Author Archive | JoeNolan

Alice Goes Gonzo

alice

This year we celebrate the sesquicentennial of Alice in Wonderland — a landmark of kid lit and a cornerstone of psychedelic fiction. This probably won’t be my last post about Alice.

As a fantasy for the wee, Alice inspires illustrations, and it’s assumed that Walt Disney owns that territory. Little did I know that Ralph Steadman’s pen had penetrated Wonderland, bringing his pointed probings to the gonzo goings-on in this important tale about growing up and growing small…

Here, Steadman is cast as Alice’s godfather, the wizard with the wisdom to will the wild out of his charge, pointing her past the mundane to the mirthful, the macabre, the miraculous. See a collection of Steadman’s 1973 images at Brainpickings. Also be sure to check out this exhaustive Steadman documentary, For No Good Reason

Stay Awake!

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel where I archive all of the videos I curate at Insomnia.… Read the rest

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Charles Bukowski On Writing

Buk

I try to do all of my writing during the week. Songs I’ll write anytime. Poems anytime. But everything else gets pushed away at least once a week. It seems I’m always editing something or getting a blog post together by Sunday evening, but mostly, during the weekends, words are for reading.

Nowadays that means reading the articles I’ve streamlined into my Flipboard feed. I’ve got a pretty big ass phone at this point and it doubles as a very readable, little tablet.

This weekend I came across some news that a new Charles Bukowski book was going to be released. On Writing illuminates the author’s wordcraft with the help of a hitherto undiscovered cache of Buk’s letters.

“If a man truly desires to write, then he will. Rejection and ridicule will only strengthen him …There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face with death.

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Gonzo Box

Gonzo

I was recently reading a fun UPROXX article about Hunter S. Thompson’s appearing in pop culture. Of course this didn’t include the good doctor’s own contributions to said pop culture. This article mostly talked about biopics like Where the Buffalo Roam, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Rum Diaries. But it was also smart enough to mention Spider Jerusalem in the mix and savvy commenters were quick to add Colonel Hunter Gathers from the Venture Bros. cartoon.

I really like all of these Hunter happenings, but nothing beats the man himself. Here’s a bit about the Gonzo Tapes which give us the clearest glimpse we’re likely to get of the mad one’s demons and angels…

…from early missives on the Hells Angels and classic selections from Thompson’s seminal Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to trenchant 1972 presidential campaign coverage and reportage from the front lines of the Vietnam War.Read the rest

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City Lights Celebrates 60

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

When Gutenberg created the printing press, humanity took a massive leap in literacy, social equality, and political democracy. It’s hard to imagine in this day of tablet phones and digital literature, but after World War II the American paperback created a revolution of its own: it made books available for cheap and made publishing possible for all kinds of niche writing including that always-highly-touted, but-often-most-all-but-ignored object: the contemporary poetry collection. It wasn’t exactly the Gutenberg revolution, but the effect was impactful, widespread and, in the case of City Lights, sustained.

This year, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights paperback publisher and bookstore is 60. Here’s the Los Angeles Review of Books on the birthday and the publisher’s latest release…

Major cultural changes often result from individual vocation and choices. Ferlinghetti’s life story seems so characteristically American. He had a rocky beginning in life: his Italian father died six months before his birth and his French mother was sent to an asylum a few months after.

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John Lennon Animated

JohnLennonSketchbook

Recently, I was browsing through stories via Flipboard and I came across this delightful piece about a vintage animated short film based on John Lennon’s instantly recognizable cartoon doodles. Here’s a bit from the Brain Pickings site…

…six years after the beloved Beatle’s assassination, Ono commissioned independent animator John Canemaker to create a short animated film based on Lennon’s drawings, music, and interviews. Given her penchant for the intersection of art and philosophy, Lennon’s own quirky illustrations, and the odd fact that the couple’s love began in visual poetry long before they met, it was the perfect medium for commemoration.

Titled The John Lennon Sketchbook, the befittingly weird and wonderful film — a vibrant testament to our long cultural history of anthropomorphizing animals to illuminate the human experience — begins with Lennon’s iconic “Imagine,” features Ono’s song “The King of the Zoo,” and weaves in chillingly prophetic conversations from the limited-edition 1980 LP Heart Play: Unfinished Dialogue, the first interview album of Lennon and Ono’s interviews after the breakup of The Beatles and the second posthumously released Lennon record.

