Saturday, October 25, 2014

Filmmaker Marguerite Duras Day





from Intense Vocalization: Marguerite Duras
by David Ehrenstein

' The Marguerite Duras retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center this month—18 years after the celebrated auteur’s death—presents an ideal opportunity to contemplate her place in the history of cinema. For while Hiroshima Mon Amour, the screenplay she wrote for Alain Resnais to direct, became an international success in 1960 (and remains a touchstone of “art cinema” to this day), the films she subsequently created on her own, beginning in 1969 with Destroy, She Said, have been alas, for the happy few. ...

'Destroy, She Said unfolds in the garden of a country hotel adjoining a forest that threatens the soigné guests (Michael Lonsdale, Henri Garcin, Nicole Hiss, Catherine Sellers) in some strange, difficult-to-define way comparable to to the "something" that so unsettles the upper-crust swells in Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. Low-key in tone, it does not seem like the sort of "art film" designed to break new ground. But it does so, and by explicit intention: Duras described her text as "a book that could either be read or acted or filmed or, I always add, simply thrown away." The key word in this is "book," as literature is always primary for Duras—even in the midst of the seemingly resolutely "cinematic." It's not by accident that Lonsdale—soon to emerge as a key Duras interpreter—plays a character called "Stein." His name is derived from Duras's novel The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein, the most crucial work of her entire oeuvre. ...

'Duras had no hope of replacing "real movies" with her conditionally tensed ones, but she went on making her sui generis works anyway—aided by a curious “real-life” character named Yann Andrea. A fan of India Song, Andrea entered Duras's world in 1980 when he helped her through a “rest cure" designed to stem her alcoholism. His account of this, in a 1983 book entitled M.D., was met with some degree of critical interest. Duras's own interest in Andrea quickly became an obsession. He appears with Bulle Ogier in Agatha et les lectures illimitées her 1981 reworking of elements that first appeared in her early biographical novel Un barrage contre le Pacifique (aka The Sea Wall), filmed by René Clément as This Angry Age in 1957. While Anthony Perkins and Sylvana Mangano play characters based on Duras and her brother in Clement’s version, their emotional conflict doesn’t go so far as incest, which is frankly discussed in Agatha. As nothing in the film is conventionally dramatized (Andrea and Ogier are seen wandering about the lobby of a hotel on the Normandy coast that also served as a setting for her India Song variation avant la lettre, La Femme du Gange, in 1974), no acting in the conventional sense was required. ...

'Curiously, Duras ended her filmmaking career with something resembling the conventional. Les Enfants began life as a 1970 book she wrote for children entitled Ah! Ernesto, later filmed by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet in 1982 as En rachâchant (a rendition Duras disliked; also part of the retrospective’s shorts program). The story concerns a little boy who doesn’t want to go to school lest he learn things that he doesn’t already know. Les Enfants expands this slim tale to feature length with the novelty of having Ernesto played by an adult actor, Axel Bogousslavsky. It’s wryly amusing in a way quite unusual for Duras. More importantly, it’s shot in a more or less ordinary style, with actors playing actual characters and speaking words on screen in the usual manner.

'That Duras would conclude her filmmaking career in this manner must be regarded in the context of a career that was devoted to textual elucidation. One suspects that the success of her novel The Lover in 1984—an overwhelming hit with both critics and the general public—put her off from filmmaking. Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1992 adaptation of this tale, which was another derivation from the Un barrage contre le Pacifique cycle and which related how her family pimped her out to a wealthy Chinese man, was served up in the plush “high-class” erotic style of the Emmanuelle films. In what you might call anticipatory retaliation, Duras in 1991 wrote The North China Lover, a “remake” of The Lover adding details that the first version of Duras’s original novel didn’t include, all folded into an explicit critique of the film she suspected (with good reason) Annaud was putting together.'

(read the entirety)



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Stills










































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Further

Marguerite Duras @ IMDb
Association Marguerite Duras
Société Internationale Marguerite Duras
Les Écrits de Marguerite Duras
'La petite cuisine de Marguerite'
'In Love with Duras' by Edmund White
'The obsessions of Marguerite Duras'
'The Art of Fugue: on Marguerite Duras's Film Aesthetics'
Interview avec Marguerite Duras
'Yann Andréa, la dernière énigme de Marguerite Duras'
'Initiales M.D. (Marguerite Duras) (+ DVD)'
'Marguerite Duras, l’éternel retour'
Lettre de Marguerite Duras à Alain Resnais
Film: 'Marguerite, A Reflection of Herself'
'NOUVEAU ROMAN CINEMA: MARGUERITE DURAS'
'The Film Society to Fete Marguerite Duras with October Retrospective'



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Extras


Worn Out With Desire To Write (1985)


Marguerite Duras - "Écrire" (ARTE)


MARGUERITE DURAS À PROPOS DE L'AN 2000


Jean Luc Godard - Marguerite Duras



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L’interview imaginaire
from Versatile Mag




En 1996, vous décidez de tout arrêter, de ne plus écrire une ligne. Avez-vous l’impression d’avoir fait le tour de la question, de ne plus rien avoir à raconter ?

Marguerite Duras : Des fois, on se laisse prendre au jeu. Juste avant 1996, j’avais écrit un livre qui s’appelait C’est tout. Voilà, il y a des événements dans la vie, un peu comme la passion à laquelle on ne peut pas échapper et j’aurais pu continuer à écrire, j’aurais pu continuer à faire des reprises, à faire des modulations de mes œuvres, à l’infini.

Peu de voix se sont élevées concernant vos écrits, regrettez-vous cette absence de polémique ?

M. D. : Foutaises ! Conneries ! J’ai passé ma vie à être l’objet de polémiques. J’ai toujours divisé ce qu’ils appellent « le monde littéraire », j’ai soi-disant eu trop de casquettes alors que la seule qui me convient, c’est celle d’écrivain. Écrivain, mais pas de littérature. Écrivain.

En 2014… 2014, la Pléiade… Et sinon, on m’a toujours taxée de charabia complaisant, toujours jugé un vocabulaire limité, qu’on ne comprenait pas pourquoi Gallimard permettait qu’on sorte un de mes livres en y laissant autant de fautes de grammaire !

Et mon passage dans le journalisme, pour Libération, ça, ça a fait polémique. Sur l’affaire du Petit Grégory, par exemple. Donc, des polémiques : tout le temps.

Ces critiques concernent surtout vos adaptations sur scène, au cinéma qui, en revanche se sont vues mises à mal…

M. D. : Alors, il y a deux choses. Il y a les films que j’ai fait moi. Que j’ai écrits et réalisés moi. Ça, ce sont des films que l’on pourrait qualifier maintenant de films d’art et d’essai. C’est ma manière à moi de parler de l’écriture cinématographique, de dire qu’elle n’était pas forcément narrative, qu’on pouvait faire du cinéma autrement. Après, j’ai quand même collaboré avec le cinéma et ça s’est très bien passé : Hiroshima mon amour d’Alain Resnais, c’est un « classique », tout de même. Après, il y a eu certaines adaptation dont on est tous au courant , comme l’Amant qui a été adapté par Jean-Jacques Annaud. On n’était pas d’accord, mais il avait obtenu les droits… Mais ça m’a permis de faire un livre, et un bon livre, de reprendre après quelques années l’Amant et de sortir un livre qui s’appelle l’Amant de la Chine du nord. Un livre où j’ai écrit mon film, c’est-à-dire que l’Amant de la Chine du nord, c’est le film écrit de l’Amant… qui a eu beaucoup plus de succès que l’amant, son film.

L’essentiel de vos récits sont extraits de votre vie, au temps de la gloire du colonialisme français. Est-ce une sorte de nostalgie ?

M. D. : Pas du tout une nostalgie, c’est un décor. Il y a eu le décor de l’Indochine, de ce qu’on a appelé le cycle indochinois, mais après, il y eu d’autres décors, d’autres cycles dans mon œuvre. Il n’y a aucune question de nostalgie. J’y explique plutôt les tares du colonialisme. Et sinon les thèmes de mon œuvre, les thèmes que soi-disant, je reprends, je module et j’étire, le rapport à la mère, la mère qui forcément est toute puissante, mais qui forcément n’est pas à la hauteur. Et puis il y a la rencontre amoureuse, les femmes, des déclinaisons de femmes. Je parle aussi beaucoup dans mes livres des saisons uniques et humides et chaudes. Je parle de transgression sociale. Je parle souvent de colonialisme, mais pas le colonialisme clinquant : je parle souvent de Blancs, les petits Blancs moyens et comment ils se situaient, eux, dans le colonialisme.

Mais je parle aussi beaucoup de la Shoah.

Contrairement à vos écrits résolument tournés vers la passé, vous semblez apprécier la jeunesse, du moins dans le choix de vos compagnons, est-ce une manière de se tourner vers l’avenir ?

M. D. : L’avenir, je n’en ai rien à foutre. Enfin, c’est facile de dire cela quand on est édité dans la Pléiade, mais je suis plutôt – et c’est pour ça que vous me parlez de l’âge de mes compagnons – quelqu’un qui est dans le présent. Ce n’est pas du tout une question d’avenir, c’est une question d’être dans le présent et d’absorber tout ce que peut contenir le présent.

Que cherchez-vous à oublier ?

M. D. : J’écris, donc forcément quand on écrit, on n’oublie pas, on convoque. C’est prétentieux de dire qu’on est seul devant sa feuille. Moi, je convoque et à la limite, on peut dire que je retranscrits ce que j’ai convoqué, donc je n’essaie pas d’oublier : je bois plutôt pour faire face à tous ceux que je convoque, tous ceux que je ne peux pas oublier.

Selon vous, qui pourrait reprendre votre flambeau ?

M. D. : Grand silence

Un flambeau pour éclairer quoi ?

Beaucoup de gens se disent mes héritiers, mais je pense qu’il y a plein de gens qui croient écrire, qui croient écrire des livres, alors qu’ils n’écrivent rien.

Il faut écrire comme une nécessité absolue, dans l’urgence : oui, pourquoi pas ?

Mais le flambeau, non. Je ne suis pas un chef de file, contrairement à ce qu’on a dit, je n’ai pas appartenu au Nouveau roman, je suis juste Marguerite Duras, M.D.

Quelles seraient les qualités essentielles et éternelles de la littérature ?

M. D. : Comme je l’ai dit avant, écrire, écrire avec un but, avec une générosité, ne pas faire semblant d’écrire, mais écrire, se dire que ce qu’on écrit est essentiel.

Pour vous, qu’est-ce qu’un bon livre ?

M. D. : Je ne sais pas.

Si l’on devait vous inviter à dîner, quel serait le menu idéal ?

M. D. : Avant de parler du fond, on va parler de la forme.

Ce serait manger en Normandie, au bord de la mer, dans mon hôtel des Roches noires. Ou alors en-bas de chez moi, à Paris, à Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

De la cuisine paysanne. Je cuisine moi-même comme une paysanne. A Saint-Germain-des-Prés, ça pourrait être aux Prés aux Claires ou au Petit Saint-Benoît. J’aime la cuisine paysannes à Neauphle, dans la maison que j’ai achetée avec l’agent gagné avec Barrages contre le Pacifique… Moi, là-bas, j’aimais bien faire la cuisine, ça prenait du temps. Je la faisais quand mes amis étaient soit en train de dormir, soit en train de se promener. J’avais tout l’après-midi, je faisais la cuisine, je faisais des listes de courses. Des listes de courses qu’on a même retrouvées publiées dans la Pléiade. ‘Faut pas déconner.

Voilà, de la cuisine qui cuit beaucoup, qui mijote, comme on dit. S’il n’y a pas de citron dans la cuisine, il n’y a rien.

Et puis, il y a l’omelette vietnamienne. L’omelette vietnamienne, avec la cuisine paysanne est ce que j’aime le plus.

Mon fils a fait publier après ma mort, un livre de cuisine : La cuisine de Marguerite Duras. Bon, Yann Andréa l’a fait interdire. C’est vrai que ce n’était pas très littéraire.

Avec François Mitterrand, on parlait beaucoup cuisine, même si je ne l’ai jamais vu manger des ortolans, caché sous sa serviette.

Lors de ce repas, quels seraient les sujets de discussion à éviter ?

M. D. : Aucun. Aucun, à part, peut-être la littérature ou la critique littéraire, mais sinon, il faut parler. Il faut brasser les idées.

Quel fond sonore souhaitez-vous entendre ?

M. D. : Moderato Cantabile. Modéré et chantant. Une musique toujours reliée à la passion. J’aime surtout dans ces repas – et c’est peut-être ce qui pourrait être intéressant dans ces repas -, j’aime la musique quand elle perturbe le développement narratif, quand il faut s’arrêter tellement on est intrigué ou subjugué par la musique et qu’il faut reprendre l’histoire. C’est ça qui est intéressant. J’aime les chansonnettes : Quand le lilas fleurira, Mon amour… Voilà, toutes ces choses-là d’avant-guerre, ou même des choses plus classiques comme l’Art de la fugue de Jean-Sébastien Bach que j’ai beaucoup écouté quand mon fils prenait des cours de piano. Vous êtes au courant. Au courant de ces histoires où les petits garçons prennent des leçons de piano pendant que les mères tombent amoureuses.



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11 of Marguerite Duras' 19 films

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La musica (1967)
'Marguerite Duras' La Musica, which she adapted from her own short two-character play, is about a husband and wife who meet three years after their formal separation, when they return to the provincial town where they once lived to pick up their divorce decree. In the film's longest sequence, which I suspect is pretty much the total of the play, He (Robert Hossein) and She (Delphine Seyrig) come together in the lobby of their hotel, at first acting like anxious, rueful ghosts. They circle each other in carefully choreographed movements; alternately each literally frames the other by his own person and by his mirror image. (Miss Duras loves to see things in and through glass—mirrors, windshields, windows). The revelations, though obliquely made, are quite specific. She was unfaithful. He once planned to murder her, She, unknown to him, once tried to commit suicide. La Musica is intellectually chic moviemaking of the sort that is quite entertaining while it is going on but practically ceases to exist, even as a memory, when it's over. Hossein and Miss Seyrig read their lines with style and look marvelously unhappy, she, especially, in blond bob that evokes the 1930's and the image of Lilyan Tashman.' -- New York Times



Trailer



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Destroy She Said (Détruire dit-elle, 1969)
'In a secluded hotel circumscribed by a dense forest Max and Alissa Thor meet Stein and Elisabeth. Max, a professor of future history and an aspiring author, is immediately attracted to the brooding wife of industrialist Bernard Alione, Elisabeth, who is recovering from a miscarriage. Stein, a German Jew and potential writer, is infatuated by Alissa, Max's young wife and former student. During their sojourn the guests' identities gradually meld. While playing cards, for example, each guest anticipates the others' observations. Although her friends remain at the resort, the insecure Elisabeth leaves upon the arrival of her worldly husband. Destroy, She Said is a madhouse in its narrative and dialogue with contradictions within sentences. A triumph performance from Catherine Sellers sells the crazy with wonderful panics and confusion wayward bursts.' -- collaged



Excerpt


Excerpt



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Nathalie Granger (1972)
'Nathalie Granger is aesthetico-philosophical opus-film. The strictest logic of its visual images step by step moves us, the viewers, to the feeling that we, while observing the still and harmonious life in a quiet and prosperous household, never expected to get – the feeling of the incompatibility between traditional (over-worldly) spirituality (as it exists and flowers in religious and/or ideological beliefs) and… children’s psychological needs. It is the one of the miracles of this film that the concept of traditional (above-worldly) spirituality is not defined but is impersonated by two profoundly intelligent actresses: Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bose. They both incarnate over-worldliness with miraculous naturalness of complete immanency. They live eternity as if it is possible to breath when you are inside it. To watch Nathalie Granger is challenging as well as a stimulating and rewarding experience for all those who in their life and thinking don’t follow the authoritarian clichés and seductive songs of entertaining ads but are prone to try to make up their own minds about life and the world.' -- actingoutpolitics.com



the entire film



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India Song (1975)
'Marguerite Duras creates a sensual, yet abstract and enigmatic exposition on longing, isolation, haunted memory, and obsolescence in India Song. Duras integrates highly stylized, yet integrally personal (and relevant) impressionistic images of her youth in then-French Indochina and the radical nouveau roman structure that has come to define the novelist turned filmmaker's mid-century avant-garde literature within the classical framework of tableaux imagery that redefines the syntax of traditional (and particularly cinematic) narrative. From the opening sequence of ambiguous, (but implicitly colonial) foreign landscapes, Duras establishes the dissociation between the visual and the aural through incongruous and aesthetically formalized tableaux juxtapositions that, in turn, reflect the film's overarching themes of alienation and estrangement: exclusive use of non-diegetic sound to serve as a surrogate contextual (anti) narrative; visually distanced, non-confronting dialogue through mirrored angles (a technique similarly implemented in Alain Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad); pervasive musicality through a slow rhythm waltz that conveys the film's paradoxical sense of displacement and stasis through its languid pacing, recursiveness, and melancholic tone; repeated references to leprosy that ingeniously evoke an implicit association between isolation (through disease quarantining) and colonies (lepers and imperialism). Inextricably bound in the performance of the empty social rituals of their class, these aimless, privileged colonialists embody the adrift and inutile fleeting vestiges of a crumbling empire, reduced to the imperceptible glow of an anecdotal setting sun against an inherently sovereignless - and unconquerable - eternal landscape.' -- Strictly Film School











the entire film



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Entire Days Among the Trees (1976)
'Des journées entières dans les arbres is a 1976 French film directed by Marguerite Duras, based on her novel. Prior to directing a film version of the novel, Duras had already modified it into a stageplay that had enjoyed a theatrical run.' -- found



The Making of Marguerite Duras's 'Entire Days Among the Trees'



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Baxter, Vera Baxter (1977)
'Images of the seaside again at the beginning of the film, when Carlos d’Alessio’s music starts playing. This song will continue to play the entire 90 minutes of the film. It’s maddening! It’s exhilarating. Especially given the contrast between the catchy nature of the relentless music and the lethargy of the main character, a woman deciding whether to rent a very expensive villa with her cheating husband’s money. It’s supposedly the neighbours who are playing the music. But we never see them. A troubled testament to the eternity of love. Whatever happens, however many times we end affairs, we leave each other, we cheat, we lie, we abuse, love never ends. Part of us can never stop loving. Even if the rest of us is ill equipped to deal with it. And it is ultimately this discrepancy that causes us to hurt each other. Not the lack of love. But its eternal presence.' -- Tale of Tales



Excerpt


Excerpt



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Les mains négatives (1978)
'The images of the film are Paris at dusk. A city far too great to comprehend on any level other than the superficial, a city that leaves one reeling in Stendhalism. It's a blank Paris, before the stories of the day play out, it mirrors the "mains negatives" of the title, presence by absence, the hand-print revealed by the blank left when the area round it is covered in paint. The beauty of the city is revealed by the traces that people have left behind, murals, avenues of trees, monuments. Marguerite spoke of these images as images passe-partout, images that allow the narration to infuse them with meaning. It's good to watch the film without sound first to understand how fully the perception of the images is informed by the narration. The parallel images you don't see are of pre-historic petroglyphs, stencilled scuplted hand-prints which Duras describes as being in a cave by the sea. These were, in her interpretation, people simply recording their existence, in front of the immutability of the sea and the granite. What they have in common is that all the hands look the same, there's an equality to each person's existence implied.' -- oOgiandujaOo, IMDb



the entire film



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Cesarée (1979)
'Made up of stills of the Tuileries gardens and its statues by Maillol, Césarée is stamped with the memory of Berenice, queen of the Jews, and of her city of which nothing remains but the name, abandoned following her repudiation. There is this same confusion of time periods and resurgence of narratives in Les Mains négatives. Its dolly shots trace a slow advance through Paris, which is deepened by the reference to the drawings of hands found in many caves dating from the Magdalenian age. Thus comes to a head an ode to humanity, and to all its excluded ones, that daylight, only just risen over the city, has not yet forced into extinction. Its murmur resounds for a long time: "Everything is being crushed, I love you farther than you. I would love anyone hearing me shout that I love you."' -- Frac Lorraine



the entire film



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Aurélia Steiner (Vancouver & Melbourne) (1979)
'As is the case with other experimental shorts by Marguerite Duras, the images, although beautiful are almost mood-setters, the main images are evoked in the mind of the viewer by the words of Aurelia Steiner, sometimes, though by no means always, synchronising with the images. For example the shot traverses Notre Dame de Paris, which is actually a white building, but here the stone is yellowed by the late-evening sun, and Aurelia talks about voices ("they're speaking") telling her of palaces by streams with thickets of nettles and brambles between them, of island temples, and for a moment Notre Dame is on the Ganges. This reminded me the ideas of writer Italo Calvino and his book The Castle Of Crossed Destinies, in which stories are almost exclusively narrated by the placing of Tarot cards in sequences, the evocative symbols (forest, castle, well, mountain, gibbet) being generators of images that are particular to each reader, Calvino accepting how very much of the story rests in just these small kernels. Aurelia Steiner then, will be a unique experience for whoever watches it. In this way it's almost anti-cinematic, the viewer isn't forced to see the fixed images that make up the fantasies of standard commercial cinema. In a special edition of Cahiers du Cinema Duras wrote that she was aiming for an ideal, which was of the "image passe-partout", to use shots that were neither beautiful nor ugly, which would be exchangeable between a series of texts, images that would take their direction from the narration. If she was aiming for images without beauty she would have been better off not using cinematographer Pierre Lhomme, who shot Army of Shadows, and worked with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. The collaborators do however create a sense of vacuum with the images on-screen, a cavern that Aurelia's words fill.' -- IMDb



(Vancouver) the entire film


(Melbourne) Excerpt



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Agatha et les lectures illimitées (1981)
'This film was recorded in Trouville-sur-Mer, in the lobby of the building where Duras lived. She reads the female part of the text and her much younger lover, Yann Andréa, reads the male part. The dry way of saying the words that express such passionate feelings has inspired much of the tone of Bientôt l’été. Not to mention the views of the sea, and the atmosphere of an abandoned resort town.' -- Tale of Tales



the entire film



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Les enfants (1985)
'7 year-old boy Ernesto intrigues people around him for several reasons. Despite such a young age, he looks like a man on his 40's and also seems a little more intelligent than any of his peers - and the latter fact is what causes him to quit school, refusing to attend it because he doesn't want to learn the things he does not know. His family is very supportive of his actions, even though they don't have any clue of what's to become of him; at the same time the school headmaster and a journalist are concerned about Ernesto's real motivations for leaving school.' -- IMDb



the entire film




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p.s. RIP: HTMLGIANT. Hey. So, here's a slightly early heads up on how the blog will function while I'm away starting next week. The last new post and full p.s. for a while will appear on Tuesday. Then, while I'm in the States, meaning through Nov. 3, there'll be rerun posts and, if I end up having time to slide in and do a p.s., I will, but that's iffy. After the Nov. 3 post, I'll be in Iceland, and the blog will be going on hiatus because, one, I have no idea if/when I'll have internet access there, and, two, even if I do have some internet, there are only something like 8 hours of daylight per day in Iceland right now, and I'll be on the road, so I'll likely get up and split into nature, etc. very early every morning. Then, on Nov. 17, the blog will be back with new posts and full p.s.es and the whole shebang until further notice. ** David Ehrenstein, And a big thank you to you for the post, for the Fellini link, and for letting me swipe part of your essay for the Duras post today! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Cool, I'm really glad you like Gisele's video! I'll tell her! And thank your lovely mom! How's Leeds? ** Jonathan, Hey, bud. Yeah, see you in just a couple of hours from the moment I am typing these words. The tarot story is a non-story with a nice cameo appearance, and I'll tell you, yep, although I'll probably tell Kier first 'cos of our day sharing habits. Awesome that you like Gisele's video! ** Kier, Speaking of the opposite of the devil! Good, I'm relieved that the crap day was the fluke I had hoped. Thanks, yeah, I'm really happy about the German thing. Not ditching is always so much better, it's weird. Ditching-related stress sucks, or I mean that, when I ditch stuff, I always get stressed about the ditching. Your yesterday sounds so sweet, and, yeah, very "you" in the best way. Wood chipping! That's so exciting, and that machine is serious eye-candy. My search for a Halloween house has turned up zip so far too. As has my search for a Halloween-related confection from one of the big patisseries here. Usually, with holidays, they'll devise a special, limited edition sweet thing to go with the occasion, and I had hopes. But the only big, famous patisserie here that has acknowledged Halloween so far is this kind of tacky but famous one, Patrice Roger, who's famous for making giant chocolate sculptures of, like, bears and monkeys and stuff, which sounds cooler than it is in reality, and their special Halloween treat is a super boring, cutesy marzipan pumpkin, which I wouldn't be caught dead buying or eating. Anyway, yesterday I just worked on stuff and started getting ready for the trip. Necessary and useful but not worth blah-blahing about. The Jodorowsky thing: well, I went with Scott Treleaven. We got in the long line. We waited and waited. And then it turned out there was only seating for, like, 30 people, so we didn't get in, and neither did a whole lot of people, and there was some noisy unhappiness about that, and people were pissed off and refused to leave, but eventually everyone did, including us. So, whatever it was, I'll never know. The only cool thing, other than seeing Scott, was that I ran into the artist Paul McCarthy who, as you probably know, is really infamous here right now because some far-right vandals destroyed his big tree/butt plug inflatable sculpture at the Place Vendome. I've known Paul for forever, but I hadn't seen him in years, and he's a super incredibly sweet guy, so it was really nice to see him and catch up a bit and stuff. He, of course, managed to get into the Jodorowsky thing because he's Paul fucking McCarthy. So maybe if I run into him again, he'll tell me what it was. Here's the ad for the event that has a photo of what I guess it must have looked like. I think it looks sort of a high school play based on 'Alice in Wonderland' or something. That was the big event of yesterday, and now it's today and the beginning of the weekend for both of us. How was yours? Hugs and salut and a salute to you, my pal. ** Nemo, Hi, Joey. Oh, I don't understand the 'donating' thing, but it sounds good. My dad didn't work for the company, he founded and owned and ran it. It was called the Cooper Development Corporation. I'm the world's worst email person, but I would love to write to Jarrod, so I'll try to do that as soon as I can. Ouch, fuck, about the ECT thing. Jesus. ** Steevee, I think the French like to read or see things about crap American reality TV, and I think maybe they've shown examples or even maybe full episodes on TV here in an ironic way. Never saw that 'Honey Boo Boo' thing. It just looked too depressing to crack. ** Schlix, Hi, Uli. Yeah, it's weird because I do know Dumitrescu, and I was just totally blanking yesterday, and, in fact, I know him because Stephen turned me on to his work. I didn't know that background about his ensemble. Wow, that's totally fascinating. I'm going to have a listening session with his work today knowing that. Yeah, that's really, really interesting. Thank you a lot for letting me know that. I would love and be completely honored if you want to do a guest post on Dumitrescu and Avram, if you have the time and interest. Thank you so much for wanting to! Have a splendid weekend, man. ** Sickly, Hey! Oh, no, I haven't posted the recipe. I think it's written on a piece of paper that's in a pile that I need to dig through. Let me see if I can find it. I did not know anything about the Szechuan boom in the San Gabriel Valley, no. Wow. It was always so hard to semi-impossible to find great Szechuan in LA, and I never found great sesame noodles when I lived there full time, and I searched really hard for them. Yow! Next time I'm there, probably at the beginning of the year, I'm going to trawl the SGV, which is my old home turf from when I was born and growing up. My mouth is simultaneously on fire and watering thanks to you. It's an amazing combo. ** Sypha, I hope you don't erase the vocals. Don't erase the vocals, or at least make them bonus tracks or something. ** Keaton, I'll take that Halloween air guitar, thank you, and I'll raise you a Helloween air guitar. ** Misanthrope, They do? Arabica is pretty good, or can be. I had some this morning. In fact, I'm still having it, but it's cold now. You should write a book about franchise coffee, seriously. People would buy it. Or you should at least write a short story about a cute twink who tries to write a book about franchise coffee but ends up getting raped and killed. Ha ha. Glad you liked the French guy's piece. Yeah, typo city. I think they must have just done a 'select all' thing on the document Gisele sent them and then pasted it on the website without even reading it or something. Interesting about Tony. You hear these stories about the hyper hearing of blind people. They should be magicians or fake psychics or something. Condolences to your mom. Ouch! That is mostly good news about LPS! But, yeah, with an 'oh, no' side. Silver lining! ** Kyler, Hi! No, I did know that. I don't think I knew that open air areas could be haunted unless they were graveyards, but, yeah, why wouldn't they be, I ask you. We'll try to wander down to WSP one day and say hi. Seems pretty likely. ** Right. Marguerite Duras's films are the story for this weekend. That should give you plenty to enjoy, I hope. See you on Monday.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Le Petit Mac-Mahon de David Ehrenstein presents ... A Barbara Steele Halloween






I doubt that Dennis adepts need an introduction to Barbara Steele, but here’s one anyway.

http://www.barbarasteele.com/

The most beautiful star of the greatest horror masterpiece of Italian film, Black Sunday: Barbara Steele was born on December 19, 1938 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England.  Barbara is loved by her fans for her talent, intelligence, erotic sexuality, and a mysterious beauty that is unique; her face epitomizes either sweet innocence, or malign evil (she is wonderful to watch either way).  At first, Barbara studied to become a painter.   In 1957, she joined an acting repertory company.  Her feature acting debut was in the British comedy Bachelor of Hearts (1958).

At age 21, this strikingly lovely lady, with the hauntingly beautiful face, large eyes, sensuous lips and long, dark hair got her breakout role by starring in Black Sunday, the quintessential Italian film about witchcraft (it was the directorial debut for cinematographer Mario Bava; with his background it was exquisitely photographed and atmospheric). We got to see Barbara, but did not hear her; her voice was dubbed by another actress for international audiences.   After its American success, AIP brought Barbara to America, to star in Roger Corman's The Pit and the Pendulum (1961); (though the film was shot entirely in English, again Barbara's own voice was not used).

By now, Barbara was typecast by American audiences as a horror star.   In 1962, she answered an open-casting call and won a role in Federico Fellini's 8 1/2; she only had a small but memorable role. Reportedly Fellini wanted to use her more in the film, but she was contracted to leave Rome to start work on her next horror movie, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962).  Being a slow and meticulous director, Fellini's 8 1/2 was not released until 1963.  (Later, when Barbara was cast in lesser roles in lesser movies, she would tell the directors: "I've worked with some of the best directors in the world. I've worked with Fellini!") More horror movies followed, such as The Spectre (1963), Castle of Blood (1964), The Long Hair of Death (1964), and others; this success led to her being typecast in the horror genre, where she more often than not appeared in Italian movies with a dubbed voice.  The nadir was appearing in The Crimson Cult (1968), which was mainly eye candy, with scantily-clad women in a cult.

Unfortunately, Barbara got sick of being typecast in horror movies.  One of the screen's greatest horror stars, she said in an interview: "I never want to climb out of another freakin' coffin again!"  This was sad news for her legion of horror fans; it was also a false-step for Barbara as far as a career move.  Back in America, she met screenwriter James Poe; they got married, and remained together for many years.  James Poe wrote an excellent role for Barbara in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969).  The role ended up going to Susannah York, and Barbara wouldn't act in movies again for 5 years.  Barbara returned to movies in Caged Heat (1974); she was miscast: a few years before, Barbara would have been one of the beautiful inmates, not the wheelchair-bound warden.

In 1977, she appeared in a film by Roger Corman, based on the true story of a mentally ill woman, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Unfortunately, her scenes wound up on the cutting room floor.   Again, trying anything but horror, Barbara appeared in Pretty Baby (1978), but she was in the background the whole time, and her talents wasted.  Barbara would appear in 2 more unmemorable movies.  She and James Poe got divorced, (he died a few years later).  Barbara did Silent Scream (1980).  Maybe because her ex-husband was now dead, or because her acting career was going nowhere, Barbara retired from acting for a decade.

However, she had a lot of success as a producer.  She was an associate producer for the TV mini-series The Winds of War (1983), and produced War and Remembrance (1989), for which she got an Emmy award.  Her horror fans were delighted when Barbara showed up again, this time on TV in Dark Shadows (1991), a revival of the beloved 1960s supernatural soap.  The still-lovely Barbara acts occasionally, her latest film was The Capitol Conspiracy (1999).  Even past 60, Barbara is still beautiful and her fans love her.

Barbara Steele biography provided by Klaus D. Haisch




(The Ghost , 1963)



(The Long Hair of Death)



(Barbara discusses her career in Italian horror films – sorry no subtitles)


I interview her HERE




*

p.s. Hey. The Halloween celebrations here get a personal stamp today as Mr. E. directs your attention to revered and legendary horror (and other) actress Barbara Steele. Please enjoy your generous kicks and kick back some commentary to your host, if you don't mind. Cool. Thanks a whole bunch, David! ** David Ehrenstein, Speaking of powerful stuff ... Thank you in person, sir! ** gucciCODYprada, Hey! Cool, wow, that's a serious tour. You're totally a writer supreme if you're writing on your iPhone. Even I, word junkie, can't imagine doing that. Oh, yes, I'm so behind on emails. I'll check that about the post and let you know if changes are needed immediately, sorry. I am reading your novel, yes (!), and loving it but not making the kind of quick progress I wish 'cos I have to finish writing a theater piece that I'm way, way behind on, so reading and writing -- my novel is painfully off-limits at the moment -- are being bitten into pieces. But yes! Awesome, I'll write to you pronto. Big love, me. ** Damien Ark, Hi. Oh, thanks, man. I've heard a little of Andy Stott and thought it was pretty great so that's total compliment. Maybe I should try him as writing soundtracker. Have a good one. ** Nick, Hi, man. Good, happy, obviously, that prose is luring you back inside. Nice Halloween marking and celebrating going on on your blog too. Sweet. ** Jeffrey Coleman, Hi, Jeff. I didn't realize Gisele's video was going public yesterday but then, bang, my newsfeed was packed with links to it. Glad you liked it. I'll tell Gisele, and thank you! Everyone, Mr. Jeffrey Coleman was the first to point out that my dear friend and collaborator Gisele Vienne's music video for the Scott Walker/Sunn0))) single/track 'Brando' is now officially out and wholly watchable. It stars Anja Röttgerkamp and young Léon Rubbens, co-performers of G.'s and my last theater piece 'The Pyre' -- and Leon is also one of the stars of the feature film that Zac and I are currently writing for Gisele to direct, btw -- and the legendary Catherine Robbe-Grillet. Anyway, you can watch it here. ** Sypha, Hi, James. James the reluctant pop star! Wow, excited! I never stress out re: those fall between writing project periods, and you always end up working feverishly on something new, so try to enjoy the muse's nap, I guess. ** _Black_Acrylic, William Power power! ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi. Interesting, cool. You went to junior college? Me too. Yeah, people used to say about my jr. college -- and I imagine everyone says it about every jr. college -- that it was like high school with ash trays. Oh, but I guess they don't say that anymore given smoking's hatred from on high these days. I have no idea how film photography works, but I like the words and terms you used, and that sounds exciting. I would imagine that whenever a new book of mine comes out I'll go to SF to read. I don't know if I'll do any events before then. Maybe if Zac's and my movie or one of theater pieces play there or something. It would be great to meet you too. Well, hopefully there'll be some way for you visit Paris one of these days. It doesn't sound like anything could be better than what you describe. Love! love, me. ** Kier, Hi, K! Really glad you liked Gisele's video. I haven't seen a Halloween house here yet, but I thought I might actually try to search one out if there is one this weekend. Oh, shit, I'm sorry about your terrible, anxiety-riddled day. Anxiety is so irrational, isn't it? God, I hate it. My yesterday was pretty good. I did meet up with Jonathan and his gal pal, who's an amazing artist as well, at FIAC. As art fairs go, it was pretty all right. It was in the Grand Palais, so it was spacious, and, if the art sucked, you could always look up at the amazing ceiling. There were some cool things here and there bunched up amidst the famous artist souvenirs in the sales room-like cubicles on the ground floor, which was kind of the blue chip gallery area. The first floor upstairs was better 'cos it was smaller galleries showing newer, younger artists. I really liked the work of this young Danish artist Nina Beier, for one. There were some really good things in general here and there, and there were some galleries from LA in attendance so I got to say hi to some gallerist people I know and like and whom I haven't seen in ages. Then we walked to Palais de Tokyo where the show there was strangely good for PdT, or about half of it was. And it's such an incredible space. Being there is always exhilarating. Then we had a coffee and hung out before parting ways. It was cool. And I found out about all these events and performances related to FIAC happening that I didn't know about. Like tonight Alejandro Jodorowsky is conducting a seance in the Natural History Museum, which seems potentially mind-blowing. And other stuff. It was fun. Then, uh, ... oh, I found out that four of my books ('MLT', 'God Jr.', 'Ugly Man', and 'The Sluts') are going to be published in Germany, which is very cool 'cos I haven't been published in Germany since 'Period'. That was exciting. And otherwise I think I just worked and stuff. But, yeah, it was a cool day. I really hope your bad yesterday was a fluke and that today is going to rule, but please tell me either way. ** Sickly, Hey. Yeah, right? I totally agree! ** Steevee, They don't show 'Honey Boo Boo' over here, if that's what you mean. It's possible that that news could end up being a squib in the news here, but it would be framed as more evidence of how wacked-out America is. I've never been much of a fan of Roth, no. I liked a couple of the early novels okay at the time but never very passionately. ** Schlix, Hi. Yeah, the buzz on Gisele's video is crazy. The video is kind of a spin-off 'real world setting' version of 'The Pyre'. Same performers, same basic theme but a little more explicit and less abstract. Do I know Iancu Dumitrescu? I feel like I do, but I'm blanking out for some reason. Huh, I'll check. ** Nemo, Hi, Joey. Blogger loves to randomly eat comments, especially long ones. I'll go find out what ECT is. Sounds awful. I'll friend you when Blogger lets me friend people again. Wow, you're working on that thing on my work? Thanks! You should tell Marvin what you want to see and tell him you have my permission, and then he'll write to me to make sure you do. That's how it works best over there. Ideas about an editor? Uh, hm, no one springs to mind. I'm pretty out of touch with the writing/publishing thing in NYC. I read Sade when I was 15 so way, way before I wrote 'Frisk'. Or do you mean did it read it again while writing 'Frisk'? I don't know. I wrote 'Frisk' in NYC, and I don't think I had the book there, so probably not? After Iceland, I should be here working on editing the film for a bit, and then I'll be off again at the end of the year or thereabouts for a while, I think. Very glad to hear things are good with the great and lovely Jarrod. Love to you too, man. ** Keaton, Hi, Jesus, okay, I'm going to stop expressing my astonishment because repetition famously creates numbness after a while. Beautiful Everyone, ... and it's that point in the p.s. when you click this and go see Keaton's newfound and moody Halloween construction 'Shadows'. I hope you guys are keeping up with Keaton's unfolding. You're poorer if you aren't. ** Misanthrope, Oh, it's a coffee contest between quickie places, gotcha. So 7-11 has some overriding rule on how the coffee is prepared at every single 7-11 in the US or something? That seems strange and unenforceable. Maybe it's the brand of coffee they use. Do you know what it is? No, no DC-bashing thing. They did use the French thing, and, in fact, they even put it online if you want to read it now. It's called 'Gisèle Vienne: Disturbance in Representation' and it's by Bernard Vouilloux and it's here. Yikes about those no-eyes people. I got a little freaked out thinking about them and their lives. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal. Yeah, I totally agree about those youtube people. I would say that I spend way too much time watching them except that it's always inspiring and weirdly influential. That short story's effect on you! That's awesome. That doesn't happen every day. Nice, man, congrats, and I look forward to maybe get my eyes moist when I get to read it someday. Briefly, the theater piece stars 8 German ventriloquist/puppeteers who are super famous and respected in their field, and, in our piece, they've gathered together at a yearly ventriloquists convention, and they kind of entertain each other and fight and freak out and go into weird trances and talk about their medium and other stuff. That's a super tightened overview. It'll be easier to talk about when I finally get it written. Oh, wow, I don't know that movie 'Strings'. Huh. I'll tell Gisele about it in case she doesn't know. She's a mega-sponge about everything to do with puppetry. Thanks! ** Right. Spend time with Barbara Steele today, please. Thanks a lot. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween countdown post #10: ... through the eyes and videography of Halloween enthusiast and consumer William Power





'williampower is a channel about all sorts of series and fun like williampower reality spirit halloween tours laser battels monster hunts spongbob vids gaming vids extreme crazy person vids and mostley halloween updates so comment like and subscribe to williampower like me on facebook follow me on instagram every new year a new season of williampower comes out' -- William Power




200 subscribers





Spirit Halloween 2014 tour

Richy Rich 1 week ago
Very cool! Are you going to buy any inflatables?

William powers channel 1 week ago
Yes I have like 80 Christmas inflatables I'm defiantly getting the nutcracker





Going thru some stuff


HalloweenInformer 1 month ago
Can you show us all your props in one video

Anna Schneider 1 month ago
where did you find them?

asylum of terror haunt 1 month ago
Are you going to do a mine craft spirit halloween 2014

William powers channel 1 month ago
Maybe

dd_richart1 1 month ago
How do you get them?

William powers channel 1 month ago
Like a year ago

nick4643 1 month ago
hey your Spirit has the untimely death statue!! I am looking for her do they have any more in stock? I am in Illinois

William powers channel 1 month ago
Idk





My Halloween props

For the past 2 weeks you guys have bin asking to make a video of all my props well here you go hope you like it and comment like rate and subscribe to William powers channel

Halloween7682 1 month ago
I only have 3 spirit props your spoiled

William powers channel 1 month ago
I know





Halloween stuff at cvs 2014





My possessed wall hanger from spirit Halloween

halloweeen haunt guy 1 month ago
Awesome William!!!!!!

William powers channel 1 month ago
Thanks she's goes perfect with my broken spine girl

Haunter Heat 1 month ago
Is she worth it 

William powers channel 1 month ago
Yes she's worth it

The Final Descent Haunted House 3 weeks ago
what do you hang her with

William powers channel 3 weeks ago
She has a Hook on her body between her legs and you get a nail put it on the wall and put the hook on the nail





Halloween stuff at party city 2014

Holdensaurus TheDinoGamer 1 month ago
Don't walk under ladders!!!!!

William powers channel 1 month ago
It was fine and besides it was on wheels





Spirit Halloween 2014 Millville tour





My witch of stolen souls from spirit Halloween

Lego Man 4 weeks ago
Where do you get the button

William powers channel 4 weeks ago
They sell them at spirit I have like 50 of them

The Final Descent Haunted House 4 weeks ago
how do you or your dad get the money to buy so much!

William powers channel 4 weeks ago
It was my birthday money I bought with and a 30 percent coupon

William powers channel 4 weeks ago
20 I meant my keyboard is mestup





Update on the haunted graveyard





My tire swing zombie boy from spirit Halloween

Richy Rich 3 weeks ago
What prop are you getting next?

William powers channel 3 weeks ago
Barnyard butcher or the scentist

Brian Martinez 3 weeks ago
This prop wasn't that great /: 

William powers channel 3 weeks ago
Yes it is it's awsome

Chica The Chicken 3 weeks ago
No its really not william





Skyping





Halloween stuff at home depo 2014

Haunters Spirit 12321 1 week ago
awesome video I love Home Depot for Halloween they always have awesome stuff my faverot thing there is the Wicked witch of the west Wizard of oz 75th anivirsry lol ( the first thing you showed lol I love that witch lol 





Haunted graveyard in daylight





Halloween city 2014

Cash Sims 2 weeks ago
How much does the bunny cost?

William powers channel 2 weeks ago
Idk

Halloween Guy L 1 week ago
+William powers channel what does idk mean

William powers channel 1 week ago
I don't know

William powers channel 1 week ago
That's what it means

Adam RG 3 weeks ago
The evil rabbit makes the same sounds from Jurassic Park trex

William powers channel 3 weeks ago
Yeah I noticed that





My spirit Halloween store on minecraft 2014

coltonandjen 2 weeks ago
Look, i know this is minecraft, but could you at least TRY to make a decent Spirit Halloween. I made Misfortune Teller that acually works on the PC version.

William powers channel 2 weeks ago
Who cares it's still good I worked very hard on it





Spirit Halloween 2014 tour

Holdensaurus TheDinoGamer 5 days ago
Are you gonna get the scientist

William powers channel 2 days ago
At the end of the season when everything is cheap




*

p.s. Hey. ** Postitbreakup, Hi, Josh. Yeah, I just said and meant that it wasn't intended for my eyes. Anyway, no sweat, it's okay. I'm sorry you're unhappy and suffering. Lots of love, Dennis. ** David Ehrenstein, I've heard such great things about Ollier's film criticism, but I've never read that work, and I definitely will. He and I share a French publisher, POL, and I met him once, and he was very interesting and gracious. VK as BW? Curious. Sounds like the critic wasn't so convinced. Con-Vinced, ha ha. ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi, Marilyn! I'm happy to know you're there lurking. Lurkers are cool. Oh, wow, SF State, that's so great! How are the classes? Do they seem promising? Of course I remember Dan Wreck, and that is such cool, sweet news! Congratulation to you both! Yay! Love is so awesome! Speaking of, lots of love from me! ** Kier, Kierayon! Okay, obviously my cleverness regarding your name remains very hampered. Tobin Sprout's solo albums are always a little uneven because I think he's a very meticulous songwriter and filling out whole albums doesn't completely work, but there are always 5 or 6 great, great songs on each one. If you want to get one Sprout LP to start, I think I would recommend getting either the live album 'Live At The Horseshoe Tavern' or 'Demos and Outtakes'. And the two albums he did in collab. with Pollard under the name Airport 5 are really great! Especially the first one, 'Tower In The Fountain Of Sparks', but they're both fantastic. There's this room in the Recollets basement that definitely has a dungeon look and vibe about it. That's where Zac and I did a lot of our meetings when we were casting our film, ha ha. Oh, oh, I want to see a Halloween-decorated house in Norway so bad! If you find it, please take a snap or two. Thank you! I promise that if I see a Halloween-ed up Paris house, I'll do that same. Yesterday ... I did finish that interview. Well, when the journalist asked if I would do it, I said I would do it if it was by phone 'cos I'm really busy, and he wrote back and said that transcribing the conversation would be such a drag for him, and I wrote back and said I was sorry about the drag part but that a phoner would be best, and then, one day later, I got this very long email interview from him. Not a good start. The interview was kind of irritating, asking me to make big pronouncements about "American society" and "the American teenager" and "the reader" and all this stuff that's totally foreign to how I think, so the interview ended up being kind of combative, which is unusual for me. So, I did that. I made plans to go to FIAC, the big Paris art fair, with artist/d.l. Jonathan Mayhew today, and that'll be fun. Worked, the usual. Zac left last night for a few days in Dublin to help a friend of his move from Paris to there, so I saw him for a while and gave him his bag of plane/traveling treats. I found out that Gisele, Stephen O, Zac, and I are going to get a private tour of the new, under construction Whitney Museum building in Soho while we're in NYC, and that's kind of exciting. Uh, that might be the gist. I guess I can tell you how FIAC is tomorrow if it's interesting and of interest. Did you find something fun or creative or relaxing or well, any other things, to do today? Love, me. ** Steevee, Hi. Oh, okay, interesting. Than you for the report. Hm, I guess I'll try to see 'The Color Wheel' first then, although there is an inherent interest in the lit. scene setting/context, I guess. Good, I'm very interested to read your Mekons review. Everyone, Steevee has reviewed the new documentary about the mega-revered band The Mekons, and I think you probably really want to read that. It's here.** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. Did the sun do its huge, positive thing to the weather there today? We're gloomy and overcast here, but in a kind of potent, nice way. I need to get that Sotos. I saw a show of D’Agata’s photographs about a year ago, and I didn't like it much at all, but of course I'm very ready to be swayed by Peter's no doubt brilliant approach and thoughts. ** gucciCODYprada, Hey! Shit, you're gone? Fuck! I got a text message from you, although I think it arrived pretty long after you sent it, and I texted you back. Did you not get it? Shit, now you're gone? Well, was it real interesting? Did you enjoy it? Where in the Netherlands? Then London? Sweet tour. Anyway, that totally sucks that we missed each other. Somehow we'll hook up soon. Bunches of love, me. ** Hyemin Kim, Hi! Really nice to see you! I hope your work crush has a positive side. I'm crushed that way too. Thank you for the kind wishes re: the traveling. Take care! ** Etc etc etc, Hi, C. Cool about the Gober. Yeah, I definitely want to see the Christopher Williams. He's a really old friend of mine going back to when we were young, hopeful artist intendees in LA. Thanks for getting 'Ktl' tix. I'm dreading that talk. I hate public speaking and opinion giving and all that, so I'll be a stress bunny and not at my best, but cool that you'll be there. What Pina Bausch piece are you seeing? Hopefully one of her earlier, amazing pieces? ** Schlix, Hi, Uli. Thanks for exploring Sprout. I love his stuff so much. The new Teenage Guitar album? I haven't gotten it yet, but I of course adored the first one. Ollier isn't very well translated into other languages in general, and it's a real shame. ** Roger Clarke, Whoa, Roger! Howdy-do! Man, it's been so great to see the success of your book via reading things here and there and everywhere! That's so great! And now Patrick is doing you in the Times! Holy shit! Very, very happy for mega-deserving you! Are you good in general? I miss you. ** Keaton, I know I keep saying this, but how do you make such awesome things so fast? It's a fucking wonder. And this one's textual too. I'll pore once the p.s. is poured. Everyone, it's that time again. What time, you ask? Well, time to go over to Keaton's place where you will find yourself amazed by a little vertical ditty that goes by the name of 'A poem by Mary - It's Halloween, I want to suck your Hallowpeen and then you can...' No, you rocketh! ** Misanthrope, Tobin Sprout is one of the best names ever, if you ask me. I wish my parents had thought of it first and shortly before I was born. Well, that sucks about your youtube impairment because I think yesterday's gig might have been the first one in ages that you would have possibly quite liked. And what taste tests are these? Like ... 7/11 vs. Walmart vs. Chevron gas station or something? I would love a gulp of your homemade espresso in any case. Re: the intro, I think, and I'm not absolutely sure, that the venue ended up using the text by the French writer that Gisele proposed that they use, but don't bet money on that. NYC, meh, it'll always be there, but going there is always fun, but not going there is not not fun necessarily either. You can't lose either way? It is weird how eyesight usually doesn't age dramatically. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal. Butler's work is very stalkable. I'm glad my little advice helped. More of that anytime you ever want or like, man. Things are very good. My novel is painfully on hold until I finish writing this theater piece that's already overdue but I should be back headlong into it shortly. No comment on your third question, ha ha. Same three questions back to you. ** James, Hi. You know that Sprout and almost all of the original members came back to GbV a few years ago and that they made five albums before breaking up again a few weeks ago? Those five albums are up with their early, best stuff. The plan at the moment is that the blog will go into reruns while I'm in NYC, and then it will probably shut down entirely for the twelve or so days while I'll be in Iceland because I don't know when or if I'll have internet there, and then it'll pop back alive and become fresh again on the 15th. ** Sickly, Hi. You saw the reunion GbV, you lucky, lucky, lucky guy! I never did. I was never in the States at the right place at the right time, and they never came to France, those fuckers. I kind of like the Fonda, but I don't drink, so that might help. Yay, "Sprout is great", that is so true! The reason I did the Sprout gig was because one day last week I happened to decide to listen to 'To My Beloved Martha', and then I ended up listening to it about 80 times over the next two days, and I decided that it was the greatest song ever written during those two days. Yes, 'Dayton, Ohio-19 Something And 5' is holy. The live version on one of their EPs is even better. Do you know the Airport Five stuff/albums that Pollard and Sprout did together? If not, check 'Stifled Man Casino'. That song is so catchy and genius, it'll kill you. ** Sypha, Vocals, whoa. That's interesting. Like real vocals as opposed to auto-tuned or whatever? Very, very curious to hear that. ** That's it? Cool. Today you get Halloween filtered through the great, vibrantly interiorized and wonderfully spazzy Lord of Halloween props and video cam usage, Mr. William Power! See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gig #65: Tobin Sprout






