RIP Ken Nordine (1920 – 2019)

From Word Jazz (1957)

Ken Nordine (1920 – 2019) was an American voice artist, best known for his series of spoken word jazz poetry albums, the first of which was Word Jazz (1957).

A Passion in the Desert” (1955)

He also recorded a version of Balzac’s risque story “A Passion in the Desert” (1955).

RIP Lonnie Simmons (date of birth unknown – 2019)

RIP Lonnie Simmons, American record producer (“Don’t Stop the Music“).

Don’t Stop the Music” (1981)

Lonnie Simmons was an American record producer best-known for co-writing “Don’t Stop the Music” (1978).

In 1981, the song was successfully covered by Bits & Pieces [above].

RIP Bruno Ganz (1941 – 2019)

Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979

Bruno Ganz was was an internationally renowned Swiss actor.

He collaborated with filmmakers Werner Herzog (Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979), Éric Rohmer (The Marquise of O, 1976), Francis Ford Coppola (Youth Without Youth, 2007), Wim Wenders (The American Friend, 1977 and Wings of Desire, 1987) and Jonathan Demme (The Manchurian Candidate, 2004).

Ganz was internationally lauded for portraying Adolf Hitler in the film Downfall (2004).

For the occasion, I watched Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)of which the German version is online. Ganz plays Jonathan Harker, Count Dracula is played by a heavily breathing, almost panting Klaus Kinski.

Pay special attention to the beauty of Isabelle Adjani; the opening sequence of the Mummies of Guanajuato; the film score by Krautrock outfit Popol Vuh and Richard Wagner’s prelude to Das Rheingold, Charles Gounod’s “Sanctus” from Messe solennelle à Sainte Cécile and traditional Georgian folk song Tsintskaro; and the frantic mad scenes by Roland Topor.

The film is wonderful. It’s an hommage to the 1922 version by F. W. Murnau.

Here is the original film.

Nosferatu, 1922

RIP Tomi Ungerer (1931 – 2019)

Fornicon (1969)

Tomi Ungerer was a French illustrator known for his children’s books, as well as his satirical and erotic work for adults.

I attended an interview with Ungerer in 2014 and wrote this small piece in Dutch after the occasion and also did a post on Tumblr[1].

I’ll never forget the moment at he end of the interview when he started singing “Die Gedanken sind frei” and many of the German-language invites joining in.

Fornicon (1969) [above] is a collection of 60 prints of scenes of funny machine-aided sadomasochistic male domination. When I say machine-aided, think Rube Goldberg machine. Box sets of these prints are being sold for as high as 3,000$. Books can be had for as little as ten dollars.

Ungerer’s humor is quite like that of Roland Topor.

RIP William Hamling (1921 – 2017)

Some people don’t make the news when they die. Among them this gentleman.

William Hamling was an American publisher of pulp and erotica, in a time when publishing books could still be dangerous (it has not been dangerous for the last fifty years of so, at least in the west). His financial backing for the case Redrup v. New York against Robert Redrup, a book seller who sold Hamling’s risqué paperbacks was instrumental in abolishing obscenity censorship in the United States.

Page 26 and 27 of the 'Illustrated President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography'
Page 26: From left to right, advertisements for A History of the Blue MovieThe DamnedAnn and EveMoveThreesome and Eugenie.
Page 27: “Excerpt: Thus, the actual nationwide percentage accounted for by “G” and “GP” films is probably significantly greater than the projection, and “R,” “X,” and unrated sexually oriented hybrid films probably account for less of the national market than indicate.”

Most amusingly Hamling published an illustrated edition of the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in 1970 [sample page, above].

Both its editor Earl Kemp and Hamling himself were sentenced to one year in prison for “conspiracy to mail obscene material,” but both served only the federal minimum of three months and one day. Incredible if you come to think of it (and strange also, considering that the Redrup case supposedly abolished obscenity censorship).

I would have thought a complete version of this grand example of détournement to have been available by now, disappointingly so, this is not the case.

RIP Dick Miller (1928 – 2019)


The Little Shop of Horrors

Dick Miller was an American actor (GremlinsThe Little Shop of HorrorsDeath Race 2000) known for his films with Roger Corman. He later appeared in the films of directors who began their careers with Corman, including James Cameron and Joe Dante.

He was, in the words of Cult Movie Stars (1991) a “scene-stealer in low-budget horror films”.

Above is the enormously amusing film The Little Shop of Horrors (1960, above) in which Miller plays a carnation-eating (“I’m crazy about kosher flowers”) regular customer of the florist in which the film is set.

Minute 34:48 has Jack Nicholson come in as a masochistic client to the dentist. That scene was later done by [1] with Steve Martin as the dentist and Bill Murray as the client.

I’ve seen quite some films with mister Miller, all entertaining, unassuming and unpretentious.

RIP Dušan Makavejev (1932 – 2019)


(W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, 1971)

Following the news of the decease of Jonas Mekas earlier this week,
Dušan Makavejev , another icon of countercultural cinema dies.

Makavejev is one of those filmmakers of whom I’d like to see everything. I remember renting Sweet Movie (1975) on videotape with its episode of Viennese Actionism.

Makavejev is also the filmmaker who made a portrait of my hero Wilhelm Reich (W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, 1971) which I have never seen but which I am about to see in the YouTube version above. Quickly scrubbing through it, I noticed that the backdrop for the promotional poster of W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (A lady sticking her arm triumphantly through an empty picture frame, to her left stands a chair with a white rabbit on it. The backdrop is a striped wall) which is used on Film as a Subversive Art (1974) can be seen at 31:19.

Update: The YouTube version above appears to be uncensored, even the penis plaster caster scene is without the hippie-like flowers it usually comes with.