All together I posted 73 times in 2019! Over 1000 views per month. Pretty good for an ‘eccentric’ performing arts blog!
You can use the drop-down menu for Month to Month Archive viewing. I will list some of the highlights here.
Dec 2019 – Interview with Cirque Mechanics Chris Lashua ~ Interview with Coney Island’s own Dick Zigun – Sideshow Hall of Fame.
November 2019 – Corn Mo and The Love Show ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Hilary Chaplain ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Revue ~ Karen Gersch Portfolio ~ Vaudevisuals Bookshelf ~ Martin Ewen’s ‘Panto Damascus’.
October 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Kevin Venardos.
September 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Noah Diamond & Amanda Sisk ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Adrienne Truscott.
August 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Tammy Faye Starlite ~ Ernie Kovacs Centennial Panel Discussion ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Dick Zigun – ‘Bloody Brains in the Juke Box’ ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Sarah the Bird Girl ~ The Seashore Variety Hour
July 2019 – Southern Sideshow Hootenanny Benefit ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Amber Martin ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Tyler West.
June 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with Trav SD ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Bill Bowers ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Mallory Catlett ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Ralph Lewis ~ Bindlestiff’s ‘brooklyn abridged’ show ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Kevin Augustine ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Everett Quinton. ‘Galas’.
May 2019 – A.J. Silver – A Cowboy from the Bronx ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Boxcutter Collective.
April 2019 – Congress of Curious People – James Taylor ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Greg Dubin ~ Vaudevisuals interview with A.J. Silver ~ Trav SD’s American Vaudeville Theatre.
March 2019 – Vaudevisuals interview with John Jesurun & Nicky Paraiso ~ Vaudevisuals interview with Coney Island Ritual Cabaret Festival.
February 2019 – Coffeehouse Chronicles: Ethyl Eichelberger ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage at Big Apple Circus ~ Lord Buckley by Heathcote Williams.
January 2019 – Vaudevisuals Bookshelf: ‘Atomic Clown’ by Sara Moore ~ Bindlestiff Open Stage ~ Tribute To Rob Torres.
“Look at these streets! Those rotten foul-headfreaks.
“Death to them…” This was what he imagined himself saying
After an Armageddon caused by the State’s geeks. from salon.
“I, in humility, say ‘It is the duty of the humor
“Of any given nation in times of high crisis to attack
“The ca-tastrophe that faces it in such a manner
“That they do not die before they get killed.”
“So I figure I’m going down to the banktomorrow
“With a couple of trucks and take out a few bales
of fifties – “Maybe a billion dollars – and I’m going to start
“A gigantic program over the television, over the radio
“In the newspapers, in the funny papers, call the people
“Who have anything to do with humour and I’m going
“To start a big, elongated eight month campaign
“Against the mother gasser of all time: THE BOMB.
“A great spear of humor against the bomb –
“Rippity-tib-zib-tib and a ring ding ding against the Bomb.
“All kinds, all ways, all slides, all sides against the Bomb.
“A great big, elongated program through the air,
“By the billboards, by little ones, by big ones
“Till eventually you mention H-Bomb to someone
“You say H-Bomb and they say Ha! and Ha! And Ha!
“And you’ll see that you’re laughed out of court.
In Buckley’s routine ‘The Flight of the Saucer’ he becomes
The Flying Saucer Commander Abba Dabba Foo,
Pleading with planet Earth to consider the consequences
Of opening a Pandora’s Box of nuclear goo.
Lord Buckley’s stage costume of a tan pith helmet,
Curly ended slippers hung with silver bells,
Black swallowtail coat and waxed moustache like Dali
Turned him into a Pied Piper leading America out of hell.
He railed against the spread of supermarkets saying,
“I wish I had the nerve to be a great thief.”
“We have gotta knock out the greed heads!”
To him consumer slavery beggared belief.
The needle-sharp points of his white moustache
Were like antennae seeking out the outrageous.
“There ain’t NO problem that LOVE can’t solve.” was his motto
And his emanations of wellbeing were contagious.
He believed that life was subject to divine intervention,
Proved by the flare of the senses in a kiss,
And his advice to every citizen of the world,
From two to toothless, was “Follow your bliss.”
“Once you catch the theme of the beam of the invisible edge
“Then, beloveds, you hit total simplicity,
“And all of the feral truths that carry on way beyond
“The parallel of your practiced credulity!”
After a night under the stars exploring inner space,
Aboard what he called ‘The Good Ship Lovely Soul Detonator’,
Buckley concluded that, “the sky showed a shifting, revealing infinity”
And that “one message came to me with great positivity:
“That there’s only one way to live. That is, live in a house of love.
“That’s right, the universe is a house of love
“You can’t walk out of a love house with a sword or a gun
“There’s none in there to come out with.
“You have to come with a flower.
“If attacked, defend yourself with a rose.
“There’s no other way to live –
“The stars beamed it into me – except by love.
“The star-flashed message stayed with me
And buoyed up my soul
“As I came down from the sky.”
He’d re-enter the world after a toke on God’s stash
Eager for the world to share in his high.
But Buckley’s great love wasn’t limited to human beings
As is evidenced by his party piece, God’s Own Drunk:
In which the man described as “a Fred Astaire of the tongue dance”
Speaks instead in mind-blowing grunts.
“I’d like to do a little creative wig bubble for you
“Called ‘God’s Own Drunk.”
“When asked to guard my brother-in-law’s illegal still
“My claim to be a non-drinker got sunk:
“That big old yellow moon was a hanging out there
“And God’s lanterns were hanging in the sky.
“My curiosity got the better of me and that yellow whiskey –
“That moonshine – went down like honeydew, and made me fly!
“I felt a revolution going through my body
“Like there was great neon signs a-goin’ up
“An’ sayin’ There’s a Great Life a Comin’ –
“Suddenly I’d fallen in love with everything
“In God’s sweet world that moved, lived, didn’tlive,
Animate, inanimate, black, blue, green, pink, and slam dunk!
Mountains, fountains, and golden double-good sunshine,
“I was in love with life, ‘cause I was DRUNK!!
“I wasn’t fallin’ down, slippin’ slidin’ drunk.
“I was GOD’S OWN DRUNK! A fearless man.”
And as a result Lord Buckley bonds with a bear
In an ecstatic, trans-species communication.
“I walked right on up to that bear, because
“I was God’s Own Drunk and I loved everything
“In this world. And he’s a sniffin’. He’s tryin’ to
“Smell some fear. But he can’t do because I’m
“God’s Own Drunk and I’m a fearless man.
“He expects me to do two things: flip or flee.
“I don’t do either. Hangs him up. I told him,
“I said, ‘I’m God’s Own Drunk and I love every hair
“’On your twenty-seven acre body.
“’I’m a fearless man!’ I reached up
“And took the bear by the hand.
“I said Mr. Bear, we’re both beasts when it
comes right down to it.”
“Took him right by his big, old, shaggy man island sized paw
“And said “You’re going to be my buddy, Buddy Bear.
“And pretty soon he started to sniff and snort.
“Tapped his foot. And he got up and started to do the Bear Dance.
“Two sniffs, three snorts, a half-turn and one grunt.
“We was dancin’ and a yellin’ and finally, my love –
“It upped and got so strong that I laid back on that sweet green hill
“With that big, old buddy Bear’s paw right in
mine and I went to sleep.”
In Buckley’s pantheistic world, “Everything isalive.
“Everything has an embodied soul. Everything is of worth.
“Everything is beautiful. Everything is God.
“Everything is you – and you’re the king of the earth.”
“The problem of humanity, of progress, is to be beautiful;
“To be more gracious, more sweet, more divine.
“And when you balance yourself, the truth is that the world’s a family –
“Then love will hit you. Love is swinging. Love is fine.”
Before Buckley finally stepped off the stage
He uttered a last benediction:
“It has been a most precious pleasure to have temporarily
“Strolled in the garden of your affection.”
For his re-routing American culture (and not paying police bribes)
Buckley had his cabaret licence withdrawn
Which meant that, thanks to the NYPD, he couldn’t work
And thus his end was undeservedly forlorn.
His sad fate led to a public campaign against the police
For their depriving him of his cabaret card:
They were seen as having destroyed a clown prince
And were roundly condemned as fucktards.
To Buckley the dives he worked in were, “atomic age cathedrals”
Built on the “seashores of Bohemia”
Where all malice was transcended with moral miracles in jive slang
And his advice to fans, “You have courage, great warrior!”
Joseph Jablonski, who took a trip with Buckley,
Described “the spirit of the sixties as preexisting
“In Lord Buckley’s aggressive, optimistic humour,
“Optimism being a colourless way of describing
“The brilliant dialectical gold rays the one and only
“Lord of Swing could direct to the blind apostles
“Of nineteen fifties-style miserabilism.”
Beside Lord Buckley, America was a fossil.
Was he mysteriously be-twinkled by timetraveling goblins
From the utopian sixties?
The tutelary spirit of idealistic and free-loving
Hippy, peacenik pixies?
Both Allen Ginsberg and Quincy Jones loved Buckley
For the purity of his attitude,
And for establishing the idiom for both rap and the Beats –
At their best, both quests for beatitude.
His daughter spoke of his saintliness,
And of his “insights into lives and souls.
“He had kindness and compassion and never put people down.
“I might look at someone and say ‘what an asshole’
“But my father would always soften my prejudice by saying,
“ ‘Well, he’s just not himself today’!
“Sure, he could identify the negative in people,
“Though to use it against them? – no way.”
“Did I say all?” asks Buckley in ‘Desolation Angels’
Just before dying, according to Kerouac
Who’s bewailing, “This modern America of crew-cuts
“And sullen faces in Pontiacs.”2
“No matter what people tell you,” said Robin Williams,
“Words and ideas can change the world. It’s true.
“There was an old crazy dude who used to live a long time ago.
“His name was Buckley. My Lord, my love goes with you.”
The deck may have been stacked against Buckley
In his card game with the cops
Yet his legacy’s avoided capture, and without his hip
There’d never have been any hip-hop.
He showed the mind could be expanded by
Words that give you a buzz and a blast
And prompt what he describes as “wig bubbles”,
Buckley’s hip phrase for thoughts.
Lord Buckley’s obituarist wrote that “The Lord of Flip Manor,
“Prophet of the Hip and Royal Holiness of the Far Out, has gone
“To his reward. It probably won’t be as swinging as his life,
“But Valhalla will have a hard time keeping him down.”
“It is difficult”, the writer adds, “for anyone who knew Buckley
“To think of him as dead and gone.
“It is more like he has been on an extended engagement in Reno
“And he can’t get back to town.”
When interviewed by Studs Terkel in Chicago
Shortly before Lord Buckley died,
Terkel was concerned that the audience
Who’d tuned in were fully prepared:
“Just remember,” Terkel said, “what he has to say makes sense
“In it’s own strange and unique way.”
“Take it easy but take it! That’s my sign off.”
Were Buckley’s last words after having his say. Lord Buckley
Lord Buckley is still audible through the aether
Where this mercurial comic’s vitalizing words
Are forever impregnated with his fairy-tale humor –
Mightier than both the pen, and the sword.
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With grateful acknowledgments to Oliver Trager; David Amram; Jim Burns, ‘Beat Scene’; Albert Goldman; Wavy Gravy; Timothy White; Paul Krassner; Joseph Jablonski; City Lights Books; Jack Foley; Malcolm Ritchie; Ian A. Anderson; Chris Radant; Douglas Cruickshank, and to P. St. G. who first introduced me to this non pareil.
I first met Heathcote Williams in London around 1968 at the offices of an alt-magazine “Friends”. He was in the waiting room as was I and we struck up a conversation which led to a visit to his flat where he showed me his 3-dimensional collage inspired by his friend William Burroughs.
We then proceeded to take lunch at a wonderful Indian restaurant that was housed in the basement of a rather ornate building. The lunch was delicious and when we were asked to pay the bill his lovely girlfriend reached into her pocketbook and removed her credit card. I glanced over to see that the name read ‘Jean Shrimpton‘.
Heathcote and I lost touch for many years until 2013 when we contacted one another again. I was wanting to direct his one act play “The Immortalist” and needed to get permission from him. We continued corresponding up until last week when he passed away. I was very distraught at the world’s loss of a great writer/activist/friend.
I am posting photographs of books and memorabilia from my collection which all contain his name and reflect his broad talent. I hope those who read this find it inspiring as I have for so many years!
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FIRST: The Obits
Heathcote Williams, who has died aged 75, was a unique and brilliant writer – poet, dramatist, visionary and pamphleteer. He restored and renovated a sense of intellectual anarchy in our public discourse in the great traditions of Jonathan Swift, William Blake, and Percy Bysshe Shelley all of whom were among his heroes.
Heathcote’s first book “The Speakers” established him worldwide. Published in 1964 by Hutchinson & Co (UK) and Grove Press (USA)
After the time lapse between meeting Heathcote and reconnecting I did notice that a production of one of his plays was being done at Brooklyn Academy of Music and was produced by Stacy Keach. A very futuristic and spell binding play. I contacted the public relations company and was allowed to photograph the dress rehearsal of the show. Here are the front and back cover of the play AC/DC in the USA edition published in 1972.
Originally published in the UK in 1971 (Gambit) and performed at Royal Court Theater in 1970.
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This edition was published in 1972 by Calder and Boyars Ltd.
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In 1967 Heathcote had another play that was produced in the UK. “The Local Stigmatic“. It gained much attention due to the American production featuring Al Pacino. Pacino would eventually make it into a short 1-hour film which has never been commercially released.
Here are some links to peruse about the play and the movie and Al Pacino.
First published in Great Britain in 1978 (John Calder Ltd.) and in the USA in 1978 (Riverrun Press Inc.)
The Immortalist was first performed at the Oval House, Kennington with Neil Cunningham as The Immortalist and the author playing The Interviewer.
I am not able to post everything that Heathcote wrote during his life but here are a few more that I don’t have in my collection.
Malatesta – Remember the Truth Dentist – The Supernatural Family – Hancock’s Last Half Hour – Playpen – Severe Joy
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SACRED ELEPHANT by Heathcote Williams – 1989
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Whale Nation is a hymn to the beauty, intelligence, and majesty of the largest mammal on earth. A ‘green classic’ read with natural resonance by its author, it rarely fails!
This dramatic poem, by the writer of Whale Nation and Sacred Elephant, describes the encounter between man and dolphin. His research led him to a remote cove in the southwest of Ireland where a hermit dolphin was rumored to live.
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AUTOGEDDON published in 1991 in the US by Arcade Publishing.
A campaigning narrative poem with an anthology of prose writings, this is about the devastating effect of the motor car on our lives. More than 17 million people have been killed on the roads in the century since the first motor car appeared and an incalculable number seriously hurt, or have died later from the effects of road accidents. This is but one fact among many that build up to the evidence of man’s heedless inhumanity to his fellow traveler. But this book is much more than a catalog of death and destruction – of maimed children, of noxious pollution in the air, and through the petrochemical industry, in rivers and the soil. It is a revelation of the extent to which the human psyche has become possessed by a machine until we can no longer control the effects of it.
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FORBIDDEN FRUIT – Meditations on Science, Technology, and Natural History -2011
“Even when all possible scientific questions have been answered,” wrote Ludwig Wittgenstein, “the problems of life remain completely unanswered.” Forbidden Fruit is not only a collection of poems on science and nature but also a meditation on the problems of life. It has been described by Beat poet Michael McClure as “a collection of inspirations … as rich and dark as wasp honey”.
Williams has created a unique form of polemical poetry with which to attack the vast political and social forces which overshadow, grind down, and poison our lives: militarism, big business, consumerism, the sensationalist media, dehumanizing technology—all those things embraced by corrupt governments and used to strengthen the modern megalomaniac state.
He presents his vision not with cloudy political rhetoric, but by focusing on the absolutely known and familiar in our lives, with occasional ventures into the off-beat: a mistranslated word, a wasp that makes honey, the shape of Darwin’s nose, a visit to a museum, an old photograph of a Paris street, or the unusual experience of keeping a jackdaw as a pet.
The title poem, ‘Forbidden Fruit’, is a moving tribute to our greatest computer scientist, Alan Turing.
An audiovisual version of the poem, with narration and image montage by Heathcote’s friend actor Alan Cox, can be viewed below.
Check out all of Heathcote Williams/Alan Cox videos here. Royal Babylon.
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I received a copy of Royal Babylon sent from Heathcote and in the package were a few postcards which I am posting here. Short poems on postcards.
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I know I have left out quite a list of his achievements since I don’t own all his work in book form. The last book that I recently purchased was his last collection of poems published by New River Press. “The Last Dodo and Dreams of Flying“. I got a ‘Limited Number First Edition’ signed by Heathcote. The insert says ‘uncorrected proof’.
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Last but not least I would like to leave you with the Heathcote poem ‘The United States of Porn’ read by Heathcote and recorded by Cold Turkey Press (Jan Herman 2013) and published on a CD along with an LP by Sea Urchin Press.
Click on the red circle (Top left corner) to hear the poem!
The play’s immediate and essential subject is the elephant itself, mysterious, majestic – the world’s largest and oldest living land-mammal – yet it ultimately confronts the tensions in the extraordinary and historic relationship with humans – sounding out the nature of the mind and soul of Man.
Jeremy Crutchley is “The Other”, a presence caught between worlds. While the inspiration comes out of Africa, the themes are universal: as relevant in the heart of the city as in the wild. This is us, now. There is simply no other drama quite like it.
Here are some photographs from the dress/tech today. The show times and dates are listed below the photographs.
The text is so powerful and inspired. You really should take some time and experience this evening of theatre with this great actor Jeremy Crutchley.
Wed, Sept 4th & Thurs, Sept 5th at 8pm (Preview)
Fri, Sept 6th & Sat, Sept 7th at 8pm; Sun Sept 8th at 3pm
Wed, Sept 11th – Sat, Sept 14th at 8pm; Sun, Sept 15th at 3pm
Wed, Sept 18th – Sat, Sept 21st at 8pm, Sun, Sept 22nd at 3pm