Mighty Denis Johnson, My Hero and “Contemporary,” RIP, Part II

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THIS POST IS INEXCUSABLY LATE. IT WAS A ROUGH SUMMER. IT’S BEEN A ROUGHER FALL. ANYWAY, LET’S ROCK.

Hey, warning: copious name-dropping ensues in the following text. I can’t help it. This is my Denis Johnson story: fact, not fiction. Denis wrote about weirdos and losers burning at the edge of town, weirdos and losers burning at the edge of everything. I’m one of those weirdos and losers. Denis saw right through me. His sentences blasted my shadow on the concrete. Here we go.

IN THE FALL OF 1986 I was 21 years old and trying to write a dystopian novel called RUIN. (A dystopian novel! Jesus Christ, what a concept!) Anyway, my immediate readers—friends, slackers, poseurs, weirdos, losers—they all shook their heads and said, “Who the fuck is going to want to read this?”

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Well, my teachers read RUIN and liked it. My teachers at the time were Peggy Rambach, onetime wife of Andre Dubus, and Robert Waukenon of The Art Institute of Boston. And they both said to me, independent of each other, “Go read Denis Johnson.”

God, I wish Denis could read this. He’d be amused.

Let me clarify: when Peggy Rambach and Robert Waukenon told me to go read Denis Johnson, they were in NO WAY likening my sentences to Denis Johnson’s. BUT they recognized what I was aiming for—the darkness, the yearning, the passion.

Peggy recommended that I should read Denis’ first novel, ANGELS. I had to special-order it. The special order took months. It was worth the wait.

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“Dazzling and savage.” Indeed. Denis Johnson’s ANGELS ripped me to shreds. SHREDS. What a book. What words. Holy shit, Peggy Rambach had ushered me into an arena I wasn’t fit to enter.

Waukenon suggested I read Denis’ second novel, FISKADORO.

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Like the rest of the world, I didn’t like FISKADORO. “Curse of the second novel,” which is a myth I do not buy into, it’s nonsense. For example, Iian Banks’ second novel, Walking On Glass is infinitely superior to The Wasp Factory. But at the end of the day FISKADORO just didn’t work. As much as I wanted to like it, I didn’t.

But then…

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“Daring” is putting it mildly. I’ve never read a text written by a man more convincing in conjuring of the voice of a woman than The Stars at Noon. What… balls. no screwy pun intended. I wouldn’t have even tried such a feat.

BUT THEN—

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JESUS’ SON hit the reading/writing community like an ELE (Extinction Level Event) slamming the planet. Suddenly, everybody fucking loved Denis Johnson! Writers, readers, and editors whom I loved and respected were all over him like Uncle’s Day at a whorehouse, an indelicate but accurate comparison. It was sick. But no one made me sicker and madder than Gordon fucking Lish.

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For those not in the know, Gordon Lish’s chief claim to fame is to have “discovered” Raymond Carver— a claim Carver himself came to vehemently refute, going as far as commanding Random House to forbid Lish from editing his final books.

Lish was my editor, my publisher, and my “employer,” ha. I would show up at his office  early in the day and do all his slave work, and all the other editors in Random House (Knopf, baby) would walk by Lish’s office and shout, “GIVE BOUCHER SOME MONEY, GORDON.”

He never did.

Anyway, when Denis Johnson hit the planet like an ELE around 1991, 1992, 1993, Lish was THE BIGGEST poseur, like he was in on Denis from the start. He wasn’t. Not even close. Which really incredibly pissed me off—Lish was just following the fucking crowd, the same way way he did a year before when Cormac McCarthy made it really big with ALL THE PRETTY HORSES and Lish crowed and crowed that McCarthy made Faulkner look like “a punk.” (He didn’t. Not even close.)

Which led me to an important realization: despite Lish’s self-delusion that he was a trail-blazer, Gordon Lish revealed himself as a follower, a fucking privileged white boy coming from money and literary snobbery— a liar, a faker, a ghost.

Denis Johnson was a real man, man. He ate, bled, shat, fuckedand wept like a real man.

These are all of his books:

https://www.amazon.com/Denis-Johnson/e/B000AQ3FL0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1508181439&sr=8-2-ent

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Crying as I finish this. Goddamn it. God fucking damn it.

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New Mix: Comes The Rain

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tracklist—rain

For My Girl

Comes The Rain

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GFstudio / Carisa Swenson at THE ZEALOT’S ELIXIR

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Carisa says,

Now showing through March 7 at Modern Eden Gallery, “The Zealot’s Elixir”….a show focusing on snake oil salesmen, false prophets and hope for the lost. My piece, “Shining Apples” (inspired by the song of the same name on the “Tales from the Black Meadow” album by The Soulless Party) is on display with a collection of amazing works. To view the exhibition online check it out here!

A few photos of my contribution to the show.

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Visit Carisa at goblinfruitstudio and on twitter.

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DEATH HAS A VOICE / Death and the Maiden

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DEATH HAS A VOICE

S Elizabeth has created this beautiful playlist of women who have constructed and composed aural memento mori exclusively for Death & the Maiden. As humans, we occupy a unique place in the saga of mortality, and these women in particular offer illuminating perspectives on the subject as it relates to the afterlife, funerals & wakes, ancestral memories, etc.

'Gallows' Cocorosie [2010]

– S Elizabeth –

S Elizabeth

S. Elizabeth is a fancier of fine old things, nostalgic whimsies and magics both macabre and melancholy. She is a shadow seamstress, star stitcher, word witch and weaver of the weird. She currently lives among the mosses and swamps, enjoys her coffee a great deal, and is a friend to all felines. You can follow S. Elizabeth on Twitter @mlleghoul

unquietthings.com


Death has a voice.

From end of life celebrations, to fatalistic revelations, to mournful lamentations, there are myriad ways in which music gives death, and the dead, a voice.  Songs of the sighs of a sorrowful widow, the heartfelt  promises to a friend on their deathbed, the haunting whispers of a ghost to it’s murderer  – music is one of the most profound ways we can express or respond to the end of life experience.

The following playlist is comprised of women who have constructed and composed aural memento mori in this regard. As humans, we occupy a unique place in the saga of mortality, and these women in particular offer illuminating perspectives on the subject as it relates to the afterlife, funerals & wakes, ancestral memories, etc.

                  http://8tracks.com/ghoulnextdoor/death-and-the-maiden

 Track List:

O Death – Jen Titus
Waiting Around to Die – The Be Good Tanyas
Harmonica – Anna von Hausswolff
Cross Bones Style – Cat Power
Wakes – Nina Nastasia
Sleeping Dead – Emily Jane White
Caleb Meyer – Gillian Welch
Fancy Funeral – Lucinda Williams
Long Ride Home – Patty Griffin
Family – Dar Williams
Buried in Teeth – Mariee Sioux
The Dirt – Mirel Wagner
Into Dust – Mazzy Star
Herb Girls Of Birkenau – Rasputina
Eulogy – La Vampires & Zola Jesus
Gallows – Cocorosie
A Lily For The Spectre – Stephanie Dosen
White Fire – Angel Olsen
Graveyard – Feist
Suzanne & I Anna – Calvi
Many Funerals – Eisley
My Boy Builds Coffins – Florence + The Machine
Living Dead – Marine and the Diamonds
Happy Phantom – Tori Amos

There are, of course, songs not included here which you might have on your own personal “Death and the Maiden” playlist – there is so much fantastically beautiful, heartbreaking, music to choose from that taps into our experiences with death and dying, and so your results may vary! Music is intensely personal and so, this list reflects the author’s own experiences.

Feel free to post your own playlist and comments.

This post comes to you via DEAD MAIDENS dot com.

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That Fragment of Ruin: a mix by @mlleghoul / ghoulnextdoor

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► 8tracks radio | That fragment of ruin by ghoulnextdoor.

Inspired by William Hope Hodgson’s The House on The Borderland.
Image: Ed Emshwiller

Tracklist:

Black Arts Cryo Chamber, Dronny Darko | Call of the Exile, NIGHTBRINGER | Onyx Towers, Black Blight | Faces In The Fog, Electric Hell | pathways in the dark, blackantlers | Images of Dream and Death, Wretched Excess | Strange Summoning, Possessor | The Night Scene, Oscillopeisia |The Death, Sumokem | The Prophecy, Lamia Vox | Godhead Emanation., Metatron Omega | Surround the Fire, Muscle and Marrow | Qulielfi (29th Tunnel of Set), y3mk

The tags are dark ambient, drone, black metal, occult, doom. It’s a real feel-good spin, kids! Enjoy.

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Alice’s Wonderland: A Visual Journey through Lewis Carroll’s Mad, Mad World!

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Alice’s Wonderland dives down the rabbit hole and looks at the dazzling ways that Wonderland has been imagined by artists, filmmakers, writers, and more. Get a behind-the-scenes looks at how the books were created, meet Alice Liddell, the inspiration for the fictional Alice, and view the original manuscript copy of Alice in Wonderland, illustrated in Carroll’s own hand.

The fantastical world imagined by Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) – where a white rabbit carries a pocket watch, a crying baby morphs into a squealing pig, and a flamingo is used as a croquet mallet – has inspired countless artists to produce some of their best work. Illustrators such as John Tenniel, chose to tackle the work directly, producing illustrations, films, and shows that strive to accurately depict Wonderland. Others, such as artist Salvador Dali and director Tim Burton, freely adapted Dodgson’s creation, using it as a springboard for their own incredible interpretations. Lushly illustrated paintings, artwork, and sketches, Alice’s Wonderland explores how artists in different fields like art, music, theater, film, and more have interpreted Carroll’s works through the ages. A must-have book for any Alice fan.

Buy it on amazon

An interview with the author:

Visit Cathy on twitter and her website.

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FAUN – ANDRO – LIVE

Slipped across the coffee bar from a friend this morning, sweet fingers sliding the file between the sugar and the stirrers. God, I’m blessed by such friends.

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VideoScope #93 Is In The House!

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YET ANOTHER AMAZING ISSUE! How does The Phantom do it?!

Well, the source material does inspire.

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Spoiler: After being in a film w/ fucking ELVIS, Laurel Goodwin was hired for Star Trek’s THE CAGE because, get this, she had great legs. So in a fit of cinematic genius the wardrobe manager decided to shroud her in one of the bulkiest, grossest costumes ever designed for any woman, ever.

Yes, I am a pig. My Male Gaze is firmly cemented in my cranium. I’m turning 50 in a few weeks, and I doubt I’ll ever change. But it was Gene Roddenberry who would insist on “revenge,” dressing first Nichole Nichols in a “dress uniform” that barely covered her ass AND THEN insisting Marina Sirtis wear something similar an astonishing 20 years later.

Yeah, THE FUTURE LOOKS GREAT FOR WOMEN.

Kidding.

Anyway, the new ‘SCOPE is so chock full of great shit it’s sick. Available at better bookstores everywhere, or visit The Phantom online at videoscopemag.com.

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No I’m Not Dead. Just Been Listening to Music for Dead Winter Souls.

Thankfully, all these mixes were made by living breathing wonderful mortals. So there’s your shot of faith for this yuletide. Yeah, what fools these mortals be. Yet they’re so endlessly strong and yearning, even when their bones are frozen.

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midwinter’s eerie light by ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks

A wintry mix to soothe gentle souls savaged by 24/7 Christmas jingles in your face all the time.

Image by Chris Van Allsburg from the“Ghosts” volume from the Time Life Enchanted World series. (personal scan)

Tracks:

The Last Christmas, Peter Broderick | Wind and Snow, Grouper | Winter Rhymes, Hexperos | Ashen Snow, Dirty Three | O Vis Aeternitatis, Hildegard Von Bingen | Silver Snow Fall, Oaqk | Winter Solstice, Ampop | The Winter, Balmorhea | Darkwood 2, David Darling | I Saw A Swete Semly Syght, Anonymous 4 | The snow prelude n.2, Ludovico Einaudi | Snow, Hauschka | Winter, Saunder Jurriaans And Daniel Bensi | 11 Winter 1, max richter | Sacrament, Adam Hurst | Silent Snow, Chiaroscuro | Es Kann Nicht Ewig Winter Sein, Bersarin Quartett | A v Jerusalime, Kitka | Hands, Be Still, Ólafur Arnalds | Snow + Light, Dustin O’Halloran | Snowdonia, Message To Bears | End (Snowing), Jóhann Jóhannsson

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Enjoy.

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Do We Like These Star Wars / Force Awakens Trailers? #questions

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