Thursday, 25 September 2014

Holiday Reading Part 1: The Beats: A Graphic History by Harvey Pekar and Ed Piskor

The Beats: A Graphic History is a graphic novel that chronicles the life of the three main players of the Beat Generation (Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg) as well as other lesser-known players. It's drawn in the style of American Splendour graphic novels and is cool in the same way. I always enjoy reading novels and it's especially effective with the beats in capturing their wayward style and jazzy conventions. 

The main three dudes lives are teased out, starting with a details of Jack as a kid til death, then Allen from Howl through his activism to death, and William's life kinda jumping all over the place (it skips all his former years and details of his junky-ism which I guess you can read in Junky anyway...). It's obvious the authors favour Jack and his life style and it makes sense because he was the most quintessentially beat - he travelled often, bummed out at his mothers often, drank often and eventually became a bit of a dickhead - but hey, that's Jack for ya.

The most interesting part is all the other players they give detail to. Some only get four pages while others are illustrated and written by guests. Players include Kenneth Roxroth, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Gary Snyder, Robinson Jeffers, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Bakara, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, City Lights Books, Kenneth Patchen, Philip Lamantia, Diane di Prima, "Beatnik Chicks" (Hettie Jones, Joan Kerouac, Joyce Johnson and Carolyn Cassady), Jay Defoe, d. a. levy, and Tuli Kupferberg. (Sorry for the extensive list, it's more for my sake than anyone elses, if you're interested in the subject I'm sure googling any of these people would come up with interesting results).

As you might have been able to tell by scanning that list, there are very few women. Thank god for the chapter of "Beatnik Chicks" or I would have probably hated this book. The chapter talks about the misogyny of the era and with the men even though it was, in parts, during the Hippie movement. It a little bit freaks me out that "free love" was such a huge thing when it's clear women weren't being respected like they should but, whatever, moving on...

This is a super great book for anyone interested in the beat movement as a whole. There's so much information available and it's great that Harvey and Ed have highlighted people who might not otherwise get much exposure in the mainstream. This book made me realise that poetry (most of the beats were "poets") can really be anything and I'm keen to check out some of the poets interested in nature like Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Robinson Jefferson and Diane di Prima.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Book Review: Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad

One of the most uncompromising adult science-fiction novels ever written. Its a new kind of SF novel. Vivid suspenseful, brutal and erotic, it has been condemned as 'depraved' and hailed as a masterpiece. The reader must make up his own mind...
Bug Jack Barron is a political sci-fi novel written in the style of beat poetry. Politics and death are main themes of the book but because of it's political tone it's able to touch on issues like race, poverty, murder, scientific experimentation and greed.

My first impression of the book (which I've talked about in a previous blog) was how strange the language was. It was written in 1969 and you can tell - it keeps with all of the tropes of the 60s - marijuana, acid, Tim Leary and the beat language all resonate throughout the book as well as heaps of references to presidents and race discrimination.

The main character and our hero, the forever suave and smart Jack Barron hosts the most popular TV show (Wednesday nights 8.00EST) called Bug Jack Barron. His hundred million viewers can call up and talk about what's bugging them and good ol' Jack will help them out by getting the big guns on the air live. What's super awesome though is the way the author feeds us straight into Jacks head. He does the same with the girl of the book Sara. You can totally tell that this guy has tripped acid (or could be tripping while literally writing the book) because of the way he lets sentences flow but also by the way he is able to show us the true intentions of the characters without it feeling contrived.

I'm not sure anyone who hasn't read any Jack Kerouac would like this book. The writing at times is like poetry and you have to follow the flow and rhythm to decipher exactly what he means. This sucked me in at the beginning because it was so interesting but by the end it was totally normal and added to the story (although I did start skimming some paragraphs that were labouring the point).

The main deal of the book revolves around a Freezer Foundation that, for $50,000, will freeze you when you time and unfreeze you when the scientists have worked out a way to cure you. Benedict Howards is the head of the Foundation and he is a total slime-ball power-hungry creep. He tries to recruit Jack and their little battle of the mega-power-minds is the cause of the entire book so I won't spoil it. Another reason why this book keeps so close to the tropes of the 60s - everyone is afraid of death and wants to keep living - a total acid-buddhist concept from the times.

The book was good fun to read but I think the author thinks he's smarter than he is. As soon as characters or plot lines were introduced I could tell exactly what was going to happen and I only kept reading to see how our hero Jack dealt with it. There are some cool scifi ideas in it (Jack has this crazy cool pad with kinesthope patterns (that mess with your brain/perception) and cool little gadgets) but it's nothing radical and a whole lot less than anything you'd find in any Isaax Asimov novel.

To be honest though I picked this up at a Lifeline Book Fair simply because of it's cover so I'm not sure how readily available it is in book stores or online. It was a fun experiment in picking up a random book and giving it a go and getting to the end. I've never really read a book that I didn't like, because, like, who the fuck has that time, but I think I will in the future because picking apart a book or author or voice you think is bad or boring or weird is pretty fun...

Friday, 19 September 2014

Wannabe Witch

The more I watch American Horror Story: Coven the more I want to be a witch. Well, maybe not a witch cause right now in the series (I'm up to episode 6) being a witch is pretty fucking scary. I mostly just want to dress like them, which is good because it doesn't require magical powers. What it does require is a lot of black... I particularly love the second girl to the left (ok I'm not 100% following names even though she's a main character) shoe/sock combo and midi length dress. They also have heaps of rad hats.

One of my favourite outfits so far was Fiona's (see I know one name!) funeral outfit. This dress has the most fabulous cape built into it and her gloves are amazing. I would definitely wear this if I was as fierce as her.

The most achievable look for me comes from Misty Day. I don't have/wear heaps of black so I really dig her Stevie Nicks-bohemian-I live in a swamp vibe. My hair is pretty similar to hers too so that would definitely make it easier to copy. Here is a bad example of her style:

Anyway, I'm halfway through and it's so gripping! I love how the story is fast paced and a night worth of action takes up 2 episodes without feeling like it's dragging on. There are so many subplots that they manage to keep super tight and I love guessing what's going to happen and how evil unsuspecting people are.

Sometimes it's hard to watch TV shows when you (vaguely) know how to write them. It's like, 'oh I know this characters going to come back because they haven't wrapped up their story line' ect. This show is definitely going to blow my mind at the end. Although I'm not sure if I want to move onto the other iterations once I'm done. Have you watched Asylum or Murder House?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Goddamn Write

I've decided to just goddamn write on this blog so prompt apologies for any bad writing/spelling or just boring content... But it's at the point where I really don't even give a fuck anymore. Or I've gone so far down the "don't give a fuck" hole of non-motivation that I've *boom* come through the blackhole and out the other side into "don't give a fuck" shut-the-fuck-up-brain and just do it!

I think my current motivation comes from two things. First because I've actually been exercising for once and, who would have known, it feels pretty good. I'm actually kind of mad at myself because I've been getting a bit, er, big (although on the plus size I have the biggest boobs I've ever had in my life) and I'm super lucky to be privileged with a body that responds quickly to exercise. Second because Ben's away. It's tough to be without my #1 partner in crime but it's nice to get to be by myself and do the shit that I normally ignore in order to hang out with him more. 

I am also fucking sick of working in an office. The photo ^above^ is so true! Sometimes I have to go to Avid Reader or Wrapture for lunch in West End simply to stare at the plants they have around. There's something so calming about green, living things. What I would really love to be doing is lazing about in a forest or near the beach or just anywhere at this stage. Luckily I'm going on holidays next week, *phew*.

Anyway, here's some other shit that's been happening with me:

Reading: Bug Jack Barron - I picked this book up at the Lifeline Book Fair and it's one of the strangest scifi books I've ever read (even though I haven't read that many and there are SO MANY I'm sure there are weirder ones). At the start I was intrigued by it's beat-like language but the plot was a little slow. It was written in the 60s and you can definitely tell. First of all weed is legal and sold in cigarettes, then there are heaps of references to Commies and acid-taking, inc. Tim Leary. Death and immortality are major themes and I'm super keen to finish the book (and write a review soon).

Watching: American Horror Story: Coven - I've seen this around forever on Tumblr and I was always curious. I finally downloaded it now because 1. Ben's away and he's a scaredy cat and 2. I haven't watched a TV series alone for so long, it's so freeing to just watch at whatever pace I want (pace is 1 episode a night, builds the ~suspense~) and it is FUCKING AWESOME. I had pretty low expectations and it is totally blowing me away. I can't believe it took so long for me to watch this TV show that is so well made and not cheesy or cliche in any way. Plus it has a great soundtrack and Stevie Nicks is a witch *aaaaa-heavenly-noise*

Relieved: I've moved out. Cleaning and moving is THE WORST. On par with doing tax.

Wanting: New clothes - Just any new clothes please. It's really tough to like fashion and be poor. I want to do a post on Fashion week soon though because, at heart, fashion blogs are definitely my favourite blogs and one of the reasons I want to blog myself - not so much for the fashion, more for the ability to write and express in a fun way about fun things. I also would like some new shoes because right now I have 4 pairs (sneakers, sandals, classic vans, vans slip-ons) and it really is not enough. Plus I look more unprofessional in my office job than previously... Oops.

Anyway, hopefully just writing this will get my ~flow~ going and I will write again on it soon. If you read all of this I love you (and you probably already know because it's either my mum or my boyfriend)

Book Review: Indian Journals by Allen Ginsberg

These journals weren't the super inspiring, self-revelatory diaries you would expect. It’s more of a place that Allen uses to write down all his poetry and thoughts and because he’s super famous that = published book. Lucky dude.
But seriously, I know Allen’s voice so well that I love any of his poetry. His voice and his ability to create images in the readers mind made me get totally lost in this book. Like, have you ever been reading a book on the bus and looked up and had to fully re-orientate yourself about where you are in reality? That’s this book.

He loves and seems obsessed with India’s openness with death. He lives near the burning ghats, where every day sadhus (holy men) come to attend funerals and burn the bodies next to the sacred Ganges. It reminded me a little of Shantaram but much more focused on the death and on the melting bodies, etc. I was surprised that there wasn't more spirituality explored in the books. He keeps up the essential-beat drug taking (morphine and ganga) which is interesting where he writes under the influence.
I wouldn't recommend this to someone who doesn't already like Allen Ginsberg. It’s more for adding to your understanding of his life and influences as a whole than just how India influenced him. Best read with large available chunks of time. Also includes cute pictures of Peter (his boyfriend) and Allen with long beards and lush jesus hair, as well as not so cute pictures of deformed beggars and street people.