Saturday, August 19, 2017

PAUL OLIVER: WORLD EXPERT ON THE BLUES AND VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE


Woke up this morning to read of the death of Paul Oliver at the age of 90. 
What is the African saying:
When an old person dies a library burns. 

In November 2009, I was privileged to spend one afternoon and early evening with Paul and others at his Oxfordshire house - and at the nearby pub. My mission there on that day could not have been more personally significant or more nerve-wracking. 


I had completed a book on Vernacular Architecture for a book packager who'd made a publishing deal with Thames & Hudson and Rizzoli. Anthony Reid,the Consultant Editor, who guided and corrected my work, was a vernacular architecture teacher who had studied under Paul. He set up this meeting to get Paul's blessing on the project. Also present was the head of the school of vernacular architecture at Oxford Brookes University. The stakes couldn't have been higher.

Paul's stone house was pre-Georgian and suited the man. He  had lived alone since his wife died. They had travelled the world together (many times probably) and I was to get a guided tour of the remarkable and often scary tribal art pieces they had brought back.


Mr Oliver was very gracious. I took him through the proof of the finished book. I am sure he made comments and asked questions but I was in such a state of tension (expecting at any moment for him to say OH DEAR! - major mistake that would scupper the book completely) that I can't remember the details.

Happily all was well and after we'd toasted the occasion with a few glasses of wine, he offered us tea. I went with him into the kitchen and began to talk to him about the blues. 

Its impossible to underestimate Oliver's work on the blues. He was the first white guy (one of the first?) to write in England on the topic and his incredible knowledge and contacts enabled him to define this field of study. One can imagine the huge enthusiasm he brought to his pioneering task.

He told me the story, often retold by many, of first hearing the blues in a field in Norfolk.He said at that time during the War he was too young to enlist so you could either be a forester or work with a farmer. The field in question was next to a US Air Force base, of which there were many in East Anglia at that time, and Paul heard, over the hedge, someone singing in a way he'd never heard before. That was the blues and it was to be his lifelong passion.

As was vernacular architecture, a subject area which he more or less invented, certainly dominated. His many books on the subject were absolutely required reading. He wrote in a remarkable style, expressing ideas and perspectives that only someone with his depth of knowledge could reach. What that man and his wife must have seen in those years before mass tourism and international terrorism, when it was possible to roam Eurasia, Polynesia, the Andean regions, the Balkans and Mid East with impunity.

Is there a link between these two fields of study. I think so. Imagine a song travelling from Scotland to the Appalachians. As its resung and passed on, it acquires local characteristics and embellishments, like musical Chinese whisper. Similarly, an I-House (a very popular plan for a self-build house that spread across America) acquired its own embellishments and local building styles. That's my two-p worth anyway.

Later that same day, he took me upstairs and showed me the almost frightening amount of pictures and tapes from his travels that he had carefully accumulated, most if not all carefully labelled from what I saw.

After we parted, I later spoke to him on the phone and asked whether I could come and interview him about his two passions. He declined and said he was working on his own autobiography. I hope its something he completed. 

I know so little of his mountainous knowledge but look forward to many years of exploration. I will always look back on that afternoon and early evening, in a small Oxfordshire village, when I was welcomed by a great man. Respect.



Monday, August 07, 2017

SPIKE HAWKINS TRIBUTE [1942-2017]




Spike Hawkins by
Philip Jones Griffiths
This is a tribute post to Spike Hawkings, a poet who was and is held in high regard by his peers. His poems are short, surrealistic and funny. A pioneering force in the Liverpool poetry scene in the '60s as we shall see. Yet his name and story are not known to many.

It was message on Facebook from Marc Carey that triggered things off with a link to the 'Up Your Chuff 'Mixcloud site, featuring a just-under two-hour podcast of Mr C's 'Rock Roots Radio' show devoted to Spike and the world he inhabited.

It is composed of three audio interviews with poet Pete Brown (see below), writer Jenny Fabian {Co-author with Johnny Byrne of Groupie fame) and poet Michael Horovitz. These are interspersed with some great music and a kind of episodic, anecdotal history of the poetry/jazz scene from the late '50s through the '60s and beyond.


The show's really well put together, with some slight audio issues in places but hey, it was just like listening to Radio Caroline. Mr C knows his stuff and is enthusiastic and interested which helps make it a warm-hearted piece of work. Dotted throughout is the voice of Spike reading his own work, some great Horowitz stuff from the famous Albert Hall poetry event in 1965 - the great attendance at a poetry reading in history - and later, including recent work with Damon Albarn.

We had the privilege of presenting two great poets on one night at a 'New Beat Experience' event/happening at the Komedia in Brighton in 2003) - Spike Hawkins and Pete Brown (best known for his lyrics for The Cream [including Tales of Brave Ulysses]. As I remember it, both gave short punchy sets that were enthusiastically received. I seem to recall some sort of argy bargy with Spike. I think I just had to reassure him he would get paid. Fair enough.


Spike was blessed with a rich, fruity voice which he used to significant effect when performing his work. He was a great mimic and had a vivid imagination sliced with street humour. No pretentiousness; the real thing.

Having decided to write something about it all, I began with Wikipedia (as you do), which features an entry not quite as brief as his poems but short and to the point.


Spike Hawkins (born 1943) is a British poet, best known for his "Three Pig Poems",[1] included in his one book, the Fulcrum Press  collection The Lost Fire-Brigade (1968). He was part of the poetry scene in Liverpool during the 1960s and much of his output upholds the values of that group; short, modernistic, humorous pieces of free verse. He was published in EncounterInternational Times,[2] The Guardian and in the 1972 anthology The Old Pals' Act, edited by Pete Brown.[3]
He was a friend of Johnny Byrne; together, they formed the surreal act "Poisoned Bellows".[4][5] He was a friend of Syd Barrett, a founder of Pink Floyd.[6][7] Hawkins continues to be active, for example performing in the 2005 Poetry Olympics at the Royal Albert Hall,[8][9] having originally performed there in the International Poetry Incarnation in 1965.[10]
A brilliant mimic, he could imitate Harold Wilson very well.[11]

His Wikipedia entry is missing the fact that he died in March 2017. I found this out, not by googling his name, but by asking it the question 'Is Spike Hawkins dead')


It took me to a site called Ocatillo Audiovisual which carries the online diary of composer  and filmmaker Robert Robinson. The entry dated 3rd March 2017 reads in part: 'Very sad news – earlier this week the poet Spike Hawkins died, aged 74. Always unpredictable, he was known in some areas (like hospitals) as John Hawkins. As a poet, he was known as Spike Hawkins, and taxi drivers called him Frank.'



Robert recounts how he was asked by his boss [at Routledge] to set up an international poetry book series, which would include an audio CD, called Poet's Voices. Spike was third in the series. Robert writes:
The relatively short, pithy and amusing poems in the book are everyday but surreal in character. What could we call this collection of distilled different experiences, word-plays and atmospheres? I suggested the title 250 Grams of Poetry, which Spike liked, as he enjoyed street-markets. Years later I chose sixteen of my favorite poems from this book, and set Spike’s reading of them to film, in I’m Back, the title of the shortest poem in the collection.
 He also filmed him in his home for a second film called Assault on Time  named after one of the poems he performs.
'This reading took place during a brief summer thunderstorm, whose rumbling followed with providential timing a tragic poem about a soldier lying on barbed wire on a battlefield in World War I. At another synchronous moment Spike reads a poem which features the sound of dogs barking – and there they are: the dogs in Breugel’s famous painting of hunters in winter, they bark on the wall behind the poet. Later, Death makes a brief appearance:

​‘Met Death on the market –
                           asked him if he was on the ‘phone                            
He started waving and said he was
an unlisted number.
Why? I asked.
Nobody rings my number (he said),
But I ring everybody once.'
[From Spoonflags by Spike Hawkins (1943-2017). 
​*

See this lengthy Previous Post

LIVERPOOL POETS ADRIAN HENRI, ROGER MCGOUGH, BRIAN PATTEN + PETE BROWN and SPIKE HAWKINS


*
FROM THE ARCHIVE

The original editio of this book was
published by [Rapp & Carroll Ltd.
London.1967]. Its very difficult to find.
Bought this U.S. edition from the U.S.
[Doubleday.1968] It's inscribed on the
inside cover in open: Harry or Larry
(there's a punch hole) & Agate or Agatha
[with the 'a' missing at the end] Krouse.
They come from Whitewater, Wisc. Dated
February 12th 1971.
This is a wonderful book on 'The Liverpool Scene', a Granada TV documentary. The opening essay is by Edward Lucie-Smith and the rest if a great selection of poems and some stunning black and white photography by the late great Welshman Philip Jones Griffiths, whose war photography in Vietnam had a big effect on American public opinion. Henri Cartier-Bresson said of his work: "Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths."

Lucie-Smith writes: The 'Liverpool scene' of this book seems to have been born in the very early sixties. Pete Brown, more usually associated with jazz-and-poetry readings in London and the south of England, gives a lively account of it: '

'Well, this is the poetry thing really: I mean the atmosphere and the people were there already, definitely, and it was very sort of ripe. Late in 1960 Spike Hawkins and I were living in London but we met up with a team of people from Liverpool at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival in 1960 and they said, you know, that things were good up there and that we should come up and sort of enjoy 
ourselves. Well, Spike and I got into conditions of extreme and dire poverty, so one night he hitched up there and accepted the invitation. They had this coffee bar there which was run by a very extraordinary guy—it was named after some Victorian, Liverpool Victorian person, Mr. Somebody Streate, and was called Streate's Coffee Bar because of this painting they had of him there. This guy that used to run it was a very good guy. That was the centre of activity and meetings. Finally, Spike and another guy called Johnny Byrne, who's an Irishman who was living in Liverpool at the time and was a friend of Adrian Henri's—they started these readings up there.
'The readings—well, Adrian, in fact, hadn't written any poetry for about six or maybe more years before that—he knew all about it, of course, you know, the things that were happening in poetry—but he just hadn't written any, and Brian Patten and Roger McGough were completely and absolutely unknown, and the fact of having regular sessions at this place brought them into the light and made Adrian start writing again. This was early '61. That's how the poetry thing in Liverpool began"...'




Here's the accoun from the seminal authentic history of the times [published in 1999] 'A Gallery to Play To': The Story of the Mersey Poets' by Phil Bowen [see full review in Previous Posts above]:

'Byrne was also present at the Art College dance where Hawkins read his poetry, and was later approached by Eddie Mooney who ran Streate's Coffee Bar. Mooney wanted to start some readings there and perhaps get a scene together. Hawkins' reputation at that time was purely word of mouth, but he was able to find some jazz musicians glad of a place to play:  
[Johnny Byrne] 'It was a wonderful joining together of talent: people from Liverpool, the States, a lot of first-timers. There was this connection, a complete network of people, virtually penniless, travelling to and fro as they spread the word, bringing out new literature, new poems, prose and books." 
Pete Brown recalls:

"We were all busy being bums in London. Mal Dean and Johnny Byrne were in Liverpool and they said, 'Come up and steam about: Hawkins had been living in a hedge or a haystack. Anyway something clicked in his head and he left a note pinned to his sleeping girlfriend saying, ---`Brown. Gone to Liverpool. Please follow"

Bowen says: 'The first poetry events consisted mainly of Hawkins, Byrne and Brown reading their work, and poems from the revered Evergreen Review stolen by Hawkins from Better Books in London. 

Two poetry anthologies from back in the day which both contain some of Spike's work
There are a few in this commercial title
'Love. Love, Love: The New Love Poetry'. Edited with an Introduction by Pete Roche.
First published by Corgi Books in 1967, this is the 4th Printing [1970].
The seminal and substantial 'Children of Labion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain',
First published by Penguin Books in 1969. This is the second edition.
Edited by Michael Horowitz, it's a remarkable classic anothology which contains 15 of Spike's poems
 alongside a wonderful collection of work by his peers. MIke has also edited  'The Grandchildren of
Albion' and has plans for a new volume: 'The Great Grandchildren of Albion'.
*

BLEEG

we have bought some food
she has put it on the best table
we are not going to feed you
so go and stand outside in our
forest

- Spike Hawkings


Go figure


Syd meets Spike Hawkins
In a YouTube interview Rob Chapman, author of the Syd Barrett biography A Very Irregular Head, recalls how he found out that beatnik and poet Spike Hawkins was an acquaintance of Syd Barrett. He was interviewing Pete Brown for his book and when the interview was over he remarked that some Barrett lyrics had a distinct Spike Hawkins style. At that point Pete Brown remarked: "I think Spike Hawkins knew Syd Barrett." Without that lucky ad hoc comment we would (probably) never have known that the two artists not only knew, but also met, each other at different occasions, although it was probably more a Mandrax haze that tied them rather than the urge to produce some art together.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

MICK FARREN INTERVIEWS KENNETH ANGER


Kenneth Anger
Source: www.phinnweb.org/
links/cinema/underground/anger/

Mick Farren was hard to impress but I have a vivid memory of when he came back from an interview over lunch with Kenneth Anger. He was well chuffed that he had finally met one of his cult heroes. 

 As far as I am aware this article, which was published in the New Musical Express on July 31st 1976, has not been reproduced before. Much of Mick's work has been anthologised and is available in print or on the internet. Mick died on stage in July 2013 at the age of 69. Those who knew him still miss him like hell. Anger is 90 and still active.


'In all probability, Deep Throat will be shown at your local Odeon long before any of the films of Kenneth Anger. Although he's been making films since 1939, has worked with Mick Jagger in the past and is currently finishing a movie project that involves, among others, Jimmy Page and Marianne Faithfull, none of his work has ever been exhibited on a mass scale.

The closest that the films of Kenneth Anger have ever come to reaching a popular audience was probably during the psychedelic '60s' when his movies Fireworks and Scorpio Rising were mainstays of the hippie clubs, underground film fests and arts labs both here and in the U.S.A.

Kenneth Anger as the Stolen Prince: The
Changeling in A Midsummer Night's Dream


There's more, however, to Kenneth Anger than simply being an underground film maker who still makes his own very personal movies when most of his fellows have moved on to porn, sexploitation or TV commercials. He is an almost unique example of a jet age eccentric who manages to live, work and survive even in the depressingly buck-worshipping '70s.

It's hardly surprising that Anger, with his background, should become some kind of grand eccentric. He was born into a hard-core Hollywood family. Almost as soon as he could walk, he was placed in the Maurice Kosloff school of dancing. At three his grandmother hustled him the part of a sprite in Max Reinhardt's film of A Midsummer Night's Dream (that's the one with James Cagney as Bottom). 
He talks about his early life with a kind of camp relish. "My dancing partner in those days was Shirley Temple. I doubt whether she'd speak to me now." He even hands out pictures of himself in the film. 

In 1939, at the age of seven, he made his first film while he was in the Boy Scouts. In 1941 he made another, Who's Been Rocking My Dreamboat. At eleven he completed The Nest, a full-blown exploration of the subject of incest. He was only fifteen when he used a spare 72 hours (while his parents were away at his uncle's funeral) to make Fireworks which still gets shown in art cinemas today. 

Fireworks is a savage homosexual fantasy. Filmed in grainy black and white, it is an account of how a group of archetypal butch/sadist U.S. sailors, straight out of a gay porn mag, rape and mutilate a young teenage boy. There is so much of the director/producer/actor's wish-fulfillment and basic fear projected into the film that it's still numbingly shocking today.

Throughout the '50s he made four more movies including Inauguration Of The Pleasure Dome, his first venture in psycho/sexual symbolic mysticism. Anger describes the film as "a full scale ritual to invoke Horus, the Godhead of the Aquarian Age.” He also started work on a movie version of the S&M erotic classic L'Histoire d'O (‘Story of O’ to you), but the money ran out and it was never finished.



1964 saw the completion of Scorpio Rising, a loving examination of the faggot end of bike-gang with a rock and roll soundtrack that includes songs by Dion, Presley, the Chiffons, and the Shirelles.

Scorpio Rising is, to date, Anger's most popular and best remembered movie: It, too, has its mystical undertones. As Anger put it, "Scorpio is the sign of violence and death. It's also the sign that governs machines. It was natural to celebrate it with a film centred around the Hell's Angels and leather boys."

A year later he started work on Kustom Kar Kommandos, a sequel to Scorpio Rising that, again with a rock and roll score, did for an apocalyptic hot rod gang what Scorpio Rising did for the Hell's Angels. It predated Manson’s plans for his dune buggy attack battalion by some four years.

In 1968, Anger started work on the first version of Lucifer Rising, a fast moving collage of Crowleyan magic, and his most ambitious project. There seemed, however, to be a jinx on the film. The majority of the footage was lost and all that remains is an eleven-minute fragment retitled Invocation Of My Demon Brother. A synthesiser track was added to the film by Mick Jagger. According to Anger, it was this work on the film that inspired Jagger to write the first draft of "Sympathy For The Devil."

Today Anger is finishing up the second version of Lucifer, working on the soundtrack with Jimmy Page, promoting the paperback version of his book Hollywood Babylon. He is also a leading disciple of occultist, misunderstood genius and Great Beast Aleister Crowley.

*

Okay, so that's the background. With all this in mind, I went to my lunch date with Kenneth Anger with a great deal of curiosity as to what kind of figure I was going to meet.

Would he be a mincing queen, a total fraud, a poseur or some sinister figure out of a Hammer Films version of a Dennis Wheatley black magic epic?

It was one of the first really warm days of the summer. I had arranged to meet him in the foyer of the British Film Finance Corporation. He was there to negotiate the finishing-up money for Lucifer Rising. At least he followed the same route as other money-starved film producers. He didn't make piles of gold coins appear in the middle of a sinister pentagram.

The person who came down the stairs was pretty normal. He wore a lightweight cafe-au-lait suit and could just as easily have been jiving up the money for Confessions Of A Randy Dustman as a movie based on the philosophy of Crowley The only bizarre touch was a gold pentagram hanging from a chain round his neck. (Later he was to roll up his sleeve and reveal that he had the same symbol tattooed on his arm. "My mark of the Beast.”)

As we walked across Greek Street to a nearby French restaurant, the sun didn’t darken, nobody threw us fearful glances, and dogs didn’t snarl or howl. In fact, Anger, who looked rather like a male beach hero running into the first phase of middle-aged paunch, proved an amiable individual with a sharp, if campy and cutting, wit. 


Original publicity still for Lucifer Rising featuring
a 1940 illustration by Virgil Finley. On
the back is a copyright sticker and a hand-written
sticker that says 'World Premiere. Easter
Sunday '77.' [The Generalist Archive]

After we'd settled down at a table, gone through the ritual of ordering and I was into my first gin and tonic of the day, the conversation kicked off with an obvious question. 

"There's been a lot of weird rumours about what happened to the first version of Lucifer Rising. What actually happened to the film?'

The answer was as weird as any of the rumours. 


"You know that, in that version, Bobby Beausoleil played Lucifer?"

I nodded.

"This is the same Bobby Beausoleil who joined up with Manson, and was jailed for the Gary Hinman murder?"

"That's right. Of course, all this was some time before he got involved with Charles Manson's escapades." 


"Escapade" is a lovely word in the context. There's something quite fascinating about anyone who can deal with a first-hand contact with terminal sleaze in such a lightly urbane manner. 

"Bobby was living with me in San Francisco. It must have been the end of 1967 or the beginning of 1968. It was the time when the hippie scene was turning into a complete fuck-up. The flower children had started shooting up speed. It was all very depressing. Bobby had this fantasy about starting a rock and roll band. I got some money for him and he went down saying he was going to buy amplifiers and equipment.

"Of course, when he came back there wasn't any equipment or any money left. Instead I found several kilos of grass hidden in my cutting room. This was just too much. I told him to get out. A few nights later he broke in and stole most of the unedited film. Later he claimed I tried to turn him into a toad."

"Did you ever find out what happened to the film?"

"I suppose it's buried out in the Mojave somewhere. I thought of getting a guy with a divining rod to look for it."

“And Beausoleil's now doing life?"

"He was twenty-one when he went in. I doubt if he'll ever get out." 



Bobby Beausoleil mug shot. 1969. Source: Wikipedia
*
The conversation moves on to films. After Warhol's posture of seedy decadence and Godard's trendy Marxism, Anger is refreshingly down-to-earth. He has little time for the kind of cineaste who wants to prattle about art and symbolism. He is Hollywood born and bred, and many of the terms of reference in the conversation are unashamed trash; Roger Corman, Night Of The Living Dead, Mae West, Invasion Of Body Snatchers.

He also has a devout love of gossip. One minute he’s talking lofty metaphysics. the next he’s letting go a choice morsel of name-dropping.

“I think I’m getting rather tired of Mick Jagger. It's all getting rather childish and petulant. There was a party at a pub just out of London where he threw a table through a window because some people told him to make less noise. It does seem rather unnecessary”

The next moment he has grasshoppered back to his latest movie.

“Lucifer is the hero. He shouldn't be confused with the Christian devil. Lucifer is another name for the Morning Star, the bringer of light. He is the one who helps man in his search for truth and enlightenment."

Prometheus?"

“A very similar character." He jumps on to a story about the making of the film.

“The next Lucifer after Bobby was Chris Jagger. Unfortunately he started taking himself very seriously. We were shooting in Egypt, in desert, near the pyramids. Marianne was having a bad time, she was strung out on heroin."

Anger pauses.

"I don't think that's an indiscretion, is it? Marianne's always been very open about the problems she's had with drugs. She was also being eaten alive by mosquitoes. We started to believe that the heroin in her bloodstream was attracting them.

"At the same time, Chris Jagger began acting like some kind of Hollywood prima donna. You know? Turning up late, that sort of thing. We were working on a very tight budget and starting to run out of money. It all got so difficult that Chris had to go."

"Marianne plays Lilith, the Jewish demon. She is also the goddess of abortion. It seems kind of appropriate."

From Lucifer (the bringer of light) we move on to Aleister Crowley. "Crowley was a greatly misunderstood genius. After World War I, the British newspapers did their best to destroy him, particularly the Beaverbrook newspapers. They labelled him the wickedest man in the world and presented him as some kind of Satanist. After one of his group died from drinking contaminated water, stories went round about murders. Crowley could have sued but he never tried. I don't think it occurred to him."

Far from being any kind of Satanist, Anger paints a picture of Crowley as a searcher for truth and enlightenment through the essential human sexual energy. For this, he was pilloried by a vicious press and sensation-hungry public. Even when talking about Crowley, however, Kenneth Anger can't resist a gossipy anecdote.

"It got so bad that, when Crowley wanted to conduct certain nude rituals, the only place he could do it was at the Turkish baths in Jermyn Street. All these people would sit round in their towels watching this middle-aged gentleman waving his arms about. They didn't have a clue that it was Crowley conducting one of his most important rituals. They probably thought it was some sort of calisthenics." 



American paperback copy of Hollywood
Babylon
[Dell Publishing 1975], bought at
the Academy Bookshop [7/8 Holland Street
London W8] .I have written my name in the
frontispiece and the date: December 1977.
[The Generalist Archive]
Anger's love for gossip and scandal came to fruition in his book Hollywood Babylon. The book is a virtual directory of suicide, murder, drug addiction and excess in the movie capital of the '20s and '30s. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be published in this country under the current libel laws. Unlikely, that is, until the last of the people mentioned in the book have died. 

"The stumbling block is the section on Chaplin. No British publisher could get that past the lawyers."

The coffee and brandy arrives. It's getting close to wind-up time. We've drifted into discussion of the age of Aquarius. With someone like Kenneth Anger this is very easy. He seems to see Crowley as a kind of John the Baptist for the epoch. Anger is, however, very matter of fact about his mysticism.

"We're probably in for a rough time: The age of Aquarius isn't quite what they sing about in "Hair". The predictions are that there'll be 500 years of utter chaos with hate, conflict and false prophets. It could be tough before we finally achieve enlightenment."

It's hard to sum up Kenneth Anger. He is a very complex personality, part Hedda Hopper and part mystic. He is obviously obsessed with his work.

"I can't tolerate the kind of lazy fuck-offs who talk all the time and don't do nothing. I can't think of anything but work, there's nothing else."

He can even get away with the ponderous statement that is reproduced in a current press handout.

"I have always considered movies evil; the day that cinema was invented was a black day for mankind... Photography is a blatant attempt to steal the soul . . . My films are primarily concerned with sexuality in people. My reason for filming, has nothing to do with 'cinema' at all; it's a transparent excuse for capturing people . . . it's wearing a little thin now. . so I consider myself as working Evil in an evil medium."

When you meet the man, the first impression is that he delivers these kind of statements with his tongue firmly in his cheek. And yet he is also perfectly serious. It's an odd paradox.
*



'Legendary filmmaker and occultist Kenneth Anger has released a limited edition run of Lucifer jackets, inspired by his classic 1972 short film ‘Lucifer Rising.’ Originally worn by actor Leslie Huggins in the film, the iconic multicoloured design has been embroidered onto a limited number of black nylon bomber jackets. Gold satin bomber jackets are also available from Anger’s official online store at collectors’ prices. Each jacket is unique featuring a stitched label of authenticity.'
           Source: Coney's Loft [15th March 2017]

Published by Black Dog Publishing 2004

To my knowledge this is the best single book on Anger's oeuvre, containing as it does detailed essays on all his key films with images + a great deal more besides.. The entry on Lucifer Rising is very interesting and adds more detail to the story. Hutchinson writes:
'The concept of Lucifer Rising began in 1966 while Anger was in San Francisco as a "sequel" or response to Scorpio Rising  from the beginning of "the new age". Much of the original footage shot went missing during one of Anger's ritual performances at the Straight Theatre... with the rest of the footage shot at this time edited by Anger in London. Led Zeppelin's resident Crowley aficionado, Jimmy Page proposed the orginal soundtrack for Lucifer, which was removed in the 1981 re-edited version and replaced by Bobby Beausoleil's composition.'
 To produce the soundtrack, Beausoleil formed the Freedom Orchestra in prison. Hutchison says that the instruments were delivered by mail order and that Anger provided him with a time sheet for the film. A  full and complete remastered version is now available according  to the Beausoleil website.
According to Hutchinson, Anger and Page first met at a Sotheby's auction of Crowley books in 1973. Page at that time had the second largest collection of Crowley's work in the world and was living in Crowley's former house at  Boleskine on the edge of Loch Ness in Scotland. Page worked on the film for three years and produced 28 minutes of music. Anger had been
using the film editing facilities in the basement of Page's Victorian mansion for three months when there was, one night, some kind of altercation with Page's girlfriend which lead to Anger being evicted.


PREVIOUS POSTS


60s Underground/Mick Farren & The Deviants [November 2012]

Underround Press [June 2013]

Mick Farren Tribute [August 2013]

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

BACKPACK AMBASSADORS and the TRANSNATIONAL HISTORY OF YOUTH

Published by Chicago Univeristy Press

Just at the time when the direction of travel is shifting away from allowing free movement across frontiers and towards the reimposition of  hard borders, comes this book which tells us how it was the backpacking youth, travelling freely across Europe, that helped to reintegrate our societies, connect cultures. heal wounds and broaden horizons after the devastation of World War II. This story has, to my knowledge, never before been spotlighted.

Its author Richard Ivan Jobs, a backpacker himself in Europe and India in the 1990s, is now a history professor at Pacific University in Oregon. His penchant for travel has servcd him well, both then and now, because this book required conducting research in roughly forty archives, libraries and institutes in eight countries and five languages.

The book's fascinating story. which extends to the end of the Cold War and beyond, begins with large numbers of young people, students and volunteers, being funded to rebuild the remnants of a nascent youth hostel network and repair railways across the continent. Large mutinational gatherings of youth encouraged a new feeling of connectedness, a desire to dismantle borders and create a peaceful, harmonius united Europe.

In the 50s, the recovery process begins to take hold. The road and rail networks are repaired, there is a vast expansion of youth hostels and large numbers of hitchhikers become a common sight.

In the 60s, this existing youth travel movement intersects with the new counter-cultural and political youth trends, creating a powerful interconnected web of activity linking hip cities like London, Amsterdam and Berlin with the eastern bloc. A  disastrous flood in Florence in 1966, which threatened and damaged treasured buildings, documents and works of art, triggered off a huge youth response. These so-called "mud angels" flocked to the city and worked tirelessly to rescue and clean-up the city. 1968 saw revolutionary activity across Europe. The youth also began travelling overland to Asia via Istanbul on what came to be known as the "hippy trail".

By the 70s, the Interail and Eurail schemes allowed the youth to travel widely and cheaply. An increasing influx of Americans came to Europe courtesy of a new breed of budget airlines and a new generation of guide books provided advice to the burgeoning tribes of travellers.

With the dramatic events leading up the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, east and west travel expanded and by the 90s, youth travellers' focus extended to Latin America and South-East Asia in particular. The concept of a 'gap year' became established as a career move for your own personal development and future prospects. Now there's a new breed of digital travellers who use social media to organise their way ahead in a much more improvisational manner and who broadcast their adventures and pictures on the web.

There is a bigger message embedded in 'Backpack Ambassadors' - namely that the contribution of youth has been undervalued in our historic accounts.  I discovered, during a 50-minute conversation with Jobs in Oregon via Skype, that two earlier works set the stage for his latest production.

First came 'Riding the New Wave: Youth and the Rejuvenation of France After the Second World War' [Stanford University Press 2007]. Yet to be read by The Generalist', the blurb whets the appetite:
This book tells the story of France's remarkable transformation in the 1940s and 1950s through exhaustive study of the role of youth and youth culture in France's rejuvenation and cultural reconstruction in the aftermath of war, occupation, and collaboration. Examining everything from Brigitte Bardot and New Wave film to Tarzan and comic books, from juvenile delinquents and managerial technocrats to soldiers and 1968 protesters, from popular culture to politics, the author makes a fascinating case for reconsidering the significance and meaning of youth in postwar France. Riding the New Wave advances a new methodological approach by considering age as a category of historical analysis comparable to, and in tandem with, race, class, and gender. This history reveals youth to be a central feature in France's recovery from the Second World War while also clarifying the international significance of youth in the tumultuous 1960s.'




Some years later, together with his colleague David Pomfret, he organised a workshop/conference in Hong Kong, attended by scholars from all over the world, which resulted in a multi-author book 'Transnational Histories of Youth in the Twentieth Century' [Palgrave Macmillan, 2015], that Jobs and Pomfret co-edited, about the hiustory of youth in a global context. It emphasised the need for a history of youth that, says Jobs, "thinks of young people as 'agents' and asks what are they doing and experiencing."


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The idea of transnational histories of youth is an important one and Jobs' 'Backpack Ambassadors' is a valuable addition to the literature. In it Jobs highlights the fact that the 'Delphic priests of ancient Greece considered the right to come and go to be one of the four fundamental elements of freedom'. Jobs concludes:
'As internal border controls are introduced within Europe to stem the flow of migrants, refugees and security threats, it is ironic that while free mobility was used as a means to achieve stability and national security in the decades aftre the Second World War, it is now seen as a threat to those achievements. If rights of passage, the freedom of movement, were to be curtailed and the open borders closed, what effect this would have on European integration, already under stress, is unclear. Still, the transnational mobility of youth may remain an impetus for integration.'
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Friday, July 14, 2017

JAZZ GREATS: KAMASI WASHINGTON / JACO PASTORIOUS

KAMASI WASHINGTON rules. His triple album 'The Epic' is No. 1 default sound on my system since the end of April when I got it as a birthday present. Then yesterday I discovered in a slush pile of clippings this great article from June 2016 by the grandly named Ludovic Hunter-Tilney. LHT's punchy piece puts Kamasi and his band at the LA epicentre of a new politically infused jazz movement. Kamasi says: "The whole point of playing this music is to convey a message. That message comes from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published in 1965, the year he was assassinated. Copies were handed out at Kasami's school by black activists and it stuck with him. The message is: "Self discipline, self understanding and self love, that's what it was really about. Just love yourself, you're beautiful, your history, your culture, you come from someone who is beautiful, you're not just the descendant of a slave, you should have pride in who you are, knowing why you are."



Kasami won a scholarship to study ethomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles,where he learnt about 'north Indian classical music, Indonesian gamelan and Ghanaian gospel choirs.' The album took four years to make and features a 10-piece jazz band, , a 32-piece porchestra and a 20-voice choir. His touring band features seven musicians including his father Rickey who also plays sax. The band, reports LHT, is made up of his LA peers, most being also the children of jazz players. They formed a musical collective named  the West Coast Get Down who played every week at a Hollywood club. A monthy-long collaborative session in the studio provided the germ of 'The Epic'. That's all you need to know as a taster. Now book a comfortable couch and immerse yourself in this amazing music. Several great live concerts on YouTube, including a Glastonbury show. Powerful healing force or what.


JACO PASTORIOUS is widely regarded as the Jimi Hendrix of the bass guitar. He reinvented the instrument, expanding its possibilities by removing the frets and pushing the playing techniques into unknown territory. At the level of musicianship Pastorious reached, he was soon feted and showered with superlatives. His work with Weather Report, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock -  to name just three  - is outstanding. His many other ensembles that played his compositions, range across many fields and emotions. Jaco's bipolar extraordinariness spilled over into drug use, uncontrollable antics and, in the end, murderous violence. Set against this is much beautiful footage of his children and himself, swimming, juggling, having fun. Packed with harsh and tender moments, great interviews and tasteful clips and tracks, 'Jaco' will bring tears but also profound inspiration that so much wonderful music could pour out of this man. Ditto as above: YouTube and many great albums to explore.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

THE HUMAN MICROBIOME

Source: Teach the Microbiome

For a long time now THE GENERALIST has been curious to know more about what is now referred to as the human microbiome - the entire ecosystem of bacteria (and other organisms) that we carry on us and inside our bodily containers. 99% of the bacteria are found in the gut.

I find this whole area of science incredibly powerful and it is clear from the research for this post that many discoveries are revealing a whole new world of medical investigation.

Published by Scribe 2016

My first main source is this highly accessible book by a young German scientist which is a great place to start understanding this remarkable new paradign shift in our thinking about our own bodies.

It seems we're built of three main tubes: the cardiovascular system with the heart at its centre; the nervous system, running in parallel, with the spinal cord, our brain at the top and nerve networks across our entire body. The third is the intestinal tube running through us from end to end via the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestines and anus.

This is where it gets real interesting. Something called the vagus nerve serves as a fast and direct link between our gut and our brain. It runs from the diaphragm, between the lungs and the heart, up along the oesophagus  and through the neck to the brain. As the brain is insulated from the rest of the body, it needs information from the gut to form a picture of how the body is doing. Enders writes:
'The gut has not only a remarkable system of nerves to gather all this information, but also a huge surface area. That makes it the body's largest sensory organ...a huge matrix, sensing our inner life and working on the subconscious mind,'
Here are other things I learnt from this book:
  • 'Stress is thought to be among the most important stimuli discussed by the brain and the gut' writes Enders. One theory is that the 'altered circumstances stress creates in the gut allow different bacteria to survive there than in periods of low stress. We could say that stress changes the weather in the gut.'
  • 'Anyone who suffers from anxiety or depression should remember that an unhappy gut can be the cause of an unhappy mind.'
  • 'Our gastrointestinal tract is home to more than a thousand different species of bacteria - plus minority populations of viruses and yeats, as well as fungi and various other single-celled organisms.
  • 'Our gut's microbiome can weigh up to 2 kilos and contain about 100 trillion bacteria. One gramme of faeces contains more bacteria than there are people on the Earth.
  • 80% of our immune system is in the gut.
  • 'We are influenced by the microscopic world that lives in us. This is all the more interesting when we realise that every person's inner world is unique to him and her.'
  • 'While 100 per cent of the cells that make us up when we start life are human cells, we are soon colonised by so many micro-organisms that only 10 per cent of our cells are human, with microbes accounting for the remaining 90 per cent.
  • 'Our lifestyle, random acquaintances, illness, or hobbies all influence the shape of the populations inside our bodies...It is generally accepted that the first population to colonise out gut lay the main foundations for the future of our entire body.
  • In the April 2011 issue of Nature, scientists cliamed to have discovered three main enterotypes - bacteriological ecosystems - which appear in humans of all ages, genders, body weight and nationality. Type 1 is domninated by high-levels of Bacteroides, Type 2 by Prevotella and Type 3 by Ruminococcus. There are indication that long-term diet influences these enterotypes. Bacteroides seem to like meat and saturated fatty acids; Prevotellas are more common in the guts of vegetarians; Ruminococcus feed on the cell walls of plants.
  • Some scientists now support the theory that our gut microbiota can be considered an organ

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The Human Microbiome Project (HMP), involving some 200 scientists, was a US National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative with the goal of identifying and characterizing the microorganisms which are found in association with both healthy and diseased humans. The results were published in June 2012.

The Human Microbiome
The Human Microbiome is the collection of all the microorganisms living in association with the human body. These communities consist of a variety of microorganisms including eukaryotes, archaea, bacteria and viruses. Bacteria in an average human body number ten times more than human cells, for a total of about 1000 more genes than are present in the human genome. Because of their small size, however, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of our body mass (that's 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria in a 200-pound adult). These microbes are generally not harmful to us, in fact they are essential for maintaining health. For example, they produce some vitamins that we do not have the genes to make, break down our food to extract nutrients we need to survive, teach our immune systems how to recognize dangerous invaders and even produce helpful anti-inflammatory compounds that fight off other disease-causing microbes. An ever-growing number of studies have demonstrated that changes in the composition of our microbiomes correlate with numerous disease states, raising the possibility that manipulation of these communities could be used to treat disease.

The Human Microbiome Project

The NIH Common Fund Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was established in 2008, with the mission of generating resources that would enable the comprehensive characterization of the human microbiome and analysis of its role in human health and disease.
Traditional microbiology has focused on the study of individual species as isolated units. However the vast majority of microbial species have never been successfully isolated as viable specimens for analysis, presumably because their growth is dependent upon a specific microenvironment that has not been, or cannot be, reproduced experimentally. Advances in DNA sequencing technologies have created a new field of research, called metagenomics, allowing comprehensive examination of microbial communities, without the need for cultivation. Instead of examining the genome of an individual bacterial strain that has been grown in a laboratory, the metagenomic approach examines the collection of genomes derived from microbial communities sampled from natural environments. In the HMP, this method will complement genetic analyses of known isolated strains, providing unprecedented information about the complexity of human microbial communities.
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Source: It's OK to be Smart

In 'Tending the Human Body's Microbial Garden' by Carl Zimmer [New York Times / July 1 2012], he writes that, for more than a century doctors have been waging war against bacteria with antibiotics. Now a new approach known as 'medical ecology' suggests that by nurturing our 'garden' of gut flora we may discover entirely new approaches to infectious diseases that have previously been treated with antibiotics. Tending the microbiome may also help in treating obesity and diabetes. Many of bacteria have co-evolved and work to maintain the health of our bodies.

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'Germs Are Us' by Michael Specter [New Yorker / 22nd Oct 2012] quotes David A. Relman, the first scientist to sequence the genomes of a human bacterial community - which happened to come from his own mouth. 

He tells Specter: "We have to stop looking at medicine as a war between invading pathogens and our bodies". He believes we need to employ a "sort of stewardship which has more in common with park mangement than it does with the current practice of trying...to kill microbes."

'Looked upon this way,' writes Specter, 'the human body turns out to be a vast, highly mutable ecosystem - each of us seems more like a farm than like an individual assembled from a rulebook of genetic instructions. Medicine becomes a matter of cultivation, as if our bacterial cells were crops in a field.'

Specter also refers to a 2009 paper entitled 'What Are the Consequences of the Disappearing Human Microbiome'  written by Martin J. Blaser and fellow microbiologist Stanley Fallow which focused on a loss of diversity in our biomes due to antibiotics. In a theoretical case a woman born at the start of the 20th century might have 10,000 species of bacteria, From the 1930s on, most people would have  one or two courses of antibiotics in their lives and will thus have lost some species. Her child will take many more antibiotice and will lose more species. Blaer says:
"A lot of things are happening at once. The rise in obesity, celiac disease, asthma, allergy syndromes and Type 1 diabetes. Bad eating habits are not sufficient to explain the worldwide explosion in obesity...We are not talking about illnesses that are increasing by ten per cent. They are doubling and tripling and qudrupling. With each generation there is a heavier impact on the early-life microbiome. And it means we are less and less able to metabolize the food we eat.'
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'I had the Bacteria in my Gut analysed. And this may be the Future of Medicine' by Andrew Anthony [The Observer Review / 9th Feb 2014]
'Humans are first colonised by microbes during birth. Then through breast milk, which contains both probiotics ( beneficial microbes) and prebiotics (compounds that foster the growth of probiotics).
"There is strengthening evidence ", says microbiologist Paul O'Toole, " that the explosion of auto-immune diseases and immune disregulation diseases in Western society may be due to suppression of gut bacteria from infancy onwards."
'It takes about two years from birth...for a child to attain a mature microbiome. There are several factors that may contribute to childhood microbial dimishment. One is the increase in caesarian sections...Another is a lack of breast milk and a third is the increased use of antibiotics.
'In fact there are many studies around the globe ...which point up connections between the microbiota and diseases and complaints as diverse as  irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's. Alzheimer's, autism, depression, cardiovascvular disease and colon cancer.'
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Source: Wikipedia
'Why modern life is bad for the gut' by Clive Cookson [Financial Times / 25th April 2015]
 reports on two studies on the microbiomes of remote human communities to compare their diversity with those in the US. One was a isolated Yanomami tribe in the Amazonian forest, the other subsitence farmers in Papua New Guinea. Both had considerably more diverse microbiomes than  Americans. The team leader of the Amazonian project said:

"Our results bolster a growing body of data suggesting a link between, on the one hand, decreased bacterial diversity, industrialised diets and modern antibiotics, and on the other, immunological and metabolic diseases such as obesity, asthma, allergies and diabetes, which have drastically increased since the 1970s.We believe there is something environmental occuring in the paset 30 years driving these diseases. The microbiome could be involved."

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In an article by Chloe Lambert entitled 'Gut Thinking' [New Scientist. 21st Nov 2015]:

In 2014, scientists at the University of New Mexico published a review of reasearch on human microbiomes and came to tthis intriguing solution: 'gut microbes don't just flourish on certain diets, they may also control our food cravings and preferences to serve their own purpose'

This raises the intriguing possibility that through the spread of microbes, person to person,  those cravings could become contagious. Lambert says: 'We already know people are much more likely to become obese if they have a friend who is obese.'

According to Tony Goldstone, an endocrinologist at Imperial College, London: 'There's evidence that gut hormones modify not only reward and consumption of food but also any drug of abuse - such as nicotine, cocaine and alcohol.'