Saturday, January 31

The French Connection (1971)

Wikipedia - "The French Connection is a 1971 American dramatic thriller film directed by William Friedkin and produced by Philip D'Antoni. It stars Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, and Roy Scheider. The film was adapted and fictionalized by Ernest Tidyman from the 1969 non-fiction book by Robin Moore. It tells the story of New York Police Department detectives 'Popeye' Doyle and Buddy 'Cloudy' Russo, whose real-life counterparts were Narcotics Detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso. Don Ellis scored the film. ... "
Grantland - The Greatest Living American Actor at 85: Gene Hackman Is Retired But Still in Charge (Video)
Roger Ebert: Interview with Gene Hackman, November 28, 1971
The French Connection film locations
Guardian - The French Connection: shock of the old
YouTube: The French Connection - Trailer

Neil Young the Ultimate Guide

"Some trivia, before pushing the play button:In the top 20 the two charts are quite similar: even if in different positions, 15 songs are the same. Both include Buffalo Springfield and CSNY songs. While After the Gold Rush album is the most present album in the Mojo chart, in Rolling Stone's Top 100 it stops at #3 (6 songs in the playlist), after Harvest and Tonight's the Night (both with 7 songs)."

2008 February: Neil Young, 2010 April: Neil Young - 1, 2010 April: Neil Young - 2, 2010 May: Neil Young - 3, 2010 October: Neil Young's Sound, 2012 January: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, 2012 June: Like A Hurricane, 2012 July: Greendale, 2013 April: Thoughts On An Artist / Three Compilations, 2013 August: Heart of Gold, 2014 March: Dead Man (1995), 2014 August: Ragged Glory - Neil Young + Crazy Horse (1990), 2014 November: Broken Arrow (1996), 2015 January: Rust Never Sleeps (1979).

Friday, January 30

Inhabiting Wes Anderson’s Universe

"Matt Zoller Seitz is a film historian, TV critic (for New York magazine and, filmmaker and the editor of Roger­ He is also a connoisseur of the oeuvre of the idiosyncratic filmmaker Wes Anderson and the creator of “The Wes Anderson Collection,” a medley of essays, interviews and illustrations in a coffee-table-size book published last year. It is as hyper-designed and meticulous as an Anderson film. Mr. Seitz has capped himself with 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' out Feb. 10 from Abrams, a rapturously focused work dedicated to that film. Its impending publication neatly coincides with the movie’s Golden Globe award Sunday, and we spoke with Mr. Seitz this week, curious about what led him to tumble down the Anderson rabbit hole with such gusto and commitment."
NY Times
vimeo: Video Essay: "Wes Anderson's Favorite New York Movies" (Bonus)

2013 November: Wes Anderson Honors Fellini in a Delightful New Short Film, 2013 November: Rushmore (1998), 2013 Decemher: Hotel Chevalier (2007), 2014 March: Wes Anderson Collection, 2014 April: The Perfect Symmetry of Wes Anderson’s Movies, 2014 July: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), 2014 August: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), 2014 December: Welcome to Union Glacier (2013).

Otis Rush, 1956-1958: His Cobra Recordings

"Otis Rush's debut recordings for the Cobra label are defining moments of Chicago blues. Seldom had a young Windy City artist recorded with this much harrowing emotion in both his singing and playing, simulataneously connecting with the best that Delta blues had to offer while plunging headlong into the electric future. These are the songs that continue to be the building blocks of his legend; 'All Your Love,' 'Double Trouble,' 'I Can't Quit You, Baby,' 'Groaning the Blues,' 'It Takes Time,' and 'Checking on My Baby' are all singular masterpieces. This single disc collection features all sixteen Cobra sides issued as singles plus the bonus of four alternate takes, all presented here with the best sound to date. These are milestone recordings in the history of the blues and an essential part of anyone's collection."
W - "Double Trouble"
YouTube: Double Trouble, I`Cant Quit You Baby, All Your Love (I Miss Loving), Violent love, Jump Sister Bessie, Checking on my baby, Sit Down Baby, Love that woman, My Baby (She's a Good 'Un), If You Were Mine, Little Red Rooster

'Absolutely temporary': Spicer, Burgess, and the ephemerality of coterie

"In an unpublished letter to Robin Blaser and Jim Felts from the mid–1950s, Jack Spicer cautions his addressees against preserving their correspondence for posterity. 'This will become a literary document,' he warns, 'if you don’t burn it.' Similarly, in a list outlining 'What to do with the Boston News Letter' scrawled in one of Spicer’s notebooks, he advises readers of the poetry pamphlet to '[p]ost whatever pages of it you think well of in the most public place you can find — i.e. an art gallery, a bohemian bar, or a lavatory frequented by poets,' and to '[b]urn or give away the pages you do not want to make public. Do not keep them.' In their biography of Spicer, Kevin Killian and Lew Ellingham refer to the Boston newsletter as an 'exercise in poetic community' marked by 'a curious blend of acid raillery and low camp.'”

