9 June 2016

I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder: I’ve always kept manuscripts, letters, photographs as well as tear-sheets from magazines, proofs and so-on. I was never as bad as my friend Felix Dennis, who was a complete pack rat and even kept the corks from the thousands of bottles of wine that he – and his thirsty friends – consumed over the years but I still sent duplicate copies of Mick Jagger In His Own Words in both Serbian and Croatian into deep storage rather than bring myself to throw them away. Over the years this stuff builds up and I have slowly divested myself of archives: first of all my sixties correspondence with people like Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, as well as my correspondence from the time I was managing Better Books, went to the Butler Library of Columbia University. No-one in Britain was interested at the time. Naturally I kept back the best stuff and those items I was fond of – tickets to the Royal Albert Hall poetry reading in 1965, my artwork for magazines, postcards from Paul McCartney, and material like that as well as copies of all my articles and the magazines they appeared in. At Allen Ginsberg’s request, all the paperwork concerning the Annotated edition of Howl, that I edited, went to his collection at Stanford University. However, I was still left with 40 or more boxes of material which, a few years ago, I catalogued and sold to the British Library. Now, astonishingly enough, they are running a blog about it: Here’s the link: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/english-and-drama/2016/04/from-poets-to-punk-who-is-barry-miles-.html

I have grown used to seeing copies of IT and other sixties material presented in vitrines, though it was surprising at first, but to find an old airline napkin, with some scribbled notes about visiting Tim Leary, up on line is quite surrealistic. It’s astonishing that I kept it in the first place, I was obviously intending to type it up as notes. So here we all are, part of history. It does feel like an honour, but also a bit weird.

Paris Stories

Paris Stories

Another honour: yesterday I received a copy of Paris Stories, in the Everyman Pocket Classics series. Everyone you would expect to find is there in the 27 short extracts: Rabelais, Balzac, Hugo, Flaubert, Zola, Celine and Colette but what knocked my socks off was to find myself represented between Djuna Barnes and James Baldwin. Now that IS an honour. The editor Shaun Whiteside has chosen a section from The Beat Hotel with some of the funniest stories of bad behaviour by Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. I grew up with the Everyman series, so to be in one is fantastic. It is the same feeling I had when my Allen Ginsberg biography was first published in this country in Penguin. I had grown up reading Penguins: Orwell, Joyce, Woolf, Lawrence; everyone was published by them, so to have my own book on the shelf with the same distinctive orange spine, was just terrific.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

30 May, 2016

Marcia Resnick - Bad Boys

Marcia Resnick – Bad Boys

This winter has been one of reading, hunkering down and not venturing out into the London pollution too much. I am a fast reader, and read about a book a day. I’m not going to write a book column here but one of the books given to me at Christmas was A House in St. John’s Wood by Stephen Spender’s son, Matthew Spencer. It is a sad book: clearly Spender was a useless father, in complete denial that he was working for the CIA in editing Encounter, and only really happy when he was with his boyfriends. Matthew’s mother was almost equally difficult. One of the most amusing stories is about Spender’s great friend W. H. Auden coming to dinner. Auden told them about a speech he’d given recently to a group of scientists in Stockholm in which he’d said that he believed we were all placed on earth by God for a purpose, but that we were neglecting that purpose. Matthew reports:

‘A purpose given to us by God?’ I asked doubtfully.

‘Yes. We have a duty towards the molecules and we are neglecting that duty .’ […]

‘I’m sorry Wystan, but I don’t understand,’ I said. ‘Do you mean that the molecules which are in the marble of a sculpture by Michelangelo are happier and better molecules than the ones that are still in the marble up in the quarry?’

He shut his eyes and smiled ecstatically. ‘Yes,’ he said.

Wonderful!

Marcia Resnick kindly sent me a copy of her new book of photographs Bad Boys. Marcia, who I’ve known since the seventies, was central to the downtown New York scene: no matter how out of it she, or anybody else seemed to be, she was still taking the photographs. And here they are, and it’s a magnificent achievement. Bad Boys: Punks, Poets and Provocateurs 1977-1982, with a text by her old friend Victor Bockris who was just as central to the scene as Marcia. I first saw it on her computer screen several years ago and worried that it might never be published but here they all are: falling about, shooting up, hugging and kissing, talking talking talking: Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine, David Byrne, Sting, Johnny Rotten, Debbie Harry, Mick Jagger, Johnny Thunders; beautiful colour shots of William Burrroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Terry Southern, even Brion Gysin demonstrating how to suck his own toe, a degree of levity not normally associated with the rather grand Gysin but an indication of how relaxed everyone was around Marcia. This sounds like a puff for the book, and I suppose it is because I really think it’s a terrific achievement. She’s put John Belushi on the cover because she did the last, extraordinary, 48 hour drug-fuelled photo-session with him before he died, beginning at 6:00am (they kept late hours in those days in New York). The Gysin picture, among others was at the Photo London exhibition at Somerset House alongside work by Gerard Malanga and Nat Finkelstein, who did for the sixties what Marcia did for the seventies. It is all receding into the past: goodness, it’s hard to imagine that it is 40 years since young Johnny Lydon serenaded us with his fine Irish tenor.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

27 March 2016

Stones in Havanna

Stones in Havanna

Cuba is in the news these days with visits from the Pope, Barack Obama and the Rolling Stones, all of which I hope will loosen up the one-party state and pave the way for truly democratic elections (something which few countries actually have in the world, certainly not places like China or Saudi Arabia.) However, there was something about the current media coverage that reminded me very much of the old cold-war disinformation about Cuba that used to be pumped out by the Americans, appearing last week even in papers like The Guardian and the Evening Standard, hardly hard-line anti-communist rags. One wonders where these stories actually originate. Here’s The Guardian for 25 March 2016:

In the heat of Cuba’s revolution from the 1960s to the 1980s, foreign bands such as The Rolling Stones were considered subversive and blocked from the radio. Cubans listened to their music in secret, passing records from hand to hand.

And here’s the Evening Standard from the next day:

The band’s music was banned in Cuba for many years because it was considered subversive and blocked from the radio. Cubans listened to their music in secret, passing records from hand to hand and the band built up a huge fan base on the isolated island.(26 March 2016)

Maybe the Standard just copied the story but it was the same on TV. My point is that the neither The Stones nor rock ‘n’ roll were banned when I was there in September 1974, the middle of the period described by The Guardian. Nor were they at any other time. Cubans could pick up American radio stations and even television if weather conditions were right. I was there to cover a conference on Puerto Rican Independence, ostensibly for the Village Voice, and wrote some journal notes when I got back to New York:

 

The conference was funded by the World Peace Council, the Soviet equivalent of the American Congress for Cultural Freedom, both of them the propaganda arms of their respective intelligence services, it was obvious that the whole thing was a propaganda exercise, paid for by the Russians that would come to whatever conclusions the Russians and Cubans had previously worked out, and that the deliberations of the conference were irrelevant. I had, however, jumped at a chance to visit Cuba even if it meant sitting through a few boring speeches. […] It was a delight just to walk the shabby Spanish streets and I often wandered around looking at the peeling buildings, getting the feel of the place. One day I was walking down Vedado, with Martin, a fellow delegate from the north of England and journalist for the Morning Star, past rows of beaten-up mid-fifties Chevrolet Impalas and Ford Galaxies in what would probably be regarded as a slum anywhere else, when three teenagers called out to us from a doorway.

‘Psssst!’

Cubans say that both attract your attention and to make you shut up. When I first heard it at a Cuban theatre, it sounded as if they were hissing the villain of a melodrama when in fact it was a call for silence when Puerto Rican superstar Roy Brown came on stage.

‘Psssst! Alemán?’

‘Certainly not! We’re British!’

‘Ahhh…’ The speaker turned and explained this information to his two compeneros sitting on the stoop who also said ‘Ahhh…’

‘Deep Purple. War.’

We stood there, out in the midday sun, pondering on the meaning of these curious English words. He gave us a clue…

‘Eric Burdon.’

We spent a few pleasant minutes trading the names of English rock groups. The young men politely asked for cigarettes, gum and if they could buy our clothes. We courteously refused their offer, gave them cigarettes, shook hands and continued on our way. Apparently Deep Purple were very big in Havana.

One of the conference delegates was Peter Snape, the Labour MP for West Bromwich East. He was my age, and was somehow representing the Railwaymen’s Union at the conference. Four of us, including Peter, were strolling one evening after dinner in the park next to the Habana Libre (The liberated Hilton – where we were staying) at Calles L and 21. As we approached the ice cream pavilion a young man introduced himself. He was Fernando and he spoke English, in fact he had only recently read the Guardian newspaper of July 28th, two months old. Foreign newspapers were eagerly retrieved from waste bins or vacated hotel rooms and passed around. We asked him where we could go for a drink.

He took us to the Karachi Club where we spent about £16 on a bottle of Havana Club rum and a dozen Canada Drys. ‘You drink half the bottle, I charge you half. You drink all and I charge you for all,’ the proprietor said. It was a very straight forward sort of place. The club was very dark and hot and was decorated with palm leaves. It was hot inside and the doorman, sensibly, sat on a folding chair out in the street. Taped music was played very loud: the Rolling Stones, Barry White, Love Unlimited and Suzie Quatro, interspersed with salsa and other Cuban music.

Fernando was terribly pleased to meet people from England as visitors to Cuba at that time tended to be from East Germany and points further east. This was his chance to tell us his musical preferences: Alvin Lee, ELO, Black Sabbath, Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicago … ‘Tell me, from which country come Uriah Heep?’ He liked Zappa and the Pink Floyd and had recently paid ten pesos (£7.50) for a poster of Alice Cooper. Led Zeppelin 4 had cost him 20 pesos. I promised to send him a poster of Robert Plant. I don’t know if he ever got it. He regarded Flowers as the best Stones album, and named all the tracks, and said he was a great Brian Jones fan.

After a scholarly discussion of the Platters, Presley and Buddy Holly, he inquired ‘And what of the bomber from Liverpool?’ Up until that point I had successfully decoded the clues to his preferences, to the admiration of the rest of the party, but this time he stumped me. It turned out he was referring to Tom Jones, but overall, he did pretty well given the difficulties in obtaining information about English language music. In fact he didn’t like Tom Jones, nor Carlos Santana – ‘He is a Mexican, no?’ – nor, amusingly, did he like John Lennon. Fernando twisted his finger around his temple in the universal symbol for stupidity. ‘He tries too hard to be like us. How can he, for he is petit bourgeois?’ That cracked us up.

The Cubans heard all their rock ‘n’ roll from powerful stations in Texas, Florida and Little Rock, Arkansas. With a good antenna it was possible to even pick up Rock Concert on ABC-TV most of the year round. No-one stopped them and the tapes used in the night clubs were mostly taken from American radio stations and edited into programmes. Rock seemed to co-exist nicely with the indigenous salsa and Latin music of the island that issued from every shop and window.

 

The Cubans love music and though Latin music naturally dominated when I was there, as I hope it still does, we heard plenty of rock ‘n’ roll coming from people’s windows, just walking down the narrow streets. It is true that in the early days of the Revolution, the government associated rock ‘n’ roll with the values of imperialist America, and discouraged it, particularly after America both invaded Cuba and attempted to assassinate Castro, but no official attempt was ever made to prevent people from listening to American radio and TV stations. The Stones and the Beatles were never officially banned though the radio stations rarely played them. The breakthrough came in 1966 when Radio Perogresso began broadcasting the occasional Beatles record; a situation that continued throughout the sixties. By 1971 Radio Rebelde had a Beatles hour every Monday morning and evening. The Rolling Stones were played but they never entered the Cuban hit-parade as the Beatles did (with “Anna”).

The Guardian has fallen for US propaganda when it says that the Rolling Stones were ‘blocked from the radio’. It is just not true. (source: Rockin’ Las Américas: The Global Politics of Rock in Latin/o America edited by Deborah Pacini Hernandez, Héctor D. Fernández l’Hoeste, Eric Zolov. U of Pittsburgh Press, 2004).

Incidentally the Stones were by no means the first western rock band to play Cuba: Steven Stills, Weather Report, Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joel played the Havana Jam in 1979 and The Manic Street Preachers played there in 2001. Quite likely there were more foreign players, for instance Billy Joel also did a solo gig there in the late 90s.

That’s not to say all is well on the island. When Obama flew in more than 60 people were rounded up including members of the “Ladies in White,” a group made up of relatives of political prisoners, the rapper Angel Yunier Remon, known as “El Critico,” punk rocker Gorki Águila, and the artist Danilo Maldonado, alias “El Sexto”—who spent 10 months in detention without charge in 2015 for staging a public art performance. There is still a way to go before freedom of speech and artistic expression prevail in Cuba, but they are on their way and deserve as much encouragement as possible without mindlessly parroting American dis-information.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Thurston Moore / Notting Hill

It’s been a busy time. I filmed a programme on Punk for the BBC on February 18. It was held at the Rum Kitchen on All Saints Road in Notting Hill. Now going to Notting Hill is strange enough for me, I tend to not leave the West End if I can help it, though I have been going there recently because Terry Wilson, author of Project 101 with Brion Gysin, lives just off All Saints Rd and I have recently been cataloguing his archives. The Rum Kitchen was particularly strange for me because I had last been there about 50 years ago when I designed the cover for an issue of Heatwave, a magazine concerned with the West Indian community in Notting Hill. Back then those premises housed the Mangrove, a café run by Frank Critchlow. When you walked in the door a wave of pot smoke hit you and you were high before you sat down. Frank was busted – it seemed – every month, but now, astonishingly, there is a blue plaque outside on the wall proclaiming Frank as a great ‘community leader’. Which he was, of course, but it just shows how the establishment can attempt to co-opt and swallow everyone and everybody.

I was interviewed about the attitude of sixties people towards the punks. I was interviewed by Thurston Moore, who, since leaving Sonic Youth, has become a celebrated member of the Stoke Newington set and a major contributor to London’s counter-cultural arts scene. It was more of an extended conversation, but I’m sure they will be able to clip something from it. My view was always that the Punks were mostly hippies with short hair. Some, people like John Lydon, came from a very different, tougher, background but guys like Rat Scabies or Captain Sensible from The Damned, or Joe Strummer and Mick Jones from the Clash clearly came from a sixties hippie base. Strummer even cast the i-Ching to decide whether to join the Clash or not and how much more hippie can you get than that?

Thurston and I had lunch together beforehand and it was great to be able discuss obscure American and European small-press poetry publications with him – Birth Press, Dead Language Press, Divers Press. There are few people left alive that I know whom I can do that with. I had not realised how famous he was until people stopped us in Portobello Road, asking if they could shoot a selfie with him. It’s not like the old days when people wanted autographs. Chrissie Hynde was also on the bill, and I was struck by her deep love of London. She’s another American who has brought energy and talent to the scene. She worked on New Musical Express before I did, in the early seventies, and told me that she was given the job by my friend Ian MacDonald; something I hadn’t known.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2nd February, 2016

Max & Flore hanging the show

Max & Flore hanging the show

Miles & Max at Shapero Modern

Miles & Max at Shapero Modern

To the private view of America In Revolt, an exhibition of 150 American protest posters from Berkeley, made in 1970 to protest the American invasion of Cambodia and the murder of unarmed students at protest demonstrations held on campus by National Guardssmen. The show was at Shapero Modern, 32 Saint George Street, across from the back door of Sotheby’s. I did quote a bit of publicity for the show, including several interview with on-line magazines. Here’s a link to one of them:

AnOther – Considering the Powerful US Protest Art of the 1970s

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

16th Jan 2016

16th January 2016

IT 50th celebration

IT 50th celebration

IT Relaunch

IT Relaunch

On Saturday 16 January there was a party given at the May Day Rooms at 88 Fleet Street to celebrate the relaunch – yet again – of International Times (IT) – the underground paper that never seems to die. All the other underground papers I ever wrote for, and that includes the Berkeley Barb, the San Francisco Oracle, Georgia Straight, East Village Other, Los Angeles Free Press, and Oz magazine, (among others) are all long dead. With IT Hoppy and I, and the IT staff decided when it closed that the name and logo should be copyright free, to be used by anyone who wanted to produce a few issues of the paper. I tracked it through seven more incarnations, including a punk one, before loosing touch. Then it appeared on-line, the correct place for a 21st century underground paper, but clearly somehow the SAME paper.

I was pleased to see that Heathcote Williams, someone whose work and political position I have always had a lot of respect for, was writing a lot for it. He was not involved in its original sixties and early seventies form of IT but he is very much of the period and it was great to see him there. He was the organiser of the event. Incidentally, he has two new books that I have very much enjoyed and recommend: a poetic invocation of Lord Buckley: H.R.H. Lord Buckley the Most Immaculately Hip Aristocrat and Hipster of the Heart, published in a limited edition by Beat Scene Press in July 2015, and a more substantial diatribe against the royal family, including a powerful recap of the death by hanging of Michael X, a mutual friend of Heathcote and myself, called Royal Babylon. The full title reads Royal Babylon: The Criminal Record of the British Monarchy. An investigative poem by Heathcote Williams. It’s just out from Skyscraper Publications, www.skyscraperpublications.com I think we can say with some certainty that Heathcote will not be featuring on the New Year Honours List.

