Author Archives: Alan Bisbort

About Alan Bisbort

Alan Bisbort is a longtime contributor to the Advocate Newspapers. He is the author of, most recently, Beatniks: A Guide to an American Subculture (Greenwood) and "When You Read This, They Will Have Killed Me": The Life and Redemption of Caryl Chessman, Whose Execution Shook America (Da Capo). He teaches at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Connecticut-Waterbury

Let’s Get (Meta)Physical

Johnes forum

The world needs more philosophers and less philanderers, more oracles and less oligarchs. If you agree with this, then the Philosophical Forums in Connecticut has a two-day event designed just for you at the Kasbah Garden Café in New Haven this weekend called “Metaphysics in Art, Architecture, Poetry and Science.”

The forum will combine discussion and readings with formal presentations by scholars like Julianne Davidow (author of Outer Beauty, Inner Joy: Contemplating the Soul of the Renaissance), Scott Olsen (author of The Golden Section : Nature’s Greatest Secret), Kathleen Damiani, Steve Bass, Dee Rapposelli, and artists Ebenezer Sunder Singh and Don Axleroad.

Other participants include:
Ray Coutant
, filmmaker & Philosopher, PhD.Communications, Bear, Delaware
Prof. Robert J. Cuneo MFA, arts educator, University of Bridgeport (retired) 
Christine V. Miller,
 writer 
Magda Mraz
, educator & artist of large allegories, student of Spiral Dynamics , originally from the Czech Republic;
Mariellen Champdelaine, artist
Maxwell Clark, artist & essayist, New Haven.

For more information, contact the forum’s organizer, the tireless Johnes Ruta, independent curator and art director of the New Haven Public Library’s Azoth Gallery. His email is azothgallery@comcast.net

For more details on the forum, go to http://AzothGallery.com/ 

Friends of the Earth?

Scan

Every spring, right around Earth Day, I am astonished, astounded and humbled by how Mother Earth pushes forth new growth. Despite everything we do to her. Despite all that we take for granted. Despite the perpetual spew of carbon into the atmosphere and so on and so forth. In my collage, above, I try to convey that feeling.

However, the Lizard King, Jim Morrison, said it best—this from the Doors’ song, “When the Music’s Over”:

“What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down…”

Here’s one of the best videos of the Doors performing the song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLAr-WlxMZY

BP: Beep Peep

BP: Beep Peep

BP

Exxon will forever be linked with the Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska that netted a record fine and still taints the formerly pristine waters and shores there 25 years after the fact. This is as it should be, of course.

However, British Petroleum (BP) caused an even bigger environmental disaster in American waters only three years ago at the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, a leak that was as horrific as the attempt to plug it was botched. While Exxon is no friend of the environment, its record since the Valdez spill has been far better than BP’s, which has a history of environmental crimes, cover-ups, corruption and just plain lies.

Who can forget BP’s then-CEO Tony Hayward’s pity party over the blowback from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTdKa9eWNFw

Poor guy, just wanted his life back.

Now, after a veritable slap on the wrist, BP has been cleared to begin pumping oil out of the Gulf of Mexico again. Greg Palast, an American investigative journalist based in Great Britain, has followed the trail of tears left behind by weepy Tony Hayward.

http://www.gregpalast.com/lap-dancers-the-cia-pay-offs-and-bps-deepwater-horizon/

Conclusion: The arrival of electric cars can not come any sooner.

Free Junk

junk

Do you need to furnish a new apartment or even an entire house? Do you need to BUILD an apartment or even an entire house? How about a lawn mower, slightly used, to go with these projects? And a plastic sandbox and a bicycle in need of a wee bit of elbow grease? Garden hose? A stuffed animal or three hundred?

Well then, please come to Cheshire in the springtime, because April is the coolest month for junk hereabouts. The town has, after a three-year hiatus, revived its bulky waste pickup program. Consequently, every home in the town has emptied out the contents of their basement and put the detritus at the curb.

In theory, the material awaits pickup from the trash hauling company contracted by the town. But, in practice, enterprising trash pickers arrive from miles around and leave Cheshire with their salvaged loads tottering like the Clampett family in Beverly Hillbillies.

Come join the fun. It’s the ultimate in recycling and reusing and it goes on all month.  Do NOT let this stuff end up in the landfill when it can FILL your house!

Cat Stevens??!!??!!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct another crop of musical icons this Thursday night in Brooklyn. At least this year they’re giving nods to deserving folks like Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham.

Some of the “undercard” at this year’s ceremony seems dubious at best but, hey, it’s their museum and they can induct whoever they want. Besides, everyone keeps their own private rock ‘n’ roll museum locked inside their hearts. However, the RRHOF really scraped the bottom of the barrel this year with Cat Stevens. Wow, nothing says “rock ‘n’ roll” quite like “Cat Stevens,” ya know?

Cat stevens

When last we saw this Cat (aka Yusuf Islam), he was still refusing to admit that he backed the Ayatollah’s 1989 fatwa on the novelist Salman Rushdie for the “blasphemy” of having written the novel The Satanic Verses. But this piece of video, proof that Stevens/Islam did in fact call for Rushdie’s death, just won’t go away:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Oienjf0GK8

Perhaps sensing that the ceremony had become more of a wake or an entombment than a celebration, the Hall has opened the event to the public for the first time, and is holding it in a basketball arena (Barclays Center, where the Nets play). In years past, the induction ceremony was for high-rollers only, with seats and tables going for king’s ransoms. They’re not exactly giving the seats away this year, with prices ranging from $55 to $576.40. But still, you can go:

http://www.barclayscenter.com/events/detail/rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-induction-ceremony

The highlight of the ceremony in Brooklyn will, no doubt, be Bruce Springsteen inducting his former E Street Band, and performing with them, and perhaps the well-deserved, belated salutes to Epstein and Oldham. Every inductee’s presenter has been decided and announced (e.g. Michael Stipe will induct Nirvana, Tom Morello will induct KISS, etc.). Everyone but poor Cat Stevens.

Might I suggest Salman Rushdie be given the honors? Turnabout is fair play. And it just screams “rock ‘n’ roll”!

Rushdie

 

 

Japan Before The Last War

Shigeru Mizuki

Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan’s masters of animation and cartooning. He specializes in yokai, cultural anthropology tinged with the supernatural and filled with animals thought to possess magical powers, some of them taking the form of monsters (think: Mothra, Godzilla, etc.). At age 92, however, Mizuki has turned his gifts on the even larger, stranger animal of his homeland, to create a four-volume portrait of twentieth-century Japan thousands of pages in length (this volume alone has 560 pages). Daunting as that sounds, Mizuki is as playful as he is thorough, using a narrator named Rat Man, who serves as his guide through the wreckage.

Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan, the first volume of this epic, has just been published by Drawn & Quarterly, which published his stunning look at World War II from behind Japanese lines, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, two years ago. That book was drawn almost entirely from his own experiences during the war, in which he lost his left arm to an Allied bombing, nearly died from malaria and was a prisoner of war on New Guinea.

Showa is as brilliantly drawn and meticulously footnoted as Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths. It is also a chilling reminder of the relentless plodding toward world war that began as early as the aftermath of the “Great War” (World War One). Showa takes Japan right up to the brink of Pearl Harbor.

Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki, Drawn & Quarterly, 560 pages, $24.95, www.drawnandquarterly.com

Who Needs Sundance?

Yale Latin American film series

For the past month, an exciting film series has been taking place in New Haven, apparently under the hipster radar. It is the NEFIAC Latin American and Iberian Film Series, sponsored by The Council for Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale. All films are free, open to the public, and have English subtitles. The complete schedule is included in the poster above.

One event that has already occurred was the screening of two films by Cuban-born Miguel Coyula, his work in progress Blue Heart and Memories of Overdevelopment.

