Cabaret Voltaire plaque commemorating the birt...

Cabaret Voltaire plaque commemorating the birth of Dada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Jean Vigo

RIP Boris Strugatsky, author with brother Arkady of Roadside Picnic, source book for Tarkovsky’s Stalker.

RIP Boris Strugatsky, author with his brother Arkady of Roadside Picnic, the source book for Tarkovsky's Stalker

Ray Johnson, mail artist

Wondering about the mysterious disappearance of mail artist Ray Johnson on Friday January 13th, 1995 as I study his Lucky Strike series of collages…


Stanley Kubrick on the set of Lolita. Who is he shooting?


Reading that Dennis Hopper used to drive around in his car talking to the ghost of James Dean sitting in the back seat…

Hopper, Dean, Wood, ‘Rebel…’

“One doesn’t write, luminously, on a dark field; the alphabet of stars alone does that, sketched or interrupted; man writes black upon white.

This fold of dark lace, which holds the infinite, woven by thousands, each according to his own thread or extension, not knowing the secret, assembles distant spacings in which riches yet to be inventoried sleep: vampire, knot, foliage; and our job is to present them.’ Stephane Mallarme, ‘Divagations’

Arthur Dooley working on ‘Dachau’

Seeing a graffiti-stencil of the artist Arthur Dooley and remembering drinking coffee with him as clouds of plaster dust formed around his wild hair…

Wanting to see Dick Young in the Bistro again, or at least his ghost in that old, black suit and that face like a Portuguese fisherman’s…

Richard ‘Dick’ Young

‘…Thinking things that cannot be chained and cannot be locked, but that wander far away in the sunlit world, each in a wild pilgrimage after a destined goal.’ Arturo Giovannitti


Carol Mavor on an image from Alain Resnais’s ‘Hiroshima mon amour’ : ‘Atomic light had seeped those parts of her kimono that were lightly coloured, as if she were clothed, not in cotton or silk, but in the transparency of s photographic negative. On her skin, light areas appear dark. Her strange dermographism is in silent conversation with the “quiet pattern” of the person who disappeared forever while waiting for the bank to open.’

The ‘kimono print’ in Hiroshima mon amour

‘The labyrinth is a good metaphor for the understanding of the human experience.  We have Copernicus, Marx, Freud and Darwin: they tell us the evidence of our eyes, heart and common sense is not to be trusted: there is a darker narrative hidden inside the extant one.  The Sun doesn’t rise; social relations are not automatically just; the desires of the heart are as bent as corkscrews; there is more of nature in us than we might like … All narrative is like an apocalypse in the sense of uncovering.  We like to be led though the labyrinth by a slender thread.’  Alan Wall interviewed in The Third Alternative

‘In the presence of New York at the end of the thirties, the paranoia of surrealism looked parlor-sized or arch. But during the war Bill told me he had been walking uptown one afternoon and at the corner of 53rd and 7th he had noticed a man across the street who was making peculiar gestures in front of his face. It was Breton and he was fighting off a butterfly. A butterfly had attacked the Parisian poet in the middle of New York. So hospitable nature is to a man of genius.’ The dance critic Edward Denby remembering Willem de Kooning remembering Andre Breton.

Reading Joe Brainard’s ‘I Remember’ again and writing my own rememberings…

Joe Brainard, artist, poet, author of ‘I Remember”

This is the great Carmen Basilio during his rematch against Sugar Ray Robinson in 1958. He died on 7th November aged 85. I have a great affection for old boxers for some undefined reason and I’ve always loved this photo. By all accounts Basilio was a true gent. He said, “I don’t enjoy getting hurt, but you have to take the bitter with the sweet.’

“And, of course, that is what all of this is – all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs – that song, endlesly reincarnated – born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket ’88‘, that Buick 6 – same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness.” Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather
A gathering of Surrealists – Man Ray, Hans Arp, Andre Breton, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, Tristan Tzara, Paul Eluard, Rene Crevel…put them in the right order and whose name is missing..?
English: Man Ray, Tristan Tzara and Rene Creve...

English: Man Ray, Tristan Tzara and Rene Crevel, 1928, silver salt print (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Somebody mentioned that their hobby was walking across cities without touching the ground. I remember looking out of a hotel room in Lisbon and watching a man open his bedroom sash window. He pulled himself up onto the roof and a woman in the room reached up and handed him a parcel. Perhaps this was his packed lunch? He then set off, walking across the rooftops, disappearing into the city amongst the aerials and chimney pots…

Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, Hedda Sterne
Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jimmy Ernst, Jackson Pollock, James Brooks, Clifford Still, Robert Motherwell, Bradley Walker Tomlin, Theodoros Stamos, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko
(Nina Leen for Time/Life 1951)

I include this photograph because it takes my breath away – that so many great painters could be gathered in one place.

The original caption for the photo says that Weldon Kees is missing. Kees, the mysterious poet was always missing which is part of his allure.

The only woman in the photograph is Hedda Sterne who died aged 100 in April 2011 in relative – chosen – obscurity.

One of the most famous group photographs – Art Kane’s A Great day In Harlem for Esquire magazine in 1958.
The photo was taken at 10am which is not the best time for jazz musicians but 57 people turned up. Thelonious Monk originally decided to wear black because he’d look cool. Then he decided that everyone else would be wearing black so he wore white instead. When he got there many of the musicians had had the same idea.
Some of the people missing from this photograph are Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
There is a great interactive, clickable version at where you can find out who did turn up.
Emmanuelle Riva then in Hiroshima Mon Amour…
Emmanuelle Riva now in Amour…

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