Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Juliette Gréco R.I.P.


Juliette Gréco, an icon from the beginning to the end. St Germain des Prés beauty and a great song artist. A dramatic life with intense romances (Miles Davis) and a close friend and perhaps even muse to Boris Vian. I love her. -Tosh Berman.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

BOOK MUSIK: "Wagnerism" by Alex Ross


Book Musik 030 – Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross

Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross Cover graphic

Tosh and Kimley discuss Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross. A famous quip goes “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” Whether you find Wagner’s music to be sublime or bombastic, this is an essential read. It is not a biography or an examination of his music but, more interestingly, it’s a very deep dive into the enormous cultural and political influence Richard Wagner has had on his contemporaries and everyone since, from writers to painters, dancers, philosophers, politicians, and filmmakers. The diversity of those who’ve come under the spell of Wagnerism is beyond compare. And this is despite Wagner’s well-known antisemitism and association with Hitler and the Nazi regime. Cancel culture hasn’t quite figured out what to do with Wagner but Ross leaves no stone unturned in this enormous and hugely satisfying read.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17

Thursday, September 10, 2020

"Suppose A Sentence" by Brian Dillon (NYRB)


ISBN: 978-1-68137-524-3

It is always a pleasure to dwell in the words and world of Brian Dillon. "Suppose a Sentence" is a collection of literary essays, where the foundation is the sentence. Twenty-eight essays plus introduction focus at first a specific sentence by an author but then using that as a projection into that writer's style, structure, and sensibility. In many ways, this collection is a very straight forward literary inquiry into the author's work. It's not really about the sentence itself, or structure of writing, but how the beauty and form of writing take place in a reader's or critic's mind. 

Most of the authors/writers are well known here: Roland Barthes, Anne Carson, Thomas De Quincey (an author that comes up a lot in this book), Charlotte Brontë, George Elliot, Beckett, Virginia Woolf, and others. Pretty much the Western Literature world, but with some new figures such as the Korean-American Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and Jazz critic Whitney Balliett. I don't know the names like those two, but I want to read their works due to Dillon's take on their work. 

I love literature, and I too think of sentences that make me go-go almost the same manner as listening to exciting music. Dillon captures these moments in these brief but thoughtful series of essays. 

Friday, September 4, 2020

WILLIAM N. COPLEY: SELECTED WRITINGS edited by Anhony Atlas (Walther König)


WILLIAM N. COPLEY: SELECTED WRITINGS edited by Anthony Atlas (Walther König) ISBN: 978-96098-776-5

I know the name of William N. Copley (1919-1996) as a gallerist in Los Angeles during the late 1940s who focused on Surrealist art. Copley Galleries were the first to focus on the paintings and sculptures of Man Ray and do the first Joseph Cornell exhibition in Los Angeles. Overall, as a business, the gallery was a failure. However, like a cat with nine-lives, Copley focused his life as a painter, but still drawn into the world of Surrealism. There is a cartoon quality to his visual work that reminds me of a colorful Krazy Kat comic strip but with a strong sense of eros. Philip Guston also comes to mind. "William N. Copley Selected Writings" is a collection of his texts. They are unique works, like his paintings, that fully express his 'fun' character.

The exceptional quality of Copley is his relationship with the old Surrealist guard. He was a younger man when he met Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Cornell, and Max Ernst. So, one can feel the generational difference between him and the others. Still, Copley has a wicked sense of humor that must have been a delight to the European artists. His 'American' quality to accept failure and move on is an excellent trait by Copley. As an anthology of one person's writing is all over the map, but his devotion to the world of Ernst and others never tired him. Reading this book, you get some stories over again, but the context is the key here. In a manner, Copley is an outsider. Adopted to a wealthy and influential family, he is the black sheep in the family structure. Yet, his outside view of the world is a tool for him being involved in the arts—both as an admirer or collector and artist. Copley didn't use art jargon in his essays. He's very much a journalist reporting on the facts that are in front of him. His reading audience is people who are not necessarily into the visual or literary arts. He wrote for publications such as The San Diego's Evening Tribune, Herald News from Illinois, etc. All small-time and neighborhood newspapers. His first-person accounts with Man Ray, Duchamp, and Cornell make this book a worthy read. A generous slice of cultural history as it happened. -Tosh Berman.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

BOOK MUSIK 029 -Judy Garland's Judy at Carnegie Hall (33 1/3) by Manuel Betancourt


Book Musik 029 – Judy Garland’s Judy at Carnegie Hall (33 1/3) by Manuel Betancourt

Judy Garland's Judy at Carnegie Hall 33 1/3 bookTosh and Kimley discuss Judy Garland’s Judy at Carnegie Hall by Manuel Betancourt from the 33 1/3 series. This live double album was a milestone in pop-culture history. Recorded in 1961, the album is an homage to the American songbook, was on the Billboard charts for over 70 weeks, won four Grammy Awards and has never been out of print. It was a highwater mark both in terms of Garland’s career and as part of the cultural and sociological zeitgeist of the 60s. Garland looms large as an old-Hollywood film icon and as one of the most celebrated gay icons. Her life was full of tragedy and triumph and this album is undoubtedly at the pinnacle of her many triumphs.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17