Thursday, August 25, 2011

McKenzie Wark's "The Beach Beneath The Street"

Without a doubt one of the better books out there on the Situationist International. And come to think of it maybe the best overall history of the movement that wasn't really a movement at all. McKenzie Wark breaks down all the main characters in this world - and tells exactly what they contribute to the literature or the series of actions that makes up Guy Debord and his world. And speaking of Debord there are a lot of others who contribute to this living critique of our world. 

I am also happy that there is great mention of Boris Vian and even my Dad shows up on these pages. Especially the fascinating chapter on the Scottish writer and the man who was always in the right place, right time and even more important - the right people, Alexander Trocchi. This is very much an essential guide to the Situationists and all the by-products of their culture that came before and even after. And the cover turned poster - is a must as well!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Duke Ellington - Chloe - Boris Vian

The great Duke Ellington doing "Chloe." And Chloe is one of the main characters from Boris Vian's "Foam of the Daze" (L'ecume des jours)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jake Arnott's "Johnny Come Home"

At last! The first 70's glam rock novel. And by the wonderful London observer and stickler to details - Jake Arnott. Like Arnott's great London 60's crime novel "The Long Firm," "Johnny Come Home" takes an intense look into the music scene of London's glitter era. Johnny, is sort of based on Gary Glitter - but I don't think it is actually him, just image wise. But the narrative deals with a gay couple involved in radical politics as well as a woman who is in that world as well as getting involved with a glam-struck rent boy, who is basically supported by the Gary Glitter character.

The novel is pulpy, but it is also a great snapshot of London culture and Arnott has a great feel for that time and the Capital's damaged citizens. Essential rock n' roll read.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Arthur Rimbaud's "Illuminations" (translated by John Ashbery)

I think what's amazing here is that a magnificent American Poet John Ashbery at the age 83 (or something like that) translated the great poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, whose poems were written when he was in his teens. The ultimate teenage rebel icon touched by the grand poet of American letters, whose work is still controversial and has a bite. One wonders what took so long? 
The truth is in this book, well, kind of. Rimbaud will always be this cloud that floats above us. It is there to be captured and read, but can one ever own the feverish imagery of his poems? Rimbaud's work is in Ashbery's DNA by now. 'Illuminations' is one of those perfect books or even moments, and Ashbery captures the essence and flavor of Rimbaud's vision and words. Mega-important!