Alchemy & Mysticism in a Brutally Honest Low Ball Context

Posted on March 2, 2015 by Philip Comment

CUT-UP: ALCHEMY & MYSTICISM &

PETER SOTOS’ LAZY

The place is decidedly run-down. A slum. The booths in the back draw you in like a magnet, since the bookstore section – what you walk directly into off the street where the sign outside lights up only ADULT BOOKS and PEEP SHOW – is virtually bare of magazines and videos. The stock really exists for the public health regulations of a retail license only. But the two early cocksuckers can waste time browsing and looking at pictures to try and calm themselves down while they wait for free time cocks to slink into the back. The north wind on the left corresponds to the element air (sanguis), the east wind at the top corresponds to the element fire. There’s only two glory holes. The first two booths on the left hand side as you enter have their own neatly carved holes. Sal ammoniac shines through all metals. Each door to each booth has a peephole. The video screen is lodged behind a thick plexiglass cover that is always dirty. It has the ability to connect with every region of the three worlds through various, subtle, spiritual media. Monkeying pigs shoot their gross wads all over the screens. Directly aiming at the hog porno action. Having just jut out of some princess’s unskilled raw mouth, a vessel of all things, the ladder of creation: elemental, celestial and super-celestial. Everyone is there to suck cock. Even the younger faggots who pretend they’re there to be serviced. Or initiated. The hermaphrodite, lying in the dark like a corpse needs fire. Demands twisted from dreams get stomped flat to raging horny crunches. Monkeys suck cripples because they’re the only ones who’ll come close enough to cages. It is tight in these booths. The gate is bolted three times according to the sections of the Work. There’s no hiding and masturbating and imagining behind filthy sticky useful partitions. The points on the arch indicate that three different fires must rule within. What the homely paraphiliacs and selfish sensualists want, here, comes with a brutally honest low ball context of ugly on ugly give and take. Through friction and rotation, a flash or “Schrack” is produced in the fourth property, the twofold fire of light and darkness. This one assignation lends itself to a more conventional politeness. Once you’re in the booth. His dick will be standing up straight next to your thigh as he cups and learns your balls, just as the heart on the cross must exist in the fire of God. A long line of barbie dolls soaked in menstrual blood and hymen paint go through the dying magic fire and exist in it, enjoying some form of mystic sisterly flubbed out fantasy. Some Nazi Mexican offers sweaty steak meat, for without opposition nothing is revealed. Some thick middled bald father becomes the incarnation of destructive doubt and calculating reason. They squeeze in line to get what they can. Mongrels pumping in the air, sublimating the desire to cum blind into the great dark empty world. It is a hungry fire and must have being, otherwise it becomes a dark and hungry valley. And the future hear is violent. Ugly. Hateful, bitter, mean, sexually perverse. The booth is soaked in poppers. Gasoline bites every orifice. The Gnostic spark of light. The spread. The thickness. Actions collapse into reflections. Switched the mirror for a silver bromide plate to achieve a more powerful effect. The heat in the box circles between you and all the black paint and noisy video washes and buzz. Quite clearly the spirits, like we mortals, have become realists. Just suck some Mexican meat. Already wet. Spent. And hard again. Die a different way today. Energy, which acts as a stencil, becomes matter. Big burly flesh mass messy and sloppy and talking and slurping and hissing. Sound produces form as well as color. Give me that jizz. C’mon man cum. You can cum. Because he talked like a pigging mother. The nature of infinity is this: that everything has its own vortex. You lean back towards the wall and thrust out forward. Directly into his throat. Which stopped mowing and clamped tight. To take in your throb and spits, a symbol of everything left over, for which we seek neither words nor names. A wetback TV fuck whore with a face like an anvil, and the influence of an all-pervasive vital fluid. He nailed down more poppers and licked his lips, emerging with extended antennae into the spirit world.

 

His cock hung out of his pants and t-shirt and black belt. He yanked it and shook it, erasing the boundary between spirit and matter. Cleaning the last drops of underwear stain and stick. This dew is the manna on which the souls of the just nourish themselves. Let you burn in what just hogged you. The chosen hunger for it and collect it with full hands. Hard and wet and animal and seemed to want to get hard again. Our dew is celestial, spermatic, electric, universal. How many clean young men would let this pig eat them this way whole. Beside him the content of the flask previously entrusted to the secret vulcan fire is poured into a cooking vessel. How many desperates have shot their load into this gullet and walked away, fast. The result of the distillations is conjoined with the extract that has been concentrated by the secret, lunar fire. The floor is gummed and black with thickening sticking lumps from years of serious dereliction. As if the owners had decided, at various times, to just paint over the filth rather than pay for daily toxic upkeep. The flies degenerate into crawlers and diggers in the hot mist stench and buzzing dark and bad luck. The dew is now exposed to the cosmic fluid, further to enrich its cosmic force. Breathless, standing forward cock to cock, hands being the most sentient part of the program of debasement turning ritual, twisting natural, poured into six plates arranged in the form of a fiery triangle. May all be shattered back to scarred sunny reality by the indiscriminate flick of a tiny lightning fleck. Here the mercurial vessel of nature is prepared and sealed. The dew in the bowls vibrates, sated with nitric heavenly spirit. The sickness churning inside as his drug raged backwards into your lungs. The dumb stare trance of fantasy fleshing into declining tolerance clinging to the heels of Mercury. The hung mouth. Wet lips. Dull eyes. Zits and craters and wrinkles and skin oil. The blood of the Ancients. The moon-white water. The friendly acceptance of shit smeared, piss stained, tobacco nailed fingers and germs and lazy lolling stunted tongue whose weight drags it hither and thither. Transforming nature is nothing but driving the elements around in a circle. Centrifugal and centripetal forces of will and unwill. Videos of future wombs being paid small money to eat shit out of dogbowls. Close-ups of these absolute beasts vomiting and spitting and spewing out the last taste of backed up urine, sick faeces, and beer breakfasts. Cock after cock dropped into some sag’s chummed up rag mouth, an in- and out folding of the divine unground, the three-in-one, miraculous eye of eternity. All of this haphazardly scrawled in black marker in pidgin English and in smaller green marker underneath in probably perfect Spanish. The narcissism, the attention, the dalliance, the finger pushing inside your pained stinking cock head. The circumcircle is in the point, in the seed lies the fruit. Dragging out your piss and cum and burn. It is “the force of light” and “the eternal centre of life,” which, according to Böhme, is open everywhere in the darkness of this world as “a little seed.” He sucks you off. Down to the root and pull. What is sown in the earth as a perishable thing is raised imperishable. Taking in your throb and spits. Decay is a wonderful smith. His fingernails and that fucking scratch. You grease into his wet head and jawing slime and performing tongue in the subterranean distillation. The raw state of the lapis is being dug from the earth by miners. All black and video fuzz and warm desperation. Back and forth faster between long licks and ball sac tumbles and lava canals leading from the central fire. Your deposit shooting and sliding into human darkness and drug frenzy. The bodily fluids and the elemental qualities in man in relation to the zodiac. That’s it. As he slides off of you and drops wet in his work. Concentrated and resolved, the beginning and the end of all creatures. His fingers sticky in his cum and his palm and cock the exact same red, allowing the whole universe to run together and accumulate within this one circle.

 

 


On the Prowl (1989) Notes

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Philip Comment

Jamie Gillis

I watched On the Prowl (1989) twice the other night. It’s 64 minutes long, and I didn’t jerk off. Just watched. I could have jerked off to it. It is something of a turn on. There are certain hot moments, but it’s not really about that at all with this. There’s something very appealing about it as a documentary. It’s very evocative to me. I don’t know if that’s because it’s set in San Francisco, and that’s a special place to me, or what it is…

Jamie Gillis On the Prowl

Jamie: And the idea is we’re just going to go around town tonight and pick strangers off the street – men, maybe a woman, maybe we’ll go to a dyke bar – and see if they want to fool around with Renee and see what we – see what we get.

It’s primarily about the concept – innovative, simple, open to possibilities – which I see as an extension of Jamie’s personality. It was with this attitude that he initially approached porn in the 70s.

Part of my motivation for talking about the video is to smash the representation of it that Boogie Nights put forth. Anderson’s film aligns On the Prowl with AIDS in bringing about the decline and fall of the sexual revolution – an inversion of what Gillis’s film actually was.

I’m glad that Paul Thomas Anderson referenced it in his movie Boogie Nights, which I think is an important film for its subject matter, not its aesthetics. I commend Anderson for giving pornography the grand cinematic treatment and think he was ahead of the game on that one.  I understand that Boogie Nights was a work of fiction, and he distorted On the Prowl to suit his plot and all that. The point is it’s propaganda nonetheless. The third act of Boogie Nights, particularly the gross misrepresentation of Gillis’s masterpiece, was a reinforcement of the Puritanical notion that sex is evil and those who engage in it freely must be punished.

“The first half of the movie is all fun and games, but the back-half of the movie is a sort of punishment for those fun and games. It’s my own guilty feelings about pornography.” -Paul Thomas Anderson

For all its 90s indie liberal veneer, Boogie Nights was part of an ongoing anti-sex campaign that stretched back to the Reagan-era attempt to roll back the sexual revolution through the exploitation of AIDS. The irony here is that the sexual condemnation was coming from a presumably liberal, porn-friendly angle. Boogie Nights was glossy Hollywood pseudo-porn with an anti-porn message. Boogie Nights, as I see it, is part of the problem, and the solution is the very film it demonizes, On the Prowl. We are here presented with a bizarro Orwellian reversal so characteristic of Gen X. Gillis was a sexual revolutionary and liberator whose masterpiece was distorted by a cheap, exploitative Hollywood morality play with the depth and cultural insight of an 80s after school special. On the Prowl was an aesthetically innovative work that was caricatured by a film that was a wholesale aesthetic rip off of Scorsese’s Goodfellas

So the task here is to understand On the Prowl as a cinematic masterpiece…

Renee: My name is Renee Morgan and I’m waiting for Jamie Gillis to get back with his espresso so he’s got lots of energy for tonight. I’m rather excited … excited about what’s going to happen. I don’t really know what’s going to happen but we’re going to find some strangers and see what we could do with them. It’s kind of a first time for me so just hang in there and we’ll see what we can come up with. 

Jamie: So here we are standing outside the Condor in San Francisco, where Carol Doda went topless, or something, for the first time in history – I don’t know. Anyway, standing here with Renee and we’re trying to see if we could pick up somebody in this group of people.

On the Prowl is true guerilla-style filmmaking. Gillis gets kicked out of the first location. No location permits. This is what’s ingenious about it. Not working within a professional context.  I see it as highly significant that it takes place in San Francisco; North Beach in particular as a Beatnik mecca. City Lights bookstore can be seen in the background of the shot of Jamie, Renee, Carl and Shawn standing in front of the Condor. Two cultural landmarks: one a strip club, the other a bookstore – sex and intellect.

Jamie Gillis On the Prowl City Lights

Jamie: If you want to call it a catch – when you come in, you have to just, you know, we’ll give you a release that says if your footage appears anywhere that’s ok with you.

It’s this anything goes atmosphere. You can do whatever you want with the girl as long as you sign away the rights to your image. That invitation to come inside and do anything. It is a social experiment. You’re not necessarily watching it to get off, yet it’s porn. Gillis set out to make a more exciting porno film and wound up creating a work of art. What’s most fascinating about it is the behavior. There is something very human about it. Some of these guys have small dicks. Some of these guys can’t get it up. A lot of people in that situation probably couldn’t get it up. They’ve been drinking or whatever… You hop into a fucking car with a strange woman, you’ve got a camera – particularly a light pointed directly at you – some guy with a fucking microphone. I mean, it’s understandable that they might not be able to get it up in those conditions. But it’s part of what gives the piece a vivid, alive quality. You typically watch a porn, and these dudes have done viagra. They’re rock hard walking around with an erection between takes. Not to say that that stuff isn’t appealing. I’m just trying to say that what makes On the Prowl unusual and so compelling to watch not just as pornography but also as a documentary piece is the inclusion of situations that would be edited out of conventional porn.  “A fan wrote to complain that he liked the reality aspect of [On the Prowl], but that this one girl seemed really bored. I explained to him that reality wasn’t about coaxing girls into pretending to enjoy themselves. Reality was reality.” The impotence underlines the fact that he’s creating amateur porn, that these are regular people not porn stars. It is more documentary than porn even though 90% of the imagery is sex of one kind or another.

To me this is the breaking of the fourth wall of porn. This is taking the sexual revolution into the streets.

Jamie: So, you know, you’re not obliged to do anything special. But whatever you feel like doing, it’s ok with us. If you want to do anything serious, we got condoms if you want that … What do you think?

He’s doing this in the 80s for fuck’s sake. 1989 is the fallout of the 80s. I see it as the first significant attempt to break the curse of AIDS and to reignite the sexual revolution in conservative Reagan-Bush-era late 80s. The Anderson film it presents it like some wrathful Jehovah – Now they’re all going to get AIDS and die! I’m the wrathful Jehovah here to punish this decadent evil people! Look at how degenerate the industry has gotten! This despicable Jack Horner cruising around making this poor defenseless girl get fucked! The reality is Gillis was breaking through to a new era of porn and reality television.

Gillis is an excellent model for a 21st century rebel who’s activity doesn’t conveniently fit into either side of the left-right paradigm but manages to offend both sides.

Jamie: You want some head, Sean?

Valentine’s Day is really all about exclusivity and exclusion. There’s nothing better than watching On the Prowl on Valentine’s Day.

Aesthetically Boogie Nights is largely a rip off of Goodfellas and Casino, which is why I was never impressed with it as a film. Great subject matter. Great casting/acting. Cliche aesthetics. This is an examination of one of the pivotal scenes in the movie and how movies and media generally contextualize things, how they spin things, how they frame certain things in a certain way to go along with a certain agenda.

 Obscenity – Anything that turns me on is of redeeming social value.

Everything about it is very rough. The way Sean pulls off the condom. Tarantino talks about the hang out movie. On the Prowl definitely has that quality. He’s riding around like Santa Claus picking people up off the street and allowing them to fulfill their fantasies. The appeal of the film is in this surreal inversion of everyday reality.

The highly-anticipated adaptation of the erotic bestseller dominated the domestic box office with an estimated $81.7 million, and grossed a staggering $158 million overseas, the biggest international opening of 2015 so far and the biggest R-rated opening ever internationally.

 The appeal of Fifty Shades of Grey is politically incorrect sex.

the opening of misty beethoven

In considering Jamie Gillis and the trajectory of his career as a pornstar and artist he began by playing these Hefner playboy types, well-to-do, sophisticated, ladies’ man figures: The Opening of Misty Beethoven, The Story of Joanna. That initially it was about these archetypal characters and plots. The Opening of Misty Beethoven = Pygmalion. That’s what he was known for in the 70s. He was also known as a sadist. Anyway with the On the Prowl series he broke out of all the conventions of fictional porn, the 70s porn characters and plots that initially made him famous.

What I like about Jamie is that he never ceased to be amazed that people were actually paying him to have sex. It’s a bit like what I’ve said about Welles never losing the sense of the movies as magic. Someone who watched a form evolve and played a pivotal role in that evolution. He’s reliving the initial excitement he felt upon entering porn by offering this opportunity to random guys on the street.

I think it’s critical to understand On the Prowl as the work of a 70s sexual revolutionary, and someone who got involved in porn as a fluke, to make a few bucks, just for the fun of it. Boogie Nights presents On the Prowl as part of the downfall of the porn industry and the sexual revolution, i.e. the opposite of what it actually was. By the late 80s the sexual revolution devolved into a business that churned out formulaic, predictable product and cheap fakery. And he basically just wanted to make it exciting again by setting up a situation where the outcome was unknown. It was essentially the same maneuver that we saw in France in the late 50s/early 60s with the French New Wave or the film school generation here in America in the 60s and 70s. These filmmakers tended to pare down their work and do simple, minimal, improvisational, risk taking kinds of movies. And this is what On the Prowl was.

He broke through to a new aesthetic. For me Gillis’s On the Prowl is Godard taking the camera into the streets of Paris and improvising Breathless. This is radical revolutionary filmmaking with a purpose. The irony of it is that here we have Paul Thomas Anderson, who’s not doing anything aesthetically innovative with Boogie Nights, demonizing someone who is doing something innovative, namely, Jamie Gillis. Paul Thomas Anderson was lauded as an artist for making a film that was essentially an aesthetic rip off of Goodfellas and Casino, whereas Gillis is written off as this trashy exploitative degenerate who destroyed the sexual revolution.

Of the film series’ depiction in the Boogie Nights series, Gillis was unhappy and dismissive, saying that he felt that they “took it and made it into a very depressing and kind of ugly thing …. I mean, I’ve done a lot of sleazy movies and things in my life, but I never felt dirtier than after I saw Boogie Nights. I said, Oh my god, they’re taking my little joy, my little treasure, and shitting on it, making it ugly and stupid and violent.”

 “And that’s not what it was to me. To me it was freedom, it was about going out with a camera in public and seeing what would happen. I enjoyed it, and it was also hot. I still love the Prowls.”

 

“‘We just went out and shot this tape, is there anything we need to do?’ And he said, ‘Are you crazy? Burn it! Bury it!’ Because there was such a fear that we would pick up some straight kid, a mayor or a senator’s son, and here we were going out and dirtying the public and bringing the public into porn. There was going to be an outcry and they’re going to come down on everybody.

 

It was a fly-by-night thing happening in a counterculture. So on top of the sex, you had this attitude: “This is our generation doing something different than anybody else would do.” Even though it wasn’t explicitly political, in the sense that some of the rock and roll was — it was of the time, like smoking pot or dropping acid. It had that vibe: “We hang together because we have some kind of consciousness, and we’re also making some bucks and getting our rocks off.” But then you had this complete change in technology in the business, and now there’s nothing countercultural about the scene — nothing “outlaw” about it.

 

Jamie Gillis: She wasn’t just some innocent kid, you know? She knew exactly what she was getting into. She loved all kinds of sex, so she was never, in any sense, a victim of the business. And I think she did well in the business.

 

Those were some pretty raunchy days in New York. But you’d go someplace and there would be a line of guys trying to get to touch her. I’d never seen that big a line. And she loved it! She told me that one of the things that got her excited was the hunger of the guys who got to spend one or two minutes with her. She would relate to that kind of hunger that they felt. And she loved that. It turned her on.

 

SB: You got started in the business in the early ’70s, I think.

 

JG: ’71. There wasn’t even a business. It was a dirty basement.

 

JG: Never. I was a duck to water. I mean, to me it was like — wow! Even though it wasn’t good money back then, it was like — “Thirty bucks to fuck a pretty girl!” I couldn’t believe it.

 

I don’t know if it was because I was a sex freak or because of my acting training. I didn’t care if anyone was there. I would just concentrate on what I was there to do. It wasn’t hard to do that.

 

I’ve always had this funny image of myself as a straight guy who just happens to have more fag sex than any fag I know. Because when I was coming up, gays were the only ones that were really sexually crazy. Before there was a Plato’s Retreat, there was a place called Continental Baths. It was the exact same location. And I used to go to the Continental Baths, because that’s where you could have crazy, wild sex! Nobody else was doing that. And I remember walking around that fucking place thinking, “If only there was a heterosexual place like this. Wouldn’t that be amazing?” And I didn’t even dream that it would happen — but it did, like about two years later, with Plato’s Retreat. It was this straight place with all these hundreds of girls going there.

In my ideal world, if you were walking down the street, there’d be a place where you could just touch people. There would be a grope club.

Pornography is political on many levels – not just free speech. I think ultimately the reason sex and pornography are more despised than violence in entertainment is they are attacks on the cornerstone of capitalist, corporate culture, which is monogamous marriage and the family unit. The female pornstar is ultimately the most dangerous figure, because her polyamory shatters any certainty about progeny and inheritance. The integrity of the family unit is primarily dependent on female chastity, because if the woman is messing around you no longer know whose child it is.

My intention in discussing On the Prowl is to create a portrait of a baby boomer who staged a revolt in the late 1980s against the conservatism of the time, against a stagnant porn industry attempting to rekindle the energies and excitement he felt as a young person getting involved in porn in the first place.

I don’t want to use the word “baby boomer” or be explicit about this. What is so characteristic of that generation is this sincere attempt to shatter inauthentic institutions to do this real revaluation of values, as Nietzsche talks about. The drug experimentation of the 60s – some of it was probably idiotic – but the spirit of the time was very much aligned with Rimbaud and others who engaged in these activities to attain some sort of enlightenment. The sexual experimentation is about a radical questioning and attack on repressive social institutions like monogamous marriage, whether or not there should even be marriage, should marriage be completely destroyed?

I see Boogie Nights, particularly the On the Prowl sequence, as a Gen X rendition of the sexual revolution, a cynical, nightmarish, guilt-ridden reenactment of something that was done in the spirit of liberation, experimentation and joy.

BDSM for Gillis is Dionysian.

 

They used to 

dance in the forests, naked.

I think that’s what offended the

Puritans and led to the burnings.

They were a sexual threat

to their male order,

like the Bacchae.

days a year for Dionysus they used

to wander the hills of ancient Greece.

The first witches.

Clans.

Wild women. 

Looting. 

Fucking.

Eating animals raw.

Looking for Dionysus,

to tear him to pieces.

 

Gillis was breaking out of the conventions of porno filmmaking in the manner of the French New Wave directors of the 60s.

I’m trying to pinpoint figures who are representative of the intellectual maturity, dynamism and vitality of the 20th century in contrast to the cultural retardation of America in 2015. Historical figures who are more futuristic than my contemporaries.

Another underlying theme of the piece is the contrast between the baby boomers and Gen X. Again I don’t want to be explicit about it. I will not use the word “Gen X” but instead use Anderson its symbol. Jamie Gillis vs. Paul Thomas Anderson. Baby boomers vs. Gen X. I think it is essential to talk about Boogie Nights as an aesthetic rip off vs. On the Prowl, which for me is on the level of French New Wave cinema. It is the great documentary/art piece of the late 20th century, because it is documentary/art piece/pornography/political weapon all in one.

 

I never get tired of dragging girls into scummy situations and letting men do whatever they want to them. I love seeing them pawed and groped and just generally treated like cheap sex objects. It’s such a relief after being exposed to the unattainable women that are encountered every day of my life. I always wished I could live in a world where every woman that I met could at least be grabbed – just grabbed or groped as they walked down the street, or whatever. When I was around 12, I saw a guy slide his hands over a girl’s breasts in public, and she didn’t object. I was entranced by the sight, and a warm feeling came over me. It wasn’t that it was just arousing, it also seemed somehow proper, like this is how the world should be – if you see some tits and ass that you like you should be able to reach out and touch it with no problem.

 

….

 

…this is my kind of girl – tough enough (Becca had been in the army) to let it all go; to play the dirty man’s game, and lower herself to whatever filthy level he wanted to go to, because she intuits that that’s where life and energy reside – not in making men be good boys, but in allowing them to release their dreaded monsters. Let the tortured creatures out and give them full reign to explore their lasciviousness – that’s where freedom is for both men and women, not in the mincing, namby pamby world of “don’t call me that” and “don’t treat me like that.” (p. 78)

 

 

 


Jim Morrison and the USS Bon Homme Richard

Posted on April 19, 2014 by Philip 4 Comments

JimMorrison19641

Jim Morrison and his father must have had one of the most extraordinary Oedipal clashes ever; you could not find a more polarized father and son team of the late ’60s. Imagine Jim tripping on acid and belting out “Break on Through” with an erection onstage at the Whiskey a Go Go, then crosscutting to his father commanding a fleet of ships against the North Vietnamese. Might this have had something to do with Jim saying his parents were dead? I’ve always found it incredible that George Stephen Morrison was so heavily involved in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which resulted in a major US troop escalation in the war. According to his obituary in the New York Times, Morrison “commanded American naval forces in the gulf when the destroyer Maddox engaged three North Vietnamese torpedo boats on Aug. 2, 1964.” That’s kind of a mind blowing fact given that, nearly 60 thousand dead US troops later, it was revealed that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident never actually happened. Shortly after this picture was taken, Jim and his father stopped speaking to one another.

I just want to enumerate the oddities here: 1) George Stephen Morrison was involved in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. 2) George Stephen Morrison also witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor. 3) George Stephen Morrison was physically present at two inciting incidents of two different 20th century wars, and both of them were purportedly sneak attacks. 4) George Stephen Morrison took command of the USS Bon Homme Richard in 1963, and his first act was to announce the assassination of John F. Kennedy. 5) This picture was taken the year of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (1964). 6) George Stephen Morrison commanded a fleet of ships during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. 7) The Gulf of Tonkin incident essentially kicked off the Vietnam War. 8) The Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened. 9) The name of the ship, Bon Homme, sounds a lot like Bonham, the last name of another rockstar who died an untimely death. 10) Jim Morrison died the day after the ship was decommissioned. 11) George Stephen Morrison was the keynote speaker at the ship’s decommissioning ceremony on July 3, 1971, the day his son died. 12) Jim Morrison and John Bonham both had water-based deaths: Morrison in the bathtub and Bonham drowning in his own vomit.


Beat Punks: A Brief History of the Counterculture from William S. Burroughs to Kurt Cobain

Posted on April 8, 2014 by Philip 1 Comment

An interview with Victor Bockris on his book Beat Punks

by Phil Weaver

I’m a huge fan of Victor Bockris’ book Beat Punks, a collection of interviews and photographs documenting the relationship between the Beat generation and the punk movement in the 1970s downtown New York scene. The book does a great job of illustrating the cross-pollination of two generations (’50s Beats and ’70s punks) that resulted in one of the most extraordinary cultural flowerings of the 20th century. I recently talked to Bockris about some of the ideas behind the book, and I was pleased to hear he’s about to begin work on a follow up with interlinking prose. He didn’t want to give away too much about the forthcoming book, so I proposed a general interview on the history of the counterculture’s clashes with the establishment in the mid-to-late 20th century. Burroughs was the through-line in a cultural revolution that began in the ’50s with the Beats, blossomed in the psychedelic explosion of the late ’60s, peaked in the ’70s with the Beat-Punk fusion, burned out in the neoconservative revolution of the ’80s and was briefly revived by Kurt Cobain and the alternative wave of the early ’90s. Throughout this era many of the leading figures of the counterculture found themselves the targets of harassment and campaigns of repression, yet they still managed to produce some of their best work. I wanted to trace this multigenerational struggle for the liberation of the human spirit with the great author and raconteur Victor Bockris, biographer of William S. Burroughs, Andy Warhol and Keith Richards, and the man dubbed the “poet laureate of the underground.”

PHIL WEAVER: Describe the counterculture’s confrontation with LBJ.

VICTOR BOCKRIS: Key point: the counterculture changed dramatically in 1965. Before then it had been populated by a relatively small, international collection of avant-garde artists in every form, left-wing political activists, civil rights activists, academics and members of the clergy. With the appearance of the electric Dylan and semi-radical songs by the Beatles and the Stones (“Satisfaction”), an enormous new group became countercultural enthusiasts overnight: college students listening to Simon and Garfunkel, and high school long hairs known as folkies now folk rockers. Consequently, demonstrators grew in numbers of younger enthusiastic girls and boys. Johnson had been popular in 1964, even into ’65, but he was forced into supporting the Vietnam war to a ridiculous extent. The brutal, burning napalm dropped on the civilian population, and the well-oiled anti-war machine did a good job of dramatizing the suffering of women and children. Johnson was a far superior President than Kennedy, but his classically Stetson-hatted good old boy image was easy to turn into a bogeyman.

Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy

Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy

By 1966 the demonstrators rarely gave him any peace. Their “Hey hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” chant wafted into the White House from Lafayette Park across the street. Every time he left or came back they were always there. In his mind, they became the voice of the youth. He had been a rebellious youth himself, and it began to drive him nuts. This was greatly exacerbated by his fear that the country really wanted another Kennedy in the White House and the seething hatred of Robert Kennedy. The irony was that the arrogant Kennedy brothers were incapable of getting any bills passed, because they did not know how the Congress really operated, where Johnson was a master politician – probably the best we’ve ever had as President. Johnson tried to explain how the Senate worked, but Kennedy just didn’t want to hear anything from that “old galoot.” That kind of name calling might be funny in high school – not when you’re running the country (and too busy fucking badly to pay attention). Think of how successful the Kennedy administration could have been if they’d used Johnson like a cruise missile. This is a naive thing to say, but if memory serves this is one of the corners of history where the truth was of no importance – image took over. This initially benefited the counterculture. When Johnson refused to run for President in 1968, he later wrote that the hawks of war on his right and the anti-war demonstrators on his left gave him no room to further contribute to the well-being of the nation. It is shocking (does that word still exist?) to see only recently the outpouring of reverence for John Kennedy, despite everything written about him since his death, while Johnson fades in the nation’s memory. This embracing of huge lies is what allows us Americans to go on supporting just the kind of atrocities by our nation we fought so hard to erase in World War II. Bombs, genocide and unbelievable lies shower down upon us daily. It seems that we live in an increasingly immoral nation. Where is the peace movement? Where are the heroes who stood up against all the power of the United States to reveal the elements of control? People like William Burroughs and Andy Warhol. People like Muhammad Ali, who turned his back on many millions and almost destroyed his life by standing up against the war machine when everybody told him he was crazy?

Andy Warhol and Muhammad Ali

Andy Warhol and Muhammad Ali. Photo by Victor Bockris.

That’s only to mention the world famous. But this is what happens, I believe, when the education system writes the counterculture out of existence. Does anyone remember that it was the first time in history that an international population of a non-military people, with no political or religious base, played an unquestionable role in changing the way we live by bringing down one American President and creating an atmosphere in which the next was driven from office? Also, please note the appropriation of many of the counterculture’s key practices, which have been manipulated into today’s mainstream. Any humanist interested in the well-being of our nation’s history could see the counterculture as one of the greatest, most imaginative, most nurturing contributions we have ever made to the world. The media always finds violence – often created by the media itself – to undercut the best things about this country. New York Punk was not a violent movement, it was very loving, but once one Yobo, (in persona of poor dumb manipulated Sid Vicious) believed he had murdered his murdered girlfriend, punk was all about violence.

Sid Vicious arrest

Sid Vicious arrest

Change is always dangerous for its agents, but anyone who watched the carefully managed police and FBI undercover riots in Chicago must find it hilarious to see the peace movement turned into Sodom and Gomorrah, when the shoe was really on the other foot. We still live with the extraordinary conflict of the Catholic Church threatening endless pain to those advocating the joys of love from behind a logo of a guy nailed to a piece of wood. My favorite example of robbing the beautiful truth from the population was, and still is maybe, the image of Jack Kerouac, who wrote the most loving, tender and exemplary celebrations of the beauty of America, being hounded to death by the establishment. America is a beautiful place, but it’s hard to see sometimes because of the waters of slaughter.

Jack Kerouac. Photo by Allen Ginsberg.

Jack Kerouac. Photo by Allen Ginsberg.

WEAVER: Can you talk a bit about William Burroughs’ clashes with the establishment in the 1970s?

BOCKRIS: Bill was very active in the early 1970s; he was still living in London. He published The Job, The Wild Boys, The Last Words of Dutch Schultz, Exterminator and Port of Saints. Of these books The Job is the most political. In terms of clashes with the establishment, everything he wrote and said in interviews continued his attempt to reveal their attempt to control the population. But to be specific, you have to look at the reaction to him in different countries. In England he was protected by his relationship with Lord Goodman, a powerful behind the scenes financial lawyer for many powerful government figures.

Lord Goodman

Lord Goodman

He did not have such connections in New York, but after trying to move back there in 1965, and again in 1972, he had been threatened by the police who were trying to set him up for a bust. By the time he did return, the fall of Nixon had turned him into a prophet, and he was embraced as a king returned from exile. So I think he avoided any particularly overt confrontation during the 1970s, due to his desire to find a new life and continue writing.

Jean Genet, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg march in Chicago 1968

Jean Genet, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg march in Chicago 1968

His clash with authority came in more subtle ways than marching in the streets as he had in Chicago in 1968. His “Time of the Assassins” columns in the rock mag Crawdaddy! would have been read by teenagers and college students, and his appearance at the many readings he gave across the country would have been very influential.

Burroughs' "Time of the Assassins" column in Crawdaddy! magazine

Burroughs’ “Time of the Assassins” column in Crawdaddy! magazine

He was also interviewed by the still existing underground press. The name Burroughs was a clash with the establishment. When I knew him in the late seventies he was virulently critical of U.S. foreign policy, but I recall him definitely not wanting to draw attention to himself in public.

WEAVER: Describe the relationship between William Burroughs and the punks. 

BOCKRIS: Burroughs’ relationship with the punks was, as I see it, a vital connection which drew attention to the vitality of his writing. This happened on two levels. First Patti Smith and Richard Hell were both Burroughs fans before he moved back here. She was the first to note his presence.

Patti Smith and William S. Burroughs

Patti Smith and William S. Burroughs. Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe.

The Nova Convention was the big turning point in terms of his recognition, the first time he brought together several new subcultures based in the punk ethos. Then over 1977-1982 I introduced him to Lou Reed, Blondie and The Clash among others; they were thrilled to meet him. He appreciated their interest and enjoyed their company. They were his children.

William S. Burroughs and Joe Strummer

William S. Burroughs and Joe Strummer. Photo by Victor Bockris.

However, there was a strange disconnect. Every beautiful punk girl I knew had a copy of Junkie on their table, but they were all taking heroin. It was like they had not understood the book, which was an indictment of being a junkie. It had nothing to do with Bill that a 24/7 heroin supermarket protected by the police suddenly emerged blocks from CBGB’s, but there were bags called Dr Nova. Heroin decimated the New York punks. When he made all those spoken word records, a number of punks contributed. Burroughs’ profile grew considerably during the 1970s. The support of punk, and his inclusion in the punk press, had a lot to do with it.

Timothy Leary, William S. Burroughs, Les Levine, Brion Gysin and Robert Anton Wilson at the Nov

Timothy Leary, William S. Burroughs, Les Levine, Brion Gysin and Robert Anton Wilson at the Nova Convention. Photo by Marcia Resnick.

WEAVER: In what ways was the punk rock ethos inspired by the Beats?

BOCKRIS: The New York punks came out of the same ethos as the Beats. I can only speak for the New York punks. That is to say, there were three generations of American artists operating under the umbrella of a shared reaction to WWII (for civil rights against genocide and the bomb): the Beats (1950s); the artists of the ’60s personified by Warhol (including the Rolling Stones, Goddard and Truffaut, Antonioni etc); and the Punks of the 1970s, with the whole thing coalescing in the late seventies.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol at the Factory. Photo by Stephen Shore.

I mean, Elvis was punk; Lennon was punk; Richards, Dylan, Reed were all punks. Punk is Beat speeded up, like the Stones are Chuck Berry speeded up. Blondie, Patti Smith, Television, later Richard Hell, Iggy Pop and on and on were all influenced by Rimbaud and Celine and the surrealists and comic books – just like the Beats.

Arthur Rimbaud

Arthur Rimbaud at the time of his first communion.

They were all influenced by Warhol. The difference between Lennon and Richards, and NY punk was the Warhol influence. My book Beat Punks should have been called Beat Warhol Punks, it just doesn’t read so well.

Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol

Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol. Photo by Christopher Makos.

WEAVER: Describe some of the tactics the establishment used to repress the counterculture in the 1970s.

BOCKRIS: Nixon’s administration targeted the counterculture from both ends. They put the IRS on famous counterculture artists like Warhol, Mailer, etc. They hounded Terry Southern, a great writer (author of Candy, Dr. Strangelove and Red Dirt Marijuana), nearly to death.

Terry

Terry Southern

Warhol was audited every year until his death. The IRS were vicious. Meanwhile the FBI infiltrated the yippies and hippies and caused riots at demonstrations by manufacturing violence. They also sowed rumors like Allen Ginsberg was an FBI snitch. The overall effect was to bring the counterculture to its knees by 1973. Groups like the Stones, Lennon and Dylan rose above the corruption and carried the flag. Burroughs’ return to New York in 1974 took on a larger importance just because he returned to take his rightful place as the King of the Counterculture on the fall of that great yahoo demon, “Tricky Dick” Nixon.

William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs. Photo by Victor Bockris.

In fact, 1974 was a great year for the counterculture: Ginsberg won a National Book Award for The Fall of America (poems); Ali regained the World Heavyweight Crown he lost in 1967 after refusing to be drafted; Warhol won an MLA Award and moved to a new upscale Factory. In 1975 he published The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. If you pause to ask, who else could have used such a title and been taken seriously by the New York Times, you can gauge a sense of how far the counterculture had come. Don’t forget this was a worldwide movement, so these American artists were being given credence as the leaders of the new way of life that would find its terrible climax in 1983.

William Burroughs and Andy Warhol have chicken fried steak at the Chelsea Hotel as Victor Bockris narrates. Segment from BBC Arena documentary, Chelsea Hotel.

WEAVER: Describe WSB’s involvement with magick. Did he use it against the establishment?

BOCKRIS: Bill’s involvement with magic dates back to the time he spent in Paris with Brion Gysin. Read The Beat Hotel by my favorite writer Barry Miles, or pick up his brand new bio Call Me Burroughs. It’s great. In “The Electronic Revolution” (essay in The Job) Burroughs explains the ways he used the tape recorder to change reality. I remember one night he read from the Necronomicon in an attempt to call up Humwawa, but several people there were on verge of flipping out so he canceled it. They really thought Humwawa was gonna sweep them away! Bill believed in magic. He certainly practiced magic everyday. To him writing was a magic act.

Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs and The Dream Machine

Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs and The Dream Machine

WEAVER: What effect did the Reagan-era 1980s have on the counterculture?

BOCKRIS: The counterculture in New York was delivered a knockout blow by the combination of the heroin epidemic and AIDS in 1983-1985, which I consider to be the end of the counterculture as we had lived it.

Victor Bockris at the Chelsea Hotel, 2005. Photo by Phil Weaver.

Victor Bockris at the Chelsea Hotel, 2005. Photo by Phil Weaver.

Of course, Reagan was the great yahoo, but I think the counterculture was too exhausted to confront him, as they had President Johnson. There’s much more to that. Reagan oversaw the great theft of the rich that changed the way America operates. He was a murdering corpse, a kind of Edgar Allan Poe version of Howdy Doody. I remember Burroughs telling me in 1991 that we were looking at a very grim decade. He was always much more aware than most of us of what was really happening.

Kurt Cobain's high school drawing of Ronald Reagan

Kurt Cobain’s high school drawing of Ronald Reagan

WEAVER: In what ways did Kurt Cobain revitalize the “Beat Punk” ethos?

BOCKRIS: Kurt Cobain’s image revitalized the Beat Punk Ethos:

1. Because his real being suffered as a result of the straight world, and his music and words like “Rape Me” were consequently a universal howl of rage, which captured the attention of teenagers around the world.

Kurt Cobain in 1991. Photo by Charles Peterson.

Kurt Cobain in 1991. Photo by Charles Peterson.

2.  His awareness of Burroughs and desire to collaborate with him were similar to Patti Smith’s homage to Burroughs in 1974. Cobain became the agent of Beat Punk continuity who connected his generation to the Beats. Mind you, there were many other musicians, filmmakers, writers doing the same. By 1995 the U.S. literary establishment recognized the Beats far more widely and positively than ever before. There was a great revival of Kerouac in 1995. All his books are now in print and sell. College reading lists are not complete without at the least Burroughs, Ginsberg and Kerouac. I think it’s pretty much established by now that the Beats began the whole cultural revolution of the late ’50s to early ’80s. Burroughs had his vision of a love generation in 1958.

Kurt Cobain and William S. Burroughs

Kurt Cobain and William S. Burroughs at WSB’s home in Lawrence, Kansas

Each decade seems to have a pivotal celebrity death which becomes a turning point and an international gathering place. I remember John Belushi’s death in 1982 was heard in New York, and around the world, as the shot that announced the beginning of the end of the counterculture.

John Belushi

John Belushi

I remember Kurt Cobain’s death a decade later was eerily similar, the difference was that there was no deep audience for it, there was no counterculture to pick it up. So the question is what happens then? When the young civil rights worker Medgar Evers got murdered in the 1960s, his death catalyzed the people to rise up. When Brian Jones was found dead in his badass swimming pool at midnight (a great fantasy) in 1969, it made the Rolling Stones the most pain-stained suffering band, at a time in America (early seventies) when the more pain you were in, the cooler you were.

Brian Jones

Brian Jones

I called Burroughs when Cobain died, and it turned out we were both in the middle of reading a short, recently published mass paperback bio of Kurt, which I still have. Bill chuckled in a Burroughsian manner and said he thought it was pretty good. Bill used to get really upset when certain special people he would meet in relation to his work died. He would recognize them.

Victor Bockris and William S. Burroughs

Victor Bockris and William S. Burroughs at WSB’s home in Lawrence, Kansas. Photo by James Grauerholz.

Of course Kurt Cobain was a Beat Punk. I knew many people who had stopped following the latest music in 1991-1992, but they all had Nirvana’s first LP. And we all got it; you didn’t have to say anything about it it was totally accepted as part of us.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain

So Kurt Cobain broke through the surface with his music and his band, but he also spoke loudly with his songs. I’ll never forget hearing him sing “Rape Me” over and over again in the subway, in the streets, on the radio, in the deli, in the cab, “Rape Meeeeee, Raaape mee!” I thought it was so brave.

He backed those songs up with his body and his behavior. Cobain was one of those stars (like James Dean) who can almost play their way into your intuition.

James Dean

James Dean

Everything he did was a confrontation with the establishment.

Most rockstars do that from the comfort of protection. You felt Cobain was never protected. He was so drawn, he got to look like he was bleeding on the cross. That’s how far he got. Seems like Jesus Cobain crossed a line… oh Lord, where is this taking me?

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain

Interject: Could the above description of Cobain be applied too William Burroughs? No. They each had their own trips. Cobain’s life was the most vivid line of connection to the beat punk movement at the time, but people did not make as much as they could out of it. Sid Vicious got a film and endless fucked up books celebrating his stupidity. There is also a beat punk connection between Sid and Kurt. They both received the same out pouring of pain from all those little girls chasing them in their black mini-skirts.

 

 

 

 


Happy birthday, Kurt Cobain

Posted on February 20, 2014 by Philip Comment

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“The movements which work revolutions in the world are born out of the dreams and visions in a peasant’s heart on the hillside.”

-James Joyce, Ulysses

Not since Elvis Presley has there been a rock star so singularly responsible for kick starting an entire era – not just the music, but film, fashion, the whole atmosphere of the time. This has not been sufficiently recognized. Everyone I talk to points to Kurt Cobain as the person who initiated the 90s, the last era in which a mass movement of independent artists thrived and were central to the culture.

 


The Art of Harvey Kurtzman Exhibition at the Society of Illustrators

Posted on March 9, 2013 by Damen Comment

“After MAD, drugs were nothing!” — Patti Smith

The Society of Illustrators is currently exhibiting the work of artist Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993) in a comprehensive retrospective running through May 11, 2013:

“Cartoonist, writer, and editor Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993) was the founding editor and creator of the most important comics satire magazine in twentieth century America — MAD. He later founded the satire publications TRUMP, HUMBUG, and HELP!, and co-created Little Annie Fanny for PLAYBOY, considered the most lavish comic strip ever created. Kurtzman was described by The New York Times as having been “one of the most important figures in postwar America.”  - Society of Illustrators

 Imperium Pictures is currently working on a short video about the show.

Read filmmaker Terry Gilliam’s tribute to Harvey Kurtzman here.

Al Jaffee at the Society of Illustrators March 8, 2013

Robert Grossman and Alison Porter at the Society of Illustrators March 8, 2013


THE GENT: Genesis Breyer P-Orridge on Cardero’s Sun Worship

Posted on January 25, 2013 by Philip Comment

Check out this raw footage from our feature-length picture, The Gent, in which cultural engineer, artist and troubadour, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, discusses Cardero’s love of the sun. Ridgewood, Queens, December 2008.


Dance to the Future with Me: An interview with Miki Yui on her partner, Klaus Dinger

Posted on January 11, 2013 by Philip Comment

Klaus Dinger (1946 – 2008) was a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Düsseldorf, Germany, who gained an international reputation as an early member of Kraftwerk and founder of the bands Neu! and La Düsseldorf. His propulsive drumming style was considered one of the “great beats in the ’70s” by Brian Eno. Neu! and La Düsseldorf have inspired many musicians, including Hawkwind, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Radiohead and Blur, and their influence continues to grow.

Official Page:

Dance to the Future with Me: An interview with Miki Yui on her partner, Klaus Dinger

Featuring Miki Yui

Produced by Damen Corrado

Directed by Phil Weaver

Copyright © 2013 Imperium Pictures. All rights reserved.


Richard Metzger is More Influential than God (on Facebook)

Posted on January 3, 2013 by Damen Comment

Mashable: Top 10 Most Influential People on Facebook

Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds

No other individual has done more to sully Facebook’s name, for better or worse, over Promoted Posts than Richard Metzger.

Metzger became the face of the anti-Promoted Posts crusade after penning a lengthy post on the blog Dangerous Minds accusing Facebook of holding his audience reach ransom for the sake of making a quick buck.

Read More Here…

Dangerous Minds

Mashable

 

 


Happy New Year!

Posted on January 1, 2013 by Damen Comment

Happy New Year! Here is an inspiring song by Klaus Dinger’s band La Düsseldorf, “Cha Cha 2000,” to bring in the new year. Stay tuned for our recent interview with Klaus’s widow, sound artist Miki Yui. May good fortune shine upon you all this year! The future is calling!


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