Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Boris Vian inspirations

Les noces de Colin et Chloé

L'écumedes jours

Le pianocktail

Tribute to Boris Vian

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tribute to Alain Goraguer

Alain Goraguer working with Serge Gainsbourg

Alain Goraguer is one of the great French jazz/arrangers/electronic artists that somehow slipped through the cracks with respect to America's attention. But alas, TamTam Books wants to do a little tribute to this music giant.

Goraguer's soundtrack theme to the film based on Boris Vian's "I Spit on Your Graves." Side B.

Goraguer's soundtrack theme to the film based on Vian's "I Spit on Your Graves." Side A

Alain Goraguer's "Une voiture dans le ciel"

Ignore the first 30 seconds, but then it kicks into France Gall's "Nefertiti." Written by Gainsbourg and arranged by Goraguer.

Again ignore the first 20 seconds. France Gall singing and music by Goraguer.

Ignore the first 10 seconds till the song kicks in! But France Gall singing. Song by Gainsbourg and arrangements by Goraguer.

Alain Goraguer's famous soundtrack to "Le Planete Sauvage" (The Savage Planet).

Goraguer's soundtrack to "Le Plante Sauvage" as re-done by Jay Dee

A quiet piece (for a film) by Goraguer "Le Silencieux"

And there is so much more of this man's genius....

Quick and short Bio on Boris Vian

This is a bio that's pretty good on Boris Vian from the website "Books and Writers."

French novelist and playwright, a jazz connoisseur and critic, Dixieland trumpeters, and author of more than 400 songs. As a writer Boris Vian is perhaps best remembered for his novels L'écume des jours (1947) and J'irai cracher sur vos tombes (1946, I Spit on Your Graves). Vian's collected works amount to more than 50 vols. He died in a Parisian cinema at the age of 39 while watching a preview of the film I Spit on Your Graves. It was a story of a light-skinned Negro named Lee Anderson, who avenges the lynching of his younger, darker brother by raping and killing white girls.

"Write," he said. "Write best-sellers. Nothing but best-sellers. Historical novels; novels where colored men sleep with white women and don't get lynched; novels about pure young girls who manage to grow up unblemished by the vicious small-town life which surrounds them." (from I Spit on Your Graves)

Boris Vian was born at Ville d'Avray into a bourgeois family, that lost much of its wealth in the Depression. At the age of 12 Vian developed rheumatic fever and later he contracted typhoid which left him with an enlarged heart. However, it did not prevent him from pouring his energy into a number of artistic projects later in his life. Vian was first educated at home. At the age of 17 he learnt trumpet after seeing Duke Ellinton play. He studied philosophy at the Versailles lycée, and excelled in mathematics at the Lycée Condorcet, receiving a civil engineering diploma in 1942. During the 1940s he was employed for a time by the French Association for Standardization, a bureaucracy, which Vian satirized in his first novel, Vercoquin et le plancton. It was written in 1943, but published in 1946. After the war he played trumpet in the Left Bank caves, penned several hundred songs, mader a reputation as a cabaret singer, and wrote reviews for the magazine Le Jazz-Hot. He also contributed to Jean-Paul Sartre's magazine Les Temps Modernes Vian's most beautiful songs include the pacifist 'Le déserteur' (1955), about the Algerian war. It sold thousands of records, outraged the French patriots, and was banned. Vian also acted small parts in films and wrote film scenarios. In 1958, he and the director Louis Malle persuaded Miles Davis to play the music for Malle's film Lift to the Scaffold.

J'irai cracher sur vos tombes (1946) was written under the pseudonym Vernon Sullivan in ten days in the hard-boiled style of crime fiction. Vian had made a wager that he can compose a best-seller novel, and when a copy of the book was found in the hotel room of a murder victim, it gained a success beyond anyone's expectations. "Vian's book has a certain weary, mysogynistic humor – the chicks fuck like rabbits, or minks, and our hero gets a certain charge, or arrives at the mercy of a nearly unbearable ecstasy, out of his private knowledge that they are being fucked by a nigger: he is committing the crime for which his brother was murdered, he is fucking these cunts with his brother's prick. And he comes three times, so to speak, each time he comes, once for his brother, and once for the "little death" of the orgasms to which he always brings the ladies, and uncontrollably, for the real death to which he is determined to bring them." (James Baldwin in The Devil Finds Work) The book sold 100,000 copies before it was banned – Vian himself was fined 100,000 francs. In addition to American jazz, Vian was familiar with American mystery and detective novels, although he never visited the US – he translated from Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain. Other writers included Nelson Algren, Strindberg, Pirandello, and Brendan Behan, and from the field of science fiction A.E. van Vogt, William Tenn, Henry Kuttner, and Ray Bradbury. New Sullivans followed in 1947 and 1948. At the same time Vian produced more or less serious novels, plays and poems. A short opera, Fiesta, which tells the story of a mysterious shipwrecked man, was written for Darius Milhaud. The opera was first performed in West Berlin in 1948.

In the preface of L'écume des jours (1947) Vian wrote – echoing in his uncompromising tone Voltaire: "There are only two things: love, all sorts of love, with pretty girls, and the music of New Orleans ot Duke Ellington. Everything else ought to go because everything else is ugly." In America its 1968 translation, Mood Indigo, referred to Duke Ellington's famous composition. The tale of amour fou ('mad love') was set in the world where all material is organic, an eel sucks pineapple flavored toothpaste through the cold water tap, and elephants walk on the streets. Vian used deliberately naïve style with surrealistic images. The protagonist, Colin, is a rich young man, who is surrounded by his intellectual friends, one of whom is obsessed with the philosopher Jean Pulse Hearthe. Colin meets a pretty girl, Chloé. A strange illness is eating her away. "The corridor door would not open. All that was left was a narrow space leading to Chloé's bedroom from the entrance. Isis went first, and Nicholas followed her. He seemed stunned. Something bulged inside his jacked and from time to time he put his hand on his chest. Isis looked at the bed before she went into the room. Chloé was still surrounded by flowers. Her hands, stretched out on the blankets, were hardly able to hold the big white orchid that was in them. It looked grey by the side of her diaphanous skin." A mysterious water-lily grows inside Chloé's chest, Colin gives her more flowers, and she dies. Chloé is buried in a pauper's grave, and the verger and pallbearers dance away.

Vian's avant-garde plays had much connections to the theater of absurd. L'équarissage pour tous from 1946 was a "paramilitary vaudeville in one long act." Set in a Normandy knacker's yard, it depicted farcical marriage problems of a family on D-Day. The place is destroyed by wartime allies, the Free French, and other military personel. Les Bâtisseurs d'Empire ou le Schmurz (1959) was about a bourgeois family whose new apartment is invaded by a terrifying noise. The play was staged in England in 1962 and in New York in 1968. The General's Teatime was first presented in France seven years after Vian's death. It portrayed war as a "nursery tea-party," and mocked military leaders, church and the government. The play was inspired by General Omar Bradley's A Soldier's Story which Vian translated into French.

Several of Vian's books reflected his interest in science fiction, although sf made up only a small part of his activities. In Vercoquin et le plancton joys of life are threatened by standardization, represented by the Association Française de Normalisation. L'Automne à Pékin (1947) was a desert utopia, set in the imaginary land of Exopotamia, where a pointless railway is constructed. L'herbe rouge (1950) was a time-machine story, in which one character is haunted by a double.

Vian's first marriage, to Michèle Léglise, ended in 1952 in divorce, and two years later he married Ursula Kübler, a Swiss dancer. Although Vian was not taken seriously as a writer during his life time, he was a famous personality among the existentialist and post-surrealistic circles of Paris. In 1952 he was inducted as a Transcendent Satrap of the Collège de 'Pataphysique, an unconventional literary association founded to perpetuate the memory of Alfred Jarry. On June 23, 1959, the poorly made film version of I'll Spit on Your Graves finished Vian accrording to Louis Malle: "I've always thought that Boris died of shame from having seen what they'd done to his book. Like anything else, the cinema can kill." The film was banned in Finland.

For further reading: Boris Vian by D. Noakes (1964); Boris Vian: La Poursuite de la vie Totale by H. Baudin (1966); Boris Vian by J. Clouzet (1966); Boris Vian by M. Rybalka (1969); Les Vies parallèles de Boris Vian by N. Arnaud (1970); World Authors 1950-1970, ed. by John Wakeman (1975); From Dreams To Despair: An Integrated Reading of The Novels of Boris Vian by J.K.L Scott (1998); Boris Vian Transatlantic: Sources, Myths, and Dreams by Christopher M. Jones (1999); The Flight of the Angels: Intertextuality in Four Novels by Boris Vian by Alistair Charles Rolls (1999); Irresponsibly Engagé: Boris Vian and Uses of American Culture in France, 1940-1959 by Julie Kathleen Schweitzer (2005)
Selected works:

Troubles dans les Andains
L'équarissage pour tous, 1946 (play, performed in 1950) - The Knacker's ABC (tr. 1968) / Knackery for All (tr. in Plays for a New Theater, 1966)
Vercoquin et le plancton, 1946
J'irai cracher sur vos tombes, 1946 (as Vernon Sullivan) - I Spit on Your Graves (tr. by Boris Vian and Milton Rosenthal, 1948) - films: 1959, dir. by Michel Gast, starring Christian Marquand; 1971, Ipini boynunda bil, dir. by Ferdi Merter, prod. by And Film (Turkey)
Les morts ont tous la même peau, 1947 (as Vernon Sullivan) - The Dead All Have the Same Skin (tr. Paul Knobloch)
L'Écume des jours, 1947 - Froth on the Daydream / Mood Indigo (tr. 1969) / Foam of the Daze (tr. Brian Harper, 2003) - Päivien kuohu (suom. Leena Kirstinä) - films: 1968, dir.by Charles Belmont, starring Jacques Perrin, Marie-France Pisier, Sami Frey, Alexandra Stewart; 2001, Kuroe, dir. by Gô Rijû, prod. by DENTSU Music And Entertainment (Japan)
L'Automne à Pékin, 1947 - Autumn in Peking (tr. Paul Knobloch, 2005)
Fiesta, 1948 (opera, performed in Berlin)
Barnum’s digest, 1948
Et on tuera tous les affreux, 1948 (as Vernon Sullivan)
Elles se rendent pas compte, 1948
Les Fourmis, 1949 - Blues for Black Cat
Cantilènes en gelée, 1949
Elles se rendent pas compte, 1950 (Vernon Sullivan novel)
L'Herbe rouge, 1950 - TV film 1985, dir. by Pierre Kast, starring Jean Sorel, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Mijou Kovacs, Franca Gonella
L'Arrache-coeur, 1953 - Heartsnatcher (tr. by Stanley Chapman, 1968)
Le chevalier de neige, 1953
En avant la Zizique..., 1958
Les Bâtisseurs d'Empire ou le Schmurz, 1959 (play, performed at Jean Vilar's Théâtre Nationale Populaire) - The Empire Builders (tr. 1967) - TV film 1974, dir. by Jaime Jaimes, cast: Albert Simono, Micheline Presle, Stéphanie Loïk, Andréa Ferréol, Bruno Balp et al.
Les Lurettes fourrées, 1962
Je voudrais pas crever, 1962
Le Dernier des métiers, 1965
Le Goûter des généraux, 1965 (play, performed in Paris) - The General's Tea Party (tr. 1967)
Textes et chansons, 1966
Trouble dans les Andais, 1966
Chroniques de jazz, 1967
Chansons et poèmes, 1967
Théâtre inédit, 1970
Le loup garou, 1970 - films: 1998, Mona, les chiens, le désir et la mort, 1998, dir. by Jean-François Perfetti, starring Laura Favali, Richard Bohringer, Mariane Plasteig, Christophe Mie; 2007, À feu (animation), dir. by Vladimir Mavounia-Kouka
Tête de Méduse, 1971
Manuel de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 1974 - Boris Vian's Manual of St. Germain des Pres (tr. Paul Knobloch, 2005)
Chroniques du menteur, 1974
Le Ratichon baigneur, 1981
adaptation: Mademoiselle Julie, 1984 - TV drama from August Strindberg's play Fröken Julie, dir. by Yves-André Hubert, starring Fanny Ardant
Oeuvres de Boris Vian, 1989

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Boris Vian's TO HELL WITH THE UGLY: Chapter 14: "An Orgy After My Own Heart"

Chapter XIV


I wait. I wait and they wait. Everybody is waiting. I’m not sure, but I feel like I might have been nodding off because I suddenly jump up when I see someone open the door of the blue coupe. I recognize Cora’s dress. She gets in, followed by a young woman in a light tailored suit. She’s tall and thin, with a big head of blonde hair whose strands are flowing out of a ravishing hat (Is it, in fact, a truly ravishing hat? Do I really know anything about hats for that matter?). I silently pull away from the curb. The Dodge coupe is already moving along quickly, a good hundred yards ahead of us, and in my rearview mirror I can see Andy Sigman take off after us.

I think Gary is starting to wake up.

“What’s happening?” he says. “Are we at the beach?”
“No, not yet,” I say. “We’re going to take a little spin out to the country. Any objections?”
“When you figure out where you’re going…” he murmurs while falling back asleep. I bring him to with a swift elbow to the ribs.
“You know, Gary, you’d be better off making use of your gray matter instead of napping the day away.”
“Urhhg…” he mutters. “It’s all very simple, really. Derek Petrossian was working with his brother and a couple of other guys. And now they’re both looking for the photos.”
“This business with the photos leaves me feeling a little uneasy,” I say.

We’re really moving now. The Dodge is still quite a bit ahead of me. If I run into a red light I’ll lose them for sure, especially if should they decide to turn off somewhere.

She in fact does turn, but I saw it in time and I maintain my speed so that I’m able to follow them onto Foothill Boulevard. Seeing as the cops on this side of town are a bit less uptight, they start to drive even more quickly. They’re headed straight to San Pinto.

I decide to share these silent reflections with Gary. The heat is obviously not doing him any good – a punishing heat, which I forgot to mention to you, is also playing a role in this otherwise splendid afternoon.

“Do you know what’s going on?” I say, hoping to draw him back into the realm of reality.

“Sure,” he says. “We’re following Mary Jackson, who is currently being abducted by the girl whose purse you nicked.”
“Wow!” I say. “You’re not as muddle-headed as I’d thought. And between you and me, for a girl who’s being kidnapped she seems to be going along quite willingly. I wonder what the hell they told her.”
“That’s easy enough to guess,” groans Gary. “She probably invited her to an intimate little Roman orgy. It’s all the rage these days. From what you told me about Bernice Haven, these girls seems to be consenting participants.”
“You’re obviously right about that…” I say. “I mean after all I could have just gone along with the whole thing… Anyway, let’s talk about something else. It’s an unpleasant memory…”
“The choice was all yours,” smirks Gary.

I realize of course he’s completely right. The further things progress, the more stupefied I am at how all this has taxed my brain. Me, I was the one who wanted to be wise, but I’ve only discovered that I have the mentality of a colossal pervert. I start thinking that it would be a nice idea to catch up to those two ladies and buy them dinner in one of those little Mexican-style roadside inns that dot the highway.

I share this thought with Gary. He smiles.

“I had better start keeping an eye one you,” he says.

In the meantime, I push the pedal to the floor because the blue Dodge has started to lose itself in the fog… in a manner of speaking. But it’s a pleasant fog, the type that lends itself to a revitalization of one’s ideas. The car keeps flying down this billiard table of a road, and I’m really finding myself more and more drawn to the idea of passing the two girls and having a nice little chat with them.

“Come on, let’s go,” says Gary, keeping watch over me out of the corner of his eye. “You haven’t had much luck with this girl. Now try to calm down a bit. Anyway, this detective business doesn’t seem to agree with you.”
‘Shit,” I say. “All things considered, it really isn’t such a bad idea. Think about it. Considering their size, they’re really in no position resist the two of us, and I’m sure they’d be pleased to pass an evening with a couple of guys as handsome as us. What’s more, we’ll probably learn a thing or two.”

Too bad about Sunday Love. Gary’s starting to tire again so I accelerate. I catch up to the little blue coupe and force them over to the side of the road. It’s Cora who’s driving. She’s up to the challenge. I figure she must have recognized me right off, and instead of pulling over she brakes hard, lets me pass her, and then gives me a taste of my own medicine as she shamelessly overtakes me. But her motor is no match for mine. I start after her once more. This time she gives in and we both come to a stop, one behind the other. I stick my head in through the open window and make like we’re old friends.

“Hey, Cora,” I say. “How have you been, since this morning I mean?”
“I’m fine, Rock,” she replies. “May I present Miss Jackson. Mary Jackson. You know? She’s the one whose photo you saw in my purse.”

Given the brutish treatment I subjected her to earlier, I’m a bit wary of Cora. But things seem to be going smoothly. She doesn’t seem to be hiding a revolver in that bra of hers, which is every bit as well filled-out as it was this morning.

Andy Sigman and Mike pass us by and I see them stop about two hundred yards down the road to change a tire that is in absolutely no need of a change.

As for me, I continue with my initial come on.

“So Cora,” I say, “what about this grand feast we’re supposed to have together? There’ll never be a better time than right now. In fact, my buddy Gary Kilian is here and we could have a nice little dinner, just the four of us. How does that sound? I’m sure Miss Jackson wouldn’t object.”
“We’d be delighted,” says Mary Jackson.

It’s easy to tell that Cora is none too pleased by this quick response and she shoots Mary a nasty little look. Still, I keep on pushing.

“Perfect,” I say. “Gary is obviously ready and willing because he’s been after me to catch up to you two for the last few miles. He’s the one who first recognized you. So Cora, you come along with me and Gary will drive your car.”

I signal to Gary to come join us and when he gets here I introduce him. Five minutes later we’re on the road again. Feeling perfectly content, I start to sing a little song. Gary is following in the Dodge a hundred yards back, and a bit farther behind him are Andy and Mike, hot on our tails again after the bogus repair of their fake flat tire.

“What were you looking for earlier this morning?” asks Cora. “You took off all my clothes.”

Never in my life have I seen a girl this tough. Not that I’m feeling bitter about it, mind you, but rather a bit uneasy, as though she’d be ready to take my head off at any minute.

“I wanted to take advantage of your unconsciousness,” I tell her. “I’m so shy around girls that I like to make the most of things when they’re asleep, just to get a look at how it all works.”

And that’s more than a little bit true. After all, she’s without a doubt the type of girl who needs to be knocked around before you can have your way with her.

“Well, it was of no advantage to me,” she replied. “Maybe you’d like to explain to me just what you did when I was… dreaming?”
“That’s nothing I’d care to repeat,” I answer, “but when the two of us find a little quiet time together, I’d be happy to complete your education. Aside from that, do you have any idea where we might entertain ourselves for the evening?”
“There’s one place that’s not bad, just before you hit San Pinto,” she says. I suppress an involuntary movement and say:

“And try to be quick about it,” she continues. “I’ve had an exhausting day and my stomach is really growling.”

She’s clearly a worthy adversary. After an hour of driving, we stop at a charming little restaurant on the side of the road. It’s painted red and white and it’s surrounded by flowers. There’s a big car outside parked on a gravel lot.

That’s about all I’m able to notice. Gary catches up with us, and just as we enter the restaurant we’re jumped by four guys. Or should I say four gorillas?

I’m rolling around the floor like a bowling pin because one of them has tackled me by the legs… And what ensues is one of the toughest little fisticuffs I’ve ever seen in my life.

That is if I could have actually seen it!

Copyright: TamTam Books 2010
Translation & Copyright : Paul Knobloch 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Karappo City Blues

Karappo City Blues is directed by Kevin Sukho Lee, stars Lun*na Menoh, and features music by Jean Paul Yamamoto. This was shot on super 8 in sequence for Flicker LA's Attack of the 50 Foot Reels. ..

