The blog of author Dennis Cooper

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5 books I read recently & loved: Joey Truman Donkey, Fanny Howe London-Rose : Beauty Will Save the World, Clay AD Holy Bodies, Rene Ricard God with Revolver, David Nutt Summertime in the Emergency Room

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‘I mean, I finished the final installment of Donkey last night. Just under the wire. The Publisher stood outside Beaver Haus with a whip. “Write like the wind!” She would yell. Then snap the whip. I mean, I locked the door so she couldn’t come inside so eventually she left, but still. That was kind of rude. I mean, this is good. FINALLY! Here we are, what? I wrote the thing back in 2020? December? And then it has been going out every month for 13 months. I mean, I am very glad I didn’t decide to just send out the short story for the last two parts. I mean, I think having alternate endings kind of makes a point. I mean, if the idea is that the thing is allegory. I mean, to kind of prove that no matter how you end the thing it is always going to be the same. I mean, Jayboo saying that the goods should be a time machine, that is the only ending that wouldn’t work. Or maybe not? Maybe Donkey wins the lottery or something? Goes on to become president? I mean, whatever. Not that most of you even know what I am talking about. I mean, shame. Here I am, writing like the wind and does anyone sign up for the serial? I mean, a few of you, but if you can get the milk for free, am I right? Like that old bridesmaids chestnut about marriage.

‘Talked to PegLeg for a while today on the phone. Bad times in Wyoming at the moment. Those fuckers have really lost their fucking minds. It really sucks. They already sucked, but now they suck so bad that there should be a travel warning to that fucking state. I mean, I seriously worry about G using they/them pronouns. I mean, not in general, but in August when we go out there. I mean, it was scary for me growing up and I have just a sliver of queerness. And they still chased me down in their trucks and beat me up. Well, they would have beaten me up, but I outran the idiots. But still. I mean, I am going to need to be on high alert. Like maybe no cruising Main in Worland. I mean, I don’t even know. I mean, part of me is joking, but when I actually think about it I am very nervous. I grew up around that shit. G did not. And things are getting so out of control in these places that I wouldn’t put it past a group of Wyoming asshole teenagers to hunt queer kids down just to beat them up. I wouldn’t. I mean, Worland is something out of Nazi Germany circa 1930’s at this point. American flags up and down the Main street. Not that that is special in America, but it is unnerving. And they all really do believe all the lies. All the propaganda. And since they are so insulated from the outside world they will very much see G as a threat. I mean, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.’ — Joey Truman

 

Joey Truman Site
Joey Truman @ Whiskey Tit
Joey Truman @ instagram
Joey Truman @ Substack
Buy/subscribe to ‘Donkey’

 

Joey Truman Donkey
Whiskey Tit

‘Don’t get me wrong, but work is a four letter word.

‘No matter how hard you try to avoid it, it is unavoidable.

‘In his new serial writing project, Donkey, Joey Truman manifests a bizarro literary sitcom as sexy romp as meditation on being trapped in the working class with no way out.

‘Starting when you sign up: 14 months of an intense journey of self-reflection and inertia mailed to you monthly!’ — Whiskey Tit

Excerpt

Extras


FEB 17 Reading Contest


Screed City Radio Intro

 

 

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London-rose is the sort of story in which very little happens, and in which the things that do accrue profound immensity. The barebones plot is as follows: a woman working unhappily as an error-corrector travels from London around the UK to assess whether the grading systems of various institutions operate equivalently to those in the United States. After visiting Buchenwald with a professor she encounters by happenstance, she considers quitting her job, tries unsuccessfully to do so, and then, finally, succeeds. Along the way are detours: to a poet’s home in Wales, to Paris “to see what it felt like,” to “Dublin, Cork, Galway, Scotland, Lancaster, Birmingham, Warwick.” Untethered any longer to the mundanity of her capitalist exploitation, the narrator invokes an amorphous revolution, one which is “borderless. . . . anti-nationalist, a revolution based on an emotion, not an imperialist idea. . . . Resistance, abolition, eternity.”

‘As the narrator sloughs off the humdrum constrictions of her life, she imagines herself as becoming increasingly “transparent”; unlike the company interns she encounters—whose early rebelliousness will only be incorporated into the system—it is her “escape from this pattern” which facilitates the birth of the utopian vision. Before this, in her error-correcting work, it had seemed to the narrator that “certain standards could not be shared across borders.” A central preoccupation of London-rose is the distortion of translation, the likelihood that language is categorically insufficient in transporting truth. The novel’s title itself is the result of the narrator’s misreading of a sign for “Lansdowne Park” as London-rose—the signifiers are fallible, prone to other interpretive hiccups and possibilities. The narrator likens herself to the ninth century neo-Platonist John Scotus Eriugena, who imagined all beingness as a sequence of hierarchic declensions from God; all things would return, eventually, to a state of nonbeing. Events curl back into themselves and recur. How do we transmit our reality? The narrator asks why “we need a good vocabulary so badly, especially spoken.” But how else, otherwise, to connect?

‘That words generate misfirings rather than solutions for many of our most vital imaginative, spiritual, and political concerns is a charge Howe has circled for decades. In 1998’s Nod, the novel’s heroine, Cloda, asks from within a madhouse whether “silence is the depth of hearing,” and berates her doctor, who “resist[s] hearing my interpretations of my own problems because I don’t use your jargon.” In the essay “Person, Place, and Time,” from her 2009 memoir The Winter Sun, she asks: “How could a person access the language that is common to all beings, if there really is such a thing?” In London-rose the narrator believes that “to pray without moving your lips is the highest aspiration.” The invocation which is unspoken hews nearest to God. Words only get in the way. We should long to be as birds, who know that borders “can’t keep voices in,” or sheep, who “carried languages across borders in their curls—Arabic, Scots.” The kingdom of animals is not beholden to unnatural divisions; perhaps we must look to them in our dream of a common language.’ — Jamie Hood, The Baffler

 

The Irreconcilable Fanny Howe
On Fanny Howe
INTERVIEW WITH FANNY HOWE
Fanny Howe Makes Sense of Beginnings and Endings
Buy ‘London-rose’

 

Fanny Howe London-Rose : Beauty Will Save the World
Divided Publishing

It feels we aren’t reading prose but language that oscillates between liturgy and prayer.’ — Eugene Lim

‘Written in 1994 when Fanny Howe was doing itinerant work in the UK, London-rose is an early post-work novel that describes the loneliness and confusion of digital life and perpetual motion. Moving from personal narrative to philosophy to poetry, Howe previsages the alienation and malaise of the 21st century workplace. London-rose is a meditation on failure, capitalism, disapearance and force.’ — DP

Excerpt

I followed a small line of people into the bus depot. Red buses, destinations named. Wet sweat in London smells like spaghetti sauce. The buses soak it up and hand it back. I was near the steps inside, hesitated and felt the happiness open doors in moving vehicles can bring.

The professor stood behind me. I felt him before I noticed him. My back was my front. I felt him as if I could see him while I was facing the other way. I didn’t dare look while we found our seats, his breath beside me for the long tedious ride to Stansted Airport. While I twisted off my shoes to kick them under the seat, I stole a glance at him and soon we were talking but not face to face. We spoke with our profiles. The bus was warm and comforting. Only small murmurs came from the seats behind. We spoke low in our throats. Who was he? We had made this plan to meet on this day and ride. But he looked different than he did before. All the way back in time. Caricature began in caves. First the bones and bent of animals, then weapons, then humans. Profiles. It was as if full faces were off-limits, too demanding, unless pounded into stone statues.

I asked when a bad drawing becomes a caricature.

I suppose when people become angry at art. Or look too closely at a face.

Hard edges have made civilization ugly. Blocks. A neurotic architecture sees riots, protests, madness, bodies falling, and responds with cement ramps, sealed windows, elevators that go sideways.

“Then we will invent new roses / roses of capitals with petals of squares.” (Vladimir Mayakovsky)

The coziness of the bus, its quiet engine, and outside a gray muffler of a sky, our motion—slow—made me think, Please, hope, don’t stop! Don’t come to an end!

I let myself look at him straight. He was one of those pannational men with lines and shadows on his skin. He was thin and serious, mouth sensual, eyes lidded and luminous, and his hands he held clasped before him, as if in prayer. I supposed he would be serious in his bones but the laugh lines in his cheeks were not stern. When he turned, his gaze stayed on my mouth rather than my eyes. Our minds were equal, we had nothing to say. It was strange how sure I was that I had not really seen him before. He made perfect sense to me now. Had I mistaken him for someone else? Eyes so bright belong to an artist, a warrior, or a monk.

I felt shame at wishing we were the kind of friends who could touch on a bus, hold hands, lean in and whisper. My cheeks felt hot from the radiator under us. His were a pale red too. Celibacy is not cerebral but blushes like a salamander and intensifies all colors.

Petals of roses, cement squares, we spoke in more depth of why we were going where we were. Don’t worry, he said, we are only going to spend one day and one night—in Weimar. Not in the camp. Those horrors belong to others now, somewhere out in the world.

He dropped his head and literally shuddered with a sharp laugh.

Extras


Reading by Fanny Howe, 11.21.13


Lecture by Fanny Howe, 11.22.13

 

 

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‘I’ve been on immunomodulating drugs for 11 years now. The medicine tells the cells called “natural killers” to stop killing, and my inflammatory-responding T cells are suppressed. Autoimmunity means the immune system attacks itself—a confusion of the boundary between self and other. Its strange to fathom that my body has alchemically grown and changed irrevocably from my drugs; and then funny to then again realize that this is the case of all bodies all the time (human or non-human) — we’re not a closed system — on the contrary, things are going in and out and this changes us always irrevocably. Its called living. Even our immune system’s ability to adapt and learn is a vital tool which scientists believe was taken from the DNA of a virus caught by a human long ago down the evolutionary chain. I think through this writing I’m trying to undo some of the binaries that live within me which are a wholly inadequate story of being ill: infecting/infected natural/unnatural toxic/non-toxic pure/polluted healthy/ill well/unwell…

‘I can theoretically talk the talk of undoing this stuff but its another thing to actually internalise into the body/mind (years and years of work now)— for example, as far as my medication is concerned I still find myself labelling it “unnatural” and stigmatising my body as “polluted”.

‘This is all based on my teenage beliefs, bolstered by being a young scifi nerd and stumbling upon some Anarcho-primitivist theory in my late teens, that if civ would collapse I would be shit out of luck because my body was dependent on prescription drugs. I felt this as a weakness, and I was sure that if this happened I would just die; I didn’t see any sick or disabled people living out the apocalypse in any narratives around me. If anything we were the first ones to go, usually quickly, as some kind of symbol that only the strong were gonna survive henceforth. Because of this in my teens I developed my own internalised story that I would die young. At some point as I crossed a boundary into my mid-twenties I realised that this wasn’t necessarily my trajectory, at least as imminently as I believed. As I’ve had a changing relationship to my health, expanded my reading to more supportive topics like disability justice, queer theory and feminist scifi writers, and seen the creative and caring tactics of activists spaces concerned and centring disability in their organising, I’ve slowly been able to challenge my internalised ideas around death from this period.

‘Though I still find this a pretty common fear from my sick and disabled friends, that we won’t survive the likely difficult years that are ahead. I think, in a larger way, its a problem of the social imagination around sickness, and a problem of a lack of language and space to describe and feel the body on our own terms, through our own narrative, through time.’ — Clay AD

 

Clay AD Site
sometimes the body is a satellite
Metabolize, If Able
Clay AD’s ceramics
Buy ‘Holy Bodies’

 

Clay AD Holy Bodies
Pilot Press

Holy Bodies is a peep hole, glory hole and sink hole forming a somatic stone soup of small proposals that together exalt the freedoms of body, mind and spirit through care, sex, jokes, destruction and transformation.’ — Pilot Press

‘Clay AD knows at an ancient and prescient level that, to quote from their book, ‘shit is all life’, but also that life is the shit, and the sunset, and the endgame. One for our immuno-suppressed comrades, shit theorists, pink salt throwers, and their lovers and friends, that is, I hope, everyone.’ — Isabel Waidner

Excerpt

Extras


I’m in Training Don’t Kiss Me #1


sun (everything’s on fire)

 

 

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‘Even from an early age Rene Ricard was famous in the Boston poetry community for his wild beauty, fierce intelligence, and fearsome wit. He dropped out of school after completing eighth grade because he knew more than his teachers, constantly correcting even his French teacher in class. Soon he embarked on an independent study program that largely involved seducing Harvard boys. When I visited Provincetown for the first time in the early 1970s, Rene was also famous there. Even when there were only 15 or 20 people who knew who he was, he was famous. It was an aura that surrounded him from the start.

