Posts Tagged ‘Edgar Allan Poe’
September 27, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
May 29, 2013 | by Albert Mobilio
His names were many: christened Herman Blount, he reinvented himself as Sonny Blount, H. Sonne Blount, Le Sony’r Ra, and, finally, what he called his “vibrational name,” Sun Ra. Ra’s band, too, was rich in appellation—one could compile a dizzyingly poetic list of its nearly fifty names, including the Myth Science Arkestra, the Intergalactic Research Arkestra, the Cosmo Drama Arkestra, the Transmolecular Arkestra, and the Love Adventure Arkestra. As many names, Ra might have said, as there are stars in the sky. This jazz visionary was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and not on Saturn, as he often claimed; in Chicago, in the late forties, a young Sonny Blount played piano with Fletcher Henderson, sharpening his formidable skills as a composer and arranger with the big-band legend. The combo Ra formed soon after was part cult, part family. He called his musicians “tone scientists”; they humbly described themselves as “nobodies with the master.” He taught them to play a kinetic, improvisational swing (bachelor-pad wailing for the pharaohs) that drew on his own spiritual bouillabaisse of Egyptology, Kabbalah, numerology, the Nation of Islam, Neoplatonism, Swedenborg, and Edgar Allan Poe. During performances, Ra wore a metallic cape and crown, while his band and dancers, in similar Afro-Space garb, threaded through the audience conjuring tribal magic and orbital ecstasy.
In 1972, Ra signed a multi-album deal with ABC/Impulse! Records and recorded what would become his most popular disc, Space Is the Place. The new, sleek volume Sun Ra + Ayé Aton: Space, Interiors and Exteriors, 1972 offers a trove of photographs once thought to be lost that show the musician in full regalia on location in Oakland, California, for the production of a film that was to accompany the album. Also included are photos of murals done by Ayé Aton, a Chicago artist who shared Ra’s cosmological inclinations. Read More »
May 17, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
January 29, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
December 28, 2012 | by John Lingan
I was dragging my five-year-old daughter through the musty stacks of my favorite used bookstore last spring when a middle-aged man, squatting in the Sci-Fi section next to a brimming cardboard box, caught my eye and reminded me of someone.
“Excuse me,” I asked, “are you a writer?”
“I am,” he said, standing up and straightening his glasses. His eyes were deep set and hard to read. He was bashful.
“Are you Michael Dirda?” I asked.
It was him: the book critic and author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, known apocryphally as the best-read man in America, whose essays had enticed me to read everything from Little, Big to Three Men in a Boat—and here he was, squinting his way through the lowest shelves in the same crusty bargain dungeon I came to all the time.
“Amazing. Nina, this is the man who wrote that little letter that we have in your George and Martha,” I told my daughter. Nina was nonplussed.
“When I was eight, in 1992,” I explained, “I wrote a letter to the Washington Post when James Marshall died and you printed it in the Book World section and even wrote a sweet little response. And her grandpa put a photocopy of that letter in The Complete George and Martha for her.”
December 18, 2012 | by André Aciman
The Sixth Avenue El train has just cleared the steep bend off Third Street. It is now picking up speed and will, any moment now, bolt uptown. Next stop, Eighth Street, then past Jefferson Market, Fourteenth Street, then all the way north till it reaches Fifty-Ninth Street. But perhaps it is not racing up at all but grinding to a stop after that notoriously difficult curve before Bleeker Street. It’s hard to tell. The blue lettering on the train’s marker light must spell something, but it’s hard to decipher this as well. Under the el two vehicles seem to know where they’re headed. To the left of the train, on the corner of Sixth and Cornelia, a scrawny, wedge-shaped, twelve-story high-rise strains to look taller than it is. Its numberless lighted windows suggest that, despite darkness everywhere, this is by no means nighttime, but evening, maybe early evening. The building’s residents are probably preparing dinner, some just walking in after work, others listening to the radio, the children are doing homework.
This is 1922, and this is Sloan country. Read More »