Music Theater: ‘Street Scene for the Last Mad Soprano’

Abbie Conant as the Mad Soprano

This performance was recorded in Taos, New Mexico, in September 2014. The piece had its world premiere in Germany at Theater K-9, in Konstanz, in 1996. Abbie Conant, Soprano & Trombone / William Osborne, Music Text and Video From William Osborne's brief description: Imagine a singer living among the dumpsters behind the Met. Tomorrow is her big audition at the Opera House -- if only she could think of what to sing. She colors her world with opera excerpts, grandiose Swan Songs and wild escapades on her trombone -- but as she makes … [Read more...]

Dear Cannibals, Have a Sweet Thanksgiving

Our delicious Thanksgiving team of William S. Burroughs and Norman O. Mustill has been a happy pairing. It still is. But the Straight Up staff of thousands wanted to add a sweetener, something like cranberry sauce, to this year's celebration of gratitude. Here 'tiz: Words by Heathcote Williams, narration and montage by Alan Cox. … [Read more...]

‘Anatomy of Violence,’ a Prophetic Blast from the Past

An article in the Washington Post declares that the riots in Ferguson have been "the most significant explosions of racial frustration since the election of the nation’s first black president, and so Ferguson forced the country out of the fantasy that America had entered a 'post-racial' era." I'm not sure who really entertained that fantasy outside of the politicians and other public figures who needed to promote it and the pundits who were willing to go along with it. But Ferguson brought to mind this prophetic blast from the past -- a 1967 … [Read more...]

Monday Morning Quiz: Who Said That?

"Every once in a while, it's nice to be wrong about something." + Alan Dershowitz + Henry Kissinger + Dick Cheney + V.S. Naipaul + God + Click for the answer. But you get points for guessing it was The Albanian Idol of the BananaRepublic. … [Read more...]

More News from Paris: Huge Bookfair Opens Today

Offprint Paris (2014)

Offprint Paris at the Beaux-arts de Paris showcases publishers of art, photography, design, and experimental music labels. The 2014 edition features more than 130 publishers from nearly two dozen countries, an exhibition ("Disarming Design from Palestine"), and a variety of public discussions and signings. Special guests include Paul Soulellis (Library of the Printed Web), Mathieu Cénac (Jean Boîte Éditions), David Desrimais (Jean Boîte Éditions), and Tarek Issaoui (Rrose Editions), and art historian Mehdi Brit discussing his recent book … [Read more...]

Islamic Peace Warrior: Badshah Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Abdul Badshah Ghaffar Khan

Two years ago almost to the day I posted three parts of a six-part investigative poem, "Game of Drones: The Lord of the Drones and the White House Fly," by Heathcote Williams. The fifth part, which I didn't post, begins by declaring that "the spirit of Badsha Khan, the nonviolent soldier of Islam, still guides many Pashtuns." You don't usually hear about this "frontier Ghandi," a Pashtun Muslim who "preached nonviolence / To a violent culture," as Williams puts it in a new investigative poem. The man stood "six foot five inches tall, / … [Read more...]

A Message From My Orwellian Phone Carrier

Orwellian Message from Verizon

The email arrived with this message: "At Verizon Wireless your privacy is our priority." How nice. So I read on: "We're enhancing our Relevant Mobile Advertising program in a way that can help marketers reach you with messages ..." And here I thought privacy was defined as "the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people." I can opt out of their program by signing into the Verizon website with my password, which I don't have. Or I can phone, in which case I will be required to climb a phone tree. An … [Read more...]

Touring ‘Poetry Army’ Charts History of Radical Verse

A Poster for 'The Poetry Army' Tour in the U.K.

A posting by the Stop the War Coalition: From The Peasants’ Revolt to recent events at Tahrir Square, this incendiary performance celebrates radical verse in all its glory down through the centuries. The longstanding collaboration between poet Heathcote Williams and performer Roy Hutchins, encompassing such hits as Whale Nation and Autogeddon, continues as Hutchins combines forces with local actors, poets, and musicians to give voice to a host of radical writers, such as Shakespeare, Shelley, Ginsberg, Blake and Pussy Riot. Here's a … [Read more...]

‘Unstoppable': On Dismantling the Corporate State

'Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State' by Ralph Nader

I'm a huge fan of Brian Lamb's 'Q & A' on C-Span. Listening to Ralph Nader speak to Lamb last night about Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, Nader's new book, was typical of the broadcast's educational brilliance. The discussion, or rather the story as Nader told it, of Nader's "upbringing and the experiences that have shaped his career in consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and politics" was also typical: not just enlightening but invigorating, and what I found not so typical of … [Read more...]

‘People Power vs. Money Power’

Written by Heathcote Williams, narration and montage by Alan Cox, with photos by Adrian Arbib. Professor Nanjunda’s Direct Actions “What India needs today is the Gandhian formula for progress, not the presence of the West which is interested in stealing our wealth.” This was Professor Nanjundaswamy’s war cry As he fended off corporate kleptocrats And made war on genetically modified crops And trashed Colonel Sanders’s outlets. He knew they threatened to “affect India’s food security” And in Bangalore swore, “they do India no … [Read more...]

Echoes of Micheline and Norse at 16th and Valencia

The San Francisco poet Alejandro Murguía reads his poem '16th and Valencia' in this short video edited with footage from street protests against the recent killing of Alejandro Neito who was shot in his Bernal Heights neighborhood by the SFPD." -- Todd Swindell Alex Nieto from Juan Ruiz on Vimeo. … [Read more...]

‘American Porn’ on Vinyl LP, with CD

'American Porn' by Heathcote Williams, on vinyl

Heathcote Williams has recorded his poems “Mr. President,” “The United States of Porn,” “Forbidden Fruit, or The Cybernetic Apple Core,” and “Snuff Films at the White House.” In their uncompromising nakedness they are CT scans of history. “All his work is deeply political. I think it’s informed not only by violent contempt for the way people are manipulated, for the status quo, the complacency of the status quo, but also — certainly more and more evident in his later work — by compassion for the weak.” -- Harold Pinter, on Heathcote … [Read more...]