Monday, December 13, 2010

ERASERHEAD on Sundance Channel

Sundance Channel running will be running David Lynch's Eraserhead in the coming weeks. (Several newspapers and the Sundance website show it as screening tonight at 7 PM; however, Cablevision does not have a listing for this evening.)

In my opinion, one of the major avant garde films of the 70s, more as a disturbing and gross film, like Bunuel's sliced eyeball, which, though not in and of itself violent, one that shocks and ties in with a lot of the blood and guts horror and zombification that became so popular through the present day.

One of the seminal films of 1970s, David Lynch's cult debut feature is a surreal and unforgettable nightmare about the emotional perils of parenthood. In a desolate industrial landscape, Henry Spenser (Jack Nance) learns he has fathered a premature creature and later fantasizes about a lady performing on a stage in an old radiator. The unique creation of a singular artist-visionary. Selected for the Library of Congress's National Film Registry. "An ingenious assemblage of damp, dust, rock, wood, hair, flesh, metal, ooze" -- Village Voice.

Sundance here

CODA: Remembering David Wojnarowicz

Back in the late 70s, post college, when the economy was in the tank in many ways, as it is now, I worked for the Bookmasters chain. I started as a clerk and eventually became the Evening Manager of the lower Penn Station Store. "Bookies," as we called it, wasn't huge, with the breadth of say, Barnes and Noble or Borders, or the scope of many independent bookstores, such as BookCourt in the Heights or Park Slope's Community Bookstore. But it was a fairly large chain, that did a good amount of business in its locations in midtown (upper and lower stores at Penn Station), Lincoln Center (which served as the location for Brian DePalma's "Greetings" featuring a very young Robert DeNiro) and Grand Concourse in the Bronx.

Anyway, it was at Bookmasters that I met David Wojnarowicz, a fellow employee in those retail wars. David was tall, imposing, deep voiced (more basso profundo than baritone, as I remember him), and funny (in equal measures witty and sarcastic, but friendly in his humor). We were more co-workers and casual acquaintances than close friends. Most people at the store had artistic agendas that the retail work supported, I knew Daivd first as an aspiring writer. My interest was in journalism. I remember a bunch of us from the store, and David's crowd, out and about one night, going to a party at someone's place (maybe it was David's, I don't remember) on Court Street near State Street.  I remember the partygoers from the store meeting on the West 4th Station after work to take the train back to Brooklyn when someone told us that John Belushi had died from an overdose. After Bookmasters closed, David's talent and celebrity/notoriety expanded by leaps and bounds, as he  moved further into the visual arts. We were in touch periodically through the 1980s, often by correspondence (I have some wonderful, illustrated letters that David sent to me from his time in Paris). I remember, when he was in France, he sent me a few francs and asked me to send him some periodicals that he couldn't obtain there. I remember having brunch at the Cornelia Street Cafe with him and a woman I was dating at the time (who later, after we broke up, may or may not have hit on David -- good luck with that).
I also remember, during the Reagan era, I attended an anti-nukes rally in Manhattan that I was reporting on for NOW-NY and some other publications, and bumping into David and being introduced to Peter Hujar near Union Square. Another time, in NYC, David called and suggested I keep an eye on the "Soho Weekly News" which published a large spread of David's "Arthur Rimbaud/David Wojnarowicz" photos. I also remember seeing him perform in the band "Three Teens Kill Four," and in a performance piece with Brian Butterick, "Leaning with that Grey Beast of Desire."  We lost touch along the way as I moved into journalism, public affairs, marketing, and eventually the public sector, anything that would give me the opportunity to write, express a little creativity on the job, earn a buck and still have the time to explore a little freedom to write and create for myself. By then, David had clearly moved into the stratosphere of the LES art world.

As a person, David was interesting, funny, very deep; yet, seemingly, a regular guy. Obviously, he wasn't: As an artist, he was ferocious, a force of nature, daring in his explorations and revelations. Fearless, as an artist and as an activist.

As Holland Cotter reported in the front page article on the censorship/removal of David's film from the exhibition at the National Portraits Gallery:

"In response to questions during his courtroom testimony against the American Family Association, Wojnarowicz explained that he made the piece after returning to New York from a stay in France, where he had been reading Genet. Back in New York, he was struck by the rampant and rising use of hard drugs among people he knew and the self-destruction that resulted. He said that in his own upbringing as a Roman Catholic he’d been taught that Jesus took on the sufferings of all people in the world.

“I wanted to make a symbol that would show that he would take on the suffering of the vast amounts of addiction that I saw on the streets,” Wojnarowicz testified. “And I did this because I saw very little treatment available for people who had this illness.”

I don’t believe Wojnarowicz was being disingenuous. He was speaking under oath and, in any case, he was nothing if not passionate about his belief in the moral purpose of art, as passionate as his religious accusers have been in questioning his morality. It’s an interesting thing about passion, how coming from ostensibly opposite beliefs and directions, it can sometimes end up meeting in the same place." Full article here 

As an artist and a man, as with so many other young people from that era and after, gone too soon.

--Brooklyn Beat

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo