

The cats are tapping the old man for psychic sap, milking him, stalking through rubbled dreams of the coming Land of the Dead. On subsequent US visits – to Bastrop in Texas and Phoenix, Arizona – I learned about the fellowship of those internal exiles, the hardcore writers: Michael Moorcock, Jim Sallis. Like Burroughs, they kept cats and guns (Mike’s was a replica). Cats infiltrate mystery fiction: men with coffee habits, ex-drinkers, post-traumatic spooks solving crimes the hard way. Moorcock uses cats like a scarf, like Peter Sellers in The Wrong Box; their claws scratch runes into his easy chair.

Iain Sinclair remembers visiting William Burroughs. I remember meeting those Moorcock moggies; not as interesting to reminisce about, however.

The Ghosts of Antarctica: Abandoned Stations and Huts.

• A Masterpiece of the Ridiculous by Jocelyn Brooke.

• “Chance is a good librarian,” says Alberto Manguel.

• Mix of the week: dub from Bristol duo Zhou.

The Aleph: Infinite Wonder / Infinite Pity.

Sarah Lee‘s underwater photography.

Arthur #34 is out!

Underwater (1979) by Harry Thumann | Underwater Church (1992) by Conrad Schnitzler | Underwater Flowers (2003) by John Foxx & Harold Budd

Alice in Wonderland by Jonathan Miller

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I said, “Girl, you drank a lot of Drink Me,
But you ain’t in a Wonderland
You know I might-a be there to greet you, child,
When your trippin’ ship touches sand.”

Donovan, The Trip (1966).

Most of the key texts of the psychedelic period tend to be either non-fiction—Huxley’s Doors of Perception, Leary’s Psychedelic Experience—or spiritual works such as The Tibetan Book of the Dead , the volume upon which Leary’s book is based and which subsequently provided John Lennon with lines for Tomorrow Never Knows. The key fictional work of the era has to be Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, a fact that would no doubt have surprised the book’s legions of enthusiastic Victorian readers, never mind its author. Grace Slick created the definitive Alice song with White Rabbit in 1965, written while she was with the Great Society but only recorded properly in 1967 after she’d joined Jefferson Airplane. But Alice’s adventures run a rich seam of Victorian whimsy through the music of 1966 to ’69, especially among the British bands whose lyrics tend to be far more childish and frivolous than their American counterparts. Donovan probably got there first among the Brits with The Trip on his Sunshine Superman album. Among the profusion of later references can be found one-off singles such as Alice in Wonderland (1967) by the Dave Heenan Set (who recorded songs for the Barbarella soundtrack as The Glitterhouse) and Jabberwock/Which Dreamed It? (1968) by Boeing Duveen & The Beautiful Soup, a band whose songwriter is better known today as Hank Wangford.

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