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Naked Brunch:  The Recipe for William S. Burroughs Eggs
07:59 am


William Burroughs

It would appear the Beat writer William S. Burroughs had a dish named after him by the same chef who is said to have created the crepe suzette, Henri Charpentier.

Charpentier was a very well-known and hugely successful chef who had made his name at the Savoy in London, before opening his own restaurant Original Henri Restaurant & Bar in New York around 1906. Customers at his swanky restaurant included film stars, politicians and heads of state. In 1938 he closed the restaurant and moved to Chicago where he opened the Café de Paris. Then in 1945, he moved again, this time to the west coast, where he set-up another exclusive restaurant in Redondo Beach.

According to writer and blogger, Matthew Rowley it’s more than probable that Burroughs ate at one of Charpentier’s restaurants, most likely in Chicago, where the chef named a dish after the writer.

For a few years, in the early 1940’s, Burroughs lived in Chicago while Charpentier ran Café de Paris in the city’s Park Dearborn Hotel. He had a few jobs in Chicago, including a stint as an exterminator, a role that would resonate through his writing for decades. Exterminators don’t make bank, but with an allowance from his well-to-do family, Burroughs probably could afford to eat well. And he was definitely a character: he’d sawn off one of his own fingers in an effort to impress a man with whom he was infatuated. I’m guessing that even in 1943, William S. Burroughs made an impression.

I’m also supposing it was during this time, while Burroughs and Charpentier where both in Chicago, that the French chef caught a wild hare and decided to name a dish after an eccentric customer. Of course, this wouldn’t have been a unique honor. I don’t think ol’ Henri buttered toast without naming it after some American celebrity, friend, hero, or other person he’d want to compliment.

Charpentier published his recipe for “Eggs, William S. Burroughs” in his cookbook Food and Finesse: The Bride’s Bible that was privately published and limited to only 1,000 copies for customers and friends. Amongst the recipes contained inside are “Pheasant, Samuel Morse”; “Lamb, Grover Cleveland”; “Cauliflower, Eli Whitney”; “Guinea Hen, Ulysses S. Grant”; “Brandy Apples, Amelia Earhart”; and on page 426, is the recipe for “Eggs, William S. Burroughs.”

Eggs William S. Burroughs

By Henri Charpentier, 1945

Chop one onion and place it into a pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Brown it.

Take the green part of 1 chicory salad (keep the white part for a salad). Chop it fine and add it to the onion. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add 4 chopped hard-boiled eggs, 1 clove of garlic that has been crushed into a little chopped parsley, 2 chopped peeled tomatoes, 1 more tablespoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of meat stock, 1 pinch of pepper, one pinch of salt, and one sherry-glassful of claret. Cook for 5 minutes.

Boil 2 handfuls of noodles for 15 minutes. Strain. Be sure they are free of all water. Place them on the bottom of a baking dish. Cover with the chicory, etc., and bake in a preheated moderate oven of 350°F for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

This certainly adds some new texture to Burroughs’ time in Chicago and brings a slightly different meaning to You Got Any Eggs For Fats?
Via Rowley’s Whiskey Forge

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Kurt Cobain asks William Burroughs to appear in a Nirvana video
09:37 am

Pop Culture

William Burroughs
Kurt Cobain

In August 1993, Kurt Cobain wrote William Burroughs to ask if he would appear alongside his band Nirvana in the first video release from their album In Utero. Though Cobain had been in touch with Burroughs before, the pair had not yet met. Cobain had previously supplied music for Burroughs’ spoken word disc The “Priest They Called Him.

Interviewer: How did you get on with William Burroughs when you recorded together recently?

Cobain: That was a long distance recording session. [Laughs] We didn’t actually meet.

Interviewer: Did he show a genuine awareness of your music?

Cobain: No, we’ve written to one another and we were supposed to talk the other day on the phone, but I fell asleep — they couldn’t wake me up. I don’t know if he respects my music or anything; maybe he’s been through my lyrics and seen some kind of influence from him or something, I don’t know. I hope he likes my lyrics, but I can’t expect someone from a completely different generation to like rock’n’roll — I don’t think he’s ever claimed to be a rock’n’roll lover, y’know. But he’s taught me a lot of things through his books and interviews that I’m really grateful for. I remember him saying in an interview, “These new rock’n’roll kids should just throw away their guitars and listen to something with real soul, like Leadbelly.” I’d never heard about Leadbelly before so I bought a couple of records, and now he turns out to be my absolute favorite of all time in music. I absolutely love it more than any rock’n’roll I ever heard.

Burroughs was one of Cobain’s idols, and he hoped he could convince the writer to appear in the video for the song “Heart-Shaped Box” as an old man on a cross who is pecked by crows. In his journal, Cobain explained that birds are “reincarnated old men with tourrets syndrome.”

“. . . their true mission. To scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth . . . screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears but sadly we don’t speak bird.”

Burroughs knocked back the offer to appear with Cobain in the promo, though he would later make his final appearance in a piece of shit video by U2.

August 2, 1993

Mr. William Burroughs

Dear William:

It’s a bit odd writing someone whom I’ve never met but with whom I’ve already recorded a record.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to do the record—it’s a great honor to be pictured alongside you on the back cover.  I am writing you now regarding the possibility of your appearing alongside my band (Nirvana) in the first video from our new album, “In Utero.”

While I know Michael Meisel from Gold Mountain Entertainment (my management company) has been speaking to James Grauerholz, I wanted the opportunity to personally let you know why I wanted you to appear in the video.

Most importantly, I wanted you to know that this request is not based on a desire to exploit you in any way.  I realize that stories in the press regarding my drug use may make you think that this request comes from a desire to parallel our lives.  Let me assure you that this is not the case.  As a fan and student of your work, I would cherish the opportunity to work directly with you.  To the extent that you may want to avoid any direct use of your image (thus avoiding the aforementioned link for the press to devour), I would be happy to have my director look into make-up techniques that could conceal your identity.  While I would be proud to have William Burroughs appear as himself in my video, I am more concerned with getting the opportunity to work with you than I am with letting the public know (should that be your wish).

Having said that, let me reiterate how much I would like to make this happen.  While I am comfortable letting Michael and James discuss this further.  I am available to discuss this with you at your convenience.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Best regards,

Kurt Cobain

While on tour with Nirvana in October 1993, Cobain visited Burroughs at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. In Nirvana: The Day-By-Day Chronicle, Burroughs recalled the meeting:

“I waited and Kurt got out with another man. Cobain was very shy, very polite, and obviously enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t awestruck at meeting him. There was something about him, fragile and engagingly lost. He smoked cigarettes but didn’t drink. There were no drugs. I never showed him my gun collection.”

Along with his family and his child, Cobain counted meeting William Burroughs as one of the high points of his life.
Below, Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” video. Imagine how extra amazing this video would have been with WSB hanging from that cross!

Previously on Dangerous Minds
When Kurt Cobain met William Burroughs
Via FuckYeahBeatniks!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Take a creative writing course with William Burroughs
07:00 am


William Burroughs

So, you want to write but can’t afford those darned writing courses you see advertised online or in all those fancy cultural ‘zines you spend your hard earned dollars on?

Well, fret no more, for now you can have your very own creative writing class from William S. Burroughs, all thanks to the wonders of YouTube.

Burroughs gave these creative writing classes at Naropa University in 1979, where the author discussed works of literature, writing techniques and exercises for becoming a better writer.

Lecture One:

William S. Burroughs lecture on Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and A Short Trip Home, and Stephen King’s The Shining.

Burroughs also discusses exercises for increasing awareness, books as mental film, codes of conduct, heroes, and the film of Burroughs’s novel Naked Lunch.


Lecture Two:

William S. Burroughs lectures on creative reading, including a discussion about various authors including Joseph Conrad, Denton Welch, Jane Bowles, Brion Gysin, and Julian Jaynes.

Burroughs also addresses subjects such as art heroes, hemispheres of the brain, and the training of assassins.


Lecture Three:

William S. Burroughs’ lecture on creative reading - Burroughs mentions a wide variety of authors including Aleister Crowley, Paul Bowles, and many others.

The class also discusses science fiction, non-fiction, General Semantics, scriptwriting, cloning, rotten ectoplasm, and judgement in cut-ups, as well as Burroughs’s novel The Soft Machine.



William Burroughs on writing and art.
Previously on Dangerous Minds
A word in your era: William Burroughs explains Brion Gysin’s Cut-Up Method

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The ‘lost’ art of William Burroughs’ mind-bending unpublished graphic novel, ‘Ah Pook is Here’
05:31 pm


William Burroughs
Malcolm McNeill

When William S. Burroughs’ novella “Ah Pook Is Here” was published in 1979, it was in a form greatly diminished from the authors’ original intent. That’s not a typo, because although it was Burroughs who wrote the text that was published, there were two creators of the far more elaborate work that it was cleaved from, Burroughs and Malcolm McNeill, a then 23-year-old illustrator.

Burroughs’ apocalyptic text tells the story of a megalomaniac bastard (an “Ugly American” based on a powerful media tycoon like William Randolph Hearst or Henry Luce) who acquires the powers of the Mayan death god, Ah Puch. Conceived as “continuous panorama,” with accordion-style, linked pages in the pictographic format of the surviving Mayan codices—“an early comic book” as per Burroughs—the project, seven years in the making, consisted of over 100 detailed illustrations by McNeill, 30 in full color, and about 50 pages of text. “Ah Puch is Here” (as it was originally titled) would have been prohibitively expensive to publish at the time, but it was also rather racy and sexually explicit—including male on male imagery—meaning the pool of potential publishers was certainly very, very small to begin with.

As Burroughs wrote in the forward to the 1979 book:

“[O]ver the years of our collaboration Malcolm McNeill produced more than a hundred pages of artwork. However, owing partly to the expense of full color reproduction, and because the book falls into neither the category of the conventional illustrated book, nor that of a comix publication, there have been difficulties with the arrangements for the complete work. The book is in fact unique…”

That it was. “Ah Puch is Here” wouldn’t have been the first graphic novel—Burroughs’ own American publisher Grove Press had already put out Guy Peellaert and Pierre Barther’s Adventures of Jodelle as well as Massins’ graphic interpretation of Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano... There was Jean-Claude Forest’s Barbarella, Michael O’Donoghue’s The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist, Guido Crepax’s “Valentina” series, The Adventures of Tintin, lots of stuff comes to mind, but in the main these books were collections of episodic comic strips, not “serious” narratives originally conceived of to fit between two book covers or that would have required luxurious glossy printing to properly display the highly detailed Hieronymous Bosch-inspired photorealistic artwork within… Unique yes, then as now.

Burroughs collaboration with McNeill began in 1970, when the author was living in London and McNeill was an art student. Without any communication between them, McNeil illustrated Burroughs’ submissions to Cyclops magazine, “The Unspeakable Mr. Hart” and impressed him enough so that he wanted to meet the young artist. (It’s worth noting that McNeil scarcely had any idea who Burroughs was at the time, even so, he drew Mr. Hart, the villain, to look a lot like a younger version of El Hombre Invisible.)

After a year of museum research and preliminary design on a mockup, Rolling Stone’s Straight Arrow Books imprint agreed to publish the “Ah Puch” book and McNeil moved to San Francisco to work on it. Straight Arrow was shuttered in 1974 and eventually the project was abandoned before the text portion alone saw the light of day in Ah Pook Is Here and Other Texts in 1979. Malcolm McNeil went on to a distinguished career as an illustrator for the likes of National Lampoon, Marvel Comics and The New York Times and a motion graphics designer and director for film, advertising and television, including winning an Emmy for his work for Saturday Night Live. (This will be of interest to no one save for fellow vets of the 1980s New York advertising world, but McNeil’s Paintbox work was synonymous with Charlex, the NYC-based video production house probably best known for The Cars’ “You Might Think” video, dozens of TV show openings and hundreds of commercials.)

After some 30 years in storage, the by now fragile “Ah Puck is Here” artwork was restored by Malcolm McNeill for exhibition, and was shown at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, the Saloman Arts Gallery in Manhattan and elsewhere.

Fantagraphics have published two separate Ah Pook books, one a gorgeous coffee table book of McNeil’s extraordinary panoramic illustrations for the Burroughs collaboration, The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel and a memoir, Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me, an intimate, affectionate portrait of their unlikely friendship and multi-year/multi-continent joint project.

The first book has very little text, and although it’s impossible to make heads or tails out of what is going on with the drawings alone, trust me, you get a very good sense of the epicness of the vision and also see some of what would have made 99% of the publishers of the 1970s very squeamish. Sadly, for reasons McNeil politely declines to go too far in-depth about, he was denied the use of Burroughs’ text for the Fantagraphics publication by his estate and this is a real shame.

However, if you have a copy of truncated 1979 Ah Pook Is Here (I do) it becomes an even more satisfying excuse to dive in deeply on the detective work and match passages from the text to the artwork. If you’re interested enough to purchase the coffee table book, surely you are going to have to rush over to eBay or ABEBooks and get yourself a copy of Ah Pook Is Here and Other Texts, just bear that in mind.

Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me, the memoir and the third book in this trilogy, is no less essential for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of what made Burroughs tick, and should, along with the artwork that was regretfully parted from WSB’s text, be seen as one of the most exciting things to come along in Burroughs scholarship in recent years. It is, by far, the most observational—and highly personal/subjective, which makes it fun—look at Burroughs produced by any of his friends or collaborators. McNeil is a fine writer—the man must be a superb raconteur—and he never forgets who the book is really about.

I must say, as a longtime William Burroughs fanatic, I was wowed by McNeil’s twinned Fantagraphics books (which are beautiful matching objects) and spellbound by his tales of working with Burroughs. There are really three books here that you need, so it’s not a cheap proposition to acquire the lot, but if you’re a big Burroughs fanboy, it’s certainly well worth the expense.

Furthermore, if you’re so inclined Malcolm McNeil is selling very reasonably priced limited edition prints of several of his incredible “Ah Pook” panels.


The Dead City Radio recording of Burroughs reading “Ah Puck is Here” provides the soundtrack to this amazing short animated film directed by Philip Hunt with music by John Cale.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Junkie’: William Burroughs talks about his heroin habit, 1977
04:44 pm


William Burroughs

Uncle Bill ‘fesses up about his heroin habit.

This interview from 1977 begins with William Burroughs replying to a question as to whether he had any regrets in using heroin?

A writer can profit from things that maybe just unpleasant or boring to someone else, because he uses those subsequently for material in writing. And I would say that the experience I had, that’s described in Junkie, later led to my subsequent books like Naked Lunch. So I don’t regret it. Incidentally, the damage to health is minimal—no matter what the American Narcotics Department may say.

Burroughs may have been clean at the time, but he returned to using Methadone in later life, which makes parts of this interview rather poignant.

For a fascinating article on Burroughs and the history of heroin, check out the Reality Studio.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A Word in Your Era: William Burroughs explains Brion Gysin’s ‘Cut-Up Method’

I have always thought William Burroughs was a terribly superstitious man. His life was tinged by the strange, the paranormal and the occult. Whether this was his interest in the number “23”; or his hours spent gazing into mirrors in search of visions; or his belief that he could negate curses by repeating his own (“Go back, go back…” etc); or that he could, somehow, divine the future from Brion Gysin’s “Cut-Up” techniques.

Of course, he couldn’t. But he was always smart enough to suggest he could (for what it’s worth), while at the same time creating distance through the wry aside, the knowing wink, to escape any suggestion he was deluded.

Put it this way, if some acquaintance buttonholed you at a party, with a relentless, monotone whine of how they closed down a Scientology office by repeatedly playing recorded tapes outside the premises, you would make your excuses and head for the canapes.

Burroughs claims as much here, in his explanation of Brion Gysin’s “Cut-Up Method.”

When you experiment with Cut-Ups over a period of time you find that some of the Cut-Ups in re-arranged texts seemed to refer to future events. I cut-up an article written by John-Paul Getty and got, “It’s a bad thing to sue your own father.” This was a re-arrangement and wasn’t in the original text, and a year later, one of his sons did sue him.

Then comes the knowing aside…

Purely extraneous information, it meant nothing to me. Nothing to gain on either side.

Before he goes on to confirm his acceptance of some mysterious powers of divination.

We had no explanation for this at the time, it just suggesting that when you cut into the Present the Future leaks out. Well, we certainly accepted it, and continued our experiments.


Previously on Dangerous Minds

A Complete Disorientation of the Senses: William Burroughs’ and Anthony Balch’s ‘Cut-Ups’

More on the Burroughs, Gysin and ‘The Cut-Up Method,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Rebels: A Journey Underground’ w/ Timothy Leary, RAW, William Burroughs, William Gibson & more

Rebels: A Journey Underground is an excellent Canadian documentary history of “the counterculture” produced for television in the late 1990s and narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. It’s the work of writer/director Kevin Alexander, who did a great job with it. More people should see it. I’m happy to see that the series has been posted in full on YouTube.

The six-part series covers a wide swath of historical countercultures moving from William Blake and 1830s Parisian bohemians to mostly 20th century movements like hippie, Jazz, Beatniks, punk, and what was at the time the series was produced, the brave new world of cyberspace.

In the final episode, “Welcome to Cyberia,” I tell the story on camera of the now notorious corporate fuck-up that resulted in Disinformation receiving well over a million dollars in funding from John Malone’s TCI. This sum included $300,000 worth of marketing money—spent by yours truly in late 1996—that saw it featured on the Netscape homepage for five MONTHS. (If you’re too young to know what Netscape refers to, it was a 90s predecessor of the browser that you are using right now, so that was a very big deal. It was kind of like being on the homepage of virtually everyone who wasn’t logging on using AOL or Compuserve).

When Malone (an extreme conservative dubbed “Darth Vader” by Al Gore) saw Disinformation for the first time, his reaction, I was told by two people actually in the room, was “We paid for this anarchist bullshit? Get rid of it!”

Talking heads include Robert Anton Wilson, William Gibson, Douglas Rushkoff, Genesis P-Orridge, John Lydon, Jello Biafra, Captain Sensible, Richard Hell, Malcolm McLaren, Don Letts, Glen Matlock, Jon Savage, Caroline Coon, Paul Simonon, John Doe, Poly Styrene, Rosemary Leary, Ken Kesey, Paul Krassner, Ray Manzarek, Michael McClure, Anne Waldman, RU Sirius, Mark Pesce, John Perry Barlow, Rudy Rucker and many others.

Part 1: Society’s Shadow

From Bohemia and 19th century European romanticism, this film looks back through history to uncover the beginning of “new vision” thinking in Western civilization and its links to what is now called counterculture. From 1830s Paris to New York City’s Greenwich Village at the turn of the 20th century, it follows the paths which brought Europe’s most rebellious voices to America. Includes profiles of William Blake, Victor Hugo, Theophile Gauthier, Charles Baudelaire, John Reed and Woody Guthrie.

Parts two through six of Rebels: A Journey Underground after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Kurt Cobain met William Burroughs
10:43 am


William Burroughs
Kurt Cobain

Although “The “Priest” They Called Him” might be the most obscure thing in Kurt Cobain’s discography, it’s probably the best selling musical collaboration of William S, Burroughs’s recording career. Basically, in 1992, Cobain contacted his hero, Burroughs about doing something together. Burroughs sent him a tape of a reading he’d done of a short story originally published in his Exterminator collection in 1973 and Cobain added some guitar backing based on “Silent Night” and “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

It was originally released as a limited edition 10-inch EP picture disc on Tim/Kerr Records in 1993, it was subsequently re-released on CD and 10-inch vinyl.

At the time of the collaboration, however, the two had not met. In a carefully prepared “dossier” on the subject found on the web’s premiere Burroughs website, The Reality Studio, their eventual meeting is described thusly, via several sources:

In October 1993 Cobain met in Burroughs in Lawrence, KS.

During this first week of the tour, Alex MacLeod drove Kurt to Lawrence, Kansas, to meet William S. Burroughs. The previous year Kurt had produced a single with Burroughs titled The “Priest” They Called Him, on T/K Records, but they’d accomplished the recording by sending tapes back and forth. “Meeting William was a real big deal for him,” MacLeod remembered. “It was something he never thought would happen.” They chatted for several hours, but Burroughs later claimed the subject of drugs didn’t come up. As Kurt drove away, Burroughs remarked to his assistant. “There’s something wrong with that boy; he frowns for no good reason.”

—Charles R. Cross, Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

Burroughs describes the meeting… “I waited and Kurt got out with another man. Cobain was very shy, very polite, and obviously enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t awestruck at meeting him. There was something about him, fragile and engagingly lost. He smoked cigarettes but didn’t drink. There were no drugs. I never showed him my gun collection.” The two exchanged presents — Burroughs gave him a painting, while Cobain gave him a Leadbelly biography that he had signed. Kurt and music video director Kevin Kerslake originally wanted Burroughs to appear in the video for “In Bloom.”

—Carrie Borzillo, Nirvana: The Day-By-Day Chronicle:

“I’ve been relieved of so much pressure in the last year and a half,” Cobain says with a discernible relief in his voice. “I’m still kind of mesmerized by it.” He ticks off the reasons for his content: “Pulling this record off. My family. My child. Meeting William Burroughs and doing a record with him.

– Rolling Stone interview, 25 October 1993

Cobain killed himself on 5 April 1994.

In Lawrence, meanwhile, William Burroughs sat poring over the lyric sheet of In Utero. There was surely poignancy in the sight of the eighty-year-old author, himself no stranger to tragedy, scouring Cobain’s songs for clues to his suicide. In the event he found only the “general despair” he had already noted during their one meeting. “The thing I remember about him is the deathly grey complexion of his cheeks. It wasn’t an act of will for Kurt to kill himself. As far as I was concerned, he was dead already.” Burroughs is one of those who feel Cobain “let down his family” and “demoralized the fans” by committing suicide.

– Christopher Sandford, Kurt Cobain

Read more at The Reality Studio

Below, detail from a mixed media collage that Burroughs sent Kurt Cobain for this 27th birthday.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
William Burroughs’ cold-blooded letter to Truman Capote

William Burroughs was no fan of Truman Capote as is made clear in this verbal beat down in the form of a letter written by Burroughs upon the publication of Capote’s In Cold Blood.

July 23, 1970

My Dear Mr. Truman Capote

This is not a fan letter in the usual sense — unless you refer to ceiling fans in Panama. Rather call this a letter from “the reader” — vital statistics are not in capital letters — a selection from marginal notes on material submitted as all “writing” is submitted to this department. I have followed your literary development from its inception, conducting on behalf of the department I represent a series of inquiries as exhaustive as your own recent investigations in the sun flower state. I have interviewed all your characters beginning with Miriam — in her case withholding sugar over a period of several days proved sufficient inducement to render her quite communicative — I prefer to have all the facts at my disposal before taking action. Needless to say, I have read the recent exchange of genialities between Mr Kenneth Tynan and yourself. I feel that he was much too lenient. Your recent appearance before a senatorial committee on which occasion you spoke in favor of continuing the present police practice of extracting confessions by denying the accused the right of consulting consul prior to making a statement also came to my attention. In effect you were speaking in approval of standard police procedure: obtaining statements through brutality and duress, whereas an intelligent police force would rely on evidence rather than enforced confessions. You further cheapened yourself by reiterating the banal argument that echoes through letters to the editor whenever the issue of capital punishment is raised: “Why all this sympathy for the murderer and none for his innocent victims?” I have in line of duty read all your published work. The early work was in some respects promising — I refer particularly to the short stories. You were granted an area for psychic development. It seemed for a while as if you would make good use of this grant. You choose instead to sell out a talent that is not yours to sell. You have written a dull unreadable book which could have been written by any staff writer on the New Yorker — (an undercover reactionary periodical dedicated to the interests of vested American wealth). You have placed your services at the disposal of interests who are turning America into a police state by the simple device of deliberately fostering the conditions that give rise to criminality and then demanding increased police powers and the retention of capital punishment to deal with the situation they have created. You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out. Are you tracking me? Know who I am? You know me, Truman. You have known me for a long time. This is my last visit.

Via Letters Of Note

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Everybody Loves William Burroughs: A photographic collection
12:15 pm


William Burroughs

Patti Smith and Burroughs
Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs was photographed with some of the most notable names of the 20th century. Just look at some of the people he’s met. He’d have to have had one of the best “Kevin Bacon Game” rankings of all time.

If Burroughs were alive today, there would be a sub-reddit forum of people having their pictures taken with him. WSB was the Bill Murray of his day, wasn’t he?

Jimmy Page and Burroughs

Keith Haring, Burroughs and John Giorno
More photos after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Kathy Acker interviews William Burroughs

Literary outlaw, word virologist and post-modernist punk rock scum Kathy Acker and her mentor William Burroughs, the hombre invisible, smartly crack linguistic whips in this insightful conversation from 1988, which took place at the October Gallery during Burrough’s first British art exhibition.

What a pleasure this is - two artists clearly enamored of each other and pleased to be in each other’s presence. Burroughs is particularly open and fluid in this chat which includes some fascinating, but all too brief, stuff on Scientology, EST and Buddhism, and space travel. Burroughs goes on at the greatest length when dealing with the subject of Jesus and the Christ virus.

Parts two and three after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Jimmy Page and William Burroughs discuss magick and eat burritos, 1975

Here’s the back story of the famous William Burroughs/Jimmy Page Crawdaddy magazine cover story of June 1975, excerpted from LZ-‘75: The Lost Chronicles of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 American Tour by Stephen Davis. Read the original article, “Rock Magic: Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin and a search for the elusive Stairway to Heaven” by William Burroughs here.

The long black limousine carrying Jimmy Page to his encounter with William Burroughs made its way down Fifth Avenue in a light snowfall. The car stopped in front of 77 Franklin Street in a dark, shabby neighborhood of vacant or abandoned industrial lofts that were slowly being reclaimed by young artists and urban pioneers. Jimmy was greeted at street level by James Grauerholz, Burroughs’s young assistant, who led Page up four steep flights of stairs to Burroughs’s loft. The sixty-one- year-old writer, dressed in a coat and tie set off by an embroidered Moroccan vest, extended his hand and offered his guest a cup of tea, which Page happily accepted. Also on hand was a photographer to document the interview, and Crawdaddy’s publisher, Josh Feigenbaum, whose idea this meeting had been. Before getting down to business, Burroughs proudly showed Page his orgone accumulator, which looked like a big plywood crate. Sitting in this box, Burroughs explained, concentrated certain energies in a productive and healthful manner according to theories developed by the psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich. Jimmy Page declined Burroughs’s offer to give the orgone box a try.

Burroughs thought he and Jimmy might know people in common since Burroughs had lived in London for most of the past ten years. It turned out to be an interesting list, including film director Donald Camell, who worked on the great Performance; John Michell, an expert on occult matters, especially Stonehenge and UFOs; Mick Jagger and other British rock stars; and Kenneth Anger, auteur of Lucifer Rising. Burroughs told Page about the feelings of energy and exhilaration he experienced sitting in the thirteenth row of a Led Zeppelin concert. These feelings, he told Page, were similar to those he had known while listening to music in Morocco, especially the loud pipes and drums of the Master Musicians of Jajouka. Page somewhat sheepishly admitted that he had yet to visit Morocco but had been to India and Thailand and heard a lot of music there.

Burroughs was interested in getting Page to speak about crowd control, a longtime fascination. “It seems to be that rock stars are juggling fissionable material of the mass unconscious that could blow up at any time,” he pondered.

“You know, Jimmy,” he continued. “The crowd surges forward . . . a heavy piece of equipment falls on the crowd . . . security goes mad, and then . . . a sound like goddamned falling mountains or something.”

Page didn’t bat an eye. “Yes, I’ve thought about that. We all have. The important thing is to maintain a balance. The kids come to get as far out with the music as possible. It’s our job to see that they have a good time and no trouble.”

Burroughs launched into a series of morbid anecdotes he’d collected about fatal crowd stampedes, like the 360 soccer fans crushed to death during a riot in Lima, Peru. Then there was the rock band Storm playing a dance hall in Switzerland. Their pyro effects exploded, but the fire exits had been chained shut. “Thirty-seven people dead, including all the performers,” Burroughs recalled.

He poured two fingers of whiskey for himself and for Page. Burroughs had been informed that these were the first Zeppelin shows to deploy any special effects. “Sure,” Page said. “That’s true. Lights, lasers, dry ice are fine. But I think, again, that you have to have some balance. The show must carry itself and not rely too heavily on special effects, however spectacular. What I really want is laser . . . notes. That’s more what I’m after. Just . . . cut right through!”

Burroughs then wondered if the power of mass concentration experienced by Zeppelin’s audience could be transposed into a kind of magic energy that could materialize an actual stairway to heaven. He added that the moment when the stair- way becomes something physically possible for the audience could be the moment of greatest danger. Page again answered that a performer’s skill involved avoiding these dangers. “You have to be careful [with large audiences],” he said. “It’s rather like driving a load of nitroglycerine.” Page described the fan abuse they had seen in Philadelphia a few days earlier as an ex- ample of a situation that could really crack, but somehow didn’t.

Over margaritas at the nearby Mexican Gardens restaurant, Burroughs asked about Page’s house on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland, which had once belonged to Aleister Crowley. Was it really haunted? Page said he was sure it was. Does the Loch Ness monster exist? Page said he thought it did. Skeptical, Burroughs wondered how the monster could get enough to eat. The conversation continued over enchiladas. Burroughs talked about infrasound, pitched below the level of human hearing, which had supposedly been developed as a weapon by the French military. Then on to interspecies communication, talking to dolphins via sonar waves. Burroughs said he thought a remarkable synthesis could be achieved if rock music returned to its ancient roots in ceremony and folklore, and brought in some of the trance music one heard in Morocco.

Jimmy Page was receptive. “Well, music which involves [repeating] riffs, anyway, will have a trancelike effect, and it’s really like a mantra. And, you know, we’ve been attacked for that.”

They parted company on the icy sidewalk outside the restaurant, with many thanks and good-byes. Jimmy Page’s limo, which had been waiting for him, whisked him back to the Plaza Hotel. William Burroughs, James Grauerholz, and Josh Feigenbaum walked back to Burroughs’s loft to listen to the tape that Josh had recorded of the conversation.

Speaking of Jimmy Page and magick, here’s the maestro’s seldom-heard abandoned score for Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising: Part II is here.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages from 1922

With a budget of nearly 2 million kronor, Häxan (The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages) is the most expensive Scandinavian silent film ever. Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen this classic horror film from 1922 was partly inspired by Christensen’s reading of Malleus Maleficarum, the 15th century guide to witch-finding. Christensen presents his film as a faux documentary, examining the hysteria around witchcraft, the occult and demonic possession.

The film splits into 4 sections, each with its own theme. The first examines demons and ideas of Hell; the second is series of stories about witchcraft and the use of magic - Christensen makes an appearance as Satan; the third part is set in the Middle Ages and follows a woman accused of witchcraft, who under torture admits to charges of witchcraft; the fourth floats the idea witchcraft and demonology are a treatable form of mental illness.

It’s a more than interesting film, one for a winter’s night -  especially if you can stand to read all the caption cards (an edited version was released in 1965 with commentary from William Burroughs, which is easier on the eye) - and is famed for its incredible and powerful dramatic sequences of demons, witches, occult practices and Satan.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Glitterbug: Derek Jarman’s final film

Glitterbug was Derek Jarman’s final film, compiled from the many hours of Super 8 footage he had shot throughout his life. Originally made in 1994 for the BBC’s Arena. arts strand, Glitterbug is a visual journal that ties together aspects of Jarman’s life from the 1970s to 1990s.

The film opens with the artist awakened by the memory of dreams, of lovers, of friends, of place - Jarman’s lofts on Bankside, Upper Ground, the Thames River; of self, shaving, washing, breakfasting - those small rituals that prepare the day, the structuring of artifice and order. The world outside, My Tea Shop, the day-time existence, Jarman’s curiosity for the world around him. Then at night another world, we see preparation for Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World, returning to day, a garden party, is this Andrew Logan singing as Little Nell Campbell dances? Duggie Fields watches, Jarman films.

The dreamer sleeps, travels to the country, Van Gogh fields, standing stones, the memory of place, absence of others, a white-washed cottage room, the creation of art, the structuring of order.

The dreamer awake, and we are now watching Jarman at work, Sebastiane, the sea flecked gold, the actors at play, legs entwined. An office, an apartment, ‘phone calls, then filming the artist Duggie Fields, his designs, his face, a prelude to Jubilee, a young flame-haired Toyah Willcox, The Sex Pistols, Jordan and a dress rehearsal for what will become The Last of England, as she pirouettes around a burning Union Jack, Adam Ant, hair-cutting, the Silver Jubilee.

Jarman is showing us the sketches for preparation, the themes he returned to throughout his life. Rome, ritual, the research for Caravaggio, punk, the art of mirrors, The Slits, William Burroughs, Gensis P. Orridge, Throbbing Gristle, Jarman’s fascinations and obsessions, his idols and co-conspirators. The ritual of sharing tea, sharing cigarettes, a shared communion, youthful faces, sun flecked, smiling in the sun, a future ahead, too often cut short by the frost, this the last summer they danced on the rooftop,  ‘Here I am, here are my secrets,’ he is saying, as we plunder through his film diaries, Super 8 scrapbook, glittering trinket chest, memory is what makes us, what sometimes betrays us, what gives us the love we have to share, returning to the Thames, the friends, the lovers, those living, those dead.

Glitterbug Derek Jarman’s Super 8 films, with Andrew Logan, Duggie Fields, Tilda Swinton, Michael Clark, Adam Ant, Toyah Willcox, William Burroughs and Genesis P. Orridge. Music by Brian Eno, specially commissioned for this film.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Beatdom: David S Wills & Spencer Kansa keeping to the Beat

Those with an interest in writers following on from the Beat tradition may like Spencer Kansa‘s first novel Zoning. The story is about zoning - traveling without moving - and the strange interactions between teenage occultist, Astral Boy and Skyrise Kid, a young budding porn star.  We’re in familiar territory here, and Kansa is a fan of William Burroughs, who said of Spencer’s book:

“Zoning reads like an urban Celine.”

It’s the first imprint from Beatdom Books, a small independent publisher, set up by a young Scot, David S Wills, in 2007. Willis also publishes a non-profit literary journal dedicated to the study of the Beat Generation, publishing Beat inspired poetry and prose. He has also issued Beatdom’s second book The Dog Farm - based on Wills’ experiences of living and working in South Korea.

Beatdom is well worth checking out and you can find details of Spencer’s novel Zoning and Willis’s The Dog Farm here.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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