Huis Clos: 17 July 2017

My first night in London after the conference I went to a much anticipated show where I finally got to meet Richard Sanderson of Linear Obsessional Recordings and hear him play. It was great! We had fun chatting before and after the performance (Mr B’s ears must have been ringing burning 😉 heh). The performance was utterly absorbing and the space, Iklectik, was really terrific and completely unexpected–goats in central London! Also, there were unexpected Blake mosaics. I was chatting with a friend of Richard’s after and it struck me why I find this kind of music so appealing at present: it requires all your attention without words. Anything that quiets my overbusy brain is good. More pix on FB of course.

Huis Clos: an evening exploring the subtleties of larger group improvisation (first as a whole, then as two ensembles)

Ed Lucas: trombone
Antonio Acunzo: piano
Joe Wright: saxophone
Jordan Muscatello: double bass
Richard Sanderson: Melodeon
Dan Powell: electronics
James O’Sullivan: electric guitar
Chris Prosser: violin

 

 

Review: Gimme Danger

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Music is life. And life is not a business.

When I came out of the theatre there was blood on the pavement and a guy whose face had been smashed by something. It seemed out of place on a quiet Albany afternoon, but not after this film.

The Stooges are a perfect meeting of the mind-bending exuberance of youth and the free-floating impotent anger that often accompanies it when that energy has no place to go. Surrounded right now by a cultural climate that has filled most of the women I know (mostly past that first exuberance of youth) with a rage that has few outlets, it was a good catharsis. It could have been many things — like an Iggy film — but it was tightly bound to the band. Jarmusch, too, stayed out of the way (I hate those big name doco directors who make it all about showing what good taste they had).

The film is stripped down, filling in missing footage with Iggy’s narration and found footage, crazy cultural references and even animation. I can’t even begin to tell you anything rational about it because I was so immersed in it that I wasn’t making mental notes. There was a point where all three of us in the theatre laughed out loud at something so unexpected I couldn’t tell you what it was because the movie clipped right along.

Things that stuck this first time around (because I will be watching this again and again as soon as I can get my hands on it): how weird it was to hear all these mid-Michigan accents I grew up with that now sound totally alien. Every time I hear Iggy talk there’s that dislocation. How the band all lived up to that hippie ideal of ‘communism’ — living communally, sharing everything, even song writing credits. ‘That was before we knew about intellectual property rights,’ he said drily. How the younger girls they met in Washington Square who were a[n unnamed] band were much better than them spurred the Stooges on to want to be better. How they saw the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame induction as crowning the coolness of losers. How visionaries like Danny Fields saw their promise and pretty much no one else did — until suddenly every band in the world seemed to be covering the Stooges.

Soupy Sales. James Williamson’s second career!

Near the end of the film, Iggy remembered bringing a bunch of guys from his high school back to his folks’ trailer, trying to get in with them and they made fun of where he lived and how small the bathroom was. And his avowal that he wanted to outlive them and show them and put them in their place (like Tori with ‘I want to smash the faces / of those beautiful boys’).

Anger is an energy, as that other guy said. Let it lift us.

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Sing It, Sister!

Up today at The Pigeonhole’s Love Letters is ‘Intoxicate Me’ in which they describe me as singing in ‘dulcet tones’ 🙂 you can be the judge of that. Give it a go. Don’t you need a little love?

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Free Love from The Pigeonhole

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Yes, that gif has been designed just to hypnotise you! Or at least it’s there to get your attention. I think. Sign up for this free multimedia event which takes place both online and on the Southbank and you will be rewarded with many musings about love — including a song by me. That’s right. I am full of surprises.

Don’t you need a little extra love?

P.S. If you like the song, it’s available on this Linear Obsessional recording:

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Love Me

Words I hear in Dudley Moore’s voice, of course. As you will doubtless guess I am exhorting you to check out things that I am doing. A rather pointless venture, I know. The only thing people read on social media are the things they have tagged you in. C’est la vie. My head is full of things that must come out. Decades of indifference have left me delusional that you are all pining to hear my latest: don’t wake me up.

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Gutterthon

Those great folks at the Cultural Gutter are raising funds to pay their writers. A novel concept but I hope it catches on and puts the HuffPo out of business. I have contributed to the cause by offering to write the original story for my Deliberately Lost SF Classic ‘Psycho Motorcycle Dolls (1966)’ and you can be one of ten people to see this exclusive story by contributing to the Gutter. There are other fabulous prizes as well.

 

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Letters on Love from The Pigeonhole

Yes, just that gif has made me start twitching just in the time it took to write this but it’s there to get your attention. I think. Sign up for this free multimedia event which takes place both online and on the Southbank and you will be rewarded with many musings about love — including a song by me. That’s right. I am full of surprises. Which brings me to…

How to Be Dull

Admit it, you’d prefer a dull life. So does Basil Morley. Soon he will explain to you how to obtain this nirvana in the hottest self-help book of the season. I can promise you it is a peach and looks extraordinary because that Stephanie Johnson has been whipping the thing into shape. So start following the site and do be DULL.

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Letters on Love

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Coming next month from The Pigeonhole: Letters on Love, a multimedia extravaganza on love letters. Here’s the scoop:

This September, we will be teaming up with writers, artists and musicians to create the first multi-faceted, mixed-media message on the vagaries of our most fascinating emotion – love. Over two weeks you will receive love letters, some from strangers, some from familiars, but all will teach you something important. Read with others from around the globe and join in the love discussion. With a collaboration with the Southbank Centre to boot, this promises to be one of our best Pigeon books yet. Sign up now to be part of something brilliant.

Of course I’m telling you about this because I will be part of it! Guess what? My contribution is not a story but a song. The thing I never dared to do when I was much younger because I was so afraid of looking a fool — sing! Of course now I’m old enough to not care what people think (mostly, heh). And there’s more coming whether you want it or not. Details anon — but thanks to Richard Sanderson at Linear Obsessional Recordings for first opening the window of opportunity.

Sign up for free here and you’ll get updates from The Pigeonhole in your mailbox. Check out their community reads for other ongoing books and have fun.

The news cheered me in the midst of the season of bells, balls and bulls. August always has that touch of melancholy, for this Proserpina must soon return to the underworld. In the mean time I shall continue on as Johanna Factotum with tiger-heart (what kind of hide wraps it, I cannot say).

British Library: Punk + Bard

My last full day in London I headed over to the British Library to catch the Punk exhibit. On the way, I nodded to Saint Jerome‘s holy place:

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It was quite gratifying to see PUNK emblazoned across that bastion of quiet intellectual historicism, though it reminded me of the line from that much-treasured film which I think was called What is Creativity? that we saw in 6th and 7th grade and then I have not been able to locate even though it has John Astin in it.

In the sequence that shows the history of art, there’s an exchange between two snakes (or maybe worms?) that goes something like:

Snake 1: Do you realise that radical ideas that threaten institutions eventually become institutionalised and in turn reject radical ideas?

Snake 2: No.

Snake 1: Oh, for a minute there,  I thought I had something.

This film has stuck with me. That idea, too, has stuck with me.

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It was kind of glorious to see this in the lobby gallery of the venerable British Library. On the other hand, there was nothing much interesting that you hadn’t seen a millions times (well, I hadn’t anyway) and yes, the overarching impression was that punk was white and male. Here’s the ‘chicks’ corner:

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I want to see that documentary on the women in punk. The snippets were tantalising. But the rest, meh. The shop — well, there was nothing there you’d want to buy. It was kind of embarrassing really. I was so glad to hear that Viv Albertine took it upon herself to make some corrections. Rahr!

So feeling dispirited — even the Beowulf manuscript was not on display! — and it being too early to head to my next destination, I decided to go to the ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’ exhibit in the main gallery. And I’m SO very glad I did — how energising!

This display focused on the performance history of Shakespeare’s works. Coming from the lit side of things, there is so much I don’t know about the practicalities of performance. I remain grateful for sitting in on the course at the Globe back in ’99 because I learned so much (besides, the Globe remains the only theatre where I have trod the boards). It starts with the Globe and Greene’s famous sneer, then moves to Blackfriars. I am sooo longing to see a show at the restored indoor theatre. And it was a real epiphany to realise that The Tempest was at Blackfriars, not The Globe as I’d always pictured it, which in many ways makes it more amazing.

Even more now, I wish I could be there for one night (in case the Doctor reads this).

It’s exciting to see how the plays rippled out across the world: Hamlet on an East India Company ship anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone in 1607, in India, in Russia. The first woman to play a woman’s role (Desdemona in Othello) in 1660 broke one barrier: the first black actor, Ira Aldridge, played Romeo briefly in NY in 1822, then sailed to London in 1825 to debut as Othello. He was just 17.

The exhibit details the bard’s censors, forgers, actors and visionaries, including a room that recreates in small part Sally Jacob’s astonishing design for Peter Brook’s 1970 intoxicating incarnation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It really is inspiring.

Go if you can: it runs through September. You can get yourself an Elizabethan ruff necklace.

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