Eric Rohmer – Nadja à Paris (1964)

“Occasionally, unintentionally, triggered by a smell or an old tune, my mind drifts to that time when Paris didn’t resemble the USA at all, when life on the street and screen was similar and our days appeared like the films of the nouvelle vague. There was something breezy about reasons then, why you did this or that, no clear motivation or Hollywood endings. Of course there were American films around but many were quite good, nothing like the bang-bang violence we now dump all over the globe. Those films didn’t crush or overwhelm others in quantity (a reason why they were so admired) and you could also see French, Italian, Polish, Czech, or Russian films any time. There was a cinematheque, which for students was one franc. Most of us were poor and so we worried about three essentials—a room, the student restaurant, and a subway card. The cafés were livelier then, full of intrigue and gossip. You studied there, met friends, ate, drank—and whoever had more at the time paid. They were our living rooms in a way, convenient, warm places with a telephone, all for the price of a cup of coffee. I was in love with Paris, either what it was or what it suggested. It was still a nineteenth-century city, gray, slow-moving, with people at the center. We strolled, we looked at each other carefully, and nobody talked much about the future. When I attempt to describe my years in Paris, no one believes me, I can tell. It was too Hollywood-dream perfect. Here is Nadja coming out of the student restaurant, minding her own business, and who should appear next but Eric Rohmer who stops her (‘Why you of all people?’ they ask) and within minutes he wants to make a film about her life. ‘What were you wearing?’ is a standard question. My answer doesn’t make them happy: blue jeans, a shirt, white sneakers, no makeup, very short hair—so short that some sweet old people often referred to me as mon fils, my son. A sixteen-year-old boy is what I looked like, apparently. When I tell them next that I was not interested in his offer because I had plans to hitch to Greece the following week, they laugh, they snicker. A likely story. But why should I have been impressed? I had no idea who this tall blond man was, he wasn’t the Eric Rohmer yet, and maybe I wouldn’t have been impressed even if I knew. In my eyes, he belonged to a sad world of grown-ups, a married man with children. …”
NYBooks (Video)

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Pearls Before Swine – One Nation Underground (1967), Balaklava (1968)

One Nation Underground is the debut album by American psychedelic folk group Pearls Before Swine. It was released on the ESP-Disk label in October 1967. It was recorded at Impact Sound in New York City, between May 6-9, 1967, by the Florida-based group, which at that point comprised main songwriter and singer Tom Rapp, Wayne Harley, Lane Lederer, and Roger Crissinger. Percussion was by session musician Warren Smith. The album presents a mixture of styles – ‘psychedelic folk reminiscent of Donovan collides with Farfisa-driven punk and hard-to-categorize repetitive minimalism, all thrown together with the undisciplined, creative exuberance of youth’. ‘Another Time’ is an acoustic song, the first that Rapp ever wrote, based on his experience in a car crash where he walked away unscathed, and, with “Morning Song”, represents the most characteristic example of Rapp’s later writing style. … The album became the most successful ESP release ever, estimated to have sold between 100,000 and 250,000 copies. Early vinyl copies came with a small poster of the Hell panel from Hieronymus Bosch‘s Garden of Earthly Delights, a detail of which was used on the front of the album sleeve. …”
W – One Nation Underground
Crawdaddy!: 1967 Psych: Pearls Before Swine vs. The Beatles
Balaklava was the second album recorded and released by psychedelic folk group Pearls Before Swine in 1968. … Rapp has stated that he wanted to produce a themed anti-war album, and chose the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854 as an example of the futility of war. The album was dedicated to Private Edward Slovik, the only United States soldier executed for desertion during the Second World War. The front cover is a detail of The Triumph of Death by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, showing a grotesque allegorical depiction of the horrors of war, while the back cover showed a photograph of a young girl at an anti-war protest taken by Mel Zimmer. The cover also included the quote ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’ by George Santayana, together with surreal and horrific drawings by avant-garde artist Jean Cocteau. The cover contributed to the mystique surrounding the group: few if any photographs of its members were published, and Pearls Before Swine did not perform in concert until 1971. …”
W – Balaklava
YouTube: One Nation Underground [Full Album] 43:43, Balaklava [Full Album] 30:56

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Welcome to the trip of your life: the rise of underground LSD guides

“Steve has cops in his family, so he doesn’t tell many people about his work as an underground psychedelic guide. The work takes up a significant amount of his time – around once a week, he’ll meet a client in their home or in a rented home, dose them with MDMA or hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms, and sit with them while they trip for up to 10 hours – but he doesn’t tell his siblings, parents or roommates about it, nor his fellow psychology PhD students. They would probably never guess, either: Steve doesn’t display any signs of involvement with a stigmatized counterculture that many Americans still associate with its flamboyant 1960s figureheads. He’s a bespectacled, soft-spoken former business school student who plays in a brass band and works part-time as an over-the-phone mental health counselor. After one glass of wine, he says: ‘Whoa, I’m feeling a little drunk.’ But if you probe, he might tell you about the time he took psilocybin and a ‘snake god’ entered his body and left him convulsing on the floor for an hour. (The snake god was benevolent, he says, and the convulsing was cathartic, ‘a tremendous discharge of anxious energy’.) In early October, Steve attended a Manhattan conference called Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics, which bills itself as the world’s ‘largest and longest-running annual gathering of the psychedelic community’. I went with my 51-year-old cousin, Temple, a relatively mainstream psychotherapist. She had come to learn more about psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, which underground guides like Steve facilitate illegally. She hopes to incorporate this type of therapy into her practice if and when substances such as psilocybin, MDMA, LSD and ayahuasca become legal.Like many attendees, Temple had recently read How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, a bestselling 2018 book by Michael Pollan. It convinced her that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy ‘might really be the way of the future’. Indigenous people are believed to have used plant-based psychedelics for millennia; now, factions of the western medical establishment seem to be catching on. Indigenous people are believed to have used plant-based psychedelics for millennia; now, factions of the western medical establishment seem to be catching on. …”

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Luis Buñuel – Belle de Jour (1967)

Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour is 50 years old and back in UK cinemas with all its creamy elegance and scabrous humour intact. With co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière, Buñuel creates a secret theatre of erotic shame. The only thing that really dates the film is a startling moment when someone reads aloud a newspaper headline about Aberfan. It’s the one moment in Buñuel’s career when his surrealism was unintentional. This is the story of Séverine, played by Catherine Deneuve, the beautiful, bored young wife of a wealthy Parisian surgeon, who submits to her conjugal duties rarely and unwillingly, but becomes a high-class prostitute during the day, answering only to the name Belle de Jour and experiencing a secret erotic martyrdom, all deeply bound up with childhood abuse which resurfaces in the form of disturbing flashbacks. These Buñuel coolly intersperses with her dreams and reveries, which appear to take place in the chateau and grounds of some Sadeian romance. Deneuve has an extraordinary and almost translucent paleness, a ghostlike moon of a face, as abstracted as a sleepwalker. The boorish attentions of her husband’s leering friend Husson (Michel Piccoli) and the indiscreet chatter of his girlfriend alert her to the fact that maisons exist in Paris, where she could offer her expensive services. After a nervous introduction to Madame Anaïs (Geneviève Page), who presides over a discreet establishment, Séverine becomes an accomplished professional, working only in the afternoons, with some amazing white lingerie as intricate as ecclesiastical vestments. She is much prized by the clientele as a “pearl”: the Madame explains the vulgar term to the others by grinningly miming a darning needle. Buñuel alludes to her reputation later by showing Séverine decorously practising embroidery in her respectable home. … And above all this, there is a shrewd commentary on the hypocrisy of social relations and sexual politics. Buñuel invites us to ponder the transgression of a respectable woman secretly being a prostitute in the afternoons. But wait. How about a respectable gentleman secretly visiting a prostitute in the afternoon? That happens all the time. Quite normal. The gender stereotype opposition feels like the bowler-hatted man in the Magritte painting seeing his own back in the mirror. A strange, and captivating film.”
Guardian: Belle de Jour review – Catherine Deneuve is extraordinary in a secret theatre of erotic shame (Video)
W – Belle de Jour
senses of cinema: Who Let the Cats Out? Buñuel, Deneuve and Belle de jour
Criterion: Belle de jour (Video)
YouTube: Official Trailer – Directed by Luis Buñuel & newly restored

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“Message to the Grass Roots” – Malcolm X (Nov. 10, 1962)

“‘Message to the Grass Roots’ is a public speech delivered by human rights activist Malcolm X. The speech was delivered on November 10, 1963, at the Northern Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference, which was held at King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. Malcolm X described the difference between the ‘Black revolution’ and the ‘Negro revolution’, he contrasted the ‘house Negro‘ and the ‘field Negro’ during slavery and in the modern age, and he criticized the 1963 March on Washington. ‘Message to the Grass Roots’ was ranked 91st in the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century by 137 leading scholars of American public address.  Malcolm X began his speech by emphasizing the common experience of all African Americans, regardless of their religious or political beliefs:

What you and I need to do is learn to forget our differences. When we come together, we don’t come together as Baptists or Methodists. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Baptist, and you don’t catch hell because you’re a Methodist. You don’t catch hell ’cause you’re a Methodist or Baptist. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Democrat or a Republican. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Mason or an Elk, and you sure don’t catch hell because you’re an American; because if you were an American, you wouldn’t catch hell. You catch hell because you’re a Black man. You catch hell, all of us catch hell, for the same reason.[4]

Not only did Black Americans share a common experience, Malcolm X continued, they also shared a common enemy: white people. He said that African Americans should come together on the basis that they shared a common enemy. … Public Enemy edited two samples from ‘Message to the Grass Roots’ for the introduction to their 1987 song ‘Bring the Noise‘, making it sound like Malcolm X said ‘Too black, too strong.’ …”
“Message to the Grass Roots” (Video), “Message to the Grassroots”
[PDF] Malcolm X Speaks
amazon: Malcolm X Speaks

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“More popular than Jesus”

“‘More popular than Jesus‘ was part of a longer remark made by the BeatlesJohn Lennon during a 1966 interview, in which he argued that Christianity would end, possibly before rock music. His opinions drew no controversy when originally published in the United Kingdom, but angry reactions flared up in Christian communities when the comment was republished in the United States five months later. The full quotation was:

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.

The statement originates from an interview conducted by journalist Maureen Cleave, who included it in a March 1966 article for the London newspaper the Evening Standard, which drew no public reaction at the time. When Datebook, a US teen magazine, quoted Lennon’s comments five months later in August, extensive protests broke out in the United States, particularly throughout the Bible Belt. Some radio stations stopped playing Beatles songs, their records were publicly burned, press conferences were cancelled, and threats were made. The controversy coincided with the group’s US tour in August 1966, and Lennon and Brian Epstein attempted to quell the dispute at a series of press conferences. Some tour events experienced disruption and intimidation, including a picketing by the Ku Klux Klan. Shortly after the controversy broke, Lennon reluctantly apologised for the comment, saying ‘if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it’. He stressed that he was simply remarking on how other people viewed and popularised the band. The events contributed to the Beatles’ lack of interest in public live performances, and the US tour was the last they undertook, after which they became a studio-only band. …”
Rolling Stone (Video)

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Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done

“For a brief period in the early 1960s, a group of choreographers, visual artists, composers, and filmmakers gathered in Judson Memorial Church, a socially engaged Protestant congregation in New York’s Greenwich Village, for a series of workshops that ultimately redefined what counted as dance. The performances that evolved from these workshops incorporated everyday movements—gestures drawn from the street or the home; their structures were based on games, simple tasks, and social dances. Spontaneity and unconventional methods of composition were emphasized. The Judson artists investigated the very fundamentals of choreography, stripping dance of its theatrical conventions, and the result, according to Village Voice critic Jill Johnston, was the most exciting new dance in a generation. Through live performance, film, photography, sculptural objects, musical scores, poetry, and archival materials, Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done traces the history of Judson Dance Theater both in and outside the church, from the workshops that took place there to other spaces around downtown New York. Artists in the exhibition include George Brecht, Trisha Brown, John Cage, Al Carmines, Lucinda Childs, Philip Corner, Merce Cunningham, Diane Di Prima, Bill Dixon, Rosalyn Drexler, Judith Dunn, Simone Forti, Gene Friedman, David Gordon, Anna Halprin, Lawrence Halprin, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Fred Herko, Storm De Hirsch, Jill Johnston, LeRoi Jones, Allan Kaprow, Fred McDarrah, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, Aileen Passloff, Steve Paxton, Rudy Perez, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Carolee Schneemann, Elaine Summers, Cecil Taylor, Stan VanDerBeek, James Waring, Robert Whitman, Phyllis Yampolsky, and La Monte Young. The program in the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium is organized into multiple-week segments, each of which focuses on the work of one artist: Yvonne Rainer, Deborah Hay, David Gordon, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, and Trisha Brown. Additionally, a video installation edited by the artist Charles Atlas and related to the work of the choreographers featured in the performance program will be on view. Including footage of both individual and group pieces made during the Judson era and after, Atlas’s installation emphasizes the relationship of the soloist to the ensemble and shows how Judson influenced the later careers of these artists. In the final weeks of the exhibition, Movement Research, an organization with a direct lineage to Judson, will hold classes and workshops. …”
MoMA (Video)

Peter Moore’s photograph of Trisha Brown and Steve Paxton in Brown’s Lightfall. Performed at Concert of Dance #4, Judson Memorial Church, January 30, 1963.

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