Monthly Archives: August 2010

Leonard Cohen – Book of Longing

I found this radio demo of ‘Book of Longing’ by chance some time back and played it many times before it disappeared – it has now been reposted. It is so good it should be released as a track by itself hypnotic base, drums and sax.



It was Bukowski’s birthday (16th August) – the LA Times alerted me.

“I was drawn to all the wrong things: I liked to drink, I was lazy. I didn’t have a god, politics, ideas, ideals. I was settled into nothingness; a kind of non-being, and I accepted it. It didn’t make for an interesting person, I didn’t want to be interesting, it was too hard.” Women

More than any writer of recent times he made himself and East Hollywood a person and place you wanted to know. In an uncanny way, he made himself the writer you knew without meeting. The story of publication with John Martin and Black Sparrow is a hell of a ride – one that given the state of the publishing industry today makes you shake your head and wonder what went so horribly wrong. How and why did the spivs take control? Moneybags spivs walked in one day and a good part (the best part) of writing and publishing gave up the ghost and died. What happened to that generous reader, writer publisher spirit that John Martin recounts, those early days – he wasn’t imagining or romanticizing it. It was there. (It’s still there in pockets and angles and bolt-holes all over – the connectiveness reliant on the Web – the spivs are desperate to colonise and control the Web now as well.)

Back then when publishing was open for any and all business John Martin said  to Bukowski – I’ll give you a hundred dollars a month (we’re talking late 1960s) and you just write for me. I’ll publish you. Just go and do it. Bukowski went off and wrote Post Office in a whirlwind.

John Martin is still a beacon in a wilderness we really should call –  information control – or entertainment froth – or laugh your way to the little bank blues – not book publishing, not anymore.

Bukowski made you laugh out loud about things that were no laughing matter. He just made his humanness (really, Chinaski’s) matter to you. No one has captured him yet on film. Mickey Rourke and Matt Dillon – put them together, maybe (Jeff Bridges could do Bukowski really well). Or as a friend said – Mickey Rourke now – yes, Rourke or Bridges could do Bukowski now.

Any film takers out there? Any producers with the heart to try again?

ElephantEars Press

France, by land rover

France. I have been going in the series 3 every year taking old furniture down to Italy or just going for the hell of it, across/under the channel down through France up over the Alps into Italy (you have to see Liguria’s Cinque Terre at least once in your life) – the rest of the time the old car sits idle outside.

As for so many things, time is running out for the old land rover. Old cars are not liked anymore. They are smoky – I won’t defend them more than this: emissions of 24/7 trucks, high octane fuel guzzlers, the factories etc etc, one old car on one month annual trip (no city driving for me) doesn’t add up to much – not in my arithmetic. Not more than 50 mph (in fact 40 mph) is my way and motto (I’d like to put a sign on the back saying – This goes less than 50 mph.. on principle! – as well as by design). It’s not only the bunches of flowers every few miles – where do all these hearts go when  they leave the road..we don’t need to know the details…they’re gone.

How much more you see going slow.

photos by Valentina

One France I know is magic, sometimes a melancholic magic – rivers, fields, towns (to die for, towns so many did die for), little ordered graveyards along the way to forests, mountains, plains. But I can’t sit back and say nothing about these evictions by the police.

Where do the developed countries think their labour forces come from (bus drivers, street sweepers, factory workers). Oh I forgot – all these poor and hopeful immigrants are freeloaders on the state, not cheap labour at all for moneybagging developed nations. That’s what the exploiters want us to believe  – we and Africa, South America, and vast swathes of Asia know better.

The West uses, abuses and discards. Reading some wonderful memories in essays of what New York (New York Calling ed. Marshall Berman) used to be like even in the not so distant past, before Rudi Giuliani began building his ‘political career’ by killing diversity, giving the bankers and other users etc the chance to move in and tear down, throw up condos, destroy the art that the city used to grow on every edgy noisy street corner. It all’s babbitts now whatever they are – John Strasbaugh ‘From Wise Guys to Woo-Girls’ describes one property owner taking out contracts on low-renters to get his hands on their apartments.

Where is the heart, the meaning of community, ‘this land is your land this land is my land’, where is the belief that we all share this planet (being an old car user – I aint perfect)..but where are the Bohos, the ex-centricos, the buskers, the old guys and girls who have ‘lived here all their lives’..where is all this redevelopment going? I look in London and wonder how the architects could even think of putting this up  – the plastic crap that’s dead inside a year – whatever happened to weathered brick? Where’s the spirit of Lou Kahn?

We have to think this through, again, claw back meaning, humanity, the street belief, the daily art and human show, somehow.