To return to the relaunch of IT. This year sees the 50th anniversary of the original launch of IT, on October 14, 1966. It is extraordinary for me to look back and remember all the youthful enthusiasm, naivety, the anger and the energy involved in getting the paper off the ground. It was inconceivable that the paper might still be in existence half a century later and even more inconceivable that I should still be around to see it. It is sad to remember that half the people involved in launching IT are now dead. Here is a photograph of the original line-up, taken in the office of IT in the basement of the Indica Bookshop at 102 Southampton Row, and reading left to right: V.I. Lenin (deceased); Jeff Nuttall (deceased); Miles (writing this); Jim Haynes (alive and well in Paris); Peter Stansill (actively publishing books in Portland, Oregon); Tom McGrath (deceased, our first editor); Sue Miles (deceased); Jack Henry Moore (deceased); Roger Whelen, David Z. Mairowitz, Hoppy (deceased) and Christine Uren, (my assistant). Not shown is Michael Henshaw, IT’s long suffering accountant, also deceased. When the police raided they even took away the phone books (shown).

IT staff 1963

IT Staff 1963

I was the only old timer at the relaunch, though there were some people from my own past there: Neal Spencer, my editor when I was a freelancer working for New Musical Express, for instance, there because Heathcote had published some of his poetry in the on-line IT. Iphgenia Baal, a new young writer who has posted a lot on the website whom I met through the T. J. Boulting Gallery, which is just around the corner from my flat. Heathcote himself, I hadn’t seen since an encounter at the Hotel Chelsea in the seventies. It was great to feel the positive vibe in the room and see a whole new crowd getting IT together. We certainly need a voice of sanity in the venal world of Cameron and his corporate chums who are systematically destroying Britain.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

29th December 2015

I just heard that Lemmy died. I hadn’t seen him in years, but to me he represented the spirit of the sixties, still living on through the seventies and eighties. The times I remember best are the three Christmas Days spent with him, in the mid eighties, in New York City. There was quite a sizeable ex-pat Brit community in Manhattan in those days: we gathered only rarely in that capacity – Guy Fawkes Night being one of them, when someone would bring in fireworks from one of the Southern States where they were legal and we would make a bonfire and set them off, usually on the landfill site where they were building the World Trade Centre. The other time was Christmas, when even the most down-town and hip members of the New York arts-drug-music scene went home to see Mom and Pop. Betsy Volk, then married to Mickey Farren, always cooked a Christmas meal. They lived in a late-eighteenth century Federal building, with its own tiny backyard, just yards from the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, an extraordinary survivor of old New York on a site presumably too small to develop. They had the whole place, which was tiny, and were slowly doing it up. I hope it is still there.

Betsy would begin the cooking and a dozen or so of us would gather. Sometimes she would need a rest and I would take over, trying to pace myself with the wine. These were not abstemious people. Apart from Lemmy, Mickey and myself, the other Brits were Felix Dennis and usually Victor Bockris. Mickey, Felix and now Lemmy are no longer with us. Lemmy was always very relaxed; though he took a lot of speed, he also drank a lot of Jack Daniels which tended to smooth it out. He enjoyed talking about the early seventies Notting Hill scene that he and Mickey were so much a part of. I remember one long conversation about H, one of Jimi Hendrix’s roadies who used to have in a room in the house I rented in Westminster in the late sixties. Lemmy was fed up with talking about his days as one of Jimi’s roadies with journalists, but in fact he had very fond memories of those days and we knew a lot of people in common. He said it was where he learned how to live the life of a rock star, even though, of course, he wasn’t one yet. I remember him laughing and saying, ‘They call me the godfather of punk. I don’t know why, I’ve got the long hair and all these hippie connections.’ It was of course his attitude. Hawkwind was not a flower-power band.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

28 December 2015

I finally managed to see the Goya Portraits at the National Gallery, and what a show! He shows how a person’s features mirror their personality and mental state; even in official and royal portraits you get a real sense of what that person was like. Everyone looks so familiar, so human. It must be something to do with the obvious speed with which he painted: buttons and brocade are rendered with blobs and dabs, drapery, clothes and furniture are sloshed on with a thick brush, a highlight is sometimes just a squiggle of paint. These details look completely abstract close up, which is the great value of seeing them in actuality: the paint quality just doesn’t show in reproductions. Some of his portraits were done in only three hours, and even the large ones must have been executed in a matter of a few days. The famous Black pictures in the Prado probably took him an hour or two at most. Of course, it helps that he was a consummate master painter, able to render the sitter’s expression in a few twists of his brush. His hand was capable of doing exactly what his eye commanded – something that few artists are trained to do these days. The later pictures are so clearly forerunners for the Impressionists I wonder I hadn’t noticed it before. The pictures are as fresh today as they were in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The show ends January 10th, 2016.

Portrait_of_Antonia_Zarate_ca_1805

Portrait of Antonia Zarate circa 1805

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

26 December 2015

26 December 2015

A new year blog, well almost. On December 15th, I went on Pete Paphides show on Soho Radio. http://www.sohoradiolondon.com/member/pete-paphides This is a fabulous little outfit, next door to the Soho Primary School on Great Windmill Street. We almost sent our son, Theo, to that school but the Riding House Street one was just around the corner. It would have been a great place for him to learn Mandarin at a young age as it caters very much to Chinatown and many of the kids have Chinese parents. The radio station is in a tiny room behind an even tinier café: you reach it by ducking under the counter. There’s just room for the DJ or presenter at the desk, a producer and two guests. I love free form radio, ever since I first went to the States and heard the late night FM stations there, where the presenters could play anything they liked, take phone calls and have friends in as guests.

I was in Berkeley, California, in 1971, at Fantasy Records, finishing the mastering of a ten-volume album box set of the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, featuring the best recording I could find of each of his published poems (it was never released though many of the selections appeared on a later CD box set). I took over my friend Mike Aldridge’s late night show on KPFA-FM and used it as a way of getting good recordings of some of the poems that Allen Ginsberg had not previously read to an audience, so for three or four nights running Allen was the main guest. I liked the fact that I could continue as late as I liked, and when I felt like going home, all I had to do was call the guy at the transmitter and tell him to close down, turn off the Pultec compressor that was used to punch the signal out over the Bay, and lock up, after first encouraging the listeners – if there still were any – to listen to a few minutes of radio static and imagine how far it had travelled – some of it, at least, from the stars – to reach us.

I was at Soho Radio to promote my latest book, The Zapple Diaries, but our conversation was not confined to that, in fact it ranged all over the place, the Beatles, the sixties, America, psychedelic music and so on. It was a fun hour. I hope to do it again soon.

The 23rd was goose day, time to pick up the bird from the man from Layer-Marney who drove his van up to town and parked in the same position in the Marylebone car park where he usually has his stall on Sunday mornings. It was delicious, with plenty left over for another meal and also to make rillettes which are usually made with duck or pork but are even better made from goose.

2016 looms. What’s to look forward to? The Pompidou Beat Generation show promises to be good next summer, as does the V&A counter-culture show, also for the summer. Meantime happy new year to one and all.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

6 December 2015

1-giant-rabbit2-giant rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder if I have ever written about rabbits? When I was a kid, my parents bred rabbits, we always had a hundred or so that my father sold in town to butchers and contacts (mostly dodgy) he knew down the pub. My Saturday morning job, among others, was to clean out their hutches. I grew to hate them – except in a casserole – but when I was really little I liked to show them, and won a few prizes at the Three Counties Show for my German Lops and Silver Foxes (I was 10). I found these pictures on Mickey Farren’s website. I was always amused by the weird pictures that Mickey put up and made copies of some of them. Now that he is dead, I have often wondered how long it will stay up so I intend to periodically reproduce some of his funnier and off-the-wall pictures. OK, one more:

3-Always Open

and another, even more apposite given the fact that there is now on average one mass shooting a day in the USA! This is the garbage they grew up on:

4-guns

In November, Peter Owen published my Zapple Diaries. They weren’t really that, of course, but it seemed a convenient way to organise the book. I was the label manager for the Beatles’ Zapple label, an experimental offshoot of Apple Records designed for spoken word and weird records that would get swamped by The Beatles on Apple itself. I recorded a number of poets, Bukowski, Ferlinghetti, McClure, Ginsberg and so on, but none of them were released on Zapple because Allen Klein closed it – they came out on other labels later. Zapple did released two albums: one of George Harrison on his newly delivered Moog, and a fragment of John and Yoko anthropology. I very much enjoyed focussing on this short period of sixties history because of all the memories it brought back and I hope it adds a factoid or two to the already over-researched history of the Fabs.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment