Tag Archives: Lenny Bruce

Miracles of Drollery or Tourette’s Syndrome ?

21 Nov

The trade-off for the penurious life of a common scribbler (meaning one has not ascended to the rarified heights of a by-line in the New Yorker, the New York Times or the Guardian Observer) means that one is the beneficiary of books, recordings and videos with no monetary cost attached (not free, because as one learns sooner or later you pay for everything in this life)In any case, the peeps over at HBO sent me the Sarah Silverman’s forthcoming (Nov. 23)especiale We Are Miracles.

Having over the years caught bits and samples of Silverman (which I usually found hilarious and occasionally brilliant, watching her perform standup)—dare I call it a routine— for an hour was an excitable experience. Having no fear of vernacular or seemingly oblivious of any taboos, Silverman delivers pungent well, targeted observations spiced with manifold off-the-cuff, top-of- mind outbursts and occasional comments about the audience’s reactions. The stage performance ended with her solo rendition of her infamous/famous aria “Cunt.” Oddly, it works. Lenny Bruce would be proud. Here’s the orchestral/choral version:

Silverman leaves the stage and walks outside to resume (the show opens with her outside the venue, bouncing a tennis ball when three low riding vatos drive up thinking she is working girl) the conversation with her new Mexican friends. The chicos drive off and Sarah walks down the street, away from the camera…Fade to black.

Want more Sarah? Here’s A Perfect Night:

Currently reading The Impossible Exile by George Podonik(Other Press)

Cool, Ya Dig.

16 Sep
The Cool School by Glenn O 'Brien

The Cool School by Glenn O’ Brien

As attribution is a fetish (or a strong habit)of mine I feel compelled to credit Martin Amis with the astute observation that one of the few bits of vernacular that resists obsolescence is the word/notion “cool” It was operative 50 or 60 years ago when the Prince of Coolness, Miles Davis, began making music and remains functional to this day. There are,I suppose, some deep philological explorations to be made to unpack this happenstance —the more riveting focus, though is on the nature of the things, people and concepts that fall under the rubric, cool.

Now comes a Library of America volume, edited by a man of many seasons, the inestimable Glenn O’Brien,The Cool School Writings from America’s Hip Underground(LOA) which anthologizes a wide array of texts from hipsters the likes of Miles Davis, Henry Miller, Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, Lester Young, Norman Mailer, Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, Lenny Bruce, Rudolph Wurlizter, Nick Tosches, George Carlin and,oh yeah, Glenn O’Brien.(see the complete list here).

Here’s O’Brien’s view:

In a away this volume is a compendium of orphans.

Its not really an anthology as a much as a sampler. A few tasty morsels from the bebop scene, some ancient history of the pre-wiggers, the Beats both beatific and and some downtrodden. some gonzo and gonzoesque journalism, even a bit of punk picaresque. Its really a louche amuse bouche and a possible textbook for Outlier Lit 101

My guiding principle in selecting was filtered randomness> My only agenda was to provide a primer and inspiration for future thought crime and written rebellion.This volume is by no means definitive in terms of the writers selected or example chosen.It could have been entirely composed of different authors except for a few prime mover usual suspects…What is collected here is just a little taste to whet cool appetites

This disclaimer aside, as cultural surveys go, Glenn O’Brien has assembled a vivid picture of what was happening in America on the fringes the main stream and beneath the surfaces of normalcy.Academics might quibble about various omissions or inclusions but O’Brien has that intangible grasp of the cool to have collected snapshots of roiling cultural climate of the 20th century.

Of course being cool , you will already sense that.

Currently reading The Tilted World by Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin (Wm Morrow)


22 Feb

While events and conditions in the United States for those who hold for social and economic justice have been, shall we say, of a decidedly discouraging bent, the people’s uprisings in Egypt and other Middle East feudal states has been inspirational. Its even possible that the forces of darkness may be turned back or at least restrained in their chicanery in Wisconsin and other places.

Another source of inspiration for progressives and social activists is patriarch of protest Paul Krassner, the editor of the legendary satiric magazine The Realist , founding father of the Yippies, standup comedian, comrade of beatified comic Lenny Bruce, creator of the iconoclastic poster, “Fuck Communism” and many other accomplishments too numerous and important to merely list. Krassner has published an expanded edition of his Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture which can be purchased at his website.

Krassner, who has done his fair share of “consciousness expansion” with Dr.Timothy Leary and others, opines on the US drug policy:

But the [society’s] priorities are insane. Cigarettes kill 1,200 individuals every day—and that’s just in this country—whereas the worst that can happen with marijuana is maybe you’ll raid the refrigerator at midnight.

For more of a recent interview with the Krassner, go here: