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Photography Vaudevisuals Bookshelf

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “The Great Nadar”

THE GREAT NADAR – The Man Behind the Camera

by Adam Begley

“The most astonishing expression of vitality.”  Baudelaire

Exuberant, agitated, impetuous, horrified by tedium and relentlessly and infectiously gregarious. – The Great Nadar by Adam Begley

A recent French biography begins, Who doesn’t know Nadar? In France, that’s a rhetorical question. Of all of the legendary figures who thrived in mid-19th-century Paris—a cohort that includes Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, Gustave Courbet, and Alexandre DumasNadar was perhaps the most innovative, the most restless, the most modern.

The first great portrait photographer, a pioneering balloonist, the first person to take an aerial photograph, and the prime mover behind the first airmail service, Nadar was one of the original celebrity artist-entrepreneurs. A kind of 19th-century Andy Warhol, he knew everyone worth knowing and photographed them all, conferring on posterity psychologically compelling portraits of Manet, Sarah Bernhardt, Delacroix, Daumier and countless others—a priceless panorama of Parisian celebrity.

Born Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, he adopted the pseudonym Nadar as a young bohemian, when he was a budding writer and cartoonist. Later he affixed the name Nadar to the façade of his opulent photographic studio in giant script, the illuminated letters ten feet tall, the whole sign fifty feet long, a garish red beacon on the boulevard. Nadar became known to all of Europe and even across the Atlantic when he launched “The Giant,” a gas balloon the size of a twelve-story building, the largest of its time. With his daring exploits aboard his humongous balloon (including a catastrophic crash that made headlines around the world), he gave his friend Jules Verne the model for one of his most dynamic heroes.

The Great Nadar is a brilliant, lavishly illustrated biography of a larger-than-life figure, a visionary whose outsized talent and canny self-promotion put him way ahead of his time.

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Art Book Shelf Music Writer

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism

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“A “heroic” biography of John Cage and his “awakening through Zen Buddhism”—“a kind of love story” about a brilliant American pioneer of the creative arts who transformed himself and his culture”  The New York Times

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Composer John Cage sought the silence of a mind at peace with itself—and found it in Zen Buddhism, a spiritual path that changed both his music and his view of the universe. “Remarkably researched, exquisitely written,” Where the Heart Beats weaves together “a great many threads of cultural history” (Maria Popova, Brain Pickings) to illuminate Cage’s struggle to accept himself and his relationship with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Freed to be his own man, Cage originated exciting experiments that set him at the epicenter of a new avant-garde forming in the 1950s. Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Allan Kaprow, Morton Feldman, and Leo Castelli were among those influenced by his ‘teaching’ and ‘preaching.’ Where the Heart Beats shows the blossoming of Zen in the very heart of American culture.

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Great book about a great artist and his personal stories of compassion and insight.

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Cabaret Music Photography Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals Interview with Tammy Faye Starlite – NICO @ Joe’s Pub

Tammy Faye Starlite as NICO at Joe's Pub
I saw Nico perform with the Velvet Underground at Andy Warhol’s  “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” on St. Marks Place back in the last 60’s. Above the Dom and to later become the “Electric Circus“. The Velvet Underground with Nico were the house band for Andy’s club.

Tammy Faye Starlite has brought this memory back to life! What an amazing ‘channeling’ of the solemn voiced Nico. At Joe’s Pub on Sunday December 15th Tammy Faye brought NICO back to the stage.

I had time with Tammy after the show to ask a few questions about Nico’s effect on her growing up and this new show. Also posted is a video excerpt from the show at Joe’s Pub.

The wonderfully talented musicians that performed with Tammy are:

Dave Dunton: Piano

Rich Feridun: Electric Guitar

Keith Hartel: Acoustic Guitar/Bass

Craig Hoek: Saxophone, flute

Ron Metz: Drums

The show was directed by David Schweizer

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