Ave Arthur!

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The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon (detail, 1881–1898) by Edward Burne-Jones.

Arthur magazine announced its demise this week: “He died as he lived—free, high and a-dreaming of love, ’neath vultures’ terrible gaze.” The magazine lapsed for a while in 2007 then returned but this time it seems things are more permanent. Running a magazine of any kind is never easy, and they don’t always last long—the UK run of the legendary Oz only managed 48 issues to Arthur‘s 32—but it’s a dismal fact that certain tastes are rarely catered for or encouraged in this world. Supermarkets stock multiple titles devoted to women’s hair or tin boxes with wheels but you’ll have to hunt elsewhere for copies of Sight & Sound or The Wire. This isn’t a sign of any kind of new barbarism, if you look to history you’ll find The Savoy magazine publishing Aubrey Beardsley’s art and literature alongside contributions from future Nobel Prize winners yet it only managed eight issues; New Worlds magazine struggled during its run in the 1960s and 1970s, and while it may never have officially died (not while Michael Moorcock lives and breathes) it’s safe to say that it would struggle anew if re-launched today. If this is the end then let’s celebrate what’s been done, and hope it may inspire something new.

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Issues #1–25.

The Arthur archives will be available online in the future. In the meantime, the favourites among my own contributions were MBV Arkestra (cover illustration), The Aeon of Horus, Out, Demons, Out (cover illustration), Brian Eno, and Sir Richard Bishop.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Savoy magazine
Dodgem Logic
The Realist
A wake for Arthur
Oz magazine, 1967-73

Dodgem Logic

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You need this, boys and girls, yes you do. Dodgem Logic is the first worthwhile independent culture mag this country has produced since the sorely-missed Strange Things Are Happening. Perhaps significantly, both those titles featured Mr Alan Moore, being interviewed in Strange Things and presiding over the new title as resident magus and eminence gris-gris.

“…we’ve tried to resurrect a spirit of the 60s underground papers, but without the look or ambience or some of the oversights. There were a lot of very good ideas that emerged from the 60s underground. It was the first place I heard about women’s liberation – as we used to call it then – or gay liberation. They were fanatically anti-war. Many of their most extreme political statements, such as the fact that sometimes the police kill people, or that sometimes we make deals with dictators and criminal governments that we keep quiet about – these things are pretty much standard stuff of conversation these days and not reserved purely for bearded wild-eyed burbling radicals (chuckles).” (More.)

Among other delights, there’s a page of Alan’s where he returns to cartooning (below) with a paean to my favourite drawing pen, the Rotring Rapidograph, Melinda Gebbie writing on feminism, Kevin O’Neill with a WTF of cosmic proportions, and much more, including a smart feature on how to reclaim local land which the council won’t use. All this and a free CD! Who says we can’t have good things?

Update: I should have noted that Americans can order Dodgem Logic through Top Shelf.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
International Times archive
The Realist
Revenant volumes: Bob Haberfield, New Worlds and others
Oz magazine, 1967-73
Alan Moore interview, 1988
Strange Things Are Happening, 1988-1990

International Times archive

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The entire run of Britain’s first underground/alternative newspaper. Incredible. IT was never as flashy as Oz but ran for longer and arguably had the better contributors, among them William Burroughs. One notable feature was an avant garde comic strip, The Adventures of Jerry Cornelius, written by Michael Moorcock and M John Harrison with artwork by Mal Dean and Richard Glyn Jones. Heavyweight contributions to magazines tend to get reprinted, however, what I enjoy seeing in archives such as this is the ephemera which can’t be found elsewhere: adverts, reviews and illustrations like the one below. The site is a bit slow and it would have been good to have individual issues as PDFs but it feels churlish to complain. More archives like this, please.

Via Jahsonic.

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Illustration by Stanley Mouse (1969).

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Realist
Revenant volumes: Bob Haberfield, New Worlds and others
Oz magazine, 1967-73

Mouse Heaven by Kenneth Anger

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Mouse Heaven: Minnie and Mickey.

Kenneth Anger’s paean to Disney rodent memorabilia, and one of his most recent works, turns up at the Grey Lodge. Mouse Heaven is a distinctly minor piece, an awkward mix of film and video which juxtaposes shots of mouse figurines with a song-based soundtrack. Scorpio Rising this isn’t but the editing is up to his usual standard, and it has a curious, if rather grotesque, charm.

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Rabbit heaven: Bugs drags up again.

I suspect I’m not the ideal audience for a film such as this, never having been very taken with Mickey and the rest of the Disney crew. This seems to be a generational thing. My parents are about Anger’s age and they watched Disney shorts regularly at the cinema, while older Americans would have seen the Mickey Mouse Club on TV in the Fifties. By the time my sisters and I were watching cartoons on television Disney had retreated into the pop culture background. Plenty of merchandise was available, of course, but the animations that gave birth to these characters were rarely seen on British TV since Disney was worried about over-exposure of their precious assets.

The consequence of this (which I doubt they realised) was that a new generation of kids could happily and eagerly watch all the Warner Brothers Merry Melodies (and MGM’s Tom & Jerry and Tex Avery cartoons) whereas I’ve still seen hardly any Mickey Mouse cartoons. When they did turn up they were either primitive (Steamboat Willie) or presented a Mouse character that was actually a suburban middle-class American. The contrast between Donald Duck’s irritating petulance and Daffy’s wisecracks, or between the Mouse in a house and a bisexual rabbit, could hardly be more striking. The last shred of any potential Disney charm was dispelled when I read the priceless demolition of the Magic Kingdom and its contents, Mickey Rodent!, by Harvey Kurtzmann and Bill Elder, in a reprint of MAD magazine:

Strolling in the foreground of the opening panel is Mickey himself, with a four-day stubble on his face and a snapped mouse trap on his snout; his left arm has a TV screen, smashed in the middle, with “Howdy Dooit” sunrays visible. (That’s an inside joke: in a previous issue, parodying “Howdy Doody,” Mickey was seen at the edge of the opening panel, grasping and shouting, “That’s MY sunray from MY movies behind his head and I wannit back!”) Around him a melodrama unfolds: Horace Horszneck is being dragged off to jail “for appearing without his white gloves.” The animal chorus behind him clucks, moos and barks their annoyance with “Walt Dizzy’s” rule about wearing white gloves at all times… “In this hot weather too!” “And it’s so hard to buy those furshlugginer three-fingered kinds!” (Read the rest of the description here and try and see the comic for yourself; it’s a masterpiece.)

There was no going back after that, and Wally Wood’s Disneyland Memorial Orgy was merely the icing on an already mouldering cake. So, sorry Kenneth, but I’m an apostate; Bugs Bunny rules my blue heaven.

The Look traces the history of Wally Wood’s scurrilous poster from hippie to punk to Alison Goldfrapp

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
Relighting the Magick Lantern
The Realist
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally

The Realist

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The Digger issue, August 1968.

Here’s something of major importance, The Realist Archive Project. Four complete issues online so far, with a promise of all 146 issues to be uploaded eventually. The Realist started out as a satirical magazine in the late Fifties and moved into the slipstream of the counter-culture as the Sixties progressed. Editor Paul Krassner is introduced in the RE/Search Pranks (1987) book thus:

Paul Krassner is famous for doing The Realist (1958-1974; now revived), described by OUI magazine as “the most satirical and irreverent journal to appear in America since the days of HL Mencken.” The Realist published explicit photos, outrageous cartoons, vicious satire, and extreme paranoid conspiracy theories on topics ranging from the Kennedy assassinations to Jonestown. When Mike Wallace asked him on a 60 Minutes interview about the difference between the underground press and mainstream media, he told him that Spiro Agnew was an anagram for Grow A Penis, adding, “The difference is that I could print that in the Realist, but it’ll be edited out of this program.” That prediction came true. Harry Reasoner said of Krassner that he “not only attacks establishment values; he attacks decency in general.”

During his lifetime of weird experiences and friendships with notables like Lenny Bruce and Timothy Leary, Krassner claims (among other things) to have taken LSD when he testified at the Chicago 8 trial, on the Johnny Carson show, with Groucho Marx, and with Squeaky Fromme and Sandra Good. In 1977 he became publisher of Hustler magazine for six months.

I first encountered the Realist from mentions in Robert Anton Wilson’s books (RAW was one of its writers) but, unlike UK undergrounds which often turned up secondhand, there was no way to ever see a copy over here. Hence the value of this archive. If you want an idea of Krassner’s outrageousness—which makes much of the political sniping of Private Eye seem very tame indeed—look no further than the May 1967 issue with its lead story describing Lyndon B Johnson fucking the dead John F Kennedy’s neck wound shortly before his being sworn in as president. And in the same issue there’s the notorious cartoon spread by Wally Wood depicting a host of Disney characters doing all the things that recently-deceased Uncle Walt wouldn’t allow them to do in the cartoons. That drawing was so scurrilous that it’s generally supposed Disney preferred not to sue for fear of giving it greater publicity.

The issue edited by the anarchist Diggers was altogether more serious, and the list of names involved shows a lineage connecting the Beats to the hippies:

Memo to the Reader

When Time magazine decided to do a cover story on the hippies last year, a cable to their San Francisco bureau instructed researchers to “go at the description and delineation of the subculture as if you were studying the Samoans or the Trobriand Islanders.”

Thus were they supposed to remain—a frozen fad for posterity.

But a few months ago, police rioted on Haight St. Next day, at a town hall meeting in the Straight Theater, the spectrum of reaction ranged from “Let’s have another be-in” to “We gotta get guns!” A compromise was reached: bottles painted Love were thrown at the cops.

And yet, the question remains—What is being defended?

This issue of the Realist, therefore, has been created entirely by The Diggers, in an attempt to convey the flavor and feeling-tone of a revolutionary community.

An inadequate list of the brothers and sisters whose work is represented in this document:

Antonin Artaud, Richard Avedon, Billy Batman, Peter Berg, Wally Berman, Richard Brautigan, Bryden, William Burroughs, Martin Carey, Neil Cassidy, Fidel Castro, Don Cochran, Peter Cohon, Gregory Corso, Dangerfield, Kirby Doyle, Bill Fritsch, Allen Ginsberg, Emmett Grogan, Dave Haselwood, George Hermes, Linn House, Lenore Kandel, Billy Landout, Norman Mailer, Don Martin, Michael McClure, George Metesky, George Montana, Malcolm X, Natural Suzanne, Huey Newton, Pam Parker, Rose-a-Lee, David Simpson, Gary Snyder, Ron Thelin, Rip Torn, Time Inc., Lew Welch, Thomas Weir, Gerard Winstanley, and Anonymous.

The contents herein are not copyrighted. Anyone may reprint anything without permission. Additional copies are available at the rate of 5 for $1. The Diggers have been given 40,000 copies to spread their word: free.

Many of those writers are no longer around but happily Paul Krassner is and he’s been writing regularly for The Huffington Post, the Arthur magazine weblog and other sites.

Via Boing Boing.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Ginsberg’s Howl and the view from the street
Simplicissimus
Revenant volumes: Bob Haberfield, New Worlds and others
Underground history
Wallace Burman and Semina
Robert Anton Wilson, 1932–2007
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer
100 Years of Magazine Covers
Oz magazine, 1967-73