Monday, May 30, 2011


Entirety of first one-hour episode of new three-part bbc tv series by the brilliant ADAM CURTIS (Power of Nightmares, Century of the Self, The Trap)...


Been listening to this Groundhogs LP lately. Click on the cover for a review from Head Heritage.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I first heard of Ruth Stout when reading Daniel Chamberlin's piece for Arthur Magazine on Tim Dundon, the Alta Dena, California "king of compost"/"guru of doo-doo"/"sodfather," back in 2007:
Ruth Stout [was] a rebellious woman raised as a Quaker in Girard, Kansas, [who] published her first book in 1955. How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back outlined her philosophy of permanent mulch, summed up with the maxim “no dig, no work.” [S]he recognized nature as a gardener that didn’t need to be improved upon, and was reputed to tend to her bountiful, chaotic roadside gardens in the nude.

After Dundon moved back to his parents’ place in 1973, he continued to garden, but it was Stout’s writing that gave him the inspiration to start his now legendary compost heap and the jungle that has sprouted from it. “I read her book about mulching,” he says, “and how it had turned her place into a virtual paradise. She had all this stuff growing, really wild, just by spreading hay and organic material on the ground..."
In the interim since we published Dan's article (with photography by Eden Batki) in Arthur No. 27 (Dec 2007), a vintage documentary on Ruth Stout, filmed in 1976 when she was 92, has appeared online. In it, she shows her way of doing things, relates her history and confirms that she did indeed regularly slow traffic by gardening in the nude. What a woman!

Here's "Ruth Stout's Garden," directed by Arthur Mokin...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


THIS IS A REALLY BIG DEAL, but I've only seen original reporting on it so far in the Washington Post...

Last week the Smithsonian announced that it had acquired the Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership for its collection. It's not the original Mothership, which debuted in 1976 and disappeared in 1982, but it's from the same fleet — it was used on P-Funk tours in the mid-'90s. And George says it's cool. "[The second ship] went out on the road for a long time," he told the Post. "Nobody knew the difference!”

Read the whole Washington Post piece by Chris Richards here:

Here's some vintage Parliament-Funkdadelic mothership footage, apparently from a Halloween show in Houston in 1976. Glen Goins calls down the sweet chariot.

And from Houston, 1978: P-Funk, accompanied by openers Cameo and the BarKays, see George off...

Absolute height of western civilization, right? Whatever the Smithsonian paid to get the mothership in their house couldn't possibly have been enough.

Now for a Congressional Medal of Honor...


BONUS VIDEO!: Funkadelic 1971 studio footage...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Just got hip yesterday to this series of conversations starting June 5. I'll write more about what I think Terence McKenna's legacy is later, but for now I'll just say that I hope this online course will quickly and definitively dismiss Terence's Timewave Zero/2012/Novelty Theory hypothesis as nonsense (fascinating nonsense, for sure, but of little consequence nonetheless) and begin to reframe his legacy around his many other remarkable accomplishments and insights. I can think of no better person better qualified to start that process than Terence's brother, Dennis, who will be hosting this series.

Here's a link and some of the details about what you get for $110 ($90 if you sign up before May 20)...

By participating in this online course, you will receive:

* Four 90-minute live video seminars with Dennis McKenna and his featured guests Erik Davis, Ralph Abraham, Ralph Metzner, Dr. Luis Eduardo Luna, Mark Pesce and Daniel Pinchbeck
* 30 minutes of question and answer time in each seminar
* Breakout sessions for student discussion following each seminar
* Participation in a private online community with other students
* Unlimited online access to videos of all seminars
* PDF articles about course topics from Dennis and each of the guests

Click on the adthing above or on this text for more details about the program and how to sign up. Please note that I make a small commission from each sale through this site.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


All four original members, playing together live for the first time in a few years, with a clutch of new songs in hand.

Lavender Diamond
plus special guests
plus DJ Chris Ziegler (LA Record)
At Center for the Arts Eagle Rock
2225 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Friday May 20

$12 / $10 adv / 8pm / All ages
Buy Tickets Online

Tickets are $10 adv & $12 day and are also available at Origami Vinyl in Echo Park.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Here's a short film that filmmaker Peter Whitehead made for the Rolling Stones for their song "We Love You." It was the first song the Stones released after Keith and Mick got out of jail on drugs charges and then had sentences dropped on appeal. Paul McCartney and John Lennon sing on it, "directed" by Allen Ginsberg. That's Nicky Hopkins on piano, and the Stones' Brian Jones on mellotron. The film features a re-enactment of the trial of Oscar Wilde, with Marianne Faithfull in the role (according to wikipedia) of Lord Alfred Douglas.

The circumstances around "We Love You"'s recording and release — and the obvious implications of both — always intrigued me. In a moment of optimism in May 2005, I wrote this short piece, published in the LAWeekly...

Instant Rock for the People
With “Blue Orchid,”the White Stripes bring the rock the old-fashioned way: really fast

A new White Stripes song came on the radio last week. The song itself — a 157-second slice of raw, immediate AC/DC-Queen falsetto disco rawk called “Blue Orchid” — is kinda new, kinda old, kinda weird and pretty great, like White Stripes singles always are. But what may be even more significant than the song itself is the fact that we’re hearing “Blue Orchid” right now, less than a month after it was recorded.

This isn’t the way it usually works. But then, the White Stripes don’t work like other star bands. Their music gets by, as the Zen saying goes, by doing just enough, but never too much: a few instruments, recorded on a few tracks in a few hours for a few dollars. This approach works for them artistically, and in the context of an industry that normally spends millions recording and promoting its stars, it also makes Jack and Meg genuine radicals. Now the band have extended those same values to their method of distributing their music — a process you could call “instant music.”

According to band associate Ben Blackwell, the song was written and recorded on March 10 in Detroit (the vocals finished a few days later), mixed at Ardent Studios in Memphis on or around March 21, mastered in New York on March 28, and immediately delivered to the Stripes’ label. On April 18, “Blue Orchid” was released on iTunes as a 99-cent download. Within minutes, a song with no video, no movie tie-in, no advertising campaign, no TV appearance, no fashion spread, no ring tones, no hype and, most importantly, no payola men or market research, was gaining radio airplay nationwide.

This is exceedingly rare in the major-label rock world, where records get released when labels want to release them, rather than when they are completed. In the past year, Queens of the Stone Age and Sleater-Kinney also have recorded music very quickly and very in-the-raw, but the time lag between creation and distribution was much more than six weeks. And while there are instant records in hip-hop and reggae, they are seldom commercially released, and are heard only by specific audiences in specific markets at specific times. Country music seems more open to instant music: Note all the post-9/11 and pro-war songs that were recorded and quickly aired.

If instant music became more widespread — if more musicians exploited digital technology to decrease the time between music’s creation and distribution — it could signal a positive shift in the pop-culture loop: Musicians could make direct commentary on what’s going on day-to-day in the world, as griots, troubadours and bards did for most of human history pre-phonograph. Instant music also means less hype — and a far less mediated interaction between musician and audience.

Music is powerful. What would happen if the messages in it were radical and immediate, instead of conformist and packaged by the concerns of nameless number-heads and spin hucksters? What if we heard a song in the now,rather than 10 months removed from the setting that shaped it and gave it heat? Of course, some songs are timeless from the moment they’re finished. But some gain significance/richness/power from the audience’s proximity to the creative moment. Just the opportunity to make and distribute music in this way can push musicians to do interesting stuff they might not otherwise do.

The instant-music-for-the-people thing used to happen all the time in rock, especially in its classic, high-moment artistic-and-cultural-impact phase in the mid- to late ’60s, before it got corporately routinized into the Banality With Significant Exceptions situation that we have today. For example: On June 27, 1967, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were handcuffed and thrown in jail on serious drug charges. Theverynextday, The Who went into the studio and, in a show of solidarity, recorded pointed cover versions of “(This Could Be) The Last Time” and “Under My Thumb.” On June 30, The Who released the songs to radio and stores with the statement: “The Who consider Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been treated as scapegoats for the drug problem and as a protest against the savage sentences imposed upon them at Chichester yesterday, The Who are issuing today the first of a series of Jagger/Richards songs to keep their work before the public until they are again free to record themselves.”

What happened next: Public outrage grew, the Stones’ sentences were lifted on July 31 by an appeals court, and less than three weeks later, the band released the psychedelic victory song “We Love You,” recorded while the pair were appealing their convictions, with John Lennon and Paul McCartney on backing vocals. Jagger said the song was a “thank-you to fans and supporters for their help during the trial and appeal period.” “We Love You” opens with ominous sounds: a prison warden’s footsteps, the clanking of chains and the distinctive slam-shut of a prison-cell door. It was the sound not just of the loss of personal liberty, but the shutting down of immediacy and freedom, the restraints against movement by chains. Rock & roll represents nothing if not the absolute destruction of chains: the sweet-heat moment of dance action; the moving, trembling, deafening vibration of molecules; the mind-body-spirit reaction to being in the presence of culturally-personally-spiritually-aesthetically resonant sounds and songs. The door to that space has been closed for too long in rock. Perhaps, with “Blue Orchid,” that door is opening again.

Ah well...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

NOW IS THE TIME (updated May 30, 2011)

Here is an excerpt/teaser from the best music documentary I've ever seen, MC5 A True Testimonial, completed in 2002 by filmmakers David Thomas and Laurel Legler:

In 2004, on what I had been assured was the eve of the film's release, we published an interview with the filmmakers in Arthur, the free national magazine that I was editing (and co-owning). That article, “HIGH FIVE: Detroit’s visionary MC5 receive a film tribute that aims to rewrite rock history” by Steffie Nelson, is available to read here at the Arthur Archive.

I got so cranked by this film, and by Steffie's great interview, that we built out a whole section of that issue of Arthur around the band.

In addition to the aforementioned interview with the filmmakers, rockwriters James Parker, The Seth Man and Ian F. Svenonius contributed brilliant pieces that added up to "TEN OUT OF 5: A comprehensive guide to the MC5’s recordings, for the curious, the enthusiast and the hopeless completist" (read it here at the Arthur Archive). There were some other sidebar pieces, and a ton of great vintage photography courtesy Leni Sinclair, and new artwork by Plastic Crimewave. We even got MC5 singer Rob Tyner's impressive 'fro on the cover, along with a giant centerfold spread that featured a photo of a nearly life-size Tyner handing a joint to the reader. Bill Nelson's page design was sensational. (If you want a copy of the magazine, you can order a copy here.)

We were all working for free, or going into debt, or in one case, getting something somewhere south of minimum wage...none of which was unusual when it comes to the MC5. This is the kind of band—and this was the kind of film, and 2004 was the kind of time in American history—that stirs up such devotion.

We got carried away for a reason. You'd be able to see why, except...

MC5 A True Testimonial never got a legitimate release, due to some tedious legal loose ends that have taken years to work out.

But now, apparently, the filmmakers are within $27,000 of being able to get this film out there for all to see. A friend of the MC5 has been conducting a Kickstarter campaign to get the money. It has four days to go:

UPDATE 5.30.11: New campaign ending July 4, 2011 to raise $25k via kickstarter-like IndieGoGo to acquire the synchronization license to use the MC5 music in the film. This is the final hurdle that needs to be cleared before this film can be released.

Do what you need to do to look yourself in the mirror and feel good about yourself.

Need more? Here's some (apparent) surveillance footage shot by a US government agency of the MC5 performing in the park at the 1968 Democractic National Convention in Chicago, right before the cop riot started. There's no sound, but...


Doug Paisley gives a performance of "End of the Day," from his latest album, Constant Companion, available at record stores, on amazon and itunes...

And another song, from a performance in Brixton...

Doug is currently on his first solo tour in Europe. Two more shows:

Thursday, May 5 - Brest, France - Le Vauban

Saturday, May 7 - Paris, France - La Fleche d'Or

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Not quite Trip Glasses ($39.95 from the maker's website), but pretty good, eh?


I'm curious how (whether?) this works for other folks. If you feel like commenting (anonymity is fine), it'd be useful if you'd state whether you have any previous experience with meditation and/or LSD, psilocybin or any other heavy-duty hallucinogen....

Monday, May 2, 2011


Over the last few days, I've been reading and digging Austin Osman Spare: The Life and Legend of London's Lost Artist by Phil Baker, a biography about the elusive artist/magus just published by Mark Pilkington's increasingly formidable Strange Attractor Press out of London. It's a remarkable book—one which I plan on commenting on at length, soonish—but I wanted to share the following tasty bit right away. From page 92:

Spare devised another graphic system he called the Sacred (or Atavistic) Alphabet, or the Alphabet of Desire, where each character supposedly corresponded to a "sex principle."

The idea of a primordially-rooted language, where signs would correspond more fully to the nature of things, is perennial: Giordano Bruno writes in De Magia of a "language of the gods," last glimpsed by mankind in the form of Egyptian hieroglphyics (still undeciphered in Bruno's day) and Ezra Pound put his faith in the pictorial basis of Chinese ideograms. In the 1960s Ted Hughes and Peter Brook attempted to develop a language called Orghast, effectively a magical language where words would have "a more inevitable relationship to reality."

Ted Hughes did what? A minimum of investigation brings us to this book...

I just ordered my copy.

More soon...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ira Cohen's life remembered in the new york times

New York Times - May 2, 2011
Ira Cohen, an Artist and a Touchstone, Dies at 76

Ira Cohen made phantasmagorical films that became cult classics. He developed a way of taking photographs in mesmerizing, twisting colors, including a famous one of Jimi Hendrix. He published works by authors like William Burroughs and the poet Gregory Corso. He wrote thousands of poems himself. He wrote “The Hashish Cookbook” under the name Panama Rose. He called himself “the conscience of Planet Earth.”

But his most amazing work of art was inarguably Mr. Cohen himself. NY Arts magazine in 2008 called his life “a sort of white magic produced by an alchemist who turned his back on the establishment in order to find God, art and poetry.”

He died of renal failure in Manhattan on April 25 at the age of 76, his family said.

Mr. Cohen made his Lower East Side loft an artists’ salon, then left to spend many years on pilgrimages to Marrakesh, Katmandu and the banks of the Ganges. He hung with Beats but rejected being called one. He was an entrepreneur of the arts who didn’t care about money.

Clayton Patterson, a photographer and historian of the Downtown scene, suggested that if Mr. Cohen couldn’t be easily summed up, that was pretty much the whole idea: “On the one hand he was part of everything, but on the other he was an outsider to everything,” Mr. Patterson said in an interview.

In certain artistic and literary circles, Mr. Cohen was a touchstone. “Ira was a major figure in the international underground and avant-garde,” Michael Rothenberg, the editor of Big Bridge magazine, an Internet publication, said in an interview. “In order to understand American art and poetry post-World War II, you have to understand Ira Cohen.”

Mr. Cohen was born in the Bronx on Feb. 3, 1935. Both his parents were deaf, as were most of their friends, and he learned early to communicate with signs. “I grew up constantly surrounded by these wonderful, loving people with strange voices like doves cooing in the eaves of a country house,” he said.

He graduated from the Horace Mann School at 16 and attended Cornell, where he took a class taught by Vladimir Nabokov. He smoked marijuana and imagined how wonderful certain great writers might have been had they had the opportunity. He dropped out of Cornell, then enrolled at the School of General Studies of Columbia University but did not graduate.

He married Arlene Bond, a Barnard student, in 1957, and they had two children. By the early 1960s they were divorced, and he had taken the same Yugoslavian freighter to Morocco that Jack Kerouac had jumped a year earlier. In Tangiers, he lived and worked with Mr. Burroughs and Paul Bowles, the composer and author. He started a literary magazine called Gnaoua, ostensibly dedicated to exorcism. A copy can be seen on the mantelpiece on the cover of Bob Dylan’s 1965 album “Bringing It All Back Home.”

In the late 1960s, he returned to his loft and perfected his technique of photographing reflections on the surface of a polyester film with the trade name Mylar. Jimi Hendrix, of whom Mr. Cohen made a famous picture, likened the effect to “looking through butterfly wings.”

In 1968, Mr. Cohen made a 20-minute film using the Mylar technique, The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, which has steadily risen in popularity. The original drummer of the Velvet Underground, Angus MacLise, improvised the score, a smorgasbord of Tibetan, Moroccan and Druidic trance music. A Village Voice reviewer said one left the film “perched full-lotus on a cloud of incense, chatting with a white rabbit and smoking a banana.”

Also in 1968, Mr. Cohen’s name popped up in newspaper articles when he was arrested and fined $10 for obstructing a police officer trying to shut down a performance of the avant-garde Living Theater company for obscenity. Mr. Cohen’s production company, Universal Mutant, soon produced a movie of the questioned play, "Paradise Now.”

In the 1970s Mr. Cohen went to Katmandu, Nepal, where he started a hand-operated press to publish manuscripts, some on black rice paper with red ink flecked with gold powder. Mr. Corso had left a poem in Katmandu, and Mr. Cohen published it.

He returned to New York in 1981 and moved in with his mother in an Upper West Side apartment. In 1982 he married Carolina Gosselin; they divorced seven years later. After his mother died in 1993, he remained in the apartment until his own death.

Mr. Cohen wrote countless poems; had photographic exhibitions around the world; did poetry readings; helped edit small literary magazines; released a movie about a Hindu religious festival; and became the president of a nonprofit corporation dedicated to preserving “the hidden meaning of the hidden meaning.”

He is survived by a son and daughter from his first marriage, David Schleifer and Rafiqa el Shenawi; a daughter from his second, Lakshmi Cohen; a son from his relationship with Jhil McEntyre, Raphael Cohen; a sister, Janice Honig; and several grandchildren.

A self-described multimedia shaman, Mr. Cohen compared writing to “pushing a peanut with my nose.” But a postscript to one of his poems marveled at the beauty that could inexplicably blossom: “Sometimes when I pick up my pen,” he wrote, “it leaks gold all over the tablecloth.”