Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division, died by his own hand some 33 years and 3 days ago. The recording above (from 18th December 1979: Les Bains Douches, Paris), which I’d never encountered before this evening, sounds – to my audio engineer and former DJ ears – to be pitched a bit forward from it’s original recording speed. So somehow that all makes it seem appropriate to post this gem here on May 21. Give us something to think about other than Sonny Terry and the dancing chicken in Strozek, as Ian contemplated his final moments.
Soul Brother Nate Powell posted the following to facebook yesterday and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it:
“In 2005, this book helped me start digging out of the hole I’d found myself in for 3 years, and helped change the direction of my life. The perspective I absorbed from Deborah: contrary to the notion that Ian Curtis’ disorders, wrecked family life, infidelities, and inability to handle success led to his death, she conveys that he fulfilled his own fatalistic narrative by choosing to give in to those factors, time and time again, needing their jurisdiction over his life.
“We all have control over our choices, and sovereignty over our sense of self. Sometimes we fight to keep other people from unfairly (re)defining us, but what can be more difficult is awareness of if/when we’ve redefined ourselves as hopeless/ monsters/ losers.
“RIP Ian Curtis, and love and respect to all those who struggle.”
“The art of the future will be the creation of situations or nothing”. Go watch “On the Passage of a few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1956-1972″ Hopefully the audio will be less dodgy for you than it is for me. Enjoy it for what it is otherwise. Via former bandmate Adam who found it on the McDonald’s sponsored Dangerous Minds.
Nearly 25 years ago Scott McCloud – creator of Zot! and Understanding Comics – composed a draft of a Creators Bill of Rights for comic book artists. In recognition of World Intellectual Property Day we reproduce it here, and ask, have things improved in the quarter century since Scott gathered with other comic book creators in Western Massachusetts to hammer out all these points?
For the survival and health of comics, we recognize that no single system of commerce and no single type of agreement between creator and publisher can or should be instituted. However, the rights and dignity of creators everywhere are equally vital.
Our rights, as we perceive them to be and intend to preserve them, are:
1. The right to full ownership of what we fully create.
2. The right to full control over the creative execution of that which we fully own.
3. The right of approval over the reproduction and format of our creative property.
4. The right of approval over the methods by which our creative property is distributed.
5. The right to free movement of ourselves and our creative property to and from publishers.
6. The right to employ legal counsel in any and all business transactions.
7. The right to offer a proposal to more than one publisher at a time.
8. The right to prompt payment of a fair and equitable share of profits derived from all of our creative work.
9. The right to full and accurate accounting of any and all income and disbursements relative to our work.
10. The right to prompt and complete return of our artwork in its original condition.
11. The right to full control over the licensing of our creative property.
12. The right to promote and the right of approval over any and all promotion of ourselves and our creative property.
The new novel by John le Carré is out in much of the world today. Available in the US and Canada on May seventh. Dedicated visitors to this site will immediately know that this much tape player porn makes our boy parts excited.
Back in the early 00s I used to pass around an audio CD called “Pop” that I made containing “Words Disobey Me” and “We are Time” from the 1978 Pop Group Peel Session, Khalid of Space Part Two by Larry Young (featuring James Blood Ulmer), and either the 1995 or 1999 Autechre Peel Session (you get both here). The cover art was a street level photo of the 1999 Seattle WTO protests. Recreated here is the YouTube version. Enjoy.
The news buzzed around the interwebs throughout Thursday afternoon, and eventually it seemed very likely that the great Carmine Infantino had indeed passed on. I was a huge fan of Carmine’s work while growing up. The 1980s was his true golden age as an artist. He worked hard to develop his craft – even going back to school in mid-life. We both studied (at different times) with the very influential Jack Potter at New York’s The School of Visual Arts – where Carmine was later a teacher. Ah, but his comics in the late 70s and 1980s… He returned to the character he co-created The (‘Silver-Age’) Flash and illustrated tons of other comics in his unique energetic style. His work on Spider-Woman and Star Wars were great favorites. I started buying Nova because Carmine was drawing it. It was always a treat when he’d turn in an issue of Avengers, Howard the Duck or Iron Man. Although his style was a bit buried under the inks, his adaptation of the movie The Deep was a comic I read many many times. Fred Hembeck was largely influential in my appreciation of the peculiarities of Carmine’s work – the pointing hands attached to captions, distant futuristic skylines…
Most of all I will remember Carmine as the World’s Greatest Gorilla Artist. The one time I got to meet him – at New York Comic Con a few years ago – I told him this. He was not too bemused by this to not sign a copy of his then-recent book from Vanguard for me… including a little ape-head sketch. I very much wanted to get to meet him again and talk more. As near as I can tell Carmine’s last major comic book work was a Danger Trail four issue series for DC Comics in 1993 – where he returned to characters he co-created over 40-year previously. The original Danger Trail comics from the early 1950s stand out as one of the better and most memorable works from DC Comics in that strange era. Carmine was the last – hell, the only – maverick publisher (or whatever his job title was) at DC Comics. The main reason that company ever put out anything that anyone could possibly still care about. Just try to imagine DC Comics without him there at that time, and all that has followed on since. If you’ve got the time, spend some of it with this interview with Joe Orlando, where he talks a bit about those heady days at DC, staying up until 10 at night with Carmine to make the best issue of Angel and The Ape ever; and, the Comics Journal interview between Carmine and Gary Groth from 1996. Right now… enjoy some of the greatest hits from The World’s Greatest Gorilla Artist!
There is also an audio commentary to the record by Tim Kerr (guitar) and Chris Gates (bass) that you can listen to.
Seven paragraphs down in the NPR article we come to an incident that has unfortunately loomed large in the lore of American punk culture. When I first heard about it, many years after the incident, it went something like “HR from Bad Brains beat the crap out of the Big Boys for being queer.” Getting past the improbability of that, given the relative size of the participants, I’d never bothered to dig up any kind of facts in the case, despite the availability of search engines, facebook friendships and the like. As mentioned in the NPR article and described by Tim Kerr in his blog (scroll down to the 12/March/2012 entry – I trust Tim Kerr in all things, a greater man has probably never lived) something did happen, involving most of the Bad Brains being homophobic assholes who treated their hosts in Austin like shit and made their beliefs well known. Ugly stuff. I hope this clears things up for other people as well.
In the meanwhile… I’ve always loved this live clip of the Big Boys.
In case you were wondering what all that spaceyship stuff on Google today is about. Douglas Adams, the creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is not 61 years old today, he’s over a decade deceased, and we are much poorer for that loss. I’ve been on a bit of an animation binge lately, so let’s take a look at some of the hugely influential animation work done for the Guide entries in the BBC’s Hitchhiker’s TV series by Rod Lord and for the 2005 film by Shynola. Share and enjoy.
Sorry the Shynola clip is so lo-res. Best I could find.
My son recently informed me that he wished to learn more about Fiction Science. “Science Fiction?”, I asked. “Yes, that!” After a few weeks of exploring what it was exactly he was interested in learning about Fiction Science we arrived at the request to see the first science fiction film. I imagine that there are other contenders out there, but Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune from 1902 is certainly a strong candidate.
Searching for the best version of A Trip to the Moon on the YouTubes is a daunting task. There are probably a few hundred there. Eventually I discovered a recently restored hand colored version that was quite remarkable. Further searching revealed the HD video embedded above, posted just hours ago. Watching it should erase whatever damage seeing various low-resolution, chopped down manglings of it you have been exposed to up until now.
A hand-colored print, the only one known to survive, was rediscovered in 1993 by the Filmoteca de Catalunya. It was in a state of almost total decomposition, but a frame-by-frame restoration was launched in 1999 and completed in 2010 at the Technicolor Lab of Los Angeles- and after West Wing Digital Studios matched the original hand tinting by colorizing the damaged areas of the newly restored black and white. The restored version finally premiered on 11 May 2011, eighteen years after its discovery and 109 years after its original release, at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with a new soundtrack by the French band Air. It was released in North America by Flicker Alley as a 2-disc Blu-Ray/DVD edition, also including the documentary The Extraordinary Voyage about its restoration on 10 April 2012. Flicker Alley have also released the definitive five disk set of Méliès’ surviving films Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema 1896-1913 and the supplementary Méliès Encore.
Serge Bromberg, who co-directed The Extraordinary Voyage (Le voyage extraordinaire) for Lobster Films with Eric Lange is interviewed above.
This early trip to the moon featured prominently in Tom Hanks vision of the actual trips to the moon in the HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, as seen above.
James Mason presents The London Nobody Knows, based on the book by Geoffrey Fletcher. To watch in your browser on Veoh’s site you will need to download a plug-in and deal with all sorts of pesky bullshit and ads, but, wait, oh look! It seems to play fine in the embed on this page, and, even better, there is a download link. The file is a bit sketchy in parts, but, hey, it’s free! I would wait in line and pay for my ticket to see James Mason stand in a gloriously decaying theatre talking about Walter Sickert and the golden age of British music halls. And that’s just the first five minutes. The film is also available in a couple different DVD packages: paired with Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (region 2) and as part of The London Collection with five other films (including Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, and also region 2). The film has a good share of Jack the Ripper lore in it. The name Walter Sickert will likely be most familiar to regular visitors to this site as a character in Alan Moore’s dissection of the Ripper story – From Hell. One of my very first jobs in comics was to black out a few grapes on the introduction page to each installment of From Hell when it originally appeared in Stephen Bissette’s Taboo anthology.
There are a few strains of inquiry and activity that have been common to my work in Wow Cool, DeptEx, and the Brown Cuts Neighbors that may not be super obvious, given that much of the result is performance, music, zines, comics and such. When pursuing these obsessions with various collaborators we had a pretty clear idea of what we were digging at but had not much of a sense that there were very many others out there with the same interests. Like magic, in the last decade or so, the maker movement and psychogeography emerge, and it’s like, “oh, yeah, that”. After some two decades of walking, digging and documenting, much of the work in the area of what would be labelled psychogeography that had been done by Jason Martin, James Kopta and myself still remains unreleased. Separated geographically from the subject of our obsession – Schenectady, New York and its regions – any sort of substantial document of this research seems ever more distant. Every couple of years Jason and I, and whatever accomplices we rope in, descend on the increasingly unfamiliar homeland to wrest the secrets from a corner of town not yet explored. But this post isn’t about us, it’s about a man named Nick Papadimitriou, who has been an unexpected inspiration to re-engage with this material. His home is the former county of Middlesex in England.
John Rogers’ film looks at the city we deny and the future city that awaits us. Leading London writers and cultural commentators Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Russell Brand explore the importance of the liminal spaces at the city’s fringe, its Edgelands, through the work of enigmatic and downright eccentric writer and researcher Nick Papadimitriou – a man whose life is dedicated to exploring and archiving areas beyond the permitted territories of the high street, the retail park, the suburban walkways.
Walking continues it’s march towards becoming a criminalized act and Deep Topography has emerged – thanks to Nick – as a better term for much of the activity that was called psychogeography, before that term expanded its meaning past sense. Nick’s is an unique and wonderful voice; and his is the one that has given us this more useful term for our obsessions. He’s recently released a book that explores the North Middlesex/South Hertfordshire Tertiary Escarpment or Scarp with his unique and poetic take to this method. A trailer for it is below. It’s description does its job well.
Nick Papadimitriou has spent a lifetime living on the margins, walking and documenting the landscapes surrounding his home in Child’s Hill, North London, in a study he calls Deep Topography.
Part meditation on nature and walking, part memoir and part social history, his arresting debut is first and foremost a personal inquiry into the spirit of a place: a 14-mile broken ridge of land on the fringes of Northern London known as Scarp. Conspicuous but largely forgotten, a vast yet largely invisible presence hovering just beyond the metropolis, Scarp is a vast storehouse of regional memory. We join the author as he explores and reimagines this brooding, pregnant landscape, meticulously observing his surroundings, finding surprising connections and revealing lost slices of the past.
SCARP captures the satisfying experience of a long, reflective walk. Whether talking about the beauty of a bird or a telegraph pole, deaths at a roundabout or his own troubled past, Papadimitriou celebrates the poetry in the everyday. His captivating prose reveals that the world around us is alive and intrinsically valuable in ways that the trappings of day-to-day life lead us to forget, and allows us to re-connect with something more authentic, more immediate, more profound.
The beloved Arthur Magazine has returned after a four year hiatus. And it’s big! Like, the size newspapers were in the thirties, big (yeah, we missed those days too, it’s freaking huge)! And what better way to return than wrapped up in gorgeous art by our old pal Rick Veitch? Arthur lives again thanks to a publishing partnership with one of our favorite shops (and publisher of Diamond Comics, The Caterer and many more) Floating World in Portland, Oregon. Go get yours right here.
This has been an interesting new year… hell, an interesting week – for me, certainly – but also for the music industry. It’s possible some other things and people were affected by various other events as well. You know… maybe. Let’s see… Wow Cool turned 25, Alternative Comics will celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year, we started to move into additional space at the Wow Cool/Alternative Comics offices last Sunday – we’re on two floors now, I became the principal of an alternative school today (hey, shit happens), we signed a couple fairly big deal contracts that I’m sure you’ll hear about soon, Wow Cool returned to regular wholesale operations with a modest offering (a much larger one is due in April), and, in a fit of insanity I actually committed to drawing a new comic project. What follows is a seemingly random selection of links and thoughts on recent events that I’ve tried to connect as cleverly as James Burke.
This all started with a visit to the music page on the Danger Man website. Hosted there is an amazing assortment of songs featured in, or related to the 1960s British spy series Danger Man (AKA Secret Agent) starring Patrick McGoohan. Mio Amore Sta Lontano, High Wire, It’s a Lie and the unused version of the Prisoner theme by the Ron Grainer Orchestra are all under-heard classics. It’s a playlist you can easily leave on a loop all day.
Closer to (our) home, San Jose’s long running and most awesome of all record stores ever Big Al’s Record Barn will soon be shutting it’s doors – just one of many local businesses in an old building that is scheduled to be torn down to be replaced with more condos and strip malls. Dan Vado’s SLG headquarters on Mission Street is also slated for the wrecker’s ball, but they have found a new home in the rapidly growing Alameda district.
In other comics-land transitional news, the long-running Comics Buyers Guide is ceasing publication after a 42 year run. If I can dig up the necessary files and back issues, I will be posting a couple things from my few contributions to CBG here soon.
I doubt that Bill Drummond is dancing on tabletops in glee over all this sudden shortage of retail space for physical units of recorded music, but it’s safe to say he wouldn’t be surprised by it. OK. Who is? Nonetheless, he had his own fun (I think I mean pissing) in the modern music distribution swimming pool (sorry, I mean cloud. It’s cloud now, right? Oh well, there goes all that…) Just over 20 years ago, his group the KLF – at the height of pop music success – suddenly deleted their entire catalog of music. In the last few hours these tunes suddenly appeared for sale digitally, only to be removed shortly after.
Keiji Nakazawa, creator of the semi-autobiographicsl ten volume Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen) manga series about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the aftermath has died at 73. I picked up a copy of his shorter I Saw It comic when I was 14. It changed me forever. The entire Barefoot Gen series is available in English from Last Gasp.
Shift cut tangle word lines–Word falling–Photo falling–Bill Paxton
Taking Tiger Mountain
In 1974 Alan E. Nourse – an American physician and author released a science fiction novel called The Bladerunner about black market medical services trading in a future world. Nourse wrote many other science fiction novels with catchy names, including Rocket To Limbo. He also authored many popular titles dealing with venereal disease.
William S. Burroughs’ Blade Runner script was adapted into a film starring a young Bill Paxton (Weird Science, Aliens) by Tom Huckabee & Kent Smith. The film took many years to complete. It was finally released as Taking Tiger Mountain* to very limited screenings in 1983. Nearly 30 years after its completion it was screened again at The Texas Theater in Dallas (where Lee Harvey Oswald had been apprehended) and at Spectacle in Brooklyn.