Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Daniel Clowes

Eightball covers gallery at zines

A heaping helping of modern misery: The complete Mister Wonderful at the New York Times

Sunday, December 14, 2008

s & b film of the week 3 - double feature

Downtown 81 and Permanent Vacation

These two films should really be watched together, as opposite sides of a debased currency, a good/bad penny coughed up from the dying lungs of the 'underground' circa 1980. One side is shiny mint, the other scuffed and marred. Basquiat's optimistic fantasy plays prelude to fairy tale success and rock star death, while Jarmusch's anonymous antihero pushes off into nowhere. Somewhere along the way art dies and commerce becomes cool...

Friday, December 12, 2008

the poetry of Leif Segerstam

Esteemed Finnish conductor and wildman Leif Segerstam has a unique insight into the expressive possibilities of the English language:

"I have words for everything that can be expressed:

Fenugrish five things
I am fluxating in 8.
It is a Valsefy."

Graham Nasby has an extensive archive of Segerstam's astonishing neologisms.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

parisian paperback purchases

Even on a dark, wintry evening, with a gelid wind blowing along the Seine, one may find the odd stalwart bookseller plying his trade.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

far away fluxus

The Dream of Fluxus at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art is the largest Fluxus show ever held in Britain, and I would love to see it. Unfortunately the BALTIC is in Gateshead and I can't see myself schlepping so far north, even for an exhibition as interesting as this promises to be. It might as well be at the Pole...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gottfried Benn - Untergrundbahn (1913)

Die weichen Schauer. Blütenfrühe. Wie
aus warmen Fellen kommt es aus den Wäldern.
Ein Rot schwärmt auf. Das große Blut steigt an.

Durch all den Frühling kommt die fremde Frau.
Der Strumpf am Spann ist da. Doch, wo er endet,
ist weit von mir. Ich schluchze auf der Schwelle:
laues Geblühe, fremde Feuchtigkeiten.

Oh, wie ihr Mund die laue Luft verprasst!
Du Rosenhirn, Meer-Blut, du Höherzwielicht,
du Erdenbeet, wie strömen deine Hüften
so kühl den Hauch hervor, in dem du gehst!

Dunkel: nun lebt es unter ihren Kleidern:
nur weißes Tier, gelöst und stummer Duft.

Ein armer Hirnhund, schwer mit Gott behangen.
Ich bin der Stirn so satt. Oh, ein Gerüste
von Blütenkolben löste sanft sie ab
und schwellte mit und schauerte und triefte.

So losgelöst. So müde. Ich will wandern.
Blutlos die Wege. Lieder aus den Gärten.
Schatten und Sintflut. Fernes Glück: ein Sterben
hin in des Meers erlösend tiefes Blau.

mobile home

Ilona's Snail House, by night and by day

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

plus ça change

The Boulevard Montparnasse has altered so little since Camille Pissaro depicted its changing, changeless face in 1897. I hope to return soon to Paris...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

strange and beautiful film of the week 2

Sedmikrasky aka Daisies (dir. Vera Chytilová, 1966)

Delightful document of the short-lived Czech New Wave, in which two thoroughly modern young women embark upon an epic journey of boredom, petty crime, provocation and mockery. A freewheeling romp of extreme montage, sudden shifts, spontaneous installations and special disaffections. Something like the futility of freedom.

let's return to the trees

Lioness by Douglas Ross

Thursday, November 13, 2008

joshuas by night

photos from Lost America

Saturday, November 8, 2008

strange and beautiful film of the week

Valerie a týden divů (Valerie and Her Week of Wonders) is quite simply one of the most beautiful films ever made and should be seen by all lovers of dreams. Furthermore it is yet another product of that greatest of all years, 1970. Warped Reality has two cues from the original soundtrack, as well as some pleasing samples of the Valerie Project, music inspired by the film. There is a large gallery of screenshots at The Cherry Blossom Girl.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

history = remembrance = love

Moving images of teenage resistance fighters during the Warsaw Uprising, 2 September 1944. There is a great movie to be made from this story...

(photos by Jerzy Tomaszewski from Wikimedia)

Friday, October 31, 2008

and I still see their faces...

A few samples from an amazing photographic archive of Polish Jewry before the Shoah.

seasonal citation

Bruno Schulz, Infanta and Her Clowns, 1933

"Fall is a great touring show, poetically deceptive, an enormous purple-skinned onion disclosing ever new panoramas under each of its skins. No center can be reached. Behind each wing that is moved and stored away, new and radiant scenes open up, true and alive for a moment, until you realize that they are made of cardboard. All perspectives are painted, and only the smell is authentic, the smell of wilting scenery or theatrical dressing rooms, a pile up of discarded costumes among which you wade endlessly as if through yellow fallen leaves."

Bruno Schulz, "A Second Fall"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

auguries of autumn

some seasonal scenes by the prolific and rather sweet Tor Lundvall

Under the Shadows of Trees #5, 2001

The Secret Place, 2000

October Moon, 2000

November, 1999

Friday, October 17, 2008


Tzara and Picasso at Vallauris, 1950

frère bois
et sœur pierre
les malins
vont au bois
cueillir des pierres

sur les douves
dans les prés
on ne trouve
que regrets


tu ouvres les ailes
pour partir en voyage
tu te moques de nous
à ton âge


tard levé
tôt couché
soleil frileux
parle-moi de Botticelli

Sunday, August 31, 2008

more vintage indolence

from Paris Magazine, November 1931

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Matta 1970


Dar a la vida una luz

Blotti sous l'escorpion

Three vast paintings by Matta, from the year of my birth.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

L'apologie de la paresse

Pictures of old-time poppy enthusiasts from Histoire de l'Oeil

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

a home for dreamers

Ukrainian sky ship. More photos here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zu Abend mein Herz

Am Abend hört man den Schrei der Fledermäuse.
Zwei Rappen springen auf der Wiese.
Der rote Ahorn rauscht.
Dem Wanderer erscheint die kleine Schenke am Weg.
Herrlich schmecken junger Wein und Nüsse.
Herrlich: betrunken zu taumeln in dämmernden Wald.
Durch schwarzes Geäst tönen schmerzliche Glocken.
Auf das Gesicht tropft Tau.

--Georg Trakl, 1913

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vintage album art

Ted Coconis, Album cover for RCA Records, c. 1971

Kitsch but striking sleeve art for my favourite Shostakovich symphony, in a sort of Klimt meets Hammer Horror style. I'm not sure about the big skull, which appears to have been painted with toothpaste, but I like the interlocking nudes and crosses just below and to the right of it:

A quick Google search reveals that illustrator Ted Coconis is still around, though his recent paintings lack the period charm of works like this Jefferson Airplane sleeve, featuring a clever parody of Hugo van der Goes' Fall of Man:

Ted Coconis, Album cover for RCA Records (detail), date unknown

A film poster, Dorian Gray, yields this characteristic detail, which would have made an excellent, if trashy, cover for Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita:

Ted Coconis, Film poster for Dorian Gray (detail), c. 1973

Bulgakov brings us back round to Russia and Shostakovich's 14th Symphony, a harrowing, death-wracked song-cycle for soprano, bass, strings and percussion. Composed in 1969, it sets poems by Lorca, Apollinaire and Rilke. Much as I admire it, I can only bring myself to listen to it every two or three years, so tormented and tormenting is it. Perhaps I'm due another hearing.