Today is the anniversary of the birth of one of the creators of Dada, Hugo Ball -- Feb 22nd, 1886. In 1916 he co-founded the Cabaret Voltaire club in Zurich along with the likes of Jean Arp, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, and Richard Huelsenbeck, where the anti-art movement of Dadaism began. The same year Ball wrote his poem Karawane, which consists of nonsensical words, I like to think they’re German nonsensical words. Another poem, Gadji beri bimba, was later adapted by David Byrne and the Talking Heads for the song entitled "I Zimbra" on their 1979 album Fear of Music.
gadji beri bimba glandridi
laula lonni cadori
gadjama gramma berida
gadji beri bin
laula lonni cadorsu sassala bim
There are four major cemeteries in Paris, and each has their big name resident bringing tens of thousand of visitors each year. The largest cemetery is in the eastern part of Paris, Pere-Lachaise, and the biggest draw there is probably Jim Morrison, Isadora Duncan, Oscar Wilde and Chopin. In the north, the 18th arrondissement section of the city is Montmartre Cemetery where the great dancer Vaslav Nijinsky is buried and the "Beethoven of the Guitar" Fernando Sor. Passy Cemetery in the 16th arrondissement is where Claude Debussy is interred and, for you silent movie buffs, Pearl White, the star of The Perils of Pauline serial. And finally there is the Montparnasse Cemetery in the south. There you can find the graves of playwrights Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco, Dadaists Man Ray and Tristan Tzara and probably the most visited and garlanded grave in all of Paris: Serge Gainsbourg. His grave site is forever covered in flowers, cigarettes, metro tickets, personal notes and odd little objects that derive their significance from his lyrics. Earlier this week we spent two nights in our favorite fleabag-Henry Miller-down and out kind of hotel around the corner from Montparnasse. I stopped by one morning in the snow, said hello to Serge, took a couple of pictures and had a very respectful snowball fight with my son. This may sound more macabre then intended, but there’s nothing like a cemetery blanketed in snow.
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 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
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.]