I like Mark Thomas, the British Socialist (with a big capital "S") activist/comedian. He cuts to the heart of what he percieves to be wrong with curreI like Mark Thomas, the British Socialist (with a big capital "S") activist/comedian. He cuts to the heart of what he percieves to be wrong with current British politics.
His idea for this book was to go around and ask 'the great unwashed' what sort of governmental changes they would like, then publish them.
Lots of the suggestions I found quite sensible and funny, too. I dunno, though - I suppose I was hoping for more radical, anarchic ideas. I suppose Thomas's dyed-in-the-wool Socialist tendencies prevented it from getting too far out....more
T.S. was the hepster's hepster. He hung out with some of the Beats, particularly Burroughs (whom he refers to with the moniker "Dr. Benway") and GinsbT.S. was the hepster's hepster. He hung out with some of the Beats, particularly Burroughs (whom he refers to with the moniker "Dr. Benway") and Ginsberg. He wrote the script of "Dr. Strangelove" and accompanied The Stones on part of their 1972 tour. He was even in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention, where he reported on the police brutality.
Sometimes, while reading his stuff - you may sense a familiar style, almost as if you've come across it before. Now, I don't know if it's fair to say that T.S. 'invented' the "gonzo" style, but if he didn't, he was one of the first to incorporate it into mainstream journalism. Long before Hunter S. Thompson became the face of gonzo.
"Now Dig This" is a mixed bag of potential screenplays, interviews, humour pieces he wrote for "The National Lampoon" and stories of his time in Paris in the 1950s. I really enjoyed reading about his exploits, even though some of the Paris ones tended to over-lap.
I recommend it as a good primer from one of the true insiders of the American counter-culture....more
**spoiler alert** "The Rotters' Club" was recommended to me by my brother-in-law, shortly after the BBC mini-series was shown on the toob. He had read**spoiler alert** "The Rotters' Club" was recommended to me by my brother-in-law, shortly after the BBC mini-series was shown on the toob. He had read the book before then and thought I would like it due to the many prog band references.
The story centers around Benjamin Trotter, a public school boy living in Birmingham, England in the 1970s. B'ham seemed like a pretty grim place during that time, with the erosion of the workers' unions, terrorist activity by the IRA, 3-day work weeks, power cuts, etc. Ben mostly hangs out with his erstwhile mates, Philip and Doug, tries to form a prog-rock band, writes articles for the school newspaper and nurses his crush on Cicely Boyd, the typical 'popular girl' that everyone's trying to date. Ben also has a precocious younger brother, Paul, who embraces the Tory takeover in the late 70s, as the socialist ideas of the Labour Party were stagnating.
Ben's sister Lois meets a "hairy guy" called Malcolm, though a lonely hearts ad in muso-mag, Sounds. They get together and Malcolm introduces Ben to off-beat prog like Henry Cow and Hatfield & The North (whose second album gives the book it's title). Lois and Malcolm date for a year and as Malcolm is about to propose to Lois, the pub they are both in explodes, due to an IRA bomb. Malcolm is killed and Lois, who survives, is transformed into a mute recluse for a few years.
This sort of bittersweet quality informs most of the book. The kids' parents have unfulfilling affairs, Ben has a religious epiphany, but later returns to his initial ambiguity about the topic. Phil's prog band dream crashes around him, only this leads to the others in the band forming a punk group, meeting with some local success. Ben goes out with a girl for a short time, but his unhappiness leads him to seek out Cicely again. There are lots of other plot threads, some get resolved...others don't.
I really enjoyed this book, it brought back memories of being an awkward teen. Some themes seem universal and location and points in time are just details. I deducted a star for the episode where Doug travels to London to visit the NME office, ends up at a Clash gig and beds a 20-something woman he met earlier in the day. That bit just seemed thrown in as a cheap device for character development--the way films do when a character will just "go to Vegas" on a whim.
For that small complaint, though, I still stand by "The Rotters' Club" as an enjoyable read. Any book that describes Henry Cow as "The Yardbirds getting into bed with Ligeti, then driving through the ruins of a divided Berlin", has two characters calling their prog-rock band "Minas Tirith" and name-checks Gryphon is just alright with me.
As the title suggests, this book is a collection of Huxley's writings on his psychedelic experiences and what he perceived about the drugs being usedAs the title suggests, this book is a collection of Huxley's writings on his psychedelic experiences and what he perceived about the drugs being used for the benefit of humans (which led to his last novel, "Island"). Included are his letters to Humphrey Osmond, the British ex-pat psychologist experimenting with psychedelic therapy in Canada, Albert Hoffman, who first synthesized LSD in 1943 and, of course, Timothy Leary, no introduction needed.
Huxley, an English intellectual to the end, communicated his perceptions of the psychedelic state of mind very eloquently in his texts (especially "The Doors Of Perception", from which a snippet is provided in 'Moksha') and lectures given to various groups of congregated scientists at various conferences. His letters seem most interesting though. An almost behind-the-scenes look at the very early psychedelic movement, before the wave crested in 'the Sixties'.
The final chapter, written by Huxley's second wife Laura, sees Aldous off into the bardos--with two small injections of LSD at his request. One of the first great 20th century psychonauts given his own gentle version of a Viking funeral....more
The total print run of the legendary counter-culture/alternative newspaper "The San Francisco Oracle" has now been encapsulated onto one CD-ROM by it'The total print run of the legendary counter-culture/alternative newspaper "The San Francisco Oracle" has now been encapsulated onto one CD-ROM by it's founder, Allen Cohen.
A view of the issues presents a fascinating look into the 'golden era' of the Haight-Ashbury community. Some of the articles are very much of their time, but some still seem scarily relevant to now. An earlier version of the "Oracle", printed in 1966, presents a group of anti-war protestors holding a vigil outside a munitions base, while weaponry is being dispatched to Vietnam. The protestors are taunted by local pro-war/'patriotic' types, have objects thrown at them...even violently attacked. The local police do very little to help the protestors. Sound familiar?
There's also what you might expect, plenty of articles about psychedelic drugs, some record reviews (the one for The Beatles' "Revolver" is worth reading--just for the fact that it was written before the legend surrounding the album began), neighborhood reportage and events listings. Loads of great artwork by some of the leading S.F. doodlers, like Rick Griffin, made it into the paper as well.
A DVD is included with the CD-ROM, showing the history of the paper, along with interviews of Cohen and cohorts--but I haven't got round to watching it yet. The set seems essential for those who want to know more about the most famous American alternative community in the 1960s.
The controls for the CD-ROM are a bit awkward, which is why I didn't award it five stars....more
I won't add a whole lot to the other reviews here. This is the first Mailer book I've read, after hearing intriguing things about it from other authorI won't add a whole lot to the other reviews here. This is the first Mailer book I've read, after hearing intriguing things about it from other authors and friends.
I have to admit, Mailer discussing himself and his actions in the first part of the book did throw me off a bit. Was he really trying to convey his own life as fiction and have the reader buy that concept? Brave and foolhardy in equal measures?
I also admit to being a little bored at the start of the book - Mailer's escapades hanging out with the East Coast literary elite, venting his spleen at his fellow writers didn't exactly make for fascinating reading. His boozed-up speeches at an anti-war rally held in a theatre just made him seem a bit of a self-important twat to me.
By the time he gets to the "March On The Pentagon", I began to respect him a bit more. He still clings on to his 'importance', keeping with the other "notables" (as he calls the celebrity marchers)--but eventually ends up watching The Fugs perform an ad-hoc exorcism (my fave bit of the book, b.t.w.) and getting himself arrested. His brief stint in a cell with other protesters is told in suitable claustrophobic prose and you can sense his joy for freedom when he is released the next day.
Mailer takes the second part of the book to present the march in the cold light of hindsight and it's importance in modern American history. He still shows contempt for mostly everyone, but especially the "Old Left". Mailer also falls for the "LSD causes brain damage" line--saying that the psychedelicized youth are "exploding bombs in their brains". Oh Normy. I guess he softened his stance on that when he appeared in John Lennon's hotel room in Canada two years later, in 1969, where Timothy Leary and his wife Rosemary, both well-known acid-heads, were. Or was that just another photo op for Mailer? I'd like to hope not....more
"My name is Tucker Max and I'm an asshole.." Mate, your name is "Tucker" and you attended law school, so the second half of that sentence seems redund"My name is Tucker Max and I'm an asshole.." Mate, your name is "Tucker" and you attended law school, so the second half of that sentence seems redundant to me.
The humor here seems to be the continuation of a long line of misogynist, sometimes crypto-racist, mostly Caucasian males: Andrew 'Dice' Clay, Howard Stern, Morton Downey Jr., "Animal House" (while funny, did spotlight frat-boy antics), Frank Zappa's more misogynist moments (think "Dinah-Moe-Hum" and "Jewish Princess") and on and on. In the 90s, Max's type were labelled "mooks"--beer guzzling, baseball cap-wearing, aggressive & obnoxious. He seems to be a curious mutation, though--the upper-class mook..he's still a knuckle-dragger, but he's read a few books, instead of treating them like Kryptonite.
He "disregards social norms"...by drinking alcohol, a legal drug--usually in bars or restaurants, where it's legally acceptable to do so. Get this, he copulates....with WOMEN, no less. This critter is off the f**kin' CHAIN! He's had sex with multiple partners..oh man, where *will* his rebellion stop?! When he drinks too much alcohol, he vomits--that's just insane! He has a crowd of sycophantic gits with names like BrownHole, Mudskipper and LungFish (O.K., I made up the last two - but you get the idea), who follow him around, laugh at his lame jokes and attempt to bask in the glory of "the Tucker".
Seriously, I just didn't find any of it that funny--I know people keep going on about how hilarious this bloke is, but maybe I just don't "get" frat-boy humor. I mean, the type of wit we're dealing with here is stuff like: "I was about to have buttsex, known in the biz as 'anal'..." Oh really? I thought it was called "tromboning"--thanks for clearing that up for me. He makes fun of an Asian girl's speech and actually types "Rike" for "like". He insults a pot-smoker by telling them they "smell like patchouli and bong-water"--my sides are splitting. I can get low-brow as much as the next guy or gal, as long as it delivers the funny--Max doesn't deliver at all, he doesn't even get close. Also, he likes to refer to himself in the third person quite a bit, which does my head in, especially when bad writers do it.
Anyway, I've wasted enough time and effort on reviewing this mediocrity. Since I don't believe in "Hell"--'The Tucker's penance can be to plant trees to replace every scrap of paper used to print his "book", while being fellated by an ill-tempered badger.
1/2 a star and a "W" rating (for Wwwwwwwwwwanker)...more
A work colleague lent this to me, as a bit of a joke, I suspect. I may have mentioned that I'm a big Robert Anton Wilson fan, so maybe he figured I woA work colleague lent this to me, as a bit of a joke, I suspect. I may have mentioned that I'm a big Robert Anton Wilson fan, so maybe he figured I would be intrigued by this conspiracy theory.
Smith's book centers around the H.A.A.R.P. (that's "High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program--I know...I hadn't heard of it either) installation in Alaska. The U.S. government and the Air Force are claiming that it's a facility for studying the ionosphere and aurora borealis. Smith posits that the Conspiracy (yep, he spells it with a capital "C", as in one all-powerful group, like the Illuminati) are using it for much more sinister deeds...mind control, radio-wave black-outs--even..*gasp*..weather control!
It's certainly an interesting topic, but unfortunately, Smith's writing seems so dull that I was wondering if he were part of the Conspiracy, sent to numb my brain with his prose. He refers to inventor Nikola Tesla as a "mad scientist" and speculates that a machine of Tesla's may have caused the Tunguska Explosion, which happened in 1908. H.A.A.R.P. is mainly an extension of Tesla's work, according to Smith...which means we're all in trouble--y'know, if you believe that.
This seems to be the type of book where you keep waiting for the aliens to appear...and sure enough, Smith spins off into a bit about the "Face On Mars" for a few pages, about three-quarters of the way through. He also regurgitates the "Nazi scientists working for the U.S. after WWII" stories and the government experiments on unwitting soldiers in the 1960s and 90s ("Gulf War Syndrome")--both of which do add some credibility to his theories. No hollow-earth stuff, but the publisher of "H.A.A.R.P.", Adventures Unlimited Press, has plenty of books on that, if you're interested.
I suppose I learned a few things I didn't know about radio frequencies and about Nikola Tesla, but for a book with just over 230 pages, I found it a bit of a slog. The book was published in 1998 and Smith (to my knowledge) hasn't followed it up yet. I strongly suspect he's gloating about the Asian tsunami of 2004 and global warming in general, saying "I told you so..it's the Conspiracy and H.A.A.R.P." Uh-huh. In a weird synchro-mesh--Muse (the band) have titled their new live DVD "HAARP"...maybe they're part of the Conspiracy as well......more
I read this one on a bit of a dare to myself, to check out something I usually wouldn't get near. You may be able to tell that Mr. O'Reilly isn't realI read this one on a bit of a dare to myself, to check out something I usually wouldn't get near. You may be able to tell that Mr. O'Reilly isn't really 'my cuppa'.
My father (who likes Bill a *lot* and is a regular Fox News viewer) owns this book and I found it while staying at the folks' place.
It seems to be pretty much what you get on O'Reilly's TV program. He stresses his "working class" Irish-Catholic roots, charts his rise through various network news jobs and of course, tells the reader what's good for America and the children.
Apart from a very few wry observations, I grew tired of Mr. O'Reilly's smug tone after the first few chapters. His act of imitating Clint Eastwood's demeanor while stalking corridors at whatever job he was working at, seemed to ring hollow and cheesy to me. The nadir of the entire book, though, is when he's discussing his nightclubbing adventures in the 70s. The idea of that actually made me shudder--though I suppose I did get a humorous image of B.O'R. with medallions and a white disco suit, permed hair and a Tom Selleck 'tache lounge-lizarding around his local disco.
Maybe I could rate it two stars just for that...or 1 and a half....more
I wanted to like this book a lot, I really did. I enjoyed Pinchbeck's first book, Breaking Open The Head, aside from the couple of tedious Burning ManI wanted to like this book a lot, I really did. I enjoyed Pinchbeck's first book, Breaking Open The Head, aside from the couple of tedious Burning Man chapters. It seemed to be an honest exploration of psychedelic states of being by a confused, if well-meaning, Manhattan literary party-boy.
I was excited when I first heard that "2012" was being published. I thought it would be a fresh perspective on the whole "end-of-the-Mayan-calendar"/"herald-of-a-new-age" scenario that was first brought to my attention by Terence McKenna and his TimeWave Zero theory. It seemed as if Pinchbeck were stepping up to the plate and was going to pick up where McKenna left off, after McKenna's passing in 2000.
I skimmed some reviews of "2012 - The Return Of Quetzlcoatl" (as the first edition was called)...and many were middling. Undaunted, I thought it was just the cynical contingent of the mainstream press. I checked some reviews over at GoodReads and it seemed to be the same. Hmmm.... Now, I realise that anything with "prophecy" in the title (as stated in the edition I have) has the fundamentalist materialists and dogmatic rationalists reaching for their revolvers, but I thought there would be a lot more praise for the book. I decided to finally give it a go.
In "2012", Pinchbeck has devoted his energies to studying the prophecy that a new age will emerge in December 2012, which the Mayan calendar shows as the end of the world, or just the end of the current age, depending on your view. He jets off to Oregon to hang out with Jose Arguelles, who's created a new calendar based on the original Mayan dates. He visits England several times, specifically the Glastonbury area, to study the crop circle phenomenon. Mexico becomes a destination, so Dan can view the Mayan architecture. He goes to Burning Man again (urgh!), but this time the festival isn't so groovy, man--and finally he journeys to the Amazon rain forest, to learn about Santo Daime, a local religion which grafts the disparate strains of old tribal customs and Romish Catholicism into a peculiar ritual. The participants swallow cupfuls of ayahuasca, then sing and do a two-step dance for up to 6 hours.
All the while, he's having relationship problems with his 'partner'. She's never given a name, she's just his partner--though she is described as 'beautiful and svelte' (Pinchbeck wants you to know he's no chubby-chaser). The couple have a child together, which seems ill-advised, as he relates that their union was a bit unstable from the outset. These bits were really where Pinchbeck lost me. In an afterword to the paperback edition, he states how he included all this personal detail to 'invoke a deep enough response in readers that if might incite a shift in perspective'. Erm..that didn't happen for me, mate. It just seemed a bit voyeuristic to me, his tendency to let his audience in on his somewhat private soap-opera, involving his 'partner', another woman he meets at a psychedelic retreat in Hawaii, whom he insists on referring to as "first priestess" (she doesn't have a name either, apparently) and his little girl (again, no name). One chapter is devoted to the partner's father, for no other apparent reason than to compare him to Pinchbeck's own father. He also can't seem to stop exploiting his connection to the Beats (his mother dated Jack Kerouac at the height of his fame), as if that somehow lends him some extra credibility.
In spite of the more frustrating aspects of Pinchbeck's narrative, I did enjoy parts of the book. I really liked the crop circle bits, though I've never really given much thought to the phenomenon, putting down most (if not all) of the designs down to hoaxers. I found myself looking up the various formations Pinchbeck discusses to get a better idea of what he is describing. He didn't convince me with his various theories, but I did think that maybe hoaxers weren't responsible for all of the circles. Some of the Arguelles chapters had interesting segments - but then Pinchbeck inserts some caustic New Yawk intellectual screed, completely dismissing Aleister Crowley, but he buys most of Arguelles' Mayan reincarnation schtick. His visit to the Hopi reservation seems a bit of an anti-climax, but the words of the tribal chief almost redeem the plodding structure of the chapter. The book ends with an eco-warrior message about humanity's destruction of the environment and a possible redemption in the next 6 years (well, it's down to 3 now). Pinchbeck doesn't seem concerned that all of his jetting about might've added to all that pollution....'cos it was like, for the book, man.
So, for all that, you get a somewhat middling book (I have to agree with a lot of the reviewers) about 2012 and what may happen. For me, it seems a bit of a wasted opportunity--too much about the author, not enough about the actual phenomenon. When he's not talking about his own foibles, he's borrowing ideas from McKenna, Arguelles, Robert Anton Wilson, crop circle devotees and a host of others. It seems that maybe Pinchbeck started believing his own press and yeah, that Rolling Stone article didn't really help things. It appears that he wants to join the psychedelic pantheon and have his name amongst the greats (Wilson, Leary, Huxley, McKenna, Kesey, etc.)--but I just don't know if he makes the cut. Going by "2012", I think he's got a ways to go. ...more