Friday, 30 April 2010


Marilyn Monroe's writings

Marilyn Monroe, in her own words
April 27, 2010

On Tuesday, publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux announced that it would be publishing Marilyn Monroe's writings in a new book, "Fragments," this fall.

"She was a great reader and someone with real writing flair," editor Courtney Hodell told the Associated Press. "There are fragments of poetry that are really quite beautiful, lines that stop you in your tracks."

Monroe was married three times: to James Dougherty, four years her senior when she was just 16; later, to baseball great Joe DiMaggio; and then to playwright Arthur Miller. Rumors of affairs abound -- particularly one spurred by her sexy birthday song for John F. Kennedy -- and editor Hodell is being tight-lipped about what hints might lie in the upcoming book, saying only, "there's stuff about all of her relationships here."

Even if the book doesn't reveal any long-held secrets, chances are Marilyn devotees will still want to pick it up, as it will include a handful of never-before seen Monroe photographs.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Tonight's set lists

A new venue - the Rook and Gaskill, Lawrence Street, York. And what a gaff - a bar teeming with real ales and a landlord who hates larger drinkers. Heaven!

Set 1:
Heart Of Gold
I Don't Want To Talk About It
Out On The Weekend

Followed by a free pint (or 2)

Set 2:
Long May You Run
Love Song

Shooting Down Pictures: Night of the Demon

See also

Night of the Demon and the BBFC

As atmospheric and genuinely suspenseful as Jacques Tourneur's Night of the Demon is, the horror is largely psychological and the apdearance of the demon itself, even bearing in mind that this was the era of movie monsters like Them! and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, comes across as awkward rather than terrifying; however, during the production stages, there were several conflicts with the British Board of Film Classification.The first version of the script was called The Bewitched and was written by Charles Bennett, who had collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on a number of films. An early draft of the script was submitted by producer Marcel Hellman to the BBFC (at the time known as the British Board of Film Censors) in January 1955 in the hope of getting an A certificate to attract a teenage audience.
The anonymous examiner (known only by the initials AAA) returned a long list of concerns, at the root of which lay the fact that no rational explanation was given for events in the story – in other words, the “goings-on are clearly intended to be supernatural.”

She said, “I cannot suggest any way of making this story ‘A’. Even for ‘X’, we do not want the picture (which hangs in Karswell’s room) of the Black Mass, or any references to it. I am not sure whether we want the séance or not [because it is not exposed as fake]…” A number of scenes were objected to, including:
The pursuit of Harrington by the Thing (with the sound of its panting)
Harrington’s notes about the Thing
Karswell’s tricks at the party – bringing a snake from his hat and frightening the children
Woodcut of ‘dinosaur’ accompanied by thunder and lightning
The séance
Supernatural cat
Karswell’s terror-stricken flight and death

The fear was that teenagers would be able to suspend disbelief more than adults…
Another fear was the Americanisation of the picture – presumably a reference to the type of horror in the film. Bear in mind that educationalists, religious and political figures in the country were also objecting the way American horror comics of the time were ‘corrupting’ the youth of Britain.
A second examiner (BBB) doubted that an X was enough, particularly scenes like Holden’s confrontation with the cat while looking for Karswell’s book and the Thing’s pursuit of Holden.

Hellman tried submitting the script to the Motion Picture Association of America in the hope of getting it accepted for a younger audience. Although it received a more considered and careful opinion, objections were made to several scenes, like the séance, the depiction of the Black Mass (“should not be orgiastic”) and some of the language used (“hotter than hell” and “For God’s sake”). The Director of Production Code Administration, Geoffrey Shurlock, recommended that Hellman consider the Association’s recommendations and make changes.

Again, the script was submitted to the BBFC. This time, a different examiner was equally hostile:
“[Some] scenes are horrific, as the monstrous shape or its ‘white leprous hand’ are seen; its victims show abject terror, and the script makes it clear that terrifying effects are to be obtained from the music.”
Bizarrely, he highlighted differences between the script and the M. R. James story it is based on and noted that the depiction of the Black Mass (in a painting, remember), showing demons dressed in masks indulging in an orgy with ‘lissom, unclothed young women whose lovely faces are infinitely evil’ had to be cut. Amongst other sequences he thought had to be cut was one in which a boy pulled a cat’s tail! Dialogue considered (but not objected to this time) included, “You can take a running jump at yourself” – presumably, this was because it was euphemistically saying, “Go fuck yourself!”

Like AAA, he objected to the fact that the first page of the script pointed out that the film would be a “light-heartedly dramatic excursion into what might or might not be the supernatural” – presumably because the events depicted were most certainly supernatural.

AAA weighed in with her opinion again, saying it could only be considered for an ‘X’ certificate.
Hellman made a personal phonecall to A. T. L. Watkins, Secretary of the BBFC, on 11 March 1955, and a note sent in reply later that day made his position that it should receive an ‘X’ clear: “ The supernatural element, with its steady building up of fear, and particularly the fear of darkness could not… fail to be terrifying to children.” He added that it was impossible to suggest cuts that would guarantee it an ‘A’.

As the script underwent re-writes and new producers came on board (Hal. E Chester, Clive Nicholas and Frank Bevis) much of Bennett’s humour was dropped – in favour of a more adult approach to the supernatural as it became clear that the film was to be aimed at an ‘X’ audience.

Several examiners at the BBFC saw the new draft of the script and were pleased it was to be aimed at an ‘X’ audience, but concern was expressed that this should not open the door to unlimited horror and bad taste and one called for the complete omission of Hobart’s praise of Black Magic and the picture of the Black Mass, noting: “I disliked particularly the sequence… where Karswell’s skill at conjuring before a delighted group of children is followed by a storm provoked by his malignant power so that the children are screaming with fear and running in terror.”
Secretary Watkins stressed that there limits as to what could be shown, even with a an ‘X’ certificate, noting that “great deal will depend upon treatment” and the final word rested with the examiners after they had seen the completed film. However, he still advised on a number of specific points:
Shots of the monster should not be too revolting
Harrington’s death should not be overdone and there should be no shots of him on fire or twitching in agony
The portrayal of children’s fears calls for reasonable restraint – i.e. don’t exploit the children in the fear to emphasise the horror
There must be no description of the rites of devil worship
Hobart’s madness and jump through the window must not be depicted in detail
Restraint must be shown in the pursuit of Karswell by the beast and the sounds, including screams, should not be too excessiveAn amended script was sent to the BBFC on October 23, less than a month before shooting was to begin. AAA was the examiner and she noted that there were even more references to Devil worship she didn’t think they would make too much of an impression on the audience. She noted the continued presence and wanted the removal of the Black Mass painting and the description of the true believer. A number of other sequences disturbed her, such as the death of Harrington and the appearance of the beast, the climax of the séance, Hobart’s leap to death and she specified that there should be no shot of Karswell on fire.
In the final letter from Watkins, he warned that any references to “devil worship” should be removed (and the phrase avoided); the Black Mass painting should be removed; and the points noted by AAA should be taken into consideration; however, he added that the final decision would rest with the examiners on seeing the completed film.

The BBFC ordered only one cut – in Rand Hobart’s speech while under hypnosis. They said the filmmakers needed to “Reduce Hobart’s cries when he escapes for the first time into the audience, and the close shots of Hobart’s face when he is being spoken to and interrogated by psychologists; and remove his words, “We blaspheme and desecrate … in the joy of sin will mankind find itself again.”” An X certificate was recommended and it was noted that several earlier drafts had been seen.See Tony Earnshaw - Beating the Devil: The Making of Night of the Demon (The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television and Tomahawk Press, 2005)

And let's not forget our own

Mr Happy and Nico


Last night's setlist

At The Habit, York - Da resists playing Neil - bigger shock than Gordo's gaffe!

Love Song
Rescue Her Tears
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
I'm The Urban Spaceman
The Long And Winding Road

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Brown and the Bigot Bounce

You just got to love Gordon and hope that the polls show a 'beat the bigot bounce' over the next seven days. In the spirit of the election, please vote from the following four locations for Friday night:
1 Tilleys
2 The Bridge
3 Fitzgeralds
4 Camp David (Da's choice)...

Man of the Moment?


Nico with Mr Happy

Monday, 26 April 2010

It could only be one man ...congratulations Da.

Bob and Andy and Elvis

Aplogies in advance to anyone who gets pissed off at this, but here's a great post (with a couple of extra pictures) swiped from Fred@Dreamtime at that excellent Dylan site, Expecting Rain:

"Thought this might be of some interest. I was commissioned about a year ago to see if I could locate a specific photo taken during (actually, after) Dylan's visit to Andy Warhol's Factory in 1965. As I would assume most ERs already know, after Dylan's "screen test" that day he was either given or appropriated (depended on the teller) a Warhol silk screen , known as either a "Silver Elvis" or "Double Elvis." According to Warhol, he "gave" an Elvis to Dylan, Other accounts have Dylan and Warhol kind of doing a "you're cool, man," "no you're cooler, man" potlatch dance around each other that ended with Warhol reluctantly giving the Elvis away. Still other accounts have Dylan saying "I'll take that (the double Elvis) as payment [for the screen test]," and Dylan's crew, which included Bobby Neuwirth and Victor Maymudes (sometimes spelled as Maimudes), hustling the painting down the freight elevator before anyone in Warhol's camp could object.
Silver/Double Elvis

Andy: I liked Dylan, the way he created a brilliant new style... I even gave him one of my silver Elvis paintings in the days when he was first around. Later on, though, I got paranoid when I heard rumors that he had used the Elvis as a dart board up in the country. When I'd ask, 'Why did he do that?' I'd invariably get hearsay answers like 'I hear he feels you destroyed Edie [Sedgwick],' or 'Listen to Like a Rolling Stone - I think you're the 'diplomat on the chrome horse,' man.' I didn't know exactly what they meant by that - I never listened much to the words of songs - but I got the tenor of what people were saying - that Dylan didn't like me, that he blamed me for Edie's drugs.
Bob and a single Silver Elvis

Some accounts have the Dylan station wagon as red, other as blue. Almost everyone agrees that Dylan's people strapped the even-then extremely valuable painting to the top of the car and drove off. As noted above, reports eventually floated back to Warhol that Dylan had thrown the Elvis in a closet, had hung it upside down, or was using it as dart board, all apparently designed to show his disdain for Warhol. All accounts - including from Dylan himself - have him later trading the Elvis to his manager Albert Grossman for a sofa/couch. Grossman's widow, Sally, later sold the painting at auction for a reported $750,000.

Bob: I once traded an Andy Warhol "Elvis Presley" painting for a sofa, which was a stupid thing to do. I always wanted to tell Andy what a stupid thing I done, and if he had another painting he would give me, I'd never do it again.

The photo was described to me as one or two people from Dylan's posse (Bobby Neuwirth probably being one of them) tying the painting to the top of a station wagon. The shot appeared to have been taken from one of the Factory windows - several floors up - shooting down at the top of the station wagon. But, the person who commissioned me warned me she had only had the photo described to her and her description was probably off. There was also a possibility that the photo didn't even exist, or was faked. One person I spoke to was convinced that it was probably a staged publicity shot taken for the "Factory Girl" bio pic.

Research indicated that if the photo existed, the most likely candidates to have taken it were Nat Finkelstein, Gerard Malanga, or Billy Name. But given the time and the atmosphere, nearly everyone in Warhol's camp shot photographs, and it could have been anyone in the crowd who was there that day. There was a slight possibility that Barbara Rubin, who was filming footage of Dylan that day and who was the person who brought Dylan to the Factory, might have taken the shot.

I won't bore you with details of my ongoing year-long research efforts, which was mostly sending email, making phone calls and either not getting any response or getting answers that confused the issue even more. Suffice to say that the Warhol Museum had never heard of the photo. First-hand accounts by people who were there had Nat Finkelstein following Dylan out at ground level shooting photographs all the while, and Gerard Malanga watching - and possibly photographing - from a window, indicating that Malanga had probably taken the photo I was looking for. But Gerard Malanga's representatives told me that the photo was taken by Billy Name. Name, who now runs a goat farm in upstate New York, said it wasn't his and he didn't know the source. Barbara Rubin told me she suspected Nat Finkelstein was the photographer.

In fact, all the evidence built up to point at Finkelstein, who was the author of almost all the published photos from that day. While I had a slew of Finkelstein contacts/representatives, I wasn't getting any responses from any of them. I finally found a very obscure personal email address for Finkelstein and sent off a message. I got a one-line response from him...

"I have it." ... and weirdly, he attached a photo of a street scene which fit the basic description, except there wasn't any station wagon and no one tying anything to the top of a car. Some further back-and-forth with Nat convinced me he did have the photo but, that for his own reasons, he wasn't going to talk with an intermediary about it. So, I passed on his contact info to my client along with my belief that Nat had the photo, and closed the book on the project.

A few weeks later, Nat Finkelstein passed away. Out of curiosity, I contacted my client and asked if she had been successful in getting the photo. She replied she hadn't, had had a few exchanges with Finkelstein's wife, had been sent some contact sheets from that day, but the photo wasn't part of the group.

More months passed, and I received an email from a research forum where I had posted what info I had about the photo almost a year ago. An intern from a Tucson, Arizona gallery noted, "We have it."

And indeed they do. If you go to Nat Finkelstein's portfolio at the Eric Firestone Gallery:

Look in the lower right corner above the copyright and you can see the station wagon with Double Elvis strapped on top. Dylan is chatting with Barbara Rubin behind the car.

Andy Warhol and The Can that Sold the World

Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World by Gary Indiana

By Serena Davies
Published: 12:03PM BST 19 Apr 2010

Gary Indiana, an American polymath and conjurer of nifty aphorisms, has written a book about Andy Warhol and the 32 paintings – each entitled Campbell’s Soup Can – that comprised his first solo exhibition in 1962. These, Indiana says, “were the first shots of a total revolution in American culture”. This was when Warhol started doing his version of pop art better than anyone else. Here was the sly joke of an art that treated cheap commercial products with the reverence usually assigned to portraiture; the elision of high and low art – at a brush stroke.

These soup cans were painstakingly executed in a traditional medium (oil) yet had no discernible character in the way traditional painting has, “no aura”, no meaning. When Indiana quotes some adverse comments from the time, they sound like a vindication of Warhol’s gesture. Jules Langer, for instance, wrote of how “the initial shock” of the pictures “wears off in a matter of seconds, leaving one as bored with the painting as with the object it presents”.

If you elevate surface over content, as Warhol did with his cans (and his Marilyns and his Lizs), then your work is only skin deep and boredom a natural response. Yes, life is boring, says Warhol: face it. During his impoverished childhood he had to eat Campbell’s soup every day and he found it so dull he never touched it again.

Warhol is in many ways an easy artist to write about: his cynical art is still in tune with our own times. Indiana’s short text is full of neat phrases about Warhol, such as his notion of the “empty secret” Warhol promised. He encouraged all that mystery around his person and his art, when, Wizard of Oz-like, there was nothing behind it.

As Indiana traces the biographical and art historical context for the cans, and then the diffuse, corrupt world of the Factory that they spawned, is he saying something new about this overfamiliar artist? There is his surprising comparison of Warhol with Orson Welles, which springs from the fact that when Warhol would have been eating his Campbell’s soup, Welles was broadcasting plays on the radio that Campbell’s sponsored. Both men’s celebrity, Indiana says, came to dwarf their artistic reputation, both grasped their significance as a brand, both were manipulative, both had late career slumps.

Indiana likes Warhol, thinks he was a genius, and particularly adores his thumbs up to the abstract expressionists that came before him and those artists’ “star-spangled clichés of cowboy individualism”. But his book feels most exciting when he expounds on Warhol’s dark side and how his importance was not necessarily a good thing. Importance connotes the baleful as well as the salubrious, Indiana says. With Warhol, finally, he is leaning towards the baleful.

“It is possible that [Warhol’s] importance was, and is, that his art and life changed what Americans consider important,” he writes. And what were the characteristics of Warhol, the man and his cans, that have become so important? “Commodity, consumption and celebrity worship” as well as “velocity, vicariousness, instant obsolescence, the erasure of historical memory, and the three-second attention span induced by the mass media”. It is not a pretty list. As Billy Name, a Factory acolyte, more emphatically puts it, Warhol left behind “hell, as we know it”.Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World
by Gary Indiana
192pp, Basic, £12.99