2007 November: Jack Spicer, 2010 February: mad cartographer (PoemTalk #28), 2010 April: Manroot and Acts, 2011 January: 5 Poems by Jack Spicer, 2012 July: The Collected Books of Jack Spicer

Thursday, January 29

Things Gone & Things Still Here

"The pieces in this little volume have all been republished in subsequent collections of [Paul] Bowles's stories, but I still prefer to read them as they first appeared, in an edition published by Black Sparrow Press in 1977. Four of the stories -- 'Allal,' 'Mejdoub,' 'The Fqih,' and 'The Waters of Izli,' form a natural group, both in style and setting. "Istikahara, Anaya, Medagan and the Medaganat" and the title story, though also set in North Africa, stand somewhat apart as they take the form of historical anecdotes rather than fiction. All take place in a Moslem Maghreb in which European influence is felt only distantly, if at all. Women are hardly present, and when they are they're generally up to no good. ..."
Dreamers Rise
Black Sparrow Press

2007 November: The Authorized Paul Bowles Web Site, 2010 February: Paul Bowles (1910-1999), 2011: January: Halfmoon (1996), 2013 July: Tellus #23 - The Voices of Paul Bowles, 2014 January: Let It Come Down: the Life of Paul Bowles (1998), 2014 March: The Sheltering Sky (1949).

Africa Express Announce Terry Riley's In C Mali

"It was 50 years ago this month when Terry Riley's iconic minimalist composition 'In C' received its world premiere. To mark the anniversary, Africa Express—the organization that brings together musicians from multiple cultures, continents, and genres—will release an album featuring their 41-minute version of the piece. Africa Express Presents... Terry Riley's In C Mali is out digitally on November 24 and physically on January 26 via Transgressive. It was co-produced and mixed by Mouse on Mars' Andi Toma. That's a five-minute sample above." Pitchfork (Video)
YouTube: Africa Express Presents... Terry Riley's In C Mali (5 minute Edit), Africa Express Presents... Terry Riley's In C Mali 40:50

December 2007: Terry Riley, March 2010: In C, December 2010: Terry Riley & Gyan Riley, April 2011: Terry Riley - Shri Camel: Morning Corona, Terry Riley rare footage, live in the 70s, 2014 March: Kronos Quartet Plays Terry Riley: Salome Dances for Peace (1989).

Wednesday, January 28

Making Pictures: Three for a Dime - Maxine Payne

"In the 1930s, the Massengill family of rural Arkansas built three portable photography studios on old truck frames, attached each to the back of any car that would run, and started a mobile photo booth business that would last for a decade. Without formal training or help, the Massengill family invented and improvised ways to mimic the popular photo booths they had seen in drugstores and brought their business to the dirt roads and open fields they knew well. Making Pictures: Three for a Dime, featuring Massengill family prints and photo albums collected by the artist Maxine Payne, illuminates a sliver of the Depression-era South previously unseen by the public."
Dust-to-Digital: Images & Recordings from Arkansas
Dust-to-Digital: Dust-to-Digital: Arkansas at 78 RPM: Corn Dodgers and Hoss Hair Pullers (Video)

Buy - James Chance and the Contortions (1979)

Wikipedia - "Buy is the debut studio album by American no wave band James Chance and the Contortions. It was released in 1979 through ZE Records. All About Jazz critic Trevor MacLaren wrote: 'Through the anger and aggression Chance made a solid record that had a sound like nothing before or since,' describing the album as 'a great disc that sounds as original and cutting edge as when it was released'. Dean McFarlane of Allmusic stated: 'His hybrid of free jazz sax blowing and agitated funk takes the contortions up a notch from the four tracks the band contributed to the Eno-produced No New York compilation.'"
YouTube: Contortions - Buy (Full Album)

2009 December: James Chance, 2011 December: No New York

Tuesday, January 27

Crunchy, organized by Gregory Linn and Clayton Press

"As an adjective, 'crunchy' typically connotes a hard texture and/or a crisp, loud sound when something is bitten, or chewed. 'Soggy,' 'crunchy’s' antonym, connotes wet, usually soft, and heavily dull. According to the late economic journalist, Nico Colchester, 'Crunchy systems are those in which small changes have big effects leaving those affected by them in no doubt whether they are up or down, rich or broke, winning or losing, dead or alive… (while) Sogginess is comfortable uncertainty.' For this show, the organizers, – Clayton Press and Gregory Linn, – relied upon Colchester’s concept of 'crunchiness' as a point of departure to challenge common expectations about how paintings are made and what they convey. ..."
marianne boesky gallery
marianne boesky gallery: exhibition works
marianne boesky gallery: installation views
Paris Review: Crunchy Systems

Screaming Phantoms, Tomahawks, Phantom Lords, Dirty Ones and other gangs of 1970s Williamsburg, Brooklyn

"My new column for A24 Films (a tie-in to the new movie A Most Violent Year) is up on their site devoted to culture and events from 1981. For this article, I look at what some of the dangerous undercurrents to life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1981. 'By the 1970s, Williamsburg was best known for its steeply rising crime rate, harboring both violent street-gang activity and organized crime.' You can read the whole article here. During my research for this piece, I found this rather startling map in the New York Times, August 1, 1974, charting out the various turfs of northern Brooklyn street gangs.  This is not a souvenir from the film The Warriors, but an actual list of the many violent gangs which kept Brooklyn a very dangerous place to walk around in during the 1970s."
Bowery Boys (Video)

2010 August: The Warriors, 2014 September: BAM: Retro Metro.

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper

"One of the most exciting aspects of reintroducing so much rare and incredible music to the world is being able to finally make available material that’s been in label-vault limbo since the day it was recorded, vital sounds locked away from the deserving ears of the legions of devoted music fans we at Sundazed count ourselves among. ... Recorded in part as the follow-up to Safe as Milk, Beefheart’s debut from earlier that year, the world-shattering material on It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper was rerecorded, truncated, and issued—without the Captain’s approval—as Strictly Personal in 1968. ..."
Captain Beefheart Radar Station
Albums That Never Were
YouTube: The Plain Brown Wrapper Sessions 1:58:50

2009 October: Captain Beefheart, 2010 December: Captain Beefheart, Art-Rock Visionary, Dead At 69, 2011 October: Interview with Captain Beefheart, 2013 August: This Is The Day (1974-Old Grey Whistle Test), 2014 July: Safe as Milk (1967), 2014 August: Some YoYo Stuff: An observation of the observations of Don Van Vliet by Anton Corbijn (1993).

Monday, January 26

Harry Crosby

Wikipedia - "Harry Crosby (June 4, 1898 – December 10, 1929) was an American heir, a bon vivant, poet, publisher, and for some, epitomized the Lost Generation in American literature.  ... Mary (or Polly as she was called) divorced her alcoholic husband and to her family's dismay married Crosby. Two days later they left for Europe, where they devoted themselves to art and poetry. Both enjoyed a decadent lifestyle, drinking, smoking opium regularly, traveling frequently, and having an open marriage. Crosby maintained a coterie of young ladies that he frequently bedded, and wrote and published poetry that dwelled on the symbolism of the sun and explored themes of death and suicide.  ..."
Modern American Poetry | Biographical Essay | The Black Sun Press | Visual Representations of the "Black Sun" | On "Tattoo" | On "Photoheliograph" | On "A Short Introduction to the Word" | Further Examples of Crosby's Poetry | Crosby's "Diary" as Staged Text | Crosby's "Rivals": Typical Verse from the Atlantic Monthly in the 1920s | Crosby and Crane (Commentary by Sy Kahn) | Crosby as Photographer | Defining an Aesthetics for Crosby | Remembering Harry Crosby: Kay Boyle, John Wheelwright
amazon: Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby

Digital Anthology: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

"$0.99. This digital anthology collects 35 years of analysis of Fassbinder's films and profiles of his closest collaborators."

2014 May: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 2014 June: Effi Briest (1974), 2014 July: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), 2014 September: A Little Chaos: A Short Crime Film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Enfant Terrible of New German Cinema, 2014 October: Lola - (1981 BRD Trilogy), 2014 October: The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979 BRD Trilogy), 2014 December: Veronika Voss (1982 - BRD Trilogy).

How Did Everything Begin?

"Back in November, we brought you the BBC series of short animated videos, A History of Ideas. Produced in collaboration with the UK’s Open University and narrated by Harry Shearer, these fun introductions to such philosophers as Simone de Beauvoir and Edmund Burke, and such weighty philosophical topics as free will and the problem of evil, make challenging, abstract concepts accessible to non-philosophers."
Open Culture (Video)

Sunday, January 25

W. P. Kinsella

Wikipedia - "... In the field of baseball, [W.P.] Kinsella has written nearly 40 short stories and three novels. Shoeless Joe (1982), his first novel, blends fantasy and magical realism to tell the story of a poor Iowa farmer who, yielding to voices in his head, builds a baseball field in his corn field that attracts the spirits of the 1919 Chicago White Sox. The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1986), another book blending fantasy and magical realism, recounts an epic baseball game a minor league team played against the 1908 World's Champion Chicago Cubs. Box Socials (1991), an evocation of life in rural Alberta during the Great Depression and World War II, features a growing boy as its narrator and a purported local batting hero's hopes in facing a visiting major league pitcher 60 miles away in Edmonton."
Guide to Baseball Fiction: W. P. Kinsella
W. P. Kinsella
amazon: W. P. Kinsella
ESPN - Where it began: 'Shoeless Joe'

Looking down Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village

"Sixth Avenue at West 10th Street looks about the same today, right? Well, except for the notorious women’s prison building hiding behind the Jefferson Market Courthouse turned Library. Walter Brightwell painted this scene, according to Artnet, naming it 'Looking Down Sixth Avenue Towards the Jefferson Market Library Building.' The painting looks like it was done in the 1940s, but interestingly, Jefferson Market didn’t became a NYPL library branch until the 1960s."
Ephemeral New York

Willie Dixon With Memphis Slim‎ - Willie's Blues (1959)

"According to the original liner notes, this 1959 Willie Dixon session was cut during a two hour span in between flights. This certainly explains the relaxed, jam session feel of the recordings. Unfortunately, the songs come out sounding sluggish and stilted at times; this is partly due, no doubt, to the makeshift nature of the date, but also, more surprisingly, because of drummer Gus Johnson's overly slick and formalized playing. ..."
W - Willie's Blues
iTunes, amazon, Spotify
YouTube: Willie Dixon With Memphis Slim‎ - Willie's Blues 39:12

Saturday, January 24

Left Turns: The radical art of the nineteen-thirties.