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Patti Smith: "Just Kids"

Just Kids Just Kids by Patti Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Superb memoir by an iconic figure. I would rate this highly with Bob Dylan's excellent memoir. Patti Smith focuses on her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe in the late 60's and early to mid 70's - just before she made her first album "Horses."

Again, it is not always the narrative that pulls you through, but the writing itself, and Smith is a fantastic writer. Also life in the Chelsea Hotel really comes to life in her hands. I can smell the front entrance just by her writing of the location, time, and the essence of 7th Ave and West 23rd Street. This is also a beautiful
portrait of Manhattan in its last grasp of importance to American culture - which I believe is the re-birth of punk rock and the budding start of hip-hop.

I don't think Patti Smith likes to think of herself as a rock n' roll writer for say, but nevertheless she is part of a generation of artists who came from the music world and have merged into literature with no push or pain. Dylan of course comes to mind, but also Richard Hell's novels are fantastic as well. Not only is this a classic rock n' roll memoir of sorts, but it is without the image of rock - and this is a classic piece of work that I think will be seen as a great American memoir.

View all my reviews >>

Tosh's (TamTam Books) Favorite Music January, 2010

I can't even figure out new music in the 21st Century. Music is so great, why does one have to deal with new stuff, when there is so much old stuff out there that's amazing. The only new releases that I have gone ga-ga are:

"The Seduction of Imgar Bergman" by Sparks

Is this even an album? It is something more out there than an album. Actually it is a radio play or more like a radio musical for Swedish radio. What we have here is somtehing unique and for sure probably the only original piece of work in the world of pop from this last year. The story of the great Swedish director Bergman being lured by the sinister Hollywood set is somewhere between Bertolt Brecht and Orson Welles. Totally original, totally insane and totally beautiful. Ron and Russell Mael are by far one of the great composers of the era. They stand there with Cole Porter, Brian Wilson, Serge Gainsbourg and such company. I don't understand anyone who doesn't buy this package now.

"God Help The Girl"

Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch's side project, and in my opinion I think he should quit his day job and focus on this project. This album is a stunner. Perfect British pop with incredible charm. I hear this may be a film or a musical - nevertheless this is a wonderful album with clever lyrics and beautiful singing by three singers: Catherine Ireton, Brittany Stallings, and Asya. All of them are really good, but the songs for Ireton are superb studies of life via the images of early 60's kitchen sink dramas. Osbourne fans unite. And yeah I never got into Belle & Sebastian for some odd reason - but this album does it for me in a big way.

"IRM" by Charlotte Gainsbourg

You know what's wrong with this album? Nothing. Charlotte Gainsbourg has never did a bad move. And this album continues her sense of genius in exploring new areas. Here she works with Beck, and yeah it sounds like Beck - but Gainsbourg brings incredible textures to the package. Like the last album she did with Jarvis Cocker and Air, she brings out the best with those who work with her. Remarkable album.

Also I have been totally obsessed with music I have been hearing from the Internet. I will get to those shortly....

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"Song Man" by Will Hodgkinson

Song Man Song Man by Will Hodgkinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is such a charming book on a thirty-something British man's attempt to write songs. Especially when he doesn't have any obvious talents in doing so. So what he has done is made a goal for himself to write some songs and record them.

And with that in mind he interviews Andrew Loog Oldham, Lawrence (from Felt), Andrew Webber, Ray Davies, Richard Hawley, Lamont Dozier, Jake Holmes, Chan Marshall (Cat Power), Keith Richards, Chip Taylor, among others about the nature, the craft and the art of songwriting. And on top of that he interviews Patti Boyd of Layla and George Harrison fame on the subject matter of being a muse.

But it is not just the subject matter of the book that makes this a charmer, but Will Hodgkinson's personality comes through the written page, and you are rooting for this guy to make good with respect to making music. He also has great taste when it comes to songwriters. It's nice that he chit chats with Webber on how to communicate in a song, and then noticing that underground iconic cult figure Lawrence is not that far off from Webber's aesthetic (as well as being a lot poorer, he also lived a few blocks away from the Titan of the Music stage.)

An incredible engaging narrative and I think this book belongs to the rock n' roll book classic category.

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