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...]

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...]

‘Burroughs in London’ by Heathcote Williams

Transatlantic Review 14

Now that the Burroughs centenary has moved into high gear -- marked by a massive new biography, a lecture series, a remastered movie, all kinds of performances, an art exhibition (more than one, actually), and what have you (including a major conference in Indiana, of all places, and an academic gathering planned for April in New York) -- it suddenly dawned on Heathcote Williams that he'd known the man on and off for more than half a century. 
I first met William Burroughs in 1963. I was working for the now-defunct literary magazine … [Read more...]

Two New Poster Cards from Cold Turkey Press

'An Iron Fish Rusts' by Malcolm Ritchie [Cold Turkey Press, 2014]

An Iron Fish Rusts up in the hills at this age now even my stick takes a rest * on a tarmac a single stone like aloneness * in the glen the silence of an echo waiting for sound * in the empty sky a crow crows the empty sound of a crow According to Dr. Philip Masonbar, noted pathologist and jetset raconteur, The Condition was originally described in 1895 by Sir Arthur Blonk. As an afterthought, Blonk said: "Going to decimate San Francisco? Then you must withhold the admission, or prepare to lay aside through strict … [Read more...]

Clayton Patterson on Jewish History of the Lower East Side

'Jews: A People's History of the Lower East Side'Edited by Clayton Patterson and Mareleyn Schneider [New York, 2012]

Nobody I know is better versed in the history of Manhattan's Lower East Side than Clayton Patterson. And I'd be willing to bet that nobody at all is more devoted to, or more articulate about, the history of the Jews who lived on the Lower East Side. He was interviewed a year ago -- Feb. 13, 2013, to be exact -- by Suzannah B. Troy, about the three massive volumes he edited on the subject. Because he's not Jewish and because the volumes are "a people's history," he says, there's a tendency to think that the account they offer is "incidental" … [Read more...]

Beautiful Hand-Made Paper Gems from Hanuman Books

Willem de Kooning's Collected Writings [Hanuman Books, 1988]. This is a 1990 second printing.

Earlier this month my staff of thousands put up a blogpost about Willem de Kooning's appreciation of the early analytical Cubist paintings by Braque. Soon after that Gerard Bellaart sent me an excerpt he scanned from the de Kooning essay "What Abstract Art Means to Me" describing the attraction to Cubism. The essay had been reprinted in Collected Writings by Hanuman Books, and Bellaart asked the publisher (Raymond Foye) to send me a copy. (Foye and Francesco Clemente co-founded Hanuman in 1986.) When the book showed up, I was startled to see … [Read more...]

Liam O’Gallagher’s Psilocybin ‘Chinatown Trip’

Liam O'Gallagher's 'Chinatown Trip' (CLICK TO WATCH AND LISTEN)

Poking around the web the other day, my staff of thousands came across an old movie that Michael McClure once made of Liam O'Gallagher taking psilocybin, in 1962, in a San Francisco Chinatown loft. The original, shot in color on 16mm film stock, was basically a short piece of silent documentation -- an amateur bit of cinema verité, if you like. Nearly a half-century later, Kevin Wallace, the director of the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, in Ojai, California, digitized and added new footage, along with a soundtrack that combined … [Read more...]

Do Many Women Admire William Burroughs?

Hanne Lippard

My staff of thousands hasn't taken a survey, but I can count his female fans on one hand. When it comes to the number I actually know, make that one finger. Her name is Hanne Lippard, the Berlin-based poet and performance artist with the killer voice. I've blogposted about her before: Prick Up Your Ears for Hanne Lippard and Every Crumb Can Become a Piece of Cake. "By the by, speaking of Burroughs," she emails, "this one is actually somewhat inspired by his reading of Junky." Go listen: It's a tongue twister called Boys. … [Read more...]

Ginsberg Does Indian Mantras on Sloow Tapes

'London Mantra' Sloow Tapes cassette [2014]

Speaking of Allen Ginsberg, I'm told a new Sloow Tapes cassette entitled "London Mantra" is about to be released. Bart de Paepe, producer of the indie label, writes, "It's a recording George Dowden made at his home in July 1973." The tape features "Ginsberg solo on his harmonium, singing Indian mantras and a few of his own songs." As I replied to de Paepe, "The truth is I've never been a fan of Allen's harmonium singing." One of Ginsberg's closest friends, William Burroughs, couldn't stand his off-key droning either. Which is being … [Read more...]

Portrait of the Painter Who Loved Braque

'Portrait of Willem de Kooning' by Gerard Bellaart

"Willem de Kooning always maintained that Braque's early analytical cubist paintings were the last great bout of true painting." -- Gerard Bellaart (who also loves Braque) Now have a look at what de Kooning was talking about.Here are some of the analytical cubist paintings Braque did from 1908 to 1912. Houses at Estaque [1908] Castle at La Roche Guyon [1909] Glass on a Table [1909] Guitar and Fruit Dish [1909] Harbor in Normandy [1909] The Castle in La Roche Guyon [1909] The City on the Hill [1909] The Park at … [Read more...]

‘In Praise of Folly': Advice for 2014 or Any Year

Early 17th-century illustration for Erasmus' 'In Praise of Folly'

Excerpt from Erasmus' 'In Praise of Folly' (translated by John Wilson) Spoken by Folly in her own Person Do but observe our grim philosophers that are perpetually beating their brains on knotty subjects, and for the most part you'll find them grown old before they are scarcely young. And whence is it, but that their continual and restless thoughts insensibly prey upon their spirits and dry up their radical moisture? Whereas, on the contrary, my fat fools are as plump and round as a Westphalian hog, and never sensible of old age, unless … [Read more...]

In NYC: Catching Up With Peter Schumann
and the Bread and Puppet Theater

Celebrating 50 Years of the Bread and Puppet Theater. (Click for slide show.)

Peter Schumann: The Shatterer is the first solo museum exhibition of Bread and Puppet Theater founder and director Peter Schumann. The exhibition opened in November 2013 as part of the first season in the museum’s newly expanded galleries. It marks the 50th anniversary of the theater company and introduces New York audiences to a largely unseen body of work by one of the most independent, prolific, and complex artists of our time. -- Queens Museum … [Read more...]

Rotterdam Dress Code

Photo of Erik Lopes by Ben Schot [Rotterdam, 2013].

Ben Schot, Straight Up's man in Rotterdam, sent the photo. He noted in an email message: "I met the kid in the street on my way to the post office exactly in the spot where the graffiti was. Spooky figure, especially at night when the skeleton print on this suit lights up in the headlights of passing cars." Seems to me the costume and the graffiti make a graphic force field. … [Read more...]