Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Original Beats and The Burning Ghat

Two lions of the Beat Generation filmed by Francois Bernadi



Original Beats is a short documentary film by Francois Bernadi on Gregory Corso and Herbert Huncke.

Huncke was the original Beat. He coined the term, lived the life and was on the road long before Kerouac. Here he talks about his life as petty criminal, drug user and Beat writer.

Corso believed the poet and his life are inseparable. It was a belief he held true, otherwise the poet couldn't write like a lion, write truthfully.

This is a fascinating and informative portrait on the eldest and the youngest of the original Beats, filmed shortly before Huncke's death in 1996.

Often overshadowed by the Beat triumvurate of Burroughs, Ginsberg and Kerouac, Herbert Huncke and Gregory Corso were nonetheless integral to the Beat family and, on a personal level at least, often the most interesting. Both had been in jail (the same jail though not at the same time), both, in contrast to the Big Three who were all Columbia Grads, were self taught.

Huncke's 'The Evening Sun Turned Crimson', which, despite a relative lack of artlessness, is direct, honest, even charming. Huncke details his early life hustling, plumbing the depths of drug addiction. Huncke describing walking into Alphabet City with open sores on his face after scratching his skin raw shooting speed. This kind of thing has been done to death (literally), but Huncke was the among the first, even amongst the Beats, and his stories about the people he met along the way -- drag queens, hustlers, junkies,and general people around the city -- often have warmth, even tenderness, even when he described the most desperate characters.

Corso I remember most from 'The Beat Hotel', a dive hotel in Paris where Corso lived and shared a bed with Ginsberg and Ginsberg's love Peter Orlovsky. Not that Corso got into any kinky three way thing. Corso knew from his days in jail that he was into chicks, and chicks only -- they shared a bed because they had no heat.

In contrast to the gaunt, priestlike (or creepy, depending on your point of view) Burroughs, who lived in his own room on an upper floor, the three younger men (and Corso was the youngest of all) run wild like especially Rabelesian college kids on a spree. Invited to meet the French surrealists, they arrive ecstatically drunk, crawl around on all fours barking like dogs in what they thought was an appropriately Surrealist action. Corso, I think it was, jumped on Breton's lap and chewed on his tie. Breton and most of the other guests, good Parisian bourgeoisie despite their pretensions, were not amused by this behaviour. Duchamp, the exception, was charmed by their very American irreverence and energy.

In this charming half-hour short by film-maker Francois Bernadi, which was shot in 1996 shortly before Herbert Huncke's death, Corso and Huncke read at the St. Mark's Poetry Project and are interviewed separately. Corso is irascible, brittle; Huncke is more amenable, sitting at a desk in his room in the Chelsea Hotel. We see the lobby of the Chelsea, and the 42nd that Huncke first discovered in the '50s. Of this discovery, Huncke says:

"I liked the lights, I liked the way people moved. It was fresh. . . people seemed a lot freer in their actions than people did elsewhere."

Corso, who also hustled on 42nd for a time, getting older men to take him out to dinner then running off, remembers the Deuce in less romantic terms:

"The most deplorable area to hang around -- only the lowest of the low hang around there, if you've got nothing to offer society or even themselves . . . there was no class there."

Starring beat icon Herbert Huncke (1915-1996) in his sole acting role, The Burning Ghat was filmed on location in Huncke's then apartment on Henry Street in Brooklyn, New York. Co-starring his longtime companion Louis Cartwright (later murdered in the East Village in 1994), the film was written and directed by James Rasin (Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar) and Jerome Poynton. It was edited by Francois Bernadi (director: Walking the Dog, Original Beats, for a kiss..., The last boat), and shot by Michael Slovis (Emmy Award winning cinematographer of "Breaking Bad").

Although conceived and scripted as a dramatic short, the film incorporates documentary elements reflecting the real life relationship between Huncke and Louis. Allen Ginsberg wrote of the film, "O Rare Herbert Huncke, live on film! The Burning Ghat features late-in-lifetime old partners Huncke & Louis playing characters beyond themselves with restrained solid self-awareness, their brief masquerade of soul climaxing in an inspired moment's paradox bittersweet as an O'Henry's tale's last twist". Harry Smith said of the film, "It should have been longer".

The Burning Ghat was featured at the 53rd Venice Biennial, and included in the Whitney Museum's "Beat Culture and the New America" show of 1996. It won the Gold Plaque Award for Best Short Film at the 1990 Chicago International Film Festival.

Punk in Australia #1: The Sunnyboys

The Guardian is currently promoting punk, as there is a retrospective at MOMA. I have decided to document some punk of my own. Punk in Australia was unique. Harsh, uncompromising and largely ignored by most people who were not part of it. This made it a longer lasting phenomenon than it was in societies where fashion took over after a matter of months. I would like to begin with The Sunnyboys;
Show Me Some Discipline

Sunnyboys was an Australian post-punk, power pop band formed in Sydney in 1980. Fronted by singer-songwriter, guitarist Jeremy Oxley, the band "breathed some freshness and vitality into the divergent Sydney scene". Their first two albums, Sunnyboys and Individuals both charted into the Top 30 of the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart.

The Oxley brothers, Jeremy and Peter, and Bill Bilson hailed from the northern New South Wales town of Kingscliff where they played in a garage band called Wooden Horse. The band gained early experience when the students of Tweed River High School were obliged to attend a compulsory concert in school hours arranged by the Oxley's father, who was an Art teacher at the school. Anyone who failed to applaud or was in any way unsupportive was awarded detention. Richard Burgman (Kamikaze Kids) came from Wagga Wagga, and they all met in Sydney in 1979, forming The Sunnyboys. The band's name was based on an orange flavoured frozen ice treat of the same name. It came in a triangular pyramid shaped ‘tetra-pack’. These ice confections were very popular as a cheap summer treat all over Australia. According to Richard Burgman the band chose the name because it represented ‘bright, happy, young, fun’. On 15 August 1980, they played their first gig, supporting The Lipstick Killers, and Me 262. In October of that year the band recorded four songs with Lobby Loyde who also acted as their manager. The tracks, "Love To Rule", "The Seeker", "What You Need" and "Alone With You", all appeared on the band's self-titled and independently released 4-track 7" EP on Phantom Records. The initial pressing of 1,000 copies sold out in two weeks.It was later remixed and reissued as a 12". The Sunnyboys signed to Mushroom Records in February 1981, becoming the first Sydney-based band on the label, and by July that year had cracked the mainstream charts with the single "Happy Man". The same month they released their own independent EP which was given away at gigs, entitled Happy Birthday containing the tracks "What You Need", "Why Do I Cry?", "I Want To Be Alone" and "Let You Go". Their eponymous debut LP was recorded at Alberts Studio during May, June and July 1981 with producer/mentor Lobby Loyde. The album had an initial print run of 2,000 on yellow vinyl, reached number 13 on the national album charts in October 1981 and remains an Australian classic. The album produced a second hit single, a new version of "Alone With You", which reached number 15 on the national singles chart, establishing The Sunnyboys as a bona fide headline attraction. In the midst of their heavy touring schedule the band recorded their second album, Individuals (issued May 1982). The album peaked at number 19 and two singles from the record charted briefly: "You Need A Friend" and "This Is Real". Their fifth single, "Show Me Some Discipline" charted in Sydney only. The band meanwhile travelled to the United Kingdom where they played two sold out shows at the famous Marquee Club before recording their 3rd album at Ridgefarm Studios, Surrey. The resultant album, Get Some Fun displayed a greater diversity and more confident musicianship. To coincide with the album's release, the band embarked on their first national Australian tour since May 1983. Neither the LP or the singles from the album ("Love In A Box" and "Comes As No Surprise") charted. Internal dissent plagued the band; Jeremy Oxley was battling mental illness and drinking heavily as a result. The Sunnyboys announced their break-up in June 1984. Their farewell tour produced the album Real Live which was recorded over two nights in Sydney (29 and 30 June).

Friday, April 26, 2013

Andrés Segovia: The Song of the Guitar

As an instrumentalist, Segovia did for the guitar what Casals did for the cello, but he did it with an instrument that had never before been taken seriously as a concert instrument. Within his own lifetime, Segovia taught himself the instrument, revolutionised the technique and elevated a folk instrument to the highest levels of the international concert platform. As a musician, he has come to be recognised as one of the most refined and profound of his time.