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Return to Roswell

Roswell

I think the J.F.K. assassination is probably the biggest conspiracy theory of all time, and it’s probably still the one that acts as the gateway for most folks who wander the mazes of the unexplained, the unknown, and the covered-up. The Roswell Incident is probably a close second contender overall and it remains the king of conspiracy theories where flying saucers and extraterrestrial visitors are concerned.

There is so much confusion about the alleged crash as well as the reports of discovered debris and rescued bodies that it’s hard to pin down the actual dates of the event itself. One thing is for sure: on June 24, 1997 the U.S. Air Force published it’s 231 page report Case Closed: Final Report on the Roswell Crash. Here’s The New York Times on the report, the incident and the conspiracy theory that won’t go away…

On June 24, 1997, the Air Force released a 231-page report titled “Case Closed: Final Report on the Roswell Crash.” It suggested the alien bodies witnesses reported seeing in Roswell, N.M., in July 1947 were actually life-sized anthropomorphic test dummies.

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40 Years of Jaws

Jaws

I’ve been posting about the 35th anniversary of The Shining over the last several weeks, but I thought it might be better to wait until it was officially summertime to post about the 40th anniversary of Jaws. The summer movie as we know it today didn’t exist until Jaws devoured box offices all summer long in 1975. Along with Star Wars‘ release in 1977, the pair of films changed the entire calendar of film releasing, creating the template for the modern blockbuster and put an end to the New Hollywood movement that made both of the movies possible in the first place.

Besides the game-changing industry impact of Jaws, the story of the making of the film was nearly as treacherous, desperate and paranoia-inducing as the plot of the film. From shooting on the open ocean, to doubts about the inexperienced director, Steven Spielberg, to the malfunctioning mechanical monster, it’s a wonder the movie ever made it to the screen.… Read the rest

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Porn On Psychedelics

PsychSex

The new Psychedelic Sex book published by Taschen this spring is currently being sold on eBay for $69. That’s a silly point to make about what amounts to a seriously in-depth look at what happened to the burgeoning culture of “men’s magazines” when they ran smack into the psychedelic revolution in the 1960’s.

During a tiny, titillating window between 1967 and 1972, LSD, the sexual revolution, pop art graphics and the go-go entrepreneurialism that’s always been the hallmark of the pornography industry all combined in a cauldron of hippie chicks, surfer girls and counterculture couplings that created “psychedelic sex.” While the freaks flew their flags of free love and good drugs in San Francisco, men’s magazine publishers were anxious to sell the revolution to the squares on the sidelines.

Magazines like Way Out and Where It’s At attempted to capture the aesthetics of psychedelic culture beginning at the place where the jeans and the fringe and the flowers hit the floor.… Read the rest

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The Future: 1972

Future Shock

It’s common for folks like myself and the readers of this blog to frequent sites and browse magazines filled with articles about leaps in information processing, advances in artificial intelligence, and the future of human/machine interfacing. It’s the 21st century after all, and even though many of our institutions and officials are woefully culture-bound to reality paradigms that were cast aside many decades ago, the rest of us are living in the future. We are busy helping to define what tomorrow will be instead of allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by perceived, pessimistic inevitabilities.

We’re used to these ideas and this kind of thinking in 2015, but we can also feel the anxiety of trying to maintain a sense of self and place when the very nature of information seems to be changing, and changing everything we understand about ourselves and the world around us.

Some folks saw this coming almost 50 years ago, and you can watch a movie about it.… Read the rest

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35 Years of Shining

The_Shining

This spring my favorite Stanley Kubrick film is celebrating its 35th birthday. The Shining was beat up pretty badly when it debuted in 1980 — Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall’s performances were panned and Kubrick was held responsible. Of course, years later, the film is considered to be a classic by the master.

In celebration, here’s a great little video game that allows you to follow the ill-fated Torrance family to the Overlook hotel. It’s a great celebration of the film that recalls many of its most famous scenes and tropes: steer the car though the mountain pass that opens the film, help Jack type his novel, navigate the hedge maze and progress through the game as each level is designated with a day of the week title card just like the chapters in the film.

Let’s Play: The Shining Video Game here

In addition, here’s Rob Ager’s analysis of spatial anomalies in the layout of the Overlook Hotel, one of the best documentary videos uncovering secrets in Kubrick’s masterpiece.… Read the rest

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