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by Andrew Gallix


For more Buzzwords from the end of the month of May, click here.
JASON GURLEY 05/22/2001

Jason Gurley’s collection of short stories, Close Program, is now available from Pixel Press. “Each story is an exercise in brevity,” says Gurley, 22. “In fact, I believe the longest story is around 3,000 words.” Close Program expertly captures the essence of what is now known as “flash fiction”. The Paumanok Review hails Close Program as “a remarkable debut,” and says that “Jason Gurley engenders the best attributes of a writer. He is, in a way, an invisible writer. His stories seem to emanate from the reader, assuming the voice of a generation while shunning the pompous and predictable." Jason Gurley is the editor of Deeply Shallow, and his writings have appeared in some seventy publications, including Catching the Butterfly in 3am Magazine.


Feed Magazine have published an article on Kerouac’s On the Road manuscript which is auctioned by Christie’s today. Benjamin Anastas writes: “Tomorrow, Christie’s will offer to the highest bidder a typewritten scroll of architectural drafting paper nearly one hundred twenty feet long, held together by cellophane tape: perhaps the only bonafide ‘relic’ of postwar American literature, the mythical first draft of Jack Kerouac's On the Road (estimated price $1 to $1.5 million). Fans of the novel should not be surprised if the hallowed manuscript winds up in the private collection of a Bobo tycoon. Just over eighteen months ago, in fact, Sotheby's of New York administered the ‘Allen Ginsberg and Friends’ sale, bringing in $675,000 for memorabilia that included a vintage Uncle Sam top hat, a signed copy of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan (‘given to Ginsberg by Bono of U2’), and, for those perhaps less inclined to things literary, the poet's wallet. On the eve of the Ginsberg sale, Sotheby's hosted a ‘tribute’ to the poet -- broadcast over the Web on -- with appearances by Lou Reed, Gus Van Sant, Paul Simon, and Winona Ryder. The auction's mingling of glamour, hucksterism, and reverence for all things Beat -- or, as Kerouac defined the term, ‘down and out but full of intense conviction’ -- was either wildly inappropriate or the perfect reflection of what the Beats have come to signify in the American marketplace of ideas. Christie's has been similarly creative with their publicity campaign, taking the scroll on the road, as it were, for brief exhibitions in Chicago (‘I dug Chicago after a good day's sleep,’ recalls Sal Paradise in the novel) and San Francisco (‘Frisco -- long, bleak streets with trolley wires all shrouded in fog and whiteness’). Since May 17 the scroll has been on public display at Christie's Galleries at 20 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. In keeping with the spiritual underpinnings of the Beat movement, as well as with its ecumenical bent, the conservators at Christie's have mounted the ungainly manuscript on two plexiglass rollers -- a Torah-like arrangement that evokes a humbled response in the viewer. It was Kerouac himself, of course, who first presented the manuscript to the world as a sacred text, though in a decidedly more democratic fashion: the opening segment of the scroll has been damaged by frequent and enthusiastic handling, the product of ritual unfurlings for Beat acolytes. A letter from Kerouac to Allen Ginsberg from October 1, 1957 (just after the novel's triumphant publication) describes a wild scene, fueled by Old Granddad, where the author -- flush with his newly-minted celebrity -- rolls the scroll out on the carpet of a hotel room for a throng of curious reporters. Then, as now, nothing appealed to the arbiters of culture quite as much as ‘authenticity.’ The scroll itself was an accident of artistic necessity, cobbled together by Kerouac from materials at hand to both inspire and record his creative fury. (After several false-starts on traditional paper, Kerouac typed the ‘scroll’ draft of On the Road during a three-week binge in April of 1951.) Kerouac believed in a compositional method he called ‘Spontaneous Prose,’ influenced by jazz, whereby the writer works ‘from both the conscious top and the unconscious bottom of the mind, limited only by the limitations of time flying by as your mind flies by with it.’ . . .” For more info on Kerouac go to Beat Generation News.

ISMS 05/22/2001

Check out Gary Kamiya‘s review of Manifesto: A Century of Isms edited by Mary Ann Caws in “ . . . Manifesto: A Century of Isms, edited by Mary Ann Caws, gathers together the glorious, the histrionic and the just plain nutty pronouncements made by various artists and loudmouths at the outbreak of modernism. It is at once a fascinating thread running into that visionary labyrinth, an inspiring reminder of one of the great, weird moments in human history, and a sobering monument to a future that never arrived. Caws, who teaches at the graduate school of the City University of New York and who is an expert on surrealism, has gathered every aesthetic ‘ism’ in the 20th century, from the familiar to the delightfully obscure. The collection opens with James Abbott McNeil Whistler's ‘The Ten O'Clock’ (1885), a celebrated art-for-art's-sake lecture that started at its unorthodox hour to give his fashionable London audience a chance to dine first, and concludes with a 1984 meditation by the poet Edmond Jabes on the idea of The Book. In between, it covers such well-known movements and ideas as cubism, futurism, expressionism, the scuola metafisica, dada, vorticism, suprematism and surrealism, as well as lesser-known ones like ultraism, rayonism, nowism, thingism, hallucinism and verticalism. . . . The heart of the book, what Caws calls the Manifesto Moment, covers that ‘ten-year period of glorious madness’ stretching from 1909 (when F.T. Marinetti issued his first Futurist Manifesto) to 1919, with much attention also paid to the Surrealist movement in its heyday, the 1920s and '30s. . . . Again and again, the authors of these manifestos open with a mighty trumpet blast, issuing the most lofty and passionate denunciations of the imbecilic, stale, decadent, safe, bourgeois, vile, outmoded, mechanical, academic, etc. tradition they are rejecting. But when it comes time for them to reveal their epochal new vision, the mighty doctrine that will overthrow the past, turn art on its head and lead mankind into a dazzling new era of truth and beauty, it turns out to be, well, ‘spatial forms arising from the intersection of the reflected rays of various objects’ (Rayonists Mikhail Larionov and Natalya Goncharov). Or a theater in which the actors read aloud from their parts (the Russian symbolist Fyodor Sologub). Or a placard proclaiming ‘No Girdle!’ (The nunist Pierre Albert-Birot, who also incorrectly asserted that nunism is ‘an “ism” to outlast the others.’) Without discounting the originality of these ideas -- rayonist paintings are among the first abstract works ever executed, Sologub's theater anticipates Brecht, and Birot would have burned Andy Warhol in a game of one-on-one -- after the mighty windup, there's something banana peel-like about these aesthetic punchlines. And yet, these manifestos inspire more than laughter. ‘The attraction of those initial or founding manifestos of violence was and is their energy and their potential for energizing,’ Caws notes, and their energy, their intensity, their passionate belief that art matters, that nothing is as important as finding a new, deeper, more modern way to paint or write or compose, is in the end what you take away from them. . . . One could . . . question the high-cultural bias of Caws' selections. If, as Robert Hughes and many others have argued, mass media has replaced the fine arts as our culture's dominant force, one could make a case, as Greil Marcus implicitly did in Lipstick Traces, that the true manifestos of our time are not documents by highbrow poets with academic sinecures but three-minute songs by angry, drug-addled punks. The Sex Pistols undoubtably changed the world more than the Language poets -- why isn't "God Save the Queen" in here? . . .”


Shakespeare and Company, George Whitman’s “wonderland of books” as Henry Miller called it, is probably the most famous bookshop in the world. Located opposite Notre Dame, it first opened in 1951 as Le Mistral and became Shakespeare & Co in 1964 (in homage to Sylvia Beach’s own bookshop). Generations of English-speaking writers have made the trek to 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris. Regulars have included Graham Greene, James Baldwin, David Gascoyne and scores of others. In her Paris diary, Anais Nin described the bookshop and its owner: “And there by the Seine was the bookshop, not the same, but similar to others I had known. An Utrillo house, not too steady on its foundations, small windows, wrinkled shutters. And there was George Whitman, undernourished, bearded, a saint among his books, lending them, housing penniless friends upstairs, not eager to sell, in the back of the store, in a small overcrowded room, with a desk, a small stove. All those who come for books remain to talk, while George tries to write letters, to open his mail, order books. A tiny, unbelievable staircase, circular, leads to his bedroom, or the communal bedroom, where he expected Henry Miller and other visitors to stay.” Allen Ginsberg also spoke of Mr Whitman in saintly terms: “He's a saint, lives on nothing, gives shelter to everybody. Helps young poets too... Someone should do something for him. His only income was from books.”

Shakespeare & Co has been home to many literary journals like Alexander Trocchi and Richard Seaver’s Merlin and, today, Kilometer Zero. We’ll probably bring you more news of this print (2 issues so far) and online magazine. You can also buy George Whitman’s The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart. (Photographs by Guillaume Destot of 3am.)

24-HOUR PARTY PEOPLE 05/15/2001

The excellent UK newszine we mentioned yesterday, Spiked, have published an article on 24 Hour Party People, the film that chronicles Manchester’s music scene from Punk to Madchester through Joy Division and The Smiths. Brendan O’Neill writes: “It isn't every day you hear that somebody is making a sweeping, epic feature film of your life -- and for Anthony H Wilson (formerly Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records, cultural commentator and self-confessed 'pretentious git') the news came as a bit of a shock. 'I was saying, "What, like Boogie Nights with me as the Burt Reynolds character?". And they were going, "Yeah, like Boogie Nights with you as the Burt Reynolds character".' The film, 24-Hour Party People, is currently 150 hours of 'wicked filming' making its way through post-production and due to hit cinema screens before the year is out. . . . As presenter of So It Goes (Granada TV's answer to Top of the Pops) in 1976, Wilson was one of the first to 'bring punk to the masses', showcasing bands like 'the Pistols, the Clash, the Buzzcocks, Iggy and all that shit'. As founder of Factory Records in the late 1970s, he got post-punk off to a good start with the dark, fatal tones of Joy Division. And as his club the Hacienda took off in the 1980s, Wilson was a driving force behind acid's 'second summer of love', as epitomised by the Happy Mondays. Between 1976 and 1992, punk burnt out, Ian Curtis committed suicide and the Happy Mondays collapsed in spectacular style -- but Wilson was the one constant throughout. 'I suppose that's true, but it still feels a bit weird, being the subject of a film and all', says Wilson. 'The way I see it, the more they tell the story of punk and acid, and the less they tell the story of me, the better the movie will be.' . . . So has 24-Hour Party People got it right? 'Oh no, it's completely untrue', says Wilson, with surprising aplomb. 'It's all lies. I never screwed two prostitutes in the back of a van, but that's in there. Somebody else didn't screw somebody else in that particular place, but that's in there. There are drugs where there weren't drugs and sex where there wasn't sex -- there are lots of untruths. But hey, what do you want? There's that line about the choice between truth and legend -- always pick the legend. And that's what they've done.' Wilson has a point. Who wants to know the truth about rock stars? . . . And the important thing is that the film 'captures a moment': 'There's one scene with Jon the Postman [played by Dave Gorman], a Manchester character who used to jump on stage and sing Louie Louie after punk gigs, and the camera pans around the back of him and you see all these kids leaping up and down and fucking hanging and banging and beer flying out of their cans, and I thought, "Fuck, this is exactly how it was in 1976 and 1977". And if they have captured in the Hacienda scenes the feeling of acid house, which apparently they have, then they will have caught a glimpse of two youth revolutions. Fuck the truth -- it's those moments that really count.'

NEWS 05/15/2001

On Saturday 16 June, a conference on William Hazlitt, organised jointly by the Oxford English Faculty and St Catherine's College, Oxford, will take place from 9.30am to 6pm at St Catherine's College, Oxford. The organisers of the event are Uttara Natarajan (Goldsmith's College, London), Tom Paulin (Hertford College, Oxford), Duncan Wu (St Catherine's College, Oxford). The speakers lined up are A. C. Grayling, Tom Paulin, Jonathan Bate, Kelvin Everest, Uttara Natarajan, Michael Foot, David Bromwich and John Whale. The price -- £16.50 full or £8.25 concessions (retired, students and unwaged) -- includes lunch, tea and coffee. Sterling cheques and postal orders are payable to Oxford English Faculty, post to Jo Jackson, English Faculty, St Cross Building, Manor Road, Oxford OX1 3UQ. NB Spaces are limited, so please book early. For e-mail enquiries, click here. The “Voyage” issue of Random House’s ezine, Boldtype now online. Cheryl Duran, a horror movie buff, who produces The Monster Club website, has written a book The Monster Club.Com Guide To Horror available from Amazon from June 1. Cheryl Duran says that it is “a collection of biographies, histories and reviews. Included are: biographies of superstars of horror, monster moviemakers and special effects artists. Histories of horror posters, monster toys, comic books, magazines, golden age horror radio shows, horror hosts and special FX plus reviews and synopsis of anthology films, classic horror TV shows and reviews and synopsis of 100 favorite horror films.”


Here is the announcement of the Joe Orton exhibition at Islington Museum: “2 May – 17 June Prick Up Your Ears! : Celebrating Joe Orton. Presented by Islington Arts and Heritage and Islington Libraries: Joe Orton, the famous playwright, lived with his partner Keith Halliwell at Noel Road in Islington. In 1962 they were both imprisoned for defacing books from Islington libraries. In 1967, they were both found dead in their flat. Halliwell had battered Orton to death and then killed himself. This provocative and entertaining exhibition includes the ‘defaced’ Islington Library books, covered with caricatures.”


The annual Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts will run from May 24 to June 3. The programme this year includes Margaret Atwood, Louis de Bernières, David Lodge, Nick Hornby, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Julian Barnes and Zadie Smith. One of the headlining bands will be the mighty Pulp. Dave Eggers’s McSweeney’s announce the publication of new books by Lydia Davis, Marcel Dzama, Candy Jernigan and former Talking Heads leader David Byrne. Village Voice have published their fourth “Writers on the Verge” issue. The up-and-coming writers they focus on this time round are Robert Anasi, Mark Herman, Shelley Jackson, Nelly Rosario, Brady Udall, Kevin Young and Heather McGowan (pictured). There’s an interview with indie band Belle and Sebastian on the New Musical Express site. Ezines like Spiked renew your faith in the Internet: “Spiked is a website for those who want to see some change in the real world as well as the virtual one. If you think that the power of the internet could be used for something more than shopping and pseudo-sex, get Spiked. Based in London with a global outlook, our ambition is to champion unorthodox, enlightened thinking, and break new ground in online journalism. Spiked stands for freedom of expression on the web, and aims to be 'online, off-message'.” On Saturday May 19, Modern Life are throwing a party for the launch of their Mod compilation Music Made To Measure Volume 1. There will be a champagne reception, followed by a presentation of the Mod film Quadrophenia (with director Franc Roddam) and a party. Doors open at 7pm. Buy your ticket from Arc Box Office: 01642 666600. Arc, Dovecot Street, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1LL (UK). Scottish publisher 11:9 will be publishing four new titles by Drew Campbell, Graeme Williamson, Anne McLeod and Hamish MacDonald on May 31. British author Alistair Gentry, who was interviewed in 3am Magazine’s second issue, is developing his “huge, ever growing modular novel” called The Nothings: “Ever wondered what happened after Barbie got bored of clothes and retired from her fabulous career as supermodel, air hostess and UNICEF ambassador? Probably not, but 150 DAYS OF BOREDOM is the final major component of THE NOTHINGS in which Barbara Millicent Roberts wreaks a terrible revenge on the boy who pulled her sister Skipper's arms and legs off. In addition to the web versions, every component and story arc is available in printable format for your shuffle-play / cutup / random reading enjoyment. Check out the CONCORDANCE for links and background info on all the characters and stories.” Mark A Russell of The Penny Dreadful, Marissa Madrigal of The Radioactive Pickle, Mykle Hansen and Paul Ash, editor of Sniffy Linings will be at the ONA Gallery (6th and NW Everett in Portland, USA) on May 18. Before I sign off for today, please check out the latest issue of The Paumanok Review.


More news today of Closer to Heaven, the musical written by playwright Jonathan Harvey with pop duo the Pet Shop Boys. In The Observer, Sheryl Garratt writes that “In Closer to Heaven, the new musical theatre production by the Really Useful Company in London's West End, Frances Barber plays Billie Trix, a faded rock star who bears some resemblance to the Velvet Underground's Nico. The show opens with her in the backroom of a club and being called onto the stage for her big number. First, though, she leans over and snorts a line of cocaine. It's not what you expect from a new Andrew Lloyd Webber production, but then Closer to Heaven is an attempt by his company to forge a new identity for the musical in an era when the big spectaculars such as Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera are starting to look distinctly near their sell-by date. Set in a London nightclub with a drug dealer and the manager of a boy band among the central characters, it features a sharp, contemporary script by Liverpool-born playwright Jonathan Harvey (Babies, Beautiful Thing, Gimme Gimme Gimme) and music by the Pet Shop Boys. 'It won't sound like a West End musical at all,' says Chris Lowe, generally perceived to be the silent, sulky Pet Shop Boy but tonight so excited he scarcely lets anyone else get a word in. 'We haven't compromised at all in the way the music is produced. We've got the computers playing, the electronic keyboards and samplers.' 'It's very exciting,' adds Neil Tennant, 'and unbelievably scary.' . . . The Pet Shop Boys first talked of doing a musical in 1986. At one point, there was talk of them creating it for television, and it was the BBC drama department which first introduced them to Harvey as a possible collaborator. He'd just written a 30-minute play about a fan of the boy band, E17, calling it after the Pet Shop Boys single, West End Girls: 'We were, of course, outraged by this.' None the less, they began going to see Harvey's plays, and in 1996 finally started working with him on the project, talking about the plot and characters, writing songs and watching films like The Sound of Music to analyse just how it all worked. . . . The basic idea for Closer to Heaven came quickly, and the club world seemed an ideal setting. 'Jonathan inhabits the kind of world we've inhabited,' explains Lowe. 'He's been to clubs like Trade and Heaven, so it's not like he's an outsider.' The plot revolves around Straight Dave, a good-looking, ambitious young man who comes to London from Northern Ireland 'and goes on a journey to do with his ambition and sexuality', falling in love with both a girl and the club's Scally male drug dealer, Mile End Lee. It's a classic love triangle, with a modern twist: 'Even at the end of the show, we don't necessarily know whether he's gay or straight.' . . . When writing a play, Harvey says he can easily read it and imagine how it will look and sound. 'But with the musical, I've never been able to do that, because I could never really imagine what it would be like when people stopped speaking and started to sing.' Once, says Harvey, the soundtracks to musicals like West Side Story were considered mainstream pop. The film of Grease was probably the last musical to slide effortlessly into the pop arena, and Closer to Heaven is an attempt to redress that, to put different bums on the seats of the small, 340-seat Arts Theatre. 'I hope we can appeal to a younger audience that maybe doesn't usually go to the theatre. I'm writing for my mates, to encourage people to get in there.' The Pet Shop Boys describe Jonathan Harvey as 'a comic genius' with a talent for mimicry that has been an endless source of amusement during their collaboration. Harvey, in turn, confesses that he's bought every CD they've ever done. 'They're very, very clever. They've always been quite aloof and elusive. You've never known too much about them, so you've never got that bored with them. They've always been a bit of a mystery.'

In The Sunday Times, Jane Moore writes: “. . . Musical theatre is the new sex, drugs and rock'n'roll to a host of 1970s and 1980s recording stars looking for something new to light their fire. If the 10% drop in ticket sales for traditional musicals is anything to go by, they're not alone. Theatre-goers, particularly younger ones, clearly fancy a change as well. Step forward the Pet Shop Boys, aka Tennant and Chris Lowe. They have collaborated with the writer Jonathan Harvey to bring out Closer to Heaven, which is about to start previewing at the Arts Theatre. . . . ‘It's a gritty, almost kitchen-sink drama that happens to have songs in it.’ They chose the 350-seat Arts Theatre for an "off-Broadway feel", but the financial backing is from a more mainstream source: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group. . . . The pair first thought of doing a musical-theatre project about 15 years ago, but never got round to it. Then the BBC approached them to write one for television. ‘We met for lunch, and they suggested we work with a playwright called Jonathan Harvey. They gave us a video of a drama he'd done for them called West End Girls. We were furious he'd called it that,’ laughs Tennant. He and Lowe eventually decided against the ‘one-off’ project for television, and decided to stick to their original idea of the theatre. In the meantime, they became firm fans of Harvey's work. ‘We went to see Beautiful Thing in the West End, and then we saw his masterly play Boom Bang-a-Bang, about a lot of people watching the Eurovision Song Contest. We loved it, so we rang his agent to arrange a meeting,’ Tennant adds. Enter Harvey, stage left. ‘I was furious with them, too,’ he says. ‘The BBC had lined me up to meet them, and both times I was just about to leave the house when they cancelled. So I went along to this meeting thinking they were really unreliable and probably wouldn't show. I also thought it was still about the television project, which I wasn't so keen on. When I found out it was theatre, I was ecstatic.’ Harvey is less nervous about the project [than the Pet Shop Boys], because he already has an impressive record of writing for theatre and television. His critically acclaimed Out in the Open, directed by Kathy Burke, is currently playing in Birmingham before returning to London, and BBC2 has commissioned a second series of his sitcom, Gimme Gimme Gimme. ‘I'm also co-writing a new comedy drama, Sugar and Spice, for the BBC, with Meera Syal, and I'm writing an ITV drama called Beating Jesus for Sarah Lancashire,’ he says. ‘But I was particularly excited to work on Closer to Heaven, because I have always been a huge fan of the Pet Shop Boys. I have been offered projects based around back catalogues before, and turned them down. So I was thrilled when I realised it was going to be a proper drama with original music written for it. I'm very aware that there's a real trend at the moment for collaboration between the music industry and theatre, and I wanted to be part of it.’

Closer to Heaven previews from 15 May at the Arts Theatre, London WC2 (020 7836 3334).


George Corso photo by Ira CohenOn May 5, Gregory Corso’s ashes were scattered in the Catholic cemetery in Rome where Shelley was buried. James Campbell wrote in The Guardian’s obituary (January 20) that Corso was “the bad boy of the beat generation”. On one occasion he even described Jean Genet as “so fucking bourgeois”: “. . . Corso was born to Italian parents in Greenwich Village, New York. Before he was one, his mother abandoned him, and he spent his childhood shuttling between orphanages, reform schools and foster homes, occasionally being rescued by his hopeless father, from whom he tried to escape. . . . At 16, he began a three-year sentence at Clinton state prison, New York, for robbing a household finance office. There, in the classic conversion hitherto experienced by his adversary Genet, he discovered poetry. ‘Open this book as you would a box of toys,’ Ginsberg wrote in a preface to Corso's second volume of poems, Gasoline, published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books in 1958. It was dedicated to ‘the angels of Clinton prison who, in my 17th year, handed me, from all the cells surrounding me, books of illumination’. Corso's introduction to the other beats came through Ginsberg, whom he met in a New York bar in 1950. Corso told his new friend that, from his window, he was in the habit of watching a couple in the flat opposite as they undressed, bathed and made love. Later, when Ginsberg invited him to meet his girlfriend, Corso realised that this was the couple he had been watching. Attracted not only to Corso's good looks -- Ginsberg was bisexual -- and his delinquent background, but also by the sheaf of poems he carried everywhere, Ginsberg welcomed Corso into his circle, introducing him to Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, and later to the San Francisco poets. Their life of camaraderie and occasional tension is described in Kerouac's novels, The Subterraneans and Desolation Angels. . . . In response to a member of the audience asking, ‘What's the message of your poetry?’, Ginsberg might strip off his clothes; or Corso would say, ‘Fried shoes’ or ‘Poetry is a wose.’ Orlovsky would read two poems, then say he would love to do the third but he had not written it yet. . . In the late 1950s, the same trio lived together in Paris, in what came to be known as the Beat Hotel, in rue Git-le-coeur, near St Michel. For a time, they all slept in the same bed, but eventually Corso found his own room on the top floor, a triangle barely high enough to let him stand up, or wide enough to contain him sleeping. His novel, The American Express, was published by Olympia Press in 1961, and he took part in the original book of cut-ups, Minutes To Go, with Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Sinclair Beiles. Corso's best poetry was metaphysical, in the sense that it recognised no frontier between spirit and matter. But Ginsberg was right; the poem was a place for him to play. Corso talked to Truth (who replied, ‘I'll tell awful things about you’), talked to Faith, Hope and Charity (‘Without us you'll surely die/ With you I'm going nuts! Goodbye!’) and to Beauty (‘You I loved best in life/ . . . but you're a killer’). . . . The poets he loved most were not the moderns, but the English romantics, in particular Keats and Shelley, and the ancients. . . .” Corso passed away on January 17 2001. There’s a great Corso page at Literary Kicks and an excellent tribute feature in Jack.


We are proud to announce the publication of “Have Rock will Roll” by William Levy which he describes as his “fictional excursion into remembrance and song, a kind of exegesis on Emma Goldman’s thesis: ‘If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution.’” Here’s a picture of the Parisian cafe where we met Mr Levy last month. The police came too late to catch him.


Our friends at Eleven Bulls have come up with another excellent issue. Don’t miss Bridget Batch’s photos and Kate Sparaco’s beautiful artwork. You can read a short story by Saki in the latest issue of Tatlin’s Tower. Brad Bryant’s brilliant “macro-fiction” in Pif is one of the best things I’ve read on the Internet for a while. Camille Renshaw’s Arts and Technology News is updated daily and continues to provide us with news you seldom come upon elsewhere. –30- is looking for submissions. Inscriptions Magazine, the best writer’s newsletter on the Net, needs some funds to survive: send them $5 and help them survive. Onlinetheater inform us that “actors, actresses and models are welcome to submit their pictures and stats . . . for FREE worldwide exposure and publicity!” They also accept poetry submissions. is currently being redeveloped to become a “virtual paradise”! Scrawl has posted new features on William Burroughs and Catherine Merriman. And while you’re at it, check out the new issues of the mighty Absinthe Literary Review, Linnaean Street, Spark-online and Stirring.


Gobsmacked? You will be too when you learn that 3am Magazine was mentioned in The Times! Yes, The Times of London, probably the oldest daily in the world (first launched in 1785 as The Daily Universal Register). And the most famous! On 30 April, The Times published an article entitled “For Better or Verse” by Bill Broun in its Interface supplement.

The thrust of Bill Broun’s argument is that “The Internet should have been a golden opportunity for the literary world, but the reality is more prosaic. A few years ago, one might easily have assumed that the speed and cheapness with which words can be published on the Internet would offer struggling writers a whole new era of easy exposure. One might also have predicted that the discerning reader would enjoy a new explosion of creativity, free. Most word processors now include an Internet publishing function. Therein lies the problem: it is all too easy. Today’s Web is crammed to its microchips with very sincere -- and very purple -- prose. . . . A terminal lack of funding, low editorial standards and the irksome tendency of certain editors to publish their girlfriend’s sloppy novel or husband’s sentimental book of poetry -- such bugbears have spoilt the literary Internet’s reputation. There are exceptions, corners of the Net where an effective sentence of fiction or a well-judged line of verse is duly respected.” Mr Broun goes on to mention a number of sites including Salon, The Richmond Review, 3am Magazine, East of the Web, Fence and Debris. Some of these sites are one-person affairs, but of unusual quality; others, such as Salon, are online media giants."

This is what he says about us: “For a more international, commercial feel, try 3am Magazine, whose editor supposedly resides in Paris. The cosmopolitan, rive gauche quality of the site is wonderfully obvious. From ‘cutting edge short fiction’ to political satire and music reviews, 3am is a dream publication for the young, literary and clued-up, and it counter-balances nicely the London/New York publishing behemoth. If the writing is not yet as good as it thinks it is, the editors make a convincing effort to control standards.” A big thanks to Mr Broun on the part of the entire 3am staff (Jim, Guillaume, and Andrew pictured).


“Only anarchists are pretty,” as some of you may remember, was a slogan daubed on Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s famous “Anarchy” shirts. Only Anarchists Are Pretty is an extraordinary site devoted to McLaren --the Sex Pistols’ manager -- and Westwood’s legendary shop at 403 King’s Road (London). The site offers, among many other things, pictures of all the original Punk clothes. The shop first opened in 1971. It was then called Let It Rock and sold Teddy Boy clobber. Its style changed to leather Rocker gear when the boutique was renamed Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die. McLaren and his then companion Westwood struck gold when they turned to fetish clothing and started fashioning the original Punk clothes under the Sex label. The shop then became known as Seditionaries when Punk went overground. This site will bring back fond memories for those who were there. For the rest of you, it’s a brilliant piece of contemporary history. You can also celebrate Punk’s 25th anniversary by visiting Ray Stevenson’s site. Ray Stevenson was the official photographer of The Sex Pistols. His beautiful photographs are collected in Sex Pistols File, first published in 1978, and Vacant: A Diary of the Punk Years 1976-79 which appeared in 1999. You can buy Ray’s historic pictures of the Pistols and their entourage (the Bromley Contingent) directly from the site. You will also find news of Nils Stevenson, Ray’s brother, who was the Pistols’ early tour manager, who then went on to manage Siouxsie and the Banshees. Nils is celebrating Punk’s 25th with the release of a compilation album entitled Dread Meets Punk Rockers Uptown with the former rasta dj of the Roxy club (the first exclusively Punk hangout in London) Don Letts. It will be released on Heavenly Records. The colour snapshot here represents Sue Catwoman, Simon Barker (two members of the Bromley Contingent) along with Marco Pirroni. Marco played guitar for the Banshees during their debut performance at the 100 Club Punk Festival (September 1976), then joined Sid Vicious’ Flowers of Romance, The Models and became famous with Adam and the Ants. Check out his website (where we found this rare picture).

COSH THE DRIVER 05/07/2001

When the Sex Pistols disbanded, Malcolm McLaren whisked guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook away to Brazil. There, they recorded a single (“No One is Innocent”) with Ronald Biggs who had taken part in The Great Train Robbery in 1963. The BBC’s website recalls that “The gang, taking inspiration from the rail robberies of the Wild West, raided the Glasgow to London mail train and made off with £2.6m in used bank notes.” Ronnie Biggs escaped from Wandsworth Prison after spending 15 months inside and became Britain’s most famous fugitive. He eventually settled in Brazil where the McLaren and the two ex-Pistols met him in 1978. A few days ago, Biggs e-mailed Scotland Yard stating he wanted to come back to England. Britain’s leading tabloid The Sun chartered a private jet to bring him back from Brazil. He landed in London on 7 April and was promptly arrested. Biggs has suffered 3 strokes and is said to be in poor health. Before taking off from Rio, he told a Sun reporter that he looked forward to going home after 35 years on the run, but feared that the weather might be a little cold: “I hope it’s not brass monkey weather, as we used to say back home. God, that seems like a long time ago.”

PUNK’S 25th ANNIVERSARY 05/06/2001

It’s Punk’s 25th anniversary, and Spin Magazine is celebrating in style with two covers to choose from: Joey Ramone or Sid Vicious. Their website will be regularly updated throughout May with various Punk-related interactive features including a guided video tour through New York Punk landmarks courtesy of Richard Lloyd of Television or a video interview with The Go-Gos. You’ll also find a great interview with the legendary Joe Strummer (The Clash) who lists the four best Punk bands as The Ramones, The Television Personalities, The Buzzcocks and The Minutemen. He also explodes the myth according to which The Pistols couldn’t play: “The four of them could get on a shite stage on a shite Tuesday night, and the sound you'd hear was total.” have also got some interesting stuff online, a video interview with former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones in particular. There’s some great Pistols archives on the website devoted to Julien Temple’s recent documentary film, The Filth and the Fury. As you already know from the gig review published in 3am Magazine, original Buzzcocks singer and Mancunian Punk legend Howard Devoto has been working again with Pete Shelley: The Buzzcocks’ official website announces that they have just finished recording an album together. offers a Classic Punk online radio station which is well worth listening to.

The revived Punk Magazine brings us news of the Joey Ramone Tribute at CBGB’s on 30 April. John Holmstrom writes “Mickey Leigh, Joey Ramone's little brother, organized a touching, emotionally-charged, All-Star tribute to his big bro on April 30th at CBGBs. He wanted it to be, as he put it, ‘from the heart and to the point.’ It opened at 8:00 p.m. with a bagpipe performance of ‘Amazing Grace’: a touch of class. Then emcee Handsome Dick Manitoba spoke for awhile about his memories of Joey that began when he saw this weird-looking tall guy who went to all of the Dictators shows in 1974. Dick found out later this mysterious stranger was named "Joey Superstar" and related how he later became his close friend. "The Ramones and Dictators played all over the country together!" (Not often enough if you ask me!) Manitoba also made some funny, self-effacing comments about how Joey always had an AMAZING head of hair . . . Of course, so did Manitoba, back in the day! . . . Debbie Harry (see picture) and Craig Leon, who produced the Ramones' first LP and worked with Blondie on several records, were up next. Debbie told a funny story about the time she was driving upstate, thinking about Joey, and suddenly saw him waving at her from the car next to her. Then she got personal and related how she felt like Joey was one of the first people in the New York scene who she felt became a true friend. Debbie seems particularly sad about Joey's passing. Even though I knew both of them at the same time, I never realized before that there were such deep feelings between them. Craig remembered the time he first saw the Ramones live at CBGBs and tried to get Sire Records to sign them immediately. Craig did a great job on that first Ramones LP and without him, there might never have been RamonesMania. He kept their sound raw, violent and primitive, and avoided sweetening it the way it was for all their later records from Leave Home on. It was just like we all heard them at CBGBs when they first blew our heads off. . . .”


Yet another fiction ezine goes under. This time it’s Jason Gurley’s excellent Deeply Shallow. We asked Jason what had happened: “They say all good things must end; but I think all good things must take a slight break from time to time. As a good number of people seem to know already -- having read the formal announcement on the website or having detected a hint of laziness in my replies -- Deeply Shallow is closing its doors . . . for a time. I have done this once before, some will already know, and for the same reason. All writers who have become editors, I think, have experienced the same pull -- the pull of their own writing endeavors, which, by and large, are set aside as one begins to publish the writings of others. And so it is with a bit of reluctance that I am, as Andrew Gallix so aptly put it, ‘mothballing’ Deeply Shallow. This particular phrasing lends the implication that the magazine will, at some point, be removed from the mothballs, and this is certainly my intention. DS may just be the most spontaneous and ill-planned publication online -- our first run lasted three issues, followed by a summer's hiatus; our second lasted just two (though a remarkable two they were). Our third? This remains to be seen. Deeply Shallow's final issue (for now) will remain online until May 31. I'm particularly proud to feature a pair of stories by Allegra Wong and a trio of micro-fictions by the surprisingly humorous Harvey Stanbrough; the archive, of course, displays some fabulous shorts by Magdalen Powers and a gloomy, evocative tale by Rachael King.”

Jason Gurley, 22, lives in Nevada with his wife, Lori. His fiction has appeared in a number of literary journals and magazines, including The Mississippi Review, The Rio Grande Review, The Paumanok Review, Alicubi Journal, White Crow, VOiCE Magazine and, of course, 3am Magazine (see “Catching the Butterfly” in our Fiction archive). Here’s the latest on Jason the writer: “Meanwhile, Andrew has expressed interest in the goings-on of late in my writing life, and has asked me to share. In February, happily, newcomer Pixel Press accepted my short story collection (originally titled The Myth of Loneliness and quickly retitled Close Program) for publication. Though no date of publication has been established, the rumblings of production have come and gone, and the collection is expected to bow in late May; some of us are hoping to get our fingers on it sooner. Close Program is a collection of twenty-four or twenty-five stories and vignettes -- the exact number slips my mind -- which illustrate the most basic trials and longings of the average American male and female: loss and love. While many of these stories have seen the light of day before -- "Catching the Butterfly," for example, bowed on these pages earlier in the year; others have appeared in The Mississippi Review, The Rio Grande Review and The Paumanok Review, among others -- a good number are originals, yet to be read by anyone but my wife, who remains my best (or worst) critic. Close Program, though not yet published, will soon appear first as an electronic book and subsequently as a paperback.” You will soon be able to read an excerpt here. If you wish to buy Close Program, you can do so over there. Hopefully, we’ll be able to review it very soon.


Born in Edinburgh in 1957, Irvine Welsh shot to fame with the publication of Trainspotting in 1993. His subsequent novels, plays and short stories received mixed reviews. The leader of the chemical generation is back with a novel entitled Glue. About fucking time too! James Campbell in The Guardian writes that ‘Welsh's publishers call his new novel Glue "a return to form", which is something of a backhanded compliment. What they probably mean is a return to Trainspotting. The old crew -- Begbie, Sick Boy, Spud and Renton -- make tantalising cameo appearances in Glue, and are known to its protagonists. Begbie is currently picking the pockets of gullible Americans in the bars of Leith, you'll be interested to learn. Renton was recently spotted on a Glasgow train. He's back from Amsterdam, and is thought to be working in the music business. His reputation goes before him, though: "He ripped off his mates." Who cares that they ripped off everybody else? Trainspotting had a disjointed structure which suited its zonked-out state of mindlessness, and emphasised the characters' lack of connection to anything except each other. Glue, by contrast, is carefully crafted. It employs multiple perspective, and skilfully plays with a form of narrative rewind, whereby a fuzzy incident in chapter six, say, is replayed, gaining definition, in chapter nine. Welsh flits between standard English, in which he is not entirely comfortable ("Davie felt like a newly crowned emperor surveying his fiefdom", to cite but one peculiar phrase), and the more expressive but limited schemie demotic, in which he is fluent -- is, in fact, the lad himself.

Glue has an epic scale: it charts the rites of passage from boyhood to ladhood (no Welsh character has progressed beyond the latter) of four friends: Terry, Carl, Billy and Gally. The most powerful element of Welsh's fiction is not the shock factor, which he has made common-place, but its forward momentum. There is a direct route between the imagination and the page, and the writing is highly reader-friendly. This was evident in Welsh's last novel, Filth, where the voice of the diabolical Detective Sergeant Robinson was so well conceived and sustained that participation in his horrific consciousness came to seem like fun. Glue is packed with witty lines and sharp insights into behaviour and landscape. In present-day Glasgow, for example, Carl senses "disconnected currents of harshness that the new shopping malls and designer boutiques seem to strangely accentuate rather than cover up” . . .’

Mary Braid in The Independent tries to piece together the author’s biography: ‘In 1957, when Irvine Welsh was born, he hardly seemed destined to join the literati. Welsh has always been fiercely jealous of his private life -- refusing even to divulge whether he is, as thought, married and childless -- but it is fairly certain that his father was a docker and his mother a waitress. He left Leith when he was four to be rehoused on Edinburgh's soulless Muirhouse housing "scheme", which he later described as providing "one pub, a few shops and hardly anything to do". Welsh says he only ever liked English and art at school and left at 16 with few qualifications to do what working-class boys did, get a trade. He got an apprenticeship, back in Leith, in a television repair shop. It may, of course, be myth -- for Welsh likes to toy with interviewers -- but he apparently packed-in the job after six months, having been almost electrocuted. There followed the drifting years, and they lasted for much of his twenties. In the late 1970s, Welsh decided to become a rock musician. By 1978, he had gravitated south to London's punk scene -- apparently he just boarded a bus, drunk, one night. In London, he slept rough, and shared a succession of squats and bedsits, and joined bands with names such as Pubic Lice and Stairway 13 that, somehow, never made it. He popped his share of pills and supported himself at times by washing dishes. Every six months or so he would move between Edinburgh and London. And somewhere during those floating years, Welsh returned to Muirhouse to find it awash with heroin. Accounts vary about how long his own using lasted, and how serious it was, but he has told at least one interviewer that it went on for 18 months. You did not have to know anything about Welsh when Trainspotting arrived in 1993 to guess the author knew the scene he was writing about very intimately. And it was just as obvious, says the critic Jenny Turner, from the end of the book that Welsh had put heroin, at least, behind him. That did not stop his adoption as prophet by the Ecstasy rave scene. It is Irvine, the hip, directionless, druggy outsider that many of his younger fans, many of who may have never read another book, adored. That view of him ignores the alter ego -- smarter, more focused, and more materialistic -- that appeared in Welsh's late twenties when he resumed his studies, and took a job as a clerical worker with Hackney Council and began an ascent of local government that would eventually lead to him becoming head of training for Edinburgh District Council. It also ignores his metamorphosis to property speculator during the mid-1980s when he began buying up bedsits in Hackney, Islington and Camden, doing them up and selling them on for profit. He has claimed that he made £50,000 buying and selling. He explained the contradiction in an interview two years ago. "I didn't invent capitalism," he said. "It's not the best way of running things, but I'm not going to be a stupid martyr."

Irvine was training supremo at Edinburgh Council when he was creating Trainspotting. Duncan McLean says he cannot over-emphasise how astonished Welsh was that anyone wanted to publish the book. The dialect Irvine insisted on writing in, would, it was thought, put the book beyond the understanding of anyone outside Leith, and particularly bar it from London publishing houses. And the subject matter -- nihilistic, downright ugly, heavy drug using -- was not exactly mainstream. These days, few critics would disagree that Trainspotting is a good, and even great, book. Division only sets in over what Welsh has done since. The post-Trainspotting "diversions" -- guest-DJing in Ibiza as king of the rave scene, getting arrested while drunk, writing columns for style magazines and endless partying -- annoy some. The latest plan- well publicised, of course -- is for Welsh to pen a few songs for an ex-Bay City Roller. It's all been too much froth, critics say. But there have also been four subsequent books (The Acid House, Marabou Stork Nightmares, Ecstasy and Filth), a screenplay (of The Acid House) and a drama (You'll Have Had Your Hole). But most of them have had more attention for shocking, nasty violence and profanity than their artistic merit. In fact, the views of some literary commentators about the body of work between Trainspotting and Glue, are so violently negative, that they prefer not to be named. . . .

Perhaps Welsh has been listening, just a little. Glue is said to be more contemplative and considered, more humane. The early reviews are positive. And in the interviews to publicise Glue, Welsh has seemed, well, more grown up. He told one interviewer that he has not touched any drugs since the New Year. Instead of partying, the Ecstasy crowd's hero is holed up in his London home, watching newly-installed cable TV or out, wait for it, jogging. . . . In the past, Welsh has played down the importance of being a successful writer, and played up his wild, free spirit; just as he has played down his knowledge of literature, though friends say he is incredibly well read. He may, of course, simply be playing with journalists again, presenting a new suitable image, but he finally admitted this week that the writing matters. That's pretty courageous if the nonchalance he has so far displayed was really a mechanism designed to cushion him from possible failure. After seven books, he says, it's time to stop saying that he's "playing at it". And interestingly, Welsh allows Renton and Begbie, stars of Trainspotting to make fleeting appearances in Glue, while promising that they and the rest of the Trainspotting gang will be the central characters in Porno, a new novel he will publish next year. His admirers will see this perhaps as a sign of a return to quality, his critics as the act of a desperate man. . . .’

In The Scotsman, Joe McAvoy gives Glue a sound thrashing: “Irvine Welsh may well have finished the London Marathon last weekend, but his latest novel -- the most literary he has ever attempted -- gives up and starts walking a long way before the finishing line. Not that it’s all bad. There are moments in Glue that are on a par with Trainspotting and certainly supersede its abysmal predecessor, Filth. Its attempts to ape a more traditional literary model -- unusual from a writer who has, in the past, said he had no time or respect for the craft -- are evident right from the start. The opening paragraphs heave with predictable metaphors ("Davie felt like a strange exotic plant wilting in an overheated greenhouse") that are used as part of some quite elementary scene-setting. Gone is Welsh’s menacing verve; in its place is something more cultivated, but also alien and amateurish. Glue has all the hallmarks of a writer who has worked hard to learn from the mistakes of his previous novels, but who still has a long way to go. The complex task Welsh has set himself -- weaving together the lives of four different characters, along with their highs and lows, over four difficult decades -- necessitates a writerly skill that still eludes him. . . . Just when the narrative is in deepest trouble, Welsh enlists the help of the infamous quartet of characters from Trainspotting. Like a long-running TV series in ratings trouble using cameo appearances from high-profile actors, Glue hires the services of Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie to boost its credibility. This is not new in Welsh’s fiction, but here it seems like cheap intertextuality -- a tired, smug, self-conscious pastiche of the former novel’s kudos. In the process, Welsh inadvertently draws attention to the loss of the energy that powered his explosive debut novel. . . .”

Novelist Terence Blacker warns in The Sunday Times that ‘Glue may open gently, traditionally and in English (a character uses the swearword "sugar" on the second page) but, after that, the author of Trainspotting, Ecstasy and Filth takes the urban saga in startling new directions. . . . Some years ago, it was said that the novelist James Kelman deployed more than 100 different usages of the f-word. Now (who says that modern fiction has not progressed?) Welsh takes the c-word and uses it with astonishing and effective frequency, sometimes even as an adjective ("a c***y policeman") or as a verb - getting "c***ed" is one stage worse than being "pished". Finally, saga-lovers should be aware that while there is less violence here than in Welsh's past work (a football riot, a few stabbings, dogs having their legs cut off, getting strung up and burnt alive) there are many spectacularly graphic scenes involving characters getting "a ride", an activity that does not involve equestrianism. . . .’

In The Evening Standard, Alexander Linklater wonders: “What is Irvine Welsh up to? The former poet laureate of the chemical generation has started hanging out with wide boys in designer trainers (at his local gym) and he's off the white stuff (cow's milk, that is). . . . Maybe being 42 has calmed down even this most resolute of British literary mutineers. His new novel, Glue, is large and ambitious. It returns to much of the same terrain as Trainspotting, but travels through and beyond the heroin, Ecstasy and even soccer subcultures that have been Welsh's themes to date. It has social context and history. It is, he says, more "compassionate" than anything he has written yet. Welsh may have matured. Then again, maybe only in the way that blue cheese matures. He already has his sights set on another book, one he is writing to cheer presumably the most fetid of hearts. "With Glue a lot of people will be going, 'That bastard has finally grown up and started to act his age'," he mumbles, all soft Leith patter and no movement of the lips. "But, with the next one, they'll realise I'm the same as ever; still a petulant brat showing off." Not that Glue is itself exactly fragrant. Welsh says he has a running joke that all his novels must contain at least four of the following motifs: abuse of "soap-dodging" Glaswegians, a graphic depiction of anal sex, the torturing of dogs, and at least one bed-soiling scene. For the sake of polite readers, let's just say the seaside burning of an Alsation in Glue ("ye cannae huv a proper beach barbecue withoot the hot dogs") is not the worst of them. . . . There's an instinct in Welsh to play up to the stereotype of the showing-off shocker as if to satisfy critics in their presumption that he's not really serious. "They've come to expect it," he shrugs. "You write those scenes in, then you write in the drugs, then you write in the swear words, and you just fill in the gaps. It's not much to do." But because Welsh can joke about his writing doesn't mean he's not in deadly earnest about what he does. He has sold well over two million books in the UK alone. For sheer originality, Trainspotting stands out clearly as the landmark British novel of the 1990s. An occasional shrug of unconcern, he confesses, has helped him to keep writing his uniquely peculiar books without being burdened by anything so daft as a literary reputation. Beyond a joke, then, what's the point of the filth in Filth, the rape and mutilation of Marabou Stork Nightmares, the orgy of excrement and spilt bodily fluids and self-hate that fills all his books from The Acid House to Glue? "It's like getting back into that age when there's no responsibility. It's f*** everything, f*** society. You've got no one to answer to except your own depravity." Then Welsh pauses, because inside his loose costume of revulsion tactics, there's a rather traditional Scottish socialist who sometime in the early 1990s discovered that the best way to hang on to a Utopian vision is to make contemporary political reality look like, well, shit. "It's a way of kicking back against the powerlessness; to control your own body, your own secretions. It's like that Freudian thing of withholding faeces," he adds, and then laughs with real warmth. "Except maybe expelling them instead." Welsh openly confesses that his political world-view is doomed; that even the rave scene he once celebrated as a vital working-class culture has become "bingo set to music". . . .’

The Guardian enables you to watch video footage of Irvine Welsh reading from Glue. Welsh has launched his own official website, Irvine, which includes two deleted chapters from his latest novel. You can also check out The Irvine Welsh Hole and Spike Magazine‘s Irvine


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