Wednesday, September 30

Astor Place

Wikipedia - "Astor Place is a short two-block street in NoHo/East Village, in the lower part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It runs from Broadway in the west, just below East 8th Street; through Lafayette Street, past Cooper Square and Fourth Avenue; and ends at Third Avenue, continuing as St. Mark's Place. It borders two plazas at the intersection with Cooper Square, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Eighth Street – the Alamo Plaza and Astor Place Station Plaza. The name is also sometimes used for the neighborhood around the street. It is named for John Jacob Astor, at one time the richest person in the United States, who died in 1848; the street was named for him soon after. ..."
Karen Johnson - Astor Place
Astor Place Area
Curbed NY
YouTube: man in a cube, Astor Place: Riots at the Opera, Designing IBM Astor Place

Roman à clef

The Mandarins - Simone de Beauvoir (1954)
Wikipedia - "Roman à clef ... French for novel with a key, is a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction. The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the 'key' is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction. This 'key' may be produced separately by the author, or implied through the use of epigraphs or other literary techniques. Created by Madeleine de Scudery in the 17th century to provide a forum for her thinly veiled fiction featuring political and public figures, roman à clef has since been used by writers as diverse as Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Victor Hugo, Phillip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, Naguib Mahfouz, and Malachi Martin. The reasons an author might choose the roman à clef format include satire; writing about controversial topics and/or reporting inside information on scandals without giving rise to charges of libel; the opportunity to turn the tale the way the author would like it to have gone; the opportunity to portray personal, autobiographical experiences without having to expose the author as the subject; avoiding self-incrimination or incrimination of others that could be used as evidence in civil, criminal, or disciplinary proceedings; and the settling of scores."
Literary Definition: Roman à clef

Art Zoyd - Rock in Opposition Festival 2015

"The lineup for this year’s Rock In Opposition festival has been confirmed. The 2015 edition of the French event takes place in Le Garric on September 18-20, dedicated to the memory of Daevid Allen and curated by Robert Wyatt. It includes a 45th anniversary appearance by Art Zoyd in a 9-person lineup, which is the subject of a nearly-complete crowdfunding campaign. Organisers Rocktime say: 'RIO’s international influence has been confirmed over the years, due to the intensity of a unique proposition in an unforgettable location. We seek to create incredibly moments of live performance and sharing, where audiences from all over the world can gather round their passion.'”
Team Rock
YouTube: Rock in Opposition Festival 2015 (1 of 3), (2 of 3), (3 of 3)

Tuesday, September 29

Shepard Fairey: A Steady Drumbeat Inside and Out

"A steady drumbeat characterizes the work of Shepard Fairey on the street and in the gallery, using art and design and his insight into the corrosive power of propaganda to pound out damning critiques and ironic appeals that address political, social, environmental issues of our day. If the new mural and the paintings, layered collages, and metal sculptures comprising On Our Hands are an indication of our current state, it is a time of neglect and peril like no other – yet exactly like every other. ..."
Brooklyn Street Art

2009 March: Shepard Fairey, 2010 August: Banksy, 2011 May: Shepard Fairey's New Music Video For Death Cab For Cutie, 2013 August: Brooklyn Mural Project featuring Faith47, DALeast, Shepard Fairey, Eltono, Buff Monster & more, 2015 August: Politically and Socially Conscious NYC Street Art, Part II: Caleb Neelon & Katie Yamasaki, Shepard Fairey, Kesley Montague, Icy & Sot, Chris Stain & Josh MacPhee, David Shillinglaw & Lily Mixe

The Greenwich Village vision of artist Alfred Mira

Seventh Avenue, Greenwich Village
"Alfred S. Mira and his realistic, gritty, intimate Greenwich Village street scenes should be better known. Born in 1900 in Italy to a carpenter father, he left school and began working for an interior decorator, dreaming of going to art school but without the 50 cents a day it cost to attend. He did make a career out of painting though; he listed his address as East 8th Street and his occupation as painter in the 1940 census. And he sold his work at the Washington Square outdoor art exhibit, a heralded event decades ago. ..."
Ephemeral New York
Interview with Artist Alfred Mira

Poetry Center Digital Archive

"Poetry Center Digital Archive makes available significant portions of early audio recordings from the Poetry Center's American Poetry Archives collection, supplemented by select archival texts and images. New files will be added incrementally as recordings are prepared and as we proceed through the collection from the 1950s onward. The Poetry Center, founded at San Francisco State College (now SFSU) in 1954 by English professor Ruth Witt-Diamant, has been recording and archiving tapes of its public events for nearly six decades. ... This collection, together with the Poetry Center housed within the SFSU College of Humanities (Department of Creative Writing), today holds over 4,000 hours of unique original audio and video master-recordings, 1954–present – an inestimable cultural asset. ..."
Poetry Center Digital Archive: About
Poetry Center Digital Archive (Video)
San Francisco State University

Monday, September 28

Dance Theater Workshop

Wikipedia - "Dance Theater Workshop, colloquially known as DTW, was a New York City performance space and service organization for dance companies that operated from 1965 to 2011. Located as 219 West 19th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, DTW was founded in 1965 by Jeff Duncan, Art Bauman and Jack Moore as a choreographers' collective. In 2002 DTW opened its new Doris Duke Performance Center, which contains the 192-seat Bessie Schönberg Theatre. ... Such notable artists as Mark Morris, David Gordon, Bill T. Jones, Laura Dean, Susan Marshall, Ron Brown, Donald Byrd, H.T. Chen, David Dorfman, Doug Elkins, Molissa Fenley, Whoopi Goldberg, Janie Geiser, Bill Irwin, LadyGourd Sangoma, Ralph Lemon, Bebe Miller, Michael Moschen, David Parsons, Lenny Pickett, Merián Soto, Pepón Osorio, Paul Zaloom and hundreds of others found an early artistic home at Dance Theater Workshop."
New York Live Arts (Video)
NY Times: Dance Theater Merges With Bill T. Jones Troupe
[PDF] Dance Theater Workshop (1965-2011) by Elizabeth Zimmer
YouTube: Dance Theater Workshop

Behind the Beat: Hip Hop Home Studios

"Behind the Beat is a look into the creative spaces of producers and DJ's from the US and UK. Featured are the studios and equipment of some of: Madlib, J Dilla, DJ Design, DJ Premier, DJ Spinna, Skitz, Nextmen, Taskforce, DJ Swamp, E- Swift, Beyond There, Kut Masta Kurt, Fat Jack, Jehst, Beatminerz, DJ Shadow, Dan the Automator, Chief Xcel, Young Einstein, The Grouch, Numark, Cut Chemist, Thes One, J Zone and Mario Caldato Jr. From the press release: 'These photographs are about more than just the equipment. Decades on from hip hop’s birth, producers have an enormous presence, commanding underground and even pop followings. But more often than not, producers are just a name on a record, always in the background. These pictures capture the visual side of the beats they make. They are the images behind the beat.'"
Stones Throw
W - Behind the Beat: Hip Hop Home Studios

Rollins Plays for Bird (1957)

"As the tenor sax is not in the same key as an alto, Sonny Rollins would have to transpose a lot of music to take a tribute to Charlie Parker to a high level. Instead Rollins has chosen standards associated with Parker, and recorded them within a year after Bird's passing. This idea poses some peculiar challenges, added on to the fact that the quintet of Rollins starts the proceedings with a 27-minute medley of seven tunes seamlessly stitched together. Pianist Wade Legge, an unsung hero of jazz in the '50s for sure, plays some wonderful music here, and laces the grooves of the tunes together, while bassist George Morrow and the always exceptional drummer Max Roach keep things moving forward. Even more unusual is that trumpeter Kenny Dorham is in many instances invisible on the date, playing less than a cursory role to Rollins. Dorham rarely plays together with him, and is much more separate than equal, which in many regards is a shame. Considering how well Dorham and tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson worked as a tandem, one wonders why this happened. ..."
W - Rollins Plays for Bird
YouTube: Rollins Plays for Bird 43:29

2012 September: The Singular Sound of Sonny Rollins, 2012 December: Village Vanguard

Sunday, September 27

Joint Ventures: How sneakers became high fashion and big business

Dunk Low Pro SB Pigeon, 2005, by Nike x Staple Design.
"Say you were a city kid growing up in America. Say you wanted to show off your grace and speed, your skills and creativity, your vision and stroke and raw power. You wanted to break laws and defy gravity. But you needed ankle support, and it was helpful to not burn the hell out of your soles. A good basketball sneaker mattered. In 1923 Converse put the name of one of their salesmen, a balding white guy called Charles 'Chuck' Taylor, on the side of a sneaker, but the Seventies saw corporate America finally acknowledge urban influence, the city game. Black players started getting paid to endorse basketball shoes: first Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, jazz fluid and unstoppable, with his picture on the tongue of an Adidas high-top; then Knicks guard Walt Frazier rocking low-top suede Pumas; then high-flying, superbly Afroed, ferociously goateed Julius Erving, who wore leather Converses with dr. j printed above the outsoles. ..."

2011 June: American Basketball Association, 2012 July: Doin’ It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC, 2012 November: Your Guide to the Brooklyn Nets, 2013 March: March Madness 2013, 2013 October: Rucker Park, 2013 November: Free Spirits', 2014 January: History of the high five, 2015 February: Dean Smith (February 28, 1931 – February 7, 2015), 2015 June: Basketball’s Obtuse Triangle, 2015 September: SLAM Magazine.

Lee "Scratch" Perry - Black Ark in Dub (1993)

"A fine collection of early Perry dub packaged in what seems to be a semi-legit, bootleg way. This label seems to be tied in with the French label Lagoon, which has released the Perry-produced Bob Marley session (two CDs, both of them essential). This is a good selection; Perry remixes are typically audacious and crazy, but there's little enclosed information telling you when the tracks were cut. Lack of information is an ongoing problem with Perry releases, since his entire output defies any kind of authoritative historical treatment. Still, this is worthy of your time, even if it doesn't provide the big buzz of some of Perry's other, more far-out experiments."
W - Black Ark Studios
YouTube: Black Ark in Dub (Album)

2009 November: Lee "Scratch" Perry, 2012 February: Arkology, 2012 June: The Black Ark, 2012 July: Subatomic Sound System meets Lee Scratch Perry & Ari Up of the Slits, 2012 August: "I Chase the Devil", 2014 March: Blackboard Jungle Dub (1973)

Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars

A visa from the War Department issued in 1944.
"This is the first ever major museum exhibition devoted to the work of Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), one of the most celebrated American authors of the 20th century. Organized in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, it includes multiple drafts of Hemingway's earliest short stories, notebooks, heavily revised manuscripts and typescripts of his major novels—The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The show also presents correspondence between Hemingway and his legendary circle of expatriate writers in 1920s Paris, including Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Beach. Focusing on the inter-war years, the exhibition explores the most consistently creative phase of Hemingway's career and includes inscribed copies of his books, a rarely-seen 1929 oil portrait, photographs, and personal items. ..."
The Morgan Library & Museum
The Morgan Library & Museum: Images
NY Times: Hemingway Was a Pack Rat. Here’s What His Mementos Reveal.
New Yorker: May, 13, 1950. How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen? By Lillian Ross

2012 June: "The Spanish Earth", Written and Narrated by Ernest Hemingway, 2014 November: Lost Generation

Saturday, September 26

Explained: The Secret Language Of New York City's Signage

"When you walk down the streets of New York City, you aren't walking just through the present. You are surrounded by the canyon walls of the past, and the signage around you—the building names, the business signs, the faded slogans—are actually fossils, peeking out from the strata of decades gone by into the present. An adjunct professor of design and typography at the Cooper Union School of Art, Alexander Tochilovsky considers himself something of a paleontologist of these signs. By wandering around the streets of Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood, Tochilovsky was able to point out what the billboards, building names, house numbers, and mailboxes that surround us say about New York's past."
Fast Company (Video)

In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way: A Graphic Novel

"[Deep breath.] So there's this new English translation of a French graphic novel adaptation of Swann's Way, the first of seven novels in Marcel Proust's masterwork, In Search of Lost Time. Got all that? First there was the 1913 novel by Proust (in French!), then a graphic novel adaptation by Stephane Heuet (in French!) that was published in installments between in 1998 and 2013, and now that whole thing has been translated by Arthur Goldhammer (into English!). It's complicated. But then, this is Proust we're talking about. "Complicated" is where the guy hangs his beret and stores his mustache wax, so it makes a certain amount of sense. ..."
NPR - French, English, Comics: Proust On Memory, In Any Language (Video)
W.W. Norton

2008 June: Marcel Proust, 2011 October: How Proust Can Change Your Life, 2012 April: Marcel Proust - À la recherche du temps perdu, 2013 February: Marcel Proust and Swann's Way: 100th Anniversary, 2013 May: A Century of Proust, 2013 August: Paintings in Proust - Eric Karpeles, 2013 October: On Reading Proust, 2015 September: "Paintings in Proust" - View of the Piazza del Popolo, Giovanni Battista Piranes

Maureen Gallace

Fall Construction. 1997
"Painting from nature is nearly as old as the hills. For years, Alex Katz was the most prominent keeper of its flame, but other devotees have lately come into clearer view — Mr. Katz’s contemporary, the great Lois Dodd, for one. In addition, younger painters like Maureen Gallace and the even younger Daniel Heidkamp and Aliza Nisenbaum have wholeheartedly or partly followed suit. Painting from various forms of life has become a thing — as they say — in the hipper reaches of the contemporary art world. So what better time to survey the underappreciated achievement of Martha Armstrong, a plein-air painter in her mid-70s who trained at Smith College and the Rhode Island School of Design and has worked for years in relative obscurity. Since 1988, she has had eight solo shows, including this one, at the noticeably unhip Bowery Gallery, an artists’ co-op founded in 1969. ..."
NY Times
Bowery Gallery
Maureen Gallace

Friday, September 25

The Jam - "Strange Town" / "The Butterfly Collector" (1979)

"Paul Weller left British journalist Paolo Hewitt with the impression that 'Strange Town' was about an alien visiting London, and perhaps it is, as the singer swallows so many of the song's lyrics that it's difficult to be sure. But the ones that he does enunciate perfectly describe not an alien, but the feeling of alienation that is experienced by any tourist or immigrant. Ask directions in Weller's strange town and the response is, 'I don't know, I don't care, and I got to go mate.' Inquire in the wrong clothes and wrong accent, and they'll 'smash your nose.' Tired, friendless and frustrated, this visitor is no happy camper, and no poster child for the London Tourist Board. ... There was a toughness about 'Strange Town' that was new to the band, as producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven transformed their previously youthful energy into an adult aggression that matched Weller's own bitterness at this time."
W - "Strange Town" / "The Butterfly Collector"
YouTube: "Strange Town", "The Butterfly Collector"

2009 March: The Jam, 2011 December: Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, 2012 November: "Going Underground", 2013 January: In the City, 2013 February: This Is the Modern World, 2013 July: All Mod Cons, 2013 November: Setting Sons, 2014 January: Sound Affects (1980), 2014 December: Live At Bingley Hall, Birmingham, England 1982, 2015 March: "Town Called Malice" / "Precious", 2015 July: The Gift (1982).

South of the Border - Oliver Stone (2009)

Wikipedia - "South of the Border is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Oliver Stone. The documentary premiered at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. Writer for the project Tariq Ali calls the documentary 'a political road movie'. Stone stated that he hopes the film will help people better understand a leader who is wrongly ridiculed 'as a strongman, as a buffoon, as a clown.' The film has Stone and his crew travel from the Caribbean down the spine of the Andes in an attempt to explain the 'phenomenon' of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, and account for the continent's 'pink tide' leftward tilt. A key feature is also Venezuela's recent Bolivarian revolution and Latin America's political progress in the 21st century."
NY Times: Oliver Stone’s Latin America
South of the Border (Video)
Guardian: Oliver Stone: 'The truth about Hugo Chávez' (Video)
NPR - Oliver Stone, Visiting Points 'South' With A Few Buds
Jacobin - The Truth About Chávez: Bernie Sanders is wrong — Hugo Chávez was no dictator.
Jacobin - History Doesn’t Go In a Straight Line: Noam Chomsky on Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and the potential for ordinary people to make radical change. By Noam Chomsky
YouTube: Documentary - South of the Border 1:17:54


Wikipedia - "Buck buck (also known as Johnny-on-a-Pony or Johnny-on-the-Pony) is a children's game with several variants. One version of the game is played when 'one player climbs another’s back' and the climber guesses 'the number of certain objects out of sight.' Another version of the game is played with 'one group of players [climbing] on the backs of a second group in order to build as large a pile as possible or to cause the supporting players to collapse.' As early as the 1500s, children in Europe and the Near East played Buck, Buck, which had been called 'Bucca Bucca quot sunt hic?'. Pieter Bruegel's painting 'Children's Games' (1560) depicts children playing a variant of the game. ..."
Johnny on the Pony
The finest & bravest square off in Johnny on the Pony
Online Magazine Topics Guide
vimeo: Johnny on the Pony
YouTube: Buck-Buck

Thursday, September 24

Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980

Mangelos (Dimitrije Bašicevic). Manifest de la relation. 1976.
"Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980 focuses on parallels and connections among artists active in Latin America and Eastern Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. During these decades, which flanked the widespread student protests of 1968, artists working in distinct political and economic contexts, from Prague to Buenos Aires, developed cross-cultural networks to circulate their artworks and ideas. Whether created out of a desire to transcend the borders established after World War II or in response to local forms of state and military repression, these networks functioned largely independently of traditional institutional and market forces. ..."
NY Times - Review: ‘Transmissions’ at MoMA Explores an Era When Art Upended Tradition

Kansas Joe McCoy (May 11, 1905 – January 28, 1950)

Wikipedia - "Kansas Joe McCoy (May 11, 1905 – January 28, 1950) was an American Delta blues musician and songwriter. McCoy played music under a variety of stage names but is best known as 'Kansas Joe McCoy'. Born in Raymond, Mississippi, he was the older brother of the blues accompanist Papa Charlie McCoy. As a young man, McCoy was drawn to the music scene in Memphis, Tennessee where he played guitar and sang vocals during the 1920s. He teamed up with future wife Lizzie Douglas, a guitarist better known as Memphis Minnie, and their 1930 recording of the song 'Bumble Bee' on the Columbia Records label was a hit. ..."
YouTube: Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe McCoy-Pile Driver Blues, What's The Matter With You?, Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie When the Levee Breaks, Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe - What's A Matter With The Mill, Me And My Chauffeur Blues #1 - Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe McCoy, Well, Well, Look Who's Coming Down The Road, One More Greasing, Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe - Wild About My Stuff, Joliet Bound - Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie, Evil Devil Woman Blues, Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie - Preachers Blues, Weed Smoker's Dream -Harlem Hamfats

Public Enemy - Shut'em Down (1991)

"The passing of the torch in hip-hop is never a happy occasion. It's mostly filled with bitterness and shit talking. Chuck D clearly knew that PE's five-year reign was coming to a close. Once you realize and come to grips with this fact. you can either fight the power, or play diplomat and go out like a champ. If only every act in hip-hop thought like this. Thank God Chuck D chose the latter and let young upstart Pete Rock take over the boards to give PE's 'aight' song the decade' second best facelift. (The first goes to Black sheep's 'The Choice is Yours.') This song marks the renaissance period of New York hip-hop that was more jazz-centric over the usual Southern soul bed it was used to. A marvelous closing-credits soundtrack to a storied streak of revolutionary madness from the best group in hip-hop."
Rolling Stone
YouTube: Shut'em Down, Shut Em Down (Pete Rock Remix)

2009 May: Public Enemy, 2011 July: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, 2012 February: Fear of a Black Planet, 2012 August: Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black, 2012 December: A Dozen Pivotal Moments in the 30 Year Career of Public Enemy, 2014 June: "Prophets of Rage" (2011), 2015 February: The Noise And How To Bring It: Hank Shocklee Interviewed, 2015 May: Give it up (1994).

Wednesday, September 23

Eleni Karaindrou - The Weeping Meadow (2004)

"Film and orchestral music composer Eleni Karaindrou has made a beautiful and moving statement with THE WEEPING MEADOW. A native of Greece, Karaindrou's influences are decidedly European, and within the music, one can hear the stamp of impressionistic composers like Erik Satie, avant garde innovators like Bartok, as well as Greek and Balkan folk forms. Karaindrou's music also traffics in 20th-century minimalism, creating tense, atmospheric spaces that feel empty and dense at once (one of the composer's frequently used motifs involves 'patterns' that recall the tingling, polyphonic gestures of Phillip Glass). Although several themes are reprised throughout the album, the combination of ambient textures, folk phrasing (accordions, guitars, and violins figure prominently into several pieces), and lush orchestral work keep the music consistently interesting. ..."
YouTube: The Weeping Meadow, Refugee's theme & The Weeping Meadow (Live)
YouTube: The Weeping Meadow Full Album 44:04

2008 June: Eleni Karaindrou, 2012 October: Ulysses' Gaze

King Ottokar's Sceptre - The Adventures of Tintin (1938)

Wikipedia - "King Ottokar's Sceptre is the eighth volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Commissioned by the conservative Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle for its children's supplement Le Petit Vingtième, it was serialised weekly from August 1938 to August 1939. Hergé intended the story as a satirical criticism of the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, in particular the annexation of Austria in March 1938 (the Anschluss). The story tells of young Belgian reporter Tintin and his dog Snowy, who travel to the fictional Balkan nation of Syldavia, where they combat a plot to overthrow the monarchy of King Muskar XII. ..."
Tintin Wiki
YouTube: King Ottokar's Sceptre (Full Movie) 1:25:16

2008 May: Georges Remi, 1907-1983, 2010 July: The Adventures of Tintin: Breaking Free, 2011 December: Prisoners of the Sun, 2012 January: Tintin: the Complete Companion, 2012 December: Snowy, 2015 August: The Black Island (1937)

In praise of dirty, sexy cities: the urban world according to Walter Benjamin

Modern Marseille is being sandblasted, primped and cultureified.
"Marseille isn’t as wicked as it used to be. In 1929, the playwright and travel writer Basil Woon wrote From Deauville to Monte Carlo: a Guide to the Gay World of France, warning his respectable readers that, whatever they do, they should on no account visit France’s second city. 'Thieves, cut-throats and other undesirables throng the narrow alleys and sisters of scarlet sit in the doorways of their places of business, catching you by the sleeve as you pass by. The dregs of the world are here unsifted … Marseille is the world’s wickedest port.' Much has changed since 1929. Gay doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Marseille isn’t the world’s wickedest port, but subject to one of Europe’s biggest architectural makeover projects. ..."
W - Walter Benjamin
The Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate

Fighting with All Our Might

Mabel Dwight (1876-1955), Merchants of Death, 1935
"Following the catastrophic stock market crash of October 29, 1929, many American artists committed themselves to using the expressive power of their art in the struggle for social change. By 1933, one quarter of the workforce was unemployed and signs of the Great Depression were everywhere: homeless men, women, and children; soup kitchens; shantytowns; protests, strikes, and lockouts. Artists worked to document these problems and also to ameliorate them. Some joined the government programs formed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which aimed to revive the nation by creating jobs, aiding farms and small businesses, and regulating finance. ..."

Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992

"When people talk about the explosion of art in New York in the 1970s and ’80s, they usually mean the Ramones and Television and punk rock, or Jean-Michel Basquiat and the downtown arts scene. But a lively literary movement was taking place, though it has received considerably less attention. Around the time Patti Smith was recording her debut album, 'Horses,' the cultural provocateur Kathy Acker was mailing acquaintances mimeographed stories that juxtaposed violence and vulnerability under the name 'the Black Tarantula.' The writer and performer Constance DeJong was creating multimedia works with Philip Glass. At the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, the monologuist Eric Bogosian was giving his first solo performance. Taken together, according to Brandon Stosuy, the editor of 'Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992,' this activity represents the birth of an underground literary movement that was just as vibrant as the musical revolution taking place. ..."
NY Times

Monday, September 21

David Van Tieghem - Ear to the Ground [1979]

"'Conceived & Performed by David Van Tieghem, Produced and Directed by John Sanborn & Kit Fitzgerald. Ear to the Ground,' wherein Van Tieghem literally 'plays' the streets of New York as if it were a musical instrument, have become internationally acclaimed favorites. These collaborations with video artists John Sanborn, Kit Fitzgerald, and Mary Perillo have been televised and presented in art venues and nightclubs throughout the world. In 1985, 'Ear to the Ground' opened the premiere season of the PBS TV series 'Alive from Off-Center.'"
UbuWeb (Video)
The Wire - Listen: David Van Tieghem composition (Video) 19:22
YouTube: David Van Tieghem x Georgia - Slippery Slope, Live at the Chelsea Hotel, Crystals/Estranho Encontro

2009 May: David Van Tieghem

Gather the Rose of Love : YZ and LE CABARET DE SANCERRE

"Summer’s final roses are still ripe for the picking here in Brooklyn, with no threat of autumn’s frost in sight and late September sun to illuminate them as you scuffle by on concrete sidewalks. Street Artist YZ lives and works in Montreuil near Paris and has been bringing rooms of an old cabaret alive with roses this summer and shares with us today images of classical figures she painted with india ink on silk paper for these decaying walls. 'Each room has it’s own character and the natural light sometimes reveals a different aspect of the original painting,' she says of the nudes originally created by Bouguereau, Lehmann, Gerome, and Merle. ..."
Brooklyn Street Art

A Great Supercut of “The Lick”: The Musical Meme That Shows Up Everywhere From Coltrane, to Stravinsky, to Christina Aguilera

"A couple years ago, we brought you a post on the history of the 'Amen Break,' six seconds of sampled drums from a gospel instrumental that—since sampling began in the 80s—has became a ubiquitous rhythmic element in virtually every popular genre of rhythm-based music, from hip-hop, to drum and bass, to EDM. While the technology that enabled the 'Amen Break' may be unique to the digital era, the sample’s endless iterations show us something timeless about how music evolves. Picking up on Richard Dawkins’ 1976 coining of the term 'meme,' Susan Blackmore argued in The Meme Machine that 'what makes us different' from other animals 'is our ability to imitate…. When you imitate someone else, something is passed on. This ‘something’ can then be passed on again, and again, and so take on a life of its own.' ...”
Open Culture (Video)

Sunday, September 20

Jill Freedman: Long Stories Short

Surf'n Turf, New York City, 1979
"Steven Kasher Gallery is proud to announce a major exhibition, Jill Freedman: Long Stories Short, the first exhibition of the artist’s work at the gallery. The exhibition features over 50 black and white vintage prints from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. This overview includes work from her famous projects on New York cops, New York firemen, Resurrection City protestors, circus workers, and dogs, as well as unpublished photographs. When Freedman holds a camera it is always to stand up for intimate causes. ... In 1975-81, executing what would become some of her most iconic work, Freedman followed the firemen of Harlem and the South Bronx with her camera in hand, after which she transitioned to photographing New York City policemen in the Lower East Side and Times Square. ..."
Steven Kasher
NY Times: For a Street Photographer, ‘The Weirder, the Better’

Washington Phillips - Washington Phillips (Death is Not the End)

Washington Phillips - Washington Phillips (Death is Not the End)
"Continuing their solid run of releasing stunningly beautiful vintage American gospel recordings on tape, UK-based label Death Is Not The End present 10 of the 18 known recordings by mysterious Texan gospel singer, Washington Phillips. Besides his at-times almost painfully beautiful singing, Phillips is noteworthy for the unique instrument with which he accompanies himself. These recordings were all made between late 1927 and 1929 in a makeshift studio in Dallas, so details remain muddy (beyond a handful of photographs), but the instruments appears to be some variant of a fretless zither or hammered dulcimer, plucked (rather than hammered) by Phillips. Far from sounding like the jaunty theme from The Third Man though, Phillips’ backing is a stunningly beautiful wash of aptly heavenly tones, raining from his instrument, and slowly decaying with occasionally Laraaji-like bliss. ..."
The Quietus (Video)
facebook, twitter, spotify
YouTube: Denomination Blues, Pt. 1, Lift him up, Mother's Last Word To Her Son, What Are They Doing In Heaven Today, Keys To The Kingdom, Wouldn't Mind Dying if Dying Was All, Take your burden to the Lord, I Had A Good Father And Mother, Paul and Silas in Jail, What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?

Get Ready for Upcoming Total Lunar Eclipse

The magnificent changing moon during a total eclipse.
"If your skies are clear after the Sun sets on Sunday, September 27th, be sure to head outside to see the total lunar eclipse that happens that night. This will mark the end of a 'tetrad' of four total lunar eclipses spaced a half year apart that began back in early 2014. But, perhaps more importantly, it's the last one visible anywhere until 2018. Observers in the eastern half of North America can watch every stage of the eclipse, from beginning to end of the partial phases (31⁄3 hours in all) during convenient hours of late twilight or darkness with the Moon mostly high in the sky. If you're in the Far West, the first partial stage of the eclipse is already in progress when the Moon rises (due east) around the time of sunset. Those in Europe and Africa see the eclipse on the local morning of the 28th. ..."
Sky and Telescope
NASA: LRO and the September 27-28, 2015 Lunar Eclipse: Telescopic View (Video)
September 27 / September 28, 2015 — Total Lunar Eclipse (Video)

Saturday, September 19

Various Artists - Randy’s 17 North Parade (1987)

"Randy's, run by the Chin family out of a storefront at 17 North Parade in Kingston, was one of the great reggae studios of the 1970s. It produced more than its share of great rhythms, among them some of the seminal examples of Augustus Pablo's 'Far East' sound and early vocal performances by Dennis Brown and Junior Byles. ... It features excellent performances by the likes of Alton Ellis (a fine early version of 'Too Late'), Black Uhuru (the rough and lovely 'Going to Zion'), and a single by an obscure vocal trio called the African Brothers, which included a young Sugar Minott. Granted, it also features the forgettable vocals of one Senya (who sounds eerily like a female Hugh Mundell), but her tracks only serve to accentuate the quality of everything else. Recommended."
dailymotion: 00:00 Broadway - Guns In The Ghetto. 03:24 Alton Ellis - Too Late. 06:27 Senya - Roots Man. 09:41 The Gladiators - The Race. 12:55 Errol Dunkley - Created By The Father.
YouTube: Dennis Brown - Cheater, Black Uhuru - Going To Zion, Senya - Children Of The Ghetto, Gregory Isaacs - Lonely Soldier, Donovan carless - be thankful, Delroy "Crutches" Jones - My Guiding Star, The Heptones - Daddy's Home, Sweeny & the Wailers Band - Won't Come Easy + Easy Come Dub

The Subtext Buried In Seven Great Movie Chess Scenes

“X-Men: First Class”
"The Tobey Maguire film 'Pawn Sacrifice,' about American chess legend Bobby Fischer, hit theaters this week. And that seemed like a good excuse to talk about chess in film. There are plenty of films about competitive chess — 'Computer Chess' is a personal favorite — but the game also plays a prominent role in all sorts of films as a narrative strategy. It’s used to say something about the characters or to foreshadow the plot. So let’s go one level deeper into some iconic movie scenes that involve a chess match. This exercise involved a lot of pausing and rewinding and probably wouldn’t have been possible without 1080p. To pick apart these cinematic chess clashes, we also spoke to chess grandmaster Robert Hess, a former U.S. national championship runner-up, and turned to the raw silicon-powered strength of the chess engine Stockfish. ..."
FiveThirtyEight (Video)

2008 October: World Chess Championship 1972, 2009 January: Sicilian Defence, 2009 February: Mikhail Tal, 2009 February: Garry Kasparov, 2009 April: Vasily Smyslov, 2009 August: Chess960, 2009 November: Bent Larsen,2011 November: The Lewis Chessmen, 2012 July: 40 Years Ago Today: Chess Rivals Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky Meet in the ‘Match of the Century’.

Thinking Plague - In This Life (25th anniversary remaster - 1989)

"Thinking Plague has been releasing impossible to categorize albums to a devoted fan-base for over 30 years. In This Life, originally released in 1989, was the group's 3rd album and their first CD release after two previous albums that flew under the radar of most listeners. Originally released by the ReR label, this was the first album to really bring this superb US band to a wider audience. It was their last to feature singer Susanne Lewis, who lends a convincing air to the menace of some of the lyrics. It is also their last album to feature Bob Drake as a full member of the band. ... It comes back into print now for the first time in years. The two 'bonus tracks', which were taken from their first two albums and can be found in superior form on Early Plague Years have been removed and this presents the album as the band originally planned it."
Wayside Music (Video)
W - Thinking Plague
Thinking Plague
YouTube: Possessed, Moonsongs, Lycanthrope, Love, Malaise, The Guardian, Fountain Of All Tears, Organism

Friday, September 18

Edward Hopper life and works

"... In 1933, Edward Hopper received further praises for the works he had done, and for a piece that was on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. His highly identifiable style, and mature painting styles, were some things he had become known for during this period. The gorgeous landscapes, the quiet rooms and empty rooms he designed, and the transitory effect which many of his works posed, created a sense of contemporary life and a new style, which many in the art world recognized, and many praised him for this distinct style he had created in his art forms. ... Later in his career, during the 1940s, was a period in which he found the most commercial success. But, soon after, and even during this time period, he began losing critical favors. This was namely due to the new forms of art, and the fact that abstract pieces were beginning to enter the art world, which took over the work he did, as well as the work of many famous artists prior to him. ..."
Edward Hopper and his paintings
YouTube: Edward Hopper life and works

2008 July: Edward Hopper, 2010 October: Finding Nighthawks, 2010 December: Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time, 2012 Wednesday: Through Edward Hopper's eyes: in search of an artist's seaside inspiration, 2013 July: Hopper Drawing, 2014 May: INTERVIEW: “An Interview with Edward Hopper, June 17, 1959″., 2014 September: How Edward Hopper “Storyboarded” His Iconic Painting Nighthawks, 2015 February: Edward Hopper's New York: A Walking Tour.

Townes Van Zandt & Nanci Griffith - "Tecumseh Valley," 1993

"Song by folksinger Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997), telling the story of a girl named Caroline, who went to look for work in a valley named after Shawnee leader Tecumseh. She wants to earn money for her but also for her father, a miner. When she has earned enough to return home she receives the message that her father has died. Having lost all hope she becomes a prostitute and finally dies of unknown cause (broken heart?). All in all a very strong and melancholic song by one of the great songwriters in American folk music."
Urban Dictionary
Listen Up: The Whores of my Youth
W - For the Sake of the Song, 1968
YouTube: "Tecumseh Valley," 1993, "Tecumseh Valley"

2014 March: Heartworn Highways - James Szalapski (1975), 2014 September: The 10 Best Townes Van Zandt Songs, 2015 January: Solo Sessions (Jan 17, 1995).

The Literary Caribbean, From BOCAS to Brooklyn

"After ten days in Port of Spain, Trinidad at the BOCAS Lit Fest and Alice Yard this May, I needed a lot of sleep. Trinidadians like to fête, and many have the rare gift of being able to lime (hang out) hard at night, and go to work the next morning with little effect from the previous evening’s revelry. No surprise then that BOCAS Lit Fest was unlike any literary festival I ever attended, a refreshing mix of panels, readings, film screenings, and parties alongside informal debates on the state of Caribbean writing and publishing. ..."
Literary Hub

Thursday, September 17

Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival

"In the 1950s and 1960s, folk music blossomed in New York City, especially in Greenwich Village, where clubs and coffee houses showcased singers like Pete Seeger and Odetta and nurtured a generation of newcomers, including Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Peter, Paul and Mary. The multi-media exhibtition Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival, featuring original instruments, handwritten lyrics, and video and film footage, traces the roots of the revival, its growth in New York, its major players, and its impact on American politics and culture during the tumultuous 1960s. ..."
Museum of the City of New York
NY Times: Review: ‘Folk City’ at the Museum of the City of New York
The folk rebellion that preserved free speech in Washington Square Park

FOTR: DJ Craze

"So it’s officially Rub week again for our new event at Verboten and we’ve got a massively stacked lineup for this Friday. Our headliner and a longtime FOTR (Friend of The Rub) is DJ Craze, who in all honesty should need no introduction. Straight up, he’s one of the best DJ’s on the planet. End of story. He and fellow FOTR Fourcolorzack released a new mix last week going at the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ list and all that it represents. It’s featured below and definitely worth the listen. It’s a great conversation piece in response to all the 'press play' DJs out there. And definitely do not miss Craze shutting down Verboten along with Sammy Bananas and DJ Wonder this Friday."
The Rub (Video)

Wednesday, September 16

NUART 2015 Roundup : A Laboratory on the Street

Ella & Pitr. Nuart 2015. Stavanger, Norway.
"A roundup today for the Nuart street art/ mural festival in Norway with images of the final walls by this years artists. Now celebrating its 15th year, the mid-sized fjord-facing city of Stavanger has played host to a selection of international and local artists directly or indirectly related to the evolving scene we know as Street Art. Again this year the selection of invited participants is varied, potent, and occasionally a smack upside the head – with punk rock graphic designer Jamie Reid leading the way in spirit and on walls. Reid’s inspiration dates to the radical hippie politics and Situationist practices of the 1950s and 60s but he is best known for formation of the Sex Pistols anti-monarchial slash and burn visual identity and for penning their pivotal recording 'Anarchy in the UK' – a history discussed in Carlo McCormick’s presentation during the Nuart Plus program. ..."
Brooklyn Street Art

Hot Dog!

Sabrette Frankfurters and Rolls, 1937
"The origin of the hot dog has long been contested and has even been a source of tension in American history. In 1913, for example, Mayor Reginald S. Bennett called an emergency meeting of his cabinet when he learned two men were selling hot dogs in Asbury Park, New Jersey. That day, the council banned the sale of frankfurters on Sundays, citing that such commerce 'would not add to the dignity of the beach.' Hot dogs drew even further scrutiny in 1922 when detectives arrested two men in Atlantic City for secretly peddling drugs by inserting small packages of narcotics inside the slit of hot dog buns. Indeed, despite hot dogs’ popularity, newspaper articles of the early 1900s cast a negative image of the classic American finger food. Likewise, Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle, which described unsanitary sausage making practices in a Chicago meat packing house, also influenced the public’s perception. Nevertheless, the millions of hot dogs bought in the United States every year testifies to the food’s popularity beginning in late nineteenth century America. ..."

2013 May: Hot Dog

Suckin’ and Blowin’ – Harmonica Blues (1952-1960)

"If you dug the recent Little Walter post then you’re sure to love this collection of stompers and wailers by a selection of both well known and obscure blues harp men. This Dutch LP is probably a bootleg, date unknown. I bought it in 'Southside Records' a shop about which I blogged a couple of years back. Sadly the shop is no more, having closed down last winter. There are good sleeve notes on the back cover and I have added more notes at the end of this post. Download, wail and stomp, blues lovers. And if anyone has the lowdown on the identity of 'Ole Sonny Boy' please share this valuable knowledge with the rest of us!"
Be Bop Wino
YouTube: Suckin’ and Blowin’ – Harmonica Blues (1952-1960)

Tuesday, September 15

SLAM Magazine

Wikipedia - "SLAM Magazine is an American basketball magazine in circulation since 1994, published by Source Interlink. SLAM was launched in 1994 as a basketball magazine that combined the sport with hip hop culture at a time when the genre was becoming increasingly popular. ... Many of the magazine's lasting features, such as In Your Face, Slam-a-da-month, and Last Shot all began with that first issue. ... The magazine carries advertising for basketball related products, street-wear clothing and hip hop music, and has been credited with helping to market hip hop culture and basketball as one. ..."
SLAM Magazine
facebook, twitter
YouTube: SLAM Magazine

2011 June: American Basketball Association, 2012 July: Doin’ It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC, 2012 November: Your Guide to the Brooklyn Nets, 2013 March: March Madness 2013, 2013 October: Rucker Park, 2013 November: Free Spirits', 2014 January: History of the high five, 2015 February: Dean Smith (February 28, 1931 – February 7, 2015), 2015 June: Basketball’s Obtuse Triangle.

Cléo from 5 to 7 - Agnès Varda (1962)

Wikipedia - "Cléo from 5 to 7 is a 1962 Left Bank film by Agnès Varda. The story starts with a young singer, Florence "Cléo" Victoire, at 5pm on June 21, as she waits until 6:30pm to hear the results of a medical test that will possibly confirm a diagnosis of cancer. The film is noted for its handling of several of the themes of existentialism, including discussions of mortality, the idea of despair, and leading a meaningful life. The film also has a strong feminine viewpoint belonging to French feminism and raises questions about how women are perceived, especially in French society. The role of mirrors are prevalent to symbolize self-obsession, which Cléo embodies. ... Before the two World Wars in France, gender roles were enforced thoroughly throughout Western Europe. In France specifically, the woman of the family was meant to be the 'femme au foyer,' or 'woman of the home' in English making them responsible for the wellbeing of their family. ..."
Female Inhibition and Empowerment in 1960s Paris
YouTube: Nouvelle Vague Française - Cléo de 5 à 7

August 2010: Agnès Varda, May 2011: The Beaches of Agnès, 2011 December: Interview - Agnès Varda, 2013 February: The Gleaners and I (2000), 2013 September: Cinévardaphoto (2004), 2014 July: Black Panthers (1968 doc.), 2014 October: Art on Screen: A Conversation with Agnès Varda.

The Book No One Read

"I remember well the first time my certainty of a bright future evaporated, when my confidence in the panacea of technological progress was shaken. It was in 2007, on a warm September evening in San Francisco, where I was relaxing in a cheap motel room after two days covering The Singularity Summit, an annual gathering of scientists, technologists, and entrepreneurs discussing the future obsolescence of human beings. ... Returning to my motel room exhausted each night, I unwound by reading excerpts from an old book, Summa Technologiae. The late Polish author Stanislaw Lem had written it in the early 1960s, setting himself the lofty goal of forging a secular counterpart to the 13th-century Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas’s landmark compendium exploring the foundations and limits of Christian theology. Where Aquinas argued for the certainty of a Creator, an immortal soul, and eternal salvation as based on scripture, Lem concerned himself with the uncertain future of intelligence and technology throughout the universe, guided by the tenets of modern science. ..."

2011 June: Stanisław Lem, 2012 May: Solaris - Andrei Tarkovsky (1972)

Monday, September 14

Ellen Gallagher: AxME

DeLuxe (2004)
"Ellen Gallagher is one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists to have emerged from North America since the mid-1990s. Her gorgeously intricate and highly imaginative works are realised with a wealth of virtuoso detail and wit. This is her first major solo exhibition in the UK, providing the first ever opportunity to explore an overview of her twenty-year career. Gallagher brings together imagery from myth, nature, art and social history to create complex works in a wide variety of media including painting, drawing, relief, collage, print, sculpture, film and animation. The exhibition explores the themes which have emerged and recurred in her practice, from her seminal early canvases through to recent film installations and new bodies of work. ..."
W - Ellen Gallagher
YouTube: Exhibition — Ellen Gallagher: AxME, Cutting | "Exclusive" | Art21, Ellen Gallagher

John Coltrane: Impressions of Coltrane

"The great Jazzman John Coltrane in nine rare, live television performances, shot in the late 1950's and the early 1960's. In dazzling extended solos, showcasing his trademark 'sheets of sound,' Coltrane demonstrates his mastery of tenor, alto, and soprano saxes and the unique artistry he brought to innovations in Jazz - and in music as a whole. This collection has both breadth and depth. Four of these performances are led by Miles Davis, who features Coltrane on the worldchanging 'So What,' as well as on Dave Brubeck's 'The Duke'; and Miles also works out his huge, orchestral ensemble under the direction of Gil Evans. The rest of the program is given over to the John Coltrane Quartet - joined for two numbers, including Coltrane's signature 'My Favorite Things,' by the great flautist and sax player Eric Dolphy. Here we find Coltrane utterly in his element, in the years in which he was changing jazz forever. Classic Coltrane collaborators pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Jimmy Garrison are given their own chances to shine as well. Rare footage - and beautiful music from one of the greatest icons of Jazz. Immortal."
amazon - John Coltrane: Impressions of Coltrane
vk: The John Coltrane Quartet (featuring Eric Dolphy) performing "Impressions" at Sudwestfunk TV Studio, Baden-Baden, West Germany on November 24, 1961.

2011 November: John Coltrane Quartet, Live at Jazz Casual, 1963, 2012 March: John Coltrane 1960 - 1965, 2012 September: "Naima" (1959), 2012 October: Blue Train (1957), 2013 April: The World According to John Coltrane, 2013 November: A Love Supreme (1965), 2014 July: New Photos of John Coltrane Rediscovered 50 Years After They Were Shot, 2014 November: Coltrane’s Free Jazz Wasn’t Just “A Lot of Noise”, 2015 February: Lush Life (1958), 2015 May: An Animated John Coltrane Explains His True Reason for Being: “I Want to Be a Force for Real Good”, 2015 July: Afro Blue Impressions (2013)