'Despite his own solo successes, Tobin Sprout will probably always be known as the one-time four-track wizard and songwriting side kick to Robert Pollard in Ohio's lo-fi pop kings Guided By Voices. Though less prolific than his boss, fans of the group were quick to take note of Sprout's irresistible song craft. Relegated to a handful of appearances on each release, the singer/guitarist penned GBV favorites like "Awful Bliss," "Atom Eyes," and "It's Like Soul Man." Sprout left the GBV camp in 1997, pursuing the solo career he launched a year earlier with Carnival Boy.

'Tobin Sprout began playing guitar at age eight, teaching himself on the Silvertone his parents purchased for 25 dollars. In his late twenties, Sprout began making his first appearances on a Dayton, OH, scene dominated by metal acts, cover bands, and the occasional coalition of fiery punk youth, with his band Fig.4. Formed in 1983 with bassist Dan Toohey and drummer Jon Peterson, the group only released one 7" during its existence, breaking up before completing their full-length debut. After the split, Sprout enlisted the help of Dayton resident Robert Pollard to finish the album.

'A frequent attendee at Fig.4 shows, Pollard's early offer to join the group was (rather ironically) rejected. Needing an outlet for his own growing backlog of compositions, Pollard formed Guided By Voices shortly after. The band's Forever Since Breakfast EP was released in 1986, followed by the full-length Devil Between My Toes a year later. Sprout continued to stay in touch, adding his guitar to a couple of tracks on Devil, but eventually moved to Florida, taking a job as a designer and illustrator for See magazine.

'Upon returning to Dayton in the early '90s, Sprout found Guided By Voices hard at work on their fifth album Propeller (1992). Impressed with Pollard's songwriting talents, Sprout joined the group mid-way through the recording, making his GBV songwriting debut with "14 Cheerleader Coldfront." The band began using Sprout's home studio, pleased with the intimacy of four-track fidelity. Eventually a recording reached Scat Records who signed the band for the Propeller follow-up, Vampire on Titus. The group's home until their 1995 signing to Matador, the Scat-era saw GBV honing their home-studio skills, culminating on Bee Thousand. One of the group's best-loved releases, the album was cut entirely on Sprout's four-track.

'Token Sprout appearances followed on each subsequent album, peaking with his four contributions to 1996's Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. Shortly after, weary of the band's increased touring, Sprout moved with his family to Michigan. Though much of his spare time was dedicated to painting, he continued to write, releasing the occasional 7" and two full-length collections, Moonflower Plastic (1997) and Let's Welcome the Circus People (1999). He also wrote a number of songs for his Eyesinweasel project, 14 of which were collected on 2000's Wrinkled Thoughts. Demos and Outtakes appeared in 2001, but Sprout was uncharacteristically quiet after its release, only popping up here and there on hard-to-find 7" singles. During this time he also cut a full-length studio effort in his Leland, MI home studio. The finished touches were collected as Lost Planets & Phantom Voices, which appeared in February 2003.' -- collaged










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To My Beloved Martha
'That one was mostly done on an Alesis ADAT and a Studio 32 board so I can go up to 16 tracks, which is what I'd like to do eventually. The stuff that I did on Moonflower Plastic, outside of the studio stuff, was done on an 8-track cassette and a 4-track cassette and there's a big difference in the sound quality of the ADAT.' -- TS






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Martin's Mounted Head
'My ultimate goal is to get a 24-track analog machine, but it's just expensive. You've got to have somebody that can work on it, and you've got to find one to begin with. They're expensive and a problem to maintain and there aren't really a lot of people up here who could even work on it. So eventually I'd like to do that, but for the time being I'm just going to be using the ADAT because it seems to be working out pretty well and it's easy to use and there's not a lot of problems like with a tape machine.' -- TS






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It's Like Soul Man
'I'm drawn to the analogue sound mostly just for the saturation point that you can get with tape and you can't get it on the ADAT. They are getting better to where you can get a nice sound on them but they still don't have the warmth that you get from tape, I don't think. A lot of people say they can't tell the difference, but I can hear the difference in a lot of the stuff.' -- TS






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The Last Man Well Known to Kingpin
'There's a couple of microphones that I still use. There's an Electro-Voice that's more of a stage mic that I still use just because it has more of a crisp sound to it. And then I've got a CAD E-100 vocal mic that I've been using - I was using that with the 8-track too. That's got a nice large diaphragm so it really picks up the vocals really well. Aside from that I still use the Memory Man [analog delay pedal] occasionally on some vocal sounds because that was really the only thing that we had on the 4-track for effects. It was just an echo and a chorus on it.' -- TS






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Get Out of My Throat
'I studied graphic design and illustration. When I finally got into it I did graphic design. I was painting at night and eventually started showing my work and that just sort of took off. So I was able to get out of graphic design and just paint. It all sort of wrapped around the Guided By Voices stuff that was going on. I was able to do that at the same time.' -- TS






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All Used Up (live)
'I would say I made a living as an artist before I made a living as a musician. I was always into both. I had a guitar when I was in fifth or sixth grade, and we had bands in the garage and stuff, but nothing ever really took off. Drawing and art were things that just came really easy to me. It always seemed like that’s what I wanted to do and that’s what I ended up doing. It was always easy for me and I couldn’t figure out why other people can’t do that. But you get into other things, and I can barely balance my checkbook.' -- TS






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Curious Things
'One of the biggest things that I notice is little kids are getting into GBV. We’ve been doing these all-ages shows and there are these five and six-year-old kids that are there with their parents. And they’re right up front and they’re singing. They know all the words. It’s like we’ve got this whole new generation coming up, and that’s pretty exciting. We were in Chicago, and about four or five rows out there was this mother holding her daughter, who was singing every word to every song. It’s incredible. So we have a new generation to write for.' -- TS






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Water on the Boater's Back
'Sometimes when writing songs they come out right away if I have the lyrics already written. Other times I’ll spend all day on it. It just depends on the song. It doesn’t matter the length of it, it’s just a matter of how long it takes to get all the pieces together. A lot of times I’ll start with just the instruments and them maybe throw a vocal at it and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, the next day I’ll go back in and hopefully you forget about what you did and things will happen. Some days just fly by because you’re just involved with the song, but it varies. It’s usually done within the day.' -- TS






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Liquor Bag
'The wires, the set up, the machines that don't work when I need them to.' -- TS






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Indian Ink (live)
'When I was in Fig.4 we played an arena and were booked to play after the Ohio Players. The place was packed, but as soon as the Ohio Players were finished it emptyed out. We played to about 10 people in the largest venue I had ever played in at that time. It was very intimidating but we just went with it. It looked good on the poster, as if the Ohio Players opened for us.' -- TS






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Courage the Tack
'I don't know that it matters, I use to think it did but I think It just comes down to staying excited about writing. And that comes from inside.' -- TS






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Earth Links
'I just wrote a song on the piano. I like it , it has rolling notes that flow from one chord to the next. Its very beautiful. The words are nice too. I'm thinking of trying it with drums.' -- TS






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As Lovely as You
'I've been hearing some music from the 40s that my Dad has, big band, Frank Sinatra. It really is amazing, the pure sounds of the recordings, just one vocal, no overdubs or effects. The songs are all well written, every note and word means something. It has changed me.' -- TS






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The Crawling Backwards Man
'Harry Nilsson, I wish I could sing like him. He had a great voice. The Moonbeam song is one of my favorite. "First of May" by the BEE GEE"S It is the most beautiful song I've ever heard. It makes me feel good to feel sad.' -- TS






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Sentimental Stations
'I enjoy reading about American history; right now I’m reading The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg. The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston is a great book—all about the creation of Disney and about the development of the art and the artists behind the scenes.' -- TS






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Popstram
'I’m sure I picked up the style of the 60s singers because that is what I grew up listening to. My grandmother gave me the first three Byrds albums for Christmas, and I would listen to the radio at night—The Ronnettes, Left Bank, The Bee Gees, The Hollies—and I’d pick out all the parts and add some of my own. So I think it’s a cross between American and British psychedelic.' -- TS







*

p.s. RIP: Claude Ollier. A great loss. And now there's only one Nouveau Roman writer still alive: Michel Butor. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. It was my great pleasure, thank you! You're already nearing the end of your trip? Wow, that seems fast for some reason. That hotel: we stayed there the first time because we really liked its profile, and we didn't really know where it was vis-à-vis central Tokyo. But we kind of fell in love with it, and we ended up enjoying the traveling to and from the center. There's a subway stop about 10-15 minutes walk from the hotel, which isn't bad. The rooms there are beautiful. We always stay in a Tatami room, which you can see if you click this and scroll down. The prices aren't so bad for Tokyo, from what I can tell. And we like Meguro itself, so, yeah, that hotel has become our Tokyo home away from home. Well, naturally I think moving there is a dreamy idea. I love Tokyo so much. I miss it all the time. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. He sure didn't seem very appealing in bed in the YSL film with his pencil mustache and greasy, smirking, cartoonily grease-ball demeanor. Oh, thank you so much for the post! It'll go up here on this coming Friday! Thank you, thank you! There are posters for 'Horns' all over Paris at the moment, and, man, is it a bad poster. ** Nick, Wow, hi, Nick! How the heck are you? Yeah, '300,000,000' is a really, really amazing novel. Take care. Yeah, what's up? ** Tomkendall, Hi, Tom! Hi, buddy! How are you? What's going on, man? ** Marilyn Roxie, Well, it's very nice to see you, Marilyn, my pal. You good? Please fill me in on your goings on, if you like and don't mind. ** Kier! It's righteous: the book. That's funny because I just watched part of the film of 'Destroy, She Said' the other day while I was putting together a post on Duras' films. 'Honored Guest', ooh. Joy Williams is so, so great! I'm reading a bunch of stuff, I guess, yeah. I guess I'll do a 'loved books' post about some of them soon. The sculpture just disappeared early in the morning the next day. I think the janitor did something with it. But it was so spectacular, I'm sure they didn't throw it away. It's probably in the dungeon. Cool about the letter from the clinic! My last two days ... hm, okay, I guess quickly, err, ... The day before yesterday, ... oh, I think I mentioned that my friends the artists Scott Treleaven and Paul P are in residency here right now, and I wanted them to meet Zac and vice versa, so we all had a coffee, and that was really nice. Zac and I went to see this concert by the guy who did that phenomenal Hatsune Miku vocaloid opera The End' last year, but his music was drab and really not very interesting when just played on the piano with lame video projections, so we left at the intermission. And I worked and stuff. Yesterday, my agent was in town so I had a coffee with her and caught her up on my progress on my novel and heard about the biz re: my books. Then I met up with Zac for a coffee and brief hang out near the Pompidou. Then I worked some more. Then in the evening Zac and I went to Gisele's to see her before she splits for the 'Kindertotenlieder' shows Montreal today. So, they were nice, mildly eventful days, I guess. I can't remember what else happened. I'm doing a long interview for the Spanish version of Esquire Magazine that I need to finish today. I think other than those outings, I was just home trying to catch up on my projects basically. What did Wednesday do to and for you? ** Damien Ark, Hi, Damien. The new Blake novel is phenomenal, his best I think. Well, when your writing fails you, it's always the right idea to stop and recharge. The 'I miss writing' thing when you abandon it for a while is pretty good fuel, so, yeah, probably a good move, and probably a positive move and not apocalyptic or anything like that. ** Bill, Hi. I was pretty way into Nick Cave from the Birthday Party up through 'Funeral, Trial', and then I kind of drifted away. Do they know why this hoarseness thing is so lingery? (Ha ha, Blogger's spellcheck really, really wanted to change lingery into lingerie. We had a protracted little war over the word there for a minute.) ** Paul Curran, Hi, Paul. I think it's my favorite of Blake's too. It's a wowzer. No problem on the slackness. I get a little greedy re: Halloween, I'm sorry. I read about that street thing the other day, and I want to see that one of these years. Looks awesome. ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. Oh, man, that's cool. Nice of you to come in. Hope you're sufficiently de-tired by now. ** Sypha, Yeah, I think that's where I got the retirement idea. Nice about the horror movies. I should be doing that. ** Etc etc etc, Hi, man. Oh, Ira, yeah, I just saw him the other week. If he's in a good mood, I'm sure he'll be happy to regale you with stories. Tell him you're my pal. That should add some perk to whatever mood he's in, I think. Thanks about the LHotB line-up. I'm proud of it, yeah. Every book was tops, and I plan to keep it that way when I restart it. Oops about the Matisse show. Did you see the Gober retro and that sculpture group show whatever it's called? I'm curious to see those. ** Steevee, Hi. That's funny, Etc etc etc just mentioned seeing that film the other day. I think he wasn't completely wild about it? How was it? ** Chris Cochrane, Mr. Cochrane! Chris! Hey, hey, man! I'd love to see you too, but all in-person bets are off at the moment until I see how much I'll actually be in NYC and how busy. We'll connect through some medium one way or the other for sure. 'Soused' is so good! ** Misanthrope, You must have a swanky 7-11. The 7-11's coffee near my LA pad is misery incarnate. Mm, yeah, that joke, hm, I don't know, man, ha ha. ** Postitbreakup, Hi, Josh. I understand. Well, I'm rotten with emails almost across the board. Also, in that recent one, you showed me something that was not intended for my eyes, and I didn't read it for that reason, so that's probably one reason why I didn't respond, not that the words 'email response' and I are ever trusty friends under the best of circumstances. I'm sorry, and take care, man. ** Keaton, Man, how do you keep unveiling all these awesome posts at such a high rate? I don't how you do it. I guess I'm just really slow on the upswing. Well, I know I am. Another great beauty! Everyone, a day without a Halloween themed post is a sad day, but, luckily, today is not a sad day, or it won't be, if you go over to Keaton's. Hint, hint. ** Rewritedept, Hi. Oh, I liked 'King of the Hill' a lot. That sounds good. Rattling people's need for pleasantness inspires questions and not necessarily interesting ones. Part and parcel. Goes with the turf. Okay cool, about the taco place. I'll be game if I'm there. Thanks! I wouldn't anticipate a friend acceptance from Zac because he only friends real friends and sometimes artists he likes, and I don't think he knows your stuff, but, hey, you never know with him. I am happy about the S-K reunion, you bet, duh. ** Schlix, Hi, Uli! I'll let you know. I asked Gisele about that last night, and she said there are gigs in the works but nothing firm at all yet. Have a lovely day! ** End. Tobin Sprout usually gets overlooked due to being the second songwriter in a band beside the genius Robert Pollard, but he's great, and he's a maker of many really exquisite songs, and he's one of my great favorites, so I hope you like the gig. See you tomorrow.