Just back from Botswana. Before I crash from jetlag, here’s an iPhone shot with magic in it. The photo was taken in the bush via focus thru binoculars, a brilliant trick. The leopard, not more than 20 to 30 feet away, looks very handsome. After gorging on his kill, he also looks mighty satisfied. The impala, cleanly butchered by an expert, looks sadly dead.
Nimble as you were in your ‘hey’day, / Your ‘wow’zone resplendent, / whenever your / Writing and way claimed a mind. / Those still on the planet salute you in love, / Winking our wish through the cosmos, / Broadcasting life’s message that yours / Is the path still to find. It used to lead / To Oxford, but now, it stretches on . . . —David Erdos
Nearly three months after Colin Asher’s biography of Nelson Algren was published, and just in time for readers to take a break from serious books as they head off on vacation to escape the summer heat, our dearly beloved newspaper of record has deigned to take notice of Never a Lovely So Real. But let’s put that aside because Susan Jacoby’s review, which will appear Sunday in the print edition of The New York Times Book Review, is not only honest, clear, and well reported, it sets a judicious standard. Which gives it credibility.
Your humble blogger has published a new collection of poems. Moloko will bring it out in a bilingual English-German edition in Germany. In the meantime, however, an American edition is now available without the translations but with a complement of images. ‘All That Would Ever After Not Be Said’ is composed of forty-two deformed sonnets of mine and forty-two collages by the late Norman O. Mustill.
‘The Dark Side of Boris Johnson’: Now that he is on his way to becoming the new Prime Minister of the U.K., the staff believes this blogpost of Aug. 24, 2016 is worth reposting: Back in April, before the Brexit vote [on June 23, 2016], Heathcote Williams wrote a merciless pamphlet, subtitled “A Study in Depravity,” about the most notorious cheerleader for the British exit from the European Union.
LET US WRITE poems easy to read / simple to understand— / not the kind of thing / that Donne or Milton / wrote, nor the Bard’s / still greater brand, / the kind of thing / we make for children / who don’t know how / to read, for grownups / who forgot or never / learned to understand— / for the dead, perhaps, / to hear the damned.
“an unknown power / the glass bell of midnight / neither sends nor tracks / whatever the hour / the quivering eye / everything human / the nearness of clouds / bright sun in blue sky” — J.H.
“Pay no heed to society. Wear the mask / of the beast over your animal face. / … Breathe through the nostrils of the dead / and witness how the evening mountains / devour the entrails of the sky.” — M.R.
Folio designed by Gerard Bellaart, with detail of a painting by Constable.
Norman Ogue Mustill (1931-2013), longtime friend and collaborator, was a little-known master collagist. His collage is from ‘Flypaper,’ originally published by Beach Books, Texts and Documents, and is not intended to illustrate the deformed sonnet facing it (which owes a debt to Evelyn Waugh). Nor is the sonnet meant as commentary on the collage. The juxtaposition was determined by chance. The dialogue between them simply honors a friendship.
This teaser appeared today at Arts & Letters Daily in its “New Books” column: “‘I greet you at the beginning of a great career,’ Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote Allen Ginsberg. … Thus began the effort to publish Howl, a landmark case of attempted censorship…” The teaser linked to an article that appeared recently in Spiked apropos the publication in the U.K. of The People v. Ferlinghetti: The Fight to Publish Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, which, it so happens, is closely related to I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955-1997, published four years ago here in the U.S. Why do I mention all of this?
Robert Crumb has come in for severe disapproval. In which case, the censors will hate this old video. It was recorded on April 29, 2011 at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. The laid-on soundtrack is “Pennies From Heaven,” from “Ben Webster: King of the Tenors”; a selection from Satie’s “Nocturnes,” played by Aldo Ciccolini; and “Honeysuckle Rose,” played by Count Basie & His Orchestra.
A friend sent this photo of Marcus Bowcott’s “Trans Am Totem,” which stands amid the traffic in Vancouver. As you see, five cars are stacked (four of them crushed) on top of a base made from a single tree trunk. What you cannot see is that the Cedar trunk is signed by a Native First Nations Carver who carved a Bear Paw & Claws symbol into the foot of the trunk.
Artists and retail stores have a history. Bonwit Teller on 5th Avenue featured avant-garde art from 1929 to 1980, starting with Salvador Dali in ’29 and including Jasper Johns in 1957. Warhol in the 1950s did windows for Tiffany’s. In that tradition Cody Simon has curated a show at Sneakersnstuff-NYC featuring Clayton Patterson’s Front Door photo series. The photos, taken at his Lower East Side storefront gallery and living quarters on Essex Street, go back to the mid-1980s up through 2019. They include a large Hispanic collection and are also multigenerational. Some of Patterson’s subjects now have children older than he was when he first photographed them.
On Holloway Road in north London there’s a black door leading into Ram Books, “a smut emporium with more than 100,000 vintage titles.” So said the email, which went on to say: “This astonishing place became A Void magazine’s power centre when we upscaled our priorities to cater for obscene tastes.” This led me to poking around the magazine’s website, where I found “The Sick and the Damned: A Manifesto” by The Patients’ Collective. It talks about capitalism, the “memes and myths of Social Darwinism,” and “the normalization of overwork.” Though I dislike the manifesto’s takedown of liberalism, I can’t help being impressed by its seductive intelligence.
Nelson Algren is always associated with Chicago, where he grew up and where many of his books are set, including Never Come Morning and The Man With the Golden Arm, as well as The Neon Wilderness and Chicago: City On the Make. But the official launch of Colin Asher’s Never A Lovely So Real: The Life and Work of Nelson Algren will take place in Brooklyn at the Community Bookstore, not far from where Asher lives. Does everything happen these days in Brooklyn? Next week he will discuss the biography at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, where everything used to happen.
William Levy, sometimes called “the Talmudic Wizard of Amsterdam,” has died at the age of 80. A prolific expatriate American writer and editor, he left the United States in 1966 and earned a reputation as one of the leading intellectual and sexual subversives in Europe. Levy was a master of literary outrageousness, an editor of The Insect Trust Gazette, International Times, publisher and editor of Suck magazine, and producer of the Wet Dreams Film Festival, as well as a poet and radio broadcaster.