In the film, Segovia reminisces about his early days in Grenada and his happy discovery of the guitar. He plays ten pieces, all beautifully filmed in the courtyards of the Alhambra:
  1. “Capricho Catalán” by Isaac Albéniz
  2. “La Maja de Goya” by Enrique Granados
  3. “Torre Bermeja” by Isaac Albéniz
  4. “Sonata in E Minor” by Domenico Scarlatti
  5. “Minuet” by Jean-Philippe Rameau”
  6. “Minuet” by Fernando Sor
  7. “Ballet and Allegretto” by Manuel Ponce
  8. “Gavotte I & II” by Johann Sebastian Bach
  9. “Leyenda” by Isaac Albéniz
  10. “El Noy de In Mare” a Catalan folk song

Monday, April 22, 2013

Zabriskie Point (Entire French Dubbed)

Zabriskie Point (1970) by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, widely noted at the time for its setting in the late 1960s counterculture of the United States. Some of the film's scenes were shot on location at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley.

This was the second of three English-language films Antonioni had been contracted to direct for producer Carlo Ponti and to be distributed by MGM. The other two films were Blowup (1966) and The Passenger (1975).

Zabriskie Point was an overwhelming commercial failure and panned by most critics upon release. It has, however, achieved cult status and is noted for its cinematography, use of music and direction. It is presented here with a French language dubbed dialogue.

Los Angeles, 1969. La contestation grandit dans les milieux universitaires. Marc, un jeune homme solitaire, est prêt à mourir pour la révolution mais il se refuse à mourir d'ennui. Révolté par les arrestations arbitraires, il achète un pistolet pour se protéger. Témoin d 'une fusillade au cours de laquelle un étudiant noir est abattu par un policier, il s'apprète à risposter quand soudain le policier est abattu. Craignant d'être poursuivi pour un crime qu'il n'a pas commis, il s'enfuit dans le désert à bord d'un avion volé...

In Search Of The Great Beast 666

Aleister Crowley, self proclaimed "The Great Beast" and known by the sensationalist press as "The Wickedest Man in the World", was perhaps the most controversial and notorious individuals in early 20th century England. This dramatically reconstructed film unearths the barely believable and shocking facts surrounding a man who was voted in a BBC poll to be one of the most influential Britons of all time. Was he related to US President George Bush? How was he connected to the founder of Scientology, NASA, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jack the Ripper, Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming and how did this Occultist, Spy, Poet, Writer and accomplished Mountaineer come to know and influence so many other remarkable people?

In Search Of The Great Beast 666 - Aleister Crowley
Featuring the Voice of Joss Ackland and Music Score by Rick Wakeman

As I posted this entry, my blog statistics come up as:

56666 pageviews - 881 posts, last published on Apr 22, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Extraordinary Life of Shelton Lea

Shelton Lea 1946-2005 from cigarillored on Vimeo.

"Any man who turns the key on another man is a dog!” - Shelton Lea

Shelton Lea (1946-2005), born in Melbourne Australia, left school at the age of 12 and spent periods in gaol as a young man, including eighteen months in Goulburn Gaol at the age of 18. While there he wrote love poems for detainees, payment being in tobacco. Part-performance poet (he declared he would read poems wherever he could find an audience), part-critic of contemporary Australian life and attitudes, he was 'by birth and nature urban', with inner-city areas his natural habitat. His comfortable milieu is the city pubs - 'great brewing palaces of beer' - and city life, with its violence, crime, drugs, alcoholism, gutter and park derelicts ('in defence of drunks', 'coming down - delirium tremens'). Shelton Lea also wrote of love in his more tranquil verse ('having watched you', 'love poem', 'i dream of the soft slide of light'). His complaint about the sterility of modern Australian life and politics is evident in 'i'm here today for a whinge' and 'occupied' - where he accuses, in Jindyworobakish accents:
we are occupied by our own greed ...
we are making of this place a desert,
a land of rutted soil
of ruined earth, leached of its true wealth,
its dreamtime,
rather than living in harmony, as once the koories did,
treating this land as a kindred soul
Many of Lea's poems are slanted towards performance, carrying within such verses as 'The Dip's Dilemma' and 'Picnic Day at the Drouin Races', echoes both of C.J. Dennis and an early Bruce Dawe. Commenting on the modern proliferation of easygoing, slang-type verse (including much of his own) Lea says that the times themselves prohibit traditional-type verse, ('well-ordered thoughts well shaped and moulded into a perfectly metrical form'). There are too many distractions in modern society - television, the media and 'the accostation of cars and trucks/ the imperterbable [sic] rumble of suburbs and/cities'. Lea published several books of verse, Corners in Cans (1969), Chrysalis (1972), The Paradise Poems (1973), Chockablock with Dawn (1975), Palantine Madonna (1978), Poems from a Peach Melba Hat (1985), I am Nebuchadnezzar (1991) and a Poets on Record (1976, tape recording with text).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Did Jesus Die and was He in India?

This BBC 4 documentary examines the question "Did Jesus Die?". It looks at a bunch of ideas around this question until minute 25, where this examination of ideas takes a very logical and grounded turn with surprising conclusions that demonstrate that the three wise men were Buddhist monks who found Jesus and came back for him around puberty. After being trained in a Buddhist Monastery he spread the Buddhist philosophy, survived the crucifixion, and escaped to Kashmir, Afghanistan where he died an old man at the age of 80.

This documentary examines the missing years from the life of Jesus. The unknown years of Jesus refers to the period between Jesus childhood and the beginning of his ministry as recorded in the New Testament. The term "silent years" is sometimes used as well. The phrase "lost years of Jesus" is also encountered in esoteric literature, but is not commonly used in scholarly literature since it is assumed that Jesus was probably working as a carpenter in Galilee from the age of twelve till thirty, so the years were not "lost years".

In the late medieval period Arthurian legends appeared that the young Jesus was in Britain. In the 19th and 20th centuries theories began to emerge that between the ages of 12 and 30 Jesus had visited India, or had studied with the Essenes in the Judea desert. Modern scholarship has generally rejected these theories and holds that nothing is known about this time period in the life of Jesus.

The phrase "lost years" is also found in relation to theories arising from the "swoon hypothesis", the suggestion that Jesus survived his crucifixion. This, and the related view that he avoided crucifixion altogether, has given rise to several speculations about what happened to him in the supposed remaining years of his life, but these are generally not accepted by mainstream scholars.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lost Worlds of the Kama Sutra

"A religious text written in stone"
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 kilometres (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures.

The name Khajuraho, ancient "Kharjuravāhaka", is derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura = date palm and vāhaka = "one who carries". Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had taken a toll on the monuments.In the 19th century, British engineer T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham put Khajuraho on the world map when he explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the "seven wonders" of India.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

William H. Whyte - Social Life of Small Urban Places

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces: William H. Whyte from Nelly Oli on Vimeo.

This witty and original film is about the open spaces of cities and why some of them work for people while others don't. Beginning at New York's Seagram Plaza, one of the most used open areas in the city, the film proceeds to analyze why this space is so popular and how other urban oases, both in New York and elsewhere, measure up. Based on direct observation of what people actually do, the film presents a remarkably engaging and informative tour of the urban landscape and looks at how it can be made more hospitable to those who live in it. Running time: 58 min, Year released: 1988

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ichi The Killer (殺し屋1Koroshiya Ichi) Full Film (Extreme)

Ichi the Killer (殺し屋1 Koroshiya Ichi) is a 2001 Japanese film directed by Takashi Miike, written by Sakichi Sato, and based on Hideo Yamamoto's manga series of the same name. The film is notorious amongst moviegoers due to its extremely graphic violence. The film has received widespread controversy and is banned outright in several countries due to its high impact violence and graphic depictions of cruelty. In 2009, The Norwegian Media Authority reacted to the film and later classified the film as Rejected and banned the film due to "high impact violence and cruelty" and the film is still banned in Norway, but still available for home video purchase. The film has been banned outright in Malaysia since the film's distribution date in 2001 due to "very high impact violence and offensive depictions of cruelty" The film is banned uncut in Germany, and classified as "adults only" in a "heavily cut version". The film was released in the United States in a cut version rated NC-17.

The soundtrack was written and produced by Japanese band Boredoms, credited as "Karera Musication", under the direction of ex-guitarist Seiichi Yamamoto and percussionist/band leader Yoshimi P-We.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dressing For Pleasure (1977)

Dressing For Pleasure (UK Fetish Documentary 1977) from saucerpeople on Veehd.

This 25 minute long film is about the mid-1970s British rubber fetish scene. It features a short clip of Sex Pistols Manager and clothing entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren. The film is made by John Samson. John Samson (1946 - 2004) was an extraordinary British filmmaker. Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, as a teenager Samson moved to Paisley just outside of Glasgow where he remained for the formative years of his life. Resistant to the constraints of formal education, at 16 Samson left school and took on an apprenticeship in the Clyde shipyards learning precision tool making in an engineering firm. Samson quickly became involved as a spokesperson in the first Glasgow apprentices' strike, helping organise visits by Glasgow apprentices to other shipyards in England in order to demonstrate solidarity across the British Isles.

Around this time Samson began to engage with the Anarchist movement, joining the Committee of 100 and participating in a number of Nuclear Disarmament protests including Holy Loch in 1961 where he was arrested with 350 others for demonstrating against the presence of a US nuclear submarine. In 1963, upon meeting his wife Linda who was studying painting at Glasgow School of Art at the time, Samson gave up his apprenticeship and fell in with a bohemian circle that included artists, writers and musicians. He taught himself guitar, took up stills photography and by the early 70s began to make films.

These experiences - Samson's working class roots, his passionate interest in radical politics and bohemia - fuelled what would turn out to be a life-long fascination with individuals and groups operating at the margins of society. If it is possible to pick up such a thing as a singular thematic or narrative running throughout Samson's films, then it is exactly this: his subjects are outsiders, people with unusual lives and obsessions, liminal figures who fail to square neatly with the normative models for identity and behaviour propagated by contemporary culture.

Evident from his very first film Charlie (1973), a 10 minute short film on the merit of which he was awarded a scholarship to the National Film School, Samson was an extremely compassionate filmmaker who never sought to exploit his unusual subjects. Instead he would immerse himself in their strange worlds; his keen eye teasing out motivations while never lacking a dry yet gentle good humour which helped him, above all, to make sense of each and every extraordinary existence he encountered.

Here the subject of fetishism in clothing - rubber, latex, leather - is explored. The film features Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols at the time at SEX, the boutique he ran with Vivien Westwood on the Kings Road. Central to the film is a magnificent studio set constructed mainly by Samson himself in the shape of the fetishist magazine Atomage with actual turning pages all populated by these amazing characters, dressed in thigh length leather boots and chains. The film was banned at the time by London Weekend Television, and has become one of those rare films more quoted than seen. Again, using revealing interviews on the motivation behind the protagonists' choices, Dressing for Pleasure won Outstanding Film Award at the London Film Festival that year. Recently it has toured the world as part of the Vivienne Westwood exhibition and has been an inspiration for many other films including Julian Temple's The Filth and the Fury (2000). 

Dressing for Pleasure is an intimate, candid film about people with a rubber fetish. An interview with John Sutcliffe, the legendary clothing designer who also founded AtomAge, ‘a magazine for vinyl wearers’, is woven through the film, while blown-up pages from the magazine are used as a backdrop to the carefully composed scenes of participants parading their costumes. An interview with a shop assistant at Sex, the King’s Road boutique owned by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, one of the few places that openly sold latex and rubber wear, links fetish wear to the equally scandalous punk scene. There’s nothing deliberately sensational in Dressing for Pleasure, and what emerges is not a film about people into S&M, but a portrait of an alternative lifestyle that embraces pleasure without shame.

Monday, April 01, 2013

My Name is Albert Ayler

With his documentary My Name Is Albert Ayler, Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin pays unbridled homage to the titular musician, one of the most innovative and electric but least-known figures in contemporary jazz. Ayler's obscurity is at least as attributable to his short lifespan as it is to his musical iconoclasm -- he died under bizarre and inexplicable circumstances in late 1970; on November 5 of that year, Manhattan police found his 34-year-old body floating in the city's East River, possibly (though not definitively) a victim of suicide. Collin approaches Ayler's life as a straightforward narrative, segueing smoothly from touchstone to touchstone. The picture thus covers the musician's upbringing in Cleveland, OH; his performances on the saxophone and oboe in a military band; his critical, shaping experiences in touring R&B groups across the U.S.; and finally, his decision to spin that R&B music off into an unprecedented form of experimental jazz on the landscapes of New York City and Stockholm, Sweden. Collin's narrative ends, of course, with speculation on Ayler's death. Collin devotes much screen time to an exploration of Ayler's friendship with the legendary John Coltrane, and to the sad reality that during the 1960s, truly groundbreaking jazz by African-American artists could only flourish in über-progressive Europe. Throughout the picture, the documentarian works in extremely rare archival footage of Ayler, and roots much of his narrative in interviews with such key figures as Ayler's Sunday school teacher father (in his nineties at the time of this production); Ayler's brother Donald, also a musician, and one with a history of severe mental disturbance; and a number of Ayler's nonfamilial musical collaborators including Sunny Murray and Gary Peacock. (Ayler's romantic partner and sometime musical collaborator, Mary Parks, declined to appear onscreen, though Collin works in extracts from a telephone interview with her.) It goes without saying that My Name Is Albert Ayler represents the only documentary portrait to date of the wondrous musician. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi