:: Buzzwords Archive: July 2009. Click here for the latest posts.

Downtown Swings Again (published 20/07/2009)

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After six months of “exile”, Bruce Benderson returns “triumphantly” to New York, to perform sections of his new novel Pacific Agony:

Thursday, July 23
8.45pm
Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie St. (betw. Rivington and Delancey)
NYC

In association with East Village Boys (image: Gawker)

The Missing Links (published )

girlonabikePat McCabe: “I would rather eat a birthday cake filled to the brim with Gillette razor blades than go to the Hay-on-Wye. Who wants to hang around with a bunch of bookworms? Art is about everything. Flat Lake [Festival] is about the randomness of ordinary life.” * How International Times sparked a publishing revolution (and in pictures) * Salon chat with Dave Eggers: “I knew Dave Eggers many years ago (although not especially well) when we both worked at SF Weekly in San Francisco. I remember him as a quiet and serious young man who was evidently smart and ambitious, and who had some strange domestic situation involving his little brother. (I didn’t know the details.) It’s safe to say that a lot has changed in his life since then.” * 61 essential postmodern reads. * Juliet Lapido read the banned Catcher in the Rye sequel so you don’t have to. * Aram Saroyan on Ginsberg, Berrigan & Kerouac (plus read the comments from Tom Clark) (via Bookslut) * PopMatters on Naked Lunch: Some have called Naked Lunch the logical follow-up to Joyce’s Ulysses, and it is easy to see why they might say that. Both books appear fractured and somewhat random in their style. But, whereas Joyce crafted a highly structured (almost over-structured) novel with a very distinct narrative core, Naked Lunch was cobbled together as much by Burroughs’ friends Jack Kerouac, Alan Ansen, and Allen Ginsberg as it was by Burroughs himself.* Utterly DEVOted, 12 hot young bands line up to tell Dazed & Confused how much of an influence Mark Mothersbaugh & co are. * Brian Eno‘s moon music (via A Piece of Monologue) * Stephen Elliott interviewed by The Cult. * Vol. 1 Brooklyn. * “Very rarely can someone sit down and turn out something that is going to be literary gold.” Advice from the Bad Writing documentarians. * JPod was so good. It never got its chance.” @DougCoupland. * “There’s a good reason Fred Vargas keeps winning the CWA’s International Dagger award: she’s a genius,” says Stuart Evers (and check out Dirty/Realistic, Stuart Evers’ blog) * Jonathan Ames gets knifed. * Vatican embraces Oscar Wilde. * The modern Hobo Code (via things)

3:AM Reloaded (published 19/07/2009)

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What you (may have) missed on 3:AM recently:

Fiction: ‘$300 Car’ by Brian Allen Carr, ‘Candy’s Man’ by Jeff Crook, ‘READER COMMENTS’ by Steven Wells, ‘These Boys’ by Sean Kilpatrick, ‘Cock & Balls’ by Alan McCormick & Jonny Voss & ‘Effigies’ by Kelly Shriver

Poetry: ‘Four Poems Japanese’ by Matthew Peipert & ‘Not Sure Where I’m Buried (excerpt)’ by Alan Ramón Clinton & Richard Marshall on The Memory of the Drift

Reviewed: Max Dunbar on Fern Elsdon-Baker’s The Selfish Genius, Richard Marshall on Jana Leno’s Rape New York & Stanley Manly’s Workington Dynamo

Non-fiction: ‘Friday I’m in Love’ continues with Gavin James Bower‘s musical pick & for ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ David Brooks watches John Waters

Interviewed: Sophie Erskine talks to Dale Tyler, Andie Ryan to Clane Hayward, Alan Kelly to Matthew Stokoe & Richard Marshall to Stanley Manly:

I’m grateful Attack! had the success it did and I’m grateful for the fact I got one book out with them. It’s one of those odd things I’ve done that stand up on their own merits. The thing I love about that book is the way it got close to the way I’d imagined it, something that Workington Dynamo also managed. One night, knowing I was out, a fairly broad-minded mate of mine who knows his Bukowski, Kerouac and the rest really well rang my wife and said; ‘Don’t you worry about him?’ My wife’s a psychotherapist so she knows mental health problems inside out. I knew if I’d had that effect on someone who could handle his literature, I’d written something good. So Attack! gave me that priceless moment when no other publisher would. I bought that mate a copy of Tits-Out Terror Totty, don’t think he read it though.

Saturday Night at the Movies (published 18/07/2009)

By David Brooks.

For many years now I’ve had on on-going love for the films of American director John Waters. One of the things I like best about Waters’ films (the earlier ones in particular) is the “family” of actors that he used. You would see them again and again, film after film and their performances were absolutely wonderful. Who can forget Divine in Pink Flamingos or David Lochary in Female Trouble (“Say it! Say ‘liquid eyeliner’!!!”)?

For me, one of the greatest of them all has to be the beautiful Cookie Mueller. From her first appearance in Multiple Maniacs to her last in Polyester, Cookie steals every scene she’s in. There’s something bizarre and yet strangely intriguing about a lot of the dialogue in John Waters’ movies and Cookie carries it off as though she was born for it. For many of her roles you don’t really think that she’s playing a character–she’s just playing herself: the wild and fabulous Cookie Mueller.

In Multiple Maniacs Cookie plays Lady Divine’s free-wheeling daughter (“Cookie”). She’s determined to have as much fun as she can and she does–much like the real Cookie Mueller. The scene where she’s lying with her boyfriend (played by Paul Swift–the unforgettable “Eggman” from Pink Flamingos) is a classic. Cookie lies topless on the floor, nuzzled up next to her new beau while smoking a joint. Sadly, her character doesn’t meet a very happy ending, but how many people in John Waters movies do?

In Pink Flamingos Cookie once again plays “Cookie”–this time as a spy for the “two jealous perverts”: Connie and Raymond Marble. Again, there’s something so strange and wonderful about John Waters’ dialogue that each line seems like a cultural sound byte. For example, how about when Cookie is offered a sandwich by the Marbles:

“I could go for a sandwich. Mmmm . . . BALONEY!”

It’s hard to describe, really. There’s something about this strange, strange dialogue delivered in Cookie’s unforgettable Baltimore accent that makes the whole scene a classic.

John Waters would often talk about what a professional Divine was, given that she would even eat dog shit for her director. But let’s give credit where credit is due. What about Cookie and the incredible “chicken fuck” scene? It’s hard to imagine what Cookie had to go through while filming that scene. Hey, we all feel sorry for the chickens, but poor Cookie! It’s amazing that she ever spoke to Waters again. But, of course I’m probably way off base here. Cookie was a consummate professional in her craft–she knew what was required of her and she gave an outstanding performance.

In John Waters’ next film, Female Trouble, Cookie shines as the juvenile delinquent “Consetta.” Cookie herself said that she greatly admired the “bad girls” in high school. She discussed one in particular who wore tons of black eyeliner and had little hair curls near her ears flattened down to her face with clear nail polish. In Female Trouble Cookie actually becomes this “awful, cheap girl” and it’s clear that she loves every minute of it. Again, with the exception of Divine and Lochary, no one can pull of Waters’ dialogue like Cookie Mueller. Who can say why certain lines appeal to you? It’s all very subjective, but a favourite of mine has always been:

Consetta (threateningly, through gritted teeth): “I got a knife in my pocketbook and I’m gonna cut you up after class.”

It’s just one line, but there’s something absolutely hilarious and wonderful about the intensity with which Cookie delivers it. In Citizen Kane Mr. Bernstein says that a month doesn’t go by when he doesn’t think of “the girl with the white parasol.” Well, for me a week doesn’t go by when I don’t think of that line by Cookie Mueller.

When it comes to John Waters movies, Cookie was, in a word, the best.

Cookie was an incredible writer to say nothing of a fine actress. She seemed to live by the words “Seize the day”. Cookie lived every day as though it was her last. Cookie was a survivor.

Cookie Mueller died of AIDS on 10 November 1989. Her ashes are interred on the beach near Provincetown; in the flowerbed of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village; alongside those of her husband, Vittorio, and her dog, Beauty, in the Scarpati family crypt in Sorrento, Italy; under the statue of Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro; in the South Bronx; and in the Holy Waters of the Ganges.

Be happy, Cookie, wherever you are…

Ask Dr Mueller is published by Serpent’s Tail/High Risk

Friday I’m in Love (published 17/07/2009)

By Gavin James Bower.

When I was asked to write this, I thought it’d be easy. I watch videos online all the time – how hard could it be to write about one?

But then I got stuck. When I tried to recall all the funny clips I’ve seen over the years – ones forwarded to my inbox to brighten up an otherwise dull day at the office, let’s say – I invariably drew a blank. A dog riding a skateboard didn’t seem quite right for the heavyweight of all literary magazines. Neither did anything featuring Paris Hilton and her surprisingly capacious chops.

With this in mind, I thought I’d look for something a little more pertinent, like that clip of David Lynch abusing people who watch films on mobile phones. Again, though, nothing seemed to work. (Lynch’s rant is neither amusing nor interesting. It just shows he’s not a very nice chap, that’s all.)

And then inspiration struck. This morning my friend posted a link to a music video on my Facebook wall, and suggested – with downright temerity I might add – that it should play every time I enter a room.

The video in question is for ‘Ego’ by Beyoncé, taken from her 2008 album I Am…Sasha Fierce and now, thanks to a recent remix, featuring Kanye West. If the title of the song hadn’t given it away, the opening line meant I couldn’t help but get the joke. (Well, I think it was a joke…)

‘I got a big ego…ha ha ha…such a big ego…uh uh uh…’

The video couldn’t be simpler. Take Beyoncé, the biggest singer on the planet, and two backing dancers – a master stroke when showcased in the video for the infectious ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’, an earlier single from the same album – and then throw in Kanye West, the biggest rapper on the planet and quite possibly the only human being with a bigger ego than ‘Sasha Fierce’. Beyoncé co-directed the video herself, naturally, it’s black and white and, while very simple, somehow still looks expensive.

But none of that really matters. It’s the song that carries the imagery, which is what good music videos are all about. The lyrics are self-explanatory but, appropriately, it’s Beyoncé who captures the essence of ‘Ego’.

‘Some call it arrogant. I call it confident. You decide when you find out what I’m working with…’

For someone who was told at 13 that he, um, had ‘problems accepting criticism’, that line seemed to ring true. I’m not a ‘hip-hopper’ – or whatever it is people who like hip-hop are called – and my iTunes library is whiter than white. Even so, I’ve always been drawn to rappers because of what I believe the kids are calling their ‘swagger’ – and nobody does it better than Kanye West. Moody singers who equate sulking with talent do nothing for me. Quite simply, I want my pop stars to be full of it.

And that goes for the rest of you. False modesty gets you nowhere in show business. If you’ve got a talent, don’t be afraid to say so.

Especially if you’ve got a big one.

Dazed & Aroused by Gavin James Bower is released this week.