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...]

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...]

‘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...]

‘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...]

Barbie Duz Her Thang in the New York Times, Oh Yeah

This Barbie Doll ad showed up in the New York Times this morning. Prominently positioned in the A-section on page 7. [Feb. 18, 2014]

I am a doll. And yet, I've always caused a bit of a stir, starting with my debut as a teenage fashion model in a swimsuit in 1959. My creation was met with skepticism and judgment. [...] Over time I've become an icon, and as with all icons, I've been pulled into the cultural conversation. "My god! The strenuous exertions of this copywriter sweating blood to extract meaning from airy plastic nothings made me quite breathless. Now Barbie is a feminist? 'If you buy our super de luxe and cutting-edgy version and peel off her cosmetic surgery... … [Read more...]

Centennial Conference on Life & Myth of William Burroughs

CLICK FOR CONFERENCE DETAILS.

William S. Burroughs was born 100 years ago today. A centennial conference will be held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York as part of a month-long WSB@100 Festival in April. The conference, sponsored by The Center for Humanities, "will explore the life and myth of one of the most innovative and influential twentieth-century American writers and artists." [You can expect] a series of talks and roundtables by editors, artists, and scholars on a range of issues from the problem of gender in Burroughs' work to his role in … [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...]

Whom Do You Believe? Clapper or Snowden?

The lineup: U.S. intelligence officials testified yesterday in an annual hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Clapper is the center figure. [Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP]

You won't see Edward Snowden being interviewed on American TV. But you will see the nation’s top intelligence official James R. Clapper Jr., who previously lied to Congress under oath about the existence of bulk data collection programs, all over the news accusing Snowden and unidentified "accomplices" of causing "grave damage to the country’s security." In "a scorching attack," as the New York Times characterized it this morning, Clapper assailed Snowden but "did not give specific examples to bolster his assessment about the damage Mr. … [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...]