Bernarda Bryson Shahn’s “The Lovestonite” plays on a split in the Communist Party.
By Peter Schjeldahl. "All artists want to change the world, usually just by making it take special notice of them, but now and then they do so out of a devotion to larger hopes. The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,’ 1929-1940, a fascinating scholarly show at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, on Washington Square, illustrates the most sustained convergence of art and political activism in American history. Some one hundred works by forty artists, along with photographs and publications, tell a story that tends to figure in art history only as a background to the emergence of the Abstract Expressionist generation; Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, et al., shared poverty but not zeal with their marching contemporaries. ..."
New Yorker
Northwestern University (Slideshow)
The Left Front—What is Revolutionary Art?
'The Left Front': A compelling look at tumultuous era
PRINT: The Color Red: 1929 – 1940

“Slaves ‘R’ Us” : Advertising, Propaganda, and SEBS in Lisbon

"The power of advertising and propaganda is undisputed, whether it is for toothpaste or war. We are being acted upon daily by people who would like us to do (or not do) something. Usually it is to give money for a product or service, but more than ever it is to stand by and allow bombs to fall or laws to be eroded. Artists have been parodying the methods of advertisement and our willingness to be swayed by it almost since it began, perhaps as a way of alerting us of the deleterious effects of unthinking consumerism in general, or to give us the tools to comprehend and analyze the methods that are effectively driving our behavior. Invariably, our actions as individuals, citizens, and consumers are all folded into the critique."
Brooklyn Street Art

Edgar Froese (6 June 1944 – 20 January 2015)

Wikipedia - "Edgar Willmar Froese (6 June 1944 – 20 January 2015) was a German artist and electronic music pioneer, best known for founding the electronic music group Tangerine Dream. ... Tangents was a Tangerine Dream compilation album box set of five CDs issued in 1994, compiling music from their years with Virgin Records, 1973 to 1983. Disc five consists entirely of 'previously unreleased material': ten tracks, seven of which are credited only to Froese as the composer. No information is given as to where or when these tracks were recorded, or by which line-up of Tangerine Dream. Most Tangerine Dream tracks credit the line-up that recorded it as the composers, therefore these appear to be Froese solo tracks, released under the Tangerine Dream name, and may have been recorded for this album. ..."
Edgar Froese
SOS: Tangerine Dream: Changing Use of Technology, Part 1: 1967-1977, Part 2: 1977-1994
ambient music guide
YouTube:Krautrock :The Rebirth Of Germany - Tangerine Dream Feature, Sobornost (1981) - Solo TV performance in Germany, Poland 1983 (Part 1 of 3), Part 2, Part 3, 1978 Ages, Aqua (Original CD), Stuntman

Friday, January 23

The Black Panthers Revisited

"When we think of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, certain events tend to come to mind: the March on Washington, for example, or perhaps the Freedom Rides or sit-ins. Others, however, have faded from our collective memory. One of those is the story of the Black Panther Party, the subject of this Op-Doc video. Founded in 1966 in Oakland, Calif., to combat police violence, the Black Panther Party and its story are a key part of our nation’s still-complicated racial narrative. ... Of course, the police violence and misconduct that inspired the founding of the Black Panther Party 50 years ago have not gone away. In just the last six months, the deaths of Michael Brown, John Crawford III, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice – and the lack of indictment of police officers for any of their deaths — have shaken black communities to the core."
NY Times: The Opinion Pages Op-Docs with the Sundance Institute (Video)
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
The Black Panther Party Revisited

2011 December: Black Panther Party, 2014 July: Black Panthers (Agnès Varda, 1968 doc.).

Sharjah Biennial 12: The past, the present, the possible

Various Sharjah Biennial 12 sites.
"Beginning with March Meeting 2014 and continuing through March Meeting 2015 (May 11–15, 2015), Sharjah Biennial 12: The past, the present, the possible (SB12) invites over fifty artists and cultural practitioners from over twenty-five countries to introduce their ideas of the possible through their art and work. The exhibition takes place in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, crossing the emirate to sites in and around the city as well as in the city of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman. Over two-thirds of participating artists will present new works and commissions."
Sharjah Art Foundation
Universes in Universe
Universes in Universe: Rock shelter site at Jebel Faya
Universes in Universe: Re:emerge

Townes Van Zandt - Solo Sessions (Jan 17, 1995)

"The following is summarised from Wikipedia: While alive, Van Zandt was labeled as a cult musician: though he had a small and devoted fanbase, he never had a successful album or single, and even had difficulty keeping his recordings in print. In 1983, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song 'Pancho and Lefty', scoring a number one hit on the Billboard country music charts. Despite achievements like these, the bulk of his life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms, backwoods cabins and on friends' couches. Van Zandt was notorious for his drug addictions, alcoholism, and his tendency to tell tall tales. He suffered from manic depression, and attempts to treat it with insulin shock therapy erased much of his long-term memory. He died on New Years Day 1997 from health problems stemming from years of substance abuse. The 2000s saw a resurgence of interest in Van Zandt."
YouTube: Solo Sessions (Jan 17, 1995) 52:59

2014 March: Heartworn Highways - James Szalapski (1975), 2014 September: The 10 Best Townes Van Zandt Songs.

Thursday, January 22

They Say Art Is Dead in New York. They’re Wrong.

A partygoer leaving the elevator room.
"The invitation came by email: I was to present myself at 9 p.m. that Saturday in the lobby of the New Yorker Hotel on Eighth Avenue and 34th Street. Without explanation, I was told to come alone, dress warmly, bring a bottle of bourbon and, on arrival, keep an eye out for a mysterious 'agent' in a red beret. I had received the note, in response to one of my own, from N. D. Austin and Ida C. Benedetto, the trespass artists who, to great acclaim last year, secretly — and illegally — turned a water tower in Chelsea into a speakeasy. The day before the invitation, I had written to them, as I had to others, with a question I’d been thinking about for weeks: Was the city’s creative underground really dead, as people often said?" Dec. 26, 2014
NY Times

Laurie Simmons - The Music of Regret (2006)

"Simmons, best-known for her photographs of miniature rooms populated by dolls and of oversized objects — such as a house, birthday cake, and pistol — balanced on female legs, both human and fake, brings these characters to life in a three-act mini-musical. The film is inspired by three distinct periods of Simmons’s photographic work: vintage hand puppets, ventriloquist dummies and walking objects enact tales of ambition, disappointment, love, loss, and regret. ..."
UbuWeb (Video)
W - Laurie Simmons

Modern Literature Collection: The First 50 Years

"Modern Literature Collection: The First 50 Years is a digital exhibit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Modern Literature Collection (MLC), part of the Special Collections in the Washington University Libraries. The digital exhibit is a companion to the onsite exhibit in Olin Library, on display November 2014 – March 2015, and contains everything available onsite, and much more. We hope that through these digitized materials you will enjoy exploring the history of the MLC, as well as the rich contents of some of the writers’ archives. To access all the finding aids for the Modern Literature Collection, please visit the Manuscript Unit website. There you will also find our forms and policies, research guides, and information on other manuscript collections and digital exhibits."
Modern Literature Collection

Wednesday, January 21

"So Hard" - Pet Shop Boys (1990)

Wikipedia - "'So Hard' is a song by the British pop group Pet Shop Boys and was the first single lifted from the 1990 album Behaviour. It peaked at #4 in the UK. The song is about: two people living together; they are totally unfaithful to each other but they both pretend they are faithful and then catch each other out. ... The video was directed by Eric Watson and filmed in Newcastle and North Tyneside. Filming locations included the Bigg Market, Newcastle Quayside, Railway Terrace in Wallsend, Byker, Whitley Bay and the Tyne and Wear Metro. The black and white video co-stars Paul Gascoigne's sister Anna Gascoigne."
YouTube: So Hard, So Hard (live) 1991, So Hard (Dark Especial Version), So Hard (2012 Retro Red Zone Eclipse Mix)

2010 August: Village People, 2008 September: Pet Shop Boys, 2010 November: Pet Shop Boys - 1985-1989, 2011 January: Behaviour, 2011 May: Very, 2011 December: Bilingual, 2012 March: "Always on My Mind", 2012 August: Nightlife, 2012 September: "Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes off You)", 2012 December: Release, 2013 March: Pandemonium Tour, 2013 November: Leaving, 2014 April: Introspective (1988), 2014 August: Go West.

Le Cercle Rouge - Jean-Pierre Melville (1970)

"Part of the genius of Jean-Pierre Melville was that he was able to take the formal elements of the crime film and put a thoroughly individual stamp on them -- his best films take the stuff of a thousand grade-B thrillers and invest them with a singular intelligence and quiet cool. On the surface, Le Cercle Rouge concerns two criminals thrown into a slightly uneasy alliance with a corrupt and alcoholic ex-cop to pull off a heist, but in Melville's hands this becomes a story about kindred spirits brought together through chance and unforeseen circumstance; their lives on the other side of the law have as much to do with their own personal sense of ethics and honor as those of the lawmen who struggle to track them down. Melville's clean, elegant framing of shots and his appreciation of the value of silence gives this picture a spare but satisfying feel quite different from most European crime films, and the subtle but sharply etched performances of Alain Delon, Gian Maria Volonté, and Yves Montand are the ideal embodiment of Melville's notion that less is more. ..."
Roger Ebert
YouTube: Alain Delon Le cercle rouge

Al Jazeera America Explains the Jargon and Demystifies the Meaning of Big Data in the Network's First Graphic Novella

"...  Al Jazeera America examines the role of technology and the implications of sharing personal information in the network’s first graphic novella, Terms of Service: Understanding Our Role in the World of Big Data.  The new comic novella, available on Al Jazeera America’s website at:, is a thought provoking, entertaining field guide to help smart people understand how their personal, and often very private, data is collected and used. Co-produced by well-known cartoonist Josh Neufeld and Al Jazeera America reporter Michael Keller, Terms of Service is an entertaining feature that follows characters 'Josh and Michael' as they journey through the challenges of digital privacy and other issues consumers should be aware of in the 'brave new world' of technology and Big Data.  The comic attempts to entertain and educate readers while providing a solid foundation for them to begin asking their own questions. ..."
Al Jazeera America
Terms of Service | Al Jazeera America

Tuesday, January 20

Radio Clash

"Chapter 1: I Wanna Riot. On 31 August 1976 band members Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon, then living in squats nearby, joined the rioting in Notting Hill, West London, when hundreds of black youths fought with police after a long summer of simmering tensions fuelled by overtly racist policing. The events of that day inspired the group to write the song White Riot, which helped to define the group’s radical and provocative political agenda, and in March 1977 became their debut single. ..."
The Clash - Radio Clash (Video)
Spotify - The Clash
Whites Riot: That’s Not What Joe Strummer Had in Mind (Video)
YouTube: White Riot - Future is unwritten, The Clash ~ One More Time / One More Dub, The Clash New Year's Day '77

Quiz: Can you name these cities just by looking at their subway maps?

