Friday, December 28, 2012
We love Jeff Buckley too!
Saturday, July 21, 2012
The book is put together by Rob Young via the great British music magazine 'The Wire.' And this is the perfect publication to do an anthology all on the subject of Scott Walker's music. Included are late interviews with the composer/songwriter/singer, but more interesting to me are the essays on certain aspects of Scott Walker's albums.
To give one who isn't exposed to the world of Scott Waler, it is best that I give him and his music a brief introduction. Scott Walker was a member of the Walker Brothers (none were actual brothers), from America but went to London during the British invasion. Unlike the Beat groups of that time, The Walker Brothers specialize in Phil Spector style big production ballads - with Scott as lead vocalist. An incredible voice who knew how to relay a lyric like it was a simple act of putting butter on a hot piece of toast. Over a short period of time they became teen idols of sorts, and for Scott this was a sign of total despair. A man of humor, but a sort of humor that laughs with Ingmar Bergman films than say the Carry on films.
In the mid-60's to late 60's he made a series of solo albums that are now considered to be classics. And they were very odd albums compared to the swinging 60's of London. Huge orchestrations, beautiful voice singing Jacques Brel songs as well as his own material - which at the time were very much influenced by Brel and the whole French style of singing about personal and earthy narratives. While everyone in the world of pop was tuning in- or dropping out - Scott was sort of a hipper version of Jack Jones (a singer he admired at the time) or a throw back to the pop crooner. So that alone made him stand out with respect to the Pop explosion of the 1960's.
In the 70's he lost the pilot of sorts (and reading this book now I have second thoughts on this period) and sort of sang for his supper - till the late 1980's where he made a series of albums every 10 to 12 years that are totally unique, odd, beautiful, disturbing, and well, fantastic art. This book covers all different aspects of Scott Walkers very long but fascinating career.
The longest piece is by Ian Penman, focusing on the albums that no no really cares about - including Scott! But here you can see how this 'dead' period gave fuel for him to make his future masterpieces - and therefore cannot be denied! The beauty of Walker's life in music is that they are all pieces of a puzzle - and you have to spend the time going over those pieces or putting them together to see the whole picture, which of course is a masterpiece. And this book helps the listener put the pieces together. Pennman with great wit, writes about the down years of Scott that to me are not wasted, but career wise must have been a downer for him.
And there is not really a downer of an essay in this book. Young did a remarkable job in giving an intriguing picture of Scott Walker. I am so happy that this book exists.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Download this prize piece, here.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Live Event: "Gainsbourg" with the author Gilles Verlant, Translator Paul Knobloch, and TamTam Books' Publisher Tosh Berman
(corner of Sunset and Formosa)
Gilles Verlant’s biography of Gainsbourg is the best and most authoritative in any language. Drawing from numerous interviews and their own friendship, Verlant provides a fascinating look at the inner workings of 1950s–1990s French pop culture and the conflicted and driven songwriter, actor, director and author that emerged from it: the young boy wearing a yellow star during the German Occupation; the young art student trying to woo Tolstoy’s granddaughter; the musical collaborator of Petula Clark, Juliette Greco and Sly and Robbie; the seasoned composer of the Lolita of pop albums, Histoire de Melody Nelson; the cultural icon who transformed scandal and song into a new form of delirium.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
|Excerpt from "New York Mon Amour"|
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
(The two rules of summer: always bring sunscreen and always bring a book.)
There are six books that I must read before Labor Day. I'm sure I'll find more but I will definitely finish the books on this list. And I will be tanned too. And well rested.
Eisenhower in War & Peace - Jean Smith. I visited the Eisenhower Library in Kansas as a small boy and I'm pretty sure my parents "Liked Ike," but I must confess it's Mad Men that has really kick started my interest in the Eisenhower era.
Home - Toni Morrison. Always a surprise, always moving.
Family Fang - Kevin Wilson. A weird family of performance artists - enthusiastic parents and mortified children. Sounds like a hoot!
