Thursday, April 24, 2008

Peter Sellers On My Mind

Peter Sellers and The Fab Four

Peter Sellers and Dino

Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove mood but doing various British accents

Rare footage of The Beatles having a chat with Peter Sellers

Peter Sellers with Spike Milligan - Clip from "Mukkinese Battle Horn"

The Goons (with Peter Sellers) "This is Your Life"

Friday, April 11, 2008

a TamTam Books' Tribute to LUN*NA MENOH

Sukho Lee made this very short film starring Lun*na Menoh as a tribute to the great Meiko Kaji.

"Karappo City Blues" Music performed by Lun*na Menoh

Lun*na a couple of years ago did an art piece/fashion show called 'Ring Around the Neck Dirty Collar Dresses" Basically it is clothing that is totally made by white stained men's (dirty) collars.

"A Ring Around the Neck" Part One

"A Ring Around the Neck" Part Two

Here is Lun*na Menoh's "Spring & Summer Collection 1770 to 1998"

"Spring and Summer Collection 1770 to 1998"

Lun*na Menoh's "He(ad)ress"

"He(ad)ress" Part One

"He(ad)ress" Part Two

Lun*na Menoh's "Dress For Poet"

"Dress For Poet" Part One

"Dress For Poet" Part Two

And here's some fan footage of Lun*na Menoh's retrospective show (excerpts)

And there is her work with her band Jean Paul Yamamoto:

"Man Automated" Directed by Jeff Mizushima

And her music adventure with Sukho Lee - Seksu Roba

Make sure you check out the credits because there are some amazing people who worked on the films as models, filmmakers, composers, as well as legends.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

THE MONA LISA by Henri Gruel. Commentary by Boris Vian. With Vian in the film.


(The story of an obsession. Comment by Boris Vian for the short film “The Mona Lisa,” directed by Henri Gruel in 1957. The text was written in twenty-four hours. It was corrected by Anatole Dauman and Boris Vian in two hours.)

And ever since she was born, that 450-year-old lady has been provoking passions and crimes . . . to the point that her exploiters have now discreetly put her under surveillance…
In the crime world’s jargon, that kind of an informer is called ‘a grass’ or ‘a stool-pigeon’.
The museum that lives off Mona Lisa’s charms also shows a great deal of striptease. For instance: the Venus de Milo. Nevertheless, the bulk of the clients come because of the place’s most banal resident, attracted by nothing more than her face.
This Turkish painter has been coming every morning for twenty-seven years: he has copied that oblique smile and the folded hands more than 200 times. More than 150,000 copies spread throughout the world offer themselves up to the admiration of all peoples. The most advanced nations assess the power of their artistic heritage in terms of Mona-horsepower.
Every day, on the commodity brokers’ page, journalists report on important movements in Mona Lisa stocks. On foot, on horseback, in cars, the Mona Lisa moves around the universe.
In Paris, every year 100,000 tourists pay their money for a standard artistic turn-on. And many go to look, ignoring what they have come to see: the Mona Lisa; an abstract concept. How to escape from the obsession?
The Mona Lisa is everywhere. She is branded into innocent orange-skins. She gives the come-on for Italian tourism. She slips into the corsets of decent women.
Because she sells: cigars, aperitifs, projectors, suspender belts, books…
A milk cow, fifteen race horses, one element of the Saclay atomic reacor, all ear her name…
But why her? How did this moon-faced character, sailing like a procuress, achieve such a reputation?
Who are you, Mona Lisa?
Leonardo da Vinci sees her coming in. Are you coming for the cleaning lady’s job? She doesn’t answer. She smiles.
Hmm, Leonardo thinks, at last one who keeps her mouth shut. And he takes her as a model.
Four years later, the painting is finished… and the mystery begins.
Mona, are you Isabelle d’Este?
It is a man, one critic assures us let us verify this hypothesis with an open mind and try out some becoming and typically male hair-dos. Well . . . There is no doubt . . . She is ugly, all right, but not ugly enough to be a man.
Let’s go back to basics. What is the Mona Lisa?
An uncertain smile. Where does it come from?
Is it the ruptured smile of a music nut enchanted by Leonardo’s caressing tenor?
Is it the resigned smile of an inconsolable mother?
Is it the Buddha-like smile of some Asian divinity?
Is it the charming smile of a barbarous Etruscan?
Answer: it is a satiated smile. Leonardo da Vinci, the famous inventor of cocktails, tried them out on his models. Of course we rejected the hypothesis that it is a professional smile. Besides, all sixteenth-century Italian women smiled obliquely. Sixteenth-century Italian women smiled obliquely. They even took lessons from the good master Angelo Firenzuoia. Smile obliquely! . . . and fold your hands. The smile, the folded hands, that’s the Mona Lisa in a nutshell.
That was the opinion of: Raphael, Corot, Matisse, Soutine, Picasso and Léger.
The Mona Lisa obsesses the great and the good of his world.
And they all contribute their own commentary.
Elizabeth: enigmatic.
Bonaparte: The Sphinx of the west.
Dali: I am her. She is me.
George Sand: It isn’t a person. It’s an idée fuxe.
Morse: Beep, beep, beep.
Michelet: This canvas attracts, calls out, overwhelms, absorbs. Watch out.
Michelet’s warning wasn’t heeded. Luc Maspero, a young painter who lives in the attic of a moth-eaten hotel in old Saint-Denis, tries in vain to fix onto his canvas the smile that fascinated him. Lethal mistake. At the end of his tether, with a broken heart, Maspero jumps from the fourth floor.
Others are determined not to die without a fight.
On 22 August 1911, at seven in the morning, the house painter Vicenzo Perrugia slips into a deserted Louvre.
The voice of he court usher:
Twelve months in gaol
Cousins accused as accomplices
To the station the lot of you.
The poet Guillaume Apollinaire is suspected of receiving stolen goods.
The voice of he court usher: Fatal mistake.
After the passively defensive stance of Perrugia, a direct attack.
On 30 December 1956, at 16.15, the waiter Hugh Unzaga Villegas suddenly throws a rock at Mona Lisa.
Unfortunately, he misses and only inflicts a wound of one square centimeter on her arm. He is charged with damaging an object of public utility.
The voice of he court usher: psychiatric hospital.
Like Jupiter, Mona Lisa first renders mad those she wants to destroy and at that game, she wins every time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Juliette Greco in my vision of Heaven AKA Saint Germain des Prés

Boris Vian Discussion Group on Goodreads

For those who are interested in the world of Boris Vian, do join me on Goodreads. We can discuss the new title in the TamTam Books' ongoing Boris Vian releases: THE DEAD ALL HAVE THE SAME SKIN as well as other Vian titles.
The address is:


Tosh Berman
TamTam Books

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Juliette Greco meets Miles Davis

Miles Davis "So What"

Juliette Gréco singing "Les Amours Perdues" by Serge Gainsbourg

This is an interview from The Guardian UK May 26, 2006. I found this piece extremely charming and moving. Gréco is an artist that I admire from her toes to her head, and Miles... Well ok he's the king... of everything! Here's the article:

Like every young person of my generation, I immersed myself in jazz. I met the greatest musicians - Charlie Parker, the Modern Jazz Quartet, most often at the Club Saint-Germain with Sacha Distel, and Dizzy Gillespie when he came to Tabou. All that happened over the space of two or three years, a mythical period that today feels as though it lasted 20 years. They arrived after the war, we welcomed them, we listened to them fervently, we loved them, and in a way they transformed our ideas about what jazz was - what we already knew, we'd picked up almost by accident. During the Occupation, if you tried to listen to jazz, you risked punishment. So we listened to The Lambeth Walk - for us, the ultimate trip. But above all there was Django Reinhardt, again someone who had arrived from another world.
Article continues

I always loved it when I was taken to places where I could learn things. I was like a little sister to [the writer and musician] Boris Vian, who was very protective towards me. The first time Miles Davis came to Paris, it was at the Pleyel, a crumbling place. Recently, on a plane, I bumped into the man who ran the Pleyel and he said, "It's all changed, come and have a look." I was touched; it was very sweet. For it was there that I first met Miles, at his first concert in Paris.
There weren't any seats left - and anyway I wouldn't have been able to pay for one - so I was taken to watch from the wings by Michelle Vian, Boris's wife, who was looking after me. And there I caught a glimpse of Miles, in profile: a real Giacometti, with a face of great beauty. I'm not even talking about the genius of the man: you didn't have to be a scholar or a specialist in jazz to be struck by him. There was such an unusual harmony between the man, the instrument and the sound - it was pretty shattering. Miles was a spectacle in himself: he always dressed in a very classic way, not the way he dressed later on.

So I met this man, who was very young, as I was. We went out for dinner in a group, with people I didn't know. And there it was. I didn't speak English, he didn't speak French. I haven't a clue how we managed. The miracle of love.

I wasn't tempted to sing with Miles: why try to do badly, or less well, something that other people do so well? I'm not going to start singing jazz standards: it's not in my blood or my culture. Mind you, I have a deep affection and huge admiration for Ella Fitzgerald and a few others.

Miles didn't hear me sing until much later in New York, at the Waldorf-Astoria. Before that, to him, I was just me, a girl with a strange face, and it was me he loved, which made me happy. At that point I'd had only very limited success as an actress. I was becoming famous without really having done anything, which is a very uncomfortable position. I didn't talk much, only when I needed to ask questions - about existentialism, about things I'd read about without really understanding. One day [the philosopher] Maurice Merleau-Ponty spoke to me. He must have liked my face, because he invited me to dinner. We went dancing and he answered all my questions, which was magical. I was all curiosity but I felt I didn't have anything to give in return; I was at that age where all one does is take.

I'd heard of people like Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir when I was 14 or 15, through my sister who was a student, but I couldn't ever have imagined that one day I'd be close to them. Sartre said to Miles, "Why don't you and Juliette get married?" Miles said, "Because I love her too much to make her unhappy." It wasn't a matter of him being unfaithful or behaving like a Don Juan; it was simply a question of colour. If he'd taken me back to America with him, I would have been called names.

Years later at the Waldorf in New York, where I had a very nice suite, I invited Miles to dinner. The face of the maitre d'hotel when he came in was indescribable. After two hours, the food was more or less thrown in our faces. The meal was long and painful, and then he left.

At four o'clock in the morning I got a call from Miles, who was in tears. "I couldn't come by myself," he said. "I don't ever want to see you again here, in a country where this kind of relationship is impossible." I suddenly understood that I'd made a terrible mistake, from which came a strange feeling of humiliation that I'll never forget. In America his colour was made blatantly obvious to me, whereas in Paris I didn't even notice that he was black.

Between Miles and me there was a great love affair, the kind you'd want everybody to experience. Throughout our lives, we were never lost to each other. Whenever he could, he would leave messages for me in the places I travelled in Europe: "I was here, you weren't."

He came to see me at my house a few months before he died. He was sitting in the drawing room and at one point I went to the verandah to look at the garden. I heard his devilish laugh. I asked him what had provoked it. "No matter where I was," he said, "in whatever corner of the world, looking at that back, I'd know it was you."

· Interview by Philippe Carles; translation by Richard Williams.