Articles by JoeNolan

I received a strange knock on my afternoon door earlier this week, followed by the sound of something hitting the wood floor in the hallway and hurried footsteps fading down the stairs….


The good people at Destiny Books/Inner Traditions recently sent on a new volume that finds some of magic’s most mysterious writings collected in one book for the very first time. With Decoding the…



CyberpunkGood day, Cybernauts. We’ve been enjoying this endearing flick for some time, but are just now getting around to posting about it.

Cyberpunk is a 60-minute documentary from 1990 that serves as a charming bookend to the William Gibson documentary No Maps for These Territories. While Gibson is featured prominently in this doc, it also expands out to illuminate an entire slice of the late ’80s/early ’90s culture that used to be featured in the late, great Mondo 2000 magazine.

Cyberpunk Review offers these insights:

Cyberpunk is a documentary that looks back at the 80s cyberpunk movement, and more specifically, how this has led to a trend in the “real” world where people were starting to refer to themselves as “cyberpunk.” The documentary sees “cyberpunks” as being synonymous with hackers. A number of writers, artists, musicians and scientists are interviewed to provide context to this movement. The guiding meme, as told by Gibson, is that information “wants” to be free. 60s counter-culture drug philosopher, Timothy Leary, provides a prediction that cyberpunks will “decentralize knowledge,” which will serve to remove power from those “in power” and bring it back to the masses. Many different potential technologies are discussed, including “smart drugs,” sentient machines, advanced prosthetics — all of which serve to give context to the idea of post-humanity and its imminent arrival on the world stage.


Me and mine were all saddened last week with the news of the passing of one of the true great originals of American popular music — Captain Beefheart. The man who was born…



Keith RichardsVia Joe Nolan’s Insomnia:

Inside the dust jacket of his new book, Keith Richards has left an inscription:

“This is the Life. Believe it or not, I haven’t forgotten any of it. Thanks and praises, Keith Richards.”

Perhaps the most highly-anticipated rock autobiography ever, Life is the most detailed account we have yet of the legendary guitarist/songwriter.

Richards has lived his life in public since his early 20s and he’s always lived it in the full-glare of the media — bad publicity be damned. That said, this book is not a confessional reassessment in which a public figure offers explanations — or excuses — for past sins. Richards greatest music and worst behavior are a matter of public record and Life doesn’t offer a new version of events so much as it delivers his version, and it’s full of crazy wisdom, smirking sarcasm, raspy rambles, heart and soul.

While other volumes — like Victor Bockris’ excellent Keith — have revealed the man through the eyes of friends, family and Rolling Stones insiders, it’s Life‘s first-person candor that sets it apart. Not only does Richards give us the straight-dope on Keith, he also illuminates the rise of rock ‘n’ roll and the ’60’s counter-culture from inside the eye of the hurricane. Life is also about the creative life of one of rock’s most important guitarists and songwriters, and the book’s rich detail is at least partly due to a life lived on the look-out for the next song, the next riff.




Here is an interesting match-up… Pioneering esoteric filmmaker Kenneth Anger gets interviewed by pioneering esoteric filmmaker Gaspar Noe in this match-made-in-heaven (hell?) tete-a-tete:

Kenneth Anger, the octogenarian American underground filmmaker, has largely been heralded as one of the founders of experimental film, with his role in inspiring directors such as Martin Scorsese and David Lynch. He pioneered queer, cult and psychedelic film without ever imagining himself in a gere, and this year he crossed over into fashion and created a piece (with longtime collaborator Brian Butler) for the Italian fashion house Missoni.

Gaspar Noé, director of the recent film Enter the Void and creator of the controversial film Irreversible, has long been a vocal supporter of Kenneth Anger…


Want your very own copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls? You’ll soon be able to access the ancient writings in their – sort of – original form thanks to this interesting new…


The internet has become an eternal shore for moving images of all kinds. A nimble search with creative keywords will almost always reveal compelling films and television episodes washing up in the…


Ray Lowry the Clash London CallingThe image of Paul Simonon smashing his bass on the cover of The Clash’s London Calling is one of the most iconic images in all of rock ‘n’ roll. While you can’t always judge a record by it’s cover, in this case, you can.

London Calling is a great record in a great looking package, but Marcus Gray’s new book  Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling is a different story. While the book’s cover – and its title – implies that this volume is an examination of the band’s 1979 release, and a critical analysis that would argue it’s place among rock’s best records, covers can be misleading.

This is actually much, much more…


In October of 1993, Bill Hicks made his last appearance on Late Night with David Letterman…sort of. In October of 2010, Hicks is funnier than ever. Hicks was a favorite comedian on…


Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted. The wonderful Brion Gysin was a writer, painter, filmmaker and restaurateur. He was a friend and collaborator to William S. Burroughs. Burroughs said of Gysin, “He…


Good morn, good readers.

I woke early to a cloudy Sunday in the Old South, however, this dark little gem has polished my resolve. Wrap yourself in melancholy and join Terence McKenna for this trip through the history of The Great Work.

Terence McKenna’s The Alchemical Dream: Rebirth of the Great Work is a 2008 film produced by the good people at Sacred Mysteries.


As always I’ve been staying up late and fishing the ‘net for the flashing, magical treasures you’ve come to expect from our sleepless trollings on this sea of dreams. My latest find…


Joe Nolan borrowed this post from his friends at Art Czar.

Hector Hernandez does a great series of super-short artist-interviews on the Czar site.

This is a micro-chat with Heavy Metal quilter extraordinaire, Ben Venom:

Question: Tell me about “Bang Your Head”

I’m interested in juxtaposing traditional handmade crafts with one of the more extreme musical genres, Heavy Metal. My work can be described as a collision of Iron Maiden Metal ballads with the outrageous stage antics of Ozzy Osbourne. Serious, yet attempting to take on a B movie Horror film style where even the beasts of Metal need a warm blanket to sleep with. The question remains…Can I play with madness?


Pirate Radio USAVia Joe Nolan’s Insomnia:

Hello friends. This weekend I discovered an entertaining and eye-opening pirate radio documentary online: Pirate Radio USA.

Given the post-Clinton legalization of media monopolies, the subject of pirate radio has once again become a hot-button topic. Pirate radio broadcasters use homemade technologies to take over radio frequencies, broadcasting without licenses, outside of FCC rules and regulations.

Pirate radio has become a form of civil disobedience. The various subjects of the documentary fight directly against the corporate media by simply “stealing” FM bandwidth to broadcast their radical, rocking messages. Of course, the irony is that the airwaves above the United States are owned exclusively by the public.

How can you steal what you already own?


This just in… So it seems that it sometimes takes a number of arty types to explain something as fundamentally proletariat as  humble, timeless blue jeans. I’d love to go off on…



Last night I discovered a documentary about the band Joy Division. In a recent post about the post-punk chronicle Totally Wired, I mentioned the films 24-Hour Party People and Control. Both movies cover the rise and fall of Joy Division and their troubled leader Ian Curtis. While both films have their virtues, it seems the strange tale of Joy Division is best met head on, and this exhaustive doc does the trick.

(Joy Division cover the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray”.)


Simon Reynold’s acclaimed first volume of post-punk memory sifting — Rip it Up and Start Again — went a long way toward exploring and explaining the various flowerings that bloomed from the bruised and bloodied blossom that was ’70s punk rock. If you thought one volume of exhaustive, evocative reconstructing of the period would suffice, you would be wrong, and Reynolds proves this point with Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews. The project is a bookend to the first volume and it completes an impressive cartography of that time and that music.

Totally Wired is largely an oral biography; the story of a place, a time and a music told by the people who listened to it, created it and lived through it. Serving up 32 interviews with everyone from David Byrne to Jah Wobble to James Chance, Totally’ (Along with Rip’) must certainly qualify Reynolds as the definitive chronicler of the period. The later chapters of the book practically constitute a project unto themselves, allowing Totally’ to deliver an even clearer, deeper explanation of just what came after punk.

The interviews begin with Ari Up, the lead singer of The Slits. The delightful miss Up is a fantastic storyteller and her remembrances of being the only dread-headed white girl step-dancing at Reggae parties are spellbinding — as are her recollections of a time when Punks, Rastas, Sticksmen, John-Travolta-disco-sadists and neo-Teddy Boys all collided on the street and on the stage as a new music attempted to rise from the ashes of punk.