Where's The Book Thread Gone?
Posted 01 April 2012 - 02:10 AM
A Terrible Mistake, by HP Albarelli.
Although this list is technically in alphabetical order, this also happens to be my number one draft pick. There have been a lot of interesting books written about the shared history of LSD and the CIA, but all of them have been very incomplete. Albarelli put 10 years into writing the book on the subject—a huge, exhaustively researched and documented monument that centers around the sad, strange death of Frank Olson. The book is very troubling in any sense. I was often struck by how totally the CIA had infiltrated Washington, DC by the mid-fifties.
In the end, what’s most impressive about A Terrible Mistake is how much history it was not able to cover. Focusing on Frank Olson was not a literary device; the story behind MKSEARCH, MKNAOMI and MKULTRA is too big for any single volume. Fortunately, Albarelli’s next book will be about George Hunter White, a major figure in the covert history of the United States and a big player in Olson’s fate as well. It’s more than a little disturbing to contemplate how far along these projects are in 2010.
After the New Economy, by Doug Henwood.
The majority of my reading in the past year has been in Economics, shaped by a couple new jobs that required me to become a fake expert in the field. Perhaps in the near future I’ll do a separate Reading List focused on that, but for now, let me recommend one single volume as the best written, most thoroughly documented book on the subject: Doug Henwood’s After the New Economy. Henwood does something really remarkable here. There are dozens of sources per page, but he juggles an academic level of density with J.K. Rowling readability. He keeps all his math & policy discourse grounded in real world effects on actual working human beings. All in all, this book is fucking devastating because it uses nothing but the US economic system’s own numbers and words—there is no moralizing here. Along the way, Henwood also provides an education in deciphering market metrics and business news. He is a concise and scrupulous teacher. Henwood is often framed as a rabid Socialist, but I get the impression his political agenda is that of a disgruntled accountant...he’s just angry that the numbers don’t really add up on the American Dream.
Equally Worthy: his earlier book Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom is just as good and thorough. Most fans of Henwood suggest starting there, and it is powerful stuff. If you’re interested in a guide to Wall Street, though, the unfortunately named Eric J. Weiner has cornered the market with What Goes Up: The Uncensored History of Modern Wall Street as Told by the Bankers, Brokers, CEOs, and Scoundrels Who Made It Happen, an “oral history” where three generations of Hidden Rulers talk candidly about criminal conspiracies they got away with. It is awesome and very inspirational.
C Street, by Jeff Sharlet.
Sharlet has been doing important work for a long time now covering Christian Dominionist movements, especially in military and political circles. His previous book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, is essential reading if you’re not already familiar. (Start with “Jesus Plus Nothing.”)
Theocrats are scary people, and Sharlet tracks the most powerful among them carefully here. This is the grey zone where The Family morphs into The Fellowship, which has also been referred to as ”The Christian Mafia” and a ”Frat House for Jesus.” This is serious material,of course: the ghost network he outlines in C Street shaping foreign policy, domestic initiatives, and partisan talking points. The amount of media collusion and access to corporate money here is nothing short of spooky.
Infrastructure, by Brian Hayes.
When I was a but a youth, my very favorite shit was David Maculay’s work. I spent a lot of my time in school libraries hiding from Education, and books like Pyramid, Castle and Cathedral hit me like black and white acid trips. Then I got ahold of The Way Things Work, which was hundreds of full-color pages that used thousands of woolly mammoths to teach about a million years worth of human invention. (If you have children, they should have The Way Things Work ASAP.)
Brian Hayes has given us a grown-up version of what Maculay did, presented as a “Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape.” This is not for everyone, but if you’re even reading this, it is most definitely for you. Hayes is a gifted writer and consistently makes the mechanics of the mundane into illuminating reading. This book is especially necessary for post-Apocalypse living, since it really does work as a proper Field Guide, allowing you to visually decipher the municipal grid as you make your way across a dying Empire, fighting with rabid mutants and bizarre cults every step of the way.
Intelligence in Nature, by Jeremy Narby.
Narby is most famous for The Cosmic Serpent, but I believe this to be his best work so far. It is short but potent, packed completely full of amazing stories and ideas. Narby is comfortable leaving most of his questions unanswered, opting instead for a broad and challenging overview. Having read this through a number of times now, I think that makes it a stronger book. The sheer scope of information and possibility that gets covered in less than 300 pages makes this a rare gem.
Unlike Cosmic Serpent, Narby is not advancing a grand, unifying theory here. Intelligence in Nature is more like a documentary survey of an emerging science, with art film tendencies towards beauty and wonder. ”Narby asks good questions in this book but he doesn’t go very far with them,” remarked Swami Gopalananda. This is quite so: and who among us wants to be told what a good question should mean? Instead Narby cultivates a living museum of contradictory and fascinating evidence, reminding us that these are good questions with no easy answers. Nature remains unknown to us even in 2010, and this is a humbling and perfect book.
Killing Hope, by William Blum.
The title of this book could not be more perfect in 2010. As the current White House resident continues the CIA/CFR foreign policy that’s shaped the United States since 1947, the world “HOPE” has a special and sickly resonance.
Killing Hope is story behind 50 years of Bipartisan Consensus about killing people overseas in order to make the world safe for Democracy. As Blum phrases his focus, this is a survey of “US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II,” and the book delivers the good in a relentless way. It’s clearly written but far from easy reading. Personally, it took me months to finish all 55 chapters, but I’m apparently kind of a hippie. In the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 ad campaign, there was a chorus of rhetorical questions about why the world hates the United States government. This is why, in about 500 pages. Heavy reading but necessary for any US citizen.
Mirage Men, by Mark Pilkington.
This book is a great example of Doing It Right: although I disagree with the author’s conclusions, it was so well written, and provided so much original material, that it’s still an essential read. The subject is something very familiar to Brainsturbator readers—the role of intelligence and military agencies in creating and circulating carefully planned disinformation about UFOs. Without question, Pilkington proves that dozens of well documented UFO incidents, long considered to be legitimately paranormal, were in fact psychological operations testing by agencies within the US government. Unlike 99% of the UFOlogy genre, this book is a goldmine of original research, thinking and documentation. The most interesting material, to me, was the operational details of running and monitoring such a strange covert project. Page after page, this book provides a window into a world every bit as alien as a mothership from Pleiades. This is the first book since Richard Dolan’s first volume of UFOs and the National Security State that I would consider an actual “must read” for curious mammals.
Mycelium Running, by Paul Stamets.
Yup: quite possibly a perfect book. I expected a narrative account of Stamets’ life working with fungus, but what I got was a working manual on mycoremediation: treating toxic soils and waste sites with the power of mushrooms. The book’s higher-than-usual pricetag is justified by the textbook level of information quality and quantity. This is basically everything you would need to get educated and then get involved with the powerful technology of mycelium bioremediation. Is there a recipe for dealing with anthrax and biowarfare agents? Affirmative. Are there several pages on the proper usage of a mycelium strain that literally eats pavement and can digest an entire road in less than two years? Yes. It will be a long time before anyone tops this — an essential reference.
Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, by Andy Hunt.
This is a book that took me by surprise: although it’s written for programmers, I found it to be one of the best “meta-productivity” tutorials I’ve ever read. This rewards multiple readings and offers a simple, grounded approach to getting your projects organized, your head straight, and your workdays faster and easier. There are a lot of books that re-organize the basic lessons of Napoleon Hill’s original self-help classic Think and Grow Rich, then sprinkle the cake with recent neuroscience and pop sci speculationizing. This is something much more valuable: a practical, hands-on synthesis that’s purely focused on what works. The authors carefully selected their ammo on the basis of research and experience, but they opt for the shotgun approach when it comes to the actual presentation. They steamroll over the point that not every idea will work for you personally by providing a compact encyclopedia of motivational, organizational and creative techniques. I dig it...you will, too.
The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship
The Collins Brothers are a rare treat. I don’t include them here because I agree with their worldview, or even the thesis of this book. I’m recommending this because it’s a well-written, meticulously researched window into another Reality Tunnel. You will disagree with a great deal of what you read here, but that’s precisely why I would urge you to read it. The case they have built here is intricate, fascinating material. The questions they raise are extremely important in our technological era.
What they present here is a Conspiracy Theory in the best possible sense, and the integrity of their case makes this a most educational book. Reading about right-wing conspiracies is depressing, reading about British conspiracies is often quite tedious, but reading about a conspiracy of the most brilliant men in the English speaking world, plotting to create and control a global civilization and establish a successful One World Religion, well...that’s entertaining stuff. What the Collins Brothers have uncovered here is important and neglected history. The actual existence of a secular humanist, Fabian socialist, techno-Gnostic conspiracy is beside the point. Reading this book will make you a smarter person, and that’s really the best praise you can give a dead tree.
some good stuff right there
Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:52 PM
The Big Picture
Prometheus Rising, by Robert Anton Wilson. Wilson has blessed our species with a lot of really damn good books, and I personally owe him a great deal. It was difficult deciding upon what single title I would recommend—since the Illuminatus! Trilogy is too weird for most people, Ishtar Rising is too controversial, and Quantum Psychology was rooted in the foundations laid out in Prometheus Rising, I settled on this title. It’s a workbook, and each chapter ends with exercises based upon the concepts that were discussed. As I have mentioned before, I thought I understood this book and “got it” for two years before doing the exercises and realizing how meaningless “an intellectual grasp” of a subject really is. In other words, I wasted two years—don’t repeat my mistake.
The Lucifer Principle, by Howard Bloom. I would recommend you check out Bloom’s essay “Reality is a Shared Hallucination” first—if you dig that, then this book will blow you away. Bloom has a rare gift for re-united threads from dozens of different, “separate” disciplines of science into cohesive, headfuck insights. Every chapter of this book is solid gold. I feel I should also mention that of all the books I’ve lent out to my friends, I get the most negative feedback on this one, so not everyone agrees with me that Bloom is dead-on.
The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall. We’ve discussed Hall before, and this book still stands up as a masterpiece decades after it’s author passed away. The single best introduction to the history of the occult you can possibly find.
The Cartoon History of the Universe
I’m still a comics nerd. I still re-read Watchmen and Preacher once a year or so, but in my opinion nothing comes close to the greatness of Larry Gonick’s series The Cartoon History of the Universe. It is (mostly) beautifully illustrated—there’s a few issues in Volume Two that were clearly rush jobs, or perhaps a long drug episode—and it’s also funny and informative.
Gonick’s scope is huge, and he really does deliver on the title premise. Not only that, but the History itself is accurate enough to get me through high school without paying any attention to the actual textbooks I was supposed to be reading. Gonick covers damn near everything, and he does it scrupulous accuracy and good humor. Your kids will thank you for buying these books.
In looking up the links for these books, I found out Gonick has recently published the first volume of what he calls The Cartoon History of the Modern World, which apparently covers from Chris “genocide” Columbus to the US Constitution. I haven’t read it, and I would hesitate to recommend it, since some of his books have been very rushed and frankly disappointing. If you want to pick it up anyway, here you go:
The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Volume One
Monsters and Magical Sticks: There’s No Such Thing as Hypnosis?, by Stephen Heller. I re-read this book 5 times in a row and put it down. I haven’t picked it up since because I’m still unpacking everything that got blasted into my head. Mr. Heller has written a book of singular depth, reminding me of the experimental “horror” novel House of Leaves (which I also recommend highly) with it’s reflective layers of meaning and simultaneous perspectives. I read this book 5 times and I still couldn’t say if it was the most empowering book I ever read, or just the most disturbing. Let me know if you figure it out.
Coercion: Why We Listen to What "They" Say, by Douglas Rushkoff. I used to recommend the Edwin Bernays book Propaganda to people who wanted to understand the media control system and the power of mass persuasion. I recently read Rushkoff’s book, and it was a great relief. After all, Bernays wrote his manual back in 1928, and Rushkoff offers a much more evolved and straightforward look at the same mechanisms. Also, fuck Bernays—neither he nor his descendants deserve your money. Rushkoff is a very busy and insightful mutant and his work is worth your time and money. If you still want to read Bernays, here it is for free.
Mind Control, World Control, by Jim Keith. Although Keith constantly makes conclusions or insinuates connections that seem insane to me, he really was among the best authors the “conspiracy theory” field has ever seen. I dearly wish that people would pay him even a fraction of the attention that gets paid to more sensational bullshit like William Cooper‘s, uh....classic. This is Keith’s finest book, exhaustively researched but still a very short read—there is no wasted space anywhere, this is one of the meatiest books I’ve come across on any topic. And I think you will agree, this topic is important and fascinating, not to mention over-saturated with mere speculation and poor thinking.
The Job: Interviews with William S. Burroughs, by Daniel Odier. As much as I love Burrough’s writing, I believe that this collection of interviews is the most accessable, and dangerous, summation of his work.
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, by John Taylor Gatto. Brainsturbator has discussed the real goals of US education once before—and that article needs to be re-written because it honestly sucks—and Skilluminati recently posted some John Taylor Gatto essays. This book is the best of it’s kind and Gatto has more credibility than any critic since Jonathan Kozol.
UFO/UAP Phenomena and “High Strangeness”
Rigorous Intuition, by Jeff Wells. Yep, this book is not even out yet. However, the single best writing I have found anywhere online about these topics is from Jeff Wells, who runs a website of the same name. This book will be a collection of his best essays, expanded and organized. I feel perfectly confident saying this will be best book on deep politics, occult history and paranormal events that has come out in years.
UFOs and the National Security State, by Richard Dolan. The best-researched, most-credible, least-bullshit UFO book. Can I give a better recommendation than that?
Revelations, by Jacques Vallee. This book is powerful medicine. Almost the entire tapestry of UFO belief and mythology in the United States, here in 2007, is the result of a deliberate disinformation campaign that Jacques Vallee records in clinical detail here. From Roswell to Dulce to the Greys, Vallee traces how carefully managed “leaks” and con games grow from rumor to legend to commonly accepted fact. This book will disturb you because it is emphatically not a “debunking” but actually opens up even darker possibilities than hostile aliens.
The Archaic Revival, by Terence McKenna There is more food for thought about the UFO Phenomenon in this book than you will find in 100 books that are actually about the UFO phenomenon. McKenna was an honest and fearless thinker, and this book is truly outstanding.
I use that term in the most positive and enthusiastic possible sense. These books are in a category unto themselves and were instrumental in shaping how I see the Universe.
Finite and Infinite Games, by James P. Carse. Pound for pound, I have never found a book this potent. Very short read that altered my life and whole conception of the Universe forever. If you’re in tune with Brainsturbator, that’s probably all you need to read. Out of all the titles listed here, get this one first.
TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, by Hakim Bey. Although this entire book is freely available online, I found myself re-reading it so often that I’ve since bought three copies, one of them was literally read to death while I was bouncing around the country in my irresponsible youth.
Liber Null and Psychonaut, by Peter J. Carroll. We’ve discussed Carroll before—read some excerpts of his work right here, and download the first chapter of this book right here.
Revelation X, by The SubGenius Foundation. I almost feel embarrassed saying it, but this is the greatest book I’ve ever read. Nothing touches this and I think it will be a while until a more complete statement on the human condition can be formulated. I realize that almost sounds sarcastic, but it’s seriously that good.
And more, I want them all specially Prometheus Rising I havnt read that yet
Just bought The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
will start tonight
Posted 15 June 2012 - 05:38 PM
Forget Lydia Lunch, Nick Zed, Henry Rollins, Michael Gira and all thosecontemporary writers trying to achieve an ultimate expression of sordid nihilism and depravity layer by layer. This is the shit! This book outstrips them all. Superstar diarrhea dribbling into shoes; tampons up the ass to plug the loose anal sphincter; physically damaging excessive enemas; paedophiliac consensual cocksucking; prostitution of their very own minors consummated via the feigned naivete of compliant parents; gross out greed and paltry pay-offs; a virile, rampant, eruption of egomania that makes Hitler’s megalomaniac ambition a withered stump by comparison, all this pure filth and Macaulay Caulkins warm, wet lips too!
Yippee! Nobody can ever compete. Everyone should at the very least have this book in their toilet for guests as a matter of decadent etiquette. Perfect water closet reading for the closet cases.
Forget the relentless character assassination of Goldman’s Lennon book. Or any Elvis expose. Here we have achieved a nirvana of the gratuitous. Thank you Victor, Oh, thank you Victor!
All my life I hoped that a book that proclaimed it told you “the whole unexpurgated, shocking story” would really do it. 50 years after my birth, here it is. This is the most perfectly fabulous and amoral book about the
excess and undeserved privilege accorded the celebrated, successful and rich in America ever to be inked onto dead trees. Everything it claims to contain is contained within its hallowed bowels, and more, and more.
Fantastic. I can’t believe that it’s not exposed prominently in every cornershop Bodega, supermarket and bookstore chain across America and number one in the best sellers lists everywhere! As the back says: “The Boy Reveals how he got to know Jackson (and sex);
Trips to Foreign countries with Jackson (and sex); What he saw when Jackson got naked in front of him (and sex); the sexual games he played with Jackson (and more sex). There are snapshots, love notes, depositions, even spindly drawings of Michael’s malodorous and “smelly” penis by the boy; (oh, “the boy”, by the way, is Jordie Chandler who rather surprisingly is credited with having co-written the screenplay for “Robin Hood-Men In Tights” with his father at age 10. Go figure!)
It has to be noted however, that, falling temporarily prey to his acute sense of social responsibility and his principles of investigative journalism with integrity, Victor M. Gutierrez does dwell a little too much upon the mundane legal ramifications and maneuverings of all the parties involved for my prurient tastes. Although, I guess, upon reflection, I am forced to concede that it probably is, in the end, important to be led through the opportunist treacle that glues every character forever together in Michael “Willy Wonka” Jackson’s sexual Chocolate Factory.
After all, this is a real-life (real?), fairy-tale with multiple professedly happy endings. A terminally degraded Michael Jackson gets his man, or rather his boy, and gets away with it. Jordie Chandler gets his man, or rather his paedomorphic superhero and millions of dollars in perpetuity. Daddy Chandler gets his boys, notoriety and access to millions of dollars. Mummy Chandler gets vacations with her endearing superstar, nice gifts of expensive watches and jewelry, and the rewarding parental pleasure of seeing her beloved son taken good care of by the man, or rather boy, Jackson. Victor gets his man, mother and boys, and, I sincerely hope because he deserves to, his own share of dollars. Yes, sirree, it’s that good old fashioned American success story once again.
This kind of shameless self-corruption is what made America great; and I for one am deeply grateful. There is something calming, and infinitely reassuring about having ones deepest cynicism about human nature and its
innate badness confirmed so rapidly, uproariously and completely. I can sleep better now, safe in the knowledge that the poor scum get banged up, but that the rich and famous scum are, and will always remain, pillars of the community in any truly democratic, and free, society. All hail the American
Thismakes me want to read it
And - All That Glitters Is Not Gold -by Raymond Chandler, Jordie Chandler's uncle
Also someone needs to do a documentary about Micheal Jacksons mentally Ill fans who defend his reputation like an army of vicious ants
Posted 20 June 2012 - 06:14 PM
Patti Smith has a mythic imagination. As a young, desperately poor poet from southern New Jersey, she headed to New York to seek her fortune, nothing in her purse. Her mother had assumed she would follow her into waitressing. But Patti, though practical and a survivor, had her sights set not on slinging hash but on searching for immortality and beauty and magic. She already recognised a divine succession of poets – Blake, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Genet and the Beats – and she wanted to join them. She was creative and liked to write, read and draw. Eventually, she became the renaissance woman of the punks, a great rock singer and composer – but before that she had to fashion her look, her personality and her verse.
by Patti Smith
Buy it from the Guardian bookshop
Search the Guardian bookshop
And survive. She had no real friends when she arrived in New York, just a few names, and no job prospects. But it was July 1967, she was not yet 21, and other drifters and hippies helped her find food and shelter. Eventually, she got a job working in a bookshop, she met Robert Mapplethorpe, who was the same age and just as poor, and they took a Brooklyn apartment together. They each collected little talismanic objects and set great store by the way they dressed; both had an innate and highly original sense of personal style. And he was fiercely ambitious and coveted artistic success.
In her careful, sometimes painful self-sculpting, Smith had found an inspired and equally determined collaborator in Mapplethorpe. As she says in this memoir, which is so full of memorable sentences: "We were both praying for Robert's soul, he to sell it and I to save it." (Robert's theme song was the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil".)
Patti and Robert were both born in 1946 and both were raised by poor parents, she in Germantown, Pennsylvania and then New Jersey, he by a Catholic family on Long Island. Like all lovers, they told endless stories to each other about their childhoods: "We used to laugh at our small selves, saying that I was a bad girl trying to be good and that he was a good boy trying to be bad." They both succeeded. As a child he'd been a mama's boy and had made necklaces for his mother, but later, as an adult, he identified himself in the public mind through his photographs with pain and blood and exotic sexual practices, and even with something as seemingly transgressive (but actually innocent) as pictures of child nudity. She had held factory jobs in New Jersey, where the other workers accused her of being a communist because she was reading a bilingual edition of Rimbaud's Illuminations. She'd given birth out of wedlock, as we used to say, to a child she'd had to put up for adoption. Later, when she lived with Mapplethorpe in Brooklyn, she turned herself into a disciplined poet and breadwinner. For a long spell she supported the skinny, charismatic Mapplethorpe, who at the time was making "altars" of found objects somewhat in the manner of the American surrealist Joseph Cornell. He discovered photography only later, but once he settled on it as a career he was tenacious and highly tactical in plotting his rise in the world.
She obviously has a great gift for appreciation, though in her case that should not imply a lack of discrimination. It seems that from the very beginning she was alert to influences that would help her to explore and to firm up her peculiar sensibility, which was at once edgy and lyrical, both demotic and hieratic. She was more relaxed about their ability to survive; Robert was much more anxious about money. She was primarily interested in sniffing out people with talent, not as a careerist but always out of respect for their artistry. Mapplethorpe had his eye on the main chance.
In those days, before the internet and Google, it was difficult for working people to put their hands on books and information. All these years later, Smith still remembers the few art books she possessed and that she would consult again and again, just as she remembers their few records and books of verse. And she recalls in vivid detail her first encounters with William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, saints in her pantheon of great artists. For her, many sites in New York were sacred: "It was exciting just to stand in front of the hallowed ground of Birdland that had been blessed by John Coltrane, or the Five Spot on St Mark's Place where Billie Holiday used to sing, where Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman opened the field of jazz like human can openers." Robert's idols were visual artists, though very cerebral ones – Duchamp and Warhol. Patti indulged in long introspective bouts, but she learned from Robert just to get on with it and forge ahead in her work – a trajectory that for her was always God-centred, doing drawings "that magnified His motion".
While I was working on my biography of Jean Genet in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Paris, I would receive phone calls from Patti in Detroit. I'd never met her and was introduced to her only many years later in front of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, but she was calling me to encourage me to persevere and to finish this onerous seven-year task. She knew how devoted I had been to Mapplethorpe, with whom I'd collaborated on journalistic stories about Truman Capote and William Burroughs (I also wrote an essay for one of his first gallery shows, in Amsterdam). She told me that she and Robert (who had recently died of Aids) used to read Genet out loud to each other when they lived together. When my biography finally came out, Patti was staging her big comeback with a free concert in New York's Central Park; she told her audience that they must all go out to buy my Genet book.
This genuine devotion to her private artistic saints and to her old friends characterises the entire book. It is her own Lives of the Saints, and it is thoroughly imbued with faith in her own artistic mission.
Her love affair with Mapplethorpe, to be sure, had its painful moments, especially as they were both discovering that he was gay. Although they had been sexually intimate for several years, he began to pick up extra money as a rent boy. Jim Carroll, a friend who went on to be a punk musician and the author of the autobiographical The Basketball Diaries, was also hustling, in his case to support his heroin habit. When Mapplethorpe asked him how he could be certain he wasn't gay, Carroll said he'd never done it without being paid – which was not the case with Mapplethorpe. Before long, Robert had a handsome young lover and eventually a much older and even more handsome lover, Sam Wagstaff, a rich art collector who launched his career.
What Patti found even more difficult to accept than Robert's homosexuality was his social ascent. She could understand his love for men, but in order for her to spend time with his new, rich friends she would have had to change her ways.
Just Kids should interest any reader who wants to know how an artistic career can be launched. Smith gave a carefully staged and prepared poetry reading at St Mark's in New York that won her lots of attention and publication – and even the offer of a record contract. She began to work as a music journalist for Crawdaddy! and Rolling Stone. She begged the editor of Rolling Stone to let her write a piece on Lotte Lenya, Kurt Weill's wife, muse and favourite singer; when Patti handed in her article, the editor said "that although I talked like a truck driver, I had written an elegant piece". She had an affair with Carroll and with Sam Shepard, with whom she wrote a play.
Her transition to musician seems, in this account, to have been disconcertingly easy. She bought a guitar and soon knew how to play it. She turned some of her poems into songs. She put together a band – and before long she was a megastar touring the world. Mapplethorpe produced a portrait of her that undoubtedly helped to cement her image; with her gift for phrase-making, Patti writes: "Robert was concerned with how to make the photograph, and I with how to be the photograph." Suddenly, Robert was showing photos in galleries attended by "a perfect New York City mix of leather boys, drag queens, socialites, rock and roll kids and art collectors".
Like that art opening, this book brings together all the elements that made New York so exciting in the 1970s – the danger and poverty, the artistic seriousness and optimism, the sense that one was still connected to a whole history of great artists in the past. This was a small community that was carefully observed by the media; it also flourished at the moment when New York was becoming the cultural capital of the western world.
Edmund White's latest book is City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s.
Posted 08 July 2012 - 04:48 PM
Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:07 PM
I. Bought that for my dad!
and I have an original red black and white Raging Bull Poster that I almost gave him with the book, but I decided to keep it
it's too cool
I just read that Queens Biography, the old one, my BF spotted it in a charity shop
It was pretty terrible
very superficial and Boring!
how can a book about Queens be Boring!
one thing I got out of it is the positive input of Ghrol over the years which I wasn't really aware of apart from his drumming obviously
I suppose I should appreciate him more
I also read the Patti Smith Autobiography which didn't pull any punches or hide any uncomfortable truths in its portrayal of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorp and the drug use, male prostitution and ultimately his death from AIDs in remarkable contrast to the Queens book!
but the overriding thing I got from it was the incredible Love and trust and artistic relationship they shared, it was heartbreaking and beautiful, they were totally loyal to their shared vision and each other, in their own way despite all their other relationships
If you havnt read it
Posted 02 September 2012 - 09:55 PM
Also want to get Stranger In a Strange Land
Posted 26 October 2012 - 11:29 PM
probably my favourite Hemingway
if only for the setting
Posted 04 November 2012 - 02:53 PM
Want to see it
Sounds interesting, it's filmed by a documentary crew, documentary style and with a narrator
It's basically about a man and his family dynamics, his senile mother giving her mansion to a new age shyster instead of him , and his newly born son completely dominating his wife's attention so he feels abandoned by her as well
parts of the book are from his children's point of view which I imagine will be hard to film
Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:03 AM
Gets pretty predictable at parts but surprisingly good read
Posted 03 April 2013 - 05:00 PM
it was weird, I enjoyed the first half but it seemed to turn into some kind of strange sterotyping of Korean women that was a bit unpleasant
And the political dystopian element wasn't convincing either
No sense of urgency or jeapordy really, a bit flat
saying that It can't have been that bad as I read it cover to cover in a couple of hours
So it was engrossing
Maybe I need to re read it
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