MonthJuly 2008

The Man With The Musical Broomstick

“It could only happen in New York. Where else in the world would people queue around the block for a seedy-looking jazz club, to hear the performance of a man best remembered for having invented the musical broomstick, whose fingers are so arthritic they can hardly move, and who is still pumping it out every Monday night at the age of 93?

But then, the weekly Les Paul show at the Iridium Club, a basement joint on Broadway that looks as though it was set in aspic some time in the 1950s, is more than just a performance. It’s a pilgrimage, where fans of 20th-century American music and lovers of the electric guitar – Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards among them – come to pay homage to the great man. Richards bluntly summed up the aura of the man when he said: “We must all own up that without Les Paul, generations of flash little punks like us would be in jail or cleaning toilets.”

Like his close collaborator, Leo Fender, Les Paul is best known for the electric guitar he created. If the Fender Stratocaster is the edgy workhorse of the rock industry, the Gibson Les Paul was and remains its elegant rival, its richly varnished mahogany body and oyster-shell fingerboard adding a touch of class to a rough-hewn affair. But there’s much more to Paul than a lump of wood with a cherry-burst finish: he’s also a consummate musician who, despite the arthritis which has reduced him to the use of just two fingers, is still able to spark a flame in much younger performers.”

(via The Guardian)

Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Randy Pausch

This is an inspirational “must see”:

“With equal parts humor and heart, Carnegie Mellon professor and alumnus Randy Pausch delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that moved an overflow crowd at the university – and went on to move audiences around the globe. Randy died July 25 of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 47. Randy’s family is planning a private burial. A campus memorial service is being planned and details will be announced at a later date.”

(via YouTube)

Visiting New Guinea Cannibals, Corpse-Eating Hindus

“Australian-born adventure writer Paul Raffaele doesn’t let a little danger stand in the way of a good story. In the course of his career, he has reported on modern-day slavery, dived with great white sharks and accompanied Afghan police into illegal poppy fields.

Now, in his weirdly compelling book, “Among the Cannibals: Adventures on the Trail of Man’s Darkest Ritual,” Raffaele, 64, who writes for Smithsonian magazine, intrepidly makes contact with 21st-century man-eaters. The author, who is recuperating from shrapnel wounds suffered on assignment during a suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan, spoke to me by telephone from his hotel in New York.

Schatz: Why do the Korawai in Papua New Guinea practice cannibalism?

Raffaele: They do not see it as they are eating human beings. I see it as a Stone-Age rationalization of disease that kills you, and you don’t really know why…. What they’ve come up with is this monster from the other world called a khakhua. He comes into the clan, and he inhabits the body of someone they know. And then begins to magically eat the insides of another clan member who eventually dies. And when he dies, the Korawai have to find the khakhua who killed him, so they search about and eventually come up with the khakhua and kill that person and eat that person. They have to get revenge against the khakhua.”


(Related: documentary on the Aghori sect in India-“Sadhus: India’s Holy Men” and “Cannibalism May Have Wiped Out Neanderthals”)

Why Essays Are So Damned Boring

Gentle is how the Best American Essays 2006 guest editor, Lauren Slater, characterizes the essay she prefers. It must not, she tells us squarely, have “too much tooth.” Its author may be (and usually is) “narcissistic . . . but in a harmless way” (my italics). The essay’s “core,” she intones, should be “gentleness.” Given the choice to publish a provocative polemic or a navel-examining indulgence of private nostalgia, a haymaker from a literary heavyweight or an unbearably light appreciation of the author’s slippers, editors today will invariably choose the latter.

Full Story: Utne Reader

(via Tomorrow Museum)

Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon? Meet the Man Who Ran the Secret Program

Ketchum was referring to his work at Edgewood Arsenal, headquarters of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, in the 1960s, when America’s national security strategists were high on the prospect of developing a nonlethal incapacitating agent, a so-called humane weapon, that could knock people out without necessarily killing anyone. Top military officers hyped the notion of “war without death,” conjuring visions of aircraft swooping over enemy territory releasing clouds of “madness gas” that would disorient the bad guys and dissolve their will to resist, while U.S. soldiers moved in and took over.

Ketchum was into weapons of mass elation, not weapons of mass destruction. He oversaw a secret research program that tested an array of mind-bending drugs on American GIs, including an exceptionally potent form of synthetic marijuana. (Most of these drugs had no medical names, just numbers supplied by the Army.) “Paradoxical as it may seem,” Ketchum asserted, “one can use chemical weapons to spare lives, rather than extinguish them.”

Full Story: Alternet

(Thanks Bill!)

Long Genesis P. Orridge Article in Radar

genesis p orridge

Radar has a great long article Genesis P. Orridge up:

He and Breyer wouldn’t actually get to talk to each other until the next evening, when they accompanied Sellers to a party at the S&M club Paddles, jabbering away like kids while Jackie ground the heel of her motorcycle boot into some guy’s testicles. On the morning in question, though, there wasn’t time. Jackie had to go to work, and Gen was on his way out. He hadn’t really come to Terence’s dungeon for punishment, anyway; he’d already had more than enough of that in his life.

Full Story: Radar

Aaron Gell: Strange Love (PDF, Google Docs account required)

Another PDF, no Google Docs account required

(via Tomorrow Museum)

Update: I had only read the first 3/4s of this article last night. The last 1/4 is even more amazing. It contains the first public statements I know of by Gen since Lady Jaye’s death.

This is the best piece of writing I’ve read in a long time.

Esozone announces more speakers and performers: Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule, Freeman, and more!

We’re happy to announce the latest additions to our schedule:


Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule
Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule is a ChaOrder Magician and Baphometic avatar somewhat obsessed with physical reification and Malkuthian manifestation. While s/he does enjoy shamanic and astral journeys via various trance techniques (occasionally inc. extreme entheogens such as Ayahuasca or fly agarics), s/he is not content to just travel to other dimensions, rather enjoying bringing back aspects of them to the physical plane.

S/he is thus constantly reburbishing hir Temple, that is the physical form seen as a malleable tool: Physical mutations as magickal acts (chakra piercing and weaving, Tattoo Tarot Tantra, etc.), Body Art in extremis, Sex Magick and Environment Sculpting.

As a vessel for these processes and others, hir Metamorphic Ritual Theatre Company presents public rituals aiming to transform rather than merely entertain the audiences – who thus be-come the initiates, sometimes being led through environmental installations (such as Labyrinths woven through the woods) while interacting directly with other characters.
Such ritual theatre is infused with universal symbology gleaned from Orryelle’s studies of alchemy and comparative mythologies (especially Norse, Egyptian, Hindu, Mayan and Greek).

Oryelle’s appearance at Esozone is courtesy of R6XX.


Freeman was arguably the breakout star of last year’s Esozone, wowing our Friday night audience with tales of corporate logo hypnotism, illuminated factions of hollow-earth dwelling reptiles, and the relationship between trauma-based mind control and Britney Spears. Back for a second round, Freeman promises to take Esozone participants even deeper down the rabbit hole.

Plus live music by:

cult of zir

Cult of Zir

DJ sets by:



James Curcio will present a musical installation

And workshops or panel appearances by:

St. Mae

Wes Unruh


Joseph Thiebes of the Sekhet Maat Lodge

Jack Malebranche


Plus there will be interactive activities throughout the weekend, such as walkabouts, scavenger hunts, sword fighting, and a comics jam.

For more info, check out our schedule, speakers and performers pages.

Disinfo reader’s favorite books

The results from Disinfo’s reader survey:

1. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
4. The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy), J. R. R. Tolkien
5. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
6. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
7. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
8. Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu
9. The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
10. Ishmael, Daniel Quinn


1. Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu
2. A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn
3. The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
4. Cosmic Trigger (Series), Robert Anton Wilson
5. Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
6. Prometheus Rising, Robert Anton Wilson
7. The Bible, Various Authors
8. Walden, Henry David Thoreau
9. God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens
10. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig

Full Story: Disinfo Myspace

Ballardian on Kode9 on Ballard

In 2007, Burial’s last album was a hot topic in certain areas of the blog world, with Burial, as an entity, often bracketed with kode9, many thinking the two producers were one and the same – hence the photo heading this post. People really were straining to find the appropriate terms to describe this strange, otherworldly music, and often the conclusion reached was: it’s Ballardian. I became interested in tracking this meme because, as Steve suggests, Crash would invariably be the book that got referenced, yet I couldn’t really hear Crash’s themes in the music of either kode9 or Burial. It seemed that Crash was beginning to function as a default Ballardian reference, like 1984 standing in for ?Orwellian’. […]

Regarding ?The Sound-Sweep’, I too have been very influenced by the musique concrete aspects of this story, and I have to thank Paul Williams for turning me onto the noise in Ballard’s work. Once I looked for it I found it was everywhere in his writing, and Goodman’s views on this have inspired me also. Given Goodman’s interest in this story of Ballard’s, and the fact that in the Rupture interview he said he is also listening to lots of non-dance music, I also wonder if one day he will produce work in beatless, psychoacoustic, macrocosmic, musique concrete idioms. I think those results would be very interesting indeed.

Full Story: Ballardian

These kids are geniuses…

(via Gutterbreakz)

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