John Beck and Matthew Cornford’s intelligent and measured book The Art School And The Culture Shed may be a slim volume but it packs a hell of a punch in locating the ravages wreaked on our cultural life over the past 20 years by privatisation, the failings of local councils and town planners and the depredations of property developers.
Design authority Jim Walrod wears a deep and wide-ranging understanding of his subject – specifically that pertaining to modernism in furniture, interiors, product design and architecture – lightly.
This is refreshing in a field populated by bloodless experts and humourless know-alls. The founder of important 90s/00s store Form & Function, Walrod - described as “the ultimate design raconteur” by André Balazs and “the furniture pimp” by the Beastie Boys – is above all an enthusiast.
While interrogating materials for Rethink/Re-Entry – the monograph of artist Derek Boshier I am editing – I’ve come across many delights, including these sketches in the Flowers Gallery archive for one of the most visually striking documents of the post-punk era, CLASH 2nd Songbook.
From time to time I’m going to be turning over information and images here as I go through the process of writing my book Legacy: The story of The Face.
Today I spent an enjoyable and enlightening few hours interviewing former editor Richard Benson; during our conversation it became clear that one of the turning points in the history of this significant magazine occurred with the spring 1992 publication of the issue headed Love Sees No Colour.
This coincided with the High Court judgment against the magazine in the unfortunate libel case brought by actor/singer Jason Donovan on the grounds that he had been branded a liar and a hypocrite as a result of the inference that he was gay.
The theme of tolerance had been hatched by Benson’s predecessor Sheryl Garratt long before the dispute reached, in publisher Nick Logan’s words, “its unhappy conclusion”.
In terms of the magazine’s narrative, the issue affirmed The Face’s position as the lightning rod of the progress of popular culture in the inclusive 90s.
Designed by Boris Bencic and Lee Swillingham, the issue tipped the hat to those figures who had played a part in the 80s story – Boy George, Paul Smith, Leigh Bowery – and also hit the mark with the generation setting the pace for the new decade, whether it be Joe Bloggs, Kate Moss or Martin Margiela.
Produced in an all-hands-to-the-pump atmosphere, with Logan and Garratt in daily court attendance and the all-too-real prospect of forced closure as a result of the huge legal bills resulting from the Donovan case, The Face May 1992 is a cracking issue, one which stands up as a consummate example of journalistic excellence achieved under duress.
Legacy: The story of The Face is published by Thames & Hudson in autumn 2015.
One day I’ll write a post justifying my view that Kicks #6 is the hands-down greatest music magazine of all time, but for now it’s worth recording that the folks behind Kicks – namely Miriam Linna and Billy Miller – continue to, er, kick out the wildest music and related stuff via their Norton Records and Kicks Books imprints.
To coincide with the publication of the first volume of the trilogy Prophetika – which gathers together a trove of unpublished poetry and prose by the intergalactic visionary Sun Ra – Kicks Books (“The publisher, the parfumier”) has announced a fragrance of the same name which draws on an ancient formula “invoking a mirage of memories and mysteries and inciting a call to action”. Apparently there are hints of Cairo, Chicago…and Casseopia.
The perfume comes in a deluxe 0.5 oz Italian glass bottle in a presentation box and is just $13 – buy your’s here.
FB friend Joss Hutton nailed it with his response to the question as to what Prophetika smells like: “The Future”. Of course.
There’s a shindig to launch the book and niff at NYC’s St Mark’s Church next Friday. Details here.
Sun Ra in performance with his Arkestra and in interview in Helsinki 1971:
The industrious British designer/illustrator Kate Moross is celebrating the publication of her book Make Your Own Luck with a London exhibition surveying the impressive body of work she has assembled to date.
I recommend the book highly, and not just because Moross gracefully thanked me for what little input I may have had. Also, as a fellow dog-lover, it’s great to see that Moross’s beloved Shiba Inus Tako and Ebi are given prominence on the flyleaf.
The last time I saw photographer/manager Leee Black Childers – who has died aged aged 69 – was fleetingly, a year or so ago at the crowded launch of his book and exhibition at London’s The Vinyl Factory.
The first time I saw Childers was at The Speakeasy at a March 1977 concert by his charges The Heartbreakers. The poster for that gig, featuring his London rooftop portrait of the band, hangs behind me as I type.
That night and for the rest of his London stay over the next couple of years this Southern gent could be spotted at such haunts as The Ship in Wardour Street, his presence notable for lacquered pompadour, authentic sharkskin suits and slick black winklepickers, his reputation bolstered by the knowledge that Ian Hunter had dedicated Mott The Hoople’s All The Way From Memphis to Childers – who, in fact, was raised near Louisville, KY – and that he created the apocalyptic collage on the inner gatefold of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs LP (which now appears spookily prescient of the devastation of 9/11).
Childers appeared awfully frail at the Vinyl Factory launch, so news that he had been rushed to LA’s Cedar Sinai hospital during another bout of book promotion a few weeks back was worrying but not unexpected.
In conversation in 2009 Childers revealed a promotional plan for his book then in preparation: he wanted it to be published after his death so that he could be utterly honest about his extraordinary life and set of acquaintances. The promotion would consist of a series of pre-recorded chat show appearances, all ready for broadcast as soon as he expired. He wondered whether the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman would be up for it.
Well, it wasn’t to be. The book came out and though unwell he appeared to be enjoying being back in the spotlight.
I am told Childers’ archiving was ramshackle and can find no website dedicated to his photographic work. This is shame because no one was embedded in and simultaneously chronicling the demi-monde of glitter, glam and punk, of Warhol’s Manhattan, Iggy’s LA and McLaren’s London, in the manner of this charismatic soul.
‘The second nastiest little man I have ever met’ – John Deakin: Under The Influence + The Lure Of Soho
“The second nastiest little man I have ever met” – Barbara Hutton
“He was a member of photography’s unhappiest minority whose members, while doubting its status as art, sometimes prove better than anyone else that there is no doubt about it” – Bruce Bernard
The documentary portraiture of British fashion photographer John Deakin from the 1940s to his death in the early 70s is poised for a fresh round of appraisal with next week’s opening of the exhibition Under The Influence at London’s Photographers’ Gallery.
This coincides with the publication of Robin Muir’s companion book of the same title.
Muir is Deakin’s foremost proponent, responsible for 2002′s A Maverick Eye. This collected Deakin’s so-called “street photography” in London and on the Continent compiled during bouts of employment for British Vogue. As the title suggests, the new book focuses on the inhabitants of the stamping ground most associated with Deakin’s lush life: Soho.
On Deakin’s death in May 1972, his friend and subject Bruce Bernard rescued what comprises Deakin’s body of work in this field from a set of tatty cardboard boxes under the bed in his Berwick Street flat.
‘The impossibility of fair play in democratic society because of loneliness’: Emmett Grogan on To Tell The Truth
Emmett did enough, rest assured. He proved with his existence that each of us could act out the life of our highest fantasies. This was his goad and his compassionate legacy. Don’t minimise it or let yourself off the hook of his example by quibbling over details. Think about what you read, but more important, as Emmett would have said, “Dig yourself!”.
Peter Coyote, introduction to Ringolevio: A Life Played For Keeps, 1989.
I’m a recently converted disciple of Emmett Grogan.
I was turned on to Grogan’s epic meta-memoir Ringolevio by the persuasive pairing of beat music entrepreneur Kosmo Vinyl and writer Steven Daly when hanging out with them in a series of New York bookshops last year. By the time I was home a few days later I’d devoured Ringolevio’s 500 pages twice and still refer to it constantly. It is a masterpiece.
This morning this absolute delight appeared as if from out of the blue: Grogan – in his capacity as founder of The Diggers – promoting the newly published Ringolevio by participating in a 1972 episode of the guess-the-guest game show To Tell The Truth.
And naturally Grogan does tell the truth. Asked to differentiate between hippies and Yippies he caustically defines the latter group as attracted to “morons like Abbott Hoffman and Jerome Rubin”.
Grogan also tells host Gary Moore – who praises the Larry Rivers cover of the first edition of Ringolevio – that he is working on a new book, entitled The Impossibility Of Fair Play In Democratic Society Because Of Loneliness.
Put-on or not, the sad fact is that this was just one of a number of Grogan’s projects which failed to see the light of day in the wake of Ringolevio. As Peter Coyote wrote in 1989: “Emmett’s road petered out at the end of the line of the Coney Island subway April Fools Day 1978 – where his body was found, dead of an overdose.”
Bob Dylan subsequently dedicated his album Street Legal to Grogan’s memory.
If you don’t already own a copy do yourself a favour and buy Ringolevio.
As Coyote also wrote: “Think about what you read, but more important, as Emmett would have said, “Dig yourself!”.
As John Waters said: ‘If they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!’ Instead visit a great new website, The Librarian
I can’t recommend Jennifer Taylor’s new blog thelibrarian.com highly enough.
Over dinner with her and her husband Nic in New York last year, JB revealed her plans for a website celebrating books. This, she felt, would offer an escape from the solipsism which engulfs most forms of web expression.
So The Librarian showcases other people’s books, their collections and also the visual culture which surrounds reading and literacy. There are sections on great bookshops, libraries and private collectors, such as the West Coast artist Alia Penner, who I’m proud to say files a copy of my book Mr Freedom on a shelf alongside tomes on YSL, Kenzo and Maripol.
As one would expect from JB + Nic, it’s a fantastic-looking site, simultaneously substantial and diverting.
Visit The Librarian here.