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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Jazzactuel Box Set

“Compiled by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and music journalist Byron Coley, Jazzactuel is a three-cd-box collecting free jazz, as well as some psychedelic and avant-garde music from the French record label ‘BYG/Actuel‘. The compilation was issued in 2001; the collected tracks date from the period 1969-1971. The tracks were recorded for the record label as a result of an invitation to a large number of African-American free jazz musicians to record in Paris in august 1969, in the wake of the Panafrican Festival held in Algiers in july that year. This exodus to the promised land of France from the land of the American pharaoh Nixon continued a tradition of black musicians fleeing the US for Paris, a tradition which started in the roaring twenties (the Bal Nègre in the Rue Blomet, Josephine Baker) and which continued through the years (Miles Davis making the soundtrack to Louis Malle’s 1958 filmAscenseur Pour L’Échafaud‘, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk appearing in Roger Vadim’s 1959 film ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses‘). The musicians that recorded for BYG were perhaps one of the last waves of black musicians fleeing the US to Paris – can you imagine contemporary black musicians – hiphop, hyphy, crunk – leaving the States for France? The last group of prominent black musicians who came to Europe were Detroit’s godfathers of techno – and they went to Berlin rather than to Paris, and rather than flee racial oppression by whites they fled the indifference with which the black community in the US treated their Great Black Music. ‘Jazzactuel’ brings together many famous Free Jazz names: Sunny Murray, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry and Sonny Sharrock; but also lesserknown artists are represented. The collection showcases how variegated a genre Free Jazz was. Some tracks are so dense, chaotic and noisy they would do Merzbow proud (and hasn’t Masima Akita always said he was inspired by Free Jazz?), while other tracks are more laidback; some even explore romantic themes in a hardbop style. Psychedelic Prog by Gong and an electronic piece which sounds like an army of babies crying their lungs out by Musica Elettronica Viva only add to the diversity. Compared to Soul Jazz Records excellent “New Thing!” compilation, the music on Jazzactuel is more intransigent, more demanding, less languid: here political Pan-Africanism, no mystical Indian/Jazz-fusion a la Alice Coltrane. …”
Surreal Documents
W – BYG Actuel
allmusic (Audio)
YouTube: JAZZACTUEL 26 videos

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Between Journalism and Fiction: Hunter S. Thompson and the Birth of Gonzo

“According to Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson was ‘the only twentieth-century equivalent of Mark Twain.’ Wolfe’s comparison was meant to feature Thompson as a humorist, but biographical similarities also linked the two writers. Both Twain and Thompson arrived in San Francisco as obscure journalists, thrived on the city’s anarchic energies, and departed as national figures. Exactly one hundred years after Twain left San Francisco, Thompson moved to Colorado and created his most extravagant character: himself. The signature works that followed—along with his drug and alcohol consumption, gun fetish, and “fortified compound”—are strongly associated with Woody Creek, where he lived until his suicide in 2005. But if Thompson’s celebrity was a Colorado phenomenon, his literary formation played out in San Francisco during what he called ‘a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again.’ That peak helped Thompson invent not only a literary genre, but also himself. Thompson’s self-fashioning unfolded in stages. In 1960, he set off on a Beat-style cross-country drive that ended in Seattle. From there, he hitchhiked to San Francisco, where he visited City Lights Bookstore and other Beat shrines. After failing to find work, Thompson decamped for Big Sur, the Beat hangout and home of novelist Henry Miller, a major influence. (Although he staked out Miller’s mailbox, he never met his idol.) After two years of travel, Thompson moved to the Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen, home of Jack London, before settling with his wife and infant son at 318 Parnassus Avenue, not far from Haight-Ashbury. Scratching out a living as a freelance journalist, he covered the 1964 GOP convention at the Cow Palace and wrote an unpublished review of Tom Wolfe’s The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965). Editorial quarrels over the coverage of the convention and the Wolfe review led to his split from The National Observer, his primary outlet at the time. …”
Boom California

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The Strawberry Statement – James Simon Kunen (1969)

“‘Nobody likes a smart-ass, remember that,’ someone over thirty told me last summer. I had doubts about the dogma even then, but now I’m certain that it’s false. James Simon Kunen, 20 years old and a sometimes Columbia revolutionary, is a smart-ass if ever there was one, and Time, The New Republic, Newsweek, and the New York Times all love him and his first book, The Strawberry Statement. And not without reason. Kunen is funny, at times profoundly funny, and The Strawberry Statement is one of the easiest books to pick up and read through to come along in quite a while. A case in point is his comparison of the roaches in his apartment to the enemy in our current war. … There is a certain savagery implicit in this word play with the rhetorical commonplaces of what President Nixon called the other night our most serious political problem. But part of Kunen’s Statement seems to be that the Vietnam War is simply to grotesque to be taken seriously–it must be an outrageous hoax, perpetrated on everyone with sensibilities by some anonymous ‘Biggies.’ So it is also with the military-industrial complex, which Kunen can only talk about with the elaborate fantasy of ‘The Big Letter’ which he expects may arrive any day — ‘I wasn’t sure what it would be, except that it would be a directive or executive order from my superior telling me to do something.’ This tone of wise and bitter taunting comes to be Kunen’s most frequent voice. … The Strawberry Statement is, or a least tries to be, more than a collection of such deadly wise cracks. But as a book, it faces some formidable problems. The Columbia affair, in which Kunen was a front line-participant, is pretty well wrapped up by page fifty, and where the book will go from there is by no means certain. The rest can be read as a chronicle of Kunen’s incestuous relationship with his Random House contract. He treats the book like a colossal term paper, trying to get started and finding ever-fresh devices for procrastination. Like Mailer at the conventions he casts about rather self-consciously for figures to interview (Mark Rudd, Dean Deane, the station manager of WABC) and events to experience and record (a Red Sox game, a McCarthy rally). This processor for filling out the book does not work out nearly so badly as one would expect, though. The instant success that followed Kunen’s first appearance in New York magazine did not spoil his cruelly observant eye. Nor does frequent borrowing from Mailer and Salinger corrupt a clean and engaging style.  …”
The Harvard Crimson (May 10, 1969)
W – The Strawberry Statement
W – James Simon Kunen

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Nashville sit-ins

Agitators attack a sit-in demonstrator at Woolworth’s lunch counter, February 27, 1960.

“The Nashville sit-ins, which lasted from February 13 to May 10, 1960, were part of a nonviolent direct action campaign to end racial segregation at lunch counters in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The sit-in campaign, coordinated by the Nashville Student Movement and Nashville Christian Leadership Council, was notable for its early success and emphasis on disciplined nonviolence. It was part of a broader sit-in movement that spread across the Southern United States in the wake of the Greensboro sit-ins in North Carolina. Over the course of the Nashville sit-in campaign, sit-ins were staged at numerous stores in the central business district. Sit-in participants, who consisted mainly of black college students, were often verbally or physically attacked by white onlookers. Despite their refusal to retaliate, over 150 students were eventually arrested for refusing to vacate store lunch counters when ordered to do so by police. At trial, the students were represented by a group of 13 lawyers, headed by Z. Alexander Looby. On April 19, Looby’s home was bombed, although he escaped uninjured. Later that day, nearly 4000 people marched to City Hall to confront Mayor Ben West about the escalating violence. When asked if he believed the lunch counters in Nashville should be desegregated, West agreed that they should. After subsequent negotiations between the store owners and protest leaders, an agreement was reached during the first week of May. On May 10, six downtown stores began serving black customers at their lunch counters for the first time. Although the initial campaign successfully desegregated downtown lunch counters, sit-ins, pickets, and protests against other segregated facilities continued in Nashville until passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended overt, legally sanctioned segregation nationwide. Many of the organizers of the Nashville sit-ins went on to become important leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. … Before the students in Nashville had a chance to formalize their plans, events elsewhere brought renewed urgency to the effort. During the first week of February 1960, a small sit-in demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina, grew into a significant protest with over eighty students participating by the third day. Although similar demonstrations had occurred previously in other cities, this was the first to attract substantial media attention and public notice. When Lawson’s group met the subsequent Friday night, about 500 new volunteers showed up to join the cause. Although Lawson and other adult organizers argued for delay, the student leaders insisted that the time had come for action. …”
Nashville students sit-in for U.S. civil rights, 1960
Why This Nashville Restaurant Opened at the Site of Historic Lunch Counter Sit-Ins
YouTube: Sit Ins and March in Nashville 3, James Lawson Interview – Lunch Counter Sit-Ins in Nashville

Downtown lunch counters targeted by the sit-ins included: 1. S. H. Kress; 2. McLellans; 3. Woolworths; 4. Harveys; 5. Walgreens; 6. Grants; 7. Cain-Sloan; 8. Greyhound; 9. Trailways; 10. Moon-McGrath
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The Homecoming – Harold Pinter (1964)

The Homecoming is a two-act play written in 1964 by Nobel laureate Harold Pinter and it was first published in 1965. Its premières in London (1965) and New York (1967) were both directed by Sir Peter Hall and starred Pinter’s first wife, Vivien Merchant, as Ruth. The original Broadway production won the 1967 Tony Award for Best Play. … Set in North London, the play has six characters. Five of these are men who are related to each other: Max, a retired butcher; his brother Sam, a chauffeur; and Max’s three sons — Teddy, an expatriate American philosophy professor; Lenny, who appears to be a pimp; and Joey, a would-be boxer in training who works in demolition. There is one woman, Ruth, who is Teddy’s wife. The play concerns Teddy’s and Ruth’s ‘homecoming,’ which has distinctly different symbolic and thematic implications. The setting is an old house in North London during the summer. All of the scenes take place in the same large room, filled with various pieces of furniture. The shape of a square arch, no longer present, is visible. Beyond the room are a hallway and staircase to the upper floor and the front door.  After having lived in the United States for several years, Teddy brings his wife, Ruth, home for the first time to meet his working-class family in North London, where he grew up and which she finds more familiar than their arid academic life in America. Much sexual tension occurs as Ruth teases Teddy’s brothers and father and the men taunt one another in a game of one-upmanship, resulting in Ruth’s staying behind with Teddy’s relatives as ‘one of the family’ and Teddy and their three sons returning home to America without her. … Often considered to be a highly ambiguous, an enigmatic, and for some even a cryptic play, The Homecoming has been the subject of extensive critical debate for over forty years. According to many critics, it exposes issues of sex and power in a realistic yet aesthetically stylised manner. … Like other contemporary critics familiar with The Homecoming, Ben Brantley praises the play’s two-act plot structure, referring to its ‘nigh-perfect form.’ In the 1960s, when first encountering the play, its earliest critics complained that, like Pinter’s other plays as perceived then, The Homecoming seemed, in their words, ‘plotless,’ ‘meaningless,’ and ’emotionless’ (lacking character motivation), and they found the play ‘puzzling’ (their word); later critics argue that the play evokes a multiplicity of potential meanings, leading to multiple interpretations. …”
W – Harold Pinter
New Yorker: Demolition Man
NY Times: You Can Go Home Again, but You’ll Pay the Consequences
DailyMotion: The Homecoming (1973) 1:53:54

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The End of Privacy Began in the 1960s

A view of the F.B.I. National Crime Information Center in Washington in 1967. In the 1960s, lawmakers began to question the government’s gathering of Americans’ data.

“In the fall of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson’s administration announced a plan to consolidate hundreds of federal databases into one centralized National Data Bank. It was meant as an efficiency move to make the Great Society even greater. But there were many Americans who were worried about privacy — from civil rights leaders and student activists under surveillance by the F.B.I. to lawmakers who had begun to question J. Edgar Hoover’s use of his electronic arsenal — and the National Data Bank confirmed their darkest fears. In the years that followed, Congress convened headline-making hearings, slamming the databank idea and warning of government information-gathering run amok. The privacy warriors of the 1960s would have been astounded by what the tech industry has become. They would be more amazed to realize that the policy choices they made back then — to demand data transparency rather than limit data collection, and to legislate the behavior of government but not private industry — enabled today’s tech giants to become as large and powerful as they are. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to question Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, over allegations of bias in its algorithms, and energized Democrats are vowing to turn up the heat on tech companies over antitrust and privacy when they take over House leadership in January. There is a growing recognition in Silicon Valley and Washington that current data privacy regulations need to be changed. Understanding how American lawmakers approached these issues in the past is essential to getting it right this time. The mid-1960s were the heyday of punch-card-powered mainframe computers. In the two decades since their invention, digital machines had proved capable of processing a dizzying amount of information. Much of this data was personal, from medical information to military records to the type of cereal families bought at the supermarket, and there were no legal limits on what kind of data could be collected or by whom. The targeted marketing business until then had been largely left alone by regulators because it was so inexact. The computer age, however, transformed consumer targeting into a far more powerful science. …”
NY Times
W – The Naked Society, Vance Packard (1964), amazon
NY Times: Data Bank: Peril or Aid?; The U.S. Central Data Bank: Would It Threaten Your Privacy? (Jan. 7, 1968)
W – Alan Westin, amazon: Privacy and Freedom

Vance Packard, The Naked Society
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