Ana Arellano’s CT Latino News article on Coyula will make you wish you’d gone to the screening:

http://ctlatinonews.com/2014/03/17/yale-latin-american-film-series-highlights-independent-films/

Furthermore, it will make you NOT want to miss the last three screenings in the festival:

March 31, 2014. 7 pm. Luce Hall Auditorium. Aku Rodríguez will present La gran falacia (2013, Puerto Rico). Documentary.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq70HCYln4M

April 9, 2014. 7 pm. LC102. Luis Argueta (Guatemala) will present the rough cut of his soon to be released documentary, Abuelos y nietos juntos: Two Generations Together.  http://vimeo.com/72932847

He will also show scenes from his work in progress, The U-Turn,
http://www.theuturnfilm.com/

April 14, 2014. 7 pm. Luce Hall Auditorium. Isabel Castro will present Crossing Over, a rough cut of her soon to be released documentary.

http://crossingoverdocumentary.com/#

 

Hard Rocking Ray Hardman

Blanco and the Radiation

Who’d have thought that the smooth-voiced WNPR host Ray Hardman would harbor the heart of a garage rocker? Count me among the “not I” camp. It’s like finding out Miami Dolphins’ resident bully Richie Incognito collects butterflies or knits.

For those who still don’t believe, allow me to introduce you to Hardman’s band, The Radiation, seen here in this video clip with Blanco in a massively hot version of the Bellrays’ “Blues for Godzilla.”

http://vimeo.com/89510639

And here they are performing a cover of Love’s “7 + 7 Is.”

http://www.reverbnation.com/radiationgarage

The best news of all is that you can behold Ray Hardman in the flesh, along with The Radiation AND Blanco AND the Blanco Brothers, next Saturday, March 29, at Sully’s Pub in Hartford.

Above is the handsome poster for the show.

Your WNPR listening experience will change forever.

Thank You, Bart

bartcop

During the eight-year reign of Bush the Dumber, only a few things stood between us and complete and paralyzing despair. David Rees’ Get Your War On comic strip, Steve Gilliard’s News Blog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Gilliard), Media Whores Online (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_Whores_Online) and Digby’s Hullabaloo spring readily to mind. Rees’ strip is no more (it served its purpose), Gilliard is dead, Media Whores disappeared into the ether but, thankfully, Digby is still plugging away. Here’s a link to her indispensable blog: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

Now we have to add one more to the loss column: Bartcop. This may be the biggest loss of all. Bartcop, the longest running political satire site on the web, was an inspiration, if not a template, for hundreds of other progressive blogs that came in its wake. “Bart,” whose real name was Terry Coppage, died last week after a many-year battle with leukemia. Somehow, day in and day out, week in and week out for nearly 20 years, from his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Bart kept the hammer going, skewering the pompous lying bastards in Washington and the corporate media that enabled them. He took particular glee in savaging Bush, whom he memorably nicknamed The Murder Monkey, and “Darth” Cheney, and the caricatures of both that appeared on Bartcop were delightfully inflammatory.

Bart the man and Bartcop the website were like anchors in the constantly shifting currents of the Internet. There was no one else as fearless. Just knowing he was out there, even if you didn’t check the site every day or even every week, was as consoling as knowing that that Grand Canyon and Big Sur were out there, though you hadn’t laid eyes on them.

Here’s a link to Bartcop’s site. Check Bart’s “Last Word” and then explore the back issues. You have hours of fun ahead of you.

http://www.bartcop.com/

 

Picturing Punk

Cafe 9 Photo show

Tom Hearn grew up in Cheshire with a guitar in one hand and a camera in the other. On Friday night at Café Nine, his two hands come together, so to speak, at the opening of an exhibition of his rock ‘n’ roll photographs. Hearn, whose boyhood buddies Eddie “Legs” McNeil, John Holmstrom and Ged Dunn left the suburbs to start Punk magazine, was never without his camera when he went into Manhattan to meet up with his Cheshire posse. Many of the photos—which are in living/breathing black and white—are from forays into New York (and CBGB, et al), but others document the burgeoning punk scene in New Haven. Think the Ramones, Debbie Harry, the Dolls, Link Wray, Robert Gordon.

The photos will be on view at Café Nine for the month of March. The opening reception is Friday, March 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Café Nine, 260 State Street, New Haven, 203-789-8281, www.cafenine.com

The legendary Furors will be providing music at the reception.

At one time, the fate of the nation rested in the hands of these three gentlemen from Cheshire pictured below (L-R) John Holmstrom, Eddie “Legs” McNeil and Ged Dunn, at the “Punk Dump” in New York. Photo by Tom Hearn.

PunkDump 1