Catch-22 – Joseph Heller (1961)

Catch-22 is a satirical novel by American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953; the novel was first published in 1961. Often cited as one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century, it uses a distinctive non-chronological third-person omniscient narration, describing events from the points of view of different characters. The separate storylines are out of sequence so the timeline develops along with the plot. The novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home. The development of the novel can be split into segments. … Many events in the book are repeatedly described from differing points of view, so the reader learns more about each event from each iteration, with the new information often completing a joke, the setup of which was told several chapters previously. The narrative’s events are out of sequence, but events are referred to as if the reader is already familiar with them so that the reader must ultimately piece together a timeline of events. Specific words, phrases, and questions are also repeated frequently, generally to comic effect. Much of Heller’s prose in Catch-22 is circular and repetitive, exemplifying in its form the structure of a Catch-22. Circular reasoning is widely used by some characters to justify their actions and opinions. … Catch-22 contains allusions to many works of literature. Howard Jacobson, in his 2004 introduction to the Vintage Classics publication, wrote that the novel was ‘positioned teasingly … between literature and literature’s opposites – between Shakespeare and Rabelais and Dickens and Dostoevsky and Gogol and Céline and the Absurdists and of course Kafka on the one hand, and on the other vaudeville and slapstick and Bilko and Abbott and Costello and Tom and Jerry and the Goons (if Heller had ever heard of the Goons).’ …”
Guardian – The 100 best novels: No 80 – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
Slate: Seeing Catch-22 Twice
Open Culture: Joseph Heller’s Handwritten Outline for Catch-22, One of the Great Novels of the 20th Century
[PDF] Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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The CIA has nothing on Noam Chomsky (no, really)

“This month, a two-year-long investigation into CIA records on Noam Chomsky concluded with a surprising result: Despite a half-century of brazen anti-war activism and countless overseas speaking engagements, the Central Intelligence Agency has no file on the legendary MIT professor. ‘Our searches were thorough and diligent, and it is highly unlikely that repeating those searches would change the result,’ reads an agency reply to a Freedom of Information Act request for any and all CIA records on Chomsky. The request, obtained by Foreign Policy, was submitted by Portland-based writer Frederic Maxwell, who’s writing a book about the renowned linguist. At stake is not so much the CIA’s reputation (the agency’s forays into domestic spying in the 60s and 70s are well-documented), but Chomsky’s: For what’s a towering leftist dissident without a lengthy CIA file — that ultimate rite of passage for 60s-era dissenters? Was Chomsky maybe even a little disappointed by the lack of a CIA file? Last, week, I presented him with the CIA’s findings, which he hadn’t been privy to. … But hold on. No CIA file? And Chomsky’s not suspicious? I reminded him of his impeccable qualifications for such surveillance. Over the years, Chomsky’s broad criticisms of the U.S. government (a ‘terrorist state‘) made him the only person on both Richard Nixon’s Enemies List and the Unabomber’s kill list. In the 60s and 70s, he undertook frequent overseas speaking engagements in countries that included Cambodia and Vietnam. He contributed to the leftist political magazine Ramparts, itself a target of CIA surveillance. Detailing the agency’s obsession with the magazine’s writers, former CIA director Stansfield Turner wrote in his 2006 book Burn Before Reading that ‘the CIA investigation of the staff of Ramparts was definitely illegal.’ He added: ‘It was also just a small part of a much larger [President Lyndon] Johnson-initiated project that went by the codeword CHAOS.’ Indeed, that program, initiated in 1967 under Johnson and expanded under Nixon, targeted the anti-war movement on U.S. college campuses, in which Chomsky was a major player. In total, the CIA program collected files on at least 10,000 American citizens. But nothing on Chomsky? …”
Foreign Policy<
When Chomsky Worked on Weapons Systems for the Pentagon

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Trobar, a magazine of the New American Poetry

Trobar, a magazine of the New American Poetry 1 (1960).

Trobar magazine was published in Brooklyn in only five issues from 1960 to 1964, but it was tremendously influential in spreading knowledge about deep image poetry. Deep image poetry, according to Robert Kelly, is ‘poetry not necessarily dominated by the image, but in which it is the rhythm of the images which forms the dominant movement of the poem.’ Of the three editors, Kelly has been the most tireless and enthusiastic poet, reader, and teacher, exerting a charismatic influence. He has published more than seventy-five volumes of poetry and prose (his first, Armed Descent, was published by Jerome Rothenberg’s Hawk’s Well Press) and was a founding editor of Chelsea Review and Matter and a contributing editor to CaterpillarAlcheringa, Sulfur, Conjunctions, and Poetry International. and guest editor to Los (new series, no. 1, 1975). Kelly coedited, with Paris Leary, the paperback A Controversy of Poets (1965), which was an entrant in the poetry anthology wars of the 1960s. Kelly’s essay ‘Notes on the Poetry of Deep Image,’ which appears in Trobar 2, is a provocative statement about an important thread in modern poetry and is central to the concept of Trobar (the name refers to the Troubadour tradition in Provencal poetry). The press also issued a series of books, which included works by Rochelle Owens, Jerome Rothenberg, Paul Blackburn, and Louis Zukofsky. …”
From a Secret Location
W – Deep image
Modern American Poetry – Leaping Into the Unknown: The Poetics of Robert Bly’s Deep Image
The Artwork of Amy Goldin, Amy Goldin

Rothenberg, Jerome. The Seven Hells of the Jigoku Yoshi. 1962. Trobar Books 3
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Axis: Bold as Love – Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)

Axis: Bold as Love is the second studio album by English-American rock band the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was recorded to fulfill the Experience’s contract, which stated that they had to produce two records in 1967. … Following the completion of Are You Experienced at the end of April 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience continued their schedule of regular recording sessions, returning to Olympic Studios in London on May 4, to begin composing material for a follow-up LP. With Chas Chandler as producer, Eddie Kramer as engineer, and George Chkiantz as second engineer, the band started the session by working on a Noel Redding original that he had written about hippies titled, ‘She’s So Fine’. It featured background vocals by Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell; Redding later recalled that Hendrix was enthusiastic to record the song because it was written in A with an open G chord that he enjoyed playing. They achieved a working master on the 23rd take, on which Redding overdubbed his lead vocal. … The album was also well received by music critics, who praised its mixture of hard rock, rhythm and blues, and jazz. Reviewing Axis in 1968 for Rolling Stone, Jim Miller hailed it as ‘the refinement of white noise into psychedelia … the finest voodoo album that any rock group has produced to date’. Q magazine wrote in a retrospective review that the album ‘dazzles as the Experience creates a genre probably short-lived because nobody else could play it’. AllMusic‘s Cub Koda considered it a demonstration of Hendrix’s ‘remarkable growth and depth’ as a songwriter, utilizing Curtis Mayfield-like soul guitar work, ‘Dylanesque lyrical imagery, and Fuzz Face hyperactivity to produce yet another side to his grand psychedelic musical vision’. According to author Peter Doggett, the record ‘heralded a new subtlety in Hendrix’s work’, while BBC Music‘s Chris Jones said it is distinguished from his other Hendrix albums as his ‘coming-of-age-in-songwriting album … his peak in crafting pop rock perfection’. Critics also found Axis: Bold as Love to be the least memorable of the Experience’s three studio releases. According to Richie Unterberger, it was the least impressive from the Experience, while Kris Needs called the record a ‘transitional, but often overlooked, masterpiece’. …”
Genius (Audio)
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Axis: Bold as Love – Full Album 12 videos
vimeo: Axis- Bold As Love 32:39

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Closely Watched Trains – Jiří Menzel (1966)

“Closely Watched Trains (Czech: Ostře sledované vlaky) is a 1966 Czechoslovak film directed by Jiří Menzel and is one of the best-known products of the Czechoslovak New Wave. It was released in the United Kingdom as Closely Observed Trains. It is a coming-of-age story about a young man working at a train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. The film is based on a 1965 novel by Bohumil Hrabal. It was produced by Barrandov Studios and filmed on location in Central Bohemia. Released outside Czechoslovakia during 1967, it won the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 40th Academy Awards in 1968. The young Miloš Hrma, who speaks with misplaced pride of his family of misfits and malingerers, is engaged as a newly trained station guard in a small railway station during the Second World War and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. He admires himself in his new uniform, and looks forward, like his prematurely retired railwayman father, to avoiding real work. The sometimes pompous stationmaster is an enthusiastic pigeon-breeder with a kind wife, but is envious of the train dispatcher Hubička’s success with women. Miloš holds an as-yet platonic love for the pretty, young conductor Máša. The experienced Hubička presses for details of their relationship and realizes that Miloš is still a virgin. The idyll of the railway station is periodically disturbed by the arrival of the councillor, Zednicek, a Nazi collaborator, who spouts propaganda at the staff without success. … During the nightshift, Hubička flirts with the young telegraphist, Zdenička, and imprints her thighs and buttocks with the office’s rubber stamps. Her mother sees the stamps and complains to Hubička’s superiors, and the ensuing scandal helps to frustrate the stationmaster’s ambition of being promoted to inspector. The Germans and their collaborators are on edge, since their trains are being attacked by the partisans. A glamorous Resistance agent (a circus artist in peacetime), code-named Viktoria Freie, delivers a time bomb to Hubička for use in blowing up a large ammunition train. At Hubička’s request, the ‘experienced’ Viktoria also helps Miloš to resolve his sexual problem. … Now Hubička and the other railwaymen are indeed laughing — to express their joy at the blow to the Nazi occupiers — and it is left to a wistful Máša to pick up Miloš’s uniform cap, hurled across the station by the power of the blast. …”
Guardian – Jiri Menzel: Closely Observed Trains
senses of cinema
YouTube: Trailer, Opening Scene (Eng Subs)

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It’s Stan Lee’s Universe

Excerpt from ‘The Fantastic Four’ No. 49. Our heroes face an apocalyptic threat. Lee and Kirby served up a thrilling brew of high-concept sci-fi, fallible protagonists, and scintillating copywriting.

“People are almost always surprised when I tell them Stan Lee is 93. He doesn’t scan as a young man, exactly, but frozen in time a couple of decades younger than he is, embodying still the larger-than-life image he crafted for himself in the 1970s — silver hair, tinted shades, caterpillar mustache, jubilant grin, bouncing gait, antiquated Noo Yawk brogue. We envision him spreading his arms wide while describing the magic of superhero fiction, or giving a thumbs up while yelling his trademark non sequitur, Excelsior! He’s pop culture’s perpetually energetic 70-something grandpa, popping in for goofy cameos in movies about the Marvel Comics characters he co-created (well, he’s often just said ‘created,’ but we’ll get to that in a minute) in the 1960s. But even then, he was old enough to be his fans’ father — not a teenage boy-genius reimagining the comics world to suit the tastes of his peers but already a middle-aged man, and one who still looked down a bit on the form he was reinventing. A comic-book Methuselah, Lee is also, to a great degree, the single most significant author of the pop-culture universe in which we all now live. This is a guy who, in a manic burst of imagination a half-century ago, helped bring into being The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and the dozens of other Marvel titles he so famously and consequentially penned at Marvel Comics in his axial epoch of 1961 to 1972. That world-shaking run revolutionized entertainment and the then-dying superhero-comics industry by introducing flawed, multidimensional, and relatably human heroes — many of whom have enjoyed cultural staying power beyond anything in contemporary fiction, to rival the most enduring icons of the movies (an industry they’ve since proceeded to almost entirely remake in their own image). And in revitalizing the comics business, Lee also reinvented its language: His rhythmic, vernacular approach to dialogue transformed superhero storytelling from a litany of bland declarations to a sensational symphony of jittery word-jazz — a language that spoke directly and fluidly to comics readers, enfolding them in a common ecstatic idiom that became the bedrock of what we think of now as ‘fan culture.’ …”
W – Stan Lee

Excerpt from ‘The Avengers’ No. 5. All of these big-name heroes existed in a shared universe, one of Lee’s many innovations. The note in the top left corner accentuates the fact that you had to read all Marvel comics to truly understand any one of them.
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Vietnam War haunts are now for dong millionaires

Hotel Continental

“The bars of Saigon were home for two generations of war correspondents, the reporters who covered the French and American conflicts. They offered an essential interlude between forays out of the city to the battlefields of Vietnam. Some of them were hotel bars, others back street dives. The older ones, like the Continental and the Majestic, figured in novels of the French Indochina War, by writers such as Graham Greene and Jean Lartéguy. Later the Caravelle became the American media headquarters. One of the attractions of the most popular bars was their rooftop location: at times of crisis in the city they became vantage points for viewing the action. Now they are luxury leisure scenes for rich tourists. The old drinking haunts of war correspondents in Saigon are now firmly embedded in the luxury global tourist circuit, at prices no local hack could ever afford. A recent investigation on behalf of The Baron established that the great wartime bars are alive and well, flourishing as capitalist outposts in communist Vietnam. After years of austerity, they are raking in the dollars again, just as they did in the old days. Only the customers are different. Instead of hard-drinking foreign correspondents on expenses, the visitors sipping cocktails on the rooftop terraces these days are well-heeled travellers on upmarket tours, or passengers from cruise liners moored in the Saigon River. They are just passing through. They are not media and they’re not resident. In fact, there have been no resident Western media here since the end of the American war in 1975. The Vietnamese authorities allow foreign journalists to be based up north in Hanoi, the politically correct capital, but not in this bustling commercial city, with its dodgy black market morals and potentially subversive politics. It’s an odd experience to be back here as a tourist – and a local currency millionaire. …”
The Baron
diaCritics: Mai Lan Gustafsson’s “The Warlore of Vietnamese Bargirls,” Part 1, Part 2
The Sexual Warfare of Saigon’s Bar Girls (Feb. 1 1968)
30 Amazing Black and White Photographs of Vietnamese Bar Girls During the War

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