A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...
Sep 15, 2014
Le Saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void); Photomontage by Shunk Kender of a performance by Yves Klein at Rue Gentil-Bernard, Fontenay-aux-Roses, October 1960.
Sep 14, 2014
Alvin Lustig’s book covers
I was killing some time in South Congress Books the other day and the clerk showed me some original New Directions books with these Alvin Lustig covers and they really knocked me out. (The images above are via Cooper Hewitt Collection — this is what they look like IRL.) I ended up buying this edition of Miss Lonelyhearts, because, sure, it was the cheapest they had (Kafka’s AMERIKA was $600+), but it’s also one of my favorite books.)
While I wait on my copy of Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig to get here, here’s his official site, here’s more on his work, a collage of his author names, an exhibit of his work with his wife, and a huge Flickr set of his work.
Oh, and New Directions also sells a postcard collection of these covers.
Sep 13, 2014
Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son
Fun story: Johnson published this book to pay his tax bill:
Jesus’ Son was an act of literary desperation. There had been a second divorce and a call from the IRS asking him to please pay the $10,000 he owed. Bankrupt, Johnson turned to some “memories” he’d jotted down years back — vignettes of his drug-abusing past that he never considered publishing — and sent them to The New Yorker. To his surprise, several were accepted. Fortified with $4,000, Johnson contacted Jonathan Galassi, his editor and the president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. “I told him, ‘I’ll make you a book of short stories; all you have to do is pay off the IRS.’”
And (can’t find the source for this quote, but it’s posted all over):
What’s funny about Jesus’ Son is that I never even wrote that book, I just wrote it down. I would tell these stories apropos of nothing about when I was drinking and using and people would say, “You should write these things down.” I was probably 35 when I wrote the first story. The voice is kind of a mix in that it has a young voice, but it’s also someone who’s looking back. I like that kind of double vision. So I worked on them once in a while, then I started using stories I heard other people tell, and then I started making some up. Pretty soon it was fiction. Then I just forgot about it. I thought, I’m not going to parade my defects, my history of being a spiritual cripple, out in front of a lot of other people..
Filed under: my reading year 2014
Sep 12, 2014
Getting tagged with cool pictures of my books on Instagram never gets old. Makes me wonder why I even bother taking my own photos of them…
(Credit: 1 2 3 4 5 6 )
Sep 11, 2014
» How to Graciously Say No to Anyone
…saying “no” gets easier with practice and repetition.
And having the right script—a starting point, so you’re not starting at a blank screen—can make all the difference.
Here’s a universal script that works for just about any scenario:
Thanks for your note. I’m so proud of you for ___—and I’m flattered that you’d like to bring my brain into the mix.
I need to say “no,” because ___.
But I would love to support you in a different way. [Offer an alternative form of support here]
Thank you for being such a wonderful ___. I am honored to be part of your world.
[A few closing words of encouragement, if you’d like]
[Your name here]
Sep 10, 2014
Lee Scratch Perry recording in Black Ark Studios
Lee Scratch Perry putting layers of music together in the Black Ark Studio. What’s guiding him?
Perry once buried microphones at the base of a palm tree and thumped it rhythmically to produce a mystifying bass drum effect and his drum booth at the Black Ark was for a time surrounded with chicken wire to further his distinctive sound. Many of his songs are layered with a variety of subtle effects created from broken glass, ghastly sighs and screeches, crying babies, falling rain and cow noises. While it was thought to believe that Perry recorded the “mooing” noises from actual cows, it was actually the baritone voice of Watty Burnett through a tin foil laced cardboard tube that produced the cow-like noises. These and other notable recording techniques helped define the Black Ark sound, as well as Lee Perry’s creative legacy.
Perry was known for his eccentric and superstitious behavior during production sessions. He would often “bless” his recording equipment with mystical invocations, blow ganja smoke onto his tapes while recording, bury unprotected tapes in the soil outside of his studio, and surround himself with burning candles and incense, whose wax and dust remnants were allowed to infest his electronic recording equipment. He would also spray tapes with a variety of fluids, including urine, blood and whisky, ostensibly to enhance their spiritual properties. Later commentators have drawn a direct relationship between the decay of Perry’s facility and the unique sounds he was able to create from his studio equipment.
Perry has described his relationship to the studio thus:
“I see the studio must be like a living thing, a life itself. The machine must be live and intelligent. Then I put my mind into the machine and the machine perform reality. Invisible thought waves - you put them into the machine by sending them through the controls and the knobs or you jack it into the jack panel. The jack panel is the brain itself, so you got to patch up the brain and make the brain a living man, that the brain can take what you sending into it and live.
Filed under: recording
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