August 6, 2012

dave chislett – Growing a Pair

Filed under: dave chislett,poetry — ABRAXAS @ 5:49 pm

I have been writing poetry since I was 10 years old, but it took 30 years, 5 other books published and the invention of Facebook for me to carry this aspect of my writing out into the public eye. Why was this? Well, because poetry doesn’t sell, because intellectualism is not exactly flavour of the month, because it seems almost archaic and well, because I wasn’t sure I was actually any good at it!

Getting Started

When I saw Michelle McGrane posting work up on Facebook on an ad hoc basis, I was intrigued. Then when I read the comments I began to understand something very important. It really didn’t matter what I thought. I t mattered how people felt, and it mattered that I put it out there. So I started publishing poems to Facebook.

I admit, I got a big carried away and posted at least one poem per day for over 18 months. It was a surprising and fun filled adventure! People loved poems I was uncertain of, said nothing about the ones I considered among my best work. There were comments, laughs and most importantly, enjoyment.

I still don’t know if I am any good as a poet, but as for the rest, I don’t care. The net result of this process was that, in July 2012 I published For You Or Someone Like You, my debut poetry collection. It holds 90 poems, drawn from that prolific 18-month Facebook period. There is no overriding theme other than what was on my mind at the time. Although if you look harder you can discern four or five recurring ideas through the body of work.

Selling Poetry

I built a website and started trying to sell the book before it was printed. I sold a few. I still have offers up on that site, you can go out for dinner with me, you can have a writing coaching session, and I can even play you a private show. It’s all on http://www.foryouorsomeonelikeyou.com/?page_id=26

From that website, you can also buy a limited edition CD. It consists of ten tracks. The songs are all poems of mine that various well-known artists have converted into music and recorded. The album includes songs by Rambling Bones, Shannon Hope, Shotgun Tori, Rob McLennan (NFOH), Paul Riekert (Battery 9) and Trenton Birch (Trenton and The Free Radical).

Poetry for me is a deeply personal exercise. But I am very post-modern about it, hence all these bells and whistles. I have set it free in a way. I look ward to meeting you! You can buy the book and CD direct from the website by clicking here: http://www.foryouorsomeonelikeyou.com/?page_id=26

I hope to meet you at a show someday!

dave chislett

August 5, 2012

the rules of noise

Filed under: african noise foundation — ABRAXAS @ 4:29 pm


noise is post-music
noise is the phoenix of music moving beyond music
noise iterates what music never can, because noise is unruled
ergo: noise rules!

55. Deadbeat at Dawn – Jim Van Bebber

Filed under: film,on murder as a fine art — ABRAXAS @ 12:19 pm

this review first published here: http://www.mortado.com/gravemusic/index.php/Movie-Reviews/deadbeat-at-dawn-1987.html

July 30, 2012

Chris Marker obituary by ronald bergan

Filed under: film,film as subversive art — ABRAXAS @ 6:23 pm

Ronald Bergan
guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 July 2012 12.57 BST

The essay film, a form pitched between documentary and personal reflection, exploring the subjectivity of the cinematic perspective, has now become an accepted genre. Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet, Jean-Luc Godard, Errol Morris and Michael Moore are among its main recent exponents, but Chris Marker, who has died aged 91, was credited with inventing the form.

Marker’s creative use of sound, images and text in his poetic, political and philosophical documentaries made him one of the most inventive of film-makers. They looked forward to what is called “the new documentary”, but also looked back to the literary essay in the tradition of Michel de Montaigne. Marker’s interests lay in transitional societies – “life in the process of becoming history,” as he put it. How do various cultures perceive and sustain themselves and each other in the increasingly intermingled modern world?

He was born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, most likely in Neuilly-sur-Seine, on the outskirts of Paris, although one source gives the place of birth as Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia – a legend that Marker did nothing to dispel. His pseudonym is said to have been taken from the Magic Marker pen.
Prix Jean Vigo On 1954 Alain Resnais And Chris Marker Chris Marker, left, with Alain Resnais. The pair collaborated on the propaganda film Far from Vietnam. Photograph: Getty Images/Gamma-Keystone

Marker fought in the French Resistance and supposedly with the American armed forces during the second world war. He emerged from the Parisian Left Bank intellectual climate, coming under the influence of two postwar figures, André Malraux and André Bazin, working with the latter on the theatre section of the magazine Travail et Culture, then under the aegis of the French Communist party.

He wrote a novel, Le Coeur Net, published in 1950 and translated the following year as The Forthright Spirit; a book of criticism on the playwright and novelist Jean Giraudoux; poems and short stories; and film reviews for Cahiers du Cinéma. But it was his lucid and committed leftwing documentaries, all of which he wrote and many of which he photographed, made from 1955 to 1966, that established him as a major film-maker. It was during this period that the poet Henri Michaux proclaimed: “The Sorbonne should be razed and Chris Marker put up in its place.”

“I write to you from a far-off country,” begins Marker’s Lettre de Sibérie (Letter from Siberia, 1958), which uses cartoons, texts and voiceover. In the film, Marker questions the objectivity of documentaries by repeating one sequence three times, each with a different commentary. Depending on the commentary, Soviet workers building a road were either “unhappy”, “happy” or “noble”.

The passionate and influential Cuba Si! (1961) contains two interviews with Fidel Castro. It ends with the Bay of Pigs fiasco, which took place in April 1961, during the editing of the film, which had been shot a few months previously. The anti-American tone of the ending caused the French government to ban the film until 1963, but Marker published the text and stills before then. However, this could not amply communicate the expert use of sound, image and text that makes his films so special.

Marker brought the same foreigner’s eye view to bear on his own city in Le Joli Mai (1963), which he compiled from 55 hours of interviews with the people of Paris (boiled down to around two and a half hours) with a linking commentary spoken by Yves Montand (replaced by Simone Signoret in the English version). The interviews assume the form of a dialectic during which Marker’s tone is often ironic and judgmental. For example, when one interviewee says he wants material success, Marker remarks that his view of life is “a trifle limited”.

Marker’s La Jetée (The Pier, 1962), a roughly 30-minute post-third world war story, is made up entirely of stills, except for one brief moving shot of a woman opening her eyes. This futuristic photo-novel film, semi-remade by Terry Gilliam as 12 Monkeys in 1995, abstracts cinema almost to its essence in bringing to life the story of a post-apocalyptic man obsessed with an image from his past.

Set against the backdrop of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Le Mystère Koumiko (The Koumiko Mystery, 1965) consists of a series of conversations with an attractive, French-speaking Tokyo resident named Koumiko Muraoka. Through her, and modern Tokyo, Marker is able to comment on the loss of identity in the face of globalism. Koumiko considers her own features too Japanese, while the director interprets the aesthetics of contemporary Japanese fashion as a subconscious desire to neutralise Asiatic features and erase the otherness that attracts Marker himself to the culture (and to the heroine).

In 1966, Marker set up a company, Société pour le Lancement des Oeuvres Nouvelles, to produce new work. It financed Loin du Vietnam (Far from Vietnam, 1967), a timely propaganda piece with contributions directed by Godard, Agnès Varda, Alain Resnais, Joris Ivens and Marker himself.

Le Train en Marche (The Train Rolls On, 1971) was a documentary focusing on the director Alexander Ivanovich Medvedkin, and his CineTrain of the 1930s, on which film crews travelled through the Soviet Union making documentaries. Using archive footage and photographs, Marker illustrates how the CineTrain functioned as the means by which films could include and educate the masses in Russia at the start of the revolution. More than 20 years later, after the fall of Soviet communism, Marker returned to Medvedkin in Le Tombeau d’Alexandre (The Last Bolshevik, 1992). The film is a series of video letters to Medvedkin (who died in 1989) and provides a broader, incisive meditation on the nature of reality, fiction, art, ideology and history.

Taking an even wider perspective was his 1977 film Le Fond de l’Air est Rouge (a slogan from the May 1968 protests). It was given the English title The Grin Without a Cat. Divided into two 90-minute parts, it tells the story of the New Left activist movement, from its birth as a byproduct of the Vietnam war to the CIA’s ousting of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, which sounded the death knell for ideological hope. For Marker, truth is always a matter of an individual’s point of view: history does not exist apart from through our personal experience and interpretation of it.

“You never know what you’re filming until later,” remarks one of the film’s many narrators, summing up Marker’s distinctive way of working both within the moment and out of it. In Sans Soleil (Sunless, 1983), a fictional cameraman (a Marker surrogate) tries to make sense of the cultural dislocation he feels in Japan, West Africa and Iceland. Using diverse images, letters, quotes and musings, Marker continued to extend the limits of the documentary, making use of new video technology and image-processing by Hayao Yamaneko, credited with special effects. The result is a film that Marker described as like “a musical composition, with recurrent themes, counterpoints and mirror-like fugues”.

“I remember that month of January in Tokyo, or rather, I remember the images I filmed of the month of January in Tokyo,” says the narrator. “They have substituted themselves for my memory. They are my memory … the act of remembering is not the opposite of forgetting.”

Apart from the Medvedkin documentaries, Marker made further films on directors. AK (1985), profiling the location shooting of Akira Kurosawa’s Ran on the slopes of Mount Fuji, included an interview with its 75-year-old director. This reverential impression of the Japanese master at work is revealing about Kurosawa’s methods and his relations with his crew. Marker also uses the subject for his own brand of poetic-philosophical celluloid essay on the Japanese and on the making of a film. For the French TV programme Cinéastes de Notre Temps, Marker paid homage to Andrei Tarkovsky in Une Journée d’Andrei Arsenevitch (One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich, 2000).

In the 1990s, Marker expanded into multimedia installation work such as Zapping Zone for the Pompidou Centre. In the film Level Five (1997), he made use of the new video technology and paid homage to Resnais’ films on memory and the unconscious. Gradually, a woman called Laura (named after the eponymous heroine of the Otto Preminger film) attempts to reconstruct a true historical event through information derived from a global virtual network known as Optional World Link (or Owl, a wry reference to Marker’s production company Argos Films and its emblematic mascot).

That decade, Marker, always the innovator, made a CD-Rom called Immemory, composed of stills, film clips, music, text and fragments of sound. It is over 20 hours long and can be viewed in many different ways.

Throughout his career, Marker, who was notoriously secretive about his private life, was rarely interviewed or photographed, often responding to requests for his photograph with a picture of a cat – his favourite animal.

• Chris Marker (Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve), film director, born 29 July 1921; died 30 July 2012

first published here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jul/30/chris-marker?newsfeed=true

July 18, 2012

moscow circus

Filed under: derek davey,music,politics — ABRAXAS @ 12:48 pm

In 1992 a performance called the Moscow Circus premiered at the Grahamstown National Festival of the Arts. The cast included singer/songwriter Vusi Mahlasela, poet Lesego Rampolokeng, the punk/industrial band Live Jimi Presley and dancer/arsonists Chetanya Alexander and Angela Macpherson. The crew was put together by Hannalie Coetzee, who was managing Vusi, Lesego and the Presleys at the time. Some of the Lesego songs were written by Warrick Sony and adapted for the show.

They performed at the Power Station on the outskirts of the Grahamstown precinct, a vast, picturesque, face-brick freezing venue; sacks were stuffed into the windows to seal them and charcoal braziers were set among the audience. Each night the line-up was Jennifer Ferguson, The Moscow Circus, James Phillips and The Lurchers, then Lloyd Ross playing World Music for the after-party – every night an unforgettable experience.

Recently some footage shot by Lloyd was dug out from his archive and given to the Presleys. There are some truly amazing shots, and the sound is top quality, despite the fact that the tapes were so old that they frequently stuck together and broke as he digitised them.

1992 was smack in the middle of Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990 and the first multi-racial elections in South Africa in 1994. It was an extremely troubled time, characterized by massive, ongoing township violence, ANC-Inkatha battles, attempts by the right-wing to destabilise the power-sharing process, the mysterious and deadly 3rd force etc. If you watch The Bang Bang Club you will realise just how close this country came to not becoming a democracy and sliding into total anarchy. The Moscow Circus reflects this zeitgeist, for instance referring to the “violins” that refused to stop playing in the townships.

If anyone has memorabilia from this period – photos, videos, posters, programmes etc – please scan and forward to me. My aim is to put together a short documentary based on the footage of this show, from 20 years ago.

derek davey

July 9, 2012

nick cave and tracy pew, london venue july 1982

Filed under: kagaportraits,music — ABRAXAS @ 8:53 pm

Tracy Franklin Pew (19 December 1957 – 7 November 1986) was an Australian musician: he was the bass guitarist for The Birthday Party from 1975 to its disbandment in June 1983. He was subsequently a member of The Saints and worked with former The Birthday Party band mates’ group, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. As a member of The Birthday Party, Pew became associated with their “prodigious consumption of drugs and alcohol”. At a 1980 performance by James Freud, Pew expressed his disapproval by throwing dog faeces at the singer-guitarist. In 1982 Pew was imprisoned for ten weeks in HM Prison Won Wron on charges relating to driving under the influence of alcohol. Pew died on 7 November 1986 of a brain haemorrhage after head injuries sustained during an epileptic seizure, he was aged 28.

read more about tracy pew here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracy_Pew

Ralph Steadman: Another Freak in the Freak Kingdom – interview by sarah claire picton

Filed under: art,sarah claire picton — ABRAXAS @ 2:37 pm

Mickey and Mallory, Bonny and Clyde, Butch and Sundance… it seems that great murderers hunt in pairs. And so do Gonzo artists. Ralph Steadman was Hunter S. Thompson’s illustrator, collaborator and friend. He captures the essence of Thompson’s words with his iconic cartoons and paintings, adding a visual counterpoint to the dark and sardonic music of the duo’s journey.

Steadman’s award-winning work includes political cartoons, book illustrations and countless examples of his life-long scribbled homage to whimsy. He failed Art at the same school that now has a Ralph Steadman Creative Suite, and unveiled the plaque himself. His life breaks the rules with the same joyful defiance that his art does. He explains: ‘Gonzo is the essence of irony. You dare not take it seriously. You have to laugh.’

Sarah Claire Picton sits down to share a breakfast of champions with Steadman.

What have you been working on ink-wise?

A book of extinct boids of planet oith.

Could you explain the symbolism of reptiles in your work?

Reptiles always seem cunning and unpredictable. I just don’t trust them… but I quite like Kermit the Frog and his lovely song ‘Why are there so many songs about Rainbows and what’s on the Other Side?’

They sell your art and literature but ban your designs for beer. Would that be a Banzo act?

I wrote a poem about that art ban about Raging Bitch India Pale Ale in Michigan:
‘Summink the matter with Michigan
Being a bit of a bitch again
When all I want is to be Rich again
While the people drink the good beer’

Profits are up and wages are down. Will America survive this Depression?

Of course it will! We’ve been on this planet for over 10 000 years already… in one form or another. We are Homo Erectus. We stood up and walked straight. Isn’t that enough evidence?

What’s your take on the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement?

They are the new population of Great Britain. Folks have had enough of being pushed around.

You’ve worked with Oddbins and Flying Dog Breweries for many years. Do you have a personal interest in the brewing and distilling process?

I used to grow one hundred vines of Pinot Grigio, but it became another career and thus too much. I love drinking white wine but I love drawing more.

Have you had any feedback from children regarding the classics that you have illustrated, like Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Animal Farm? How do you find your voice when illustrating an iconic children’s story?

Funny thing: I’ve never received any child’s correspondence with regards to Alice. I probably treated it as an adult book, which in many ways it is. The parodies and metaphors are sometimes quite alarming, and the Jabberwock is too threatening for a twenty-first century child. Then again, ‘kids’ stuff’ on SKY can be pretty scary. Even Ben 10.

Did you ever imagine that the time you spent and the work you did with Hunter S. Thompson would be so widely followed – even working its way into history books and inspiring as yet unjaded dreamers?

When I met Hunter back in 1970, I knew I had met a weird one… but I reckoned he was the reason I went to America: to find some reason and rhyme for my work. I wanted to change the world… for better or worse… and I am glad there is Gonzo.

What is Gonzo all about to you?

Bill Cordosa came up with the word after our first collaboration in Kentucky. He lived in Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course he didn’t know where it came from… but it needs new troops to re-interpret and push it.

What’s your stance on hallucinogens?

I never used them except for that one time in the Kentucky Derby and in Nigel Finch’s Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood. I was curious about the pills Hunter kept popping. It was Psylocybin. It freaked me out and I never touched drugs again.

Had any Coca leaves recently?

No, but I have some Coca Tea from Peru.

How do you compare drug consumption of today to that of the ‘70s?

Leave the shit alone! Alcohol (or Alcohoho) is good and sociable. You can survive on that… but you can’t survive on nuthin’.

Do you vote?

Yes. For a local candidate when I can see the whites of his eyes.

Does the head pendant that Hunter S. Thompson gave you still hang around your neck and does it ward off evil spirits?

All evil spirits are held at bay and had better not fuck with my piece of mind. I still wear a necklace I bought from a Navajo in Santa Fe. I wear it every day next to Hunter’s gift. And a welsh trinket from my daughter Sadie.

Words like ‘creativity’ and ‘originality’ are loosely tossed about. What do the mean to you?

A whole new generation are just recreating what we did. Fuck those people. It’s time they found something of their own.

Have you been in love and is there such a thing?

Not quite sure… but it fucked up my first marriage.

What’s with the flower in the logo for Hunter’s ‘Sheriff of Aspen’ campaign?

His deep compassion for the human race.

Do you ever feel afraid?

From the moment I wake up.

Do you remember what you were doing when you heard that Hunter S. Thompson had committed suicide?

I was waking up and the phone rang. It was a friend in Kentucky, Joe Petro the Third. They always have to have descendants. He said: ‘Take your phone of the hook. Hunter just put a bullet from a Magnum .44 through his brain. It’s the death of fun, Ralph.’
Hunter always said to me that he would feel trapped in this life if he didn’t know that he could commit suicide at any moment. He was the greatest person I ever met in my life.

You wrote the song Weird and Twisted Nights with him?

Hunter gave me his lines over the phone from Owl Farm in Colorado. ‘Ah… but never mind the nights, my love. It never happened anyway.’ That became the chorus.

Who represented the Savage Beast back then? And who represents it now?

Hunter always thought that I was the ‘crazy’ one. Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner agreed that I was crazier than Hunter. Oh dear.

Do you still write songs?

I have a bunch of songs and occasionally I play this and that on the ukulele, but I rarely touch the guitar now… though I keep looking at it.

What did you and Hunter listen to in the car?

Hunter always drove and chose the music. We both liked Jim Morrison.

Word association time: Red.
My wife Anna.
Picasso and me.
Picasso and other people.

Any last thoughts?

The only thing of value is the thing I cannot say. Wittgenstein.

July 7, 2012

kenyan singers in hate speech trial

Filed under: censorship,music,politics — ABRAXAS @ 3:48 pm

first published here: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-07-04-kenyan-musicians-hate-speech

jitsvinger @national arts festival

Filed under: afrikaaps — ABRAXAS @ 3:41 pm

first published here: http://www.iol.co.za/tonight/music/diverse-sounds-prove-music-to-crowds-ears-1.1334074#.T_g8HHChOGp

July 6, 2012

74. Summer of Sam – Spike Lee

Filed under: film,on murder as a fine art — ABRAXAS @ 2:41 pm

Summer of Sam (1999)
NYT Critics’ Pick
FILM REVIEW; Red Hot Buttons in Lee’s Steaming ‘Sam’
Published: July 2, 1999

Spike Lee’s fiery ”Summer of Sam” has as much to do with the summers of 1989 and 1999 as it does with the tabloid fevers of 1977, which are so electrifyingly rekindled here. It was in 1989 that the film of Mr. Lee’s that ”Summer of Sam” most resembles, ”Do the Right Thing,” arrived on the wave of sensationalism and outrage that continue to swamp some of his best efforts. So here he is fielding complaints about having bruised the tender feelings of David Berkowitz, the .44-caliber killer whose murderous rampage and purple prose brought New York City to the boiling point 22 years ago.

Mr. Lee didn’t make up Mr. Berkowitz’s crimes. And he didn’t make them central to his furiously enthralling ”Summer of Sam,” either. What may surprise anyone following the publicity maelstrom around the director’s latest effort is that its Son of Sam aspects, while fiendishly vivid, are only the backdrop for a film that is much more lurid in other regards. ”Summer of Sam” pushes sexual hot buttons even more emphatically, to the point where it also pushes the envelope for raw talk and raunchy eroticism on screen.

That may be standard practice for the summer of 1999, but it still invites some second thoughts. In a season when Austin Powers has schoolchildren kidding about Swedish penis enhancers and the casual props for ”Wild Wild West” include bondage gear and a severed head, it’s time to wonder how much the traffic will bear. Our notions of prurience require some rethinking when an otherwise routine thriller like ”The General’s Daughter” cashes in on a naked, spread-eagled corpse. That’s an image far more obscene than anything the hilarious, willfully filthy ”South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” has to offer.

Just as ”South Park” earns its smut streak by treating both the foul-mouthed and the self-righteous with a wicked satirical edge, ”Summer of Sam” earns its steam heat. That was, first of all, a legitimate sign of the times. The director plunges his audience headlong into a pre-AIDS libidinous frenzy sweeping enough to encompass disco, punk, drugs, screaming headlines and hysterical prejudices, none of this made any less frenzied by the specter of a killer on the loose. The so-called Son of Sam is used as a deranged catalyst, seen writhing in black socks and boxer shorts as he howls at the dog next door. It’s some measure of the film’s own pressure-cooker madness that David Berkowitz no longer seems like the most tortured soul onscreen as ”Summer of Sam” reaches its savage finale.

Set in a xenophobic, embattled Bronx neighborhood where non-Italian-Americans are regarded with deep suspicion, ”Summer of Sam” shares the ”Do the Right Thing” affinity for local color. That the color is white this time makes surprisingly little difference to Mr. Lee’s approach. These characters roam the neighborhood, affect macho posturing and endlessly shoot the breeze just as the filmmaker’s Bedford-Stuyvesant characters did. And they become embroiled in a story with similar slow-building but unstoppable momentum, as that scorching summer’s craziness starts to tear old friendships apart.

In a raging, startlingly visceral performance, John Leguizamo plays Vinny, a blend of sexual insatiability and status quo. Vinny hews loyally to the community’s provincial attitudes, but he also has a libido that’s spinning him out of control. Like every major character in just about any of Mr. Lee’s films, he is thinly conceived but wildly vibrant anyhow, especially when the story pits him against Ritchie (Adrien Brody), a boyhood friend who has taken on rebellious affectations.

You could say that the tension between them boils down to nothing more interesting than a schism between punk and disco. (Like all of Mr. Lee’s fiction films, this one is steeped in pop cultural references and a hugely effective musical score.) Or you could just sit back and watch two tough, furious actors making their moves.

The film’s interesting if tricky conceit is to give each of them, and many of the other figures in a busy screenplay written by Mr. Lee, Victor Colicchio and the actor Michael Imperioli, some kind of double life. These dichotomies rivet attention even when they’re hackneyed, like Vinny’s Madonna-whore cheating on his wife, Dionna (Mira Sorvino), or farfetched, like Ritchie’s allegedly heterosexual yen for the world of gay porn.

Credible plotting doesn’t always come easily to Mr. Lee, but wild verve does; this film, like the dazzling but many-tentacled ”He Got Game” before it, makes up in fury much of what it lacks in form. It overflows with lurid, posturing characters who define the limits of the small world in which they live.

Mr. Lee’s love-hate relationship with cultural stereotypes remains alive and well. He brings the same jokey familiarity to this film that he has to his Brooklyn stories. And for every blunt, dead-end detail (there is quite literally a ”Dead End” sign here, flanked by the colors of the Italian flag), there’s a sharp one, like the addict in this waterfront neighborhood who tries to sell broken lobsters at cut rates. If many of the particulars and much of the talk here are exceptionally coarse, that too is a well-established part of Mr. Lee’s arsenal. ”Summer of Sam,” which easily accommodates a brief scene at Plato’s Retreat and the knock-down, drag-out marital fight that follows it, is intent on making this a long, hot summer in more ways than one.

Ms. Sorvino is radiant and poignant as Vinny’s disco queen with her own double life as a girlish waitress; Jennifer Esposito makes a tough foil for Ritchie; Bebe Neuwirth turns the local beauty parlor into her personal den of iniquity, and Patti LuPone vamps frighteningly as Ritchie’s slatternly mother. But ”Summer of Sam” unfolds in what is very much a man’s world.

And there are more than a couple of Michaels (Rispoli and Imperioli) linking it to ”The Sopranos,” or to the Martin Scorsese ambience it vaguely echoes. But Mr. Lee’s Italian-American world and the mounting anger that consumes it are consistent enough with his earlier work to be his own more than anyone else’s. Ben Gazzara (as a cool mobster), Anthony LaPaglia (as a detective), Ken Garito and Brian Tarantino are among those who bring it to life, with Michael Badalucco seen briefly as the eerie killer.

”Summer of Sam” is loaded with visual energy thanks to Ellen Kuras’s bold, inventive cinematography, a nonstop array of tricks (time to give those lengthening, distorting lenses seen in ”Crooklyn” a rest), and editing that’s sometimes abrupt, sometimes formidable. Two standout montages edited to suit hard-hitting, emblematic Who songs (from ”Who’s Next”) perfectly capture the blazing chaos of the season in hell that Mr. Lee recalls.

”Summer of Sam” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It includes strong profanity, sexual situations, frequent references to oral and anal sex and intermittent brutal but quick glimpses of violence.


Directed by Spike Lee; written by Mr. Lee, Victor Colicchio and Michael Imperioli; director of photography, Ellen Kuras; edited by Barry Alexander Brown; music by Terence Blanchard; production designer, Therese DePrez; produced by Mr. Lee and John Kilik; released by Buena Vista Pictures. Running time: 145 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: John Leguizamo (Vinny), Adrien Brody (Ritchie), Mira Sorvino (Dionna), Jennifer Esposito (Ruby), Michael Rispoli (Joey T), Bebe Neuwirth (Gloria), Patti LuPone (Helen), Mike Starr (Eddie), Anthony LaPaglia (Det. Lou Petrocelli), Ken Garito (Brian), Brian Tarantino (Bobby Del Fiore), Roger Guenveur Smith (Det. Curt Atwater), Ben Gazzara (Luigi), Jimmy Breslin (himself), Michael Badalucco (Son of Sam), Spike Lee (John Jeffries) and John Turturro (voice of Harvey the Black Dog).

first published here: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9401E7DB143DF931A35754C0A96F958260

henkjan honing – iedereen is muzikaal

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 12:54 pm

order it here: http://www.musiccognition.nl/x/Iedereen_is_muzikaal.html

July 1, 2012

Classic Albums: Herbie Hancock – Thrust.

Filed under: mick raubenheimer,music,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 7:39 pm

Haters can hate, but that molten decade sprung between the mid-Sixties and mid-Seventies was a smorgasbord of innovation and adventure in music.

While the heady spirit of freedom – and hyper-stimuli of psychedelics – didn’t exactly wreak genius upon the average human mind (whose imaginative reach crested at tie-dye shirts, living in tepees, and emancipating body hair), artists went and dove over the edges of all kinds of edges.

Music, for one, would never be the same; nor, perhaps, ever be as rampantly inspired.

Most of us know what cliffs and rainbows were scaled in the woodlands of Rock music, but Jazz was turning into something of a chameleonic panther – hunting in stark, steaming forests slivered with stars and explosions of light.

As per usual, it was Miles who’d taken the brazen first steps into electric instrumentation (a big taboo at the time). After that, the floodgates heaved open.

Leading the Fusion campaigns were rhythmic polymath Tony Williams’ Lifetime, John McLaughlin’s solar flare Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea’s Return To Forever and Hancock’s uber-funky Headhunters. The latter was the only one to eschew the electric guitar – that then seemingly crucial part of the electric equation.

Golden flights.

By the late Sixties Herbie Hancock was already a legend in the Jazz world. At the age of 23 Hancock had joined Miles Davis’ new band, which history would dub Davis’ Second Great Quintet. Davis was looking to freshen up his sound again, and in 1963 launched said new band featuring young up-and-comers Ron Carter on bass, 17-yr old Tony Williams on drums, and Hancock on keys.

This rhythm section went on to reach unheard-of sophistication and originality, helping shape the Post-Bop movement. During his period in the quintet Hancock also released solo albums ‘Empyrean Islands’ and ‘Maiden Voyage’, two of the most popular Jazz albums of that decade.

Fired from the quintet in ‘68, “for returning late from his honeymoon” (a rather unsympathetic ground for dismissal, although typical of the sometimes icy Davis), Hancock started focusing on his own music, which would increasingly incorporate mainstream elements into his otherwise challenging compositions.

Following the peak of his experimental thrust, with the three commercially disappointing ‘Mwandishi’ albums, Hancock decided to ground his then-stratospheric explorations, rooting them in the earthy foundation of Funk. It was a brilliant move.

The result, in 1973, was ‘Headhunters’, a hip-swanging, finger-snapping Jazz Funk outing, which crossed over into the mainstream Billboard charts. This was followed by ‘Thrust’, which, across its four monstrously tight, yet galaxy traversing epics, seemed to perfectly meld the alchemic reaches of Jazz sophistry with the dizzying musks of Funk.

Like Darth Vader.

The best of Funk has a lot in common with the best of Cheese (well, for those brave of palate; the others can stick to Fourplay and cheddar) – they contain layers of intrigue, and something almost a little bit off. It’s got Whiff.

If ‘Headhunters’ was embraced by the hip mainstream for its melodic, even rhythmic accessibility, ‘Thrust’ ventured deeper into the vines and stars.

In the cd-reissue’s liner notes, drummer Mike Clark (who created that impossibly groove-infested drumbeat for album opener ‘Palm Grease’, and burns throughout) recalls being invited to join one of Fusion’s most exciting and rhythmically daunting groups, and waxes appropriately lyrical. He speaks of ‘the zone’ and meditation, of telepathy with bassist Paul Jackson Jr. He speaks of ‘higher levels’, and at one point describes Hancock striding into rehearsal with a long black overcoat, looking “like Darth Vader”, before swishing down to sit behind the keyboards and letting ‘em rip.

The four tracks on ‘Thrust’ are blistering sonic events. Even the relative ballad, that gorgeous dream ‘Butterfly’, crackles with energy.

As beautiful and cool as the melodies weaving from Hancock’s hands and flautist Bennie Maupin’s mouth are, it’s the rhythms (inter-clasped/ sidestepping/ inventing beats like some kind of flexible, temporal Rubick’s cube) that both root the album and let it flourish into Space.

Higher level stuff.


June 27, 2012

interactions: a strategy of difference and repetition – south african premiere 1 july during national arts festival

Filed under: 2012 - Interactions: A Strategy of Difference — ABRAXAS @ 1:47 pm

shot, produced, edited, sound recorded & mixed and directed by aryan kaganof
music by afrikaaps and brian eno

book tickets here: http://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/the-bowl-interactions/

June 26, 2012

Eugène’s Dream (3:24 min)

Filed under: anton krueger,poetry,south african theatre — ABRAXAS @ 5:48 pm

by Anton Krueger (2006)

Appearing daily at The Arts Lounge
17a Somerset Street, Grahamstown
for the duration of the festival,
(28 June-7 July, 2012).

Eugène Marais’ seminal poem “Diep Rivier” (1926) is a lyric suffused with lament. Within its unsettling, tortured beauty one finds
clues to the poet’s addiction to morphine. It’s also eerily prescient of his suicide, speaking of his endless longing (“die groot verlange”),
of the blade of love wedged into his heart (“Die lem van liefde wroegend in my hart”), and of the pain which will be eased by the embrace
of the dark river (“In jou omhelsing eindig al my smart”). The last lines exhort the river to rise, to come quickly (“Kom snel”), to wash away
the pain of love.

But “Eugene’s Dream” turns this darkest of poems inside out. Here the murky river seeps through the pores of the individual’s shell, and
flows, brooding, through the valley of a strenuously pixelated Pretoria. Instead of referencing an inner emotional landscape, the poem
becomes about the mass, about the social structure embodied within the architecture of the city. This is a cityscape dominated by the
looming presence of the Reserve Bank, the highest building in the capital city. The building towers over all the other constructions, dwarfing
mosques, temples, and churches.

In this video you won’t see the famous historical sites synonymous with the capital city; no Voortrekker Monument or Union Buildings.
Instead, the viewer is thrown into a wild melange of ugly urban constructions from the 1970’s, juxtaposed with the Hindu temple in
Marabastad and the mosque in the city centre. These images are woven together with scenes from a farm outside Pretoria – the windswept
silhouettes of trees, the dark pit of a barren spring, a sick rose – creating an hallucinatory vision of instability within the shadow
of the tower.

In this way the dark river of dread becomes equated with the flow of money, with the imposing behemoth of the Reserve Bank, flowing
through a multitude of social streams, buffered against a swirling melee of contesting systems of value, over which it, eventually,
presides. A dark tower. Mordor. A temple to Moloch.

With music and voices by Werner Mouton & Brendon Roelofse.


O, Diep Rivier, O Donker Stroom,
Hoe lank het ek gewag, hoe lank gedroom,
Die lem van liefde wroegend in my hart?
– In jou omhelsing eindig al my smart;
Blus uit, O Diep Rivier, die vlam van haat; –
Die groot verlange wat my nooit verlaat.
Ek sien van ver die glans van staal en goud,
Ek hoor die sag gedruis van waters diep en koud;
Ek hoor jou stem as fluistering in ’n droom,
Kom snel, O Diep Rivier, O Donker Stroom.

June 25, 2012

interactions: a strategy of difference and repetiton – south african premiere on 1 july during national arts festival

Filed under: 2012 - Interactions: A Strategy of Difference — ABRAXAS @ 5:20 pm

featuring jerry pooee, artistic director of the windybrow theatre

shot, produced, edited, sound recorded & mixed and directed by aryan kaganof
music by afrikaaps and brian eno

book tickets here: http://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/the-bowl-interactions/

June 23, 2012

interactions: a strategy of difference and repetiton – south african premier on 1 july during national arts festival

Filed under: 2012 - Interactions: A Strategy of Difference — ABRAXAS @ 4:57 pm

featuring ismail mohamed, artistic director of the national arts festival

shot, produced, edited, sound recorded & mixed and directed by aryan kaganof
music by afrikaaps and brian eno

book tickets here: http://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/the-bowl-interactions/


Filed under: anton krueger,south african theatre — ABRAXAS @ 10:19 am

A series of five extraordinary performance art events on the National Arts Festival Main Stage.

Performance Art meets Thinkfest. A collaboration between international artists and local academics.

Includes: historical battle re-enactment with a blazing cannon, a pole dancer, a monk, a boxer, a runner, a blind woman, a child, a geographer, a general, metaphysical traders, live installations, performance games, opera, films, live music, artworks, confessional booths, and loads of innovative inter-disciplinary debate involving leading intellectuals from Departments of History, Politics, Anthropology, Psychology, Economics, Sociology, Drama and Music.

Limited seating: only 45 tickets are available per show. Secure your seat at computicket: http://online.computicket.com/web/

The POLIS Series consists of five completely different events:

Tuesday 3 July 18:00
Arena: Arenas are spaces where forces contend and events unfold. Historical re-enactment, and museum exhibits frame Elizabeth Salt’s pursuit up a pole, as six leading Grahamstonian intellectuals discuss the vexing question of “what is to be done?”

Wednesday 4 July 18:00
Cell: The cell is the arena divided; a place of captivity and meditation. Via the route of, Narrative Therapy, Trudy Meehan finds a way into the personal story of a boxer and an ex-convict, while a monk relates the story of his cell.

Thursday 5 July 18:00
Spring: Springs have always been places of temporary gathering. Penny Bernard, a sangoma with a doctorate in Anthropology speaks on the springs of Grahamstown and the sources of knowledge in the dreamworld as children in hammocks dream our future into being.

Friday 6 July 18:00
Border: The border separates and secures identity. Grahamstown’s past and present borders have created a landscape fraught with real politic. What is the border’s effect on senses of self, mobility and other? Jeff Peires and Julia Wells talk about the fraught borders of these spaces in a terrain criss-crossed by visual and metaphoric conflict.

Saturday 7 July 18:00
Market: Public sites of exchange are crucial meeting points for South Africa’s newly democratized citizens. A real market surrounds the chapel, where some are selling wares, and some trading in more esoteric fare. Inside the chapel a sacred space allows votive symbolic offerings. Economists Gavin Keeton and Geoff Antrobus discuss Grahamstown’s money in the world at large, with a guest appearance by Lesego Rampolokeng.

See the whole series: 3 July – 7 July, 18:00 – 19:00 in the Nun’s Chapel. R40.00 a shot. It’s nothing.


June 22, 2012

interactions: a strategy of difference and repetition – south african premiere during national arts festival (1 july 2012)

Filed under: 2012 - Interactions: A Strategy of Difference — ABRAXAS @ 1:23 pm

featuring moenier adams (afrikaaps)

shot, produced, edited, sound recorded & mixed and directed by aryan kaganof
music by afrikaaps and brian eno

book tickets here: http://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/the-bowl-interactions/

June 20, 2012

The Road Blog – AK & the Bald Spots

Filed under: derek davey,music — ABRAXAS @ 2:53 pm

The Joburg leg of the Sweet Like A Lemon Tour featuring AK & The Bald Spots, the Indie rock band from Mpbombela, takes in two dates. The first is at the Troyeville Hotel on Friday the 22nd June and the second is at Amuse Cafe in Linden on Saturday the 23rd.

Both dates are part of a tour that is the minor fulfilment of a dream I’ve had ever since I became a musician in the first bloom of my squeaky voiced and spiky haired youth.I’ve long wanted to take a band on the road and see the world, town by town, and perform music to different people night after night. A romantic image in my mind that somehow remained that way, until now, that is.

So it was that upon completion of the album that took me a few years to write (no deadline in Indie world), I suddenly was in the position to do the thing that I’d long wanted to do: go on a tour with a few bandmates, get out of Smallsville, get a life, hit the road, live the rock ‘n roll dream. It had to be in a crap van that was crammed to the rafters with equipment, and was just barely legal in terms of roadworthiness. Indie rockers together, us against the world, comrades in arms, pursuing an impossible dream. Fame, fortune, and changing the world! Little by little the dream was forgotten and compromised until it became a mere shell of its former self.. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, a voice began to nag at me, “This is not enough! There’s so much more!” So I decided to make the dream a reality, hence AK & The Bald Spots on the Sweet Like A Lemon Tour. If this is delusion, its a fantasy that does not come cheap by any means. But oh, what joy! Small time is better than no time, as far as I’m concerned.

Substituting youth for wisdom and experience, we still feel music can change the world and bring a sense of unity to the disparate, antagonistic and various communities in the “New” SA. Even if it is one gig at a time, baby steps for sure, but better than sitting back and just doing nothing while the country slowly gorges and devours itself on the hatreds of old. And let’s face it, rock ‘n roll is the best day job in the world – just a case of maximising income streams, creating a market, supplying it, and living happily ever after. That’s the theory anyway. Walking the walk is just a tad more challenging, as many Indie rockers will attest..That’s why we need you, gentle reader, to get to one or both dates in Joburg this weekend. We promise not to disappoint!

Tito Mgwenya, the drummer on Sweet Like a Lemon, the album we’d just finished recdording, mixing and mastering at Echo Studios in Nelspruit, had purchased a vehicle for just such an occasion. We’d often spoken, in recent months, of “getting a band together, and going on the road”.We both sensed the time was getting near.

The opportunity really presented itself after I received a call from Charles Grass (not his real name), a guitarist from Durban who had moved to the Lowveld recently and was looking to start an acoustic duo, for working small venues such as restaurants, pubs, lodges and corporate events. As I’d been doing these kind of gigs for a few months now to supplement my income as a music teacher, I’d started to find great joy in performing songs that I love, always taking the chance to discreetly add my own compositions into the sets. Time to take it to the next level, I thought, so I started booking dates for the band, which consisted of Tito on drums, Charlie on guitar, and myself on guitar and vocals. Jomo Shongwe joined us on bass guitar, but due to his day-job commitments, was unable to travel with us to Joburg.

Charlie and I started practising in the mornings and pretty soon we had a cooking set of tracks together that was nice and tight, including songs off Sweet Like a Lemon and 2005’s Peace and Love. We also worked on some smoking acoustic versions of classics like Are you Gonna Go My Way, Come Together, Ring of Fire, Have You Ever Seen The Rain and Redemption Song – material that both suits my voice and are guaranteed crowd pleasers. I always feel there’s no reason to ever include weak songs in a set. And doing them acoustically means its easier to control the sound in small venues. The Bald Spots were starting to forge an identity.

Our tour started taking shape once a friend of mine in Joburg, Derek Davey expressed some interest in booking gigs for us in Joburg, and perhaps collaborating either with percussion or bass. He booked us the two dates mentioned above, and I booked the others, including Tonteldoos, Kaapsehoop and White River.. Meanwhile, Derek had been learning the basslines to the songs in our set, and was apparently getting them down . …

The Friday night gig in Troyeville ought to be good, but experience tells me to keep my expectations neutral and let the evening unfold in its own way. Derek has played there with his band Them Particles, and the last time I was in Troyeville was at Bob’s Bar, in ’95, giving James Phillips a hug as I had just returned home from a seven-year sojourn overseas. It was the last time I saw him, as he tragically passed away just shortly after that, so I guess James will be on my mind on Friday night. James, this one is for you, my brother…

Linden, the suburb in the North of Joeys where Amuse Cafe is to be found, is an old stomping ground of mine. We lived there when I was in high school in the late seventies, attending DeLa Salle High, the all-boy Catholic school. I have vivid memories of pogoing to the pipe band as they were rehearsing in the schoolyard, and streaking around the block past the swimming pool, as part of some spotty matric celebrations. It’s sure to be something special on Saturday evening when I return to Linden with the Bald Spots. Entrance is R40 for both events, and includes free shot of tequila. Copies of Sweet Like a Lemon will be given away to anyone wearing anything hideously lime-green, and for any other silly reason we can think of. Copies of the album will be on sale too, music starts around 8pm.

Now we’ve just got to get the brakes for Tito’s van sorted out, and its Joburg here we come!

check out the site: www.andrewkay2.bandcamp.com


Filed under: kaganof short films — ABRAXAS @ 2:30 pm

produced, shot, edited and directed by aryan kaganof
south africa
music composed by michael blake
piano played by ms. jill richards

Reverie is a scroll painting, like the Japanese makemono. The scroll painting genre cannot be grasped by a single glance, unlike most easel paintings in the western tradition. It can only be fully seen if there is time to see all of it as the scroll unfolds. This type of painting becomes a time-based form, like a piece of music. Reverie is analagous to the ancient picture scroll, a ribbon without end, almost like a reel of film of a single shot of the landscape as it horizontally unwinds. Not all of the picture can be wholly understood simultaneously by the eye. This perception has to happen sequentially: a single subject pours into the next subject, a fragment develops into the next fragment. Reverie works as a series of relationships in time (rather than just as a comparison of forms), a principle found in the single tracking shot. These shots in time appear to the eye as a flowing together of separate images, or even sequences. Reverie is a sophisticated and dynamic interpretation of the scroll/film analogy.

immanuel stammelman
problems of meaning in the video work of aryan kaganof

June 8, 2012

flowers for johnny

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 7:29 pm

Artist: Anders Gahnold Trio (with Johnny Dyani)
Album: Flowers for Johnny
Label: Ayler Records (AylCD 017/018)
Year: 1983-1985 ; release: 2003
Format, bitrate: mp3 @ 256 kbps CBR
Time: 2 CDs: 67 + 32 minutes
Size: ~190 MB incl. 3% recovery (2 files)

Following his exile from South Africa, Johnny Dyani spent a few years in London and then Paris before finally settling down in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Swedish and Danish jazz scenes being strongly interconnected (then and now), he eventually met the alto sax player Anders Gahnold, who actually chased him down and invited him to join his trio. Completed by drummer Gilbert Matthews, the trio performed irregularly during the bassist’s last years, but it seems it never recorded a studio session. Flowers for Johnny culls two live sets recorded by the Swedish Broadcasting Company on October 15, 1983 (at the Umeå Jazz Festival) and on September 12, 1985 (at the Jazz Club Fasching in Stockholm). Both are good-quality recordings with some light wear and tear of the master tapes showing. The 1983 set, over one hour long, is dominated by the 17-minute opener, “Sound Check,” a powerful piece that showcases Gahnold’s writing skills as much as his soulful left-field playing. Still very bop in essence, the music is fueled by the energy of American fire music. Honest-sounding, it eschews power for power’s sake and even doesn’t shy away from a touch of romanticism in “Waltz for Kai-Ola,” a highlight. Disc two is much shorter (33 minutes). At its heart stands a gripping rendition of “Summertime.” If the saxophonist remains a bit too respectful of the standard, Dyani stretches out a set of solo variations that revamp it in a way reminiscent of how John Coltrane rewrote “My Favorite Things.” “Jagad” and “Duett,” bookending this second recording, are both livelier and freer tunes featuring some exciting interplay between bass and drums. Gahnold is an underdocumented sax player, but you’ll probably want Flowers for Johnny for Dyani’s work (and he’s not the most recorded bassist in jazz history).
~ François Couture, All Music Guide

first published on the web here: http://jazzbluesclub.com/user/GatoMedio/

June 7, 2012

Jan-Jan and the Fever Scapes.

Filed under: literature,mick raubenheimer — ABRAXAS @ 10:36 pm

There were strange, wobbling people trapped in the two-dimensional planes of the mall’s shiny shop windows. Diluted and warped spangles of people – a female dragging a spilling child; sprawling boyfriends panting; slanted businessmen walking their suitcases; huggles of tweens kissing into gaudy, Facebooked cells.
Jan-Jan knew it had been a bad idea.
“Dude this is a bad idea, the people in the windows are growing. And….. they’re fucking following us…” Jan-Jan attempted to whisper this into Koos’ ear but he’d lost his rhythm and ended up sinistering said information to a highly bemused house-mom of sorts. “Fuck shit sorry who are you!??” Koos plucked him back into trot.
“Dude they’re growing,” Jan-Jan offered to Koos, by way of thanks or apology or explanation. “Vesuvius,” Koos reminded Jan-Jan, his arched left eyebrow splicing into his forehead.
The mall was in full swing. Consumerist orgy.
It was three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. It was impossible.


Two hours before.

“Chill bra it’s gonna be quick. Quickin quixaut.”
“Dude I don’t even do malls when I’m slowber. This will not end well. I’ll die or expand into, like, somewhere and you’ll be stuck with the body having to explain to the mall cops and the customers with their Jet bags and my mom. My MOM dude. Explain to her.”
Koos rolled his talentedly rollable eyes. “He’s the only one who carries this stuff. 10 minutes tops, and you’re not That stoned. Chi-eeel.”
Jan-Jan nodded knowingly, into the middle distance of apprehension.

On Tuesday, January 13th 1987, Jan-Jan was four years old in the forest of legs and gleaming shoes and giant hands in Checkers somewhere in Kaarlfontein CBD. He had lost his mom but he didn’t know this yet. He awed at the shinily wrapped sweeties and the trousered legs and the mom legs and the dangling or swinging grownup hands; the occasional pram with its flailing occupant. He reached up and took his mom’s hand. The mom dress with its mom legs lowered into a friendly squat and introduced a smiling, not-Mom face. Jannietjie’s eyes grew larger than fearful. “Hello skat, wie is hierdie oulike kleintjie?” Another grownup face, male, joined not-Mom’s into his plane of vision, and chuckled.
“Wie is Hierrie meneertjie Susan? Ag kom ons hou hom.” The man roughly tousled Jannietjie’s petrified hair.
A bulge of tears was swelling the world out of focus.

Are you experiencing mild panic?

People were starting to notice them; them and their ‘Corn’ and ‘Anti-Chris’ tees. An ominous, horizontal dome of space took shape around them. The patrons of Westwood Mall were beginning to give them girth; were beginning to consciously, accusingly, walk around them. Jan-Jan’s face was bigger than normal and breathing in slow motion, on Imax.
“Fokken DRUGGIES,” someone hissed in passing.
“Yo amper daar bra.”
Jan-Jan detected specks of The Fear in Koos’ attempt at a casual aside.


Like fourteen buckets of the stuff.

Outside, on the roof of section D of Westwood Mall, a new bird was cleaning and inspecting its foreign wings. It was a subtle sui generis – there was nothing flashy to mark its difference. The other birds, however, did take note, eyeing it with beady fear. Keeping their distance. Twittering amongst themselves. The zombie throngs below did not notice. Not many an ornithologist frequented this particular haven of commerce.
The new bird concluded its cleaning session. Ruffled its fresh self. Focused its eyes on an aged pigeon ambling along a ledge some 50 meters away. The pigeon’s head snapped dully up. It started feverishly pecking at its own breast, a dull flurry of bits of feather and flecks of blood growing around it as its wings started dementedly flapping. In this fashion it stammered off the roof – a twitchy mess which plonked onto the roof of a metallic orange Corsa four storeys below.
All around the mall various birds took wing – pigeons and sparrows and robins and others all swirling up into elegant avian orbits, intertwining in shifting circles high above.
The only bird still hopping along the segmented roofs was the new one.

Damp Ills.

Behind the Pills counter of PHARMA-Con, Timothy (aka Vesuvius, aka Tim) stood looking at the lost people milling about the pharmacy’s starkly hygienic aisles, desperately seeking cures and anointments and chemical epiphanies – questing the soothing.
He wanted to hop over the counter and randomly hack into them with the rusty panga he had carefully hidden behind the upper shelf of Cyloscentia in the back. A bulge formed in the groin area of his neat white pants at the thought of their pointless alarm.
“Hi, Yes ma’m what can I do for you today?”


“Oh. My. Fuck.” Jan-Jan froze in mid-step. The ominous surroundings briefly melted away. Koos turned around. “It’s. The. Dude they have the new Ampersand!”
Koos knew what this meant. He was not angry. Disappointment did not slacken his face. He didn’t roll his rollable eyes. It was what it was.
“Okay go, but I’m collecting you in TEN MINUTES.”


It took Jan-Jan some long seconds to relocate the nerve to cross the threshold of Musique, the slightly-better-than-Musica cd store; currently pumping some kind of Madonna remixed with Technotronic trip.
He wades into the nightmare of people and shelves, struggles hisself to the nearest counter. Summons the nearest till clerk with glowing forefinger.
“Uhm can I, we, I mean can I listen to the new Ampersand?”
“No erm, just the. Erm..”
“And,” she smiles softly then turns around and walks away.
For a moment which expanded into dejection, then Fear, Jan-Jan realized that this female employee of Musique knew that he was stoned and subsequently disliked him. THEN he realized she was on her way to the manager’s office to call the police. Oh christfuck the police are probably already in there – she IS an undercover Cop!
She turned around and winked in a skyburst of sunny conspiracy. Jan-Jan expanded ticklish all over. The Goodness came over him. And she was about to present him with that mysterious new explosion, that vault of impossible valleys, Ampersand’s ‘New Opticons Astride’.
Jan-Jan’s body became a grin. He pretended to be normal.
This was physically, ontologically strenuous. Attempted to casually note and appreciate the gibberish of products and advertisements draped and bulging like so many neon-furred gargoyles behind the counter and everywhere. Then she was back.
“Oh you’re going to enjoy this.. pink-eyes.”
Her lips were built of yum. Jan-Jan’s eyes sank into them for a bit too long then he tried to smile at her knowing, blessed eyes and then remembered what was about to happen.
“Thanks Twinky,” he managed to purr (it felt like a purr); then initiated the ostensibly simple task of wrapping those nice big scruffy earphones over his question-mark ears with his nice big dumb paws.
Closed his eyes.


All the trees were in light.

For around 87 seconds Koos had been nodding amiably and shit-scared at the frightening assault of accusative and threatening and murderous faces encroaching his otherwise modest trek to shop 317 deeper and deeper and deeper into the mall’s indigestive cistern.
He waved a final ‘Fuck You’ to the circling demons as his legs warbled him into PHARMA-Con.


Easy now.

Jan-Jan’s heart was thumping in slow motion. Thumping pumping schlumping. Its deferred beats framed fantastical, polyphonic short stories and craning snapshots.
In this way his body – his warped rushes of blood – was conducting ‘New Opticons Astride’. With his eyes closed he closed his eyes. Thump. A secret creature was hunting a mole-sized doe, the doe was represented by some kind of flute slinkily slinking ahead of the keyboard/ synthesizer. The lunging and chomping flora crashing past was the bass swelling out of the drums. Thump. A blaring blue sky expands into a drop of squirming blood which hums with electric intent. Thump.
Then the lyrics arrived, and Jan-Jan recognized them.
“Child of gold come from stars away/ You brim with new eyes let them away/ Moonborn one who led the Maya/ to dams of gold ‘neath the lava/ You are come/You are come/ You are come”
Jan-Jan’s heart went numb. The earphones were lying in front of him on the listening booth’s panel. He was shaking his head in denial of this new Fate, his hands held up in supplication or surrender. Lisa/Twinky bounced over, frowning, “Yo, you okay?”
Jan-Jan turned around and tried to remember how to run. Shop 317 shop 317 shop 317.


And Gold was their blood and they drank it to burn the fire and they are return.

When Koos walked out of the bustling nightmare and into the whiteshone haven of PHARMA-Con a calm embraced him. The buzzing faded into gentle, far-off hiss. The place was teeming with geriatrics and blushing teens but all were gentled in clothing of soft colour and quiet design. Even their movements, vaguely indecisive, soothed.
He walked towards the counter in back. The white-clad figure hunched over to disentangle a prescription from its doctor’s arachnid writing straightened up at Koos’ approach. Vesuvius smiled in welcome.
Koos waved shyly, gratefully at the Keeper, and looked around to see that the pharmacy was now empty.
This should have alarmed Koos.

Way out.

Sinking steadily into his oneiric hell Jan-Jan’s urgent mantra ‘Shop 317 shop 317 shop 317’ became overwhelmed by a second voice, now out-clamoring the first. ‘Sunglasses. Must find sunglasses.’ He knew then that if he didn’t hide his terror and illegal eyes from the milling hounds he would be taken outside and destroyed.
Jan-Jan lurched into Edgars, bumped into the unimpressed security guard and almost toppled the Alarm Arcs. He smiled appallingly at the guard and gesticulated what he hoped would be interpreted as a casual apology, but sensed would rather translate as the hyperbolic twitches of a psychopath. He tried to find his way through the thickets of trousers and shirts and socks and patronizing mannequins. Then he was there. Rows of snobbish, unblinking shades. Camouflage! Safety! LIFE!!
When he walked back out – making sure to pass the security guard without undue physical contact – his frantic red eyes were replaced with unblinking, deep shade. Once outside Jan-Jan turned left and slammed fantastically into Koos. “Go. GO!”, Koos suggested from somewhere within the tangle of them. As they went through a kind of reverse epileptic fit separating one from the other, a serious looking 5-yr old held out Jan-Jan’s freshly acquired dark glasses to him. Jan-Jan smiled thanks and took them; winked amiably at the security guard who had followed the commotion outside; nodded at Koos. “Alright, let’s go.”
Outside the mall the birds had ascended to the height of 2 km’s and had synchronized their flights into a perfect, unsmiling circle. The new bird was still on the roof, hopping from crumb to pebble.

When Jan-Jan and Koos exited the colossal labyrinth the bird hopped onto a ledge, peered down. Studied them, turning its head from this side to that, in the manner of the curious.
Inside the car Squarepusher’s Big Loada lent counterpoint to Koos’ relating of Vesuvius’ psychedelic instructions while Jan-Jan daydreamed of exotic jungles bleeding gold, and covert extraterrestrial influence on the vast majesties of pre-Western civilizations.
Trailing the car, unnoted, was a lone bird with ancient gleams for eyes.


May 29, 2012

104. Torso – Sergio Martino

Filed under: film,on murder as a fine art — ABRAXAS @ 9:00 am

Color, 1973, 92 mins.
Directed by Sergio Martino
Starring Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, Luc Merenda, John Richardson, Roberto Bisacco
Blue Underground (Blu-Ray & DVD), Shameless (UK R0 PAL), Alan Young (Italy R2 PAL), X-Rated Kult (Germany Ro PAL), Another World (Sweden R0 PAL), Stomp Visual (Australia R0 PAL) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9), Anchor Bay (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

The tranquil University of Perugia for international students is rocked by a series of brutal murders in which the female victims have been stripped and mutilated. Daniela (Aumont), a pretty art student, recognizes a red-and-black scarf found on one of the victims… but where did she see it? Meanwhile, a sidewalk peddler believes he knows the killer’s identity but is mowed down when he attempts a round of blackmail. Afraid for her life, Daniela retreats to a remote country villa with three of her friends including an English girl, Jane (Kendall). Of course, the savvy killer follows them, ensuring that their little vacation turns into a nightmarish bloodbath.

One of the last pure gialli directed by jack of all trades Sergio Martino and easily his most influential, Torso was originally shown in Europe under the title The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence (I Corpi Presentano Tracce di Violanza Carnale), or just Carnal Violence for shot. However, its American title (concocted by distributor Joseph Brenner) ensured its popularity on the drive-in and grindhouse circuit where it played for years hooked up with films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Not surprisingly, the film lost over three minutes of gore and dialogue outside of Europe, and after years of cut prints and video editions, the DVD era finally ushered in restorations of varying degrees of success.

A perfect example of the necessary elements for a commercial European horror film, Torso throws in every convention of the thrillers perfected by Martino and mixes them with the more recent slasher and sexploitation trends. A veteran of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Kendall once again makes a terrific scream queen; her cat and mouse showdown with the killer, which comprises the entire final third of the film(!), is not easily forgotten, and her struggle to retrieve a pesky key to open an unlocked door never fails to send viewers through the roof. However, the most noteworthy element of Torso is its stunning musical score by the always audacious Guido and Maurizio De Angelis. One of the best musical contributions from Italy in the ’70s, this astounding soundtrack mixes sultry jazz, chilling percussive suspense music, and funky folk rock without faltering once. It’s still amazing that this remains one of the very few gialli they scored (followed years later by A Blade in the Dark).

As for Martino’s direction, this film is considerably more extreme than his previous thrillers, though visually and thematically it still falls in line, particularly with Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key which features a similar opening sequence of writhing female bodies as well as another “hippie” party with an uninhibited, breast-baring girl dancing while surrounded by a bunch of heathens, in this case some bikers and dope-smoking college students(!). The schizophrenic structure of the film essentially plays like a Martino greatest hits collection, dolloping on the gratuitous T&A and rapid succession of murders in the first half before switching gears into a more psychological, tension-packed, single-location nailbiters with Kendall taking center stage (like Edwige Fenech in his previous films). At first the presence of Italian hearthrob Merenda as a local doctor seems extrandeous, but he finally becomes a key player in the finale (especially in the longer European version). Horror fans may also be amused to note that this was made just before Bob Clark’s Black Christmas with which this shares some very interesting structural and visual similarities, particularly during their respective climactic showdown scenes.

The U.S. version of Torso altered the entire, nudity-filled credits sequence and the original music theme, but fortunately the European cut presented in every post-VHS home video version preserves this film in its original sleaze-soaked glory. The first DVD of Torso from Anchor Bay was a revelation for the time; the colors looked crisp and vibrant compared to the awful bootlegs floating around, and the level of detail visible in the anamorphic transfer looked fine despite being cropped to 1.78:1 from the original 1.66:1 after the credits. It’s worth noting that this print bears a few discrepancies compared to the original Italian prints and seems to have suffered an odd editing snafu. The opening credits feature a replaced title card which turns the screen black for a moment, and the soundtrack submerges the opening music to a faint muffle while including an Italian-language lecture on art history which should have played out after the credits ended. The general release Euro prints only contained the music before a retracting camera shutter introduced an alternate, close up shot of John Richardson concluding his lecture with the camera panning around the classroom’s students, a gallery of upcoming suspects and victims. The occasional restored Italian dialogue (including an old witness talking about spotting a corpse when he went to “take a dump”) is presented with optional English subtitles (but no subs for the rest of the film, despite the alternate all-Italian audio track), which also includes an extended offscreen dialogue during the last scene. The additional violence here mainly consists of some prolonged but not remotely explicit body sawing during the villa finale. The disc’s menus are accompanied by the film’s soundtrack music (in stereo, unlike the botched Digitmovies soundtrack CD), and the lengthy U.S. trailer and a psychedelic European promo (under the shortened title of Carnal Violence) are included for your enjoyment. (Amusingly, the American trailer kicks off by promoting this as being from Carlo Ponti, the maker of Doctor Zhivago and War and Peace!)

keep reading this review here: http://www.mondo-digital.com/torso.html

May 28, 2012

105. The Last House on Dead End Street – Roger Watkins

Filed under: film,on murder as a fine art — ABRAXAS @ 8:08 pm

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie’s plot.

Few horror films hold the reputation of LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET. All the names billed on the prints are pseudonyms, any print of the film is next to impossible to locate, and the quality of any print you’d be able to find would likely be completely inferior.

In May 2002, Barrel Entertainment announced that, to complement their releases of two of German horror director Jorg Buttgereit’s more infamous films NEKRomantik and SCHRAMM, they were going to release LAST HOUSE on a two-disc ultimate edition. Hearing this, I was overjoyed, since I had been looking for this film for quite a while. Some five months later, and after numerous delays in the release date, Barrel finally released the film, and I was finally able to view perhaps the most infamous horror film ever made.

LAST HOUSE, aside from being one of the most infamous horror films ever, is also one of the most obscure. Made in 1972 by film maker Roger Watkins, a protege of British director Freddie Francis, the film was originally a three hour cut entitled THE CUCKOO CLOCKS OF HELL, filmed entirely at the State University of New York using college students and professors in the roles. Unable to find a distributor initially, Watkins was forced to put the film on the shelf until 1978, when a distributor finally decided to pick up the film. Unfortunately, Watkins’s film was marketed to play into the audience of Wes Craven’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and was unceremoniously hacked down to 75 minutes and retitled. The entire film was sloppily redubbed, all the names were replaced (Watkins was billed as “Victor Janos”) and numerous sequences were cut entirely from the film. In spite of all this, the film became an instantaneous cult classic upon release, gaining instant notoriety for its over the top gore and nastiness.

Over the years, time has been hard on LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET. Released on video in an absolutely inferior print, the film continued to build a legacy preaching of its incredible low budget charm. For years, the film was feared to be lost, but now, thanks to the people at Barrel Entertainment, the film is finally available in a good edition in the U.S.

LAST HOUSE involves the story of Terry Hawkins, played by director Roger Watkins himself, a wannabe porno film maker recently released from prison. Terry comes out of the clink with an idea to get back at the people who had screwed him in the past. Finding a suitable location, Terry assembles a film crew and begins work on his ultimate film masterpiece, saying he wants to make “really weird films.”

Weird films indeed. Terry proceeds to murder various trash film makers and acquaintances, recording the killings on a film camera.

So what has separated LAST HOUSE from scores of other films that have sunk into video obscurity? Quite a few things actually.

First, LAST HOUSE is one of the first films to deal with the phenomenon of snuff films. When the first report of snuff was made public by the FBI following the Charlie Manson murders, during which the Manson “family” was reported to have filmed the killings, film makers soon took the initiative and began using this idea to their advantage. Allan Shackleton’s film SNUFF made in the early 1970s was one of the first to use the idea of snuff footage to their advantage, but even before this, Roger Watkins, under the pseudonym of Victor Janos, made LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET, beginning the media fascination with snuff that has continued up to this day with films like 8mm.

The extreme low budget nature of LAST HOUSE also has worked to its advantage. The film, which according to Watkins was made for under $1000, has a sense of low budget charm that few others can compare with. The grainy film stock, nonprofessional actors, poor dubbing that is almost always not in sync with the lip movements, and decrepit locations used for filming all create a feel of grim realism in Watkins’s film. The entire film is also very sleazy, full of nudity and clumsy sex provided by film from the various porno film makers that Terry comes in contact with. All these elements give LAST HOUSE an incredibly downbeat, sleazy feel, a characteristic that can make a bad film good in the bigger scheme of things.

Roger Watkins’s portrayal of Terry Hawkins is another good element in the film. Hawkins is the only character in the film that is developed at all, and Watkins goes appropriately over the top in his portrayal of this character. All the other characters in the film are either member of Terry’s murderous “family,” obviously patterned after the Manson family, or one of their unassuming victims who are dispatched in increasingly sickening ways.

The music score for the film, which was constructed entirely out of stock music, is surprisingly effective, alternating between distancing ambient sound, PSYCHO-like stabs, maniacal laughter, and an ever beating heart. This blend of weird sound solidifies the brooding and eerie mood of the film.

What really has made LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET a cult favorite, though, is a couple of scenes in particular. Near the end of the film a woman is completely cut apart in a scene that is almost an exact copy of the episode of the Japanese GUINEA PIG series entitled “FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD” where a samurai completely skewers a young woman, except that LAST HOUSE occurred some twenty years before the GUINEA PIG episode. In LAST HOUSE, the victim is kept awake by use of smelling salts, to make sure she is conscious as her body is completely flayed apart. The special effects for this scene are incredibly effective despite the lack of any budget. The scene would probably fool some naive viewers into thinking this really happened.

Little touches like the smelling salts are what distinguish LAST HOUSE from the crowd and make this film so completely despicable, i.e. good, evidenced in another scene where a man is forced to fellate a deer hoof. Truly, this is one of the most perverse scenes I’ve ever come across. As he is humiliated, the man is forced to look at his own reflection in a mirror placed right in front of his face.

Aside from these two now infamous scenes, there are a number of other murders and attacks, including one where Terry attacks a sleazy film director declaring “I’M DIRECTING THIS F**KING MOVIE!!!” Indeed, he is directing the movie.

LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET is truly one of the most sleazy, most disturbing, and most memorable in the long line of 70s exploitation/horror films. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a film that comes close to the completely sickening nature of this one, and that is what makes Watkins’s film so damn unforgettable. If you have any interest at all in this type of film, you simply must see this seminal feature film, especially considering the work that was put into the new DVD release.

Barrel’s two disc LAST HOUSE set is no less than one of the special edition DVD’s I’ve ever seen. Not only is the print of the film extraordinary considering the original material (the print does have many scratches on it, but it is far superior to the video prints which, for the most part, looked like they were in black and white and lacked any picture definition), but the disc is packed with bonus features.

To start things off, you have a commentary track from director Roger Watkins and “Deep Red” editor Chas. Balun. This track both reveals extensive information about the film, and is incredibly entertaining to listen to. A second commentary track consist of a radio interview recorded in the mid 70s featuring Roger Watkins and LAST HOUSE costar Ken Fisher where the two discuss LAST HOUSE and low budget film making in general. Next, there is a quartet of early Watkins films, to which you again have commentary from the director. Some of these films are pretty good, some bad, but overall, it’s a nice complement to LAST HOUSE to see some of this little known director’s other work. A TV interview featuring Watkins and LAST HOUSE collaborator Paul Jensen is next, where Watkins and Jensen discus LAST HOUSE and Boris Karloff. A raw documentary chronicling a day in the life of Roger Watkins is screened. This is pretty revealing and candid, showing Watkins and his fragmented real life. Finally, we have alternate credits for the film, billed as THE FUN HOUSE, a theatrical trailer, tribute video from the death metal band Necrophagia, and a 36 page insert booklet featuring thoughts and interviews from David Kerekes. The bonus features included with this disc is just incredible, offering extensive information about the making of the film, and about director Roger Watkins. Simply amazing.

LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET is a film that any admirer of low budget horror simply has to see, especially in the new DVD release. Although this film is definitely not for the squeamish due to extremely intense psychological and physical terror and graphic violence, it is a classic in the proportions of Wes Craven’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, William Lustig’s 1980 film MANIAC, and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. It is a definite must see for horror fans, and I would highly, highly recommend it.

this review first published here: http://www.epinions.com/review/mvie_mu-1116485/content_79650000516?sb=1

May 24, 2012

a letter from luzuko

Filed under: luzuko elvis bekwa — ABRAXAS @ 8:17 pm

grand master

last week tuesday i was in town and i happenned to go to african music store . after browsing i happenned to bump against tete mbambisa latest release -black heroes , a solo album.. whaaao!!! the sound , the texture , the every thing in the album is quite mersmering . i mean the information on the album sleeve the rare photos with the late bra duku and chris mcgregor really bring back true golden era of sa jazz scene memories.

well i know bra tete mbambisa just a week before he launched his album i was at his place and we were just chatting, man the man is quite a master . as i was approuching the gate i had this sound of piano it almost sounded like a classical sound , i mean beethoven kind of a classical sound . when i entered the house sis mavuy his wife wecomed me with that always warm and beautiful smile and said ” are you jonathan’s guy ” . i did not know what she meant by that so idid not answer , i just smiled back at her .she just led to to the other room where the master himself was busy playing the music . so it dawned to me that the sound i was hearing from outside was tete playing his music . he greeted me with a smile and told that he was preparing for the launch of the album, singing praises of jonathan for being a kind guy. well that was a week before the album launch.
now just last week i bought the cd at african music and i went to him so that he can bless it with an autograph , boy i had a ball cause the master was present at his house and also he was in a good mood . yuo know artists sometimes can be like monstres especially if you catch them at the middle of their craft, but with tete he is always a ‘staying cool ‘ kind of an artist lucky me . so he shared some of his memories with the late & now living legends of sa jazz talking about how he used to tease bra dollar ( abdullah ibrahim ) his relationship with bra duku and the ‘intlupheko’ gang and lot of other interesting staff.. then he mentioned JOHNNY without saying a word after mentioning HIS name he went to his bedroom and brought a thick book about mbizo’s life . and then played african bass by johnny dyani. boy maan i cannot talk, someone has to just listen to the music to imagine how i feel now.

but TETE , his music , is classical — is a xhosa classical jazz music . you listen to dembese and it takes you to that era of imiguyo nentlombe , then you listen to umsenge still it takes you further back to the era of s.e.k mqhayi and govan mbeki in their youth . without any offence or prejudice this TETE MBAMBISA guy should be bestowed the father of XHOSA CLASSICAL JAZZ.

from disciple

« Previous PageNext Page »