I really don't know what to tell you if you get this one wrong. Which city's transit map is this? Washington, DC - Atlanta, GA - Pawtucket, RI - Benghazi
"Okay. You guys had a blast with last week's street grid quiz, so how about a variation on that theme? This time I've taken the official subway/train/metro system maps of 10 cities and stripped them of all identifying information. These maps include metropolitan rail transit only -- no bus lines, no roads and no Amtrak. These should be a little harder to identify than last week's maps -- rather than a dense network of roads all you get is a stylized skeleton of a region's transit system. But you do have one thing going for you this time: there's no commuter rail in Benghazi."
Washington Post

Monday, January 19

Across the New York Area, Restoring ‘Wonder Theater’ Movie Palaces to Glory

Inside the Paradise Theater.
"On Feb. 3, concertgoers will walk into a world of Jazz Age beauty at the newly renovated Kings Theater on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. A grand lobby of walnut-paneled walls and Corinthian columns will be lit from above by massive Art Deco chandeliers, and almost 4,000 feet of newly woven gold and scarlet carpet — reconstructed from a remnant discovered beneath an old candy counter — will stretch underfoot. The theater’s grand reopening, 86 years after it was first introduced to the public, will feature a performance by Diana Ross. Sept. 28, 1929, saw a similar celebration in Journal Square in Jersey City. Just a month before the stock market crashed, people streamed through the gleaming brass doors of the Loew’s Jersey for its grand opening."
NY Times

Verckys Et l’Orchestre Vévé - Congolese Funk, Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba (1969-1978)

"When James Brown arrived in Kinshasa for Mohamed Ali and George Foreman's rumble in the jungle fight, the world was ready to tune in. The Godfather of Soul was joining BB King, Miriam Makeba, Bill Withers and Manu Dibango at Zaire 74, a pre-fight festival aimed to promote cultural solidarity between Africans and African Americans. But as jaw-droppingly good as this line-up sounds, the music relied almost entirely on the fight to attract a TV audience; in terms of raising awareness for African music, rumble in the jungle was an essential factor."
The Quietus (Video)
Analog Africa (Video)
Soundcloud: Bassala Hot (Video)

The Blues of Arabia: The history of sawt al-khaleej

Portraits along a wall in the Muhammad bin Faris house museum in Muharraq show prominent Bahraini folk musicians and singers, including, from left, Ali Khalid, Yousif Fony and Muhammad Zuwayyid.
"If you climb into a taxi in Doha, capital of Qatar, and Arab music is on the driver’s radio, the station may well be 99.0, Sawt al-Khaleej, one of the most popular and powerful radio and digital streaming broadcast networks in the region. Based in Doha, its name translates to 'Voice of the Gulf'—a fitting name for a network that seeks to appeal to a broad, Arabic-speaking audience with pan-Arab popular music up and down the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, from Kuwait to Oman. But if you ask someone who knows the music of the eastern Arabian Peninsula about this name, you might get a puzzled response: 'Which sawt al-khaleej do you mean?' Today, the influence of the 12-year-old radio network, both on the dial and at, is so pervasive that for many, the words have become synonymous with Arab pop."
Aramco (Video)
Spectrum Radio (Video)
YouTube: Traditional Kuwaiti Sawt Oud Music- جاسم بن حسن صوت كويتي

Saturday, January 17

Five Easy Pieces - Bob Rafelson (1970)

Wikipedia - "Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 American drama film written by Carole Eastman (as Adrien Joyce) and Bob Rafelson, and directed by Rafelson. The film stars Jack Nicholson, with Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Ralph Waite, and Sally Struthers in supporting roles. The film tells the story of a surly oil rig worker, Bobby Dupea, whose seemingly rootless, blue-collar existence belies his privileged youth as a piano prodigy. When Bobby learns that his father is dying, he goes home to see him, bringing along his pregnant girlfriend, Rayette (Black), a waitress. ... Most of Bobby's time is spent with his waitress girlfriend, Rayette, who has dreams of singing country music, or in the company of Elton, with whom he bowls, gets drunk, and has sex with other women. Bobby has evidently not told Elton that he is a former classical pianist who comes from an eccentric family of musicians. ... Reaching his destination, Bobby, embarrassed by Rayette's lack of polish, registers her in a motel before proceeding to his family home on an island in Puget Sound."
Roger Ebert
YouTube: Trailer - (1970), Hold the Chicken

2012 May: The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)

Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers - Sings The Backporch Blues (1962)

Wikipedia - ""Otis 'Big Smokey' Smothers (March 21, 1929 – July 23, 1993) was an African American, Chicago blues guitarist and singer. He was once a member of Howlin' Wolf's backing band, and worked variously with Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Bo Diddley, Ike Turner, J. T. Brown, Freddie King, Little Johnny Jones, Little Walter, and Willie Dixon. ... In 1956 and 1957, Howlin' Wolf invited Smothers to play as his rhythm guitarist on several Chess tracks, including 'Who's Been Talking,' 'Tell Me,' 'Change My Way,' 'Goin' Back Home,' 'The Natchez Burning,' and 'I Asked For Water.' Smothers secured a recording contract with Federal Records in August 1960. With Sonny Thompson as his record producer, and Freddie King on lead guitar, Smothers saw the resultant album, Smokey Smothers Sings the Backporch Blues released in 1962. ..."
W - Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers
Record Fiend
Blues On Stage
YouTube: Sings The Backporch Blues (Full)

Detroit in the 1940s

"The early part of the 20th century saw the city of Detroit, Michigan, rise to prominence on the huge growth of the auto industry and related manufacturers. The 1940s were boom years of development, but the decade was full of upheaval and change, as factories re-tooled to build war machines, and women started taking on men's roles in the workplace, as men shipped overseas to fight in World War II. The need for workers brought an influx of African-Americans to Detroit, who met stiff resistance from whites who refused to welcome them into their neighborhoods or work beside them on an assembly line. A race riot took place over three days in 1943, leaving 34 dead and hundreds injured. After World War II ended, the demand for workers dried up, and Detroit started plotting its postwar course, an era of big automobiles and bigger highways to accommodate them."

Friday, January 16

Pink Moon - Nick Drake (1972)

Wikipedia - "Pink Moon is the third and final studio album by the English folk musician Nick Drake, released in the UK by Island Records on 25 February 1972. It was the only one of Drake's studio albums to be released in North America during his lifetime: the only previous release there had been a 1971 compilation simply entitled Nick Drake featuring tracks from both his first two albums, which were not released in North America in their original forms until 1976. Pink Moon differs from Drake's previous albums in that it was recorded without a backing band, featuring just Drake on vocals, acoustic guitar and a brief piano riff overdubbed onto the title track. Released two years before Drake's death in November 1974, at the age of twenty-six, the lyrical content of Pink Moon has often been attributed to Drake's ongoing battle with depression. ..."
Grooveshark, Spotify
YouTube: Pink Moon (Full Album)

2012 July: Nick Drake, 2013 May: Five Leaves Left, 2014 February: Bryter Layter (1970), 2014 August: A Skin Too Few - The Days of Nick Drake (2002).

Ollie Teeba (Soundsci / The Herbaliser) – London, UK

"Sometime in the 1990s, I walked into Jack’s Records in Red Bank, NJ and bought Blow Your Headphones by The Herbaliser without even hearing it. I had been turned on previously to them from some other music lover that passed it on to me. I dug it. Their brand of funk, soul, and jazz filled with samples and superbly crafted hip-hop beats had me nodding my head before, so I was sure they wouldn’t let me down this time. They didn’t. ...  No one I knew was spinning these guys so, to me, these tracks were put into my signature sound.  As with most of hip-hop and sample-based music I listen to and spin out, it’s the original sample that attracts me. The Herbaliser’s use of classic drum breaks and samples from artists like Eddie Bo and Dennis Coffey, to name a few, drew me into their sound instantly."
Dust and Grooves (Video)

Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein

Marchers on the way to Montgomery as families watch from their porches
"This exhibit features the stunning and historic photographs of Stephen Somerstein, documenting the Selma-to-Montgomery Civil Rights March in January 1965. Somerstein was a student in City College of New York’s night school and Picture Editor of his student newspaper when he traveled to Alabama to document the March. He joined the marchers and gained unfettered access to everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Rosa Parks, James Baldwin, and Bayard Rustin. 'I had five cameras slung around my neck,' he recalled. Over the five-day, 54-mile march, Somerstein took about four hundred photographs including poignant images of hopeful blacks lining the rural roads as they cheered on the marchers walking past their front porches and whites crowded on city sidewalks, some looking on silently-others jeering as the activists walked to the Alabama capital."
New-York Historical Society
NY Times: A Long March Into History
Guardian: Freedom Journey 1965: Selma to Montgomery March in pictures
AOL: Photo exhibit celebrates 50th anniversary of civil rights Selma to Montgomery March

Thursday, January 15

The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People, Presented in an Interactive Infographic

"The daily life of great authors, artists and philosophers has long been the subject of fascination among those who look upon their work in awe. After all, life can often feel like, to quote Elbert Hubbard, 'one damned thing after another' — a constant muddle of obligations and responsibilities interspersed with moments of fleeting pleasure, wrapped in gnawing low-level existential panic. (Or, at least, it does to me.) Yet some people manage to transcend this perpetual barrage of office meetings, commuter traffic and the unholy allure of reality TV to create brilliant work. It’s easy to think that the key to their success is how they structure their day."
Open Culture

The Town Hall

Wikipedia - "The Town Hall is a performance space, located at 123 West 43rd Street, between Sixth Avenue and Broadway, in New York City. It opened on January 12, 1921, and seats approximately 1,500 people. ... It has not only become a meeting place for educational programs, gatherings of activists, and host for controversial speakers (such as the American advocate of birth control, Margaret Sanger, who was arrested and carried off The Town Hall stage on November 13, 1921, for attempting to speak to a mixed-sex audience about contraception), but as one of New York City's premiere performance spaces for music, dance, and other performing arts. While the lecture series and courses on political and non-political subjects sponsored by the League continued to be held there, The Town Hall quickly established a reputation as an arts center during the first fifteen years of its existence."
The Town Hall

Wednesday, January 14

Corot to Monet: French Landscape Painting

"The Corot to Monet: French Landscape Painting exhibition catalogue was published to accompany the Corot to Monet exhibition (an exhibition of French nineteenth century paintings) at the National Gallery in 2009. It includes French paintings and oil sketches by Thomas Jones, Richard Bonington, and the Barbizon School painters, as well as early Impressionist landscapes by Claude Monet. ... Fifty years later in France, the Barbizon group, including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Theodore Rousseau and Charles-Francois Daubigny - eagerly escaped the studio to paint landscapes, rivers and beach scenes of their native land. These painters were a crucial influence on a new generation of artists who would eventually become known as the Impressionists."
National Gallery

Ah, the Good Old Bad Old 70's - A. O. Scott

"One of my clearest memories of adolescence is of a T-shirt, worn by a fellow eighth-grader whose name I don't remember, but on whom I seem to recall having a crush. It was black, with hot-pink French-cut sleeves, and across the front was a precis of recent American history: '50's were grease/60's were grass/70's are gross.' At the time, this account seemed irrefutable. By nearly universal agreement, there had never been a worse time to be alive, and to be young was especially miserable. We were growing up in the aftermath of a vaguely heroic, splendidly tumultuous age -- 'the Sixties, man' -- whose life-changing intensity we could never hope to know. The landscape around us was dull, ugly and decadent, and we seemed condemned to drag into adulthood the crippling sense of having been born too late."
NY Times

Henri Michaux

"Born in Belgium in 1899, Henri Michaux was educated at a Jesuit school in Brussels. He contemplated entering the priesthood then enrolled in medical school before abandoning his studies and becoming a merchant seaman. His voyages inspired two travelogues on Ecuador and Asia. He settled in Paris, where he began to write and paint. His work drew praise from several writers, including André Gide. In 1948, Michaux's wife died after accidentally setting fire to her nightgown: devastated, he began to take mescaline, painstakingly recording his experiences in text accompanied by distinctive calligraphic line drawings. Henri Michaux published three books between 1956 and 1959 dealing with his experiences with mescaline - Miserable Miracle, L'infini turbulent and Paix dans les brisements. He also confronted us with a disturbing series of sketches - most of them in black and white, and a few in colour - executed shortly after each of his experiences. ..."
Guardian: Journeys into the abyss
W - Henri Michaux
Poetry Foundation
Poetry Foundation: Poerty
book and writers
amazon: Henri Michaux
vimeo: Image du monde visionnaire 1964 (FULL)

Tuesday, January 13

Henry Cow's - Leg End (1973)

"Political astuteness aside, Henry Cow's Leg End is simply a busy musical trip, comprised of snaking rhythms, unorthodox time signatures, and incongruous waves of multiple instruments that actually culminate in some appealing yet complex progressive rock. Here, on the band's debut, both Fred Frith and woodwind man Geoff Leigh hold nothing back, creating eclectic, avant garde-styled jazz movements without any sense of direction, or so it may seem at first, but paying close attention to Henry Cow's musical wallowing results in some first-rate instrumental fusion, albeit a little too abstract at times. ..."
W - Leg End
YouTube: LegEnd (1973)

Art Expanded 1958-1978

"The Walker Art Center’s new exhibition features work from the 'expanded arts' scene of the 1960s and 1970s. Just as the 60s and 70s were a time of experimentation, the Walker has selected pieces from their collection that showcase the experimental power of Fluxus. The 'flow' from the Latin fluxus was adopted as the name of a movement concerned with ideas exemplified through art. The exhibition features artwork, primarily from American, European, and Japanese artists, who created everything from found objects, such as Daniel Spoerri’s preserved dinner plate (31 Variations on a Meal: Eaten by Bruce Conner), to screen printing and lithographs, to film."
Walker Art Center
YouTube: Art Expanded 1958-1978
The Walker's "Art Expanded, 1958-1978": When avant-garde becomes archeology

Monday, January 12

‘Downton Abbey’ and History: A Look Back

"As a chronicle of the ups and downs of fictional British aristocrats and servants, 'Downton Abbey' weaves a surprising amount of authentic historical context into its plots. Here is an episode-by-episode look at some of the show’s period details, and how those events have been covered in The New York Times. 'Downton Abbey' returns for its fifth season on PBS on Sunday — check back each week during the new season for updates."
NY Times
amazon: Downton Abbey Season 5

2012 March: Downton Abbey, 2013 February: Downton Abbey 3

Robert Stone (August 21, 1937 – January 10, 2015)

Wikipedia - "Robert Stone (August 21, 1937 – January 10, 2015) was an American novelist. He won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1975 for his novel Dog Soldiers and was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and once for the PEN/Faulkner Awards. Dog Soldiers was adapted as a film, Who'll Stop the Rain in 1978 starring Nick Nolte, and Time magazine included it in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. ... His best known work is characterized by action-tinged adventures, political concerns and dark humor. Many of his novels are set in unusual, exotic landscapes of raging social turbulence, such as the Vietnam War; a post-coup violent banana republic in Central America; Jim Crow-era New Orleans, and late 1990's Jerusalem."
The Paris Review: Robert Stone, The Art of Fiction No. 90
NY Times: Robert Stone, Novelist of the Vietnam Era and Beyond, Dies at 77
The Total Anti-Totalist Robert Stone - Interview Magazine
The Contemplating Stone: Robert Stone
amazon: Robert Stone

2013 September: Outerbridge Reach (1993)