Weekend links 432

urbanowicz.jpg

Tokyo at night, one of a series of watercolours depicting the back streets of the city by Mateusz Urbanowicz.

• “The experience of reading the book is something like watching Dr. Strangelove on one screen, Apocalypse Now on a second screen, and having both feeds interrupted by explicit gay erotica.” Bad Books For Bad People examines William Burroughs’ celebrated YA novel, The Wild Boys. The subject is a perennial one here, explored at length in this post.

• Lindsay Anderson The White Bus (1967), a surreal precursor to If…. and O Lucky Man!, will receive the high-quality BFI reissue treatment as part of the Woodfall Films portmanteau feature, Red, White and Zero.

• The Radiophonic Workshop have composed the score for Possum, a horror film by Matthew Holness. The main title theme is here. The film is released later next month.

Might I have written a sober affair, had I not been under the influence? Perhaps not—I have never needed tramadol to be attended by angels, or to feel demons pricking my feet. But I think of Vincent van Gogh, who looked at the world through the yellowish haze conveyed by digitalis, and grew enraptured by sunflowers and straw chairs, and I think of a glass prism through which a beam of white light passes and is split into a rainbow. What had been a single lucid idea had passed through the drugs I took and been dispersed into a spectrum of colours I had only half foreseen.

Sarah Perry on trying to write while besieged by bodily pain and prescription drugs

• Jacques Tourneur’s masterful MR James adaptation, Night of the Demon (1957), is released on region-free Blu-ray next month by Powerhouse Films.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 673 is The Bug presents PRESSURE, and XLR8R Podcast 561 by Zendid.

• The Space Shifters exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London, messes with Adrian Searle‘s mind.

Gregory Wells on queers, faeries and revolutionaries in the psychedelic movement.

Wide Boys (1977) by Ultravox! | On Demon Wings (2000) by Bohren & Der Club Of Gore | Spoonful (2013) by Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

Birth of a Zimbu

zimbu1.jpg

Birth of a Zimbu by Christopher Schulz is another addition to the growing collection of artworks based on William Burroughs’ The Wild Boys (1971), in this case a 52-page collection of “visual reveries made from collaged parts of dated gay porn, ancient ruins, and other various unrelated sources.” The book costs $10 and may be previewed and ordered here.

zimbu2.jpg

The Zimbus are Burroughs’ solution to the problem of reproduction (or regeneration) among the Wild Boys, his army of eternal teenage boys at war with the world at large in a dystopian 1988. Warfare means casualties so in order to maintain their homosocial, homoerotic tribal existence they gather at special times to perform sex-magic rituals that summon the “Zimbu” spirit forms of dead Wild Boys. The Zimbus are incarnated as new Wild Boys after being inseminated and fully materialised.

Burroughs wasn’t short on fantastic concepts but his ideas are often delivered and dismissed in a few lines. By contrast, the creation of the Zimbus is given pages of detailed description, the separatist, semi-human world of the Wild Boys being one to which he devoted a great deal of imaginative attention. I’ve linked before to Phil Hine’s essay, Zimbu Xototl Time, which examines the Zimbu idea at some length, drawing comparisons to similar ideas in anthropology and other fiction. If I ever get round to finished the long-gestating Wild Boys portfolio I may be able to show some Zimbu manifestations of my own.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Seward/Howard
Thot-Fal’N, a film by Stan Brakhage
Mr Bradly Mr Martin Hear Us Through The Hole In Thin Air
The Last Words of Dutch Schultz, a film by Gerrit van Dijk
Burroughs at 100
Nova Express, a film by Andre Perkowski
Decoder, a film by Jürgen Muschalek
The Burroughs Century
Interzone: A William Burroughs Mix
Sine Fiction
The Ticket That Exploded: An Ongoing Opera
Burroughs: The Movie revisited
Zimbu Xolotl Time
Ah Pook Is Here
Jarek Piotrowski’s Soft Machine
Looking for the Wild Boys
Wroblewski covers Burroughs
Mugwump jism
Brion Gysin’s walk, 1966
Burroughs in Paris
William Burroughs interviews
Soft machines
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire

Tuxedomoon: some queer connections

roques18.jpg

UK poster insert by Patrick Roques for Desire (1981).

Yes, more Tuxedomoon: there’s a lot to explore. It’s always a pleasure when something that you enjoy one medium connects to things that interest you elsewhere. From the outset Tuxedomoon have had more than their share of connections to gay culture—to writers especially—but it’s more of an ongoing conversation than any kind of proselytising concern. This post teases out those connections some of which I hadn’t spotted myself until I started delving deeper.

The Angels of Light: Not the Michael Gira group but an earlier band of musicians and performers in San Francisco in the early 1970s. The Angels of Light formed out of performance troupe The Cockettes following a split between those who wanted to charge admission for their shows, and those who wanted to keep things free to all. Among the troupe there was Steven Brown, soon to be a founding member of Tuxedomoon:

The group began as an offshoot of The Angels of Light, ‘a “family” of dedicated artists who sang, danced, painted and sewed for the Free Theater’, says Steve Brown. ‘I was lucky to be part of the Angels—I fell for a bearded transvestite in the show and moved in with him at the Angels’ commune. Gay or bi men and women who were themselves works of art, extravagant in dress and behaviour, disciples of Artaud and Wilde and Julian Beck [of the Living Theater] … we lived together in a big Victorian house … pooled all our disability cheques each month, ate communally … and used the rest of the funds to produce lavish theatrical productions—never charging a dime to the public. This is what theatre was meant to be: a Dionysian rite of lights and music and chaos and Eros.’

Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds

(Special Treatment For The) Family Man (1979): A sombre commentary from the Scream With A View EP on the trial of Dan White, the assassin of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. White’s “special treatment” in court led to a conviction for manslaughter which in turn resulted in San Francisco’s White Night riots in May, 1979.

James Whale (1980): An instrumental on the first Tuxedomoon album, Half-Mute, all sinister electronics and tolling bells as befits a piece named after a director of horror films. Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is not only the best of the Universal horror series, it’s also commonly regarded as a subversive examination of marriage and the creation of life from a gay perspective. (Whale’s friends and partner disagreed, however.)

joeboysf.jpg

Cover art by Winston Tong.

Joeboy San Francisco (1981): The Joeboy name was lifted from a piece of San Francisco graffiti to become a name for Tuxedomoon’s DIY philosophy. It’s also a record label name, the name of an early single, and a side project of the group which in 1981 produced Joeboy In Rotterdam / Joeboy San Francisco. The SF side features a collage piece by Winston Tong based on The Wild Boys by William Burroughs, a key inspiration for the band which first surfaces here.

In one piece, the band cites its influences as: “burroughs, bowie, camus, cage, eno, moroder”. Can you say what you admired or drew on vis-à-vis these artists?

William S. Burroughs — ideas concerning use of media — tapes, projections, his radical anti-control politic in general as well as his outspoken gayness. Early on we duplicated on stage one of his early experiments projecting films of faces onto faces.

Simon Reynolds interview with Steven Brown

Continue reading “Tuxedomoon: some queer connections”

Pay It All Back

burroughs.jpg

Two things of interest to William Burroughs aficionados are looking for funding this month. The Burroughs Century is an event being planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Burroughs birth next year in Bloomington, Indiana:

We are calling this event the Burroughs Century, but we are not looking backward; rather, we believe that the Burroughs Century is ongoing, that we are in the midst of it, and we intend to stage an event that indicates the full range of that continuing influence, including a film series, art and literature exhibits, speakers and panels, musical performances, and more.

There’s more detail at Indiegogo. The organiser of the event, Charles Cannon, has expressed an interest in showing some of the Wild Boys portfolio which I keep tinkering with. Having a deadline to work towards may compel me to finish some of those pieces.

tangiers.jpg

I’ve already mentioned Alex Harvey’s computer game-in-progress, Tangiers, but the game now has a Kickstarter fund which Harvey and co. are hoping will push their work to completion. The Burroughs influence here is more oblique since this is an original creation but it’s still a promising development in a medium with a tendency to rely on Hollywood and genre stereotypes for its scenarios:

You play an outsider to the world, an entity with a singular, enigmatic goal – to find and dispose of five other beings. Your arrival here has fractured the world; the city that these other beings resided in is now broken into shards across a broken, bleak landscape.

You must infiltrate these cities, searching to discover your marks – investigating both precisely who, and where. Keeping to the shadows is to be encouraged – reality here is a fragile place. Your interactions with the world cause it to fall apart. In homage to Burrough’s cut-up technique, the world collapses and rebuilds itself the more you interact with it – future areas rebuilt with the fragments and personality of places you mistreated. From this every play-through will, subtly or drastically, be unique to you.

Find out more at the game’s Kickstarter page.

Zimbu Xolotl Time

wb1.jpg

Or The Wild Boys revisited. These are two of Emma Doeve’s Wild Boys paintings from the Academy 23 book which was published in October by WhollyBooks to coincide with the recent London event remembering and celebrating The Final Academy, a William Burroughs-themed series of events held in London and Manchester in 1982. I’ve mentioned before that the book contains an edited version of my post about the event at Manchester’s Haçienda club. The book is now sold out but I expect some copies will find their way into the secondhand market eventually. Had Emma’s pictures been around a year ago I would have included them in my post about The Wild Boys and the various music and art inspired by Burroughs’s novel. They’re also a reminder that I ought to finish my own Wild Boys portfolio which has languished this year while I’ve been engaged with other things, not least finishing the Reverbstorm book. Something for the future, then. As for Zimbu Xolotl Time, Phil Hine can explain.

wb2.jpg

Previously on { feuilleton }
Ah Pook Is Here
Jarek Piotrowski’s Soft Machine
Looking for the Wild Boys
Wroblewski covers Burroughs
Mugwump jism
Brion Gysin’s walk, 1966
Burroughs in Paris
William Burroughs interviews
Soft machines
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire