RE/SEARCH, 20 Romolo #B, San Francisco CA 94133 | Call 415.362.1465 |



eNewsletter #46, March 2006

1. Sat, March 11, 2006, 6:30pm Cable Channel 29 San Francisco. CounterCulture Hour featuring Eric Debris, vocalist for Metal Urbain, 70s French Punk band.
2. Sat, March 18: Anarchist Book Fair, S.F. – RE/Search will be there
3. Punk ’77 New Expanded Edition: Taking Pre-Orders.
4. Web-site Recommendations from our pal PHIL GLATZ–thanks, Phil!
5. What We’ve Been Reading, Listening To, etc…
6. Forthcoming Events: Diane di Prima FREE at SF Library, a Bay Area SRL show!
7. J.G. BALLARD NEWS – excerpt from new J.G. Ballard writing!
8. A (Belated) Review of the Throbbing Gristle Berlin Concert, Dec 2005

—————– First, the commercial: if you want to give a rare gift to someone special, we recommend our limited edition **AUTOGRAPHED** flexibind J.G. Ballard Quotes book! (only 250 made)…not in stores. Order from http://www. Of course, you can also order the new **J.G. Ballard Conversations**, too–paperback only. Our other rare autographed RE/Search books include J.G. Ballard’s Atrocity Exhibition, and Daniel P. Mannix’s Freaks. Classic Search & Destroy tabloids sets #1-11 for only $40, saved since 1977! Secondly, our classic William S. Burroughs T-shirt (“We intend to destroy all dogmatic verbal systems” and pix by Ruby Ray) is now available in S-M-L-XL sizes — another great gift, a one-of-a-kind jewel… not in stores; impossible to find elsewhere. —————

1. Sat, March 11, 2006, 6:30pm Cable Channel 29 San Francisco. CounterCulture Hour featuring Eric Debris, vocalist for Metal Urbain, ’70s French Punk band. [Note: Counterculture Hour airs 2nd Satmonthly; set your DVD recorders / VCR’s!)

Singer-musician-producer ERIC DEBRIS was an original founder of Metal Urbain in 1977, Paris, France. One of the first Punk bands to feature electronic percussion and a noise-metal approach, Metal Urbain gave us memorable songs like “Panic” and “Lady Coca-Cola.” (Sorry, San Francisco only, but watch for future releases on our website.) This program gives a unique, elucidating perspective on how France differs from America, and how it is necessary to Do Something Yourself, no matter where you live. Recently Eric brought Metal Urbain to San Francisco to record a brand-new album under the production of Jello Biafra at the legendary Wally Heider Studios (now re-named Hyde Street Studios). Watch it with a friend! Metal Urbain was featured in V. Vale’s Punk publication, SEARCH & DESTROY #4, which you can still order direct from us for only $8 postpaid – . Yes, you can order a genuine 1977 Punk Rock Relic from the past in mint condition for only $8 postpaid, or visit our office and get it for $5.

() Lastly, striving not to be TOO self-promotional, here’s a URL for an audio version (blog?) of The Counterculture Hour featuring Vienna’sJohannes Grenzfurthner of MONOCHROM interviewed by V. Vale:

2. Sat, March 18, 10-6 PM, the 11th annual Anarchist Bookfair at the San Francisco County Fair Building (Golden Gate Park near Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way), San Francisco. FREE! RE/Search will be sharing a table with CHARLES GATEWOOD, photographer extraordinaire, and here is your chance to fill in gaps in your RE/Search collection at discounted prices, replace stolen copies, and even get your new purchases autographed. You can also buy the William Burroughs T-shirt, finally back in print. Ken Knabb (Bureau of Public Secrets) and Last Gasp and City Lights will also have a table there, as will approximately 50 other groups and alternative publishers from around the country. There will also be films, talks, discussions, exhibits, and delicious vegetarian cafe lunches. Attendance is typically 5000+. For more information call (415) 431-8355. Speakers this year will include Diane di Prima, Liz Highleyman, Katya Komisaruk, Bo Brown, Ramor Ryan, Ward Churchill, Chaz Bufe, Joe Biel, and Michelle Tea. Amazing “stuff” is also sold outside on the lawn… If there’s any hope for the future at all, it may be glimpsed at the Anarchist Bookfair. You can find inspiring obscure books and booklets and graphics simply not available in one place anywhere else on the planet. This event is hosted by San Francisco’s anarchist bookstore, Bound Together, on Haight Street just east of Masonic St.

3. Punk ’77 New Expanded Edition: Taking Pre-Orders. April 29, 7pm, Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA presents a celebration of RE/Search and its latest book, “Punk 77.” Rare early Punk films will be shown; a panel featuring Jerry Casale (DEVO) and Graeme Revell (SPK) on the Origins/Original DNA of Punk; and a live interview with Punk Photographer James Stark, are scheduled.

More on Punk’77: “Punk’77 is a candid, shocking and mind-altering confessional that, while true to the Punk spirit, carves its own style of vandalism across the veneer of consumer culture. PUNK ’77 is told in a mosaic of anecdotes, rants, gossip, and self-aggrandizement by the prototypical punks, scenesters, musicians and artists who actually lived it. From filth and fury to gritty glam, the outrageous theatrics and devious antics are artfully captured in the nearly 200 photographs of both Punk luminaries and unusung heroes alike.”–Leslie Hodgkins. We are expecting delivery in late March from our Hong Kong printer and are offering a special pre-order price before March 31: just $15. (List price will be $17.50) We’ve added a 24-page appendix of FORTY more photos, which includes a recent interview with photographer James Stark, for this very limited printing. RE/Search books are hard to find, and you would be advised to reserve your copy now. Order from: http://www.

4. Web-site Recommendations from our pal PHIL GLATZ–thanks, Phil!

() The Eccentric Revolutionaries – Banned for decades in the Soviet Union, a subversive comedy finally comes to DVD.

“At some point in our lives, we’ve all waited in a line for so long that time seemed to stand still. In My Grandmother, a strange and wonderful silent comedy made in Soviet Georgia in 1929, this happens literally: As a “notorious idler and bureaucrat” cools his heels, everything around him slows to a crawl and finally freezes altogether.

But all is not lost. From atop a mountain, a member of “the Youth Communist League,” our junior cavalry, hurls an enormous pen down the slope and, miraculously, into the office, where it pierces a bureaucrat’s chest, removes him from his job, and restarts the clock. For the rest of the movie, our now-unemployed protagonist will search for an older apparatchik willing to be his patron and to find him a new post. Along the way, there will be no shortage of Surreal sequences, including a statue that comes to life and a cartoon that crawls out of the newspaper; there’s also slapstick aplenty – the central character is modeled on the American comedian Harold Lloyd – and sets inspired by expressionist and constructivist art.

But what’s especially striking is that Youth Communist cavalry…”

() Travis Bickle, slacker:

() S&M car ad: Dominatr-x breaks down all resistance to buying a Mini:


() (Phil’s unwebsite recommendations:) I just read “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck” by Don Rosa. Greatest graphic novel I’ve seen in a long time, a grand unification theory of Duckburg. Highly recommended. The Scrooge books were great adventures. Barks was quite a fascinating fellow. His is among the most valuable and collectable of all comic art, more than most of the superheroes.

I also just got a compilation of Little Orphan Annie from 1933 – extremely interesting. Harold Gray was a devout conservative, and Annie’s philosophy was in direct opposition to FDR’s.

Been catching up on classic comics. My real find was a beautiful book that just came out with Gasoline Alley dailies from 1921-1922 (part of a planned multi-volume set).�Frank King was my favorite newspaper comic artist of all time – even beats Little Nemo and Krazy Kat (both of which seemed like bad peyote trips in comparison). He is little known outside of comic aficionado circles these days. A great storyteller. His color Sunday strips are somewhere between Art Deco and Surrealism, where the dailies were more like a proto-Crumb.

() Again, we mention the blog from Mike Ryan, our assistant editor on the J.G. BALLARD QUOTES project:

5. What We’ve Been Reading, Listening To, etc…

() Favorite New Fiction: Jay Elliot Davis’s Eight Stories for the Valued Passenger. The living spirit of Surrealism yet lives in the amazingly crafted, genuinely imaginative visionary fiction of Jay Elliot Davis, who (perhaps) added the middle name “Elliot” to distinguish himself from any other “Jay Davis” out there.

This book is available for $12 postpaid from This Starcraft, PO Box 3937, Berkeley CA 94703, or email Lacking time to do a truly in-depth review which this book certainly deserves, all we will say is that we sat down and read this book cover-to-cover in one sitting…it was mesmerizing, and it fully extracted from us those fundamental emotions of pity and fear which according to Shakespeare characterizes all tragedy of note. As someone whose “literary” mentors include William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, the Surrealists and Situationists and scarcely anybody else, we think it no small praise to add Jay E. Davis to our short list of most-enjoyable books we have read in the past ten years. We still think fondly of Mr. Davis’s first book we read, The Thomsky Fluke, a genuine classic and one of the ONLY books of the past 20 years we love… We earnestly hope that Mr. Davis will continue writing, despite whatever emotional and economic pressures are besieging all creative persons in America these days under this new almost-Hitler–you know, the one who elected himself our so-called President. If you’re a school teacher, you had better not liken Bush to Hitler if you wish to keep your job in free speech Amerikkka.

() Recently received: Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds, a professional journalist who’s married to Joy Press, Village Voice writer for over 10 years. Actually, we will wait until our next newsletter to give this a proper review! Being First Generation Punk Rock people ourselves, we have “issues” with this writer’s approach. First of all, to us the year 1978 hardly qualifies as “postpunk” – and bands like DEVO, who started in 1975, are not “post-punk” in our opinion. San Francisco’s most internationally-famous band, the DEAD KENNEDYS, did not even play their first gig until circa August 1978. In San Francisco and Los Angeles, at least, first-generation “Punk” was still growing and being invented. Maybe “Post-Punk” had started happening in 1978 in New York and London, but not San Francisco, at least. And, we’re not even sure that “Post-Punk” exists as a viable, valid classification or category! Ever heard of the phrase “unclear on the concept”? Well, what can you expect from a corporate publication on Punk Rock? Like I said, more later!

() Does anyone reading this newsletter read Italian? If so, please help us translate Beat italiano: Dai capelloni a Bandiera Gialla. Our Italian is sketchy at best, but we are still intrigued by the apparent concepts and theses behind this beautifully-designed Italian publication written byTiziano Tarli. We want to be international in outlook, not provincial!

() We recommend Mitchell Verter’s new book, Dreams of Freedom: A Ricardo Flores Magon Reader. This volume includes a lengthy history, chronology, bibliography, and 200 pages of translated essays written by Ricardo Flores Magon, the Mexican anarchist whose journalism inspired Emiliano Zapata and who fought for justice in Mexico and the USA.

() Just received from John Johnson who is a stalwart independent publisher if there ever was one: the newest IMAGINE #8. We cannot recommend this hard-to-find publication highly enough. Please mail a well-wrapped five-dollar bill to IMAGINE, POB 8145, Reno NV 89507. It will be the best $5 you’ve spent since a burrito at La Taqueria (or, fill in your favorite burrito-porium here. Are there great burritos in NYC? Let us know!). Even though we personally are anti-drug, we quote this from Keith Richard on the back cover of IMAGINE: “I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police.” Or, “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my family over to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”–Jon Stewart.

() From Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent:

“He who dies with the most toys wins” – is psychosis too strong a word to use here?

Appreciate the following line of reasoning:

“I can imagine it, therefore I want it. I want it, therefore I should have it. Because I should have it, I need it. Because I need it, I deserve it. Because I deserve it, I will do anything necessary to get it.”

This is the artificial internal drive that the advertisers tap into. You “imagine it” because they bombard your consciousness with its image until you then move to step two, “I want it…etc. ” This is one of the things that allows people to surrender to consumerism. As a society we have gone from self-sufficiency based on our internal common sense of reasonable limits to the ridiculous goal of Keeping up with the Jones then to stampeding for the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, or at least as far as our credit limit allows us to go.

Happiness can’t be purchased in the marketplace, no matter how much advertising tries to convince you of it. Market-driven forces have usurped the role once assumed by family, home and community. We have been programmed to believe that we should pursue more money to spend on more things offered in the marketplace, to be living mannequins for the material adornments of the hour, our worth determined by what we have or don’t have, rather than what we are, what we do or what we know.

Consumerism, already having captured death as a consumer obligation whereby sadness and regret are quenched by spending lots of money, now turns major life events like weddings and births into consumer events with their own hierarchy of demands for the things which assume a life of their own. For example, the bride’s dress and accessories assumes far more significance in the telling than the bride’s state of mind. Baby shower gifts take precedence over helping with the baby.

Recreation has become commercialized. Special leisure clothing, sporting equipment and attendance at expensive sporting events rife with advertising and corporate sponsorship are the manifestation of consumerism in recreation. Oakland, California, a community with high levels of unemployment and poverty has banks that are now creating special loan categories so that people can get personal lines of credit to buy season tickets to the taxpayer-financed stadium.

Sports is another crucial example of the indoctrination system … It offers people something to pay attention to that is of no importance… It keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have an idea of something about . . . People have the most exotic information and understanding about all sorts of arcane issues … It’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements, in fact it’s training in irrational jingoism … That’s why energy is devoted to supporting them . . . and advertisers are willing to pay for them.” [end] Or, as our friend Mindy said, “Baseball was invented to keep the worker from looking at his paycheck.”

() Henry Rollins ran into some trouble on a recent flight from New Zealand to Australia. A passenger sitting next to him during the flight reported him to a National Security hotline. Rollins was reading Ahmed Rashid’s Jihad: The Rise Of Militant Islam In Central Asia during the flight, prompting the fellow passenger to call the hotline. Rashid’s book focuses on how extreme poverty and religious suppression in the areas surrounding Afghanistan have created a breeding ground for militant Islam.

Rollins told the audience during the tour that he received a letter from a “nice woman” who worked “in one of those government areas that deals with anti-terrorism matters.” Although the official seemed to be siding with him (the individual who contacted Rollins said that they get plenty of letters “submitted by lunatics”), Rollins decided to let loose on the country’s government.

“Please tell your government and everyone in your office to go f–k themselves. Tell them twice. If your boss is looking for something to do, you can tell him I suggest he go f–k himself. Baghdad’s safer than my hometown and your PM is a sissy,” Rollins responded. The ordeal hasn’t slowed down Rollins a bit as he will take his “25 Years of Bulls–t” tour to Europe in March. No word on what will be his reading selection for the flight. (Google “Henry Rollins” for more…)

() JOHN WATERS continues to re-invent himself with a new traveling art exhibition with accompanying massive art catalog, appearance as an actor on a “Court TV” show, and introducer/curator on Here! TV’s new TV series, �John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You.” John has also produced an expanded, augmented version of his classic guide-to-living, Crackpot. His first book, Shock Value, remains in our Top Twenty Books of All Time…it has definitely affected and helped shape the RE/Search Aesthetic… John Waters will appear in the forthcomingPRANKS 2 project.

6. Forthcoming Events: Diane di Prima writes: I thought you might like to know that I�m getting the Fred Cody Award for lifetime achievement and community service at the Northern California Book Reviewers awards thingie on April 5th. It�s at the San Francisco Main Library, reception at 5, awards 6-8 and it�s free. There�s a post-event buffet at the Mechanics library (different venue). Don�t know if this is the kind of thing that would go in your newsletter, but . . .

() When we first heard that the Mutants were going to play the Fillmore, we were faintly puzzled, but it seemed okay. Next we heard the Avengers and Flipper were playing, and that seemed incredible. Then we heard that the “Dead Kennedys” were to headline. Well, to us, without lead singer/founder/activist guru Jello Biafra, who’s still alive, they’re the “Fake Kennedys.” But who are we to be party-poopers; people from all over the USA are reportedly flying in for this event. So we hereby announce that the “Fake Kennedys” headline some kind of “Punk Rock at the Fillmore” event, April 8. Why are we disgruntled? Because we know too much, and knowledge can definitely pre-empt “happiness.” We still have a “conscience.” And thus we have extreme issues with Ray, Klaus and Darren who by winning in court with Bill Graham’s lawyers (2001?) against Biafra’s inferior legal counsel, seized control of Biafra’s/DK’s songs and, most outrageously, are touring worldwide calling themselves the “Dead Kennedys.”

Now, for the record, back in the ’70s I only conversed with Biafra, Klaus and Bruce Slesinger, the DK’s original drummer–liked him a lot–who quit in 1979. Never had real chats with Ray or the new guy, Darren. And I liked Klaus quite a bit, but he was no verbal firebrand like Jello Biafra.

Our friend Doug who was NOT in the early punk scene declared, “Nobody today would have even heard of the Dead Kennedys if it wasn’t for Jello Biafra! He was the heart and the soul of the band. He’s the one who did all the interviews. He was the true spokesperson for the band.” Through hundreds of interviews, radio and TV appearances, plus a plethora of Spoken Word recordings and recordings with LARD, the MELVINS, et all (not to mention his punk label Alternative Tentacles), Jello Biafra has been tirelessly touring the world since 1978, disseminating his special brand of anti-corporate, anti-imperialist vitriol. Biafra and Henry Rollins and Exene Cervenka are spokespeople extraordinaire for the most progressive ideas and insights as to how this world is spinning into madness and economic/political/ecological disaster.

Also, arguably the “Fake Kennedys” are a kind of fraud, at least to me (so sue me, Ray! I have a RIGHT to express my own opinion in print). Given that John Lydon is still alive, could the rest of the Sex Pistols tour as the Sex Pistols **without** “Johnny Rotten”? Could the sidemen of the Iggy Pop Band tour as the Iggy Pop Band without Iggy? Could the sidemen of the Henry Rollins Band tour without vocalist Henry Rollins? Maybe that’s the problem — the band should have always been titled The Jello Biafra Band. He was the leader. It wasn’t a communist or hippie “collective.” And to me, the 3 guys were more sidemen (yes, “talented musicians”, but aren’t they all?!) who mostly deserved “arranging” rather than “song-writing” credit. This wasn’t the Beatles. This was more like Johnny Rotten, or Patti Smith, or Iggy Pop. But maybe most people alive today apparently don’t know how Jello Biafra’s incendiary persona really was the heart and soul behind the Dead Kennedys while they were existing as a live band playing great music.

Another point: just exactly **WHAT** have the 3 sidemen Ray, Klaus and Darren **DONE** since the Dead Kennedys broke up 20 years ago? In fact, the best DKs songs were created BEFORE Darren joined the band, in our opinion. Yes, what provocative songs and recordings have the 3 created since the band broke up? What insurrectionary interviews have they given that inspire and enlighten people? Nada, or very little that we know of. (On the other hand, Biafra has remained continually in the public eye.) For these three, just for the profit/celebrity motive, to “cash in” on something once almost “revolutionary” seems, at best, despicable. But maybe ethics and morals are just plain outdated now…

The saga awaits a future book or movie dealing with “celebrity” and “revolution”…

() Next month we will have more details on a forthcoming SRL SHOWin the South Bay! Keep watching

7. J.G. BALLARD NEWS: First of all, we await with intense interest thenew, forthcoming novel by J.G. Ballard: Kingdom Come (fall 2006 release?). And here’s an excerpt from a recent article by J.G. Ballard written in his typical beautiful and evocative prose (do you wonder why we’re such J.G. Ballard fans?! boldface supplied by us):

Memories have huge staying power, but like dreams, they thrive in the dark, surviving for decades in the deep waters of our minds like shipwrecks on the sea bed. Hauling them into the daylight can be risky. Within a few hours, a precious trophy of childhood or a first romance can crumble into rust.

I knew that something similar might happen when I began to write Empire of the Sun, a novel about my life as a boy in Shanghai during the second world war, and in the civilian camp at Lunghua, where I was interned with my parents. Coming to England after the war, and trying to cope with its grey, unhappy people, I hoarded my memories of Shanghai, a city that soon seemed as remote and glamorous as ancient Rome. Its magic never faded, whereas I forgot Cambridge within five minutes of leaving that academic theme park, and never wanted to go back. The only people I remembered were the dissecting room cadavers.

During the 1960s, the Shanghai of my childhood seemed a portent of the media cities of the future, dominated by advertising and mass circulation newspapers and swept by unpredictable violence. But how could I raise this Titanic of memories? Brought up from the sea bed, the golden memory hoard could turn out to be dross. Besides, there are things that the novel can’t easily handle. I could manage my changing relations with my parents, my 13-year-old’s infatuation with the war, and the sudden irruption into our lives of American air power. But how do you convey the casual surrealism of war, the deep silence of abandoned villages and paddy fields, the strange normality of a dead Japanese soldier lying by the road like an unwanted piece of luggage?

I waited 40 years before giving it a go, one of the longest periods a professional writer has put off describing the most formative events in his life. Twenty years to forget, and then 20 years to remember. There was always the possibility that my memories of the war concealed a deeper stratum of unease that I preferred not to face. But at least my three children had grown up, and as I wrote the book I would never have to think of them sharing the war with my younger self.

In fact, I found it difficult to begin the novel, until it occurred to me to drop my parents from the story. We had lived together in a small room for nearly three years, eating our boiled rice and sweet potatoes from the same card table, sleeping within an arm’s reach of each other, an exhilarating experience for me after the formality of our prewar home, where my parents were busy with their expat social life and I was brought up by Chinese servants who never looked at me and never spoke to me.

But I needed to move my parents out of the story, just as they had moved out of my life in Lunghua even though we were sharing the same room. They had no control over their teenage son, were unable to feed or clothe him or pull those little levers of promise and affection with which parents negotiate domestic life with their children. My real existence took place in the camp, wheedling dog-eared copies of Popular Mechanics and Reader’s Digest from the American merchant seamen in the men’s dormitory, hunting down every rumour in the air, waiting for the food cart and the next B-29 bombing raid. My mind was expanding to fill the possibilities of the war, something I needed to do on my own. Once I separated Jim from his parents the novel unrolled itself at my feet like a bullet-ridden carpet.

Even then, I had to leave out many things that belong in a memoir rather than a novel. Lunghua camp, with its 2,000 internees, was a grimy bidonville, a slum township where, as in all slums, the teenage boys ran wild. There were unwatched screwdrivers or penknives to be snaffled, heroic arguments with a bored clergyman about the existence of God, buckets of night soil to be hoisted from the G-block septic tank and poured into the tomato and cucumber beds that were supposed to keep us alive when the Japanese could no longer feed us. In a bombed-out building I found a broken Chinese bayonet, sharpened the stump of blade and used it to prise away the bricks of the kitchen coal store, filling a sack with precious coke that would briefly break the chill of our unheated concrete building. My father said nothing, feeding the coke into a miniature brazier as he rehearsed his lecture on science and the idea of God. I ran off, and nagged the off-duty Japanese guards in their bungalows until they let me wear their kendo armour, laughing as they thumped me around the head with their wooden swords.

In 1984 the novel was published, a caravel of memories raised from the deep. Enough of it was based on fact to convince me that what had seemed a dream-like pageant was a negotiated truth. Curiously, my original memories of Shanghai still seemed intact, and even survived a return trip to Shanghai, where I found our house in Amherst Avenue and our room in Lunghua camp – now a boarding school – virtually unchanged.

Then, in 1987, like a jumbo jet crash-landing in a suburban park, a Hollywood film company came down from the sky. It disgorged an army of actors, makeup artists, set designers, costume specialists, cinematographers and a director, Steven Spielberg, all of whom had strong ideas of their own about wartime Shanghai. After 40 years my memories had shaped themselves into a novel, but only three years later they were mutating again… [section deleted]

Surprisingly, it was the film premiere in Hollywood, the fount of most of our planet’s fantasies, that brought everything down to earth. A wonderful night for any novelist, and a reminder of the limits of the printed word. Sitting with the sober British contingent, surrounded by everyone from Dolly Parton to Sean Connery, I thought Spielberg’s film would be drowned by the shimmer of mink and the diamond glitter. But once the curtains parted the audience was gripped. Chevy Chase, sitting next to me, seemed to think he was watching a newsreel, crying: “Oh, oh . . . !” and leaping out of his seat as if ready to rush the screen in defence of young Bale.

I was deeply moved by the film but, like every novelist, couldn’t help feeling that my memories had been hijacked by someone else’s. As the battle of Britain fighter ace Douglas Bader said when introduced to the cast of Reach for the Sky: “But they’re actors.”

Actors of another kind play out our memories, performing on a stage inside our heads whenever we think of childhood, our first day at school, courtship and marriage. The longer we live – and it’s now 60 years since I reluctantly walked out of Lunghua camp – the more our repertory company emerges from the shadows and moves to the front of the stage. Spielberg’s film seems more truthful as the years pass. Christian Bale and John Malkovich join hands by the footlights with my real parents and my younger self, with the Japanese soldiers and American pilots, as a boy runs forever across a peaceful lawn towards the coming war.But perhaps, in the end, it’s all only a movie. [end]

Empire of the Sun Special Edition will be released by Warner Home Videos.,,1722984,00.html

() Interviews with V. Vale and J.G. Ballard, as well as book reviewscan be found on Laura Hird‘s

Now there are (2) V. Vale interviews by R.U. Sirius on his blog – You can go to iTunes and search for “J.G. Ballard” and “V. Vale” and find them, then download it to your iPod and listen to it whenever… Or go to – or,

**IF YOU GOT THIS FAR, YOU SHOULD GET THE JGB QUOTES BOOK (MSRP $19.99 or available in a **rare autographed flexibind edition**–yes, signed by the U.K. visionary himself… There’s also a rare unsigned Library edition available ($35). Email us at or telephone 415-362-1465 to order!

8. A (Belated) Review of the Throbbing Gristle Berlin Concert, Dec 19, 2005, by Vincent Wong

Mission Not Terminated?

Throbbing Gristle performed for the fifth time since their final show in 1981 on New Year’s Eve, 2005 in a bitter, snow-dumped (‘former-east-‘) Berlin within the ash-grey, architectural mausoleum, the Volksb�hne theatre – a venue renowned for its company’s five-hour confrontational interpretations/productions of Dostoyevsky, Bulgakov and Sartre. The choice of venue was instructive. TG’s calculated image marketing at all levels has always seemed carefully crafted to each detail, tightly wound and packaged in military-chic painted with a palette of neo-industrial grays. The theater lent itself to their re-reunion gestalt.

The parallel event/opening of the TG exhibit at the nearby Kunstwerk Gallery in the hipster-�bercool neighborhood of Mitte laid out in methodical unreferenced reverence, the grayscale, no-moon camouflage imagery of their five-year existence from 1977 to 1982. For those in-the-know (and the opening was crowded with those who did – cool, unfriendly and appropriately dressed down – e.g. army private goes goth – it was a fan’s dream. Collected imagery through original posters, manifestos, album art, buttons, note- and post-cards and curiosities such as the legendary (and recently reissued) 24-hour cassette box. Videos of the Heathen Earth and Astoria concerts ran in a second room and visitors sat and stood helter-skelter in the darkness before Genesis P-Orridge’s giant projection.

For those familiar with TG’s history and relevance, it was an extraordinary collection under one roof. There are very few other groups who could pull off such an exhibit and not appear laughably narcissistic and absurdly commercial. Einsturzende Neubauten did it successfully 15 or so years ago at Artspace in San Francisco. Perhaps there is an element within many of these early industrial pioneers which lends itself to gallery spaces. Imagery, physicality, perceived risk were paramount. The trail of detritus left as they vaulted out of the eighties and into the 21st century seems meaningful (albeit risk-free) in retrospect. The re-signification of language and environment was a minor revolution whose currents continue in so many sub-genres today.

However, to the uninitiated, the exhibit left plenty to be explained and seemed more a ceremony for the age-old converts rather than a contextualization and justification for why the “first industrial band in the world” was actually relevant. NB: for the most devout followers, special “�ber tickets” could be purchased for no small sum, entitling the holder to the two concerts (NY Eve and Jan 1st’s improvisation to Derek Jarman’s In the Shadow of the Sun, a film screening of their Astoria performance and a special early opening of the exhibition where one could meet and schmooze and rub proverbial shoulders with the stars themselves.)

Big Bottom opened the New Year’s Eve event. Eight members including Alexander Hacke (from Einst�rzende Neubauten), each playing electric bass with a drum machine, rumbled through a very weighty 30-minute set. Exactly long enough to keep it interesting. Any longer and the repetition would have extinguished the novelty. However, an opening band for a TG event seemed almost a needless formality and the crowd sat patiently through the set, politely applauding. Before the drawn curtains, the crowd waited, seated in the theater and pooled at the front of the stage; as the curtains drew back, all rushed fluidly onto the stage and surrounded the sound board stage center and the second platform further up.

Design was minimal, a raised platform, a simple glossy black backdrop, shimmering. A podium sketchily-draped in gold paper and three Powerbooks. Four PA towers menaced in each corner, foreshadowing the almost gimmicky-sounding “Quad Sound System” heralded on the TG website. Cameras of every sort were in no short supply in the hands of professionals and amateurs alike. A woman with a 16mm on a monopod waited just offstage, emphasizing the artistic seriousness of documentation. This, as in the case of every TG performance, would be documented. And documenting the documenting was also in order.

TG promptly arrived and the camera-eyes orbited and snapped and the monopod rose. A platinum-blond Mrs. Genesis P-Orridge steps across stage…silver sequined skirt, pink fishnets, red blouse and oddly formed, conic breasts. Blows a kiss to the 16mm. Peter Christopherson, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter follow, the technicians, two almost clinically dressed in whites. Moments later they’re into Slug Bait and Convincing People and material from their forthcoming release, Part 2 on Mute Records. There were a number of irritating technical problems throughout the show. The “quad sound system”, when it worked, was like TG through a surround system; an experience I’d define more “interesting” than mind-bending. As they worked through their set – technical and detached – curiosity segued to moments of hypnosis, anesthesia or physical nausea at the high-decibel, low-end noise.

Again, the rarity of the event imparted meaning alone (If TG toured every year, their existence would be arguably inconsequential.) A toned-down version of Hamburger Lady calmly concluded the performance of their first-ever encore as the band left, poker-faced (except for Genesis – he even persuaded Cosey to wave good-bye). Contrasted to TG’s history and background in Dada and Actionism, it was an incredibly (dare I say it) conservative performance in both style and content. Sonically, they were not pushing much new ground here and thus, the aim of their continuing “investigations” seems somewhat ambiguous.

Nevertheless, I was elated to see them perform. They are unique; they were extremely relevant/influential/ground-breaking as has been stated ad infinitum of late. Yes, they are older; and to repeat their performances of the late 70’s would border on the absurd rather than offending. But in today’s context, in spite of the new material, this performance was relegated to nostalgia. Three other guests new to TG attended with me and found them “interesting”. Their historic relevance had to be explained – and this came off like trying to describe a punch line. In itself, this says something of their significance in 2006. But I’m a sucker for the right kind of nostalgia, and I was swaying there near the stage – hypnotized and nauseated with the best of them… – Vincent Wong, former San Francisco resident transplanted to Berlin, where the rent is cheaper…

MARCH 2006 RE/Search eNewsletter written by V. Vale & contributors. Newsletter and website powered by

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