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“Giving the mundane its beautiful due” – John Updike

“Attention is what creates value. Artworks are made as well by how people interact with them — and therefore by what quality of interaction they can inspire. So how do we assess an artist who we suspect is dreadful but who manages to inspire the right storm of attention, and whose audience seems to swoon in the appropriate way? We say, ‘Well done.’

The question is: ‘Is the act of getting attention a sufficient act for an artist? Or is that in fact the job description?’

Perhaps the art of the future will be indistinguishable.”  From Brian Eno’s diary

John Updike's things in need of home - Austin Statesman

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The End?

41TR1NTKVSL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_disc in boximgresJohn Updike's Award

Paul

 

Updike Photos from Wikipedia

{in} “this time of foreboding about the future of Western culture, it is crucial to identify and preserve our finest artifacts.”                Camille Paglia

 

Dedicated to Patrick Joseph Moran, Genevieve Moran and to my wonderful wife Mary

 

White House

Thank you all for visiting The Other John Updike Archive. Special thanks to James Yerkes, Jack DeBellis, Jim Plath and the entire John Updike Society for their support and encouragement. I have decided that this would be an appropriate time to end this project. There are many more personal effects in this collection as well as unpublished and sensitive material, but I would be be risking copyright infringement if I were to persist. The thousands of photographs taken by this master of observation alone are priceless.

Of course my greatest thanks go to John Updike for taking the time to talk to me even when he was sick, and for his generosity. I believe that the intellectual output of John Hoyer Updike has something to say to all of us about faith, politics, independent thought and leading a fully actualized life.

The avant-garde art world increasingly struggles with trying to appeal to a jaded audience with the latest attire worn by the Emperor.  I hope to see the quiet trend of Kula Art develop. This is my feeble attempt to see the hand of a loving God at work within common, everyday and ordinary objects. That is the enduring legacy that this great artist and fellow spiritual traveller left for us. In the words of Warren Zevon when asked if he had learned anything from his diagnosis of terminal cancer: “Enjoy every sandwich”

 Paul J Moran December 15, 2013       

 

THE MODERN CHRISTIAN INHERITS AN INTELLECTUAL TRADITION OF FAULTY COSMOLOGY AND SHREWD PSYCHOLOGY.”-John Updike

This was taken from his “Remarks upon Receiving the Campion Medal” which was bestowed upon him by the Catholic Book Club in New York City on 11 September 1997. It came from the lead essay in “John Updike and Religion,” edited by James Yerkes.

John said that the “faulty cosmology” was a literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis (a la Creationists.) The “shrewd psychology” was that St. Paul and St. Augustine had “got it right.” The Christian existentialist, Kierkegaard, has expressed this more recently as “Man is in a state of fear and trembling, separated from God, twisted by the conflicting demands of his animal biology and human intelligence, of the social contract and the inner imperatives.”

 

“there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.people so tired
mutilated
either by love or no love.people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners.

it hasn’t told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place
alone

untouched
unspoken to

watering a plant.”
― Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

 

 

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2029-Events:

#1- John Updike’s final notes on St Paul, Judaism, and the foundations of Christianity to be released.

#2-  J.F.K. Assassination files to be released to the public.  

 

John Updike on the JFK “Umbrella”  Man conspiracy theory:6th Floor Museum

 “We wonder whether a genuine mystery is being concealed here or whether any similar scrutiny of a minute section of time and space would yield similar strangenesses—gaps, inconsistencies, warps, and bubbles in the surface of circumstance.”- JU

 

Also in 2029:                                          April 13  – The asteroid 99942 Apophis (previously better known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4) will pass within 30,000 km (18,600 mi) of the Earth, very briefly appearing as bright as 3rd magnitude. -wiki

 

 

Pyxis Redux

 

The Sambucus bears it’s noble rot

 

Decanted of its fluent prize

 

Within the lair once called a hutch

 

A nascent cipher on the rise

 

The sangre flowing from a shoot

 

A ribbed vessel cried aloud

 

The claret spread around like soot 

 

On stone it fell and rose in cloud

 

Within this wood a cache was kept

 

A hoard of food for future thought

 

In grace like dew a garden wept

 

A new sarcophagus was wrought

 

A northward wall that stems the tide

 

Makes one last stand on lucky foot

 

And trips upon an awkward stone

 

Ensnared within that ancient root

 -Paul Moran

 

 

Do Not Open Until Christmas

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Christmas Cards

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Christmas Cards By John Updike

December, Outdoors by John Updike

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George SJ

XMAS Martha

Sorry FredFord 1Ford 2Ford 3Ford 4Ford 5

Ford 6

XMas Goodies

Lithgow 1

Lithgow 2

XMas DonaldNew Yorker ChristmasMerry Xmas LindaLove MChristmas Concert

HendersonsCat Man 2

Lithgow 3

Lithgow 4

McCains

Mccain2

Jimmy Carter1 Jimmy 2

Eliot Richardson ER 2

Bush 3 Bush 4

Bush 1 Bush 1 pt 2

Bilary Bilary 2

 

 

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Christianity Is A Scandal

  “There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton

phillip roth

“In 1971, in a small piece of Bechiana unfortunately not included in the paperbacks (but available online), Updike wrote a profile of himself for the New York Times Book Review under the byline of Henry Bech. “The book about me,” Updike-as-Bech reports Updike-as-Updike saying, “had not so much been about a Jew as about a writer, who was a Jew with the same inevitability that a fictional rug salesman would be an Armenian.” There is an unmistakable edge in this protestation, with its pointed embrace of rude stereotypes—just try asking an Armenian how he would feel about being called a rug merchant.

But the deeper irony lies in the fact that the identification of Jew with American writer should itself be that kind of stereotype, something so automatic as to seem cliché. Half a century later, the glory days of American Jewish writing seem like something out of a museum or textbook: We remember the names Ozick invited to her fictional party, then add even greater names like Bellow, Roth, Mailer, and Malamud, and wish we could have been part of it all. Reading the Bech stories is a useful reminder of how unexpected, how sheerly unlikely, this Jewish moment must have seemed to a Protestant writer of Updike’s generation.

After all, Updike, born in 1932 and raised, as so many author bios reminded us, in small-town Shillington, Pa., inherited a literary culture in which all the great names sounded much more like John Updike than like Bernard Malamud. For Updike to enter into his career and find himself suddenly the anomaly, an outlier against the Jewish average, must have been a surprise and could well have turned into an ugly shock—as it unmistakably did for Gore Vidal, who has always enjoyed dipping his toes in the waters of anti-Semitism. The Bech books can be seen, then, as Updike’s good-humored, essentially benevolent, but still curious and awkward attempt to figure out what was going on in the lives and minds of his Jewish peers.” -Adam Kirsch From John Updike the Jew

 

 

Saint Paul’s “Tether to the Athenians”.

The Temptation of Saint Paul. John Updike’s final novel?  Is St. Paul’s love for Timothy considered too controversial for inclusion into the Updike oeuvre? Is Paul’s rejection of heterosexual love and his love for Timothy, a reflection of the God ordained misogyny of tribal Judaism. Is this too delicate for publication until 2029? Mere speculation…

 

Was St. Paul Gay? Claim Stirs Fury

By ARI L. GOLDMAN
Published: February 2, 1991

Throughout his ministry as an Episcopal priest and bishop, John S. Spong has been surrounded by controversy as he has labored on the leading edge of movements to bring blacks, women and homosexuals into the full life of his church.

But now that he has written that St. Paul, the apostle and first great teacher of Christianity, was a “self-loathing and repressed gay male,” even his defenders are expressing shock. Many are saying that this maverick voice of mainstream Christianity is fast losing credibility and may soon be regarded as little more than a street corner prophet whom everyone sees but no one hears. Bishop Spong, the 59-year-old head of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, has managed to keep a loyal and attentive following despite a swirl of Spong-centered disputes both nationally and in his home diocese. Understanding Paul

Conservative bishops, for example, asked that Bishop Spong be censured for ordaining a sexually active gay man, but the House of Bishops refused, deciding instead to merely “disassociate” itself from his actions. And, in his own diocese, at least one priest has sued Bishop Spong in court, charging that he illegally withheld parish funds. Most of his priests, however, have stood by him, either out of genuine admiration or, some suggest, fear.

Bishop Spong, married and the father of three grown daughters, makes his argument about Paul’s sexuality in a new book, “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism,” published yesterday by Harper Collins.

 

 

  

Was the Apostle Paul Gay? 

John Updike the Jew 

Zionism

 

Time Magazine: The Pope’s Favorite Rabbi

 

By DAVID VAN BIEMA

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Jacob “Jack” Neusner photographed at
his home in Rhinebeck, New York on May 10, 2007.
Gillian Laub for TIME

Asked what he would like to write next, (fellow Harvard alum and Updike friend) Neusner says, “I’d like to do a book with the Pope about Paul,” whose letter, Romans, contains verses that have long bedeviled Jewish-Christian relations. He is half-joking. But what if the Pope said yes? What new wonder might emerge when two smart men agree to disagree but then keep talking?

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Wiki Leaks 2029: Why The Secrecy?

Carl

LITERARY CONSPIRACY THEORY: THE UPDIKE BOOK ON THE ORIGINS OF CHRISTIANITY BEING HELD UP FOR 20 YEARS?  

The 1,635 books in the Updike archive are already available to scholars. Manuscripts will be ready as early as August, and correspondence will be open to researchers by the end of the year. The novel on which he was working at the time of his death, which involved St. Paul and early Christianity, will not be available until 2029. From The Harvard Gazette, Updike’s roots and evolution

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“The non-scientist’s relation to modern science is basically craven: we look to its discoveries and technology to save us from disease, to give us a faster ride and a softer life, and at the same time we shrink from what it has to tell us of our perilous and insignificant place in the cosmos. Not that threats to our safety and significance were absent from the pre-scientific world, or that arguments against a God-bestowed human grandeur were lacking before Darwin. But our century’s revelations of unthinkable largeness and unimaginable smallness, of abysmal stretches of geological time when we were nothing, of supernumerary galaxies and indeterminate subatomic behavior, of a kind of mad mathematical violence at the heart of matter have scorched us deeper than we know.”    -John Updike

 

Farewell to John Updike, a man of wry and reserved delicacy  - Slate by Christopher Hitchens

Feb 2, 2009 - Most of the celebrations and elegies for the great John Updike were abysmally bland, praising him as the bard and chronicler of the great  

 

 

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Going Postal

Going Postal“I never see a blue mailbox without a spark of warmth and wonder and gratitude that this intricate and extensive service is maintained for my benefit.” - John UpdikeA Penny Saved FlippedWon't Do That AgainWon't Do That Again 2

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November 25, 2013 · 10:35 am

Tee Time

last 4Golf Tips

“I’m still looking for the perfect tip that will cure my beginner’s slice. I find that picturing the descent of the clubhead, and making sure it doesn’t stray outside the limits of where the ball is, kind of squares it up, and I do hit some straight shots as a result. But then with every tip like that you begin to inhibit your swing and kind of lose power. But I’m still hopeful.”- JU

 

TIFFANY’S “SLICER” AWARD PRESENTED TO JU AT CEREMONY AT THE MYOPIA HUNT CLUB GOLF TOURNAMENT

 

Myopia Hunt Club "Slicer" Golf Award

Golf CardBallsGolf:Pen Set

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The Cartoonist

finn 2Cartoonist Fan

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Just out from Jack De Bellis, John Updike’s Early Years (Lehigh University Press).  The author is responsible for a number of books on Updike, including a two volume bibliography as well as The John Updike Encyclopedia.  As Updike fans likely know, he was intent on being a cartoonist in his younger days.

ORIGINAL UPDIKE BY PAUL SZEP

Cartoon

Possession Obsession

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Soap and Death in America

Updike’s characters tend to be superficially ordinary suburbanites with complex interior lives. By providing minutely detailed descriptions of common objects and actions in a style rich with metaphors, Updike adds significance to their actions and personalities.

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John Updike: Soap CollectorSoap Opera

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Mother Hubbard

“I wanna be adored”-Stone Roses.

In 1977 I was in Miami. I was approached by a very attractive woman who invited me to the Scientology Center to go through a free process called “auditing”. Unlike the IRS form of auditing, this was an examination of your brain. The purpose was to recognize and “clear” past emotional traumas. You were hooked up to an “e-meter”, a machine that worked like a lie detector. The needle jumped when the question got you, and the machine alerted to places where you were emotionally “stuck”. At that age I couldn’t recognize the difference between people who seemed enthralled by me, who “got me”, and people who had been recruited to seduce me into their cult.
I found it all so appealing, as I did not know of their insane beliefs, which are kept secret until you have committed body and soul into their care and formation for a very, very long time. It wasn’t until they told me of the of the incredibly high cost of membership (which they assured me could be remediated by working for them on a very full time basis, that I walked. The whole process smacked of indentured servitude.
Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard was a degenerate megalomaniac and a science fiction writer who developed a “Church” whose belief system is preposterous and whose control is absolute.
John Travolta (who is in the process of a divorce after being outed for his perpetual homosexual liasons) is a member. Tom Cruise (who testified in his ongoing divorce proceedings that he is separating from his wife and child as he has chosen Scientology over a life with his third family, as his wife Katie Holmes wants to raise their child as a Catholic) is a member. Kirsty Alley (who now makes her living off of being morbidly obese) is one as well.
I am quite aware that my fragile belief in Jesus Christ may be irrational, but most of the alternatives to a philosophy based upon conscience, love, forgiveness and humility are seductions of
vanity. The talking snake that offered: “ye shall be as gods” now
has a vast and unending orchard of shiny, new and low hanging
fruit. You may well have sympathy for the Devil. “Go ‘head bite
the big apple. Don’t mind the maggots-Paul Moran

IMG_0079survey says

Survey

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Mr. Postman Look and See ….

This is a restatement of purpose. This site will no longer lay fallow after a suspension of postings due to copyright concerns. The most historical material, the pristine photography from a visual master and his private thoughts in writing, committed to computer discs, must remain for now in a secure location. The artifacts contained herein of this exquisite 20th century documentarian are a time capsule.  I am:  ”giving the mundane it’s beautiful due”  in order to preserve the material legacy which he articulated. These are the remnants of a life dedicated to recovering the sense memory of a “objects imbued with human intention”

For John Updike the postal system was magic. Simply sending a note is for him a message in a bottle; receiving a response, an answered prayer.  Like a stamp collecting boy, postal transactions and delivery retained their seraphic magic.  A letter held for him the sacredness of  a time traversed communion delivered safely to the door of his fortress of solitude. It was as if the Holy Spirit moonlighted as carrier pigeon.  In the pagan, organic and material world of objects, he is arrested by a sense of  implied divinity in the system of our transported paper wishes. Like everything else in his material world, it is for him, a kind of miracle. Plagued by theological doubt, and at times overcome by panic, moral terror and a sense of futility, he shunned Eastern transcendence and looked breathlessly for material evidence to justify his hope that a loving and merciful God presented Himself in nature, humanity, the stars and even within the much maligned system known as the postal service. – Paul MoranRoyal Wedding.

 

Royal Wedding 2

 

John Updike’s Archive: A Great Writer at Work

 

“As it grew, he wore his fame lightly as his due, like one of his own well-worn sweaters, thin at the elbows. He loved public institutions — libraries, schools, the post office — letters arriving and departing, the simple act of completion — dropping it in the slot.” – David Updike remembers his father in New York Times column: A Toast to the Visible World  August 10, 2009

 

 

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Telephones and Other Poles

Perfectionism is the enemy of creation, as extreme self-solitude is the enemy of well-being.” – John Updike

 

 Address Book 2

 

The Protestant Work Ethic and The Repetition of Catholic Iconography 

John Updike and fellow Pennsylvanian Andy Warhol were the premier interpreters of the second half of the 20th century. There are many documentarians from that period, but they were the leading artists who described the zeitgeist of their time. Their significance was largely due to their conviction, that there is a hidden radiance beneath the surface of ordinary life.  They examined the smallest details as if  they were worthy of our notice. They watched people and reported on their mundane concerns, and the signal artifacts of  their consumption:  from sex to soup, and from soup to nuts (Planters Peanut Bars)*.  

In the Poor House Fair, Updike finds epic subterranean tensions and spiritual warfare, within the the most tedious environment imaginable: a home for the elderly and the indigent. Warhol celebrated the common, the pedestrian, and the ordinary with the same fascination as he vetted movie stars. He recognized that a humble bottle of Coke provided the same democratic pleasure to those who could scrounge a dime, as it did for the most discerningly thirsty aristocrat. 

Whether incidentally or by design, they both worked relentlessly to wrest cultural dominance from the continental elites.  Although the work of both men was widely considered to be at times decadent, even pornographic, they were adamantly Christian. Though they were consecutively linked to the cool underground art world and the Playboy literati, they were decidedly and at times intentionally uncool. Their remaining relics have been collected, assembled and archived here, as the last bread crumbs of a trail that is rapidly going cold. People have, to a large degree, moved on. Social media postings, and a flood of  internet images are reducing the impact of canvas works and complex literary constructions. The book in it’s traditional form, is itself at risk of becoming entirely digitized. No one has managed to impact the world through artistic imagery like Andy Warhol. John Updike has few promising heirs on the horizon, with perhaps the noted exception of Martin Amis. Their fully harvested talents, and the essence,meaning, message, and the medium of their vast production, will one day be revisited as their corpus remains un-succeeded.

There is a code that is contained within the works of both of these artists. It can be easily cracked if one cares to pause and consider their themes. It may be deciphered with the most elementary decoder ring, retrieved from a mass produced, cartoon festooned box of cereal. You only have to reflect upon their intentions and to look carefully at their work. It is militantly Christian, as well as democratically and singularly American. It might be useful for us to look back upon their works, and reconsider our collective moral compass. They are asking us to renew the spiritual template of our traditions. To be neither shrill  nor angry, and to honor the reasonability and moderation contained within the Western canon as described by Harold Bloom. We are prompted to return to an “Orientalism” that presumes that our Western heritage, rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethos is, well, better…much better.  So encouraged, we may hopefully avoid a glittery self-deifying neo-paganism.

Their code is an allegiance to New Testament values: a crack of daylight revealed between the tribal legalism of Orthodox Judaism and Islamic Fundamentalism. The subtext of these artist’s works promote Western values in the context of a society based upon the classical Liberal tradition. Paradoxically, these “pornographers” sought to rescue American culture from further entropic moral abstraction and decay. They tried to make us see, that despite their respect for multicultural diversity, some ideas are clearly better than others. Western Jeffersonian democracy and the Rights of Man are held up, as superior models of  human organization. They are opposed to centralized governments and the rough trade of utopian fantasies for absolute governmental  hegemony. Updike’ s book, Terrorist gently (Christopher Hitchen’s would say far too gently in his review) inspires us to prepare to defend ourselves against theocratic fatwa issuing Caliphates, and not assume that we will prevail next time by returning to the pacific flower baiting of the Summer of Love (See Updike’s tract: “On Not Being A Dove”).

Updike and Warhol embrace and celebrate the pagan elements of our American culture. Updike says their pleasures rival at times, the non-temporal and most worshipful Christian hope. In his book: In the Beauty of the Lilies, Updike demonstrates how the glamour and storytelling parables of film, gave the saving rituals of Christian liturgy and collective prayer a literal run for their money.  These men were fascinated by our pagan heritage, studying it with the eyes of  cultural anthropologists. Still they remain ever mindful to never let the servant become the master. If these values are not explicitly proselytized within their work, they are everywhere implied.                         -Paul Moran

 

 

 

The Observer Now Observed…

In addition to glimpses of the artist solving technical problems are materials that lay bare a sturdy foundation of background research. There are half-century-old snapshots of storefronts in Reading, Pa., the model for Rabbit’s hometown of Brewer, along with 1980s clippings from The Reading Eagle. There are also photocopied pages from medical books on heart disease as well as correspondence from a boyhood friend, a surgeon, who offered to arrange for Updike to observe an angioplasty procedure. (Rabbit undergoes one, described with clinical precision.)

And there is a memo from a researcher catching Updike up on current sales and commissions at Toyota franchises of the kind owned by the Angstrom family, along with photocopied pages from a handbook on car salesmanship, with Updike’s marginal notes, and several pages (obtained through the Federal Highway Administration) showing sample Florida license plates. Other folders include a jotted list of basketball moves (“double-pump lane jumper”) and a letter from Bob Ryan, a sportswriter for The Boston Globe, summarizing the career of the 1980s N.B.A. dunk-shot specialist Darryl Dawkins.

There is even a wrapper from a Planters Peanut Bar*, as lovingly preserved as a pressed autumn leaf, evidently used by Updike to describe the moment when Rabbit, addicted to high-cholesterol junk food, greedily devours the candy and then, still unsatisfied, “dumps the sweet crumbs out of the wrapper into his palm and with his tongue licks them all up like an anteater” — an early warning that he’s headed for a heart attack. - John Updike’s Archive: A Great Writer At Work By Sam Tanenhaus New York Times, June 20, 2010

 

 

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Roger Ebert and The Sid Vicious Circle

Sixty Degrees of Separation: I met Johnny Lydon/Rotten 33 years ago at Strawberries Records in Boston. Several months ago I stumbled upon a performance by Lydon in downtown Austin/Roger Ebert worked with Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious on a film called “Who Killed Bambi”/Roger Ebert wrote about the Vicious Circle at the Algonquin Hotel/John Updike dreamed of being a part of the Vicious Circle at the Algonquin Hotel. /Roger Ebert and John Updike loved the movies. /John Updike loved Doris Day./ Roger Ebert loved Doris Day and did the narration for a seven part documentary on her for PBS. And uh, I like the movies, but not the ones with Liza Minnelli. Okay I got nothin’ but here goes: 

                                                                                           

Movies lifted the men and women of drab American towns and cities from their ordinary lives onto a supernatural level. We all tried, in our small ways, to live up to the stars—to dress as smartly, to act as bravely, to love as completely. No wonder that so many of the vacant theaters are now churches. We worshipped in those spaces, and for all the frequent shoddiness and imbecility of the mass-market motion picture, there was nothing to prevent grandeur from occurring; there were, in the mad profusion, the weekly tumble, works of cinematic art that moved and transformed us absolutely as the best and noblest painting, music, and poetry. For Americans, it was our native opera, bastard and sublime.”   -John Updike

“Upon completing Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, a tearful LIZA MINNELLI declared publicly that she would never, ever work with tyrannical director Otto Preminger again.” Vincent Canby New York Times Review 1970

 

The first time I watched a movie being made up-close was in 1969.  I was eleven years old and my Dad was in the hospital recovering from prostate cancer surgery.  Dad told me that they decided during the surgery to remove his testicles in an effort to slow the growth of the malignancy.  My Mother was sad, as she knew my dad felt hurt and humiliated.  She told me later that he had apologized to her, as it appeared to him that their physical intimacy would essentially be over. I could tell that they needed their privacy and went downstairs to the lobby of  the Salem Hospital.  I quickly became distracted from my parent’s ordeal however, as I found they were shooting A MOVIE! 

I stood in the doorway of the hospital lobby seemingly unnoticed, as a bald man who looked to me like a Nazi or a Bond villain, was ordering a frail looking girl, dressed in shabby inpatient attire named Liza Minnelli, to do the the same elementary scene over and over and over again.  The man I was told was Otto Preminger, (known only to me as Mr Freeze from the Batman TV series) a respected director of films that were “edgy” and sometimes risque. I knew who Liza Minnelli was, and I most certainly knew of her mother from the Wizard of Oz. I had always found Liza to be an anti-celebrity of sorts. As an insecure kid, I recognized in her a certain desperation. I later read that the film had begun shooting on June 10, 1969, which was Judy Garland’s birthday. Garland died a couple of weeks later on June 22. Liza was criticized in the press for a nude scene that was done in a cemetary for the film, so shortly after her mothers passing, 

I was here watching the Hollywood sausage being made and it wasn’t pretty. Still, I felt compelled to watch this Germanic sounding man wielding directorial power over this seemingly brutalized waif. I read the other day that Alec Baldwin said:  “Film is a directors medium- the director makes it into a movie.  The actor doesn’t make it into a movie. You’re like an ingredient in a salad”.  It just looked like the director was eccentrically making Liza put down a vase with a single rose in it with unending variations of force, as if to achieve a certain volume as it was slammed upon the table. It  seemed like a lost scene from Sunset Boulevard. We have all witnessed the overwrought Academy Awards moments: the “You like me, you really, really like me!”  gushing. Well it’s no wonder these show-dogs want their moments of recognition, if this is the nightmare of debasement, required for the constuction of celluloid dreams.  

What I was watching, I only just learned, (since finding the Youtube video from the movie which was titled “Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon”)  was essentially a “blocking” rehearsal.  Liza with a Z was alone in the room, wearing a shabby bathrobe. Preminger ordered her repeatedly to wordlessly traverse the hospital lobby and plop a vase containing a single rose on a table across the room. I don’t know how many times he ordered her to “do it again”, but it seemed like a cruel exercise to me. I watched this bit of absurdist theater, (which I remember to be a count of 37 takes…but I could be wrong) before I finally walked away as my discomfort became unbearable. I felt a toe-curling humiliation by proxy for Miss Minnelli. 

Years later I tried to watch the movie, but much like Minnelli’s other films, the Sterile Cuckoo and Cabaret, that came out around that time, I always felt embarrassed for her. I usually like  films about human pain and dysfunction- I can relate. I have always loved Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a revelation to me when I first saw it at seventeen.  In the Youtube video you see Minnelli approach two men sitting at a table and now, with the addition of scarring makeup, place the rose on the table in such an incidental manner that it seems even more strange that she was forced to “DO IT AGAIN”.. take after take.  

I’ve since witnessed the tedium and monotony of movie sets, but nothing that seemed so utterly degrading as that. I returned to my father’s hospital room to seek refuge from the pain of what I had just witnessed.  -Paul Moran

 

PART 2

john lydon

Lydon at Strawberries Records in Boston circa 1980

Regarding Johnny Rotten

Around 1980 I went to see Johnny Rotten (formerly of the Sex Pistols) aka John Lydon perform with his new band PIL (Public Image Limited) at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. It was a primitively elegant and thrilling concert. Lydon was still the master anti-showman. At one point he began to verbally attack the audience as the performance intentionally ground to a halt. Johnny, Jah Wobble, Keith Levine and the rest of the band quit the stage after only 45 minutes of play.

The audience booed themselves hoarse in the darkened theater. A spot light popped on, and a duck walking Lydon returned to the stage in an oversized suit jacket. Like the Hunchback of Bristol he perversely began picking up the objects that had been angrily thrown at the stage and placing them in his pockets. “Throw more money!” Lydon demanded. The band gradually resumed playing and the audience loved the provocation.

I was walking down a street in Austin with my wife Mary five months ago, when I heard a band playing in a downtown park. I said to Mary: “That band you hear is doing a really nice tribute to a group I saw 30 years ago called Public Image Limited”. We crossed the street and inquired as to who was playing. I was stunned that it was indeed PIL! I bribed a security guard (16 bucks) to let us both in to see the rest of the show. Lydon still had it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like a punk rock dream. One minute I was strolling along on a warm Austin evening, and the next I was having a flashback in real time.  -Paul Moran

MCLAREN & MEYER & ROTTEN VICIOUS & ME   By Roger Ebert

MRS. PARKER AND THE VICIOUS CIRCLE  By Roger Ebert

 

 

 

Updike began writing for the New Yorker at 22. “They accepted a light-verse poem, and then they took a story. Taking the story was very important to me because that was the New Yorker, and here I was on that Pennsylvania farm. I had once thought: how can you get from here to there? And now I had gotten there.” His first intention was to be a humorist – “I thought that was a very harmless thing to be” – and to join the suave Algonquin gang whose jokes had given him much pleasure and whose drawings he had traced in imitation. “But of course by the time I got there the gang was gone and the party was over. It’s sometimes said that cold war anxieties, atomic bomb anxieties, killed humor, though I don’t really buy it. But anyway, the time when facetious writing could attract real talents was over, and the talents were looking elsewhere.

 

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Day Tripper

 

 

 

 

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DORIS DAY ON ACID… 

“Dave played one song that Doris Day had popularized and when someone snickered as he introduced it Dave said, “Don’t undercut Doris. She was right there with Sly back in the day.” we weren’t sure if we heard him right so after the show Peggi and I asked him after the show if he said  “Sly”. He said, Oh yeah. She was right there, hanging with Sly, doing LSD, the whole trip.”    

On the intersection of Doris Day, Sly Stone, Charles Manson,Terry Melcher (who was targeted by the Manson family), and the song “Que Sera Sera” (which was a hit for Day and a song Stone covered on his album, Fresh. Sly Stone Interview:

CD: You were signed to Epic, right? And Terry Melcher was [Doris Day's} son, and an A&R guy at Columbia.

SS: Right. He'd come over and be at my house, and I'd go over to his house. And sometimes Charles Manson would be there.

CD: He was trying to get signed by Terry, right?

SS: Well, he was going to kill Terry. That's what he was going to do.

CD: I don't think Terry knew that yet, right?

SS: Yeah, I think he did.

CD: Really? He was afraid of him?

SS: Yeah, he knew. He knew he was going to do something to him. But I didn't know any of this.

CD: Wow. So you were at Doris Day's house?

SS: Yeah, I started going over there to play songs until this guy'd [Manson] come in, and we’d have a little disagreement — and I’d win. (laughs.) I didn’t have any idea who it was — til later on.”

 

Paul McCartney Interviewed 87 Year old Doris Day at Her Home in Carmel California: They Talked about her first album in 20 years

 

 

 

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Hiding In Plain Sight

Hiding Among The..

 

A Brief Survey of Famous Author’s Unpublished Books

 

 

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JOHN HOYER UPDIKE RIP

A Toast to the Visible World: Remembering John Updike  By David Updike

 

JU Boy and his Dog

“Christianity isn’t looking for a rainbow. If it were … we’d pass out opium at services. We’re trying to serve God, not be God” .

- John Updike

JU Hoops

“And in fact there is a color, a quiet but tireless goodness that things at rest, like a brick wall or a small stone, seem to affirm.”

 - John Updike

JU Skating

We “skate upon an intense radiance we do not see because we see nothing else” - John Updike

I beseech you to look

 

Mary 74

Mary, June 10, ’74      John Updike’s first wife Mary had Chicago roots

Buttons etc.

His Book

 

“Cosmically, I seem to be of two minds. The power of materialist science to explain everything — from the behavior of the galaxies to that of molecules, atoms and their sub-microscopic components — seems to be inarguable and the principal glory of the modern mind. On the other hand, the reality of subjective sensations, desires and — may we even say — illusions, composes the basic substance of our existence, and religion alone, in its many forms, attempts to address, organize and placate these. I believe, then, that religious faith will continue to be an essential part of being human, as it has been for me.” – John Updike

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Happy Birthday! March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009 (aged 76)

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       ”Curt Schilling as a lad”

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_NEW“The late John Updike was a better writer than anyone you are reading right now. If you have not read this book [2009's My Father's Tears], read this book, then everything else by John Updike. If I have not made myself clear, read lots of things by John Updike.” Conan O’Brien  (Harvard Lampoon President  ‘84 on John Hoyer Updike, Lampoon President ‘54)

 

John Updike’s Shillington Pennsylvania

 

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The Conan O’Brien and John Updike ’80s Buddy Comedy That Almost Was

 

When Amis met Updike …

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Casa D’Amour

love_11Not only do fictional characters have to be supplied with faces, life histories, speech rhythms, and psychologies; they must have houses to live in….A fiction can scarcely exist, however surreal and minimal, that does not involve some construction business….The houses we build in our fiction need not conform to a floor plan—indeed, the reader’s capacity for visualizing spatial relations is feeble—but they must conform to a life plan, feeding the characters’ senses whenever these turn outward, confirming social place with their walls and accoutrements, echoing in authentic matter the spiritual pattern the author intends to trace. A house, having been willfully purchased and furnished, tells us more than a body, and its description is a foremost resource of the art of fiction. Every novelist becomes, to a degree, an architect—castles in air!—and a novel itself is, of course, a kind of dwelling, whose spaces open and constrict, foster display or concealment, and resonate from room to room.”     

    –Updike, “Fictional Houses,” Architectural Digest, January 1985

 

Pop artist Robert Indiana created one of the most iconic pieces of Pop Art in the 1960’s. What started out as a Christmas card commissioned by the New York Museum of Modern Art, caught on big time in the groovy culture of it’s day.  The LOVE image would become as ubiquitous as the Smiley Face of the 1970’s. It proved to be so appealing to a mass audience that it diminished Indiana’s reputation as a serious artist. Indiana was close friends with Andy Warhol, and for a time it was unclear as to who was more likely to succeed in the art world.

Indiana didn’t sign the  LOVE image as he felt it marred it’s beauty.  He also neglected to have it copyrighted. The image became as free as the concert at Woodstock, and was widely copied. The LOVE image became refrigerator magnet kitsch that diminished the artist’s credibility in the eyes of many critics. The frequent use of words and numbers in his works alienated many others. LOVE later became a stamp that made the Post Office 25 million dollars.  In 2008, the Obama campaign commissioned Indiana to create a HOPE sculpture based upon the LOVE design, that was unveiled at the Democratic National Convention.

     Robert Indiana was born in 1928, in the state of Indiana where he was christened Robert Clark. The family suffered economic hardship during the Depression and were forced to move many times before Robert was 17. Indiana did a project called “Houses” in which he documented his many childhood homes.  John Updike acquired this original series. 

Here, enfolded in a MOMA card by Jasper Johns, are the Indiana and Katz photographs of the childhood homes of the legendary Pop artist, Robert Indiana. This particular set belonged to JU  - Paul Moran

 

Houses:Robert Indiana  Indiana 19-20

 

Indiana 1-6    Indiana Houses 6-12

 

Indiana 12-18    Indiana 1-6 flipped

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JOHN BARTH: LITERARY ASSASSIN

last images_0013last images_0015John Barth Paper

John Barth’s “Road” stood apart from the earnest search for holy transcendence pursued by Jack Kerouac. Kerouac with his ultimate narrator driven narrative was inspired by a Catholic desire to remain in some sense, pure. Barth was pursing a sense of radical literary honesty. Like Zen painting, Kerouac left his first impressions unrevised while he travelled Route 66. Barth’s endlessly revised road-trips existed within a plastic cul de sac.  Both were Beat in the sense  of a world weariness and literary exhaustion. Kerouac strove to overcome the “grinding meat-wheel” of existence through a life lived like a lithium deprived, teeth gnashing, methedrine laced Dean Moriarty. Barth coined the term “cosmopsis” in The End of the Road—a “state of universal comprehension, universal weariness, universal futility”  His world view was more darkly sardonic than Kurt Vonnegut’s, but slightly less so than William Burroughs. He created a pretense and struck a blow for meta-fiction, against the so called realist method preferred by Updike. Barth compared Updike to the prosaic and pastoral paintings of fellow Pennsylvanian Andrew Wyeth. I think it was a polite way of describing Updike’s work as quaint. Who knows? Barth was as disingenuous as the mirrors in a funhouse. A recent article in the Huffington Post on reality manipulator Karl Rove has Barth’s hero, the fabulist, Jorge Luis Borges on Rove’s short list of literary favorites. I presume George Orwell and Sun-Tzu would understand.        - Paul Moran

In 1967 he wrote a highly influential and to some controversial essay considered a manifesto of postmodernism, The Literature of Exhaustion (first printed in the Atlantic 1967). It depicts literary realism as a “used-up” tradition; Barth’s description of his own work, which many thought illustrated a core trait of postmodernism, is “novels which imitate the form of a novel, by an author who imitates the role of author”.

The essay was widely considered a statement of “the death of the novel (compare with Roland Barthes‘s “The Death of the Author”). Barth has since insisted that he was merely making clear that a particular stage in history was passing, and pointing to possible directions from there. He later (1980) wrote a follow-up essay, “The Literature of Replenishment”, to clarify the point. -Wikipedia

“Here fornication, adultery, even rape, yea murder itself (not to mention self-deception, treason, blasphemy, whoredom, duplicity, and willful cruelty to others) are not only represented for our delectation but at times approved of and even recommended! On aesthetic grounds, too (though they pale before the moral), the work is objectionable; the rhetoric is extreme, the conceit and action wildly implausible, the interpretation of history shallow and patently biased, the narrative full of discrepancies and badly paced, at times tedious, more often excessive; the form, like the style, is unorthodox, unsymmetrical, inconsistent” - Anonymous “editor” from Giles Goat Boy’s preface.

 

 

The attacks upon the inbred critical and academic assumptions of what constituted literary and visual art ran concurrently in the 1960’s. John Barth’s work attempts to blow up the novel as a pseudo realist, linear, belief suspending, narrator driven device. He portrays it as an exhausted exercise. Barth’s meta-fiction has much in common with William Burroughs, Richard Brautigan, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, the Catholic social/ semiotic critic Marshall McLuhan and of course Jorge Luis Borges. 

Giles The Goat Boy by Barth was another assault on aspiring realist writers. The document presented here is the seminal surviving literary artifact of the manifesto for postmodernism. It is the Literature of Exhaustion essay, prior to it’s publication in the Atlantic Monthly. His analysis of Jorge Luis Borges re-imagining of Cervante’s Don Quixote, is a signal part of the historical Fair Use debate that continues to this day (as in this blog.) The most prominent and global recent visual example being the Shepherd Fairey Obama Hope Poster.-PM

 

 

 

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God and Man in Pennsylvania

“At first you will want to turn away from Him. Then you may find Him a silent unresisting target for your ridicule; but if you come to know Him, you will begin to see beyond the perversion of his form and discover the beauty in the beast.” – From the Theatrical Trailer for the Elephant Man by David Lynch

Rabbit Royalty

RABBIT RUN BY JOHN UPDIKE

The book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his—or any other—generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty—even, in a sense, human hard-heartedness and divine Grace. Though his flight from home traces a zigzag of evasion, he holds to the faith that he is on the right path, an invisible line toward his own salvation as straight as a ruler’s edge.

John Updike, Andy Warhol and David Lynch share more than the influence of Pennsylvania. They have been described as religious artists, yet they offended religious sensibilities with their graphic depictions of sex. Their visions at times portray our existence without the inclusion of a loving and merciful God as broken beyond repair.  Prior to the passionate intellectual arguments made by Christopher Hitchens  for atheism and anti-theism, the PR person for Godlessness in the 1960’s was the singularly unattractive figure of Madeline Murray O’Hare. John Updike was unimpressed with her arguments.  Militant declarations of Godlessness were, for him, an unimaginative and dreary buzz-kill.  

Regarding Updike’s writing contemporaries, Kerouac remained a Catholic. His sacramental use of  speed and booze proved to be a debilitating path to enlightenment. Less faith based figures like Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson made heroic literary gestures, stoically and quixotically charging against the random motions of the idiot wind. Their long pose, relied upon adventure and individualism for their spiritual fulfillment, and ended with the final punctuation of a shotgun blast. Ultimately they succumbed to despair, or perhaps performed an auto de fe, like the existential protest of a burning monk.

Updike described his Christian faith as a small spiritual comfort: “It helps…but not too much”.  He said that the pleasures of American culture and entertainment, made an impressive attempt to fill that void as people drifted away from their church. In its place, they would attend the cathedral like cinemas of the past. The iconographic piety of the saints would be eclipsed by the glamour of movie stars. 

Updike, Warhol and Lynch portrayed the emptiness of a world in which  faith has been supplanted by the lone pursuit of pleasure and materialism. Warhol photographed celebrities like an alien anthropologist studying the perversity of show dogs. He held up a mirror to show stardom and materialistic consumer culture as compelling as well as meaningless, repetitive and ugly.

David Lynch’s bleak visions of life portray a Godless existence, almost too painful and absurd to watch as a form of entertainment. Where is our refuge? Many of us have become so repelled by the lies and betrayals of churchmen, that we have abandoned all confidence in the Divine Intelligence usually referred to as God. In it’s place, some have settled for an art-deco spiritualism of esoterica and parlor magic. This is understandable. Religion has always offered an endless array of cruel, crass and ludicrous methods of achieving salvation.

Communism and Fascism, as Ronald Reagan put it, were  ”the focus of evil in the modern world”. Make no mistake, that focus has shifted.  After 911, and the methodical sexual torture of children, it is religion that now holds the title as the reigning champion of evil. It remains difficult to take consolation in any liturgical rite. The Church is in utter darkness. The sins of an institution premised upon forgiveness, have become unforgivable.

For reasons beyond my understanding, I still go to Mass and Communion. I pray that doesn’t make me complicit. I have left the door ajar. I guess it is my weak attempt to be  faithful to the promises of a loving and merciful God. I  still desire to belong to the faith as described and lived by my parents. My anger at the Church makes me militant to remain.  It does not belong to them. I take their betrayals personally. They had been entrusted to protect something that is mine.  – Paul Moran

 

Andy Warhol, Gay and Catholic

 

How Philadelphia Inspired David Lynch To Make “Eraserhead”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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