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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 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 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.

The cinema of Walerian Borowczyk and music of Bernard Parmegiani


De Natura Sonorum (1975) by Bernard Parmegiani


Sometimes I can’t even remember just how I stumbled upon something. Maybe it was a suggestion by YouTube that brought me into contact with Bernard Parmegiani maybe it was something I was reading. I just can’t trace it. However it may be, I stumbled upon Parmegiani simultaneously with his connection to Walerian Borowczyk. Parmegiani did the soundtrack for at least three of Borowczyk’s films: Les Jeux des Anges (1964), Docteur Jekyll et les femmes (1981) and Scherzo infernal(1984). I’d seen Scherzo before but I had not seen Les Jeux des Anges[1] nor the Jekyll film. You can watch the Jekyll film over at YouTube[2] in an English version with Dutch subtitles.

Neither had I seen that holy grail of transgressive cinema The Beast  (way up there with Le Sexe qui parle by Claude Mulot and The Image by Radley Metzger, both from the same year) which you can see here[3] in a dubbed Spanish version. An uncut version, it appears. You can read its British censorship history somewhere online, it’s extensive. Both Docteur Jekyll et les femmes and The Beast are obsessed with large beast-like phalli. In the case of Jekyll ripping open the abdomen of its victims, in the case of The Beast as seen in copulating horses (with gorgeous shots of dripping horse vulvae) and of a bear-like-constantly-ejaculating huge hammer-shaped penis raping and making love to Sirpa Lane.

As for Parmegiani’s art music. I listened numerous times to the incredible piece De Natura Sonorum[4] (1975) which is really remarkable at being soothing while appearing chaotic. I can’t get enough of it. Caribou mentions it in his Caribou 1000 and apparently it has been of some influence on Aphex Twin. From what I know of him, that may be true.

Finally, at 4:40 of Chants Magnétiques[5] (1974) you can hear ASMR bits. For those of you unfamiliar with ASMR, it stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. ASMR-sounds are sounds that give goose bumps and cold chills.

Four years since the Charlie Hebdo massacre

Today, it is exactly four years ago that Charlie Hebdo was massacred. 

My father, who died in 2000, used to bring copies of Hara-Kiri home when I was a boy.

Charlie Hebdo was the new incarnation of Hara-Kiri, after it had been permanently banned by the French government.

I recently looked at ALL covers of Hara-Kiri, which you can find here.

The funniest cover is perhaps Hara-kiri n°162 (March 1975) which depicts a frontal view of male genitals wearing a shirt along with the following accompanying text:

“Chômeurs ! c’est pas avec cette tête la que vous trouverez du boulot rasez-vous !”

English:”Unemployed! You won’t find a job with your face looking like this. Shave yourselves!”

I am, you might say, an unabashed fan of Charlie Hebdo. I am also a fan of the right to offend and insult, especially of fictional beings.

The words of Marquis de Sade from “Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans” are particularly apt here:

“I should like there to be perfect freedom to deride them all [all religions]; I should like men, gathered in no matter what temple to invoke the eternal who wears their image, to be seen as so many comics in a theater, at whose antics everyone may go to laugh.”

For those of you who think that Charlie Hebdo was obsessed with Islam. You are mistaken. It is simply not true and it has been proven.

Art critic Yve-Alain Bois in “Taken Liberties: Yve-Alain Bois on Charlie Hebdo”[1] has stated:

“A statistical analysis of Charlie Hebdo‘s content over the past ten years, particularly that of its front page, was published in Le Monde on February 25. It reveals not only that the publication was actually less obsessed with religion than is generally supposed, with only 7 percent of its front pages devoted to the subject, but also that the topic of Islam makes up less than a fifth of even these covers. When Charlie attacks religion–its contributors are particularly exercised by fundamentalism (of all stripes) and the hypocrisy of the clergy–Catholicism is most often the butt of its satire.”

So only seven percent is devoted to religion, and of that seven percent, only twenty percent to Islam. Which makes for 100*.07*.2 equals 1.4 percent. Yve-Alain Bois bases himself on research by Jean-François Mignot and Céline Goffette titled “Non, ‘Charlie Hebdo’ n’est pas obsédé par l’islam” [“No, ‘Charlie Hebdo’ is not obsessed with Islam”], published in Le Monde, February 24, 2015.

As we go forward, I’m rather pessimistic about freedom of speech , especially with regards to the global growth of religion. The question E. Kaufmann asks in 2010, Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? is extremely relevant today.

Best ♩, ♪, ♫, ♬ of 2018

Apart from a brief but ardent infatuation with Dutch schlager singer André Hazes in April (you don’t want to know 🙂 ), musically the best of 2018 was the discovery of the oeuvre of Hiroshi Yoshimura (1940 – 2003) who worked within Japanese ambient.

I discovered Hiroshi Yoshimura while listening to Birds of Venezuela (1973), an album of bird vocalizations which was re-released this year.

This whole Japanese ambient scene is most weird. There is the super sweet Jamaica ~ Waves And Light And Earth (1993) by Takashi Kokubo, which Discogs classifies as non-music.

In fact, many of these albums seem to have been made as pure background music. Kokubo’s album Get At The Wave (1987) was created for a new line of Sanyo air-conditioners.

Then there is the oddity Watering a Flower (1984) by Haruomi Hosono which was commissioned by Muji as in-store background music. And Hiroshi Yoshimura’s A・I・R (1984) was produced for the makeup and skincare company Shiseido; while his album Surround (1986) was made for playing at the model homes of the Misawa Home corporation.

But the best album is Green (1986) by Hiroshi Yoshimura. Someone remarked that this album is what green sounds like, what plant life sounds like. So soothing, full of natural sounds that have a very relaxing effect.

Enjoy.