The Pogues – “Peace and Love” (1989) / The Men They Couldn’t Hang – “Silvertown” (1989)

October 27, 2008 at 10:38 am (Fran Fried, Music, Reviews & Articles)



Written for the Waterbury Republican – Aug. 13, 1989 — by Fran Fried… 


New Album Grows Past the Pogues’ Newfound Popularity

The Pogues have been called everything from a Celtic band to the world’s best punk band. While, on the surface, they’ve purveyed the former over the years and done it well, their spirit has been well-planted in the latter, coming from the angry young streets of dirty old London, where the rebellion of a decade ago hasn’t died; it’s just regrouped or taken different forms.

Thus, keeping in that spirit, it was no surprise that these hell-may-care Englishmen with Irish roots began to grow away from the old sod stuff last year on If I Should Fall From Grace With God, one of this paper’s top 10 of ‘88. And their fourth and latest LP showcases a group which hasn’t let success or popularity get the best of their sense of reason – or stunt their further growth.

They set the tone for the LP with the instrumental opener, “Gridlock.” It’s almost a Part II of the brassy, cosmopolitan, art-deco/Celtic “Metropolis” off the last album, only the roots influences are gone. What we get is bongo fury and jazzy horns wrapped in a hectic swirl and a blaze of activity. Perfect.

But that’s not all that’s different. The group’s becoming more democratic in its old age; for the first time, other band members are speaking up on the vocal and writing ends, lending a bit more welcome variety to the record. Most notable is the work of Terry Woods. His straining desperation on “Young Ned of the Hill” is something not heard from this bunch before, a sharp departure from the time-honored rotgut voice and tongue-in-cheek of Shane MacGowan.

This doesn’t mean they’ve departed the tried-and-true Irish free-for-alls, though – not by a longshot.

“Cotton Fields” shuffles and shimmies on a gravelly MacGowan vocal bed, a sea shanty written on speed, or at least caffeine. “Down All the Days” features stirring instrumentals and emotions on a pop base. The Jem Finer-penned “Night Train to Lorca,” which lets the instruments best express the tinges of sadness, arrives low-key but has the impact of a punch to the midsection. And on “Boat Train” and Woods’ “Gortloney Rats,” there are the dizzying, reeling whirls of fun which were manifested last year on “Bottle of Smoke.” If you can’t get a rise out of these two songs, call a morgue.

There’s one problem, though, and it’s a glaring one, but one that can be easily corrected. For some inexplicable reason, the vocals are muffled, buried in Steve Lillywhite’s mix. MacGowan’s voice, especially on “Misty Morning, Albert Bridge,” “Down All the Days” and “Boat Train,” suffer the most. It’s a testament to the strength of the music and a source of frustration at the same time. It’s not the first time the veteran producer has worked with them (he handled the last album as well, with fine results), so why this happened is a mystery.

“It’s a bit of a grower, this one and it’s a bit more confusing than our other records,” said Woods in the accompanying press release. He’s right. This is a group in transition to who knows what, but wherever they’re going, they’re doing it well.

Meanwhile, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, another mongrel mix of Britons (a Welshman, three Scots and a Yorkie) doing Celtic-rooted music, is also on its fourth album and after a bunch of stop-starts brought on by bad timing, they seem ready to bludgeon their way into your hearts as well.

They probably could have been about as popular now as The Pogues are now were it not for bad timing. Elvis Costello, who produced their first album, was introduced to the band by Pogues’ co-founder Philip Chevron. But all that aside finally, they’ve delivered some quality goods as well and are poised to pounce on America – with the grace of someone, anyone, in the radio industry with a good set of ears.

In all, they’re more straightforward, more overtly political than The Pogues; not as entertainingly fun, but well worth the money you would’ve spent on the next MTV band-to-come-along.

The ever-impassioned singing of Stefan Henry Cush drives the best of this lot along at a fiery pace. You can feel the back of his neck straining and turning red as he puts his all into the two best songs, the angry young football tale “Rosettes” and their immigrant song, “A Place in the Sun,” a nugget packed with adventure (a journey to Marseilles to make a living), hope, desperation and barbed pop.

They also convey well a working-class toughness, almost to the point of stealing some guttural “arrghs” from Van Morrison. Again, passion is the byword on “Rain, Steam & Speed,” as the song churns like a mighty steam engine. “Company Town” straddles gentle balladry, ruggedness and the viciousness of its lash at Margaret Thatcher. And “Lobotomy Gets ‘Em Home!,” their song about Frances Farmer, is hi-test Pogues Celtic cowpunk.

Their bitter passion doesn’t overcome all on their swipe at gentrification, an otherwise average “Blackfriar’s Bridge,” but you know their heart is there. And you realize there’s plenty more hellfire where this record came from. Watch for these guys. They’ll probably prove as durable as their name implies.

Fran Fried

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Diane Di Prima – “July 28, 2000” (2000)

October 27, 2008 at 9:54 am (Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

so I am printing out poems to send to the 26 magazines who want them
or say they do
I figure I’d better get on it while I have the time
my book is done
at Viking even now getting messed with in unthinkable ways
and I have the time and I better use it
yesterday I went to visit a friend who’s dying and that always reminds me
get the poems out while you can, youknow
and everything else for that matter
not to mention I had a dream last night that wasn’t so good

so I am printing out poems and the phone rings and it’s someone from the Examiner
and only this morning I read the Examiner will soon be extinct so I wonder
how the guy feels about that and I pick up the receiver
he says he heard Gregory Corso died last night and he wants a quote
they always want a quote and usually I ignore them
but this time I say he had the greatest lyric gift of any of them
Allen, Jack
and the greatest innate genius

yeah says the guy but you know genius and discipline don’t often go together
I have discipline the guy says but no genius
I am finished printing a poem to Sharon Doubiago and want to get on with it
before we all drop dead, you know? so I tell him to call Allen’s office
Allen will still have an office after we’re all gone
and that office will always have quotes for everything I am so grateful
and he wants to know about Gregory’s time in San Francisco
and I tell him to call City Lights and then I hang up

by this time my printer is spitting out old haikus
I only have 68 poems and 25 magazines want them or say they do
and I want to send at least three poems to each, so they’ll have a choice
and I’m trying to figure this out when the guy calls back he says
he got thru to Allen Ginsberg’s office and the woman who answered
said only “He Breathes!”
that’s good I said and I thought about Ray Bremser
and Jack Micheline, and my friend in Mill Valley and all the rest
me too, soon “She Breathes No Longer” they’ll say and somebody
will mention my lyric gift but no discipline
and what a bitch I was so I get my sweater
and go to the Asian/American Restaurant, it’s Chinese/Peruvian actually
but suddenly I decide I don’t want to leave the house
so I cook some pasta and think about Gregory breathing and I write this
while the pasta is getting cold
and I can’t help it I wish I could give him some ziti with summer sauce
and Sara Raffetto my friend breathing not so good
Allen too
and he wasn’t even Italian

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti – “Untamed Poet Crosses River” (2001)

October 27, 2008 at 9:50 am (Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Reviews & Articles, The Beats)

Ferlinghetti wrote this obituary for fellow Beat poet Gregory Corso, upon his death in 2001…

Most obituaries are total eulogies, uncontaminated by any unkind cuts at the beloved or other straight talk. Don’t “dis” the dead, etc. Well, that’s OK for some dead folk, but not for Gregory Nunzio Corso who crossed the big river this past January 17th.
The announcement of a memorial service for him in lower Manhattan proclaimed he was “America’s greatest lyric poet,” although he certainly wasn’t as lyrical as Whitman or Edna St.Vincent Millay, or even the early e.e.cummings.
But that kind of judgment is always subjective and personal, isn’t it? Corso was lyrical all right, but in a highly original, cutting sort of way.
On the back of Corso’s early City Lights book, Gasoline, Jack Kerouac said, “Gregory was a tough young kid from the Lower East Side who rose like an angel over the rooftops and sang Italian songs as sweet as Caruso and Sinatra, but in words. ‘Sweet Milanese hills’ brood in his Renaissance soul, evening is coming on the hills. Amazing and beautiful Gregory Corso, the one and only Gregory the Herald.” Very poetic– but “sweet” is one thing Corso wasn’t every day. (“Bittersweet” would be closer.) And it wasn’t Milanese hills in his soul. He was no refined northern Italian, but a Calabrese, born in 1930 in Greenwich Village of parents from the very depths of the Mezzogiorno. And Gregorio was mezzogiorno through and through, handsomely dark, heavy-browed, often brooding, like that savage landscape on the unshod boot of southernmost Italy, swept with burning sun and storms. And he had its dark lyric spirit that could burst forth untutored and raw in great raves of poetry.
And he was always in your face, often not singing sweetly, but challenging you in some wild way, daring you or putting you on, shaking you up or at least mocking your ordinary way of looking at things. How many times did I hear him interrupt some solemn voice on stage with a loud shout from the back of the hall, comic or obscene, the outsider challenging the whole scene? But he was no mere egocentric wiseacre. He was a tragi-comic poet with a crazy sense of humor, as in poems such as his much-quoted “Marriage” with its parody of T.S.Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
And a trait of his that has never been noted is that he had a great graphic talent and could have been a great painter, if he hadn’t been so heavily into poetry, drugs, booze, and women. Some of his classic paintings and drawings were exhibited early in the 1990s at New York University’s Beat Art show. Graphically, he was the equal of any of the New York School painters who hung out with the poets at the old Cedar tavern in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 60s. When he drew with pentel or brush he had a classic line that was instantly recognizable as his own, much in the way Picasso’s line was distinctively his and no one else’s.
Ed Sanders’ Woodstock Journal published a beautiful obit, including a note from poet Robert Creeley that said Corso “had been ill for much of the past year but had recovered from time to time, saying that he’d got to the classic river but lacked the coin for Charon to carry him over. So he just dipped his toe in the water.” Some of Corso’s most powerful poems focussed on death, as was the case with so many other great poets. (The second and last reading that Dylan Thomas gave in San Francisco in the 1950s was totally centered on death, with poems by many others as well as himself.) Corso’s mad mouthfuls challenged death as he challenged everything else. Read his dire comic eulogy to it in “Bomb” to get the full blast.
But even in death, this gadfly wordslinger is triumphing on his own terms. He wanted to be buried in Venice or Rome, and in the latter he might well have been happy under the paving stones of the Campo dei Fiori, in the center of which is a statue of Giordano Bruno, the heretic burned unrepentant by the Church in 1600, whom Corso no doubt saw as a brother. But the British Romantic, Percy Bysshe Shelley, was Corso’s most loved poet, and Shelley is in the Protestant cemetery in the workingclass Testaccio district of Rome. That’s where Gregory’s going, thanks to the initiative of his friends, including attorney Robert Yarra, George Scrivani. and a powerful lady in Rome named Hannalorie.
So, farewell, devilish angel poet, hail and farewell!

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William S. Burroughs – “Dead Beat” (1997)

October 27, 2008 at 9:36 am (Reviews & Articles, The Beats, William S. Burroughs)

Written for The Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1997…


In the 1920s, everybody knew what they were going to do and saw nothing wrong with what they were offered. They would be doctors and lawyers and that would be all right. I would go into my father’s business. I was brought up in a Midwestern, partly Southern, matriarchy.
[During World War II] I worked in Chicago as an exterminator. Then went to New York. It was New York in 1945 that I had my first experience with heroin with street friends like Herbert Hunke. I took it and I liked it and I went on taking it. That was all.
I don’t think that heroin addiction has anything to do with emotional problems. There was never any question in my mind that there was any important psychological aspect at all. Usually people exaggerate their personal problems.
My marriage was not a marriage of convention at all. Not at all. No! Joan [Vollmer] was a friend of Jack [Kerouac]’s. She was a very remarkable and very intelligent person. She was married twice before I knew her–but not to Kerouac–to ordinary people. There are a lot of marriages where there is some sex, but not very much. She was a benzedrine addict, and I’ve always hated speed. I hate it. She was one of those people who just hated any kind of opiates. She couldn’t see what anyone saw in them. I’ve given an account of her death once [she was accidentally killed by Burroughs during a game of William Tell] and I don’t want to talk about it again. She’s buried in the American cemetery in Mexico City. I just felt that was the only thing to do.
Billy [Burroughs’ son with Vollmer] died about a month ago. I last saw him in Denver six months ago. The doctors warned me. He had a liver transplant about five years ago, and the operation has about a 50% mortality rate. He was 33. He was raised by my mother and father. He grew up in Palm Beach, Fla. He did marry, and they were separated. He didn’t have any children. After the transplant, Billy didn’t take very good care of himself. He was still drinking. Allen [Ginsberg] and I talked to his doctor about giving him a maintenance dose of morphine to get him off alcohol and calm him down because he was in a bad state with the steroids he was taking. He would get into these terrible rages from the steroids when he started screaming and throwing and breaking things. It could be very disconcerting to someone who didn’t know him.
He tried to hitch his way back to Miami, and the police found him collapsed in a doorway and took him to the hospital. They called us. It was pneumonia because he had no resistance to infection. They discharged him, but he got sick later and checked back into the hospital. He died about three or four hours later. He was cremated. In Florida. [Long pause] A very, very good friend of mine arranged everything for just a very, very small amount of money. Of course, it’s traumatic to outlive your child. Of course, I knew about his illness. He had five years. I knew he couldn’t live a long life.
I get up around 9 o’clock and have breakfast. If I’m working, I’ll work from around 10 to 6. I never eat lunch. Maybe I’ll have a sandwich or buttermilk and crackers. If I don’t feel like working, I’ll go through my files or go to a museum or take a walk. I go to bed around 10:30 or 11. I’m pretty healthy. I’m pretty healthy.

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Gary Snyder – “The Dharma Eye of d.a.levy” (1977)

October 27, 2008 at 9:30 am (Gary Snyder, Reviews & Articles, The Beats)

Taken from The Old Ways (1977)…


d.a.levy – Darryl Levy – I try out his names, reaching to know the man; his poems, his polemics. I feel brother to Levy not only as poet but as fellow-worker in the Buddha-fields. Levy had a remarkable karma: he saw who he was, where he was, what his field of activity was, and what his tools were to be.


                     “if in the past
                     i was of the black
                     and sat at night
                     in cemeteries
                                            & silence
                           even that
                           was transient”

In Indian thought the truth/law/absolute is called the Dharma. The Buddhadharma (“Buddhism”) is the Dharma as transmitted by a line of enlightened men and women. Gods exist, but even the Gods are subject to the laws of karma; and because of their tiresomely long omnipotent lives they are somewhat handicapped in the achievement of liberation. Gods have been known to gain insight by attending little talks given by poor wretched mendicant human wise men. There are religious-minded people who strive for purity and solitary illumination, to be “God” like-but the Dharma is without dualism. Great Buddhist yogins of the past often sat through the night in graveyards, meditating while seated on corpses. Some of these yogins in their exhaustive search through all the components of mind and transformations of thought-energy became “of the black” – showing no dualistic distaste for “impurity” – and hoping to reach the depths where there is the basest lead, the raw material for the alchemical transformation into “gold.”

“it was feb. 63 when i had enough money to buy a 6X9 letterhead hand press & type. Spent al most a year at my aunt and uncles printing sometimes 8 to 16 hours a day for days and days. . .”

The “right-handed” yogins and mystics have been an integral part of the conspiracy of civilization to degrade women and mis-use nature. They have become “established religion” living off of money provided by the state, or the pious gifts of workers and peasants.

The yogins of the left-hand, both women and men, have lived in the world doing their work and supporting themselves by crafts or labor. The Tantric siddha (“powerman”) Saraha was an arrow-maker. Naropa’s teacher Tilopa was a pounder of til seeds. Many were poets. Long apprentice ships were spent, in the mastery of a craft.


“i have a city to cover with lines”

His hometown, Cleveland, that he wouldn’t move from. Like the Sioux warriors who tied themselves to a spear and stuck it in the ground, never to retreat. Why? An almost irrational act of love–to give a measure of self-awareness to the people of Cleveland through poesy.


“you will not confront yourself
so you leap to the aid of others”

–Levy’s self-criticism also. But the Bodhisattva view does not imply that first, you perfect your selfrealization and second, enter the world to “cure illnesses and loosen bonds.” The waterwheel swings deep into the water and spills it off the top in the same turning.


“in the background i sense
clannish emasculated
masonic mafia rites”

You’d think a hard-working young printer and poet would incur no particular wrath and blame. Or would you. The problem goes deeper than the celebrated American anti-intellectualism or guilt-filled prurient repressive over-permissive sexual attitudes or the compulsive accumulation of X


the police try to protect
the banks – and everything else
is secondary”

(Luther’s outhouse a national institution.) The problem goes back to when the powers, beauties, and deep knowledges of the age-old women’s traditions were supplanted by military-caste mystiques & the accumulation of heavy metals. The poet/yogin still speaks for that other, saner, consciousness. The Occidental poet, with his “Muse.”


 “lady you have to be realistic
sending all your poets to the looney bin
ain’t helping the profession very much
your blue hair in the wind
& yr eyes full of diamonds.”

Not an easy row to hoe. Nature a network of de-pendent transformations and the Muse can be Maya, mistress of the ecosystem of delusion; who will perpetually keep tricking, or be the means of seeing through (herself) – a challenge, Levy’s Cleveland is not, exactly, his adversary: but his witch-Muse he needs must convert to the Path (more paying-back for spooky experiments in previous lives – that muse -)


                     “What form of energy is used to
                     create the original thoughts?
                     Try to become THAT!”

This takes us to the heart of Levy’s strength. All manipulations of politics or magic – things, images, from inner or outer worlds; reduce down to this mustard seed that blows away when you try to look at it.


“Cherokee, Deleware, Huron            [sic]
We will return your land to you”

It is curious how even a glimpse of the Mind-essence creates such primal respect for the land and for the dignity of men who live lovingly in the web of life – the primitives-

“it is not a Cathouse of the rising sun
or the deathwagon of the beat
generation, but a bridge of clouds
to a new culture.”

Traditional orthodox Buddhists are not concerned with building new cultures any more than they are interested in nature religion or girls. Poets must try to get them together – playing a funny kind of role, today, as pivot-man, between the upheavals of culture-change and the persistence of the Single Eye of knowledge. d. a. levy finished up his karma early – “reborn as a poet in an industrial society”       but he did his job well.


“the traditions we follow
make the gods look young”

Thus the name of Padma Sambhava’s line of Tibetan Buddhism, Ning-ma, means “Ancient Ones.” The sophistications of Mahayana metaphysics harmonized with archaic and primitive systems … Goddesses; sexual yoga. Too rich to manage without the bitter tea of Zen as well – and here in North America, Turtle Island, we begin now to look for the next switchback in the path: something drawing on the wisdom traditions of Asia, incorporating the profound lore of our Semitic, Celtic, African, & Germanic roots – something that walks with the land and animals of Turtle Island in “a sacred manner” as the Indians do.

Levy gone up ahead, with that tinkle of bells (which is also how you hear the dakini approaching)

“when riding the winter pony
a trail of bells
soft/y ringing
deep in the mind

& if one listens
perhaps this sound
will guide
the young rider through the

Gary Snyder
4.V I 11.40071
(Reckoning roughly from
the earliest cave paintings)

NOTE Books by d.a.levy – find them where you can –      ukanhavyrfukncitibak. Cleveland, Ghost Press 1970.
     Suburban Monastery Death Poem. Madison, Wis., Quixote Press, Vajrayana Reprint Series #1.
     The Tibetan Stroboscope. Cleveland, Ayizan Press, 1968.
     and, issues of The Buddhist Third Class Junk Mail Oracle.

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Robert Fripp w/ Daryl Hall – “North Star” (1979)

October 27, 2008 at 9:18 am (Music)

Taken from Robert Fripp’s 1979 debut solo album Exposure. Daryl Hall is the guest singer on this slow, meditative song…

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Woody Allen – “The Dick Cavett Show” (1971 – Part 2)

October 27, 2008 at 9:08 am (Comedy, Woody Allen)

More from Woody Allen’s appearance from The Dick Cavett Show, Oct. 20, 1971…

(More to come…)

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Guns N’ Roses – “Chinese Democracy” (2008)

October 27, 2008 at 8:25 am (Music)

I will admit, I never liked Axl Rose and what few Guns N’ Roses songs I liked were basically in spite of him. I hope to God though, that I never have to hear “Paradise City” or “Sweet Child o’ Mine” again in this lifetime. But I have to say, their Use Your Illusion albums had some good stuff on them.
Now, even though this is basically The Axl Rose Band in everything but name, and even though I can’t say I’ve been waiting all these hundred years for this album to come out like alot of people have, I guess I was a bit intrigued to see if it would ever finally be released. Plus, former Replacement Tommy Stinson has been a member of the band for a number of years now, so that was also an interesting factor.
Anyhow, I have to admit – this title track to the much-hyped Chinese Democracy album is actually not a bad song. It’s certainly much better than the song they put out about 8 years ago (“Oh My God”). It beats alot of the what passes for hard rock music these days.
I came to bury Axl but after hearing this song twice so far, I guess I’ll have to save my burial for another day. So, what is everyone else’s opinion on this song? Opinions welcomed… 

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