:: Buzzwords Archive: May 2010. Click here for the latest posts.
Here Comes the Summer (published 31/05/2010)
ampere’s and (published )
& Keith Murgatroyd‘s Modern Graphics (1969)
& The V&A Book Illustration Awards longlist
& StoryCubes, “playful cubes for storytelling, brainstorming ideas or playing games in 3 dimensions”
& John Buckland Wright‘s 1932 illustrations for Poe
[Image: A pictorial history of Puffin Books]
3:AM Reloaded (published )
What you (may have) missed on 3:AM recently:
Fiction: ‘f stop’ by Michael Loughrey
Poetry: In the fifteenth of his Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Romanian poet Adrian Urmanov
Reviewed: Max Dunbar on Graham Robb’s Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris & Claus Hant’s Young Hitler: A Non-Fiction Novel; Karl Whitney on Eric Hazan’s The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps; Steve Finbow on Alan Kelly’s Let Me Die A Woman; Andrew Stevens on The Lowlife, Alexander Baron’s seminal London classic:
The Lowlife constantly, as fits the denouement, retains one eye on the past, the glorious depiction of a Jewish East End childhood of the inter-war years, Wapping as a playground and the ”geographical zones” (as Sinclair refers to them) representing stages in the author’s own life, with Aldgate and Blooms (for a ‘lowlife’ Boas dines well) as his “base”. To some extent the problem of The Lowlife for today’s reader is that the weight of obligation which marks him out from the rest of post-war Britain is simply vanished, with Baron almost predicting the convergence of drugs, prostitution and slum landlordism in the East End amid the breakdown of the traditional family and welfare dependency. We’re almost rooting for him throughout, even if we’re not supposed to. Though it’s not difficult to imagine our own Harryboy of the millennium, skilfully avoiding work while drawing his Giro in a sink estate perched on the edge of the Olympic Park in Stratford, availing himself of willing slags and the odd punt in an off-street massage parlour, especially if the modern day “Torah of the Tote” at William Hill or Paddy Power brings home the bacon (not least as the Tote’s privatised and the nearest dogs is now in Romford), while cocking a snook at the fashionable tastes of liberal leftists in today’s Stoke Newington. The problem is if we did it’d be tagged as ‘poverty porn’ from the off, amply showing why five decades on from Harryboy’s swagger down the track, The Lowlife’s reach remains as pervasive and compelling as when Baron wrote it and the punks noticed it.
Saturday Night at the Movies (published 29/05/2010)
By Andrew Stevens.
With Werner Herzog’s disclaimed ‘reworking’ of Bad Lieutenant riding high and provoking the ire of Abel Ferrara, revisiting the original appears in order. The 1992 original and its PMRC-baiting (if not goading) themes of Christianity, drug abuse and perversion ended a run of Ferrara films which took New York, alienation and Catholicism as their common jumping off points, beginning with 1979’s Driller Killer, via Ms.45 and Fear City. At the time however, critically speaking at least, it was the film’s clunky car masturbation scene which garnered the most derision and represents its sole cinematic low point.
Central to Bad Lieutenant is Harvey Keitel. Having established his recurring gangster/cop stock character in Scorsese’s Mean Streets and Taxi Driver during the 1970s, Keitel then played a string of cop roles during the 1980s, most notably in 1983’s Cop Killer. That he worked again with Scorsese on The Last Temptation of Christ only underscores his centrality to the film’s beating heart and the pervasive Catholicism. No other casting could have worked.
The nun-raping within the film was somehow regarded as transgressive at the time but in an era when the priestly raping of Sisters in AIDS-ravaged Africa is reported all too frequently, the debased antics of a New York detective seem positively routine subject matter. For all Herzog’s protestations that his Nicholas Cage regeneration of the eponymous lieutenant bears no resemblance to Ferrara’s work, the Nouvelle-Orléans setting and social impulses retain much of its consumption by Catholicism.