‘Born at the marvelously antiquated-named Boston Lying-In Hospital (later Brigham and Women’s), Rene would always bristle when his birthplace was listed as New Bedford. In his day that was a considerable step down, despite the fact that in the 19th century New Bedford claimed the highest number of millionaires per capita in the U.S. (courtesy of the shipping and whaling trades). Rene grew up in Acushnet, which was also the name of the ship on which Herman Melville went to sea before writing Moby-Dick. He had an abiding love of Melville, and in his younger photos I always see Rene as Billy Budd, the sensitive youth fighting to survive in a claustrophobic environment full of Catholic torment, gratuitous violence, and sublimated homosexuality.

‘Rene told me the defining moment of his life was seeing a Warhol flower painting at the Boston ICA in 1966. “I sat in front of that painting for two hours and plotted out my entire life.” When Warhol came to Boston for the opening he shot several reels of the Chelsea Girls at the Cambridge apartment of Ed Hood, who was a close friend of Rene’s. Rene appears in the film, sitting silently on the bed, peeling and eating a grapefruit slowly enough to fill the 20-minute reel. I can say without irony the performance is riveting.

‘Unlike most poets who were happy to give readings and attend each other’s, Rene hated to do either, so his appearances were rare. When he did read he usually arrived at the last minute (extremely high) and left immediately after. He let it be known that for him poetry readings were poor and déclassé, and anything less than a fancy cocktail party on the Upper East Side was well below his dignity. There were, however, a few memorable readings, such as the one Rene shared with his then-boyfriend. Between the time the reading was booked and the evening it took place Rene and the young man had split up, and Rene had composed a long hate poem filled with the most embarrassing sexual details recounted in excruciating detail, which he recited with his friend’s parents sitting in the front row. This was typical of Rene: he was our Catullus, writing elegant and obscene poems of love and hate with brevity and dispatch. But maybe it was best to avoid him?’ — Raymond Foye

 

Rene Ricard Remembered
Dinner with Rene Ricard
Robert Pincus-Witten on Rene Ricard
The Rene Ricard Story Goes Dark
Buy ‘God with Revolver’

 

Rene Ricard God with Revolver
Editions Lutanie

God with Revolver is the re-issue of Rene Ricard’s second volume of poetry, originally published in 1989 as part of the Hanuman Books series. Dedicated to the dramatic experience of heartbreak, this collection assembled from poems composed over several years, seems to be written in a single breath. With its raw sincerity and wit, God with Revolver is a vibrant testament to 1980s New York that still speaks to its readers in all its intensity, poignancy, and emotional vulnerability.’ — Editions Lutanie

Excerpts





Extras


OIL KILLS POETS SPILL – Rene Ricard cam1


Rene Ricard ● A Simple Tribute

 

 

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‘A sentence in David Nutt’s hands turns into something ‘shiny and lethal to brandish’ in these fiercely imagined spaces where ‘even the ferns look nervous.’ Under house arrest, crazed by love or war, the freakishy wounded or self-wounding characters in these stories break their bonds for pharmaceutical relief, and we follow them in astonishment at their excess. Summertime in the Emergency Room is a remarkable debut collection of stories from a gifted writer.’ — Christine Schutt

‘When it comes to David Nutt, the only thing I love more than his sharp, inventive and seismically funny style is the deep humanity from which it springs. His is a brilliant and much needed voice in these sad, ridiculous times.’ — Sam Lipsyte

“Life has burned a hole in the pockets of Shaker, the aptly named up-and-at-’em down-and-outer wambling his way through the full spread of our present squalor in this ultravivid, live wire of a debut novel. Page after page, David Nutt shocks the language into a killingly original blaze.” — Gari Lutz

‘David Nutt’s Summertime in the Emergency Room contains stories that reveal the psychological truths of the human condition. Here are stories that are strange, heartbreaking, told with precision and delicacy that recalls such writers as Garielle Lutz and Mary Robison. The world shown here through Nutt’s eyes shows a writer with a deep and passionate understanding of language.’ — Brandon Hobson

”Do you ever think about how lucky we are? To be alive and awake in this thrilling historical epoch, just moments before the apocalyptic collapse?’ This collection of otherworldly stories reads like a hallucinogenic negative print of the world we are inhabiting today. Sick adolescents stall on unfinished algebra equations that speak to larger enigmas. They burn ants with magnifying lenses, smear them like sauce onto a slide, and patiently wait for the red guts to bake under a microscope’s glare. Adults are stitched up, half dead, or generally so checked out that they are never to be trusted. Molars get extracted with pliers and sadness gets sucked out with straws. Pee gets archived in soda bottles. Nutt reveals the ‘dark strain of lonely,’ one you want to live in even when it hurts because it’s a comforting through line to a very contemporary feeling of solitude.’ — Chiara Barzini

‘Elegant, manic, deeply attentive. The reader may be struck, at first, by a dark undertow (think Gary Lutz meets Grace Paley) but as the language teaches us how to read it, The Great American Suction reveals itself to be a celebratory comic romp from a big-hearted writer.’ — George Saunders

 

David Nutt Site
“ENJOY YOUR MUTINY, CAPTAIN”
David Nutt @ goodreads
Interview with David Nutt: Between Exhaustion and Innovation
Buy ‘Summertime in the Emergency Room’

 

David Nutt Summertime in the Emergency Room
Calamari Press

‘Nine stories about befuddled loners, estranged friends, and detonated families, all hobbled by various acts of self-sabotage, yet still they flounder forth, grasping at every loose thread as if it were a lifeline, only to unravel themselves instead.’ — Calamari

‘Witty, exacting, and full of exuberant prose, SUMMERTIME IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM is one of those high-velocity collections in which every story swerves and surprises. It is oddly exhilarating to witness Nutt’s characters careen and stagger through their darkest moments and worst decisions, their voices full of heat. This is a stylish, blisteringly inventive book.’ — Kimberly King Parsons

Excerpt

Our Lady of Bleak Hearts

Then came the crash: the windshield exploded, the airbag detonated, and most of his mouth’s silver was knocked across the minivan console. Afterwards Shaver remembered soft-stroking the airbag’s strange polymer fabric and thinking: Some day they are going to colonize the moon with this stuff. His vehicle had just overturned on an embankment and skidded a solemn furrow through the field, a lonely range of dirt and cactus and scrub life, where his wife and son now stood, sort of rooted to the parched earth, heads bloodied, faces blank. Shaver crawled through the broken windshield, sluggish as a drugged lion. Slowly more of him cohered. He spat another silver crown and tried to regain his land legs, relearning to walk across all that brown flatness. The side mirror had been sheared away. He absently picked it up and held it to his face. His face was calm, spotless. Shaver looked up in time to see his wife struggling to jimmy free the slim rod of metal wedged stubbornly in her forehead.
“Darling,” she said, both hands tugging the bloody thing. “We’re dead.”

*

Most mornings she loiters at the kitchen pantry, her hair soft as peach fur underneath the wig, expression vacant, her makeup a kind of savage kabuki.
“Anything alive in there?” Shaver asks.
“I’m looking,” she replies into the pantry.
“It’s empty.”
His wife turns to him and forces a semi-smile. Kabuki is too much a compliment. Her skin has been rather artlessly shellacked with a garish rainbow palette.
“I don’t think I’ve fully mastered the mascara yet,” Shaver admits.
Both of them, husband and wife, are wincing in perfect unison. She wrenches her face so hard into a smile her head shakes free of her wig. He picks the mangle of blonde off the floor and cradles it.
“Baby,” Shaver says. “I like your head bald.”
She blinks at him.
“It’s total hardcore punk rock,” he tells her. “You remember hardcore punk rock?”
“It feels like private fur.”
“Primate, like apes?”
“Private,” she says and touches her loins to the kitchen table, kneading herself a little too vigorously. Shaver gently takes her by the elbow and twists her back to the pantry, holding her there, his head against hers. Both of them stare into the barren shelves.
“It hugs me,” she says.

*

Their son, Renaldo, is roasting red ants on the sidewalk. The boy is not really named Renaldo, but there were already eight other Tobbies in his kindergarten—enough to form a small nation, annex sovereign neighbors, key the nukes—before Shaver pulled him out of school altogether. The boy hasn’t uttered a single meaningful word since the day he was strapped to the child-sized backboard and glided into the ambulance sneakers first. The paramedics had flashed a penlight in the boy’s eyes, and the boy opened his mouth. Everybody leaned in. “DumDum,” the boy whispered, and then he was gone.
The accident bestowed an unmistakable mystique upon the boy. People see a pale speechless child with a damaged brain and a broken mother and they automatically tilt into maudlin sympathies. They want to smother the kid with schmaltz, rescue and beatify him before puberty invades. They don’t understand his languagelessness has made him a solitary figure in the household, aloof and judgmental, stalking the high corridors of authority, more father than Shaver could ever be.
The child has jig-stomped the ants to death and smeared them like sauce on a slide. Now he patiently waits for the red guts to bake under his microscope’s atomizing glare. Shaver doesn’t have the heart—his own, his son’s, anyone’s—to tell him he’s doing it wrong, that normal boys his age fry the small buggers alive with magnifying glasses. The whole stomp-smear-slide operation is needlessly complex. Shaver’s heart: It could still be somewhere in that field, a runty pink organ, hiking his insurance premiums with every lame twitch.
Shaver lays flat across the sidewalk under the withering gaze of his son.
“Me next,” he says.
“Fix me,” he says.
Shaver scrounges a couple nickels from his shirt pocket and balances them on his closed eyes—silver holes, lidless, and unblinking—and he smiles his dark mouth up at the boy.

(continued)

Extras

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. ‘The Trip’ is big fun. Wow, but pretty harsh about Anne Heche, man. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, definitely do not take LSD if you think it’s evil. *flashing red lights* Best to think of LSD as an opportunity to listen to your all time favorite song for the first time. Or something. Well, yes indeed, about your uni’s ill and counterproductive approach to teaching psychology. But you won that one sided battle with flying colors. My uni was good if you had a strong idea of what you were interested in and wanted to do. Students who didn’t have that basically just half-attended classes and smoked tons of pot for four years. And the school seemed totally fine with that. But like my … I don’t remember what they called it, the faculty member who was my officially assigned guidance counsellor, was this man whose whole office was full of sand with no furniture and lots of burning incense and mandalas on the walls, and, when you met with him, you had to sit in the lotus position and meditate for a few minutes before he would talk to you. Fun in a way, but not very motivating. I suppose you’re very right about memes’ creators and stars. Interesting. I know, right, about my yesterday’s love being the easy and completely impossible solution to almost everything. Sigh. Today is supposedly the last day of our current heatwave so I’ll assign love the simple task of having convinced Parisian shopkeepers and apartment building designers of the value of installing air-conditioners years ago, G. ** Bill, Good old SF where they have long known sluttiness takes many forms. I might get to see ‘Hotel’ this weekend. I found it. If I do, I’ll report back. Have a delightfully unexpected next couple of days. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. I have that Plastikman record with the inlay! Back in LA, but still. And, in addition to its excellent packaging, it’s a terrific album from his peak period, if you like his thing. I even know about that Texas arrest. Good times! ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Oh, well, that’s a start: the Imperial Triumphant merch. Not that scoring liquid LSD is exactly a picnic these days unless I’m missing something. No, I have no idea what proof was required. It’s true that I would imagine opening one’s Grinder account and maybe sharing one’s up-to-the-minute chats would be sufficient. Resnais retrospective: nice. One can never see ‘Providence’ too many times in my opinion. Glad you’re feeling much better. I hope for nothing but continued upswinging through the weekend. ** Okay. I read the five books up there recently, loved them, and I am recommending them you, which is basically just a reiteration of the post’s title, but c’est la vie, and see you on Monday.

Galerie Dennis Cooper presents … Mark McCloud’s LSD Blotter Art Collection *

* (restored)
—-
bom_detail

 

‘Albert Hofmann (11 January 1906 – 29 April 2008) was a Swiss scientist who was the first person to synthesize, ingest, and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a drug that came to be synonymous with the 50s and 60s beatnik and hippy generations in The USA and worldwide. LSD was legal in the beginning including in The USA until it became illegal in California on October 6, 1966, and other states and countries soon followed.

‘While it was legal LSD was distributed mostly in liquid form and as pills, capsules, or sometimes dropped onto sugar cubes. It was available for purchase from Sandoz laboratories in Switzerland, where Hofmann worked and many medical applications were under research.

 


Albert Hofmann holding a Timothy Leary Blotter Art Sheet

 

‘After the US government made LSD illegal people continued to use LSD, but it was manufactured and distributed through underground illegal channels. A popular way of distributing LSD was called “blotter”. It involved saturating absorbent blotting paper with liquid LSD. Later the papers were perforated along the lines of a grid so that doses could be torn apart easily, and small symbolic pictures were added to the paper to provide clues as to the origin of the LSD that paper contained. Not surprisingly, considering the substance it was used to distribute, the symbolic pictures gradually became creative and amazing designs, later gaining independent existence any many designs have never been used to actually distribute LSD.

‘The guy who originally gave space to blotter art and identified it as an art form was Mark McCloud, a San Francisco based artist and former art professor. His collection – part of which you can find on his website, Blotter Barn – started in the 70s and today he has over 400 framed prints and tens of thousands (!!!) of unframed sheets, constituting the largest collection of blotter art in the world.

 


Original Perforating machine

 

‘In the early days blotter art could only be obtained with LSD already on it. McCloud bought these sheets, matted and framed them, and hung them like fine art. It was initially quite difficult for McCloud to collect the undipped (and hence legal) sheets of art, so he’d have to venture out into the underground and ask dealers if they could get him the same image on an undipped sheet, but over time he won people’s trust and managed to get hold of undipped sheets. Later on he also began to produce his own images and his collection has shifted to a completely legal blotter art archive.

‘That did not prevent him from experiencing troubles with law enforcements agencies and he was prosecuted in 2003. After a two-week-long trial in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., McCloud was acquitted by a local jury of felony charges of conspiracy to distribute LSD. A guilty verdict could have carried a penalty of life in prison. Federal drug authorities spent millions in their effort to nail McCloud, 47, conducting phone taps, monitoring his mail and conducting surveillance from neighboring apartments before the SWAT-style raid by an FBI-DEA task force in early 2000. Police seized his collection of almost 400 framed LSD blotters, which range from a print of Peter Rabbit from the early 1970s to a recent example from Europe showing two lesbian aliens. Authorities also seized 33,000 sheets of McCloud’s own blotter art printed on rag paper. None of the material had any traces of the drug.

 


Mark McCloud in the late ’60s

 

‘During the trial, assistant U.S. attorney Mike Oliver argued that McCloud used his role as an artist to distribute LSD through the country. McCloud’s attorney, Doron Weinberg of San Francisco, contended that McCloud wasn’t responsible for the use of his prints by others as a vehicle for illegal drugs. The case was tried in Kansas City because blotter paper linked to McCloud and impregnated with LSD was seized in a 1999 raid there. Among McCloud’s defense witnesses were New York art critic Carlo McCormick, who told the court that McCloud’s work is part of an American folk-art tradition. McCloud’s blotter art has been exhibited at Psychedelic Solution in New York and at the San Francisco Art Institute.

‘Another person that took blotter art to a new dimension was Thomas Lyttle, who after a meeting with Mark McCloud, started my his own collection of undipped blotter art. After collecting for a while, he started to approach people central to psychedelic culture, such as Albert Hofmann, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey and many others, and asked them to sign limited edition, hand-numbered blotter art prints. These then were matted and framed per museum display specs, and sold. This was the beginning of what has been termed “vanity” blotter art. That is, blotter art which has been produced solely for art’s sake as a collectible, and which was never intended to be dipped with any drugs. Some autographed vanity blotter art has been advertised for sale for thousands of Dollars.’ — trancentral.tv

 


Timothy Leary & Mark McCloud, 1994

 

Media

 

 

Further

 

 

 

Interview
from SFAQ & VICE

 

 

So Mark, you collect tabs of acid as artwork. Why?
Mark McCloud: This happened because I have an interest from my childhood in small, well-made things. When I was growing up in Argentina they put out these little books and the one I remember most clearly was called “Weaponry of the Second World War.” You would buy a stick of gum and inside would be all these little images to collect. We tried filling the books with them to entertain ourselves.

How old were you when you arrived in California?
Well, I was raised in Buenos Aires until I was 12 and then sent to a boarding school in Claremont. Two weeks after I got here, Frank Zappa’s Freak Out came out, just to place the time [meaning it was 1966]. So I became an American eighth grader reading The Doors of Perception and doing pot, then mescaline when that came on.

And how old were you when you discovered acid?
I was 13. It was in Santa Barbara at a very nice hotel on the beach. Me and a friend had our own cabin and we ordered some cubes from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, which was Owsley [Stanley’s] outlet. The experience was very full-bodied even though I was nervous, and I just liked acid for its humility and educational effects. I was blind, but then I could see.

When did you start collecting it?
Oh, that was when the first imagery came out. See, when acid first came out it was just drops on paper. This was in 1968, and it was the first commercially available acid. It came out of New York City, and it was done by this great underground chemist called Ghost-may he rest in peace-and they were called five-by-twenties. They were five drops by 20 on a little card that was the same size as autochrome film, and it came out wrapped in Kodak packaging.

And when did the first illustrated tabs appear?
In the 70s. There’s a whole vignette of imagery that appears throughout that era, and it’s usually on sheets of paper the same size as an LP so they could ship it dressed as a record. The first sheets would have a single image that would be divided up into the tabs, usually in a single color. They quickly became individual pictures, though, with great detail.

And how did you come to start framing them?
Well that’s another question about my rebirth. See, I was a very difficult 17-year-old. Hendrix had just died, so I took 300 mikes of orangesSunshine, and basically the fabric I existed on changed. I vibrated myself out of this world and into a different thing, and that’s when I really started collecting. At first I was keeping them in the freezer, which was a problem because I kept eating them, but then the Albert Hofmann acid came out, and then I thought, Fuck, I’m framing this. That’s when I realized, Hey, if I try to swallow this I’ll choke on the frame.

So how did a guy with a freezer full of acid become an acid historian?
Well I was on the board of the San Francisco Art Institute, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Love I proposed that we do a show on the San Francisco acid guys. So we set up a big art show, and I exhibited the whole collection. And 1987 was still loose enough to have a huge acid party with everyone afterwards.

Your so-called mentors …
Fewer and fewer are alive. Sky dying and then Arthur Lee. All I’ve got left is Vale and Roky.

Very funny. You mean Sky Saxon? I thought you were his patron.
I was his patron and hugest fan, for sure.

I thought you let him live at your house.
Yes, of course. Just such a great artist, incredible person. But also the type of artist who wouldn’t really see himself as an artist, but truly is an exceptional artist and an outstanding person. I still go see Roky . . . huge fan still.

Roky Erickson. And Arthur Lee you were a fan of.
Just tremendous, tremendous fan of Arthur’s, and so sad to see him die the way he did, but I always was interested in what Arthur was writing and performing. The psychedelics have truly caused a renaissance, something we won’t be able to measure properly until we’re much farther away from it.

I’m trying to think of other artists that were associated with that, like Peter Max.
Yeah, and Isaac Abrams is still with us, and Peter is still alive, who put the vision on the Slurpee cup. That’s what Peter did—he put the psychedelic vision on the 7-11 cup. He’s the guy that brought it down to the street level.

So you collected this art; you didn’t make it.
No—François Truffaut and the other art critic who worked for Cahiers du Cinéma for André Bazin: Godard, yeah, and they were both art critics who after a few years, he said to them, “You know, the good art critics make movies.” And he forced them to make movies. And so then that’s what happened to me: after collecting avidly for fifteen years, I decided to learn more by making some. And then one thing led to another.

And you got some notoriety, fame, whatever the word is, and that brought the attention of the flics [French slang for policemen].
Les gendarmes.
But no, the first blotter show at the Art Institute was also attended by the FBI. They showed up and they said, “Can we photograph this?” And I said, “Sure, this is for you guys, more so than anyone else,” I told them. Because they were the last whores who came to the party!

Whores?
Yeah, the acid party; they’re still trying to arrest us. So I told them, when they showed up in ‘87 at the Art Institute, I said, “Yeah, of course you can photograph it. You’re the guys that don’t understand it yet.” And really, that’s what’s going on. The fliic is tormented by his own demented fears.

Yeah, I suppose so.
That’s why they’re so against it, they think—yeah, and it’s still not over yet. It’s incredible to me: the persistence of erroneous information.

They didn’t understand art; you had to educate the jury and everybody on art.
It’s not an easy one. My poor attorney, you know? My poor, poor attorney.

You said that one of your attorneys demonstrated to the jury that a lot of money had been made, and that impressed people: “Oh, it must be art if it makes money.”
Yeah, they had followed $24,000 into the house. There’s no illegality of receiving money in the mail, and someone had sent me $24,000 cash. They taped it into a magazine and mailed it here. So the DA had opened the packet before it got to me, and they recorded the money, and then sent it in. They couldn’t keep it because it was legal. When they got here the next morning they wanted to know where the $24,000 was. Of course, it wasn’t here; I had already given it to Timmy’s leg operation—from Uncle Scrooge. You know, Uncle Scrooge is mean to the workers and one of them is a father who has a little paraplegic boy and he’s trying to save enough money to get Timmy’s leg operated on. So the money always goes to Timmy’s leg operation, I say! Like when people worry about the future, I always say, “Can we save Weena from the Morlock menu?” Because in The Time Machine Weena is served up to the Morlocks as dinner—Dante’s fascination of the future. That’s her name, the Eloi girl that the Time Machine driver falls in love with.

How do you spell that?
W-e-e-n-a. They only have one name in the future. Like a great artist. When an artist signs his work with one name, like “Rene”—I think: he must be a great artist to go by one name! But a lot of people here, you know—we’re dead guys. We’re what’s happening now so we must already be over.

So how many shows of blotter acid art were you involved in?
As many as possible.

So the powers that be budgeted a surveillance of you from two apartments for a year and a half. Then they swooped in for the kill after they thought they had enough evidence.
They didn’t understand that the C&H sugar cube guy had had the same problem for years before me! And at my first trial I was wondering where the C&H guy was, because it was a chicken-and-egg kind of defense I had. My defense was, “Hey, I raise eggs, okay, some of them grow up to be bad chickens, you know? But I’m just dealing eggs!” And it was really that: I just made the paper. And I didn’t use Albert Speer’s slave labor in making the paper. No LSD zombies were used in making the paper! And so then my argument was that: “Hey listen, I’m just the art, you know, art is not LSD, LSD is added later to the art!” And so that’s what the good jury of Kansas City, Missouri understood. If they were trying to prove I did the acid they hadn’t done that. That wasn’t enough of a defense to really satisfy my attorney, but that’s all I gave him. You have to give your attorney your defense. I told him it’s really a chicken-and-egg problem.

 

Show

 

mickey_full

Sorcerer’s Apprentice

From: ´MarkMcClure (Sat Jun 10 18:39:11 2006)
Probably the best known blotter of all time. Allegedly dosed with Sandoz. Originally issued circa 1977. The ultimate psychedelic artifact.

 

grammaton_full

Tetragrammaton

From: Manager (Tue Feb 15 03:53:24 2005)
A four-way hit that was originally issued circa 1977. These pre-perfed beauties may be the first sigil on blotter. Magical!

 

bosch_detail

Bosch

From: Clown (Thu Jul 14 22:02:40 2005)
this photographic print depicts 1000 hits that were originally issued circa 2008.

 

bunny_full

Bunny

From: Bunny (Tue Aug 12 15:56:33 2006)
This print depicts 44 hits that were originally issued circa 1976. One of the very first full color print, perfed pieces. This issue was cutting edge in its time.

 

a12

OM Symbol

From: pimpdaz (Tue Oct 26 15:56:33 2004)
remember these very well, loved the stripey paper. we used to get these on a regular basis, the talk was they were supposedly double dipped etc. good trips though

From: gabbachris666 (Wed Nov 2 14:49:35 2005)

These were great in their day but they started to get weaker and more scummy. I remember hearing the double dip thing as well. They were lush though. The colours you saw were unique among acids I have taken. I wish the people would make some more.

From: sunnyaura (Thu Dec 1 16:35:05 2005)
Yeah , wish the chemist would treat us all again but sadly if he is as wise financially as chemically s/he will be long gone. i kept these for ages, wouldn’t sell one even for £25.One of the cleanest nicest trips ever..

 

lsd20_001

Bicycle Ride 2000

From: stc (Sat Jun 18 05:22:53 2005)
i have take one of this and i had blaste my mind for many many hours!!!

From: pano (Thu Jul 28 11:44:49 2005)
They are very strong. about 500 mig!!! isn’t it???
good stuff but not very clean.
They are as strong as Fat Freedy or Tomato soup.
i had a full picture (25 blotters) in 2000

From: ´pauchislooo (Sat Jun 10 18:39:11 2006)
my best trip was one of this one, and the things i saw that day change my life completely, everyone should try them some time, uwuwuuwuwu i guarantee a lot of fun and smiles and trip for al least 12 hours.

 

tiki_copy-sized

Tiki

From: monk (Fri Jul 21 22:35:39 2006)
well, i´m gonna try one of this tonight, lets see what happens!

 

buddah

Buddah Head

From: order? (Wed Mar 30 08:41:38 2005)
can someone help get those?robabra@hotmail.com

From: snitziel (Mon Jun 26 20:55:15 2006)
very strong had dinner with girl freinds family on it they just thought i was a happy person

 

lsd04

Angelica from Rugrats

From: oz (Mon Sep 5 09:27:50 2005)
these were the worst trips i ever took. felt like adulterated, low quality. on really thin paper. not very strong. i didn’t get very high, but my jaw was still clenching.

 

lsd15

Bats,Fish,Lizards

From: Jason Emberson (Tue Feb 15 03:53:24 2005)
Simular to the fractles

From: HOLY SHIT! (Sat Dec 3 16:25:43 2005)
Alright so i ate 3 of these a few months ago and DAMN!!! I only got 20 so i didn’t have to many to save. I strongly suggest everyone go out and try a few of these…

 

lsd12_001

Alien Twins

From: nick (Sun May 4 15:16:49 2003)
this is a 900 or 1000 sheet, had about 14 of these that partly makes up one Twin moderate 75 mcg year 1990

From: nick (Mon May 5 03:00:19 2003)
thick card paper

 

lsd09

Red Rooster

From: AstreaL (Sat Jul 23 06:09:14 2005)
This was not so good acid !! It was very light, you should take up to 1 and even then, you ‘dnt be happy … 🙁

 

lsd14

Name?

From: Jason Emberson (Tue Feb 15 03:56:16 2005)
don’t know. however this most definetly came from the makers of pink elephants and alice through the looking glass.

 

lsd03

Penguins

From: as i.d (Wed Jan 19 13:16:44 2005)
my first one.. belgium 1991..
great to see them again here !!

From: Jason Emberson (Tue Feb 15 03:58:09 2005)
Disturbingly interesting.

From: Aaron F (Fri Apr 28 10:55:40 2006)
There were loadz of these floatin around a sleepy dorset(u.k)village in early 90’s–blindin visuals, *&^^ing amazing…ppppick up a pppenguin!!

From: Swede (Sat May 6 08:49:50 2006)
Yea, we had some of them in Sweden around 95, and they were good ones, not that good as the Miraculix or Hoffmans that where here the same time, but better then the Buddhas, and alot of others.

 

lsd10

Happy People

From: oz (Mon Sep 5 09:31:28 2005)
these were pretty good. very dependable. medium-strength. i did have one terrible trip on them though, but that was my fault, not the acid’s.

From: Magic Mad Hatter (Thu Jan 19 14:02:11 2006)
Those were my first hits in 1996!! I would say they were around 50 mics. Not that strong, but very clean und nice.

From: Panoramix… (Fri Jan 20 17:50:32 2006)
Had them in 1996 & again in 1998… Not bad… I’d say abt 100 mics…

 

lsd_05-sized

Dragon (red)

From: tom noxx (Tue Nov 29 07:54:02 2005)
les meilleurs que j’ai connu avec les dragons verts.Oulalalahh , pousse toi de devant, man, ceux là ils déménagent.

From: Stagueve (Sun Mar 19 23:30:28 2006)
Jsuis d’accord rouge ou vert, une bonne claque en perspective !!! C’était du bon matos ;p

From: Digital Citizen (Wed Jun 21 09:09:21 2006)
Monkey Temple-Kathmandu-full-power-Momentous.

 

a5v

checkerboard

From: Canopus-49 (Mon Dec 19 16:07:42 2005)
Reaaaaaalllyyyyy psytrancer!!! Within a board like this we gonna through the interdimensional walls!!!

 

shields

shields

From: Ringer\’s Friend (Sun Nov 20 05:13:45 2005)
Purple with gold ink. HELL yeah this was some good stuff. Clean, visual, prolly upwards of 150 mics? Saw a lot of it in the early 90s

 

lsd6

LSD Commemorative postage stamps

From: penis dancers (Tue May 16 22:32:28 2006)
yo dude … we are tight like a fat kid in spandex

 

a9

Palm Trees

From: Soma (Sat Feb 12 05:47:24 2005)
Manufactured in Houston, TX between 1991-1993. Actually called Blue Hawaiian, and it also came in green sheets. Lab busted, 3 Vietnamese guys found with 5 million hits. $2 hit, $5 for 3, sheets $90 and books were $650

 

street_lsd

Flower Stamp

From: vcw (Wed Mar 15 13:02:31 2006)
ate plenty of these about 100mcg

 

fatcat

Fat Freddy’s Cat

From: Jason Emberson (Tue Feb 15 04:25:54 2005)
strong strong strong stuff.

From: pano (Thu Jul 28 11:38:12 2005)
this blotters are very strong. Not so clean. i took that in 2000. A friend took 2 blotters in 2 hours at a festival and wanted to pay some beers with marijuana. Then he lost his keys and all his things

From: Panoramix… (Thu Sep 1 09:22:56 2005)
Good stuff from Belgium…

From: oz (Mon Sep 5 09:41:30 2005)
yep, very strong, but good quality, i thought. that was back in 1997-1999. don’t know about since then. the paper was really thick.

 

acid_001-sized

Superman, Smiley Faces

From: nick (Sun May 4 15:19:41 2003)
these smilies were popular in 1989 rave culture had a few

From: riX (Thu Jul 14 22:02:40 2005)
Yep, known as “super smilies”.
Am*dam ZOO 1985.

From: gabbachris666 (Wed Nov 2 14:38:37 2005)
Yes, They are “super smileys” They were not very strong

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4f525a5ab3cba3c22e098b4e56136dac

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piggy

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declaration-of-independence
—-

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Cool, thank you. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Ah, I see. My uni was this kind of late-hippie place that was all about fostering free thought and all of that. It was different time, for sure, and it was in California where that sort of approach still exists, but only here and there now. ‘Us’ had the same problem. I haven’t seem ‘Nope’ yet. Ha, good question about gif/meme-related fame. I think I remember reading about people who became celebrities from having had their visages used in very viral memes. I can’t think of any gif performers who got any traction. Love didn’t save me from the heat precisely, but it wasn’t as horrid as it will be today, so maybe love was just saving his energy for these 24 hours, let’s hope. Oh, wow, that magical youtube storage area would be so, so helpful to me in my blog construction! Love making reality a thing and place that we can all agree exists, G. ** Misanthrope, As long as the cake was the greatest part, it qualifies as a birthday. So, good. I’ve seen promos for that series. Sounds sweet. And I just read that it’s Steve Martin’s swan song as an actor, which seems kind of sad. Avoid the weirdo rebound, not that I guess you can do much to avert it. Anti-eek. ** _Black_Acrylic, Great, thanks for checking it out, Ben. Enjoy the spaciousness. Spaciousness is no small thing. And thank you for angling towards the guest-post. Super greatly appreciated, maestro. ** Brian, Hi, Brian. Really good to see you, pal. Totally understood about the absence. I like to think of this as a place where people can come and go as they like and where they can feel just as big a part of the place where they’re eyeballing it as when they’re typing into it. Thank you so much about ‘My Loose Thread’. That’s so kind and nice. That’s one of my favorite novels of mine, and it’s one that seems to often get kind of forgotten about, so yay. Thank you, man. It is a fun couple with ‘The Tunnel’. Ha ha, Luhrmann to Bresson. Gosh, I’m happy I wound up on the latter side of that equation, let’s just say. I read ‘The Tunnel’ when it was published. As I’m sure you know, it was a long, long awaited, legendary tome long before he finished it. Honestly, I don’t think I ended up reading the whole thing. I think it was one of those novels where I read far enough to get the pleasure of what he was doing and to the point where I felt like I figured out what he was doing, and then I think I was ready to read something else. I like that kind of writing, in theory. If it’s brilliantly done. I love reading prose that’s masterful and yet charged with a spirit of adventure. But, again, sometimes I just want to good taste of that kind of writing, and I don’t feel a big inclination to read something of that sort from cover to cover. I like Gass. I think ‘In the Heart of the Heart of the Country’ was his best fiction. I think his writing about writing can be really extraordinary. I don’t know ‘In Order Not to Be Here’. I’ll look it up. Cool, like I said, it’s always a great pleasure to get to talk with you, and I’m always interested to know that you’re doing and thinking, so anytime that feels right on your end, seeing you will be a boon on my end. I hope everything proceeds extremely apace for you and yours. xo. ** Steve Erickson, Wow. Sorry for your panic. Of course, being the amusement park loving dude I am, my imagination immediately went to how fun that ride sounds, ha ha. Big hope that you get the ears thing sorted as straight away as possible. Everyone, Steve Erickson alert: ‘Here’s my Gay City News review of LE TEMPS PERDU. I kinda like the fact that although my review’s intended to be negative, it’s stirred up interest in the film on Facebook.’ A friend of a friend of mine in LA apparently tried lying about his sex life to get the monkeypox vax, but they wanted proof of his sluttiness. I don’t know what proof they wanted. ** RANGUSWAZE, Hi, man! Whoa, nine days, holy shit! Exciting time, and you sound suitably revved and ready for action. Thanks for the sneak peeks! Keep on far more than keeping on! As you are and will be doing no doubt whatsoever. xo. ** Robert, Hi. Oh, cool, I’m happy my way of thinking about that made sense. I’m such a prose-first kind of reader, and if I think of that dense, often stiff, brain maxing out writing as just writing with a non-fictional purpose, it seems to help draw me in, and then of course the contents and points come through too because they and the writing and the writing’s reason for being are inextricable and all of that. Happy Friday. ** Bill, Ha ha. That is a nice poster, yeah. And the film itself follows suit? I’ll put it on my list. Thanks! ** Right. I always quite liked this very old post, and my memory is that wasn’t all that wildly popular the first time I launched it, but I like it, and time has passed and, hey, you never know, so please give it your initial consideration and let the consequences be what they may be. See you tomorrow.

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