Amoeblog

Apollinaire

Posted by Whitmore, August 26, 2008 10:48am | Post a Comment


Today marks the anniversary of the birth of a personal hero of mine, the poet Guillaume Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, better known as Apollinaire, who was born on this date in 1880. His greatest contribution to the 20th century, other than coining the term ‘surrealism’ and helping to publicize and define the Cubist movement, was probably his poetry, influencing many of the avant-garde, dada and surrealist writers in post-Great War France, such as André Breton and Tristan Tzara.

Early in the century Guillaume Apollinaire’s began to devise his Calligrammes, a term he used to explain his shaped poems.












It’s Raining

It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory
And it’s raining you as well marvelous encounters of my life O little drops
Those rearing clouds begin to neigh a whole universe of auricular cities
Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep to an ancient music
Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below




Tristan Tzara

Posted by Whitmore, April 19, 2008 08:16pm | Post a Comment
I often seem to be a bit late in writing about historical events on the anniversary of said occurrence; I blame time itself for not allowing me a few minutes to catch my breath, so here I am, several days late, again, celebrating the birthday of one of my favorite characters of the 20th century.

On April 16th, 1896 Samuel Rosenstock (a.k.a. the once and future Tristan Tzara) was born in Moinesti, Bacau Province in Romania. Most famous as the author of the Dada Manifesto and co-founder in 1916 of the original anti-art and literary movement, Dadaism, along with Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Marcel Janco, Hans Arp and Richard Huelsenbeck, Tzara is often credited with discovering the name Dada. One version of the story has him hanging out at the acting Dada headquarters, the Cabaret Voltaire, in Zurich,Switzerland, and randomly selecting a name by stabbing a French-German dictionary with a knife, picking the word impaled by the blade’s point. Dada is a French child's colloquialism for hobby-horse. If it isn’t true, at least it’s good myth. Besides the knife play and original manifesto, Tzara, as leading agitator, also wrote many of the earliest Dada documents including La Première Aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine (The First Heavenly Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine, 1916) and Vingt-cinq poemes (Twenty-Five Poems, 1918). Some of his later works include his masterpiece L’Homme Approximatif (The Approximate Man, 1931), Parler Seul (Speaking Alone, 1950), and La Face Intérieure (The Inner Face, 1953).

[Last year for Tristan Tzara’s 111th birthday I decided to place 111 pink post-its, each numbered sequentially, on randomly chosen objects- buildings, cars, envelopes, people - anything and everything that got in my way as I carved out my day; I believed it to be a perfectly useless and wanky endeavor to pursue. This year for his 112th birthday I thought I’d celebrate by lying about what I actually did last year. Next year I plan on observing his 113th birthday (and prime number) in Zurich by partying at the remnants of the Cabaret Voltaire, and re-live what I did there 20 years ago; relieve myself on the wall outside, just around the corner from the front entrance, on the side street under the Commemorative Memorial plaque. Of course, I suspect, I’ll re-invent, once again, events in Zurich.]

TIME MARCHES ON

Posted by Whitmore, March 8, 2008 11:42pm | Post a Comment

March 1 - Johnny Cash, 36 years of age, marries June Carter, 38 years of age.
March 2 - World Ladies Figure Skating Championship in Geneva is won by USA’s Peggy Fleming.
March 3 - Greece, Portugal & Spain's embassies are bombed in the Hague.
March 4 - Evan Dando of the Lemonheads is born.
March 4 - Joe Frazier TKOs Buster Mathis in 11 rounds for heavyweight boxing title.
March 4 - Martin Luther King, Jr announces plans for Poor People's Campaign.
March 5 - U.S. launches Solar Explorer B, also known as Explorer 37 from Wallops Island to study the Sun.
March 6 - Actress Moira Kelly is born.
March 7 - Jeff Kent, second baseman for the Dodgers is born in Bellflower, CA.
March 7 - The First Battle of Saigon begins in Viet Nam.
March 8 - Bill Graham opens the Fillmore East in an abandoned movie theater in New York City.
March 10 - A Ferry boat sinks in the harbor of Wellington New Zealand killing 200.
March 11 - Lisa Loeb is born.
March 11 - Dmitri Shostakovich completes his 12th string quartet, in D flat major (Op. 133).
March 11 - Otis Redding posthumously receives a gold record for "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay."
March 12 - Mauritius achieves independence from British Rule.
March 12 - President Lyndon B. Johnson edges out antiwar candidate Eugene J. McCarthy in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, a vote which highlights the deep divisions over Vietnam War in the U.S.
March 13 - The Beatles release the single "Lady Madonna" in the UK.
March 14 - Nerve gas leaks from the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground near Skull Valley, Utah. Sickening sheep on local ranches coincided with several open-air tests of the extremely toxic nerve agent VX at Dugway. The Army, which initially denied that VX had caused the deaths, never admitted liability, though they did pay the ranchers for their losses. On the official record, the claim was for 4,372 "disabled" sheep, of which about 2,150 died. 
March 14 - CBS TV suspends Radio Free Europe free advertising because RFE doesn't make it clear it is sponsored by the CIA.
March 15 - Diocese of Rome announces that it "deplored the concept", but wouldn't prohibit rock & roll masses at the Church of San Lessio Falconieri.
March 15 - LIFE magazine, in an article, calls Jimi Hendrix "the most spectacular guitarist in the world."
March 16 - In My Lai, South Vietnam, American troops massacre between 350 and 500 unarmed Vietnamese villagers - men, women, and children.
March 16 - General Motors releases its 100 millionth automobile, the Oldsmobile Toronado.
March 16 - Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco dies at the age of 73.
March 16 - Democratic Senator from New York, Robert F. Kennedy announces he’ll run for the Presidency.
March 17 - A demonstration in London's Grosvenor Square against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War leads to violence - 91 police injured, 200 demonstrators arrested.
March 18 - The U.S. Congress repeals the requirement for a gold reserve to back US currency.
March 19-March 23 - Students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., seize the administration building and stage a five-day sit-in, shutting down the university in protest over its ROTC program, and demanding a more Afro-centric curriculum.
March 20 - Carl Theodor Dreyer, Danish director of The Passion of Jeanne d'Arc (1928) and The Vampire (1932), dies of pneumonia in Copenhagen at age 79.
March 22 - Daniel Cohn-Bendit and seven other students occupy Administrative offices of Nanterre, leading to the closure of the University on May 2, which in turn helped move the protests to downtown Paris where the May 1968 Student Riots launch France into a deep state of chaos.
March 23- Edwin O'Connor, American novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner dies.
March 23 – UCLA beats North Carolina 78-55 in the 30th Annual NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.
March 24 - Alice Guy-Blaché, pioneering filmmaker who was the first female director in the motion picture industry dies at the age of 94.
March 25 - The 58th and final new episode of The Monkees airs on NBC.
March 26 – Country singer Kenny Chesney is born.
March 26 – R&B artist Little Willie John, he sang the original version of "Fever" and "Talk to Me," dies at Walla Walla State Prison in Washington. He had been imprisoned for stabbing a man to death in October 1964. The official cause of death is listed as a heart attack, though some reports say he died of pneumonia or asphyxiation.
March 27 - Yuri Gagarin, Soviet Cosmonaut and first human in space, dies in aircraft training accident.
March 29 - Lucy Lawless, New Zealand actress best known for her role as Xena is born.
March 29 - Students at Bowie State College seize the administration building to protest the run-down condition of their campus, at a time when Maryland essentially ran separate college systems for black and white students. Instead of negotiating, Governor Spiro Agnew sent the state police in to take back the administration building.
March 30 -The Yardbirds record their live album at the Anderson Theater in New York City. Though at first it was shelved by the band, once Led Zeppelin hit big, Epic Records tried to cash in by releasing the material as the bootleg Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page. It was quickly withdrawn after Page's lawyers filed an injunction on the record.
March 30 - Celine Dion is born.
March 30 - Bobby Driscoll, Academy Award winning child actor, dies from a heart attack brought on by liver failure and advanced arteriosclerosis due to his long-time drug abuse at the age of 31. Believed to be an unclaimed and homeless person, he was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave on Hart Island where he still remains today.
March 31 - Seattle's first Major League Baseball team is named the Pilots.
March 31 - President Lyndon B. Johnson announces he will not run for re-election.

Guillaume Apollinaire

Posted by Whitmore, November 11, 2007 10:05am | Post a Comment

This weekend marks the anniversary of the death of a personal hero of mine, poet Guillaume Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, better known as Apollinaire, who died during the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. His greatest contribution to the 20th century, other than coining the term ‘surrealism’ and helping to publicize and define the cubist movement, was probably his poetry, influencing many of the avant-garde, dada and surrealist writers in post-Great War France, such as André Breton and Tristan Tzara.


Some of the best anecdotes about Apollinaire concern his occasionally dubious character. He was known for reviewing non-existent books and writing erotic / pornographic fantasies under pseudonyms. Re-inventing facts was a penchant of his, often ending in uncomfortable predicaments. In 1911, for example, he was detained for six days on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa.  When things looked a bit bleak, he pointed the finger at his trusted friend Pablo Picasso, implicating him in one of the biggest crimes of the era. Both were eventually exonerated, but the Mona Lisa wasn’t recovered until 1913, and after some eight forgeries had been sold! Nevertheless, the more adventurous Parisians were counted in Apollinaire’s circle of friends and colleagues. They were the who’s who of  Paris, artists like Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Marie Laurencin (his long time lover), Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp, writers Gertrude Stein, Alfred Jarry, Max Jacob, and composer Erik Satie.

After the start of the First World War, Apollinaire joined the French military, requesting front-line infantry duty. On March 17, 1916, while entrenched on the front near Champagne close to the Belgian frontier, he suffered a shell wound to the temple. The neurological consequences of such an injury are uncertain. But what is certain, according to people who knew him before and after, his personality and behavior altered dramatically. He became irritable, anxious and depressed, ending significant relationships, including breaking the engagement to his fiancé. Perhaps in part because of his war wounds, exposure to mustard gas, or any of the multiple surgeries he underwent, Apollinaire would become one of an estimated 100 million people worldwide who died from the great influenza pandemic, passing on November 9th in his apartment in Paris at 202 Boulevard Saint-Germain. Every couple of years or so I travel to Paris and I always make a point to stop by his gravesite in Père Lachaise, open a bottle of wine, snack on some bread and cheese, relax and give people directions to Chopin’s and Jim Morrison’s graves.

Merde.

Posted by Whitmore, November 1, 2007 09:04pm | Post a Comment

Merde.

Alfred Jarry had a profound, incalculable effect on most every art and literary movement of the 20th century movements influencing Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism, Expressionism, Cubism, and especially the Theatre of the Absurd. You can start with Marcel Duchamp and Andre Breton and keep right on swerving through the better names of the century; poets Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Tristan Tzara, artists like Picasso, entertainers such as The Marx Brothers, the Goons, Spike Jones, the Bonzo Dog Band, Monty Python, even Mad magazine.

Playwrights Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee all owe much to Jarry, as do other literary greats like Jean Genet, Antonin Artaud, Douglas Adams, Robert Anton Wilson, Boris Vian, George Perec, and J.G. Ballard. In fact, I swear even George Bush and his entire administration have been heavily influenced by the absurdities of Alfred Jarry and his masterpiece, Ubu Roi featuring the bloated, thick and stupid future king, Pere Ubu.

Well, One hundred years ago today Alfred Jarry died of alcoholism and tuberculosis in Paris at the age of thirty-four. Every aspect of his life was a performance of self. More than just writing about Ubu, he lived as Ubu. He blew through a small fortune he inherited from his parents, served in the military, developed a taste for absinthe, and took to wandering around Paris inebriated; alcohol, he said, was his “holy water.” He costumed himself in black biking gear, often in a long hooded cape carrying a green umbrella and two pistols. He also assumed many of the characteristics he wrote for his fictional Pere Ubu: talking in a high falsetto, adopting a mechanical / monotone speaking style, enunciating every single syllable with no inflection or nuance, and Jarry always spoke of himself in the royal "we.”

BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  5  >>  NEXT