Friday, October 24, 2014
I doubt that Dennis adepts need an introduction to Barbara Steele, but here’s one anyway.
The most beautiful star of the greatest horror masterpiece of Italian film, Black Sunday: Barbara Steele was born on December 19, 1938 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. Barbara is loved by her fans for her talent, intelligence, erotic sexuality, and a mysterious beauty that is unique; her face epitomizes either sweet innocence, or malign evil (she is wonderful to watch either way). At first, Barbara studied to become a painter. In 1957, she joined an acting repertory company. Her feature acting debut was in the British comedy Bachelor of Hearts (1958).
At age 21, this strikingly lovely lady, with the hauntingly beautiful face, large eyes, sensuous lips and long, dark hair got her breakout role by starring in Black Sunday, the quintessential Italian film about witchcraft (it was the directorial debut for cinematographer Mario Bava; with his background it was exquisitely photographed and atmospheric). We got to see Barbara, but did not hear her; her voice was dubbed by another actress for international audiences. After its American success, AIP brought Barbara to America, to star in Roger Corman's The Pit and the Pendulum (1961); (though the film was shot entirely in English, again Barbara's own voice was not used).
By now, Barbara was typecast by American audiences as a horror star. In 1962, she answered an open-casting call and won a role in Federico Fellini's 8 1/2; she only had a small but memorable role. Reportedly Fellini wanted to use her more in the film, but she was contracted to leave Rome to start work on her next horror movie, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962). Being a slow and meticulous director, Fellini's 8 1/2 was not released until 1963. (Later, when Barbara was cast in lesser roles in lesser movies, she would tell the directors: "I've worked with some of the best directors in the world. I've worked with Fellini!") More horror movies followed, such as The Spectre (1963), Castle of Blood (1964), The Long Hair of Death (1964), and others; this success led to her being typecast in the horror genre, where she more often than not appeared in Italian movies with a dubbed voice. The nadir was appearing in The Crimson Cult (1968), which was mainly eye candy, with scantily-clad women in a cult.
Unfortunately, Barbara got sick of being typecast in horror movies. One of the screen's greatest horror stars, she said in an interview: "I never want to climb out of another freakin' coffin again!" This was sad news for her legion of horror fans; it was also a false-step for Barbara as far as a career move. Back in America, she met screenwriter James Poe; they got married, and remained together for many years. James Poe wrote an excellent role for Barbara in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). The role ended up going to Susannah York, and Barbara wouldn't act in movies again for 5 years. Barbara returned to movies in Caged Heat (1974); she was miscast: a few years before, Barbara would have been one of the beautiful inmates, not the wheelchair-bound warden.
In 1977, she appeared in a film by Roger Corman, based on the true story of a mentally ill woman, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Unfortunately, her scenes wound up on the cutting room floor. Again, trying anything but horror, Barbara appeared in Pretty Baby (1978), but she was in the background the whole time, and her talents wasted. Barbara would appear in 2 more unmemorable movies. She and James Poe got divorced, (he died a few years later). Barbara did Silent Scream (1980). Maybe because her ex-husband was now dead, or because her acting career was going nowhere, Barbara retired from acting for a decade.
However, she had a lot of success as a producer. She was an associate producer for the TV mini-series The Winds of War (1983), and produced War and Remembrance (1989), for which she got an Emmy award. Her horror fans were delighted when Barbara showed up again, this time on TV in Dark Shadows (1991), a revival of the beloved 1960s supernatural soap. The still-lovely Barbara acts occasionally, her latest film was The Capitol Conspiracy (1999). Even past 60, Barbara is still beautiful and her fans love her.
Barbara Steele biography provided by Klaus D. Haisch
(The Ghost , 1963)
(The Long Hair of Death)
(Barbara discusses her career in Italian horror films – sorry no subtitles)
I interview her HERE
p.s. Hey. The Halloween celebrations here get a personal stamp today as Mr. E. directs your attention to revered and legendary horror (and other) actress Barbara Steele. Please enjoy your generous kicks and kick back some commentary to your host, if you don't mind. Cool. Thanks a whole bunch, David! ** David Ehrenstein, Speaking of powerful stuff ... Thank you in person, sir! ** gucciCODYprada, Hey! Cool, wow, that's a serious tour. You're totally a writer supreme if you're writing on your iPhone. Even I, word junkie, can't imagine doing that. Oh, yes, I'm so behind on emails. I'll check that about the post and let you know if changes are needed immediately, sorry. I am reading your novel, yes (!), and loving it but not making the kind of quick progress I wish 'cos I have to finish writing a theater piece that I'm way, way behind on, so reading and writing -- my novel is painfully off-limits at the moment -- are being bitten into pieces. But yes! Awesome, I'll write to you pronto. Big love, me. ** Damien Ark, Hi. Oh, thanks, man. I've heard a little of Andy Stott and thought it was pretty great so that's total compliment. Maybe I should try him as writing soundtracker. Have a good one. ** Nick, Hi, man. Good, happy, obviously, that prose is luring you back inside. Nice Halloween marking and celebrating going on on your blog too. Sweet. ** Jeffrey Coleman, Hi, Jeff. I didn't realize Gisele's video was going public yesterday but then, bang, my newsfeed was packed with links to it. Glad you liked it. I'll tell Gisele, and thank you! Everyone, Mr. Jeffrey Coleman was the first to point out that my dear friend and collaborator Gisele Vienne's music video for the Scott Walker/Sunn0))) single/track 'Brando' is now officially out and wholly watchable. It stars Anja Röttgerkamp and young Léon Rubbens, co-performers of G.'s and my last theater piece 'The Pyre' -- and Leon is also one of the stars of the feature film that Zac and I are currently writing for Gisele to direct, btw -- and the legendary Catherine Robbe-Grillet. Anyway, you can watch it here. ** Sypha, Hi, James. James the reluctant pop star! Wow, excited! I never stress out re: those fall between writing project periods, and you always end up working feverishly on something new, so try to enjoy the muse's nap, I guess. ** _Black_Acrylic, William Power power! ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi. Interesting, cool. You went to junior college? Me too. Yeah, people used to say about my jr. college -- and I imagine everyone says it about every jr. college -- that it was like high school with ash trays. Oh, but I guess they don't say that anymore given smoking's hatred from on high these days. I have no idea how film photography works, but I like the words and terms you used, and that sounds exciting. I would imagine that whenever a new book of mine comes out I'll go to SF to read. I don't know if I'll do any events before then. Maybe if Zac's and my movie or one of theater pieces play there or something. It would be great to meet you too. Well, hopefully there'll be some way for you visit Paris one of these days. It doesn't sound like anything could be better than what you describe. Love! love, me. ** Kier, Hi, K! Really glad you liked Gisele's video. I haven't seen a Halloween house here yet, but I thought I might actually try to search one out if there is one this weekend. Oh, shit, I'm sorry about your terrible, anxiety-riddled day. Anxiety is so irrational, isn't it? God, I hate it. My yesterday was pretty good. I did meet up with Jonathan and his gal pal, who's an amazing artist as well, at FIAC. As art fairs go, it was pretty all right. It was in the Grand Palais, so it was spacious, and, if the art sucked, you could always look up at the amazing ceiling. There were some cool things here and there bunched up amidst the famous artist souvenirs in the sales room-like cubicles on the ground floor, which was kind of the blue chip gallery area. The first floor upstairs was better 'cos it was smaller galleries showing newer, younger artists. I really liked the work of this young Danish artist Nina Beier, for one. There were some really good things in general here and there, and there were some galleries from LA in attendance so I got to say hi to some gallerist people I know and like and whom I haven't seen in ages. Then we walked to Palais de Tokyo where the show there was strangely good for PdT, or about half of it was. And it's such an incredible space. Being there is always exhilarating. Then we had a coffee and hung out before parting ways. It was cool. And I found out about all these events and performances related to FIAC happening that I didn't know about. Like tonight Alejandro Jodorowsky is conducting a seance in the Natural History Museum, which seems potentially mind-blowing. And other stuff. It was fun. Then, uh, ... oh, I found out that four of my books ('MLT', 'God Jr.', 'Ugly Man', and 'The Sluts') are going to be published in Germany, which is very cool 'cos I haven't been published in Germany since 'Period'. That was exciting. And otherwise I think I just worked and stuff. But, yeah, it was a cool day. I really hope your bad yesterday was a fluke and that today is going to rule, but please tell me either way. ** Sickly, Hey. Yeah, right? I totally agree! ** Steevee, They don't show 'Honey Boo Boo' over here, if that's what you mean. It's possible that that news could end up being a squib in the news here, but it would be framed as more evidence of how wacked-out America is. I've never been much of a fan of Roth, no. I liked a couple of the early novels okay at the time but never very passionately. ** Schlix, Hi. Yeah, the buzz on Gisele's video is crazy. The video is kind of a spin-off 'real world setting' version of 'The Pyre'. Same performers, same basic theme but a little more explicit and less abstract. Do I know Iancu Dumitrescu? I feel like I do, but I'm blanking out for some reason. Huh, I'll check. ** Nemo, Hi, Joey. Blogger loves to randomly eat comments, especially long ones. I'll go find out what ECT is. Sounds awful. I'll friend you when Blogger lets me friend people again. Wow, you're working on that thing on my work? Thanks! You should tell Marvin what you want to see and tell him you have my permission, and then he'll write to me to make sure you do. That's how it works best over there. Ideas about an editor? Uh, hm, no one springs to mind. I'm pretty out of touch with the writing/publishing thing in NYC. I read Sade when I was 15 so way, way before I wrote 'Frisk'. Or do you mean did it read it again while writing 'Frisk'? I don't know. I wrote 'Frisk' in NYC, and I don't think I had the book there, so probably not? After Iceland, I should be here working on editing the film for a bit, and then I'll be off again at the end of the year or thereabouts for a while, I think. Very glad to hear things are good with the great and lovely Jarrod. Love to you too, man. ** Keaton, Hi, Jesus, okay, I'm going to stop expressing my astonishment because repetition famously creates numbness after a while. Beautiful Everyone, ... and it's that point in the p.s. when you click this and go see Keaton's newfound and moody Halloween construction 'Shadows'. I hope you guys are keeping up with Keaton's unfolding. You're poorer if you aren't. ** Misanthrope, Oh, it's a coffee contest between quickie places, gotcha. So 7-11 has some overriding rule on how the coffee is prepared at every single 7-11 in the US or something? That seems strange and unenforceable. Maybe it's the brand of coffee they use. Do you know what it is? No, no DC-bashing thing. They did use the French thing, and, in fact, they even put it online if you want to read it now. It's called 'Gisèle Vienne: Disturbance in Representation' and it's by Bernard Vouilloux and it's here. Yikes about those no-eyes people. I got a little freaked out thinking about them and their lives. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal. Yeah, I totally agree about those youtube people. I would say that I spend way too much time watching them except that it's always inspiring and weirdly influential. That short story's effect on you! That's awesome. That doesn't happen every day. Nice, man, congrats, and I look forward to maybe get my eyes moist when I get to read it someday. Briefly, the theater piece stars 8 German ventriloquist/puppeteers who are super famous and respected in their field, and, in our piece, they've gathered together at a yearly ventriloquists convention, and they kind of entertain each other and fight and freak out and go into weird trances and talk about their medium and other stuff. That's a super tightened overview. It'll be easier to talk about when I finally get it written. Oh, wow, I don't know that movie 'Strings'. Huh. I'll tell Gisele about it in case she doesn't know. She's a mega-sponge about everything to do with puppetry. Thanks! ** Right. Spend time with Barbara Steele today, please. Thanks a lot. See you tomorrow.
Posted by Dennis Cooper at 12:02 AM
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Halloween countdown post #10: ... through the eyes and videography of Halloween enthusiast and consumer William Power
'williampower is a channel about all sorts of series and fun like williampower reality spirit halloween tours laser battels monster hunts spongbob vids gaming vids extreme crazy person vids and mostley halloween updates so comment like and subscribe to williampower like me on facebook follow me on instagram every new year a new season of williampower comes out' -- William Power
Spirit Halloween 2014 tour
Richy Rich 1 week ago
Very cool! Are you going to buy any inflatables?
William powers channel 1 week ago
Yes I have like 80 Christmas inflatables I'm defiantly getting the nutcracker
Going thru some stuff
HalloweenInformer 1 month ago
Can you show us all your props in one video
Anna Schneider 1 month ago
where did you find them?
asylum of terror haunt 1 month ago
Are you going to do a mine craft spirit halloween 2014
William powers channel 1 month ago
dd_richart1 1 month ago
How do you get them?
William powers channel 1 month ago
Like a year ago
nick4643 1 month ago
hey your Spirit has the untimely death statue!! I am looking for her do they have any more in stock? I am in Illinois
William powers channel 1 month ago
My Halloween props
For the past 2 weeks you guys have bin asking to make a video of all my props well here you go hope you like it and comment like rate and subscribe to William powers channel
Halloween7682 1 month ago
I only have 3 spirit props your spoiled
William powers channel 1 month ago
Halloween stuff at cvs 2014
My possessed wall hanger from spirit Halloween
halloweeen haunt guy 1 month ago
William powers channel 1 month ago
Thanks she's goes perfect with my broken spine girl
Haunter Heat 1 month ago
Is she worth it
William powers channel 1 month ago
Yes she's worth it
The Final Descent Haunted House 3 weeks ago
what do you hang her with
William powers channel 3 weeks ago
She has a Hook on her body between her legs and you get a nail put it on the wall and put the hook on the nail
Halloween stuff at party city 2014
Holdensaurus TheDinoGamer 1 month ago
Don't walk under ladders!!!!!
William powers channel 1 month ago
It was fine and besides it was on wheels
Spirit Halloween 2014 Millville tour
My witch of stolen souls from spirit Halloween
Lego Man 4 weeks ago
Where do you get the button
William powers channel 4 weeks ago
They sell them at spirit I have like 50 of them
The Final Descent Haunted House 4 weeks ago
how do you or your dad get the money to buy so much!
William powers channel 4 weeks ago
It was my birthday money I bought with and a 30 percent coupon
William powers channel 4 weeks ago
20 I meant my keyboard is mestup
Update on the haunted graveyard
My tire swing zombie boy from spirit Halloween
Richy Rich 3 weeks ago
What prop are you getting next?
William powers channel 3 weeks ago
Barnyard butcher or the scentist
Brian Martinez 3 weeks ago
This prop wasn't that great /:
William powers channel 3 weeks ago
Yes it is it's awsome
Chica The Chicken 3 weeks ago
No its really not william
Halloween stuff at home depo 2014
Haunters Spirit 12321 1 week ago
awesome video I love Home Depot for Halloween they always have awesome stuff my faverot thing there is the Wicked witch of the west Wizard of oz 75th anivirsry lol ( the first thing you showed lol I love that witch lol
Haunted graveyard in daylight
Halloween city 2014
Cash Sims 2 weeks ago
How much does the bunny cost?
William powers channel 2 weeks ago
Halloween Guy L 1 week ago
+William powers channel what does idk mean
William powers channel 1 week ago
I don't know
William powers channel 1 week ago
That's what it means
Adam RG 3 weeks ago
The evil rabbit makes the same sounds from Jurassic Park trex
William powers channel 3 weeks ago
Yeah I noticed that
My spirit Halloween store on minecraft 2014
coltonandjen 2 weeks ago
Look, i know this is minecraft, but could you at least TRY to make a decent Spirit Halloween. I made Misfortune Teller that acually works on the PC version.
William powers channel 2 weeks ago
Who cares it's still good I worked very hard on it
Spirit Halloween 2014 tour
Holdensaurus TheDinoGamer 5 days ago
Are you gonna get the scientist
William powers channel 2 days ago
At the end of the season when everything is cheap
p.s. Hey. ** Postitbreakup, Hi, Josh. Yeah, I just said and meant that it wasn't intended for my eyes. Anyway, no sweat, it's okay. I'm sorry you're unhappy and suffering. Lots of love, Dennis. ** David Ehrenstein, I've heard such great things about Ollier's film criticism, but I've never read that work, and I definitely will. He and I share a French publisher, POL, and I met him once, and he was very interesting and gracious. VK as BW? Curious. Sounds like the critic wasn't so convinced. Con-Vinced, ha ha. ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi, Marilyn! I'm happy to know you're there lurking. Lurkers are cool. Oh, wow, SF State, that's so great! How are the classes? Do they seem promising? Of course I remember Dan Wreck, and that is such cool, sweet news! Congratulation to you both! Yay! Love is so awesome! Speaking of, lots of love from me! ** Kier, Kierayon! Okay, obviously my cleverness regarding your name remains very hampered. Tobin Sprout's solo albums are always a little uneven because I think he's a very meticulous songwriter and filling out whole albums doesn't completely work, but there are always 5 or 6 great, great songs on each one. If you want to get one Sprout LP to start, I think I would recommend getting either the live album 'Live At The Horseshoe Tavern' or 'Demos and Outtakes'. And the two albums he did in collab. with Pollard under the name Airport 5 are really great! Especially the first one, 'Tower In The Fountain Of Sparks', but they're both fantastic. There's this room in the Recollets basement that definitely has a dungeon look and vibe about it. That's where Zac and I did a lot of our meetings when we were casting our film, ha ha. Oh, oh, I want to see a Halloween-decorated house in Norway so bad! If you find it, please take a snap or two. Thank you! I promise that if I see a Halloween-ed up Paris house, I'll do that same. Yesterday ... I did finish that interview. Well, when the journalist asked if I would do it, I said I would do it if it was by phone 'cos I'm really busy, and he wrote back and said that transcribing the conversation would be such a drag for him, and I wrote back and said I was sorry about the drag part but that a phoner would be best, and then, one day later, I got this very long email interview from him. Not a good start. The interview was kind of irritating, asking me to make big pronouncements about "American society" and "the American teenager" and "the reader" and all this stuff that's totally foreign to how I think, so the interview ended up being kind of combative, which is unusual for me. So, I did that. I made plans to go to FIAC, the big Paris art fair, with artist/d.l. Jonathan Mayhew today, and that'll be fun. Worked, the usual. Zac left last night for a few days in Dublin to help a friend of his move from Paris to there, so I saw him for a while and gave him his bag of plane/traveling treats. I found out that Gisele, Stephen O, Zac, and I are going to get a private tour of the new, under construction Whitney Museum building in Soho while we're in NYC, and that's kind of exciting. Uh, that might be the gist. I guess I can tell you how FIAC is tomorrow if it's interesting and of interest. Did you find something fun or creative or relaxing or well, any other things, to do today? Love, me. ** Steevee, Hi. Oh, okay, interesting. Than you for the report. Hm, I guess I'll try to see 'The Color Wheel' first then, although there is an inherent interest in the lit. scene setting/context, I guess. Good, I'm very interested to read your Mekons review. Everyone, Steevee has reviewed the new documentary about the mega-revered band The Mekons, and I think you probably really want to read that. It's here.** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. Did the sun do its huge, positive thing to the weather there today? We're gloomy and overcast here, but in a kind of potent, nice way. I need to get that Sotos. I saw a show of D’Agata’s photographs about a year ago, and I didn't like it much at all, but of course I'm very ready to be swayed by Peter's no doubt brilliant approach and thoughts. ** gucciCODYprada, Hey! Shit, you're gone? Fuck! I got a text message from you, although I think it arrived pretty long after you sent it, and I texted you back. Did you not get it? Shit, now you're gone? Well, was it real interesting? Did you enjoy it? Where in the Netherlands? Then London? Sweet tour. Anyway, that totally sucks that we missed each other. Somehow we'll hook up soon. Bunches of love, me. ** Hyemin Kim, Hi! Really nice to see you! I hope your work crush has a positive side. I'm crushed that way too. Thank you for the kind wishes re: the traveling. Take care! ** Etc etc etc, Hi, C. Cool about the Gober. Yeah, I definitely want to see the Christopher Williams. He's a really old friend of mine going back to when we were young, hopeful artist intendees in LA. Thanks for getting 'Ktl' tix. I'm dreading that talk. I hate public speaking and opinion giving and all that, so I'll be a stress bunny and not at my best, but cool that you'll be there. What Pina Bausch piece are you seeing? Hopefully one of her earlier, amazing pieces? ** Schlix, Hi, Uli. Thanks for exploring Sprout. I love his stuff so much. The new Teenage Guitar album? I haven't gotten it yet, but I of course adored the first one. Ollier isn't very well translated into other languages in general, and it's a real shame. ** Roger Clarke, Whoa, Roger! Howdy-do! Man, it's been so great to see the success of your book via reading things here and there and everywhere! That's so great! And now Patrick is doing you in the Times! Holy shit! Very, very happy for mega-deserving you! Are you good in general? I miss you. ** Keaton, I know I keep saying this, but how do you make such awesome things so fast? It's a fucking wonder. And this one's textual too. I'll pore once the p.s. is poured. Everyone, it's that time again. What time, you ask? Well, time to go over to Keaton's place where you will find yourself amazed by a little vertical ditty that goes by the name of 'A poem by Mary - It's Halloween, I want to suck your Hallowpeen and then you can...' No, you rocketh! ** Misanthrope, Tobin Sprout is one of the best names ever, if you ask me. I wish my parents had thought of it first and shortly before I was born. Well, that sucks about your youtube impairment because I think yesterday's gig might have been the first one in ages that you would have possibly quite liked. And what taste tests are these? Like ... 7/11 vs. Walmart vs. Chevron gas station or something? I would love a gulp of your homemade espresso in any case. Re: the intro, I think, and I'm not absolutely sure, that the venue ended up using the text by the French writer that Gisele proposed that they use, but don't bet money on that. NYC, meh, it'll always be there, but going there is always fun, but not going there is not not fun necessarily either. You can't lose either way? It is weird how eyesight usually doesn't age dramatically. ** Cal Graves, Hi, Cal. Butler's work is very stalkable. I'm glad my little advice helped. More of that anytime you ever want or like, man. Things are very good. My novel is painfully on hold until I finish writing this theater piece that's already overdue but I should be back headlong into it shortly. No comment on your third question, ha ha. Same three questions back to you. ** James, Hi. You know that Sprout and almost all of the original members came back to GbV a few years ago and that they made five albums before breaking up again a few weeks ago? Those five albums are up with their early, best stuff. The plan at the moment is that the blog will go into reruns while I'm in NYC, and then it will probably shut down entirely for the twelve or so days while I'll be in Iceland because I don't know when or if I'll have internet there, and then it'll pop back alive and become fresh again on the 15th. ** Sickly, Hi. You saw the reunion GbV, you lucky, lucky, lucky guy! I never did. I was never in the States at the right place at the right time, and they never came to France, those fuckers. I kind of like the Fonda, but I don't drink, so that might help. Yay, "Sprout is great", that is so true! The reason I did the Sprout gig was because one day last week I happened to decide to listen to 'To My Beloved Martha', and then I ended up listening to it about 80 times over the next two days, and I decided that it was the greatest song ever written during those two days. Yes, 'Dayton, Ohio-19 Something And 5' is holy. The live version on one of their EPs is even better. Do you know the Airport Five stuff/albums that Pollard and Sprout did together? If not, check 'Stifled Man Casino'. That song is so catchy and genius, it'll kill you. ** Sypha, Vocals, whoa. That's interesting. Like real vocals as opposed to auto-tuned or whatever? Very, very curious to hear that. ** That's it? Cool. Today you get Halloween filtered through the great, vibrantly interiorized and wonderfully spazzy Lord of Halloween props and video cam usage, Mr. William Power! See you tomorrow.
Posted by Dennis Cooper at 12:00 AM
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
'Despite his own solo successes, Tobin Sprout will probably always be known as the one-time four-track wizard and songwriting side kick to Robert Pollard in Ohio's lo-fi pop kings Guided By Voices. Though less prolific than his boss, fans of the group were quick to take note of Sprout's irresistible song craft. Relegated to a handful of appearances on each release, the singer/guitarist penned GBV favorites like "Awful Bliss," "Atom Eyes," and "It's Like Soul Man." Sprout left the GBV camp in 1997, pursuing the solo career he launched a year earlier with Carnival Boy.
'Tobin Sprout began playing guitar at age eight, teaching himself on the Silvertone his parents purchased for 25 dollars. In his late twenties, Sprout began making his first appearances on a Dayton, OH, scene dominated by metal acts, cover bands, and the occasional coalition of fiery punk youth, with his band Fig.4. Formed in 1983 with bassist Dan Toohey and drummer Jon Peterson, the group only released one 7" during its existence, breaking up before completing their full-length debut. After the split, Sprout enlisted the help of Dayton resident Robert Pollard to finish the album.
'A frequent attendee at Fig.4 shows, Pollard's early offer to join the group was (rather ironically) rejected. Needing an outlet for his own growing backlog of compositions, Pollard formed Guided By Voices shortly after. The band's Forever Since Breakfast EP was released in 1986, followed by the full-length Devil Between My Toes a year later. Sprout continued to stay in touch, adding his guitar to a couple of tracks on Devil, but eventually moved to Florida, taking a job as a designer and illustrator for See magazine.
'Upon returning to Dayton in the early '90s, Sprout found Guided By Voices hard at work on their fifth album Propeller (1992). Impressed with Pollard's songwriting talents, Sprout joined the group mid-way through the recording, making his GBV songwriting debut with "14 Cheerleader Coldfront." The band began using Sprout's home studio, pleased with the intimacy of four-track fidelity. Eventually a recording reached Scat Records who signed the band for the Propeller follow-up, Vampire on Titus. The group's home until their 1995 signing to Matador, the Scat-era saw GBV honing their home-studio skills, culminating on Bee Thousand. One of the group's best-loved releases, the album was cut entirely on Sprout's four-track.
'Token Sprout appearances followed on each subsequent album, peaking with his four contributions to 1996's Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. Shortly after, weary of the band's increased touring, Sprout moved with his family to Michigan. Though much of his spare time was dedicated to painting, he continued to write, releasing the occasional 7" and two full-length collections, Moonflower Plastic (1997) and Let's Welcome the Circus People (1999). He also wrote a number of songs for his Eyesinweasel project, 14 of which were collected on 2000's Wrinkled Thoughts. Demos and Outtakes appeared in 2001, but Sprout was uncharacteristically quiet after its release, only popping up here and there on hard-to-find 7" singles. During this time he also cut a full-length studio effort in his Leland, MI home studio. The finished touches were collected as Lost Planets & Phantom Voices, which appeared in February 2003.' -- collaged
To My Beloved Martha
'That one was mostly done on an Alesis ADAT and a Studio 32 board so I can go up to 16 tracks, which is what I'd like to do eventually. The stuff that I did on Moonflower Plastic, outside of the studio stuff, was done on an 8-track cassette and a 4-track cassette and there's a big difference in the sound quality of the ADAT.' -- TS
Martin's Mounted Head
'My ultimate goal is to get a 24-track analog machine, but it's just expensive. You've got to have somebody that can work on it, and you've got to find one to begin with. They're expensive and a problem to maintain and there aren't really a lot of people up here who could even work on it. So eventually I'd like to do that, but for the time being I'm just going to be using the ADAT because it seems to be working out pretty well and it's easy to use and there's not a lot of problems like with a tape machine.' -- TS
It's Like Soul Man
'I'm drawn to the analogue sound mostly just for the saturation point that you can get with tape and you can't get it on the ADAT. They are getting better to where you can get a nice sound on them but they still don't have the warmth that you get from tape, I don't think. A lot of people say they can't tell the difference, but I can hear the difference in a lot of the stuff.' -- TS
The Last Man Well Known to Kingpin
'There's a couple of microphones that I still use. There's an Electro-Voice that's more of a stage mic that I still use just because it has more of a crisp sound to it. And then I've got a CAD E-100 vocal mic that I've been using - I was using that with the 8-track too. That's got a nice large diaphragm so it really picks up the vocals really well. Aside from that I still use the Memory Man [analog delay pedal] occasionally on some vocal sounds because that was really the only thing that we had on the 4-track for effects. It was just an echo and a chorus on it.' -- TS
Get Out of My Throat
'I studied graphic design and illustration. When I finally got into it I did graphic design. I was painting at night and eventually started showing my work and that just sort of took off. So I was able to get out of graphic design and just paint. It all sort of wrapped around the Guided By Voices stuff that was going on. I was able to do that at the same time.' -- TS
All Used Up (live)
'I would say I made a living as an artist before I made a living as a musician. I was always into both. I had a guitar when I was in fifth or sixth grade, and we had bands in the garage and stuff, but nothing ever really took off. Drawing and art were things that just came really easy to me. It always seemed like that’s what I wanted to do and that’s what I ended up doing. It was always easy for me and I couldn’t figure out why other people can’t do that. But you get into other things, and I can barely balance my checkbook.' -- TS
'One of the biggest things that I notice is little kids are getting into GBV. We’ve been doing these all-ages shows and there are these five and six-year-old kids that are there with their parents. And they’re right up front and they’re singing. They know all the words. It’s like we’ve got this whole new generation coming up, and that’s pretty exciting. We were in Chicago, and about four or five rows out there was this mother holding her daughter, who was singing every word to every song. It’s incredible. So we have a new generation to write for.' -- TS
Water on the Boater's Back
'Sometimes when writing songs they come out right away if I have the lyrics already written. Other times I’ll spend all day on it. It just depends on the song. It doesn’t matter the length of it, it’s just a matter of how long it takes to get all the pieces together. A lot of times I’ll start with just the instruments and them maybe throw a vocal at it and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, the next day I’ll go back in and hopefully you forget about what you did and things will happen. Some days just fly by because you’re just involved with the song, but it varies. It’s usually done within the day.' -- TS
'The wires, the set up, the machines that don't work when I need them to.' -- TS
Indian Ink (live)
'When I was in Fig.4 we played an arena and were booked to play after the Ohio Players. The place was packed, but as soon as the Ohio Players were finished it emptyed out. We played to about 10 people in the largest venue I had ever played in at that time. It was very intimidating but we just went with it. It looked good on the poster, as if the Ohio Players opened for us.' -- TS
Courage the Tack
'I don't know that it matters, I use to think it did but I think It just comes down to staying excited about writing. And that comes from inside.' -- TS
'I just wrote a song on the piano. I like it , it has rolling notes that flow from one chord to the next. Its very beautiful. The words are nice too. I'm thinking of trying it with drums.' -- TS
As Lovely as You
'I've been hearing some music from the 40s that my Dad has, big band, Frank Sinatra. It really is amazing, the pure sounds of the recordings, just one vocal, no overdubs or effects. The songs are all well written, every note and word means something. It has changed me.' -- TS
The Crawling Backwards Man
'Harry Nilsson, I wish I could sing like him. He had a great voice. The Moonbeam song is one of my favorite. "First of May" by the BEE GEE"S It is the most beautiful song I've ever heard. It makes me feel good to feel sad.' -- TS
'I enjoy reading about American history; right now I’m reading The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg. The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston is a great book—all about the creation of Disney and about the development of the art and the artists behind the scenes.' -- TS
'I’m sure I picked up the style of the 60s singers because that is what I grew up listening to. My grandmother gave me the first three Byrds albums for Christmas, and I would listen to the radio at night—The Ronnettes, Left Bank, The Bee Gees, The Hollies—and I’d pick out all the parts and add some of my own. So I think it’s a cross between American and British psychedelic.' -- TS
p.s. RIP: Claude Ollier. A great loss. And now there's only one Nouveau Roman writer still alive: Michel Butor. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. It was my great pleasure, thank you! You're already nearing the end of your trip? Wow, that seems fast for some reason. That hotel: we stayed there the first time because we really liked its profile, and we didn't really know where it was vis-à-vis central Tokyo. But we kind of fell in love with it, and we ended up enjoying the traveling to and from the center. There's a subway stop about 10-15 minutes walk from the hotel, which isn't bad. The rooms there are beautiful. We always stay in a Tatami room, which you can see if you click this and scroll down. The prices aren't so bad for Tokyo, from what I can tell. And we like Meguro itself, so, yeah, that hotel has become our Tokyo home away from home. Well, naturally I think moving there is a dreamy idea. I love Tokyo so much. I miss it all the time. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. He sure didn't seem very appealing in bed in the YSL film with his pencil mustache and greasy, smirking, cartoonily grease-ball demeanor. Oh, thank you so much for the post! It'll go up here on this coming Friday! Thank you, thank you! There are posters for 'Horns' all over Paris at the moment, and, man, is it a bad poster. ** Nick, Wow, hi, Nick! How the heck are you? Yeah, '300,000,000' is a really, really amazing novel. Take care. Yeah, what's up? ** Tomkendall, Hi, Tom! Hi, buddy! How are you? What's going on, man? ** Marilyn Roxie, Well, it's very nice to see you, Marilyn, my pal. You good? Please fill me in on your goings on, if you like and don't mind. ** Kier! It's righteous: the book. That's funny because I just watched part of the film of 'Destroy, She Said' the other day while I was putting together a post on Duras' films. 'Honored Guest', ooh. Joy Williams is so, so great! I'm reading a bunch of stuff, I guess, yeah. I guess I'll do a 'loved books' post about some of them soon. The sculpture just disappeared early in the morning the next day. I think the janitor did something with it. But it was so spectacular, I'm sure they didn't throw it away. It's probably in the dungeon. Cool about the letter from the clinic! My last two days ... hm, okay, I guess quickly, err, ... The day before yesterday, ... oh, I think I mentioned that my friends the artists Scott Treleaven and Paul P are in residency here right now, and I wanted them to meet Zac and vice versa, so we all had a coffee, and that was really nice. Zac and I went to see this concert by the guy who did that phenomenal Hatsune Miku vocaloid opera The End' last year, but his music was drab and really not very interesting when just played on the piano with lame video projections, so we left at the intermission. And I worked and stuff. Yesterday, my agent was in town so I had a coffee with her and caught her up on my progress on my novel and heard about the biz re: my books. Then I met up with Zac for a coffee and brief hang out near the Pompidou. Then I worked some more. Then in the evening Zac and I went to Gisele's to see her before she splits for the 'Kindertotenlieder' shows Montreal today. So, they were nice, mildly eventful days, I guess. I can't remember what else happened. I'm doing a long interview for the Spanish version of Esquire Magazine that I need to finish today. I think other than those outings, I was just home trying to catch up on my projects basically. What did Wednesday do to and for you? ** Damien Ark, Hi, Damien. The new Blake novel is phenomenal, his best I think. Well, when your writing fails you, it's always the right idea to stop and recharge. The 'I miss writing' thing when you abandon it for a while is pretty good fuel, so, yeah, probably a good move, and probably a positive move and not apocalyptic or anything like that. ** Bill, Hi. I was pretty way into Nick Cave from the Birthday Party up through 'Funeral, Trial', and then I kind of drifted away. Do they know why this hoarseness thing is so lingery? (Ha ha, Blogger's spellcheck really, really wanted to change lingery into lingerie. We had a protracted little war over the word there for a minute.) ** Paul Curran, Hi, Paul. I think it's my favorite of Blake's too. It's a wowzer. No problem on the slackness. I get a little greedy re: Halloween, I'm sorry. I read about that street thing the other day, and I want to see that one of these years. Looks awesome. ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. Oh, man, that's cool. Nice of you to come in. Hope you're sufficiently de-tired by now. ** Sypha, Yeah, I think that's where I got the retirement idea. Nice about the horror movies. I should be doing that. ** Etc etc etc, Hi, man. Oh, Ira, yeah, I just saw him the other week. If he's in a good mood, I'm sure he'll be happy to regale you with stories. Tell him you're my pal. That should add some perk to whatever mood he's in, I think. Thanks about the LHotB line-up. I'm proud of it, yeah. Every book was tops, and I plan to keep it that way when I restart it. Oops about the Matisse show. Did you see the Gober retro and that sculpture group show whatever it's called? I'm curious to see those. ** Steevee, Hi. That's funny, Etc etc etc just mentioned seeing that film the other day. I think he wasn't completely wild about it? How was it? ** Chris Cochrane, Mr. Cochrane! Chris! Hey, hey, man! I'd love to see you too, but all in-person bets are off at the moment until I see how much I'll actually be in NYC and how busy. We'll connect through some medium one way or the other for sure. 'Soused' is so good! ** Misanthrope, You must have a swanky 7-11. The 7-11's coffee near my LA pad is misery incarnate. Mm, yeah, that joke, hm, I don't know, man, ha ha. ** Postitbreakup, Hi, Josh. I understand. Well, I'm rotten with emails almost across the board. Also, in that recent one, you showed me something that was not intended for my eyes, and I didn't read it for that reason, so that's probably one reason why I didn't respond, not that the words 'email response' and I are ever trusty friends under the best of circumstances. I'm sorry, and take care, man. ** Keaton, Man, how do you keep unveiling all these awesome posts at such a high rate? I don't how you do it. I guess I'm just really slow on the upswing. Well, I know I am. Another great beauty! Everyone, a day without a Halloween themed post is a sad day, but, luckily, today is not a sad day, or it won't be, if you go over to Keaton's. Hint, hint. ** Rewritedept, Hi. Oh, I liked 'King of the Hill' a lot. That sounds good. Rattling people's need for pleasantness inspires questions and not necessarily interesting ones. Part and parcel. Goes with the turf. Okay cool, about the taco place. I'll be game if I'm there. Thanks! I wouldn't anticipate a friend acceptance from Zac because he only friends real friends and sometimes artists he likes, and I don't think he knows your stuff, but, hey, you never know with him. I am happy about the S-K reunion, you bet, duh. ** Schlix, Hi, Uli! I'll let you know. I asked Gisele about that last night, and she said there are gigs in the works but nothing firm at all yet. Have a lovely day! ** End. Tobin Sprout usually gets overlooked due to being the second songwriter in a band beside the genius Robert Pollard, but he's great, and he's a maker of many really exquisite songs, and he's one of my great favorites, so I hope you like the gig. See you tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
'I've been told a thousand times that I could change the world if I really wanted it. That I needed to change my attitude first. Change my perception of reality. It's a piece of lazy and hollow advice that's never lead to any world-changing endeavors from anybody I've ever known. It's just a mantra that people chant to themselves, in order to feel different, enlightened. Blake Butler's new novel 300,000,000 looking through the vapidness of contemporary living with weapons far more sharp and dangerous than cynicism. It's a violently original thriller, a courageous literary novel and an abstract meditation on the thinness of the veil we call reality. It's also the first literary event in the post-David Foster Wallace era. It's a novel with fang and claws and it's going to fuck you up.
'Troubled police detective E.N Flood is in charge of the Gretch Gravey investigation. The man is charged with the murder of 440 people, including some of his own followers, teenagers looking for cheap drugs and quick thrills, who found a little piece of transcendence alongside the madman. Flood is going through the journals of Gravey, trying to find leads for his investigation, but what transpires of his researches is a madness that goes way beyond what you think madness can mean and what happens after that is a horror that goes way beyond what you think horror is. It's not madness. It's not horror anymore. It's the end of the world as we all know and love it.
'The first name that came to mind when reading 300,000,000 is Vladimir Nabokov. The structure is reminiscent of PALE FIRE (annoted text), which I believe served two purposes: 1) clue you in on the nature of Gretch Gravey's crimes and 2) break your natural defenses to believe that Gravey is a meaningless madman, because the analyzed text is not insulated the person analyzing and eventually become part of the same reality. Detective Flood's obsession with the Gravey case is going to reveal the true meaning of the cult leader's action and as Flood starts losing perspective on his investigation and becomes a part of it, Blake Butler adds more investigation notes from different authority figures that give you a creeping sense of the endgame of Gretch Gravey's ambitions.
'What if I told you I was Gretch Gravey? That I was you and you were me. That everyone I killed was by your hands as I had moved inside you, or just the opposite: you through me. That Gretch Gravey was not a person but a feeling.
'300,000,000 is an angry and terrifying novel, and I expect it to piss a lot of people off. It's an all-out, metaphysical declaration of war against the notions of bullshit individuality that paralyzes most of Occidental society into self-indulgent beatitude. I consider myself an angry person in general and reading 300,000,000 had the energizing effect of an ice bath on me. The ambitions of Blake Butler with this novel go beyond the narrative realm, as exposed by the long, high-flying, scattered passages of abstract storytelling. 300,000,000 is meant to challenge the sense of false security and moral righteousness that you've been lulling yourself with. I would call it ''of Nietzschean ambition'' but I don't think Blake Butler is nearly as idealistic as Nietzsche.
'I gotta say, it's a complicated and fractured read. I had a couple of ''what-the-fuck-am-I-reading?'' moments. 300,000,000 is that kind of novel, one that demands extra effort. If you can't stomach abstraction and sudden thematic departure, you gotta know that this is heavyweight stuff. 300,000,000 comes full circle though. It's not a vapid exercise in style, every detail matters and while you might find the conclusion to be a wild and chaotic departure from the original premise, your irritation might be rooted in the fact that you let your strong sense of morals dictate what you believe the conclusion of a thriller should be. Open up your mind and fall into Blake Butler's abysss, I say. Salvation is not necessarily on the way up.
'Every time something terrible happens in North America, some pundit is going to play the ''meaningless violence'' card and renounce the duty of trying to understand the crawling oblivion. Enter Blake Butler, literary alpha dog, and 300,000,000, a novel of systematic violence and apocalypse that's inspired by Vladimir Nabokov, Georges Bataille, James Ellroy and Sigmund Freud. Your excuse not to look into the abyss is invalid. Your faith in the fabric of reality is based on empty promises. 300,000,000 is a middle finger raised at the status quo and I fully expect the righteous to raise pitchforks at it. I also expect it to forever change the way we talk about violence in literature.' -- Dead End Follies
Blake Butler @ Twitter
G D C S + S W D P
Blake Butler's articles @ VICE
Blake Butler @ Harper Perennial
'Blake Butler's Waking Life'
Blake Butler's articles @ Fanzine
Blake Butler inteviews Brian Evenson @ BOMB
'For author Blake Butler, it’s an abstract world'
Podcast: Blake Butler interviewed by Brad Listi
Blake Butler 'Insomnia Door'
'I Do Love God' by Blake Butler
'Bleak House: Blake Butler taps into suburbia's gothic undercurrents'
Blake Butler and Sean Kilpatrick talk
Book Notes - Blake Butler "Sky Saw"
'A Ribbon of Language: Blake Butler'
'The Situation in American Writing: Blake Butler'
'13 Inspiring Quotes From Blake Butler’s “Sky Saw” That Will Give You Faith In Humanity'
Readings & Eating
Blake Butler reading from "Sky Saw"
Blake Butler reads from "There is no year"
Blake Butler reading from "Ever"
Blake Butler reading from "Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia"
Blake Butler reading from "300,000,000"
Blake Butler eats Page 1 of "Scorch Atlas"
My password for coldegg.com is organwindow1991. I’ve activated the secondary login option, after I got hacked a while back, so you’ll also need to know that my first pet’s name was Sand. She was a hermit crab, but you don’t need to know that to log in. When I got hacked all they did was replace all my information like my name and location and occupation and relationship status to read MY Dear one Remain blessed in the Lord. They put a picture of a dead horse where my picture was; its eyes were open. I left it up that way for weeks.
My password for my email account is organwindow1999. I used to have a lot of different passwords but now I just change the number at the end when I feel it’s been used enough times that I should change at least a part of the password but don’t want to change the whole thing because I’ll forget. Feels like all the space inside my brain I used to use for things like remembering passwords has been eaten up by something else. Even the years will stick together, so they are special. 1991 is the year I was born. 1999 is the song by Prince. Other years that are important include 2004 and 2005, but for reasons I don’t feel like listing. I don’t know why organwindow. It’s just what came into my head the first time I had to make a password and now I have to think it almost every day.
I'm writing this all down in case I die. I've been having the feeling lately I'm going to die soon. I haven’t told anybody else. I don’t know who to tell. In my email drafts you’ll find a list of things I’d like to have be given to who if something does happen. I wish I knew an email to send it to besides just having it as a draft but I don’t so if no one finds this then I guess they’ll just do whatever they want with my stuff. It probably doesn’t matter, but maybe it does.
Sometimes it’s like I get this feeling that something is above me in the sky. That something is coming down so hard and fast at my head from somewhere way beyond the earth, and has been traveling for longer than I even know to get here. I used to duck out of the way and cup my head and try to see it but now I’ll just freeze and wait for it to hit. Nothing ever happens, but then the feeling always comes again, and each time when it comes again it’s like it’s closer now, and bigger now. I can’t imagine how much closer or bigger it needs to get before it’s here. It’s only aimed just right at me.
When I’m inside the feeling comes on in the opposite direction. It’s like there’s this point deep down between my ribs, a sharp low numb that’s easily ignorable but also keeps getting wider through my chest. It’s black and tingles and seems to have things also there inside it, like tendrils that connect back to wherever it begins. Maybe it begins at the same point the thing that seems from overhead did. I know the color black contains all colors. I can still walk around like nothing’s in there when it happens and be looking normal on the outside but something’s in there, and it’s alive. Then it’s gone. Last time I could not feel either of my arms or right down beneath my waist where my pubic bone begins and up my neck meat near my chin. I don’t know what will happen when it spreads across my brain.
I wonder if the blackness has a password, and can I guess it.
Anyway, what I’m saying is if I die, which I think I might, and might be soon, please get on coldegg.com and post a status update saying that I’ve died and that I saw it coming and that I’m okay with it and, well, goodbye. Also, please post posts on each of the people’s profile’s who I’ve left stuff to (again, see email drafts) and let them know what’s theirs and where they can come and pick it up. In some cases, for these people, I’ve also attached more private messages I’d like to have sent saying specifically thanks for being cool or fuck you for being a fuck or hey I always had a crush on you and couldn’t figure out how to say it or remember that one time, and so on. After that get on my mail and send out an email to my top contacts relaying the same thing as my status update was, with a note also that it’s not necessary to write back because I’m not going to get it.
If you feel like it, after that, you could post a thing also on cubecube.org and iloveyouifyouloveme.com and post the same. The passwords for both of these accounts is organwindow0000, which that number doesn’t stand for anything at all.
Blake Butler's playlist to stop thinking to
from Dazed Digital
SOMETIMES I CUT MY PENIS OFF IN MY SLEEP
I only want to listen to music that makes me unable to think. This must be interrupted with an advertisement for the company who will kill your parents. You shouldn’t have to be the one to kill your parents. We’re only ever really ever listening to unreleased Madonna.
If you can still keep thinking then it didn’t happen. I can’t believe I’m typing. I can’t believe I have to have hearing still.
Don’t listen to anything. Don’t read. Don’t do anything but eat so much food you can’t move and the uncreation is all inside you like 87687qyw o8ed7aoiusedfi uayspiud fp;iuahsi o;dufha;ksj df;kjhas;l djfh;lajkshdl ;fj a;lskjhdf ;ljahs ;dljfhao;js dhlfij asiludhfao ;iusyd ;ofuhas ;odiuyf powu8yeo f8uywpeo;ifu ;aousyd f;ouahs;o df;ajskhfk jahds lkjfh lkasjhdf lkjahs difuhaops udhf pouasdpfouyepw9oerufypauyd pfiuay spdoufy aosdfy.
This soundtrack is for sunlight on the elderly.
Blake Butler interviewed by Shane Jones
Shane Jones: There’s a growing stress on first person narratives, female writers/feminism, and in general, socially and politically conscious fiction. Do you worry that a book like 300,000,000 will offend readers, or worse, is arriving in a shifting literary landscape?
Blake Butler: Is it growing, or was it always like this? I don’t put new emphasis on the desire of many to put practical, reality-based factors into play in a system of art that for me was always about blowing reality out of the way. There are training wheels all over the place, and there are holes. If I’m a hole, I’ll be one. And personally I’m glad to see the strikes against the brutal penises of old blowhards; if reality is your game you should at least not be a bro. Do I worry about offending readers, having no readers? I honestly don’t even think about it. I try to challenge myself to make something that would otherwise not exist if I did not exist. If anyone enjoys it, thinks about it enough to enjoy it or get angry, that’s a celebration. But it’s not the thing. Only time honors. Tumblr won’t exist in two years. MyRealSexLife.com will always out click poetry in the realm of not-yet-dead.
SJ: Do you identify with any group? Are you religious?
BB: I am not religious in the churchgoing sense or probably even many other senses, though I do believe in god, at least where the idea of god could be some force that exists outside reality. I do not necessarily understand why any human would imagine an illimitable entity and then think they can have a relationship with it as a human. My spirituality is more like silence, which is holier to me than wafers and wine. I don’t believe in voting because I don’t believe in acknowledging the lesser of two evils, which are both to me still evil. I would probably be killed in war, though I’m ambivalent to violence often when left alone in front of the computer. In general I try to keep my actions and opinions faithful to a private moral stricture that is maybe entirely arbitrary but to me seems more functional than any label; space is elastic, there are no real rules, though I try to have as much faith as possible, both in people and in fate as it appears over time. For the most part all of this leads me to spending a lot of time in a relative fantasy land, more often offset than aligned, which I guess is how my personality drove me into fucking with books instead of math.
SJ: We communicated on a regular basis while you were working on 300,000,000 and I remember at some point your editor at Harper Perennial, Cal Morgan, sent you a 20,000 word document of edits and suggestions. How did the book change from the version you had and the final version after Cal’s edits?
BB: It was 27,776 words, yes, all mapped into sections with page numbers and notations, including headers such as: What Really Happened?, Why Did It Happen?, Why Is Flood Trapped Twice?; a index of symbols and themes with a list of all pages interplaying into such themes as America, Cities, Corporations and Brands, Dementia, Flood’s Wife: Murder vs. Cancer, Getting Paid To Write The Book, Josh, Magic Eye, Money, Movies/Films/Tapes, S-shape, Seven shapes, Writing/ Books/ Language, etc.; as well as a long consideration of voice in the book and specific mechanics of the language; all in all it was like having a statistical readout on the last 4 years of your life, annotated by a brilliant eye who probably knew what was actually on the paper way better than I did by that point. Honestly I wrote the first version of the book, and more than 20 subsequent full drafts over three years, in such a maniacal state of relative emotional hell that by the time we got to the official editorial process I didn’t even know what was there anymore, and had to in some way begin again. A lot got deleted, a lot got added, the total framework was rearranged countless times, and most every sentence was interrogated until I couldn’t stand to look at it anymore. With Cal’s study, his intuition and willingness to enter alongside my manias, and ultimately his total faith in the text and my ability to go through another 30 full-scale revisions of the book during the nearly two years we carried on, I don’t know that this book would have ever been anything but a long death note to myself on some burnt out hard drive. Having someone hand you a map of your heart and persona and say, here are the questions that will lead you to answer that will make the whole thing ten times more powerful for those outside you is the greatest gift you could ever receive.
SJ: Your father was suffering from dementia during the writing of the book and he passed during this editing period. You’ve mentioned before you would write at your parent’s house, where your father was. Did his deteriorating state and his death affect the book in any way? And the hand of Cal Morgan, seems to me, almost fatherly in a sense – tough and loving and wanting to do everything possible for the book and for you.
BB: Most of the time I was working on the book I was going up to my Mom’s to help her with Dad, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, and needed constant supervision, daily care. I went up there and worked so my Mom could get out of the house, and so any time I took a break I’d go and check on him, interact with him, an increasingly surreal exchange. In some ways the state that took him over felt very similar to how I felt writing the book, and maybe it was a guideline of sorts; an actual madness, prolonged. I think maybe a lot of the rage in the book is channeled from grappling with understanding what was happening to him, and to those of us around him, not to mention my own troubles. I don’t think I could have worked anywhere else, as being around was like a time shuttle; there was nowhere else to be, during the day. And at night I would go home and spend time with Molly, my girlfriend, the appearance of whom had a wholly other sort of effect on certain stages of the revision; what forms of relief the book contains in many ways resolve through her, and from rallying with my sister and brother in law and mother to help Dad to the end as gracefully as his body would allow.
If I remember correctly, and I may not, I turned in the final edits of the book late in the evening at my Mom’s house on the day before my Dad passed away. He was bedridden for the last several weeks at least, in the final stages of the death process where the person no longer eats or drinks, and the last days or so felt very long, every breath of his possibly the last, and I remember feeling super insane at the computer, but in a calm way, typing in the very last edits then, and going back to sit with my family and him for the last time.
Honestly I thank my luck for my artistic relationship with Cal Morgan every day; there are few who would have given me the faith he has; he changed my life.
SJ: My grandfather suffered from Alzheimer’s and I remember the last days – how they hand over that little booklet with “dying instructions” that felt so alien and crushing. I’ve thought about this because it runs in my family, but do you ever think you’ll suffer from Alzheimer’s as well? Do you still travel to your Mom’s to write?
BB: Mom has made a point to let me know multiple times that Alzheimer’s isn’t passed from father to son, though whether or not that’s true or verifiable, who knows. I try not to think about it, but it’s hard already to not feel demented and distracted by the world across the board, and probably the inability to recognize its happening to you is the most terrifying factor of it all. There aren’t many other ways I’d less prefer to die. It’s terrifying, right? Your whole life stripped out from underneath you, little by little, while those you loved try to hold on. I won’t waste time in the interim fearing it, though. If anything, it’s motivation.
It’s been really hard to get out of that habit of going to Mom’s, as for so long I did it without question, because I was needed. And I feel now that I need to get out of the house to do my work; to stay there in the same place where I sleep and eat to do this kind of work seems difficult to me, or has become so. But I just went under contract on a house, and will be moving before the year’s out into a new home, which I see as a chance to reset my path, do something new. I need that, because most days since finishing 300,000,000 I’ve felt I’ll never write another book again. I remain hopeful to discover otherwise, or to discover what another new kind of thing for me could be.
SJ: HTMLGIANT, a literary blog you founded in 2008, recently decided to call it quits. As an original contributor, I felt a combination of sadness, sentimental reflection, and relief because the site in the past year often felt dead to me, or that something had significantly changed from the early days. Do you think the site was suffering from interesting content or is there any specific thing you can pinpoint that made you want to end its run?
BB: There was no real definitive impetus that made us want to end it; more like there has been a long ongoing train of effects, from the hellscape like assault that populated much of the comment section, for which a lot of the reputation of the site got beat up in many minds, as well as a general feeling of the landscape of the internet changing. I mean, when we started it felt like there was so much to be done; we were younger and still fiery in the spirit for discussion and overflowing; the beauty seemed worth the bullshit. Not that that disappeared, but the center of the site in some ways slipped out from under itself, as people moved on and comment culture in general became spread more widely thin, and honestly I don’t at all get the feeling I used to from the internet; so much now feels so petty, ego-beating, click-bait-y, overrun. The body was alive but the spirit died. In the end Gene just texted me and basically said, “This isn’t fun anymore, no matter what we try to do it gets attacked, I don’t want to be attacked.” When that’s the case, it should be done. I love what was made and the time it was made in and what it led to for many people but at the same time I just no longer have the same kind of will, and would rather focus my fire on offline life, creation.
SJ: There was a fury of rape and abuse allegations concerning several writers associated with the site and some people connected the closing of HTMLGIANT with these allegations.
BB: It wasn’t part of our reasoning for closing the site. Perhaps it contributed to a general negative feeling regarding the social arenas surrounding the culture, which for me has been growing less and less palatable for some time, but we wouldn’t stop doing what we do because of other people’s actions. It was a website, about art.
SJ: There’s a great line in Thomas Bernhard’s novel Correction: “I have built the Cone, I was the first to build the Cone, no one did it before me.” While reading 300,000,000 I thought several times, “this is Blake’s Cone” in that you seem to pushing yourself harder and further than ever before and when talking to a friend of mine about the book he said something along the lines of “I’m not sure what Blake does after this book.” It just feels so big and exhausting. So what’s next writing wise? And will there be another literary site you’ll start up?
BB: Bernhard’s cone is definitely something I have aspired to; the sublime object more infernal than yourself, representing something nameless and immaculate in its reflection of death as a state of being. To be honest my goal when writing the book was to burn out everything I had so hard I would have nothing left to live for. The last line of the book in the original draft was “The only way for me to complete this book is to kill myself” without a period. Part of the process of revising the book from that old endpoint involved me changing my life, my future outlook, my desires, so in that way the final incarnation of what is there is not only terror and murder but a state beyond that, beyond exhaustion.
And since then I’ve had a really hard time writing anything else, honestly. Which I think means that I have cored through an era of my life, and when I find the edge of the next era it will be different, and I am ready to be different. I’ve thrown away a lot through the last two years. Right now I’m kind of deep into something that is taking a much different set of skills and thoughts than where I’ve come from, much longer stretches between every word, and yet when I think about finishing it or what I would do with it I am more and more liking the idea of never ending, letting the world of the book continue to mutate on and on forever, through thousands of worlds. Or maybe I’ll get bored and start writing about lasers. I don’t know.
I hope I never take part in another website unless it’s pure joy.
'An unforgettable novel of an American suburb devastated by a fiendish madman—the most ambitious and important work yet by “the 21st century answer to William Burroughs” (Publishers Weekly).
'Blake Butler’s fiction has dazzled readers with its dystopian dreamscapes and swaggering command of language. Now, in his most topical and visceral novel yet, he ushers us into the consciousness of two men in the shadow of a bloodbath: Gretch Gravey, a cryptic psychopath with a small army of burnout followers, and E. N. Flood, the troubled police detective tasked with unpacking and understanding his mind.
'A mingled simulacrum of Charles Manson, David Koresh, and Thomas Harris’s Buffalo Bill, Gravey is a sinister yet alluring God figure who enlists young metal head followers to kidnap neighboring women and bring them to his house—where he murders them and buries their bodies in a basement crypt. Through parallel narratives, Three Hundred Million lures readers into the cloven mind of Gravey—and Darrel, his sinister alter ego—even as Flood’s secret journal chronicles his own descent into his own, eerily similar psychosis.
'A portrait of American violence that conjures the shadows of Ariel Castro, David Koresh, and Adam Lanza, Three Hundred Million is a brutal and mesmerizing masterwork, a portrait of contemporary America that is difficult to turn away from, or to forget.' -- Harper Perennial
Gretch Enrique Nathaniel Gravey is apprehended by authorities in XXXXXXX on August 19, 2XXX, at 7:15 a.m. He is found facedown in the smallest room of his seven-room ranch-style home with legs bound at the ankle by a length of electrical wire, apparently administered by his own hands.
He is unresponsive to officers’ commands or to the touch.
When lifted from the ground his eyes remain open in his head, unblinking even to the sound of the canines, the men.
The light inside the room is strong. It blinds each new being at their admittance, bodies shielding eyes and swinging arms until the space has been secured.
Gravey is dressed in a white gownlike shrift affixed with reflective medallions that are each roughly the size of an eye and refract light in great glare. No underwear, no ornaments.
His hair has been shorn sloppily, leaving chunks and widths around his ears and the back of his head, an amber lob of curls the color of beer.
An open wound cut on his left breast appears to have been also self-administered, though not deep enough to require stitching; his wet blood has soaked a small head-sized oval parallel to where he lies; from the pool, traced by finger, the word OURS appears writ in the ink of blood along the mirror-covered carpet.
Questions and actions delivered to the suspect do not seem to occur to him as sound; he does not flinch or turn toward the shouting, the splinter of their entrance, canines barking, the commands.
The meat around his eyes seems to be caving, black and ashy.
There are no other living persons apparent in the house.
Gravey is unbound, cuffed, and taken to a local precinct to be booked, processed, and held.
His eyes in motion do not open, though he is breathing.
He does not speak.
DETECTIVE E. N. FLOOD: The above and the following are my ongoing log of the time following Gravey’s arrest, and the ongoing investigation, over which I have been appointed lead. I have given electronic access to specific colleagues assisting in the case for their perusal and review.
SERGEANT R. SMITH: These notes were discovered in Flood’s shared files online sometime shortly after he disappeared. Several of the quoted sources claim to have not written what they are said to have written. I myself remain uncertain.
The front foyer of the mouth of the entrance to Gravey’s home is caked up with shit nearly a foot high; human shit, packed in tightly to the face of the door, which has been barricaded and blocked over with a paneled bureau full in each drawer with ash. Testing reveals the ash is burnt paper; among the powder, lodged, the leather spines of books, photographs overexposed to blotchy prisms, fingernail clippings, mounds of rotting cat-food-grade meat, plastic jewels.
The same ash found in the drawers is found in larger quantity in a small den down the hall, along with the metal rims and scorched remainders of a drum kit, bass guitar and amplifier, small public address system with corresponding speakers, and fourteen seven-string guitars all of the same make, each variously destroyed by flame to disuse but still recognizable as instruments.
A small sheet-stand holds up an empty tabbing book, which on some pages has been rendered with whole glyphs of blackened scribble, matching the front color of the house.
Inside the house is very warm, caused in part under the concentration of the sun’s heat on the black paint even-handedly applied to the north, east, and south faces of the home. Only the west face remains its original cream-tan, the same shade of roughly one in four houses in the neighborhood.
The lawns of both houses on either side of the Gravey homestead are overgrown high enough to nearly block the windows. Gravey’s lawn is dead, a radial of whites and yellows like the skin of a giraffe. An ant bed in the side yard of the unpainted side of the building is roughly the size of a very large sandbox, pearling in sunlight, though there are no ants among the runnels to be found, their turreted bed evacuated.
The majority of the other rooms in the Gravey home are bare. Furniture, adornment, and objects have been removed or were never there. The walls are covered for the most part with lengths of mirror that seem to have been gathered from local dumps or flea markets or trash: platelets sized from that in a bathroom washstand down to the face of an armoire down to the eye-sized inner layers of a blush case or a locket have been affixed to the drywall with a putty adhesive that leaves the rooms smelling synthetic. Many mirrors have crisped to dark with more flame or cracked in spindles from impact with perhaps an elbow or a fist, or having been dropped or otherwise mishandled prior to their installation. The mirrors’ coverage is extensive, leaving mostly no inch of the prior wall’s faces uncovered; even the ceilings and in some rooms as well the floors receive a similar coverage treatment. In many places, too, the mirrors have been applied doubly or triply thick, sometimes to cover something ruptured. Large smudges dot many arm’s-length sections of the more central rooms’ mirrored dimension, rubbed with handprints, side prints, whiffs of sweat, and in some cases traces of lipsticked mouths, running saliva, feces, blood, or other internal and sometimes inhuman synthetic materials, all of it Gravey’s, incidentally or by cryptic, unnamed logic spasmodically applied.
Countless light sources in each of the major rooms fill the plugs of long electrical strip outlets or are attached to generators and arranged around in the space in no clear manner, studding the ceiling and the ground. Burnt out or burst bulbs have not been replaced but hold their dead eyes unrelented in the space filled by the rest. For hours into days the light will remain burned on the eyes of those who’d entered before the knobs were turned to end it.
Officer Rob Blount of __________, thirty-five, finds himself frequently at lengths lost inside the shape. More than several times, even with the excessive lighting fixtures lowed, he finds himself rendered staring off into the conduit of mirrors creating many hundreds of the house and him, and therein, something behind the reflection, a wider surface, until he is jostled by outside sound or a fellow officer’s inquiring arm. Through the remainder of Blount’s life inside his sleep he will many nights find himself approaching in the distance a square black orb, endlessly rotating in a silence. The dream of the orb will fill his mind.
Gravey’s kitchen contains a more colorful decor, if little else of more substantial means of living. The refrigerator, like the front room’s bureau, is stuffed with ash so thick it obscures the contained light. Buried in the ash here are occasional remnants of what might once have been intended for consumption: a full unopened carton of whole milk, several sealed cans of tuna, cardboard encasements for packs of beer, fourteen one-pound containers of store-brand butter riddled with knife divots, a water container full of something white. Later, teeth will be discovered buried in the chub of certain of the butter tubs’ masses, way underneath; the teeth will be later identified as dogs’ teeth. The freezer remains empty beyond a cube of ice forming a globe.
The surrounding floor is likewise thickened, albeit higher than the foyer’s, with used food wrappers, tissue, and containers, as well as many unfinished portions of the food. The pyramid of rotting glop and Styrofoam and cardboard stands nearly five feet high at the room’s far wall, trampled down into smoother avenues and valleys in the mix. The stench is intense, weaving many different modes of rot into a kind of choking blanket. Somehow the stench seems not to leak into the house’s mirrored sections.
Underneath the junk, in excavation, the men will find a massive ream of loose eight-millimeter film. Each frame of the several miles of exposed framework, unlike the other tapes found in the house, will show nothing but a field of pure black, of no star, as if the film had never been exposed. The soundtrack of the film, when played, if played, will feature a sound resembling a young man speaking in reverse, though when played in reverse the language sounds the same, word for word.
p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Very happy to see you say that about Jost. I totally agree. Yeah, the one I thought was dreadful is the 'unofficial' newer one, and Louis Garrel, whom I usually like, gives a truly awful performance in it, but the character he's asked to play is so one-dimensional and off-putting that I doubt it's his fault. Gisele was just telling me yesterday that there's an apparently very good new documentary about YSL, but I don't know its title or director. Yes, I did get the Barbara Steele stuff, thank you (!), and I'll get that sorted and scheduled and let you know later today. ** Jeffrey Coleman, Hi, Jeff. Ha ha, that was awesome, man! ** Steevee, Gotcha on why 'Birdman' is a critical hit. Makes sense. 'Bell Diamond' is one of the Josts I haven't seen, but he's very, very good and singular. ** _Black_Acrylic, Cool, glad it was of interest, thanks! Very best of luck down in Leeds on the YnY work (yay!) and with every other general Leedsian activity. ** Ken Baumann, Ken! Wonderful to see you, you multiplicitous maestro, you! My deep honor on posting the stuff around Mark's book, obviously. It's mega-great. I'm really good, thanks. Yeah, sorry for not getting back to your email. I think it arrived when I was really sick for a couple of weeks wherein everything kind of disappeared around me. Zac and I were talking you about just last night, missing you and wishing we could see you. I wonder where that photo Frank has of me came from. One of my duties on Zac's and my film was that I was the official clacker, so in the raw, pre-edited footage of the film, I seem to have as much screen time as the stars themselves. My health is fine now, yeah. Zac and I are off to NYC briefly next week then onto a 12 days-long adventure exploring Iceland, so I'm very excited about that. Man, I really do hope we can meet somehow somewhere. No chance you'll pop over to here good olde Paris? Lots and lots of love to you and A.! ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff. Thanks! After 'Sure Fire' ... hm. I quite like 'The Bed You Sleep In'. 'Over Here' is very beautiful. His most recent one, 'Coming to Terms', is very good, and this might just be a personal thing, but, even though their work is very different, I've always had this strong association in my head between Jost and James Benning, and Benning is the star of 'CtT", and I found that combo/collab. really interesting. Yes, new Sleater Kinney album! How about that! Cool. I'm behind on the Gisele piece, but it's getting there and it will get somewhere/there soon. Probably it'll be easier to talk about when it's not mixed up in my head with a bit of stress at being behind schedule. I'm excited about it. It's very, very different than anything we've done before. ** Keaton, Wow, beautiful tribute to Frank Wolf, man. I still feel really sad when I think about him. Deep bow. Everyone, Keaton's Halloween post for today pays tribute to young Francis Lapointe, an original and beautiful and very stylish 20 year-old Canadian who killed himself in 2013 because of the bullying he received for being original and beautiful and stylish. Visit. ** Sypha, Hi. It's on life support, but it's alive. New Sypha Nadon! I thought you retired him. Glad you didn't, obviously. Let us know when we can hear it, pretty please. ** Misanthrope, You giving Sypha a hard time? How unprecedented, ha ha. Definitely Satan. That's the only logical explanation. I feel your broken espresso maker-related pain. May lime be God. ** Mark Gluth, Hi, Mark! I'm really glad you saw Joel. I don't think I know Flore, but it sounds extremely knowable. Your two companions are out of their cotton picking minds, but that's okay, I guess. Wait, 'cotton picking minds': what a weird homily that is. I don't think I like where it's coming from now that I actually about the space behind the numbing cliche. I take that back. Oh, I wasn't directing in that photo, I was only holding the clacker board thing so Zac could direct. I was a utility player. You take care too, and enjoy the rest of LA, and I hope everything goes really great in SF, and I'm sure it will. ** MANCY, Hey, man! I may have already told you, but I will tell you again how beautiful your trailer for Mark's book is! I'm very well, and I hope you are too, man. ** Craig, Hi, C. Yeah, I think they're doing pretty good at tennis these days. Hence, the heightened interest, no doubt. And I think the French rugby team suddenly got top-notch in the last few years, causing the popularity upswing. But a Buche is a super traditional thing too. If you do a classic one that looks like a log, I'm sure they'll be excited and, at the same, comforted. Logs will do that. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. I heard the Cave doc is good from a bunch of folks. I wish I was more interested in him, but I'll see it and see if that ups his ante in my taste buds or something. Still hoarse? Wow, maybe you should keep it? ** Rewritedept, Hi. Bermuda, weird. My parents used to go on holiday to Bermuda. But I never hear about Bermuda anymore, and I thought its vacationing possibilities were out of fashion. It's like an island, right? And that Triangle must be near there. And people must wear Bermuda shorts there. Glad your boys projecting is stoking fires on FB. I've heard of Bob's Burgers, but I can't remember what it is. My guess would be ... one of those Adult Swim animation series. Was I right? ** End. Today the blog and I are celebrating the new novel by Blake Butler which is really fucking incredible and really recommended to you. See you tomorrow.