Category Archives: counterculture

RIP German sex educator Oswalt Kolle (1928 – 2010)

Oswalt Kolle played a significant role in the sexual revolution in Germany.

Of all sexual revolutions (see here), the one that occurred in the 1960s was the most pervasive, due to mass media, the pill and general economic prosperity.

It was a funny revolution. A friend once told me that it was just an excuse for all alpha males to bang as many women as they could get their hands on. This is an exaggeration, of course, but contains some truth.

It was the start of sex education in state schools, like the Sexualkundeatlas of 1969, but also of state-funded sexual education films Helga – Vom Werden des menschlichen Lebens.

Illustration Zázrak Lásky (Czech translation of Wunder der Liebe by Oswalt Kolle). For more visuals of Oswalt Kolle’s products, see my old page here[1].

RIP Simon Vinkenoog (1928 – 2009)

RIP Simon Vinkenoog, 80, Dutch poet and writer.

Vinkenoog with Spinvis in a totally Fela Kuti-esque track

Simon Vinkenoog (1928 – 2009) was a Dutch poet and writer. He was instrumental in launching the Dutch “Fifties Movement“.

In the Anglosphere Vinkenoog’s name is associated with the Albert Hall poetry event (and the film Wholly Communion) and his connection with IT magazine.

He was one of the Néerlandophone beat writers. The same cultural climate that begot the beat writers in the United States engendered European counterparts.

These countercultures must be looked for in two spheres, the sphere of European counterculture and the sphere of European avant-garde.

In France this was the Letterist International, in Germany perhaps Gruppe 47; visually and on a European scale there was COBRA.

Vinkenoog was born in the same year as Andy Warhol, Serge Gainsbourg, Jeanne Moreau, Nicolas Roeg, Guy Bourdin, Luigi Colani, Stanley Kubrick, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, William Klein, Roger Vadim, Yves Klein, Jacques Rivette, Alvin Toffler, Ennio Morricone and Oswalt Kolle.

Stonewall riots @40

Stonewall riots @40

Stonewall riots @40[1] The Stonewall riots were a series of violent conflicts between New York City police officers and groups of gay and transgender people that began during the early morning of June 28, 1969, and lasted several days. Also called the Stonewall Rebellion or simply Stonewall, the clash was a watershed for the worldwide gay rights movement, as gay and transgender people had never before acted together in such large numbers to forcibly resist police. From the New York Times of June 29, 1969: HUNDREDS OF YOUNG MEN WENT ON A RAMPAGE IN GREENWICH VILLAGE, shortly after 3 A.M. yesterday after a force of plain-clothes men raided a bar that the police said was well known for its homo-sexual clientele.  Thirteen persons were arrested and four policemen injured. The young men threw bricks, bottles, garbage, pennies and a parking meter at the policemen, who had a search warrant authorizing them in investigate reports that liquor was sold illegally at the bar, the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square.—New York Times, June 29, 1969[2]  The Sanctuary epitomized the post-Stonewall era, when gay men had won the right to dance intimately together without worrying about the police.

From the New York Times of June 29, 1969:

HUNDREDS OF YOUNG MEN WENT ON A RAMPAGE IN GREENWICH VILLAGE, shortly after 3 A.M. yesterday after a force of plain-clothes men raided a bar that the police said was well known for its homo-sexual clientele.
Thirteen persons were arrested and four policemen injured. The young men threw bricks, bottles, garbage, pennies and a parking meter at the policemen, who had a search warrant authorizing them in investigate reports that liquor was sold illegally at the bar, the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square.–New York Times, June 29, 1969[2]

The Stonewall riots were a series of violent conflicts between New York City police officers and groups of gay and transgender people that began during the early morning of June 28, 1969, and lasted several days. Also called the Stonewall Rebellion or simply Stonewall, the clash was a watershed for the worldwide gay rights movement, as gay and transgender people had never before acted together in such large numbers to forcibly resist police.

Except for Illinois, which decriminalized sodomy in 1961, homosexual acts, even between consenting adults acting in private homes, were a criminal offense in every U.S. state at the time the Stonewall Riots occurred: “An adult convicted of the crime of having sex with another consenting adult in the privacy of his or her home could get anywhere from a light fine to five, ten, or twenty years—or even life—in prison. In 1971, twenty states had ‘sex psychopath‘ laws that permitted the detaining of homosexuals for that reason alone. In Pennsylvania and California sex offenders could be locked in a mental institution for life, and [in] seven states they could be castrated.” (Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, by David Carter, p. 15) Castration, emetics, hypnosis, electroshock therapy and lobotomies were used by psychiatrists to attempt to cure homosexuals through the 1950s and 1960s.(Katz, pp. 181–197.)(Adam, p. 60.)

Subsequent nightclubs, such as The Sanctuary, often billed as the first modern DJ-led nightclub of New York, epitomized the post-Stonewall era, “when gay men had won the right to dance intimately together without worrying about the police.” —Peter Braunstein

RIP Tom McGrath (1940 – 2009), co-founder International Times

RIP Tom McGrath

Logo (IT Jan–Feb ’69).

See “Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds

Tom McGrath (born 23 October, 1940 in Rutherglen, Glasgow, died 29 April 2009) is a Scottish playwright and jazz pianist.

During the mid 1960s he was associated with the emerging UK underground culture, participating in Alexander Trocchi‘s Project Sigma and becoming founding editor of the International Times. He was involved with the International Poetry Incarnation and published in the anthology Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain.

The International Times (it or IT) was an underground paper started in 1966 in the UK, based in central London. ITs first editor was the acclaimed playwright Tom McGrath.   Paul McCartney helped found the paper.The iconic logo for IT was a black and white photo of Theda Bara, vampish star of silent films. The original idea had been to use an image of actress Clara Bow because she was iconically known as The IT girl – but an image of Theda Bara was used accidentally and once deployed, it was never changed.

Tom connects with Hawkwind, John Peel, Alexander Trocchi, Schoolkids OZ, Arthur Brown (musician), The Pretty Things, AMM (group), Soft Machine, Felix Dennis, Jeff Nuttall, The Incredible String Band, Blackhill Enterprises, Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain, Joe Boyd, Edgar Broughton Band, Steve Peregrin Took, Mick Farren, UK underground, International Times, UFO Club, Pink Fairies, Gay News, Martin Sharp, Oz (magazine), Freak scene, John Hopkins (political activist), Quintessence (English band), Tomorrow (band), The Deviants (band), Mark Boyle, Peace News, Third Ear Band, The Mersey Sound (book), Jimmy Boyle (artist), The Purple Gang (band), Gandalf’s Garden, Friends (magazine), The Black Dwarf (Ali), Barry Miles, James Haynes, Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, Pink Floyd, Thomas McGrath, Caroline Coon, Spare Rib, The 14 Hour Technicolour Dream, Michael Horovitz, Richard Neville (writer), Jim Anderson (editor), International Poetry Incarnation, Tron Theatre, Granny Takes a Trip, Play for Tomorrow, Release (agency), Derby Playhouse production history, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Germaine Greer.

I was three years old when May 68 happened

May 1968

burning Citroën DS during May 68 from here.

I was three years old when May 68 happened. May 68 was the direct precursor of the hippie movement here in Western Europe. Most of our teachers had been brought up in the “hippie” climate.

Yesterday E-L-I-S-E posted this burning Citroën DS (the photo is new to me and is unsourced at E-L-I-S-E). It brings me to repost one of my favorite quotes on art and politics.This is from one year before May 68.

The juvenile delinquents — not the pop artists — are the true inheritors of Dada. Instinctively grasping their exclusion from the whole of social life, they have denounced its products, ridiculed, degraded and destroyed them.

A smashed telephone, a burnt car, a terrorised cripple are the living denial of the ‘values’ in the name of which life is eliminated. Delinquent violence is a spontaneous overthrow of the abstract and contemplative role imposed on everyone, but the delinquents’ inability to grasp any possibility of really changing things once and for all forces them, like the Dadaists, to remain purely nihilistic.

They can neither understand nor find a coherent form for the direct participation in the reality they have discovered, for the intoxication and sense of purpose they feel, for the revolutionary values they embody. The Stockholm riots, the Hell’s Angels, the riots of Mods and Rockers — all are the assertion of the desire to play in a situation where it is totally impossible.

All reveal quite clearly the relationship between pure destructivity and the desire to play: the destruction of the game can only be avenged by destruction. Destructivity is the only passionate use to which one can put everything that remains irremediably separated. It is the only game the nihilist can play; the bloodbath of the 120 Days of Sodom proletarianised along with the rest. —Timothy Clark, Christopher Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith & Charles Radcliffe in The Revolution of Modern Art and the Modern Art of Revolution (1967) via http://www.notbored.org/english.html

Maurice Girodias @90

Maurice Girodias @90

Tropic of Cancer, first edition published by Maurice Girodias's father. Cover drawing by Girodias himself. by you.

In 1934, at the age of 15, Girodias drew the disturbing crab picture seen on the original cover of Tropic of Cancer.

The cover states: “Ne doit pas etre exposé en étalage ou en vitrine,” in English that is: “Cannot be displayed in show window.”

Ah … the good old “sous le manteau” days

“I remember a very funny story told to me by Maurice. He once had to take the train to Belgium, where he needed to bring a great deal of money. He had hidden the money bills in his shorts. Once on the train, he was overcome by diarrhea and forgot to remove the money from his shorts when he went to the toilet with the unfortunate result of soiling this small fortune. He cleaned the money as best as he could and afterwards reserved those bills to use as — quite literally — dirty money.” —Sholem Stein

Maurice Girodias (12 April 19193 July 1990), was the founder of the The Olympia Press. At one time he was the owner of his father’s Obelisk Press, and spent most of his productive years in Paris.

Girodias’s involvement with his father’s business started early. In 1934, at the age of 15, Girodias drew the disturbing crab picture seen on the original cover of Tropic of Cancer. After his father’s early death in 1939, Girodias took over publishing duties, and at the age of 20 managed to survive Paris, World War II, Occupation and paper shortages.

The Affaire Miller ended with Girodias out of jail, but bankrupt and no longer in control of his company.

Olympia Press

Olympia Press was a Paris-based publisher, launched in 1953 by Maurice Girodias as a rebadged version of the Obelisk Press he inherited from his father Jack Kahane. It published a mix of erotic novels and avant-garde literary works, and is best known for the first print of Vladimir Nabokov‘s Lolita.

Most, if not all, Olympia Press publications were promoted and packaged as “Traveller’s Companion” books, usually with simple text-only covers, and each book in the series was numbered.

Olympia Press was also the first publisher willing to print the controversial William S. Burroughs novel, Naked Lunch. Other notable works included J. P. Donleavy‘s The Ginger Man; the French trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett; A Tale of Satisfied Desire by Georges Bataille and Story of O by Pauline Réage.

English-language presses in Paris

The Enlish-language literary expatriates depended on the presence in Paris of a substantial number of English-language presses, periodicals, and bookstores. These small presses included such famous names as the Contact Press (of American poet Robert McAlmon), the Three Mountains Press (of Bill Bird), the Hours Press (of Nancy Cunard), the Black Sun Press (of Harry and Caresse Crosby), the Obelisk Press (of Jack Kahane), and the Olympia Press (of Maurice Girodias, son of Kahane).

Lawrence Ferlinghetti @90

Lawrence Ferlinghetti @90

A Coney Island of the Mind by you.

A Coney Island of the Mind (1958)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born Lawrence Ferling on March 24, 1919) is an American poet, painter, Liberal, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. Author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration, he is best known for A Coney Island of the Mind.

A Coney Island of the Mind is a collection of poetry by Lawrence Ferlinghetti originally published in 1958 and dedicated to Carl Solomon. It contains some of Ferlinghetti’s most famous poems, such as I am Waiting, and Junkman’s Obbligato, which were created for jazz accompaniment (see jazz poetry). There are approximately a million copies in print of A Coney Island, and the book has been translated into over a dozen languages. It remains one of the best-selling and most popular books of poetry ever published.

Coney Island was written in the conservative post-war 1950s, and his poetry resonates with a joyful anti-establishment fervor.

Carl Solomon (1928-1993) was an American writer, artist and criminal. He was friend of Allen Ginsberg and an important inspiration for Ginsberg’s “Howl” (full title: “Howl for Carl Solomon.”). Ginsberg had met Solomon in the mental institution of Bellevue Hospital Center and became friends with him. Outside of being a member of the The Times Square Underworld, Solomon was a Dada and Surrealism enthusiast (he introduced Ginsberg to Artaud) who suffered bouts of depression.

Solomon wanted to commit suicide, but he thought a form of suicide appropriate to dadaism would be to go to a mental institution and demand a lobotomy. The institution refused, giving him many forms of therapy, including electroshock therapy. Much of the final section of the first part of “Howl” is a description of this.

Ginsberg admitted later this sympathy for Solomon was connected to bottled up guilt and sympathy for his mother’s condition (she suffered from schizophrenia and had been lobotomized), an issue he was not yet ready to address directly.

Although in style and theme Ferlinghetti’s  writing is very unlike that of the original New York based Beat circle, he had important associations with the Beat writers, who made City Lights Bookstore their headquarters when they were in San Francisco. He has often claimed that he was not a Beat, but a bohemian of an earlier generation. Over the years Ferlinghetti published work by most of the Beats, most notably Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs. He was Ginsberg’s publisher for over thirty years.

“Sex Without Stress” is WMC #288

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OtuZjBc_H0

Sex Without Stress” by the Au Pairs

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. As I explained, I now do music on Facebook almost exclusively (join me there at Jan Geerinck with a brief note).

It’s been so long that I need to explain what WMC stands for: World music classics is an ongoing series of World Music Classics.

It had been a while since I’d heard “Sex Without Stress” by the Au Pairs.

Sex Without Stress” is a musical composition by the British post-punk band the Au Pairs first released in 1982. It was also released on their album Sense and Sensuality. The song is also featured on Stepping Out of Line: The Anthology.

From the lyrics:

“Would you like to express
your sex without stress?
Would you like to discover
physical conversations of different kinds?”

The Au Pairs were a post-punk band who formed in Birmingham in 1979. Musically they were very similar to bands such as Ludus, Gang of Four and the Delta 5. That is, the rhythm section was tight and funky (obvious influences were James Brown and Funkadelic), but the guitars were light and “scratchy” (like Subway Sect). All these bands shared a strongly left wing social outlook, but the Au Pairs stood out due to their frontwoman, Lesley Woods, being an outspoken feminist and lesbian: the band were greatly influential in this respect on the riot grrrl movement a decade later. Music historian Gillian G. Gaar noted in her history of women in rock (She’s A Rebel: The History of Women In Rock & Roll) that the band mingled male and female musicians in a revolutionary collaborative way as part of its outspoken explorations of sexual politics.

Salute to Bacchus

Today is the feast of the Roman god Bacchus, known by the Greeks as the Greek god Dionysus. In my hometown Sint Niklaas, there used to be a bar called Bacchus. That was in the late seventies and early eighties.

I had to wait until the 1990s and the first issue of Wired Magazine to be properly introduced to Bacchus via Camille Paglia’s interview on her recently published Sexual Personae in which Paglia mentions the Nietzschean dichotomy of Apollonian and Dionysian.

Popular perceptions of Dionysus and Bacchus

Dionysus was seen as the god of everything uncivilized, of the innate wildness of humanity that the Athenians had tried to control. The Dionysia was probably a time to let out their inhibitions through highly emotional tragedies or irreverent comedies. During the pompe there was also an element of role-reversal – lower-class citizens could mock and jeer the upper classes, or women could insult their male relatives. This was known as aischrologia – αἰσχρολογία or tothasmos, a concept also found in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Bacchus is less wel documented in text, but all the better in painting (Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio). His name is connected with bacchanalia, a term in moderate usage today to indicate any drunken feast; drunken revels; as well as binges and orgies, whether literally or figuratively.

Bacchanal by Rubens

Rubens

Bacchanalia

The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and only attended by women.

Bacchanalia by Auguste (Maurice François Giuslain) Léveque  The Bacchanalia were traditionally held on March 16 and March 17

The festivals occurred on three days of the year in a grove near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17. Later, admission to the rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month. According to Livy, the extension happened in an era when the leader of the Bacchus cult was Paculla Annia.

Cornelis de Vos Triumph of Bacchus

Cornelis de Vos

Paculla Annia

Paculla Annia was a priestess from the southern Italy who, according to Livy, largely changed the rules of Bacchanalias so that regarding nothing as impious or forbidden became the very sum of Bacchuscult. In the rites, men were said to have shrieked out prophecies in an altered state of consciousness with frenzied bodily convulsions. Women, dressed as Bacchantes, with hair dishevelled, would run down to the Tiber with burning torches, plunge them into the water, and take them out again. The rites gradually turned into sexual orgies, particularly among the men, and men who refused to take part were sacrificed. It is said these men were fastened to a machine and taken to hidden caves, where it was claimed they were kidnapped by the gods.

Prohibition by the Roman Senate

The festivities were reported to the Roman Senate which authorized a full investigation. In 186 BC, the Senate passed a strict law (the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus) prohibiting the Bacchanalia except under specific circumstances which required the approval of the Senate. Violators were to be executed.