Elmore Leonard – The Big Bounce (1969)

“… Elmore Leonard‘s The Big Bounce, published straight to paperback in the States by Fawcett/Gold Medal in 1969. This copy came from the basement of a Cecil Court secondhand bookshop, for less than a tenner – quite a nice find, considering the only copies I’ve seen online are in the US and listed for rather more than a tenner (and with postage on top), and the book’s significance. Because The Big Bounce was Elmore Leonard’s first crime novel – or, more accurately, his first contemporaneously set novel. … Even at this early stage in his career, Leonard had a prose style all his own: lilting, deceptively easygoing, yet focused and intense; clever, lightly handled but thorough character work; and that gloriously naturalistic and yet still idiosyncratically Elmore-esque dialogue. The plot isn’t terribly complicated, but then Elmore Leonard plots rarely are; that aspect of writing just isn’t that important to him. A young drifter, Jack Ryan (no relation to Tom Clancy’s later CIA analyst-turned-president), takes a job working as a handyman at a Michigan lakeside cabana complex owned by local justice of the peace Walter Majestyk (no relation to Vincent Majestyk from Leonard’s own Mr. Majestyk). … Everything flows from character in an Elmore Leonard novel: the decisions the protagonists take and the ramifications of those decisions; the things they say or do to one another and the consequences of those actions. It helps that Leonard has a forensic eye for character – not in an overwritten, overly intrusive sense – for really, how well can we truly know one another (something that Leonard-through-Ryan reflects on late in the novel: ‘What good was being cool if you weren’t you? Whoever you are, Ryan thought’) – but in the way he observes the little details: a certain look shot across a bar booth; the cocked head and corner-of-an-eye glance when combing one’s hair in the mirror; the idle daydreams of a bored female holidaymaker, fantasizing about Ryan sweeping her off her feet. …”
Existential Ennui
The Atlantic: The Elmore Leonard Paradox
Elmore Leonard’s 11 Rules For Writing Fiction
W – Elmore Leonard
amazon: The Big Bounce

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No Sleep till Gloucester

Charles Olson’s Table

“Standing in line early in the morning at the Dunkin Donuts located at the service area on Route 128 North heading into Gloucester, I thought to myself that this ‘mole’ brought into town, not just the tourists, businessmen, and developers so feared and despised by Charles Olson as bringing ashore the downfall of his Tyre on the Atlantic. No, for slightly more than half a century, artists, activists, writers, and scholars used this causeway to visit Olson, and these intellectual and cultural tourists sought to open up Gloucester Harbor to all manner of new currents in art, literature, and culture. I guess I could be considered just another in a long line of such tourists. In 2007 I came up here to check out 28 Fort Square, the Mecca of Maximus. Olson’s humble squat by the sea, just a short swim away from Ten Pound Island. Almost a decade later, 108 East Main Street became my port of call, just down the road from my digs at the Gloucester Writer’s Center on 126 East Main, the former home of poet Vincent Ferrini, who published Four Winds and received some of the first Maximus Poems in the post. Technically, I arrived as a Writer-in-Residence, in order to work on my nebulous Floating Bear book project, the idea for which has been gestating since well before my last visit here, as well as to give a presentation on the William Burroughs archive, but in reality what got me on the road was the opportunity to lock myself in the two small rooms housing the Ralph Maud/Charles Olson Library. A little background on this treasure chest chock full of bibliographic booty. Ralph Maud was a scholar and academic, who served as the Boswell to Olson’s Johnson. For me Maud is best known as the author of Olson’s Reading: A Biography, which listed the books Olson read and lived with, arguing that books were the driving passion of Olson’s life. It is an incredible example of making the bibliographic biographical. This is a road not travelled as extensively by Michael Stevens in his The Road to Interzone: Reading William S. Burroughs’ Reading. Such is the future of Burroughs studies. …”
Reality Studio

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Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901– May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. One of the earliest innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry, Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that ‘the Negro was in vogue’, which was later paraphrased as ‘when Harlem was in vogue.‘  … In addition to poetry, Hughes wrote plays, and short stories. He also published several non-fiction works. From 1942 to 1962, as the civil rights movement was gaining traction, he wrote an in-depth weekly column in a leading black newspaper, The Chicago Defender. … His poetry and fiction portrayed the lives of the working-class blacks in America, lives he portrayed as full of struggle, joy, laughter, and music. Permeating his work is pride in the African-American identity and its diverse culture. ‘My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America and obliquely that of all human kind’, Hughes is quoted as saying. He confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and expanded African America’s image of itself; a ‘people’s poet’ who sought to reeducate both audience and artist by lifting the theory of the black aesthetic into reality. … With the gradual advance toward racial integration, many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date. They considered him a racial chauvinist. He found some new writers, among them James Baldwin, lacking in such pride, over-intellectual in their work, and occasionally vulgar. … He understood the main points of the Black Power movement of the 1960s, but believed that some of the younger black writers who supported it were too angry in their work. Hughes’s work Panther and the Lash, posthumously published in 1967, was intended to show solidarity with these writers, but with more skill and devoid of the most virulent anger and racial chauvinism some showed toward whites. …”
Langston Hughes’ Former Home Is Now a Community for Harlem Artists
NY Times:A Walk Through Harlem, New York’s Most Storied Neighborhood
Harlem to Havana: Langston Hughes Helped a Nation Connect to Its African Roots
10 of the Best Langston Hughes Poems Everyone Should Read

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Consciousness raising

Consciousness raising (also called awareness raising) is a form of activism, popularized by United States feminists in the late 1960s. It often takes the form of a group of people attempting to focus the attention of a wider group on some cause or condition.  … Consciousness raising groups were formed by New York Radical Women, an early Women’s Liberation group in New York City, and quickly spread throughout the United States. In November 1967, a group including Shulamith Firestone, Anne Koedt, Kathie Sarachild (originally Kathie Amatniek), and Carol Hanisch began meeting in Koedt’s apartment. Meetings often involved ‘going around the room and talking’ about issues in their own lives. … On Thanksgiving 1968, Kathie Sarachild presented A Program for Feminist Consciousness Raising, at the First National Women’s Liberation Conference near Chicago, Illinois, in which she explained the principles behind consciousness-raising, and outlined a program for the process that the New York groups had developed over the past year. Groups founded by former members of New York Radical Women—in particular Redstockings, founded out of the breakup of the NYRW in 1969, and New York Radical Feminists—promoted consciousness raising and distributed mimeographed sheets of suggesting topics for consciousness raising group meetings. New York Radical Feminists organized neighborhood-based c.r. groups in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, involving as many as four hundred women in c.r. groups at its peak. Over the next few years, small-group consciousness raising spread rapidly in cities and suburbs throughout the United States. By 1971, the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, which had already organized several consciousness raising groups in Chicago, described small consciousness raising groups as ‘the backbone of the Women’s Liberation Movement’. …”
Raise My Consciousness
Ladies Home Journal Sit-in
Sudsofloppen: Consciousness-Raising and the Small Group as Free Space (Audio)
An Experiment: Feminist Creative Consciousness Raising

from Trying to Make the Personal Political: Feminism and Consciousness-Raising

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How the Rolling Stones Rocked the Iron Curtain

The Rolling Stones performing at Sala Kongresowa of the Palace of Culture and Science, 1967

“The eastern side of the Iron Curtain calls forth many images: empty shelves, people queuing, joyless dictators… but not necessarily the Rolling Stones. If you were a Communist party leader, trying to isolate your people from the moral decay of Western civilization, would you invite a notorious rock band, not only involved in sex and drugs scandals but also willing to take on political matters, to perform in your capital? Not the most obvious thing to do, right? Therefore, how is it that in 1967 – the middle of the Cold War – Mick, Keith, Brian, Bill, and Charlie came to Poland and performed in Warsaw, at a huge hall known for being traditionally used for the Communist Party’s plenary congresses? There is no easy answer to this question and since numerous myths have grown surrounding this event, let’s do some fact checking before we go any further. In 1967, the Rolling Stones hit the road to promote their Between the Buttons album. As a band notorious for breaking laws, rules, boundaries, and customs, they started toying with the idea of performing in Moscow and becoming the most controversial rock band to play on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Preliminary arrangements were even made but eventually (and obviously) the authorities didn’t allow it to happen. … Deputy director Wiesław Jakubowski was a highly controversial person. On one hand he ran Pagart, a dysfunctional and corrupt organisation, on the other, he was the only person who had enough passion and contacts to even consider inviting international music stars. … Bill Wyman wrote in his diary that back in 1967 the Iron Curtain was still very firm. The idea of a decadent Western band performing inside the Eastern Bloc was going way beyond what people believed was possible. Moreover, he claims that the idea was entirely theirs, that the fee the Polish organiser offered was pitiful and the only thing that pushed them beyond the Curtain was rumours of their underground popularity and ‘their will to crash the borders between the East and the West’, years before ‘glasnost’ came to life. …”
culture: May 2016 (Video)
Open Culture: The Rolling Stones Play a Gig in Communist Warsaw and a Riot Ensues (Video)

Władysław Jakubowski, director of Pagart
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Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton OCSO (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) was an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist and scholar of comparative religion. On May 26, 1949, he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood and given the name ‘Father Louis.’ He was a member of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky, living there from 1941 to his death. Merton wrote more than 50 books in a period of 27 years, mostly on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism, as well as scores of essays and reviews. Among Merton’s most enduring works is his bestselling autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain (1948). … Merton became a keen proponent of interfaith understanding, exploring Eastern religions through his study of mystic practice. He is particularly known for having pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama; Japanese writer D. T. Suzuki; Thai Buddhist monk Buddhadasa, and Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He traveled extensively in the course of meeting with them and attending international conferences on religion. In addition, he wrote books on Zen Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, and how Christianity related to them. … In this particularly prolific period of his life, Merton is believed to have been suffering from a great deal of loneliness and stress. One incident indicative of this is the drive he took in the monastery’s jeep, during which Merton, acting in a possibly manic state, erratically slid around the road and almost caused a head-on collision. … Merton became well known for his dialogues with other faiths and his non-violent stand during the race riots and Vietnam War of the 1960s. By the 1960s, he had arrived at a broadly human viewpoint, one deeply concerned about the world and issues like peace, racial tolerance, and social equality. He had developed a personal radicalism which had political implications but was not based on ideology, rooted above all in non-violence. …”
Thomas Merton’s Hermitage
New Directions: Thomas Merton
YouTube: Merton: A Film Biography 57:20
YouTube: Thomas Merton – Life In His Own Words (Aug. 1965)

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Paul Krassner

“He was a prankster, a master of the put-on that thumbed its nose at what he saw as a stuffy and blundering political establishment. And as much as anyone else, Paul Krassner epitomized a strain of anarchic 1960s activism — one that became identified with the Yippies as they nominated a pig for president and rained dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Along with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and a few others, Mr. Krassner helped found that group. He was the founder and editor of The Realist, among the earliest underground humor magazines, one that was known for outlandish and raunchy cartoons and iconoclastic political and social commentary. Its contributors included Norman Mailer, Jules Feiffer, Terry Southern, Joseph Heller, Mort Sahl, Edward Sorel and Robert Grossman. … In all, he helped propagate a certain absurdist sensibility that encouraged people like the cartoonists R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman and the comedian George Carlin to be more daring in mocking the insanities and hypocrisies of war, politics and much of modern life. … Mr. Krassner was writing freelance pieces for Mad magazine in 1958 when he realized that there was no equivalent satirical publication for adults; Mad, he could see, was largely targeted at teenagers. So he started The Realist out of the Mad offices, and it began regular monthly publication.  … The magazine’s most famous cartoon was one, drawn in 1967 by the Mad artist Wally Wood, of an orgy featuring Snow White, Donald Duck and a bevy of Disney characters enjoying a variety of sexual positions. (Mickey Mouse is shown shooting heroin.) Later, digitally colored by a former Disney artist, it became a hot-selling poster that supplied Mr. Krassner with modest royalties into old age. The Realist’s most famous article was one Mr. Krassner wrote portraying Lyndon B. Johnson as sexually penetrating a bullet wound in John F. Kennedy’s neck while accompanying the assassinated president’s body back to Washington on Air Force One. …”
NY Times: Paul Krassner, Anarchist, Prankster and a Yippies Founder, Dies at 87
W – Paul Krassner
The Downtown Pop Underground: Paul Krassner
amazon: Best of The Realist

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The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon (1966)

The Crying of Lot 49 is a 1966 novel by American author Thomas Pynchon. The shortest of Pynchon’s novels, the plot follows Oedipa Maas, a young Californian woman who begins to embrace a conspiracy theory as she possibly unearths a centuries-old feud between two mail distribution companies; one of these companies, Thurn and Taxis, actually existed (1806–1867) and was the first private firm to distribute postal mail. Like most of Pynchon’s output, Lot 49 is often described as postmodernist literature. … In the mid-1960s, Oedipa Maas lives a fairly comfortable life in the (fictional) northern Californian village of Kinneret, despite her lackluster marriage with Mucho Maas, a rudderless radio jockey, and her sessions with Dr. Hilarius, an unhinged German psychotherapist who tries to medicate his patients with LSD. One day, Oedipa learns of the death of an ex-lover, Pierce Inverarity, an incredibly wealthy real-estate mogul, who has left her as the executor of his massive estate. Inverarity appears to have owned or financed nearly all the goings-on in San Narciso, a (fictional) southern Californian city near Los Angeles. … Critics have read the book as both an ‘exemplary postmodern text’ and an outright parody of postmodernism. Contemporary reviews were mixed, with many critics comparing it unfavourably to Pynchon’s first novel V. One reviewer in Time described the novel as ‘a metaphysical thriller in the form of a pornographic comic strip’. In a positive The New York Times review Richard Poirier wrote: ‘Pynchon’s technical virtuosity, his adaptations of the apocalyptic-satiric modes of Melville, Conrad, and Joyce, of Faulkner, Nathanael West, and Nabokov, the saturnalian inventiveness he shares with contemporaries like John Barth and Joseph Heller, his security with philosophical and psychological concepts, his anthropological intimacy with the off-beat–these evidences of extraordinary talent in the first novel continue to display themselves in the second.’ …”
Pynchon’s Demon: Entropy in The Crying of Lot 49
John Pistelli
The Crying of Lot 49 Chapter 1

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Shame – Ingmar Bergman (1968)

Shame (1968) is one of the great neglected films from Ingmar Bergman’s midcareer creative explosion. … In Shame, a powerfully realistic vision of an imagined civil war, the filmmaker’s collaboration with his actors turns even more confident and fluid, and his celebrated enigmatic close-ups become unselfconscious and limpid—emotionally transparent. As the sixties neared their end, even Bergman, the screen’s foremost investigator of private life, intimate behavior, and postreligious faith, felt the need to make a statement on that turbulent decade and the legacy of World War II. His vision of how sadism and paranoia fuel martial conflicts and spread from society’s fringes into middle-class living rooms (and bedrooms) permeates Shame, the only Bergman film that could be called primarily political or antiwar. The relentless, Kafkaesque backdrop of a never-ending war puts a troubled marriage into stark relief, dramatizing the end of fellow feeling and the dehumanization of death. It reflects the social and political upheaval of its time in ways that are still joltingly pertinent fifty years later. Bergman’s impulse to create the film was clear and concrete. As he told the editors of the Swedish film journal Chaplin, it originated in a question: ‘What sort of a situation is needed to turn us from good social democrats into active Nazis?’ He latched on to documentary images of an aging Vietnamese couple—an old woman hanging on to their ‘half-starved cow’ as it gallops away from a U.S. military helicopter, her husband fighting back tears as he sees her and the animal disappear in a cloud of dust. Then he fused these inspirations. In Shame, Bergman scrapes the polite liberal veneer off postwar European life and puts Scandinavian islanders in the position of a colonized people. The film takes place in the near future (the early seventies). Eva and Jan Rosenberg (Ullmann and von Sydow), former classical violinists, have moved to a remote island to escape the civil war ravaging their unnamed country. …”
Criterion – Shame: Twilight of the Humans
W – Shame (1968 film)
senses of cinema
Criterion (Video)

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“You Are Sometimes in the Trance of What Is Beyond You”: Upheaval, Incantation and Ed Dorn in the Summer of 1968

I. Love in the Time of Barricade:  When the radical students at the University of Essex, in Colchester, England, voted to dismantle the structures of established power at their university in May 1968, they took up a continental, if not international, cue. Throughout the spring of 1968, student-organized rebellions across Europe occupied their universities and/or founded new universities in their place. In mid-February, while filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and Luis Buñuel (later joined by Orson Welles, Roberto Rosselini, Robert Bresson, and others) marched in the streets of Paris to protest the Ministry of Culture’s removal of Henri Langlois as director of the Cinematheque Francaise (an organization he’d founded), a young American poet and psychiatrist, named Joseph Berke, proclaimed the opening of the Anti-University in London, featuring such lecturers as poet and psychiatrist R.D. Laing and playwright David Mercer.  At the same time, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) presented the International Congress on Vietnam at the Free University in West Berlin, where Rudi Dutschke — an East German dissident, former theology student, and compelling orator, who’d roused a massive opposition to the Vietnam War among West German students — chided the overarching connections between class oppression in Europe, the imperialist interventions in Vietnam, and the masked perpetuation of slavery among the urban, black population in the U.S., chained to a modern institutionalized web of poverty, crime, and addiction. … The Essex revolt put American poet Edward Dorn, a Fulbright lecturer at the university since 1965, in tight spot. Academic superstar Donald Davie, whose vision and hard work had built the literature department at Essex and who’d painstakingly traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, to recruit Dorn to it, had since been appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor, a position incontestably antithetical to the notion of a ‘Free University’ imagined by the radical factions of students and faculty. …”
Jacket Magazine 38
Jacket Magazine 32: Stephen Fredman – Introduction to Edward Dorn
The Cosmology of Finding Your Place By Edward Dorn (presented april 10, 1969 at the united campus christian fellowship benefit reading for the draft resisters league, Lawrence.)

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