BY CRISTIAN SALAZAR VIA AM NEW YORK
Michael Alig, once known as the “King of the Club Kids” and who went to prison for manslaughter, is pictured on the left with Mykul Tronn and Caroline Lanson at Club El Morocco at 54th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. (Jan. 7, 1989) (Credit: Ed Quinn)
The nightclubs of the 1980s and 1990s were often wild landscapes that attracted even stranger nocturnal animals. The Club Kids, led by impresario Michael Alig, turned places like the Limelight into backdrops of drug- and techno- induced drama, while live music dens like the Village Gate presented stages to some of the great jazz musicians of the time. But as with everything in the city, the scene is constantly changing, and looking through the rare images below is a reminder of how fleeting it is. These photos, spanning from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, give us glimpses of what it was like at such iconic clubs as the Limelight and Wetlands Preserve. Let the party begin.
On the Poetics—and Elusive Subtext—
of Kanye West’s Poem About French Fries
Who knew that Kanye West’s feelings about McDonald’s French fries were so complicated they could only be expressed in verse? Over the weekend, West published a poem in Frank Ocean’s zine Boys Don’t Cry, which came out in conjunction with Ocean’s new album, Blonde. The magazine is 360 pages long, flush with interviews and photography and poetry, but West’s stanzas are what push it to the edge of sanity. They are great, in their way. They go like this:
Continue reading KANYE WEST’S POEM ABOUT FRENCH FRIES – Slate.com
BY NOLAN FEENEY VIA EW.COM
It’s not every day that the cast of an upcoming ensemble film—like the women-led Ocean’s 8 project—is as good as the one you dream-cast in your head. But EW confirmed Wednesday that Warner Bros. is finalizing a coterie of stars that includes Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina a.k.a. rapper and comedian Nora Lum. That last name might not mean as much to the masses as, say, RiRi or Bellatrix Lestrange—at least not yet—but here’s why you should get excited anyway.
Her claim to fame is a hilarious viral video Awkwafina made waves on the internet with 2012’s “My Vag,” a response to Mickey Avalon’s “My Dick” that she first wrote and recorded on GarageBand when she was 19.
By Legs McNeil
(Unedited VICE column)
“Really Arturo, ABBA?” I shake my head in disbelief, as I enter the
loft where the Swedish rock band is blaring from the record player next to the table that holds the entire Ramones silk screen operation—one long counter equipped with a wooden silk screen, cans of white acrylic paint, and stacks of black T-shirts. Arturo is busy making another pass with the squeegee over the latest model of the new Ramones logo, the one with the names of Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and Tommy encircling an American Eagle that’s clutching a baseball bat in one talon and an apple tree branch in the other. It will become their most famous design ever.
BY LINDSAY BAKER VIA BBC
The Neo Naturists were a group of women who blazed a trail with their nude happenings. Lindsay Baker takes a look back at their flamboyant performances.
“Stunned silence” was the audience reaction to a performance art piece by the Neo Naturists at London’s grand Royal Opera House, says artist Wilma Johnson, one of the group’s founder members. The naked cheer-leading routine with body paint and pom-poms left the entire venue in shock. The live-art group had been invited to perform at the fund-raising event by the ballet dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. It is Johnson’s favourite memory from the time. “When I was a kid I was chucked out of ballet school because I was really gawky,” she tells BBC Culture, “so to silence the Royal Opera House was amazing.”
The Neo Naturists blazed a naked trail of disruption, confrontation, chaos and confusion through the 1980s London underground art scene, creating their nude happenings in front of bemused audiences at clubs, galleries and various public places, where the women often arrived unannounced, launching into their performance guerrilla style. Wild, non-conformist and provocative, the group was nevertheless largely forgotten, but is now being rediscovered, and has reformed for a retrospective of their work at the Studio Voltaire gallery in London.
BY PETER HOLSLIN VIA L.A. WEEKLY
Keith Morris’ new book is just as raw, fast and fucked up as one of his songs. As the founding vocalist of Black Flag, co-founder of the Circle Jerks and now singer of SoCal quartet OFF!, Morris is one of the great screamers of hardcore punk. Some of his best songs are barely over a minute long, but they’re packed with vein-popping intensity.
Now, in My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor, 60-year-old Morris rips through his own personal history of L.A. hardcore oblivion. The book, out next week on Da Capo Press, is as punk as a tell-all memoir gets. Morris fires shots at former bandmates like Greg Ginn of Black Flag and Greg Hetson of Circle Jerks. He name-checks punk legends and coke dealers alike. And he documents his journey from a hard-partying Hermosa Beach fuck-up to a clean and sober music industry warhorse in unflinching, occasionally hilarious detail.
BY PATTI SMITH VIA THE NEW YORKER
This piece is drawn from the postscript to “M Train,” which appears in the paperback edition of the book, published this week by Vintage.
I grabbed my brown watch cap, slipped on an old tweed jacket I bought in a street bazaar in Tangier, and walked over to the Caffe Dante. I read for a while and was about to scribble a few thoughts in the margin when I dropped my pencil. As I bent to retrieve it I was tapped on the shoulder by a stranger.
“I was wondering if you could recommend some books for me to read.” I looked up at him a bit bemused. I was about to mention that there were no fewer than fifty of them cited in my current book, but I realized that would be presumptuous, as there was no guarantee he had even heard of it, let alone read it. Instead I wrote down a few titles on a napkin—“Suspended Sentences,” “Wittgenstein’s Poker,” “Shantytown,” “Heart of a Dog”—and handed it to him. Afterward, it occurred to me that I hadn’t written down the book that was open before me, “18 Stories,” by Akutagawa, nor the one in my pocket, “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras. Some weirdness on my part. A childish possessiveness—I had staked them as my territory, their atmosphere particular and concurrent to my own.
BY DAVID PESCOVITZ VIA BOING BOING
In 1965, John Lennon, George Harrison, Cynthia Lennon, and Pattie Boyd were having dinner at a dentist friend’s house. The dentist put LSD in their coffee without telling them first. When he revealed what he had done, John was pissed off, and rightly so. “How dare you fucking do this to us?” he said. Rolling Stone’s Mikal Gilmore has the story and an animated interview with John about their first trip on LSD and the secret history of Revolver:
“It was as if we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a horror film,” Cynthia Lennon said. “The room seemed to get bigger and bigger.” The Beatles and their wives fled Riley’s home in Harrison’s Mini Cooper. (According to Bury, John and George had earlier indicated a willingness to take LSD if they didn’t know beforehand that it was being administered.) The Lennons and Harrisons went to Leicester Square’s Ad Lib club. In the elevator, they succumbed momentarily to panic. “We all thought there was a fire in the lift,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971. “It was just a little red light, and we were all screaming, all hot and hysterical.” Once inside at a table, something like reverie began to take hold instead. As Harrison told Rolling Stone, “I had such an overwhelming feeling of well-being, that there was a God, and I could see him in every blade of grass. It was like gaining hundreds of years of experience in 12 hours.”
BY MATTHEW SPECKTOR VIA VOGUE
Image: Courtesy of Random House
The following essay appears as the introduction to Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A. by Eve Babitz, published by New York Review Books.
Any writer may be in or out of step with his or her time, but a great one is inextricably bound to place. Whether native or in exile, certain writers have a tone and temper in their work that is so conditioned by and suffused with the locus of their creation that it becomes almost impossible to consider these things separately. Such is the case with Eve Babitz, whose novels are richly Californian, not just in their regional particulars—I can think of no cultural artifact of any kind that better preserves Sunset Boulevard, circa 1974, than Slow Days, Fast Company—but also in their method and in their mood. This is a strength, naturally: Babitz’s Los Angeles is as idiosyncratically true as William Faulkner’s Mississippi, and as distinct from that place as it is from Joan Didion’s L.A., with which it nevertheless overlaps. Still, there is sometimes an irritating tendency, one as sexist as it is parochial, to imagine Babitz’s work as an accidental, perhaps even unimportant by-product of her glamorous biography. I am loath to bring it up. Babitz attended Hollywood High. Her godfather was Igor Stravinsky. At 20, she was famously photographed playing chess in the nude with Marcel Duchamp. (Only she, alas, is nude. The artist was dressed.) After that—well, to start laying out the names of Babitz’s paramours is to begin building the wall that obscures our view of her work. Even if the famous names factor into the work, which they do—Babitz’s books are nothing if not gossipy—is it important to our understanding that one of her lovers was, say, the lead singer of a famous ’60s rock band who died in a bathtub in Paris, or that another went on to star in an even more famous trilogy of science-fiction movies, and so on? Kind of. But the moment those names are named (in Slow Days, Fast Company, they’re largely pseudonymous, or brushed aside in a way that feels aptly dishabille), Babitz ceases to be the heroine of her own literary biography; she becomes just another flytrap, a not quite cautionary tale, a party girl spattered with genius instead of (this distinction seems important) an actual genius who just happened to, y’know, like to party. Of which, so what? The 20th century is littered with fabled male geniuses who enjoyed their opium, their reefer, their booze and sex and cocaine, but very seldom are these particular titans introduced drugs and conquests first.
BY JUDY BERMAN VIA VILLAGE VOICE
Photo: Barbara Klein
Twenty-eight years ago, Christa Päffgen suffered a heart attack while riding her bicycle through the stifling heat of an Ibiza summer. A cab driver found the musician, actress, and Velvet Underground vocalist — better known as Nico — lying by the side of the road and drove her to the hospital. Though official reports vary on the details, what’s certain is that she died of a cerebral hemorrhage on July 18, 1988, at the age of 49. In the documentary Nico Icon, her son, Ari, offers a more poetic interpretation of her death: “It’s the sun that killed her.”
Those dazzling, murderous rays of light suffuse Killer Road, a musical tribute to Nico out September 2 on Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones Records. The collaboration between Patti Smith, her daughter Jesse Paris Smith, and the genre-defying sound artists Soundwalk Collective aims to evoke Nico’s final hours, layering Patti’s readings of the singer’s lyrics and poetry over a soundscape that combines music with field recordings from Ibiza. “I thought of July as very specific, at the peak of the heat and the sound of the crickets,” says Stephan Crasneanscki, Soundwalk’s founder and the project’s mastermind. Born in Ukraine and now based in New York, he spent summers on the island as a child and remembers its temperatures inducing “[a] kind of trance.”