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

V. VALE RE/SEARCH NEWSLETTER NOV 2008: Mal Sharpe, J.G. Ballard & The Evolution of RE/Search


1. Sat Nov 8, 6:30pm: RE/Search Counter Culture Hour (with host V. Vale) featuring GEORGE KUCAR. S.F. Cable Channel 29, live streaming video at – “ACCESS SF 1″ button
3. V. VALE RE/Search founder gets SFBG GOLDIES Lifetime Achievement AWARD
5A. Stephane von Stephane – next time!
6. What We’ve Attended/What We’ve Been Reading/Seeing/Listening to/What We’ve Been Sent..
7. RECOMMENDED LINKS – thanks to our friends Phil G, Ferrara, James McN-, Derek B. & Others
9. Feedback from Readers


1. Sat Nov 8, 6:30PM Cable Channel 29: RE/Search Counter Culture Hour (with host V. Vale) featuring filmmaker GEORGE KUCHAR (over 600 films made). S.F. Cable Channel 29, 2nd Saturday of month. George Kuchar also deserve a lifetime achievement award. Please write us if you’re interested in collecting CCH episodes on DVD – $10 per episode or subscribe and get 7 for $60. (Note: very small production run, just for you)
The show is broadcast on-line as well as on public access television in San Francisco. 6:30-7:30 PM Channel 29 AND – “ACCESS SF 1″ button
This show will also be shown live and free at New Nothing Cinema in San Francisco – tent. date Dec 15, 730PM, 16 Sherman St (off Folsom bet 7th-6th St). Free treats. Hard-to-find R/S books available.

2. Mal Sharpe and J.G. Ballard on OBAMA PRESIDENCY. Mal Sharpe, master prankster featured in our PRANKS book (google Coyle and Sharpe) called us this morning to offer congratulations on the Goldies Lifetime Achievement Award, and we took notes on his post-election outlook, redacted (inaccurately) below.

“Congratulations on your Goldie Lifetime Achievement Award — it’s not every day that you wake up and read Good News: that TWO men get celebrated who deserve it — you and Ferlinghetti. And the Obama victory – most of the world is glad to get rid of the whole George Bush vibe. A bunch of crooks finally get their comeuppance. That footage on TV last night of all those crowds in New York City in the streets — all that youthful optimism. McCain was really stupid — a h0rny old man — to have picked Sarah Palin. What a stupid lowlife. If you watched the body language of Cindy McCain, not once did she even look at Sarah Palin or acknowledge her. In four years from now, if Palin runs for office, she’ll have put on ten pounds and won’t be quite the sexy babe…
“With Obama elected, it would be nice if some kind of across-the-board intelligence will come back. Katie Couric observed that politicians used to be able to speak in complete sentences with correct grammar. Maybe most of America doesn’t care whether speakers are coherent, or whether “thinking logically” matters.
[RE the Great Prank on Sarah Palin — BTW, the below URL includes the TRANSCRIPT — very important as it “decodes” certain names not recognized by Palin, etc – such as, there is a Hustler fake pr0n documentary called “Nailin’ Palin” featuring a Palin lookalike! This is one of the great pranks of the decade, and its perpetrators ought to become household names: ‘A Canadian comedy duo called The Masked Avengers from CKOI 96.9 FM in Montreal, Quebec pranked Sarah Palin, convincing her (and her team) they were receiving a call from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In the interview, which lasts about six minutes, Palin and the pranksters discuss politics, pundits, and the dangers of hunting with current vice-president Dick Cheney. Their website must be getting slammed because it isn’t loading for some. Here is the YouTube (h/t NegSpin), & be sure to see the TRANSCRIPT:

“Mal commented, “I think she handled it pretty well. She was just kind of nice to them. She didn’t come off as badly as people thought.” Mal then thought that the two “pranksters” Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross got what they deserved when they got fired recently for the obscene phone calls they made to 78-year-old Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. Brand had left a message on his answering machine claiming he had had sex with his granddaughter, Georgina. Sachs, according to The Mail, “was left deeply upset by the crude calls — which were also broadcast to about two million listeners to Brand’s Radio 2 show.” Mal said, “Jim Coyle would never have done that.” There’s a real difference in the level of pranks in our PRANKS book and this kind of malicious, unfunny, unpoetic call. [Recommended: Coyle & Sharpe boxed set]

This morning we received an email from J.G. Ballard’s companion, Claire Walsh: “Dear Vale, Many thanks. And congratulations America! We’re all just delighted – all over the world. We stayed up to see the results.”

3. V. VALE, RE/Search founder gets SFBG GOLDIES Lifetime Achievement AWARD. Kimberly Chun, SFBG scribe (and quite an original prose stylist herself) interviewed V. Vale and boiled down 2 hours of verbiage into a concise feature, reprinted below. It’s also at: – we’ve reprinted it here because, out of paranoia, we’ve seen many features “disappear” from websites, and we don’t want this feature to vanish into the ether. Thanks, SGBG & Kimberly!

“Call him the monkish punk elder of counterculture in the Bay and fringes wherever they may fray. Behind a monochromatic, black-clad, black-banged façade and unassuming demeanor, V. Vale is a man of so many interests and accomplishments that it’s hard to know where to start. How about with Vale as Punk Showman?

“In 1984 I’m sure I put on one of the greatest shows ever to celebrate our J.G. Ballard book,” the 50-plus publisher says. He’s tucked beside a thermos of tea in his book- and collection-crammed office-apartment in a North Beach edifice that, legend has it, Janis Joplin, Odetta, and Paul Robeson once dwelled in. Survival Research Labs and an S-M group were on the Fort Mason bill, and in honor of the occasion Vale visited the junkyard and had them deliver two cars that he selected. “I’m sure people had died in them — there was so much blood in the interior — and they were all crushed down. There’s no way you could survive that!”

Naturally, Vale and SRL [Survival Research Laboratories] rigged up the two bloody junkers to simulate a sex act — doggy-style — while yet another car with square wheels and a huge battering ram attacked the humping death-mobiles. The, ahem, climax: a performance by Public Image Ltd.

If that’s not punk — in the classic, highly original, high-low San Francisco style, full of hard-scrabble high spectacle and an edge you can lacerate yourself on — who knows what the f0ck is?

It’s just one of many tales — about shooting pistols with “Uncle Bill” Burroughs or watching exotica innovator Martin Denny field a $25,000 royalty check — that emerge during an interview with this lifelong interviewer. His own narrative is just as riveting: he grew up, as part of a minuscule Japanese American minority, in a small town in Riverside County, raised on welfare by a mother who suffered from mental illness. The young Vale read voraciously, from the kitchen table to the bed, which led to his acceptance at Harvard, though an antipathy toward ivy made him choose to attend UC Berkeley instead. In the ’70s, he worked at City Lights, and in 1977, while ripping off the covers of unbought magazines and returning them, he formed the idea to start his own zine about the punk scene combusting right around the corner at Mabuhay Gardens. Search and Destroy was born, with $100 seed money from Allen Ginsberg and matching funds from his boss Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Now lauded as an invaluable document of early punk and a graphic design rule-breaker (“We’d do a layout meeting: ‘Here’s the text. Here are the pictures. Your job is to make this interview as rad as you can’”), Search and Destroy also became a way for Vale to make critical connections between the work and thoughts generated by punk groups and those formulated by artists in other media, as interviews with Vale’s mentors Ballard and Burroughs made their way into the zine.

When the Mabuhay scene turned toward servicing a younger, violent hardcore audience, the zine-maker’s interests shifted as well. Tapped to start a stateside headquarters for Rough Trade in 1980, he convinced founder Geoff Travis to fund a new tabloid, RE/Search, during an all-nighter. Three issues later, Vale moved on to launch a typesetting business, RE/Search Typography, which he ran in North Beach until he sold it in 1991 when he saw that the home computer had finally arrived.

In the meantime, the RE/Search series had become the equivalent of an ever-unfolding countercultural bible: essential reading not only for punks — all the books, Vale swears, are informed by that revolution — but artists, musicians, cultural fire-starters, and trouble-makers of every nonconformist stripe. In turn, Vale built a bridge with his paperbacks between the cultural movers around him and the world of books that has succored him. “I learned long ago that reading is not a passive process,” says Vale. “I like to mark up my books. My books are heavily interacted with. I look at books not as books, but as conversations.”

The RE/Search volumes Vale is most proud of, on Burroughs and Ballard, resuscitated the former author’s career and threw a proper coming-out party in America for the latter. Vale went so far as to help organize Burroughs’ tour with Laurie Anderson. Meanwhile, RE/Search’s sibling compendiums, Incredibly Strange Movies (1986) and Incredibly Strange Music (1993, Vol. 2 1995), were pivotal in placing filmmakers like Russ Meyer and Herschell Gordon Lewis and music-makers such as Yma Sumac and Ken Nordine in a new canon for culturally conversant hipsters, leading to crucial reissues and reappraisals of their work.

And then there’s RE/Search’s biggest hit. “The most influential of all the books is Modern Primitives [1989], which sparked the whole mainstream mass interest in piercing and tattoos and body modification,” says Jello Biafra, who first met Vale in 1978 when Biafra was simply an admirer of Search and Destroy and the vocalist for a then-new band called the Dead Kennedys. “There was very little of that going on compared to what happened after that book came out. Of course, now even secretaries and bank clerks and Bush administration bureaucrats have tattoos, and who knows how many pierced penises are on the Republican National Committee!”

With a new publication, pr0nnovation? P0rnography and Technological Innovation, just out, and books on Timothy Leary, Burning Man’s P0ss Clear newspaper, and steampunk on the horizon, Vale doesn’t have time to be bitter that so many have grabbed ideas from his tomes and run with them. “I would say I’ve had a disproportionate amount of influence,” he says. “People tell me, ‘Your Pranks [1987] book inspired Jackass, Punk’d, and god knows how many other TV shows.’ You just keep thinking of your next project and never look back.” www. [end]


Because we’re barely over jet lag, we offer links to some photos taken at the CCCB Kosmopolis 08 museum show in Barcelona, which was so futuristic and high-tech, it deserves a detailed write-up. A bit strange that SPAIN is the first country to offer such a complex, detailed tribute to J.G. Ballard, the man who has predicted the future more accurately than — who else is there? The folks who collaborated to bring about a Mercedes-class event and installation deserve utmost thanks. We asked J.G. Ballard why he didn’t move to Barcelona — he had been considering it — and it was partly the language barrier and other details.

() from Jordi Costa, JG Ballard Museum Show Curator:

() — vale portrait — vale in photos – lydia lunch photos

() from Mike Bonsall: “Have got round to putting my pictures of the exhibition etc on flickr:

73 Second Discussion

() From Rick McGrath to Tim Chapman: “One thing that’s changed is the arrangement of the ‘Project for a new novel’ –

” One thing that struck me when reviewing the photos is the attention to detail – things like the place names inscribed on the watch faces in the ‘Day of Forever’ installation, which I didn’t notice at the time –

What follows are written reports:

() Tim Chapman reports: “Message from J.G. Ballard to Barcelona: “Hello Barcelona. I hope everyone there is enjoying the show, if I’m allowed to call it that. Vale is taking charge of everything, and I leave him to represent me.” Short but sweet. He sounded in fairly good voice, at least.
“I’ll do a transcription of the Sellars/Sterling/Vale panel sometime this week, if time permits. In the honorable tradition of ‘Answers to a Questionnaire’, there’ll have to be gaps where the questions would be, at least until Jordi can provide a potted translation of his Spanish [or was it Catalan?] inquisition.”
“…the exhibition was excellent – extremely well and very creatively designed, with something new for even the hardcore Ballardians. I don’t recall seeing the paintings from the other Lunghua inmate before, so they were particularly interesting as I’d been in the neighbourhood the previous week – the place really did look like a holiday camp. Big congratulations to Jordi and the team.”

() from Mike Bonsall: “Jordi: “I’m finally at home in Madrid, after 5 intense days at Kosmopolis. Have a well-deserved rest Jordi, as far as possible, after your exertions. I am back at home also and have had time to take it all in. I must say a heartfelt thank-you to you and your collaborators for the exhibition and events. The whole thing was put together with such knowledge, care and imagination. You have earned a permanent place in the ‘Ballard Museum’! It would be wonderful if you could tour the exhibition; more people need to see it. All the best – Mike B.”

() from Jordi Costa, curator of the J.G. Ballard Museum Show at CCCB:
” I’m finally at home in Madrid, after 5 intense days at Kosmopolis. Yes, I’ve talked with Mrs. Claire Walsh and Mrs. Bea Ballard and provided for each of them a guided tour through the exhibition. They are two extraordinary kind, generous and gentle persons and visited us on behalf of Mr. Ballard who, as you know, cannot travel due to health problems. I didn’t want to seem intrusive and I didn’t ask much about that, but they told that he is as well as a person in his state could be right now: it’s a kind of understated information that tells me that they prefer to be discreet about the subject and I respected that.

“They gave me the impression that J.G. Ballard was not only the visionary writer that we read, love and admire, but an extraordinary person (longtime partner for Claire, Bea’s loving father) as well: a one-of-a-kind human being…

“Now we’re trying to tour the exhibition outside Spain, but it’s not an easy deal. Through the British Council we’re now negotiating some different possibilities, but there’s an important problem: The exhibition is a little bit expensive to move. Then, it’s possible that Barcelona has offer the only chance to see it. Best regards,Jordi”

“From Mike Bonsall: “Another glorious day in Barcelona. During the day I did the obligatory Gaudi hunt. Had a distinctly Ballardian moment at La Sagrada Familia, thinking that when the magnificent cranes are finally removed, people will become disenchanted and no longer visit. The main event, with Simon, Jordi, Vale and Bruce Sterling was very impressive, more details to follow. Again I lacked a translation earpiece but Jordi promised later he would translate our recording of the session. The whole thing was also being videoed by the Kosmopolis people.

The big surprise was that Claire Ward and Bea Ballard were in the audience! They didn’t speak and we didn’t feel able to approach them, but it was great to know they were all interested (Fay Ballard is also due to visit). We had a drink with Jordi afterwards and congratulated him on a great success — he looked tired. Then on to tapas and, finally, an absinthe bar — can’t remember much after that! All in all a magical experience. 24 C here, now back to flooded England.”

() from Kosmopolis 08 Organizers: “Kosmopolis 08 has succeeded in consolidating the literary meeting that puts the printed word, the oral word and the electronic word on the center stage in dynamic relation with the arts and sciences…. [Here’s] our website (, images of the Fest ( and the diary of K08 in our videoblog ( Insua, Bàrbara Roig, Teresa Rosell – Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), Montalegre, 5 (08001) Barcelona, Spain – Phone: +34 93 306 4100 – Fax: +34 93 306 4101 –


() Legendary Pink Dots Fri-Sat Nov 14-15 at Du Nord, S.F. Prepare to attend! New album out, too: Plutonium Blonde, which we are preparing to review. Miss this show at your peril!

() Dirk Dirksen Alley hearing: Thur Nov 13, 11AM, SF City Hall Room 263 (Van Ness/Hayes), Rules Committee Hearing. plaque installation. If you want to help by making a tax-deductible donation towards the installation, go to: – Thanks, Kathy Peck

() Wed Nov 19-Sun Nov 23 7pm Blixa Bargeld’s Execution of Precious Memories featuring Nanos Operetta and Yannis Adoniou’s Kunst-Stoff at the Project Artaud Theater, S.F.

() SAT Nov 29, 9pm, Ginger Coyote’s White Trash Debutantes w/Lani Lithman’s Girls with Guns (Snakefinger’s daughter), Bottom of Hill, S.F.

() SUN Nov 16, 2pm-2am, at Echo (1822 Sunset) & The Echoplex (1154 Glendale) in Echo Park.: THE 1st ANNUAL PART TIME PUNKS FESTIVAL! A CERTAIN RATIO, PYLON, MEDIUM MEDIUM, LOVE IS ALL, VIVIAN GIRLS, THE NIGHTINGALES, SAVAGE REPUBLIC, NERVOUS GENDER, ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI, THE URINALS, THE WILD STARES, MAGIC BULLETS, GRIMBLE GRUMBLE, THE MUSLIMS, WARPAINT, SOFTBOILED EGGIES, NODZZZ. . . plus . . . Guest DJs DAVID J (Bauhaus/Love & Rockets) & DAVE NEWTON (Mighty Lemon Drops) & CHUCK WARNER (Messthetics/Hyped 2 Death) & DAN SELZER (Acute Records). ALL AGES! Tickets on sale now at (And the first 100 tix are only $14! So buy now!)
PLUS… the first-ever band-sanctioned public screening by Throbbing Gristle (videos, live performance & never-before-seen material) AND screenings of rare & unseen Post-Punk videos, films & live performances by Joy Division, New Order, Section 25, Cabaret Voltaire, Fad Gadget, Suburban Lawns, The Films Of Bruce Licher & Savage Republic AND the DVD-release-premiere of Decoder (featuring Genesis P-Orridge, William S. Burroughs, Christiane F and members of Psychic TV, Soft Cell, Talk Talk and Einsturzende Neubauten).,

5A. Stephane von Stephane’s column. – next time! (This newsletter was done in one afternoon – blame jet lag)

6. What We’ve Attended/What We’ve Been Reading/Seeing/Listening To/What We’ve Been Sent:

() From RICHARD MODIANO: “Below is a collaborative review of Lola Montes by Gail and myself for the RE/Search newsletter. We’re signing it as by “Tharpa.” I don’t know if it’s opened in San Francisco, but the movie is playing in New York City until the end of this month. It already finished its one week run in LA, and there’s sure to be a DVD release for Christmas.

“What Lola Wants, Lola Gets

“I just saw the restoration of Max Ophuls’ 1955 Lola Montes, it was fantastic, I loved it, sort of Fellini BEFORE Fellini! I don’t think I ever saw the original – it was not well received in 1955 and was truncated by its original producers – they even hacked up the original negative.

“Ophüls’ Lola, his first movie in color and widescreen was the biggest-budgeted French film to date, but after the producers re-edited the movie, it was a flop. They eventually went bankrupt, and Pierre Braunberger acquired the rights and commissioned a restoration from the elements available in 1969. Because of the improvement in restoration technology and the discovery of several missing elements – including the innovative original stereo sound mix – Braunberger’s daughter Laurence and the Cinémathèque Française, with the support of the Thomson Foundation, the Franco-American Cultural Fund, and Ophüls’ son Marcel, embarked on a state-of-the-art restoration.Scratches, tears and missing frames were fixed and the full stereophonic magnetic track restored, with the vibrant colors as conceived by production designer Jean d’Eaubonne and cinematographer Christian Matras replacing incomplete and faded prints.

“The at-long-last “definitive restoration” of Lola Montes was a sensation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. ( “In my unhumble opinion, the greatest film of all time,” Andrew Sarris.) Don’t miss it. The restored version was so captivating I don’t see how they could have adulterated the film. The only set back was Lola as a child, the actress looked like a middle age child.

“In a surreal garish-carnival setting, the suckers line up, and line up at a dollar a kiss with the celebrated courtesan and Countess of Landsfeld, Lola (French sex symbol Martine Carol). Ringmaster Peter Ustinov starts his spiel and the flashbacks begin. Ustinov almost steals the movie, and he spoke his own dialog in French! (But the biographies do not include Lola in a circus, so this was Ophuls’ idea.) Amidst a fantasy circus of dreams of faceless color-coded midget bellboys and rising and falling chandeliers and royal crowns, the story shifts between the symbolic tawdriness of the circus and the romanticism of the flashbacks. Each flashback has its own color scheme. For Lola’s youth, black-blue-gray; for her affair with 19th century “rock star” Franz Liszt, red and gold; and for her affair with the King of Bavaria, white, blue, silver and gold. Lola Montes touches on deep emotions, an architecture of the heart. But it wasn’t depressing, it was cathartic escapism!” [end]

7. RECOMMENDED LINKS – thanks to our friend Phil G, Ferrara, James McN-, & Others who sent us the below:

() RE/Search’s Marian Wallace’s promotional page for “After Crass” on the RainDanceTV website:

() YMA SUMAC Obituary:

() from Phil G: “Contraption:
() Palin pranked:

() Alan Drake intv

() from Alan Brooks, article on Allen Ginsberg:

() Rob Gretton (Joy Division manager, et al) notebook published:

() From Chris T: “Norway was incredible. I had a blast there. The film I produced, “Guest of Cindy Sherman” [w/Paul H-O] did really well! While I was there, I met the greatest new punk rock band from China.They were amazing! This is the sort of thing that Jello Biafra would like.At any rate, here’s a video I took of them in Bergen Norway. No one in America is hip to them, but they are so good. They went on a train tour of China, traveling 12-14 hours between gigs, doing their sound checks, eating, doing the gig and then hopping back on the train to the next stop on the tour. Now that’s punk!

() from Bruno R:”sexy people”:


() from Umberto Rossi: “This is the title of Chapter 14 [J.G. Ballard’s COCAINE NIGHTS], where Charles finds his rented Renault burnt (well, I’d call that an ethical action… I can’t see no reason why such disagreeable cars should exist). However, here is a brilliant idea by [J.G. Ballard:]

“One of the modern world’s pagan rites was taking place, the torching of the automobile…” (p159)

“Well said. Here in Rome it’s getting a bit too frequent (a bit too frequent for someone like me who must park his car in the streets): last time they almost burned down a block of flats by setting on fire the cars in the underlying parking.

“Every summer there are burnt cars in the streets. It is not like the burnings in Paris. It doesn’t take place only in certain parts of the city. It may happen everywhere. I am not talking of hundeds of cars, but it’s quite frequent. It also happened where I live, a neigborhood where you mostly have old people, young university students from other parts of Italy, and people who work at the Sapienza University like my wife, teachers or technicians or clerks. Surely a very different place from the banlieus of Paris. Yet–some cars were burnt. It happens at night, and it seems that the culprits are bored young men–well, looks like an effect of the boredom of transgression, but Ballard’s remark casts some light on its roots, doesn’t it?”

() “There’s no authority but yourself” – CRASS

() [On living in expensive San Francisco] “You shouldn’t live in a place because it’s cheap; you should live there because you WANT to.” — Charles Gatewood

() “If you want to be truly subversive, do something for free.” — Kurt Vonnegut [?]

() “Your language IS your soul.” — V. Vale

() “The point is not to make political films but to make films politically.” — Jean-Luc Godard


() “I saw you at the PAHfest “creativity” discussion and was very interested in all that you had to say (even through all the interruption). I’ve also listened to your version of “Mongoloid” with Gerald Casale about a hundred times. The piano work is wonderful. – Anthony Marchitiello on facebook” – THANKS ANTHONY, couldn’t figure out how to reply! – v

() “Saw you with Jello Biafra at Gilman Street and hope you will do more public interview events like that one.” — Berkeley resident

() A set of 8 SEARCH & DESTROY tabloids from 1977-79 are STILL AVAILABLE for only $40 from www. –, or 415-362-1465. Complete set of 11 issues (a few left) are $100 plus shipping. (C’mon; they’ve been archived for 30 years; imagine those storage charges alone!)
NOV 2008 RE/Search eNewsletter written by V. Vale & contributors. Newsletter and website powered by
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