Thomas Hart Benton - Justin Wolff. I'm really into the regional artists right now. This biography of Benton looks promising.
Wonderland Avenue - Danny Sugarman. I have started this book twice and it is amazing and scary. I know it is taking me to a dark place so I have to steel myself for the journey.
Then Again - Diane Keaton. An amazing woman and an endearing tribute to her mother.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Whenever i put pen on to a paper or I type words I think of Osamu Dazai. The craft of his writing with the mixture of his character equals a major influence on me, and I suspect on contemporary Japanese literature as well. For instance, Mishima's major influence was Dazai. Well, sort of. He didn't want to be a Dazai, in fact, he hated his work. But the truth is hatred of Dazai's character and work was a sign of love and respect to the great decadent literary figure - and Dazai was extremely decadent in the Japanese context. Drinker, womanizer, cad, drug addict, and extremely handsome - and a writing talent that is extremely superb. Dazai is one unique writer, and a day doesn't go by where I don't think about him. Hmm, perhaps this is really an obsession on my part, but let's put that aside for the moment.
"Schoolgirl" is a snapshot of the day in the life of a young girl, with her inner thoughts, her 'childish' impressions mixed in with great awareness of her world. It reads like a narrative poem, with some quiet beautiful moments, but with a 'punk' attitude. Well, punk attitude in 1939 Tokyo! You can smell the coming disaster in these pages, and they a writer/poet can smell the culture as it happens - and Dazai is one of those writers who for sure knew how the wind was blowing at the time of his writings. This small book is under a 100 pages, but it hits hard like a heavyweight fighter. One of the great writers of the 20th Century, and "Schoolgirl" is small in size, but huge as a classic piece of literature.
Friday, April 20, 2012
A remarkable world that Samuel Steward lived in. A collage professor turned tattoo artist who also happened to be a great sex adventurer - Justin Spring really captures the underground world of Gay sexuality and life in the 20th Century. But for that we have to be thankful for Steward's zeal for keeping track on all his sexual adventures. Steward built up an erotic museum of sorts - and this gentleman of pleasure is a wonderful figure in Gay social history. Essential read for anyone who is interested in the counter-culture and the sexual world via the world of Hustlers and tattoo artistry. And now I have this incredible urge to read his "Phil Andros" novels.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Saturday, March 31, 2012
"Full Service" indeed. Scotty Bowers memoir is the not-so-secret of the sexual lives of the cinema famous and the great. Gossip is an important social function in the world, and "Full Service" is not afraid to go into that territory. And being a visitor, by reading this book, I find it really interesting. I am always fascinated with the image more than the truth. One of the reasons why I like the cinema is the fact that dreams are being projected on a screen - and i never really was (or is) concerned what is real or not real.
So with that in mind I have no reason to doubt Bowers tales in this book. I am more interested in another shadow world where desire leads to adventures. And what I got from this book is not the actual sex acts - plenty of that - but the fact that it was a world that was full of secrets - and secrets are very very seductive. So one should dip into "Full Service" as not as if it was true or not (does that really matter) but the fact that one can go into Scotty Bowers world with a full appreciation of a life that was well-designed and in many ways beautiful.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
|The Dandy Albert Cossery|
Monday, March 12, 2012
'The mechanism was somewhat as follows. (I have used it since). To every charge brought against me, unjust though it be, from the bottom of my heart I shall answer yes. Hardly had I uttered the word -- or the phrase signifying it -- than I felt within me the need to become what I had been accused of being . . . I owned to being the coward, traitor, thief and fairy they saw in me.' -- The Thief's Journal
He is the ultimate, little eros machine."
Book Soup carries most of his novels and plays, but Our Lady of the Flowers, The Thief's Journal, and Prisoner of Love are good introductions to his work.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
How it was in the aftermath of it, was that her body was in the world, not how it had ever been in the world before, in her little room or in their rooms--the people who own the rooms--or at least were managing the rooms, their hallways, or the stairwell, which was not hers either, that she went through and through and through. A man laughed at her for what she had said, and then someone had brought her to this bed.
Monday, March 5, 2012
I stumbled across John Tottenham's book of poetry during a fit of procrastination-induced depression. At the time, I was overwhelmed by the three selves--self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-indulgence--and this seemed like fate. This book, by perfectly and wittily articulating my angst, freed me from it. For now.
Poems such as:
If I am not doing the work
That for some obscurely grasped reason
I believe it is my duty to perform,
Then I cannot, in its place,
Allow myself to do anything else
That is pleasurable or productive.
The main challenge, ultimately,
Is not to fall asleep during the afternoon.
I may as well face the fact
That I am no longer capable
Of doing what I once believed
I was capable of doing.
Not that I had any reason to assume
That I was capable of it.
It was just a feeling that I had.
And now I have a different feeling.
If you think you can't relate to poetry, this is the book of poetry for you. If you are a writer, artist, creative individual, or any other type of human being, this is the book of poetry for you. If you take naps, this is the book of poetry for you.
Mr. Tottenham is a local poet, and he's roused himself up off of his sofa long enough to sign a few copies for us.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Slowly but very seriously reading every novel that takes place in Soho London, and "Scamp" by the mysterious Roland Camberton is one of the best. Written and published in 1950, this novel tells the tale of a 30 year old who is pinning a lot of hopes on a new literary journal he wants to start called Scamp. But of course he has to raise the money as well as get the writers - and here we have an incredible snapshot of Boho London as well as a London still affected by the war.
The beauty of this book is not really its plotting but its sense of place and time. Camberton is a wonderful observer of London life and people just barely making it. One Soho bar or coffee (cafe) after another - you can basically taste the lukewarm weak tea and the even warmer beer off the page. What makes it for me is Camberton's take on this world - slightly mocking towards its subject matters - but still you get a full understanding what makes these citizens of Soho tick.
|Portrait of Roland Camberton by Julia Rushbury|
|The original and current cover for "Scamp" by John Minton|
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Seaver's book is in two parts. His life as an magazine/literary editor and his first sighting of Samuel Beckett as well as with the wild man of alt-lit Alex Trocchi - his partner in crime at the time. Its a very heady and beautiful portrait of Paris in the late 1950's and it has that romantic tinge that makes one want to re-live or re-imagine his life in the Left Bank.
The second part deals with his life at Grove Press - the revolutionary and super cool publishing house controlled by the late great Barney Rosset. Here we have the relationship between the two guys plus people like Maurice Girodias, who is a great character in life and literature. For those who consider themselves book nerds or anyone who is interested in the cultural history of publishing - Seaver's book is extremely important. This is what one may call a keeper.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Dear Mr. Hemon,
I've gone to bed with you every night for months (first there was The Lazarus Project, then The Question of Bruno, now Nowhere Man) and subsequently, I suffer from the delusion, shared by people in love, that I will never find anyone else who makes me feel the way that you do -- no one whose prose satisfies me the way that your prose satisfies me. I have felt this way before, and when it ends, as it must, there are always a few unsuccessful liaisons (very nice books, but) before I find some new author to be faithful to, for at least as long as their novels last. I am sure that you will make other readers very happy, and I am only jealous of their ignorance of you, the pleasure of opening you for the first time.
At least, there is comfort in the knowledge that I can return to you, in a few years, when I am older and perhaps wiser. Rereading your body of work with my new hypothetical wisdom, I may grow to feel that my previous affection was merely childish infatuation compared to the depth of feeling that suffuses me in this hypothetical future. Still, in the midst of a passionate one-sided literary affair, I find it hard to imagine it ending. To clumsily paraphrase you, you are like everybody else because there is no one like you.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
He says this stuff at the beginning about making sure you're ready to read his book. I reckon he's probably serious, and I haven't really felt up to it before. In any case, it keeps falling off my shelf.