William S. Burroughs: The Life, the Myth, the Influence

William S. Burroughs Centennial Conference hosted by The Center for Humanities, at the CUNY Graduate Center.

April 25, 2014 + Free and open to the public at The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Ave. (at 34th Street) in Manhattan.+ 10:00 a.m. "Editing Burroughs" -- John Bennett and Geoffrey Smith+ 11:00 a.m. "Burroughs and Literary Magazines" -- Jed Birmingham, Charles Plymell, and Jan Herman +2:00 p.m. "Biography and Photography" -- Barry Miles in conversation with Oliver Harris +3:30 p.m. "Gender Trouble" -- Anne Waldman, Regina Weinreich, and Ann Douglas +5:30 p.m. Keynote: "Cutting up the Trilogy" -- Oliver Harris+ The building and the … [Read more...]

They Made Rabelais Look Like a Church Picnic

Otto Peterson and George Dudley

Otto Petersen and George Dudley have died. The NYT has an obit for the ventriloquist, calling him "the Voice of Vulgarity." But there is no separate obit for George, the foul-mouthed dummy who delivered all the tasteless lines that made audiences laugh or walk out. Margalit Fox, whose great lede I stole for my headline, notes: No subject was sacred, and George’s myriad observations could range over matters sexual, scatological, urological, gastroenterological, racial, bestial, theological and homicidal. None will be quoted here." So … [Read more...]

Poet in ‘Orbit’: Sound & Sense Go ‘Round and ‘Round

'Orbit' by Hanne Lippard

Click to listen. by Hanne Lippard + Moonrise on Mars + Marsset on Sun + Sunset on Moon + Earthrise on Sun + Sunday at Noon + Sun sets at Dawn + Dawn dawns on Man + One man drowns + Man sits down + Gets nothing done + Dawn sits on Earth + Moonrise on Sun + Man sets on Moon + Gets nothing done + Small step + Down + Dawn moves a man + One step ahead + Giant leap + Mankind on Mars + Is there? + Life + Sets on land + Gets nothing done + Sits down + Giantkind + Kind Sun + Kind men of mankind + Sunset at meantime … [Read more...]

Hans Walgenbach Has Art Yen for Cold Turkey

From Cold Turkey Press Exhibition [Walgenbach Books & Art, Rotterdam]

Cold Turkey Press is een legendarische Rotterdamse underground uitgeverij die van 1970 tot 1976 actief was. Gerard Bellaart, beeldende kunstenaar en initiatiefnemer, hervatte het fonds in 2006 met publicaties van oa Ira Cohen, William S. Burroughs, Heathcote Williams, Samuel Beckett, Sinclair Beiles, Jean Arp, Antonin Artaud, Kurt Schwitters, Ed Sanders, Ezra Pound en Gerard Bellaart zelf, die tevens verantwoordelijk is voor de beeldende kwaliteit van alle verschenen edities. " … [Read more...]

Words to Live By

Bruno Monsaingeon on Sviatoslav Richter

Bruno Monsaingeon on Sviatoslav Richter The performing musicians with whom I have a real affinity, those who seem to me the truly important ones, are those who reach beyond the instrument they happen to play, who travel within themselves and do not just rely on the parameters of the instrument in order to express music. [...] Richter is a world unto himself, impenetrable yet radiant; a deep water fish, blind but luminous. … [Read more...]

A Woman’s Point of View from a Tough-Guy Novelist

Nelson Algren, 1962 [Photo: Steve Deutch]

There was no chance to note Nelson Algren's birthday two days ago. As Doug Ramsey has pointed out ArtsJournal was taken down by hacker bots. But now that we're back, herewith a belated blogpost to celebrate a novelist who had a reputation as a tough guy but who wrote with deep sensitivity about women. Show me a passage equal to the one about Sophie, who is doing "tenement time," which he recorded for a 1963 release on vinyl by Lynne and Harry Schwartz, beautifully produced I should add. It is part of their Calliope Author Readings (Great … [Read more...]

In a Light Mood: ‘No Severed Bodies or Bloody Stumps’

'The Condition,' a new postcard from Cold Turkey Press [2014]

The front of this hallucinatory postcard, published by Cold Turkey Press in a limited edition of 36 copies, shows a collage by the late Norman Ogue Mustill. It is "Mustill in a light sorta mood, or so he thought," I wrote Ben Schot, Cold Turkey's distributor. "Light for him, anyway: no severed bodies or bloody stumps. He did not always ream out the human race. He had a feel for the vulnerability of pop culture, which he liked to satirize." When Cold Turkey's artist-publisher Gerard Bellaart asked for a paragraph to go with Mustill's collage, I … [Read more...]

‘Eating the Rich and Famous, or Celebrity Roadkill’

'Eating the Rich' by Heathcote Williams [Cold Turkey Press, 2014]

"Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind; for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor." -- Thomas Jefferson, from his letters Words by Heathcote Williams. Montage and narration by Alan Cox. "I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that … [Read more...]

‘America: How It Works’ by Heathcote Williams

The fierce dissidence of Williams's polemical poetry is as radical as Shelley’s. "America: How It Works" bears witness to the monster within "the most dangerous country in world history." Words by Heathcote Williams. Narration and montage by Alan Cox. The business of America is business, And it's number one business is war. It uses Hollywood to peddle its values To turn the world into its whore. But few of its citizens have the guts to say boo. Otherwise they'd be refusing to pay taxes. So, like their own media, they back war … [Read more...]

Remembering Norman Mailer, Sorta Policy Wonk

Norman Mailer [Chicago Sun-Times, 1984]

I'm no policy wonk on Russia and neither was Norman Mailer. But the crisis in the Ukraine and an article in today's New York Times about the impact of thinning ranks of Russia experts on U.S. policy reminded me of remarks Mailer once made about the former Soviet Union, as though he were an expert. It was back in 1984 and Mailer had come to Chicago. He looked at 61 not unlike a retired seadog, although there was nothing retiring about him. What hadn’t changed with age was his provocative charm. Although he was there to promote a new novel, he … [Read more...]

‘Clapping Music,’ Talking Music, and a ‘Mallet Quartet’

Steve Reich

Steve Reich has been called "our greatest living composer" by a New York Times critic. Was that hyperbole or just ink-stained enthusiasm? Listening to a performance of Reich's "Mallet Quartet" a few nights ago at the CUNY Graduate Center (followed by his conversation with New York magazine's music critic Justin Davidson), I understood why Reich was at least in the running. That's him in the baseball cap. … [Read more...]

Music for Organ, With Encore for Bosendorfer Pianos

Puck on the left, with Charlemagne Palestine

A friend of mine, Ben Schot, sent a photo he recently took of the Brooklyn-born minimalist composer and performance artist Charlemagne Palestine (born Chaim Moshe Tzadik Palestine, or Charles Martin) and his daughter Puck, a student at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. "He used to live in Rotterdam for a couple of years in the '90s," Ben wrote. "We met then and have been in touch since. He lives in Belgium now but performs in Holland every now and then. I wanted Puck to meet him, after having introduced her to his work. [...] It was great … [Read more...]

Charley Plymell Tells and Shows in Strings of Emails

Poster for a recent appearance.

Charley Plymell's long, seemingly endless strings of emails are fascinating to read. He has known so many Beat writers and artists and has popped up in so many places with them that I can't help thinking of him -- half in wonder and half in disbelief -- as the Zelig of the Beat Generation. Unlike Zelig, however, he has actual evidence to support his many, many tales. There he is in snowy Cherry Valley, for example, displaying a painting by William Burroughs that Burroughs once gave him and his wife Pam. "We sold it over phone ... 3 grand," he … [Read more...]