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RE/SEARCH Newsletter #32, December 2004

RE/SEARCH Newsletter #32, December 2004

1. A word from the editor
2. CounterCulture Hour – Sat December 11, 2004, 6:30pm! (2nd episode airs)
3. New **J.G. Ballard: Quotes** Book available – Special offer!
4. Getting those J.G. Ballard books from customs–Kafka-esque!
5. New York Times review
7. A brief History of RE/SEARCH

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All readers are invited to send contributions and feedback!

1. J.G. Ballard: Quotes – The book is here, ready to ship! Please order direct! This book will raise your G.Q. (Genius Quotient). TheN.Y.Times said, “The hunt for striking one-liners is the fun of J.G. Ballard: Quotes, a compendium of provocative quips and comments culled from 40 years of his writing and interviews…Quotables crop up on every page, on the arts, media, religion, death, writing and writing…Often they compress the modern world with magnificent concision.” www. has more information, excerpts and covers. AND – see special offer (below).

2. CounterCulture Hour Saturday December 11, 2004, 6:30pm, Cable Channel 29 (Sorry, Bay Area only) The 2nd episode will feature conversations with Pagans Oberon Ravenheart and T. Thorn Coyle, and a short “documentary” video by Marian Wallace titled: “Modern Pagans: Views and Interviews.” The video features interviews with Genesis P-Orridge, Deborah “Oak” Cooper, and Darryl Cherney of Earth First! by host V. Vale. (The first CounterCulture Hour aired Nov 13, and featured Dirk Dirksen of the Mabuhay Gardens, S.F.) The program airs the 2nd Saturday of each month at 6:30pm, on an ongoing basis.

3. J.G. Ballard: Quotes Book – Special Offer!

FREE U.S.A. SHIPPING for our new Ballard book, and our other J.G. Ballard books until **December 20, 2004.**

Order now! This Offer good for J.G. Ballard: Quotes (19.99); RE/Search #8/9: J.G. Ballard (17.99); or The Atrocity Exhibition paperback (17.50) and signed Atrocity Exhibition hardback ($50). We have the new Quotes books on hand now, and they look great! With this offer, U.S.A. orders will be shipped FREE! For overseas orders, the cost will be reduced by $4, so will cost you just $6 by global priority, which takes approximately 5 days in the mail. Please call, fax, email, or order on our secure server. If ordering by email or web, please write “$4 coupon” in the “Shipping” space.

1) Free USA Shipping for you, and your gift recipients!
2) First Edition Only 3000 printed worldwide – it will sell out
3) You Can Get It Autographed by V. Vale
4) The next, 2nd printing will be different! We may remove a controversial photo, and text here and there will be changed–enuff said!
5) We can also send “xmas” gifts with a card in your name to whoever you specify. This is a nice gift because it is VERY hard to find! But, you must order by Dec 20!

We also recommend you pre-order the next RE/Search book, J.G. BALLARD: CONVERSATIONS, because in all probability the price will have to be raised. But, we will honor all pre-orders at the old $14.99 price, with free USA shipping, even!

REVIEWS OF J.G. BALLARD: QUOTES: We just got our very first NY TIMES review! (Go to and search for “john strausbaugh” or see text below) We also got a review by Gary Singh–THANKS! Also, Galatea’s Pants #15 has a review plus a lengthy interview with V. Vale ($3 postpaid from Lauren Eggert-Crowe, 237 Whitmyre Hall, Indiana PA 15705). THANKS LAUREN!

4. Clearing Customs We had a very Kafka-esque experience trying to get the J.G. Ballard books released from the US customs warehouse last week. First of all, the directions said take the “San Bruno Ave East” exit, etc. But there’s no San Bruno “East” exit, just a generic “San Bruno” exit at a weird 4-offramp freeway-airport exit matrix. But just as you’re missing the exit, there’s a sign with an arrow left saying “San Bruno East”, so we went left. WRONG. We had to circle around on the freeway. By winding our way through various cargo warehouses we found the US Customs office — completely unmarked — in a building marked China Airways. (Well, the instructions HAD said it was in the China Airways Building, so…)

We haven’t even mentioned that just doing the customs paperwork is another Kafka-esque challenge involving cryptic acronyms (apparently, we’re a “Non-API account”). Then, there are **TWO** bill of ladings – the “master” and the “house” bill of lading. Etc. And if you go to the Customs Office, never take your tiny Swiss army knife nor any kind of camera — you’ll have to leave them outside. Then, the directions on how to fill these forms are filled with an extended list of admonitions like “If you don’t get a broker and elect to do this yourself… (it will take you days instead of hours).” Also, the updated paperwork cites “Homeland Security” as to why the new procedures take so much longer.

At the downtown US Customs office, where the paperwork was started, they had told us to go to the side door of the China Airways Building. And sure enough, inside there was a tiny U.S. Customs office. Mind you, no sign outside. After trying to figure out which slot to put our papers in, we waited our turn, watching a tall Swedish man being told to get an appointment upstairs. He said he had already BEEN upstairs, and had been told to go downstairs where he (and we) were. Then he was told to call at night, when it was less busy. He shook his head and walked out.

Our turn — we were told that the door we needed was on the other side, around the back. We went into the unmarked door, found a room full of mail slots, and while puzzling over which slot to use, some eyes peeked out at us (through a slot) and a voice said, “Just put it in ANY slot–it’ll get to us!” We asked the voice when our paperwork would be ready and the reply was, “Oh, in an hour–just call ‘Graves’!” We asked for the ‘Graves’ phone number but the voice said, “Don’t you have it?” “No.” “Then just go up to the third floor.”

With an uneasy feeling as to whether this would really work out, we left and found ourselves some lunch. An hour later we called the only number we had and were told again, “Just call ‘Graves’.” When we said we didn’t have the number, the voice said, “Well, it’s been processed. It’s okay–just come in.”

We went back to the first office and were told that ‘Graves’ was upstairs. Back to the unmarked door, up to the third floor, a long corridor of doors. The only person on the 3rd floor was a woman reading a novel in a room with a wallfull of hotel-type mailboxes, each with a key in it. We asked where “Graves” was (or is it “Grays”?) and she said, “This is it.” She handed us our paperwork. We still don’t know what the heck “Graves” means…

The next morning we rented a 20-foot truck (20,000 lb capacity) to pick up 3 pallets of books, and this part was easy compared to all the paperwork, etc of the customs clearing! So the books are now Ready To Ship! and we are standing by to take your order!

5. New York Times book review (Dec.1) TEXT BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Aiming for Life’s Jugular In Deadly Verbal Darts

‘J.G. Ballard: Quotes’
Edited by V. Vale and Mike Ryan
Illustrated, 53 photographs.. 416 pages. RE/Search. ISBN 1-889307-12-2 $19.99.

A good 25 years ago the entertainer Tiny Tim told a reporter that he believed everything he read in the supermarket tabloids, because eventually it would all happen. In 1987 the British writer J.G. Ballard declared, ”Sooner or later all Science Fiction comes true.”

Both are patently false. Otherwise the King would be back in Vegas, and we’d all be flying Jetson cars. Aphorisms are unforgiving that way: they’re either right or wrong. But the good ones are highly quotable anyway.

The hunt for striking one-liners is the fun of ”J.G. Ballard: Quotes,” a compendium of provocative quips and comments culled from 40 years of his writing and interviews. Best known in the United States for two novels that were adapted for film, ”Crash” and ”Empire of the Sun,” Mr. Ballard began writing fairly traditional, if eccentric, science fiction in the 1950’s and 60’s. By the 1970’s in works like ”The Atrocity Exhibition” and ”High-Rise,” he had grown into a social commentator of cool, penetrating intellect and a literary futurist.

Why do British writers so love predicting the future? Maybe it’s because their culture is so thick with the past. Or maybe it’s because the British are not very good at making the future happen; for that they rely on others, like the Americans, Germans and Japanese. So their visions of the future tend to be bleak: it’s out of their hands, and the foreigners will surely muck it all up. Of the great futurists of modern British literature, from H.G. Wells and Aldous Huxley through George Orwell to Arthur C. Clarke and Mr. Ballard, only Mr. Clarke could be called an optimist.

Where Mr. Clarke is the high priest of sci-fi’s faith in the human intellect manifest in technology, Mr. Ballard and the others regard technology as a dangerous extension of human psychopathology. Thus in ”Crash” the automobile is a tool for sex and self-destruction. In ”High-Rise” and the more recent ”Cocaine Nights” and ”Super-Cannes,” the globally replicated blandness of modern cities, highways and airports is the environment of a new totalitarianism that is, he says here, ”docile and subservient, and all the more threatening for that.” ”The New Totalitarians come forward,” he writes, ”smiling obsequiously like head waiters in third-rate Indian restaurants, and assuring us that everything is for our benefit.”

Technology not only threatens but also disappoints. Mr. Ballard is almost cruel on the collapse of the space age. Rockets ”belong to the age of the 19th century, along with the huge steam engines. It’s brute-force ballistic technology that has nothing to do with what people recognize as the characteristic technology of this century: microprocessors, microwave data links — everything that goes in the world at the speed of an electron.”

Worse, the space race made for lousy television. ”The suspicion dawned that Outer Space might be — dare one say it — boring. Having expended all these billions of dollars on getting to the Moon, we found on our arrival that there wasn’t very much to do there.”

Mr. Ballard saw the World Trade Center attack as a kind of brutal intrusion of the imminent future into the present. ”The attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 was a brave attempt to free America from the 20th Century,” he opines. ”The deaths were tragic, but otherwise it was a meaningless act.” And in another passage: ”The horrific newsreels are effectively the greatest disaster movie to date. My fear is that in due course the ‘remake’ of 9/11, with the ultimate in special effects, will inspire Americans to more than revenge.”

He is not usually so callous. In 2001, he remarked: ”Americans are highly moralistic, and any kind of moral ambiguity irritates them. As a result they completely fail to understand themselves, which is one of their strengths.” And this feels like inescapable truth: ”The president of the United States bears about as much relationship to the real business of running America as does Colonel Sanders to the business of frying chicken.”

Quotables crop up on every page, on the arts, media, religion, death, writing and writers. Sometimes they’re wrong (”Politics is over. it doesn’t touch the public imagination any longer,” stated in 1996), and sometimes just glib (”Freedom has no barcode”). But often they compress the modern world with magnificent concision, as in definitions like ”Modernism: The Gothic of the Information Age,” and ”Money: The original digital clock.”

And for all the techno-talk, one of wisest epigrams here is quite homey: ”If you can smell garlic, everything is all right.”

John Strausbaugh, the author of ”Rock ‘Til You Drop,” is writing a history of blackface in American pop culture.

Review Published: 12 – 01 – 2004 , Late Edition – Final , Section E , Column 1 , Page 9

6. WE COULD USE YOUR SUPPORT! If you want a copy of the Industrial Culture HandbookIncredibly Strange Music Vol Two, or Search & Destroy Vol One, order ’em soon! Why? It’s very hard now to keep books in print, and large-format, heavily-illustrated RE/Search books are not yet suited for the new print-on-demand technology. If you’ve read this far & like this “free” newsletter, please go to our website and “vote with your wallet” (we have no ads or corporate sponsors): www.

BTW, V. Vale also gave 3 lectures at the S.F. Art Institute this past year, appeared on a Zines Panel at the San Jose Museum of Art, and did a “live” interview with filmmaker Sam Green [“The Weather Underground”] at S.F.’s Cellspace a few weeks ago. (Highly recommend you rent this film.) 7. A Brief RE/SEARCH History With $100 each from Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in 1977 V. Vale founded SEARCH & DESTROY to document (and catalyze) the original Punk Rock Cultural Revolution. In 1980 Vale founded RE/SEARCH (note pun on Search & Destroy). Early on, Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis, plus Betty Thomas, Scott Summerville and Kathy Acker helped publish RE/Search as patrons. V. Vale’s main influences are Surrealism, Situationism, the Beats, Marcel Duchamp, Philip Lamantia, and Andy Warhol–especially the earliestInterview magazines. The focus is on radical ideas, black humor and creativity rather than biographical sensationalism. The RE/SEARCH project encourages “D-I-Y” (Doing It Yourself) creativity based on cultivating the imagination, dreams, one’s obsessions, and the spirit of revolt. RE/Search is engaged in a long-term cultural remapping. We oppose the pyramid model of society, and admire the French Revolutionary ideal of “Neither God Nor Master.” Please feel free to contribute to this project–and say how you wish to be credited.

December 2004 RE/Search eNewsletter written by V. Vale & Marian Wallace

DISCLAIMER & PROMISE (borrowed this from City Lights–thanks!) — V. Vale’s eNewsletter is a free service to our esteemed customers, comrades and critics. If you’re receiving this email, it’s because you or someone you know has sent your address to us here. We will NOT trade your address, sell your address, or in any way make your address available to anyone else, EVER.

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