Sunday, October 30, 2011
On the Road: The Original Scroll
New York, NY
This is the legendary first draft: rougher, wilder, and racier than the well known 1957 edition. For years, I thought it was just a rumor that Kerouac’s original draft of On the Road still even existed. I was wrong. Here is the typed first draft of that classic.
On the Road was originally typed as a long, single spaced paragraph on eight sheets of tracing paper, which Kerouac taped together to form a scroll representing the identical point at which his vision and narrative voice first came together in a sustained burst of created energy.
This edition of On the Road: The Original Scroll is a wild ride and much more sexually explicit than the edited work that appeared in 1957. On the Road: The Original Scroll is Kerouac’s signature piece, and most celebrated in American literature. Kerouac is the books biggest voice, and that becomes much more apparent in this scroll edition, where the voice is allowed to wail and swoop and riff without the commas that hobble it in the novel.
The publication of this book would be the equivalent of the hipster version of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This, simply put, is the author’s original vision, fully transcribed. This scroll edition is more than just a curiosity; it is a pagan artifact of the creative process, of which Kerouac more than any other of the post war writers became enlightened.
So, what can I say? I can ask why you haven’t bought it yet, but you’d give me a lame ass excuse like “oh, I had a choice between On the Road: The Original Scroll Edition and the latest issue of the "Ultimate X-men.” Look, whatever excuse you can come up with is okay by me. Now shut the fuck up, stop your whining, your protests, and BUY THE DAMN BOOK! Sell your mother if you have to, but BUY THE DAMN BOOK! I can’t say it clearer. Nuff said, to my true believers.
Labels: Belinda Subraman's Gypsy Art Show, BL Kennedy, On the Road: The Original Scroll Jack Kerouac Penguin Books
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I'm fascinated by filmmaker's student or pre-hit works. I've watched student film festivals where everything looks like a slower version of a Quentin Tarantino scene or a more obtuse take on Peter Greenaway techniques. But, you get fabulous stuff, too, that reveal more than only influences, that reveal more than, perhaps, the film's talent, themselves, understood. My entire career in movies and television was during my “student years,” and outside of cutting together a new version of Meaningless (don't worry, you pr'y never saw the previous edit) later this year, that may easily be the whole of that career. But, when Mixing Bowl Studios decided to put an un-cleaned-up version of Adventures in the Ojai Underground on YouTube as a teaser, I heard some of the talent suggest it presaged and outcooled their professional work since we made that in high school. Sort of like THX 1138 compared to George Lucas' later works, or – if you are being cynical enough – Dementia 13 when seen through the lens of Godfather III. Vincent may not be the best Tim Burton movie ever, but there is an easy argument to be made that it is one of the purest.
So, Redemption has put on the market new cuts, newly scored, of two films of a teenage Clive Barker, and, yes, they're very pure Barker. Salome, in particular, is Barker's silent adaptation of an Oscar Wilde play based on a tale from the Bible, and it is at once purely Barker, pure Wilde, and indefatigably biblical. The Forbidden makes an excellent argument for spectacle being content. There is a narrative to The Fordbidden but there are more powerful and intricate narratives in you, in the audience, as the movie is experienced.
Barker's filmography since those shorts, his career in general, as been of spectacle, deification, wit and his audience's ability to generate the greater complexities internally, to be prompted by his work to do their own work even if theirs never leaves their minds and organs. I am not suggesting that
they are watchable foremost for the purpose of study, but that study is going to be, perhaps, reflexive. Spectacle, by attracting attention, encourages meanings. You can't film someone having unreadable words transcribed over their skin before it is removed from their body in ritualistic fashion without the audience ascribing some meaning, even if it is a nonverbal and entirely physiological meaning. And,naturally, that is how it should be.
The best thing about teenage truths such a those revealed and enjoyed in the two movies, is that teenage truths are easy to see through and around without ceasing to feel the truth of them, the conviction and drive. Teenage truths, student truths, are somehow easily accepted as genuine facades, just as the fake skin we see peeled from a man (screenwriter and actor Pete Atkins) and feel it, accept it, even as we know that is a fiction. Truth in bodies, in exaggeration, in a refusal to present explanation, an insistence in presenting physicality and tease intensity, instead.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Masks of the Illuminati
Robert Anton Wilson
A Dell Trade Paperback
New York, NY
The fact that I love the writings of the late Robert Anton Wilson is no secret. In the past I have reviewed the underground classic Illuminatus! Now I have the opportunity to review the lesser known sequel amply titled Masks of the Illuminati. This is one of those crazy, dark, funny, bear soaked, Swiss cheesed wild rides of under appreciated American literature. Believe it or not, it all takes place on one fateful dark and stormy evening. This book both astonished and delighted me. IT was as if I had been pulled toward infinity with Wilson’s unique and satisfying prose style.
Here is the joke; on that one fateful evening in a beer soaked Swiss rat cellar, a wild and obscure Irishman by the name of James Joyce would become the drinking partner of an unknown physics professor named Albert Einstein. And on that momentous night, Sir John Babcock, a terror stricken young Englishman would rush through the tavern doors, bringing a mystery that only the two most brilliant minds of the century could solve. This, in a nutshell, is the plot of Masks of the Illuminati.
Wilson is witty and genuinely scary. He is a dazzling carnival barker hawking ticket to the best titty show in town. The book is a daring loop of astral planes, bumping into each other on the way to higher consciousness. Wilson is one of the most profound, important scholarly wits of hip twentieth century philosophy. I simply love this book and could not put it down.
Now here’s the bad news; the book, to my knowledge, is currently out of print. So you may have to do a little detective work, or get out of your chair in front of your TV set and pay a visit to the local used book store. Masks of the Illuminati is, simply put, a must read for anyone who likes their novels packed with dynamite and side gags.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune: The Logos of the Aeon and the Shakti of the Age
Reviewed by BL Kennedy
So I’m tripping around my local favorite bookstore, Beers Books, which specializes in new and used books, and I just happen to find myself in the section where they keep on magick, witchcraft and other arcane subjects, when I spy a small, little book simply titled Leister Crowley and Dion Fortune: The Logos of the Aeon and the Shakti of the Age. In my mind, I feel this has to be a hoot to read.
Alan Richardson wrote a wonderful biography of Dion Fortune titled Priestess. It was one of those biographies that you simply cannot put down. I mean, really, when you think of it, the modern women’s movement, the modern feminist movement, everything that’s happened since the 1970’s concerning women’s rights really started with Dion Fortune. Dion, for lack of better words, was one powerful bitch. So you can imagine when I see this book: Aleister Crowley AND Dion Fortune? It’s too good to be true. And the book itself is so thin that I thought it was a play. But lo and behold, Richardson decided to write kinda a biography. I mean, there is little that you can say anymore about Aleister Crowley that hasn’t been said in at least twenty biographies, not to mention Crowley’s autobiography. Both Crowley and Fortune were introduced to Magick through the Golden Dawn system, and both took totally separate paths in their approach to the subject. Crowley was the spoiled Christian rich boy who proposed the coming of the Aeon, the Law of Thelema; Fortune followed a more feminist path and recreated the Age of the Shakti. Both were unique and very powerful people.
I hate to admit it, but for some reason, I enjoyed this book. Don’t ask me why, because I really can’t tell you. It is not the best written attempt at biography, and totally pales in the shadow of Richardson's previous book on Dion Fortune. But there is something here that was very cool, unique, and satisfying. It is a book that I highly recommend for those seekers who are new to the subject or path of Magick. It is simply a wonderful introduction. So if you happen to in one of those moods where you wanna read a comparative biography of the twentieth century’s two most powerful magicians, I will recommend this book. So, kiddies, have fun, and do what thou wilt.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Too often, a movie that bills itself as disturbing ends up being trite, instead, or overly predictable. Or, worse, they can be laughable in their desperation and innervation to upset the audience. Look, unless you truly believe in The Devil, the biggest threat of The Exorcist is laughing so hard you'll hurt yourself. (There's a word that has -ing added to it for the only time in history, in The Exorcist, and you can only add that suffix for comedy purposes.)So, when you want a good sustained chill in your stomach and tears constantly threatening to come from your eyes because this is Halloween season (or, because it's Tuesday; I make no judgments), how what can you turn to if you can't trust the back-cover blurb or the Netflix description? Netflix, after all, will tell you that Crazy Eight is “creepy” and has a “shocking secret” or that Golden Child is a hilarious comedy. I've seen the original Halloween in the discount family movie bin at WalMart. So, how does one know?
Here follows a list of movies that should disturb you, really and thoroughly, unless you're deliberately not watching the screen or talking on the phone over the movie, watching from another room while trying to do laundry. Sit. Watch. Listen. Be a proper audience. And, then these will mess you up.
Night of the Living Dead
Lust for Dracula
In a Glass Cage
Ichi the Killer,
Day of the Dead
And, now that you've read that list, if you don't want any spoilers, stop, go get the flicks, and enjoy.
If you want spoilers, explanations and encouragement...
…last chance to back out...
...here you go:
Papa's Angels – Turn off the sound and watch Scott Bakula box up his wife until she dies, harass his kids, and destroy Christmas. Oh, how cute! You think I'm kidding.
Night of the Living Dead – George Romero knows some things, and he knew some things back in the Sixties, too. Among what he knows is that dead people standing up and trying to bite your cheeks and fingers off is creepy, and that you don't need that in your life to be afraid, because people can kill you
just as bad. You can survive a lot and still end up dead by child or vigilante mob. The recently interred may not be likely to get on their feet and eat you, but if the guys down the street want to form a lynch mob and work out some frustration on you, they don't even have to get out of their truck, they can just shoot you from the cab. All they got to say is, It's a dangerous world and you looked suspicious. Too many out there wouldn't question it much, just nod their head and never think they might be next.
Naked Lunch – As with many David Cronenberg films, this is an inaccurate adaptation of previously existing material, and yet, simultaneously, it's amazingly good on its own terms. Naked Lunch, the novel, is a comic action adventure in vignettes or horror and hilarity and running from the cops. The
movie, is an explanation of why William Burroughs wife, Joan, died when he shot her trying to do a drunken William Tell act they had never once before attempted. I'm gonna let that sink in. Instead of adapting the novel for which the movie is named, Cronenberg opted for justifying the accidental killing of a woman. (Yeah, our protagonist ain't too thrilled with this, either.)
Midnight Cowboy – When a character has their epiphany and everything in the narrative has come together for a happy ending, you're supposed to get one. When a character in a movie sets out on an education journey, they should learn and grow and be better. This poor dude sets out to be a hustler, but
he ain't any kind of hustler at all. And, thus.
May – There's a tradition in Psycho With a Sharp Thing movies, wherein the filmmakers try to woo the audience into being less bothered by the killings by judging the victims. Usually, we're judging them for having sex or smoking a joint, which always strikes me as implying I'm not judging so much as jealous if I go with where they're trying to drive me, but as a technique, it's sound because it usually works for the target audience. It could be that I am just not often the target audience. But, with May,I am. Because in May, what they are most often guilty of, is being jerks. Not loud cartooned jerks, not simply hedonists, but flat out users who manipulate May's earnest attraction to them into something they can enjoy and then make fun of later. So &*^@! them. Then, you remember she just dismantled human beings because they were kinda shitty to her and you're cool with that. You monster.
Lust for Dracula – It's a softcore sex movie! How can this be... Oh, god, are the schoolgirls still working invisible Thighmasters and singing while staring out at us for minutes unending? Is the always-naked female Dracula still hanging out in empty swimming pools drinking from baby bottles and being lonely? Is Mina's husband still making her take psychoactive drugs from bottles he has obviously hand-written the labels for? Is she talking to her stuffed bat she thinks is a baby? Is God dead and Satan a suicide and all hope gone, or is this just a movie?
In a Glass Cage – This is a movie about Nazi doctors and kids. Nobody told this director that when you have a revenge movie against a Nazi doctor, the audience should never get worried for him or beg the screen for things to stop. Beyond that, you know how kids look when they die in movies? Either they stop still and “they're dead” or they gasp all over in pantomime. The director of In a Glass Cage instead suggested to one boy, that he fall on the concrete and pretend to be a fish lying there. So, he does. The boy just does fish mouth.
Ichi the Killer – The greatest Batman/Joker lovestory on film. Everything an action movie has taught you is okeh or will work out is detourned here into something like being sick into a blender, hitting puree, then drinking and finding it's actually kinda tasty.
Day of the Dead – The movie opens with sleep, sensory, and hope deprivation. It opens with hopelessness and gets meaner and more desolate from there. Deal with that.
Cigarette Burns – The first time I saw Cigarette Burns I wanted to hit pause on the TV so so bad. And I could not do it. Which, for a movie about people trying to watch a movie they know will damn them if they see it all.
Butterfly Kiss – It's a road movie that goes nowhere but deeper into anxiety, murder, angst and despair. It's a romcom without love or funny. It gives you two unrepentant, irredeemable killers and forces you
to look on their faces and lives and go, “Oh, God! I'm so sorry.”
Blue Velvet – We live in a world where the worst horrors happen every day. We just don't think about the acts we do not have to see up close, and sometimes, to not see up close, we close our eyes. The worst evils go unpunished in Blue Velvet, and the evils that are arrested or ended are comical in the
cold light of true despair and meanness.
Angel Heart – Some Blockbusters shelve Angel Heart in Comedy. This is because they want already depressed people to just get on with it and kill themselves. There is no other explanation. Sure, it's noir. Sure, it's a movie about PTSD and incest and betrayal. Sure, it's got the Devil in it. But, still, you think it would be nicer.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
The Last Werewolf
New York, NY
Alright, alright, alright; I admit that I’ve been a sucker for werewolf stories since I was a kid. From Guy Endore’s Werewolf of Paris to Lon Cheney Jr. in “The Wolfman”, I just cannot get enough werewolf. I admit I have watched the film version The Howling more than 127 times. As a kid, I wet my pants watching Oliver Reed in Curse of the Werewolf. I guess I’m just a lycanthrope kinda guy. So you can imagine my delight when I walk into a well-lit bookstore like Barnes and Noble and right there on the shelf with all the new releases is a werewolf novel.
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan is a totally unique and dark humored approach to lycanthropy. I mean you’d never suspect it, but those inflicted with the problem of being a werewolf have nonstop sex, healthy diets, and get lots of animal protein. This book is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend. It is mesmerizing and incredibly sexy. The protagonist is Jake. He’s a bit on the elderly side, a Pisces, who was about to turn 201. He has problems with horror fiction and suffers from depression. At one point in the novel, he actually contemplates suicide, but the real power behind this original, audacious and terrifying novel is the story. Simply put, somebody has been killing off werewolves, and our man Jake, although physically healthy, is deeply distraught and lonely, because he has learned that he is the last werewolf in the world. The book is sexy, funny, and blisteringly intelligent. The author, one of the cleverest literary horror merchants since Bram Stoker.
I loved this novel. It’s a howl, a rager, a scream. Let’s just hope they don’t fuck it up by making a movie. The heart of the book is not a thoroughly humorless as those overwritten vampire sagas Twilight. Duncan is smart, original, and completely absorbing, and I highly recommend this book. A magnificent novel, brutal and indignant, and full of genuine suspense. So if you have the chance to find The Last Werewolf online or at your local box bookstore, grab it. Start reading and trust the words of Glen Duncan. You’ll be happy you did.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Grand Central Publishing
New York, NY
This is Preston & Child’s latest entry into the adventures of FBI agent Aloysius Pentegrast. When last we explored the adventures of this special agent, he was looking for clues leading to recently discovered evidence that his wife’s death was not accidental but premeditated. That book, titled Fever Dream held me on the edge of my chair. Now, a little secret that no critic should have to admit: as a writing team, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child can do no wrong. Their novels are intriguing, suspenseful, and fast-paced. Did I mention that is as a writing TEAM? And here I commit the great sin of criticism: these two fine authors occasionally drift off into their own personal projects, of which I had not enjoyed a single book. As a team, these guys just kick
Cold Vengeance is one of the best books released this past summer. Preston and Child have upped the emotional ante of the thriller genre. The book is filled with brilliant and eccentric characters, and the authors, show, in my opinion, that they have few peers in creating taut scenes of suspense, and at times, downright horror.
I love these guys because they have reached a totally different level with stylistic grace in their approach to the suspense novel. I highly recommend the book.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo: A Parody
St. Martin’s Griffin
They lay naked on the ergonomic Dux mattress, limbs entwined like two meatballs. It was three in the afternoon, and already pitch dark.
“Was it good for you, too?” Professor Dr. Sven Svenssen asked, turning on his side to face his new lover.
The girl nodded, then snapped him across the nose with her female condom. “That,” she said “was for all the women you’ve anally raped.”
Arguably the three most popular books of the last ten years have been those awful Tattoo books. You know what I mean, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. For some reason unbeknownst to me, even friends that I consider exceptionally intelligent enjoy these books and then have the audacity of criticizing me for reading Stephen King. Now, granted, I will say this: I have not read the books. I have no intention of reading the books. However, I have seen the films and if they’re anything like the books, I’m not interested. If my mind needs to waddle through mud, I’ll pick up Dean Koontz.
Now, the good folks at St. Martins have released a delightful parody of these international bestsellers titled The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo: a parody by Lars Arffssen, and I have to be honest: this I enjoyed. I think that enjoyment, in a very kinky way, comes from watching those awful movies based on a trilogy of books that I have no intention of reading, which are now being Americanized and directed for people who can’t deal with subtitles. I enjoyed The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo and its story of a reindeer strangler, and its lovable characters Mikeal Blomburg, and the most heavily tattooed girl-sociopath-computer hacker extraordinaire Lizzy Salamander in their search for a single killer. This is a shocking story of corruption and perversion that reaches the highest echelons of cheap humor. So for those of you who are like me, which is chiefly close minded to supermarket Swedish prose and want something to just pass the day while you’re riding public transit, or you’re in the bathroom doing whatever, I would strongly suggest you locate a copy of The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo. Now, a warning: in all my bookstore travels, I have not seen a copy of this book. That does not mean I’m making this up, for the book does indeed exist, for I purchased my copy at Target. Nuff said, Amigo.
Turns out it's available on Amazon.
Monday, October 10, 2011
The Number of Chaos
Sheltering Pines Press
And Leave No Space Within You Empty
Above the ice locked snowline,
a scattering of tents breathes
in the empty daylight
like bright parachutes
or pairs of wings unfurled
and drying in the sun
Life, you say,
Is like a house collapsing into dust,
Here and there a doorway left intact,
or a window frame you could climb through
leaving those sleeping
locked in their darkness,
hair fanned out like cobwebs on the pillow,
blankets taking the permanent shape
of the bodies beneath,
everything, you say,
turning to ash.
You rescue what you can and leave the rest:
a few belongings you can look at
without remembering anything,
sturdy shoes, a small tent.
The relief is what you think
a monk might feel
who’s forgotten for an hour
to murmur the sacred name of god
and has simply and selfishly
This poet is a strange mixture of sensuous yearning and mysticism. The late Do Gentry was such a writer, a true poet whose final book The Number of Chaos is not only a must read but should be included within the library of any connoisseur of fine and unique poetry. I can go on and on about the author, whose recent passing has fractured the community in which I live, but I won’t. Instead, I will talk about her writing within the pages of this beautiful chapbook. If you have the opportunity, after reading this review, of writing the publisher and securing a copy for your personal library, you can do no wrong. The Number of Chaos will (and this is my prediction) become a contemporary classic in the modern small press culture.
Using personal narrative in juxtaposition with writings found at Nag Hammadi in the middle of the twentieth century, the poet Gentry creates a unique worldview in her approach to self-examination. I found the technique executed within this text to be hands down fascinating, leaving me with the desire to want more. The poet Do Gentry will be greatly missed, for in her passing, the world of poetry has lost a fine talent. So if you have the opportunity to write the publisher of this chapbook, I would do so. A sad footnote to this review is that in her final will and testament, Ms. Gentry requested that all of her writings, be they poetry journals, diary entries, or creative manuscripts, be shredded and burned. That, my dear reader, is a horrible task that has been executed within the last 48 hours of the writing of this review.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Click the following link to hear conversation:
Vince Gotera writes poems and stories, as well as the occasional creative nonfiction or critical article. His books include the three poetry collections — FIGHTING KITE, GHOST WARS, and DRAGONFLY — as well as the critical study RADICAL VISIONS: POETRY BY VIETNAM VETERANS.
Vince has been a Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa since 1995. He has also taught at Indiana University, Humboldt State University, Grinnell College, and Wartburg College. He also frequently teaches creative writing at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival sponsored by the University of Iowa.
Vince earned an MFA in poetry writing and a PhD in English from Indiana University. Other institutions where he has studied include Stanford University and San Francisco State University, where he earned his BA and MA, respectively.
Since 2000, Vince has been Editor of the NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, originally established in 1815, the longest-lived literary magazine in the US. He was also Associate Editor of the LITERARY MAGAZINE REVIEW (1995-2001) and Poetry Editor of ASIAN AMERICA: JOURNAL OF CULTURE AND THE ARTS (1991-1993).
Gotera has won international, national, and local awards for his writing and teaching. In 2004, Gotera won the Global Filipino Literary Award in Poetry, an international award sponsored by the journal Our Own Voice. His national awards include a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts (1993), The Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry from The Madison Review (1988), the Marhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gify Roberts Rinehart Award in poetry (1988), and an Academy of American Poets Prize (1988). He has been nominated for the Puhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifshcart Prize three times. At the Univehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifrsity of Northern Iowa, Gotera won a Faculty Excellence Award from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (2006).
Try these links to learn more:
Monday, October 3, 2011
There are a number of reasons I should dislike Ol Parker's Imagine Me and You. They are all trumped by the absurd smile stuck across my face for nearly the entire runtime and several minutes, if not hours after watching the movie.
My chief criticism is that it is yet another film where a couple come together made of one person firmly routed in their sexuality and one who is just, as an adult, figuring it out and realizing an attraction out of their (self-perceived) norm. Here, these are not even young or particularly repressed people, so it is even more jarring. I accept that this happens in real life, but it seems de rigueur to throw into a homosexual love story these days and by sheer repetition of the trope it becomes inane and annoying. It's played so solidly on the true love front here (another trope that's seen enough repetition in its time, let's be fair), and so sweetly that while I can intellectualize the criticism, my enjoyment of the movie drives me to insist that instead of being one too many, perhaps Imagine Me & You should simply be the last of this model that is allowed.
Let me be clear, while this is a well-dialogued, excellently paced, and wonderfully acted movie, it has exactly two pitches, throughout: very brief patches of awkward sadness and longer sessions of warm gooey sentimentalism-in-the-moment. You can decide for yourself to watch or not simply on your estimation of how much oohing and awwing at sweet things you can stand. But, then, it's nice to see an unabashedly romantic movie that has no weird judgmental undertones or psychopathic behavior in the name of drama. More than nice; it's dammed welcome and sort of gives you hope for RomCom watching/making humanity.