Archive for the ‘text’ Category


December 1, 2009

it is the first of december. again.
a day of raising awarenes, a day of action. it used to be a day of rememberance. and for me it still is, as i have no other day. or too many days of remembering.
although i do not go to town anymore, to the silent march. like so many others, not feeling right there, feeling out of place
somehow we managed even to convince ourselves that aids is not a gay desease, and although it was a necessety claim (and also true), we might have to start claiming it again as a gay disease.
they say live goes on – but in a way it does not. missing so many witnesses to my life it sometimes seems that i’m missing big parts of my life. and looking at myself i only now start slowly to understand the impact of it all.
and i believe we might should slowly try to understand what it means for our gay history, how aids changed our perspective on the times before aids, how it still does change us, how it changed our relationship to sex, community, and ourselves. and it might be slowly time again to discuss our desires, desires that can neither be safely canalized at all times, nor freely lived out at all times. it is a discussion that we have to maintain for us, a discussion that might never find an end, but that might enable us to live on better.

re: three

June 18, 2009

re: like re-up’s

yes, there has been quie some activity on here – rather hidden, admittedly.

a big THANK YOU to all the people taking the time to leave a comment. and thank you for providing me with more hildegard knef that i could ever dream of. and thank you for providing me with interesting new information on zarah leander – although it does expose my ignorance… but i guess that’s allright. and hey – contributions to the discussion are welcome!

then i re-upped by request der böse bub eugen

rechnungfrontsmalland i re-upped sein – and by relistening it, it hit me how good this record is. and how much it is linked to my last post – reminiscing, but not really nostalgic… great stuff. and yes, because i have been asked so nicely there is also a special bonus…

as usual: enjoy!

re: one

April 29, 2009

re: like re-visiting, re-tracing ones steps

it is funny how it sometimes comes together. my ongoing discussions with n about south africa back in the days, and him telling me about the former hotspot / place to be in johannesburg: hillbrow. then shortly after i stumble on tv over a bbc-documentary about: hillbrow. with a very nervous, stressed out reporter. well, for good reasons. one of the mindblowing scenes was when he asked a guy as to why they killed these police men “well, we wanted to sell their weapons”, which gets delivered so deadpan that i nearly had to laugh at the monstrosity of it all.

and then, forwarded through different email-accounts i have received the below email. i do not even know from whom it comes originally. it is a rather bitter retracing. a thank you to the unknown author.

and yes, i have been to johannesburg, and beside the incredible luxury, the gated communities and an amazing amount of really big fuck off cars you also find what you see below. the sick thing is that there is even worse: one has only to drive into cape town along shanti towns that seem to go on forever. and i guess the above cited little scene / sentence hit me so much because there it expresses a carelessness towards the human life which runs through society that is very scary. there were moments where it got surreal – i remember driving with n at night through downtown jo’burg and feeling transportet into a dystopian science fiction universe. i wasn’t afraid, beacuse somehow this could not be real… and this memory and looking at the below pictures reminded me strongly of the writing of j.g. ballard, who just passed away…

so let’s have a ride…

Bree Street , Johannesburg , Where Gold (Used) to Lie in the Street, Now, it’s Just Rubbish
Bree Street is one of the main thoroughfares running through the city centre of Johannesburg , from east to west. It runs right through the CBD, and used to be one of the major economic centers, as well as being a residential area.
Today, as you can see, it is a slum, another shattered, filthy, ruined monument to the “New South Africa .”


A Visit to Yeoville


Yeoville was one of the ‘trendiest’ places in Johannesburg . Its main thoroughfare, Rockey Street, was the place for a very late night out, and here one could find an eclectic mix of exotic shops, dining establishments, clubs and who knows what all else, if you really looked.
And today? Well, let’s let the pictures do the talking. My visit to Yeoville:

Corner of Raymond and Rocky Streets, Yeoville. This used to be quite a famous restaurant, I can’t recall its name offhand, but I am sure it was Mama’s.

Above: All that remains of the South Street cafe, Bellevue East, Yeoville. It’s still open, but I didn’t venture too close because of what appeared to be sewerage in the gutter, which really put me off a bit.

Above: The corner of Rockey and Bezuidenhout Streets, Yeoville. There used to be a late night takeway on this corner. It was a Kentucky Fried Chicken once upon a time as well.


Above: Looking down Bezuidenhout Street towards Rockey Street .


Above: A little further up Bezuidenhout Street …


Above: The BP Garage on the north corner of the major Rockey and Bezuidenhout Street intersection. One of two petrol stations in Rockey Road , both closed down due to being continuously robbed out of business. It was confirmed that the last owner of this petrol station was shot dead with an AK-47 during a robbery. The station was just abandoned, hence the pump’s pipes hang loosely there, normally BP would take their stuff away.

Above: A typical gutted house, corner of Muller and Bezuidenhout Streets. Even the roof has been stolen.


Above: Smashed apartments, Saunders Road Yeoville. Currently inhabited by squatters. The stench is unbelievable.


Above: Inhabited house, lower Rockey Street , towards Observatory. ALL of the houses here look like this. I recall that the chief photographer for Associated Press in 1990 telling me how happy he was to be buying a house here, and he looked at me all funny when I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea. Like all “good” liberals, he has probably since voted with his feet.


Above: Typical filthy apartment block, Pope Street .


Above: Street scene, Dunbar Street . Taken from my car while moving, as by now I had attracted attention and was being followed by an aggressive group of locals. It was time to leave Yeoville.
A Tour Through Hillbrow,


Above: Joel Street , Berea


Above: Apartments, Olivia Street , Berea


Above: Apartments, cnr Lily Ave and Olivia Street , Berea


Above: The ruins of the Sands Hotel, O’Reilly Street , Hillbrow


Above: The main entrance to the Sands Hotel, O’Reilly Street , Hillbrow — or rather should I say the ruins of the Sands Hotel main entrance.

Above: The ruins of the Mark Hotel , O’Reilly Road , Hillbrow. Incredible to think I actually stayed there while on holiday in 1984.


Above: A close-up of the ruins of the Mark Hotel , O’Reilly Road , Hillbrow.


Above: The main entrance to the old Hillbrow Squash Centre, Pretoria Street . The escalators have long since been smashed, and the one on the right is in such poor condition that it is dangerous, hence it has been blocked with an old car bonnet.


Above: Smashed block, claiming to be home to a High School, corner Pretoria and Quartz Streets.


Above: Parkview Apartment block, Lily Ave , Berea . Fairly typical state of the buildings in the suburb today. Inhabited.


Above: Burnt out and gutted apartments, Catherine Street , Hillbrow.


Above: Corner Soper and Catherine Roads, Hillbrow. Fairly typical street scene.


Above: A gutted and bricked up building, corner Claim and Kotze Streets, Hillbrow.


Above: A close-up of the bricked up Big Deals….


Above: The Nedbank Plaza and the ruins of the Cafe Zurich , formerly a great late night hangout which used to serve the most wonderful Black Forest cake… Pretoria Street , Hillbrow.


Above: The entrance to the Highpoint “shopping centre” on Pretoria Street , as it looks today. Note the very gutted building on the right. This seems to be a common pattern throughout the area.


Above: The Highpoint apartment block: back in the 1980s, it was the place to stay — if you had an apartment there, you really had arrived. Very popular with the rich students at Wits University , it was…


Above: Anyone remember buying records at the Hillbrow Record Centre, Pretoria Street , Hillbrow? Well you can’t anymore. It’s boarded and barred up, like many shops in the area.


Above: Street scene, Pretoria Road . Formerly one of the main shopping roads in Hillbrow. The mattresses and blankets are from locals who sleep in the streets.


Apartment dwellers, Claim Street , Joubert Park , central Johannesburg


Apartments, Berea , north eastern Johannesburg


The Rosa Hotel , Berea : boarded up and abandoned, but broken into by squatters and now occupied.
The Ruins of Johannesburg . . .


Above: Jeppe, east Johannesburg , inhabited houses

The View From the Gauteng Legislature Building
It’s a funny thing, the New South Africa . After taking over the old Johannesburg City Hall complex and turning it into the legislative assembly for the new ‘Gauteng’ province (essentially the old Witwatersrand region), presumably to make it pride of place for the province, they seemed to have forgotten what is all around them.. When one stands directly in front of the Legislature building, this is the view one has to the north (note the flagpoles!)

And below, a close-up of the view:


And below this is view one has to the east, or directly in front of you (the old Rissik Street Post Office. In 2003, the building, which has been empty since 1996, had its clock hands, bell and the entire copper dome stolen).


The Vanishing Impala
Oppenheimer Park , situated between President and Pritchard Streets, was a pleasant green spot in between the high rise commercial blocks of the old Johannesburg . Its central feature was a fountain, over which leapt a stunning piece of sculpture: a series of Impala, all linked. The statue was so marvelous that it was a tourist attraction in the official guides to Johannesburg . Here is what it looked like then:


By the late 1990s, Oppenheimer Park had been trashed by the New South Africa . Bits of the statue were stolen by being hack sawed off, probably to be sold as scrap metal. Finally, the inevitable happened, and the entire statue was stolen, hacked off its pedestal. On the pictures below, the original mountings can still be seen. The council has placed a table where the statues and fountain used to be.


yes, quite a trip. and yes, while i found it just spooky to see big parts of a town basically in ruins i guess it must be again different for someone who knew this toen before….

and no, i do not think it should be read as an excuse for “the old south africa”. and there is where my bitterness comes in: as many, i took to the streets and have been vocal against the apartheid regime. of course it wasn’t all that simple as i thought back then, but then it seemed like we were successfull (sweet, isn’t it): south africa was suddenly a place of hope: transition withouth war, maybe the most liberal and open constitution in the world – and a way to deal with its past in such an amazing way that still leaves me humble. much to learn from. and then of course the great man nelson mandela. south africa suddenly stood for a new world. a tolerant world where we all will live together.

yes, give me hope, joanna..

but then it now seems to go the way to many nations go: bored, sleeping politicans in the parliament more interested in picking their noses then in trying to solve any of the problems. wasn’t there a promise that we all become sisters and brothers – or more pragmatic: to provide housing and education to all?

but then it seems we all are satisfied – you know, it is now a democracy, and not apartheid anymore… well, that is when i get bitter. also toward myself. i am not taking to the streets anymore. even when i still believe that a society that allows that people live like shown above is a brutally careless society. but then we do not have a clear enemy anymore, and we woul maybe have to accuse the same ones that only 20 years ago we cheered…

no more international coalition of artists to demand that the promises given shall be fullfilled… but then it might became now apparent that the mayn facets of this country can hardly been fit in a catchy refrain. and yes, we have enough problems ourselves – crisis and all. but then did we not have already also our problems back then?

but then it is still a beautiful country with beautiful people – and weren’t there rumours that the inner city of jo’burg shall be re-developed again?

so, please, give me hope joanna…


February 14, 2009

from the sexual animal to the machine of pleasure.

the idea that maximum pleasure needs maximum preparation: detailed planning, mucht time, and a huge amount of money. an idea that has been explored in sharpest detail and very consequential in the 120 days of sodom. yes, marquis de sade. i’m not really sure why him now and here – it is partly a coincidence, partly a re-awakened interest in the consequences of his thinking.

i might start with the fact that i’ve read justine at a very crisp age. which might have been a little bit early, and discussing it with n, it became apparant that reading de sade very early on did shape my view of sexuality – well, less my view on sexuality as such (i’m amazingly and frustratingly un-kinky, especially considering that i’ve read jean genet even earlier), but its not being set apart from our “normal lives”, it being just another space in our lives where our relationships with each other and with the world in general are re-enacted. yes, another way to love, to hate – or to ignore each other.

so i do not find the sexual explicitness and the crass sex acts in itself very shocking (yeah, that sounds very jaded), but the going to the extreme of the death of the other to fullfill ones desire. this total disregard of others, this being so extremly solitaire: me and my desire. yes, it might be that loneliness, expressed in radical sadism, that is truely shocking.

and then it is shocking that one keeps on reading, obviously fascinated. well, especially shocking for everybody trying to believe that all our desires are good, that they will only lead us to places of bliss – bliss together.

marquis de sade is exactly pitching these machines of pleasures against it – it is just absolutly breathtaking to present houserules of the kind like in 120 days of sodom. pitching it against the idea that sexuality and intimate relationships are somehow excempt from the nastyness of power games of daily life, of our social standing, our fears, our schemes and manipulations.

so reading marquis de sade is certainly disturbing, partly because of the above mentioned characteristics, and maybe even for a bigger part because one has to start asking oneself questions about his / her relationship to sexuality and one’s own desires. and in its denying moral in such a radical way it of course keeps on asking the question of morals: how much of the fullfilment of desires is limited for what reason? if we assume that fullfilling ones desires is basically an egotistical act – funny enough an egotism that has (for various reasons) be declared in the sexual arena as allright – if personal sexual fullfillment is the highest goal to engage for in sex – if everybody has a right to orgasm. yes, it suddenly gets grey here – and yes, i do see this as a great quality of de sade’s writing: it starts out as extreme, but the more one starts thinking about it, the more it certainly is exaggerated…or isn’t it…?

of course there is much more: aspects i did not mention, aspects i might be not aware of. but the writing of marquis de sade has been and still is for me a reference point – a moral reference point, reminding me for example not to believe that it is per se o.k. and has to be applauded when you kick someone out of your bed because he did not perform to your expectations. but of course you can also read him and just enjoy the kinkiness of it all.

120 days of sodom

and for my readers mastering the german tongue, rather ear, i have something special – a recording of a little excerpt of die 120 tage von sodom. read by the austrian actor walter kohut.

a record with somewhat strange linernotes – again, like also with a lot of print editions of his work – there is a slightly apologetic tone, first by stating how wrong krafft-ebing was to create the term “sadism” (yeah, he should have called it pilcherism), and then at the end it states that the ones only seeing the obscenity and atheism in his work stay on the surface and miss the philosophical implications of his work. sounds all a little bit defensive to me. and well, obviously de sade did not only want to write a philosophical traktat when writing the 120 days. so i invite you to also dive into the obscene…enjoy.


p.s. the second side of the record presents the gespräch eines sterbenden mit einem priester (conversation of a dying man with a priest) – but to the atheism we get in a later post. so when listening to this, see it as homework.

quelle bête

February 13, 2009

from the category too good not to share, here a little comment i found on a gay social network platform (yeah, virtual cruising) – it’s a comment on a guy’s profile. a nice looking guy. but then it looks like he doesn’t dig me. or maybe he is just tired of chilis…

Ce mec c’est de la bombe ! Super bonne queue et super bon cul aussi ! Derrière ce regard de tueur se cache une bête de sexe…et super poilu comme j’aime… B m’a réservé de trés bonnes surprises, ce mec en fait partie…

la voix humaine

February 9, 2009

because it has been mentioned in the book – and also on the record – of the previous post and because i not too long ago found the recording of simone signoret: jean cocteau’s la voix humaine.


a play for one actor – a phone call of a break up. yes, the telephone as a weapon. I guess at the time it must have been scandalous in its intimacy – and it is all in there: the misunderstandings, the jealousy, the anger, the begging, the not wanting tto believe, the blackmail, the attempts at normality, the cruelty and also the banality of it all – hm, the french were never afraid to also explore the less romantic sides of love, i guess…

listening to it it occured to me also (again) how much technology shapes our lives – and how it changed our understanding of the intimate. i did witness such a phonecall – with all the same stages – even with the same technical diffculties: as in cocteau’s play, the woman i heard got disconnected a couple of times, since we were traveling in a train… so yes, it is interesting to witness how these days, partly made possible through technology, how our private life did change…

so, for all those who are ready for some gritty-ness – or are into some drama, here it is. simone signoret – la voix humaine de jean cocteau. and yes, it is in french…

in the liner notes to the above record cocteau mentions that he wrote the piece for poulenc_cocteauan actrice – or a cantatrice (singer). and yes, his fellow homosexual, the composer francis poulenc composed the music to the words. how that sounds? well, it sounds like this – sung by julia migenes with the orchestre nationla de france, conducted by george prêtre.

story of a life

February 8, 2009

this post might does more explicitly bind music back to society, to history. and yes, it’s ms. knef as an example again. actress, singer – and writer. not only of good lyrics, for me in a rather french chanson tradition then in a german tradition. which is more a feeling then based on research. but somehow the attitude is…eeer…french. whatever that means. and then there is a french connection, too. but this is for later.

bookso – words. not only for songs, but ms. knef also wrote 2 books: an autobiography for half of her life, and a book about her having cancer. the first book, der geschenkte gaul, makes for a good read. there might be some difficulties regarding the mentioning of many names not very known anymore (well, if you did your homework on the last couple of posts, then many of them are not that unfamiliar), some names known. of course marlene plays a prominent role. but in a way i did not read it as hildegard kenf’s life story, but rather a life story. it is one testimonial about growing up in a totalitarian state, of just wanting to grow up, make a career, work what you enjoy. and the dry tone it is written in makes it a good read under this perspective. it is not apologetic, rather descriptive. and it leaves enough space to find ones own point of view. rather brechtian, right…

what fascinated me in this book, and that is why i do find stories like this important, is that i think i get a little bit a feel – or at least i start to see the huge distance to having grown up later, under very different circumstances. it is partly details that hit me: they haven’t been teached anything about german culture as we know it – either the writers and artist were jewish, or leftists, or suspect anyway…

of course there are also the more obvious differences, the tough experiences: her account about being bombed out – and again, ms knef is not playing for sympathy – it is more telling us what cards she got dealt… so a recommended read – not if you want to get a lot of gossip about stars, but if you want to read a story of a life in strange times that was already through these times an extraordinary life – but then also normal life – living it.

too lazy to read? well, listen to it. she actually recorded a reading of some of the excerpts – and yes, it is, read by hear, even more laconic. and it is a good selection – some harsh passages, some descriptive, and also some amusing anecdote about a not-greek, not-christian, not-jewish turtle…

just be aware: it is in german. otherwise you will have to buy the book (which has been translated in many languages).

hildegard kenf liest der geschenkte gaul – ripped from vinyl in four tracks, for each side one…


one artist ms knef only got to know pretty late (considering that i read his texts as a young teenager) is kurt tucholsky. and yes, she also recorded a record with his texts: most is pure text / reading, but there are also a handuful of songs on this record.

listening to it is interesting to note that tucholsky must have been a big influence on her writing lyrics…

well, have a listen for yourself. hildegard knef liest tucholsky you can get here.


no holidays in gaza

January 11, 2009


there is apparently not much to do
except doing
I do not know …..


here you go
you may spread it


image and text by R in C


November 18, 2008


Citizen is a brand. A brand for a watch. And maybe this is the only way „citizen“ should be used.
The expression and going with it the concept of citizen is around for quite some time. So it might be better to talk of concepts in the plural. Concepts formulate in different ways the social role, its rights and duties of the individual. As ideas of society changed, so did change the concept of the citizen. Ideas of society and its structure, the nature of the human being, and his role in society, being a citizen, are depending on each other, are inextricably linked. The ideas of how society should be, of how the ideal society should be, depend on the formulation of the ideal way of participation, of being a citizen – an ideal society consists of ideal citizens, and ideal citizens need an ideal society. The argument is circular, one of mutual dependency. The one is not possible without the other.

But these days, observing the political talk, the arts, science, the publication of numerous surveys taken, the thought could occur that we do not imagine an ideal society anymore. That we do not dream of utopia anymore. Looking back in history and the dystopian experiences that have been made this might be not a bad thing, especially since these old dreams were always ideal in the sense of perfect. And perfect might be not human, after all.
So the dream is over. We seem to accept the imperfect society – some maybe even supposing that the imperfect is the perfect in disguise. But if we postulate this society, what sense lies in talking of members of this society as citizens, as ideal, as perfect members of this society?  It makes sense if one is still dreaming. But it does not make sense out of the mouths of too many politicians. We are treated by our governments and bureaucracies in the best case as consumers, in the worst as a nuisance. And regardless of the political structure of a given state, politicians seem to adopt a patronizing attitude – be it by not even allowing votes, be it by forging votes, be it by expecting a vote to be voted „the right way“. If this does not happen, then the voters have not been able to understand, the matter at hand has been too complex. And they should be citizens? Ideal members of society?
So the use of the word citizen in this context is an accusation: you are citizens, you should vote this way. And if you would be citizens, knowing what is good for you, then we would have a better society – maybe even an ideal society. The connection between society and citizen described at the beginning of this text looses its circularity: the citizen is suddenly a prerequisite for a better, the ideal society. But since no thought is wasted on formulating a better, or even an ideal society, why waste a thought on the citizen? The talk of citizen has of course always followed a political agenda – but the only political agenda these days in the use of the word citizen seems one of disciplining. Of telling us that we never will reach that ideal, and that therefore we should obey. But then one should not talk of citizens, but of children, lost in the dark. Additionally the use of citizen as described above also insinuates that there is only the government and us, the citizens. It is a simple tool not to have to talk about other actors on the political and social stage that influences the government, society, our daily lives.
So the talk of the citizen turned from a thinking about possibilities how to structure our society, our living together, our daily lives, of where to go as a society and as individuals, of an ideal to strive for, to an accusation, to a shortcoming on our part, to an ideal that basically only implies its unattainability. We citizens that are not living up to being good citizens, not taking up our responsibilities and that therefore have to be lead, have to be taken by our hands, all while being the only ones responsible for the current state of affairs.

If we are not able and willing to say and think about in what kind of society we live and in what kind of society we would like to live, what our roles might be, who we are and who we would like to be, what our rights are, where our responsibilities lie, and to admit also our imperfections, then i can not be and don’t want to be called a citizen.

This is why the word citizen maybe should only be used as a brand name for a watch.

text by dkb. thanks to charlie and rayelle

further reading

October 7, 2008

time to recommend some further reading, related to what i posted and what i will post. and also to give some feeling to how it was before, before the big cut of the second world war. also with the intention to maybe follow some of these lines from way back to today… and yes, i have to smile, they are all, eer, gay-themed. the last one amazingly frank, actually…

the obvious choice is christoph isherwoods goodbye berlin. and yes, it has been an inspiration for the musical and film cabaret. well well – the book is better. sorry, liza… and isherwood is always recommended, anyway… and yes, goodbye berlin might be a good starting point to get into the history of the weimarer republik, its culture, but also to get into the work of mister isherwood.

second i do recommend a book written in the twenties but published much later. a book which draws a fascinating picture of germany between the wars. and it is about the body: the temple, which gave stephen spender‘s book the title… i remember having it read with a lot of enjoyment. the stuck up brit and the golden, young germans withouth worries…and it’s funny, it will always remind me of a golden summer in amsterdam…

but then one that really amazed me – i have to admit i did read it only lately, is the first novel by klaus mann: der fromme tanz. written at the tender age of 19 it is quite shocking, actually. most people describe the crowd in the book as bohème – i’d rather use demi-monde… it explores the topics of art in a big sense – the art of / for a generation, the search, or rather the recognizing of love – be it in its most abstract, be it in its most carnal. it is really a quite amazing little book. at the same time it is also interesting to read about the cabarets, the shady bars, the coked up hustlers…

i also recommend to research all three author’s lifes a little bit – and yes, this time wikipedia isn’t a bad place to start.

allright, for the ones less into reading i do have some music. well, not me exactly, but zakkorama does. presenting a “little” series of german popular music especially from the 20s, 30s, and 40s. some artist already have shown up here on this blog, some will still show up… start here with part 1 and 2 – and then you’ll find under june the other parts – including a bonus at the end. and don’t forget to say thank you!

and then something to read

October 5, 2008

photo by liassa ivy tieg

photo by liassa ivy tieg

while fullfilling at least some requests – yes, the others will ne fullfilled, too, it is just that as usual i am..eer…meandering through this blog instead of adhering strictly to my, hm, publishing plan – but then this meandering is actually part of the concept.. where was i?

yes, i would like to take this occassion to point you to two interesting places to read something obviously interesting i came across lately.

first a write up by mind the oranges, marlon about the now on dvd available documentary about harvey milk, the times of harvey milk.

second a really good interview with matmos about music,  concept art, and all that. read it. not much more i can say…

while we’re… or: villon zum dritten

October 3, 2008

i have to admit that i am still looking out for that recording of villon songs by georges moustaki (on a 10″ vinyl, seemingly). and while looking out for this and other interesting things my gaze got attracted by a cd with four names on the cover – three of them known to me, but unexpected in its combination: villon, artmann, qualtinger, fatty george.

yes, i have to admit that i did not know that the great writer, especially great lyricist, h. c. artmann made a translation of villons poems into – the vienna dialect. and well, i do understand this translation as bad as the originals in french argot (but then i have the french argot version in a critical edition). and i also did not know that helmut qualtinger recorded these poems. and of course i did not know that fatty george provided the musical background to it – but then i have to admit also that i did not know fatty george… my only excuse is that i am not familiar at all with the austrian jazz szene – but then this is no excuse, really.

recorded in 1964, it has been published again in 1989 by – yes, preiser records. so i thought while we’re at it (see the preceeding post) we can as well make a little addition to the growing body of villon’s work on this blog. well, get it here – and enjoy!

request: kurt tucholsky

August 7, 2008

another request – and the place is very fitting: the german author kurt tucholsky was a great admirer of heinrich heine. and like heinrich heine kurt tucholsky was poetic, political, and witty, oscillating in his writings from the pure entertaining to the polemic to the lyrical. the century is now the 20th, but it was still – or again, dangerous to be a true moralist, to point out the cynicism of power, to worry about and criticize certain developements in society. consequently tucholsky’s books have been burned (together with books by heinrich heine and many other authors) by the nazis – but by then he already lived in sweden, where he also died in 1935. for more on kurt tucholsky: wikipedia is a good way to get started.

and this request also fits quite well because it has been published in a series not of poesie und musik, but literatur und musik. on this record there are only two spoken passages, the rest are songs, most of them composed by hanns eisler. the interpreter is the german actor wolfgang reichmann, who was born just three years before tucholsky’s death. wolfgang reichmann himself died in 1991. he was primarly a “tv-actor”, but played also in many movies – the most know directors he worked under might be orson welles (the proces), and werner herzog.

and then it is a very good occassion to point you into the direction of the very interesting zero g sound-blog. not only did he post already interpretations of songs with lyrics by kurt tucholsky, together with quite a bit of information, but he just posted also some more works by the composer hanns eisler. AND he also just posted a record by brühwarm – a collaboration of the very gay theather group brühwarm with ton steine scherben / rio reiser. obviously highly recommended!

starting with kurt tucholsky i will post some more on artists of the 20th century. i have been listening and then also researching once more quite a bit of different biographies of artists that lived through these difficult times. and well, it is in many ways very interesting. somehow it also takes again the thread up of some music i posted earlier like sein and element of crime. music that refers to a heritage the nazis tried to eliminate… and it some ways it also fits with my more focused interest in gay history that has been due to a couple of books and texts sparked again. more about that later.

so – for now i propose you some songs with kurt tucholsky and wolfgang reichmann – ripped again from one of my many vinyls, including the cover scans. get it here! and enjoy!

request: ich kann nicht mehr die augen schliessen

August 7, 2008

here i posted the record with texts by francois villon and music by vollenweider, bardet, and valentini in the series of poesie und musik. for the background information on the artists you might refer to this earlier post.

and now it is time for more music by vollenweider, bardet, and valentini, but with texts by the german author from the 19th century heinrich heine. musically i do find this record more mature and relaxed then the villon record. musically, there are this time no references to the time of when the texts were written. and somehow this works better. therefore the record is “rounder”, less single songs and also the musicians must have felt that way: on the back of the cover there are only the playing times for each side given. so musically it is a pretty cool record. and then there are the words. and well, it has been a time that i’ve read heinrich heine. so it was a again a kind of eye opener, a strong reminder of how good heinrich heine the author is: really wicked stuff! really great – the selection done by the musicians is a very interesting one: cheeky stuff about the ladies, political commentary, and general musings with a lot of wit. and it all feels very fresh – in a way it is at the same time great to see how timeless his writings are and on the other hand also frightening how little seems to have changed…

so – i somehow hope that this record might incite some of you to get into heinrich heine – for more information search the net – there is quite a lot available. if you want to go straight to his texts, you’ll find them on the net, too. the complete heinrich heine in german you’ll find here. and thanks to the internet archive, once more, there are many english translations available online, too.

oh – but you might want to start with the record vollenweider, bardet, and valentini: poesie und musik, heinrich heine. ripped from vinyl as two mp3-files (side a/side b), including the scans of the front- and back-cover and the inlay with some more detailed information you can get here. enjoy!

bonus: francois villon

July 4, 2008

i knew it existed – it just took me a while to come acrosss it. between 1974 and 1983 there existed a project called poesie und musik, publishing records that combined – right: poetry and music. based on texts by heinrich heine, pablo neruda, the (west-)indian chief seattle (and another record with northamerican-indian texts). and one with texts by francois villon. more precise: with the texts of paul zech, based on the poetry of francois villon. (for an explanation you might want to visit my earlier villon post).

this project was headed by the swiss musician rené bardet – for the first three records (the two heine records and the villon record) he worked together with orlando valentini and a certain andreas vollenweider. not much i know about orlando valentini – he seems to have played with various musicians over the time. he passed away a couple of years ago – as did rené bardet, who quit being a musician in the 80s and started to work in the media industry. but as all you (new agers) know, andreas vollenweider rose to international fame during the 1980s and is known now for his solowork as well as for his many collaborations. i have to admit that i always found it amazing the every household in california seemed to have at least one of his cd’s (and one of kitaro, of course)…

but back to 1976, when the three of them published the francois villon record.

i have to admit i was first a little bit disappointed – it starts with an instrumental in the medieval-folks-y style – and it continues to have that kind of style – sometimes more jazzy – for the first couple of songs. well, of course my expectations have been high, since i was on the lookout for this record for a while. but this kind of updated medieval sounding style is just not my cup of tea… first it seems to me like the poetry and the music are rather parallel then together – not unlike the the villon record by richard lauffen i posted earlier (and that is still up). but somehow the poetry of villon seems even further away by trying to put it in a musical context that refers to a time very long gone. somehow it is like seeing shakespeare in an “authentic” performance and then seeing the movie romeo and juliet from 1996 (yep, the one with leonardo di caprio), where the original text (and consequently the play) suddenly makes sense again by moving the visual to the now. or to try to explain it differently: the first couple of songs / ballads seem to be made too obviously like “one sould make it” but seem like not…hm…to have been appropriated enough. but in a way it is interesting to note that the music refers to a time before the texts by paul zech were created… but then comes the last song on the first side – and suddenly it works. it is kind of a romantic, (pop-)ballad flavoured with a spanish guitar. and although rené bardet still declames the text, it is suddenly really poetry and music, together. and the same is true for the second side: it starts with a more blues-y number – which fits the words perfectly and continues to the most amazing track, sommerballade von der armen louise, which is…heartrending.

so – starting at the end of the first side and for the full second side the music and the words re-inforce each other – it’s not just the music giving a nice background… but as usual i think you should listen to it for yourself. poesie und musik: francois villon, ripped from vinyl, including the coverscans (on the back-cover you see the three of them young and cute) you can get here. wikipedia informs me that there is a re-issue of this record planned, but i could not find any other source confirming this information, and andreas vollenweider does not even list this record in his discography on his website. and now make yourself a stiff drink and enjoy mister villons prose!