Monday, 7 April 2008

Vice March Literary Reviews

Literary reviews I wrote in March for Vice Magazine.

Vice March Literary Reviews

Punk Is Dead, Everything Is Everything
Bryan Ray Turcotte
Gingko Press

Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh! Here comes the follow up to Fucked Up & Photocopied! Damian from Fucked Up coincidentally owns Fucked Up & Photocopied and is a big fan. His wife has even pre-ordered this one for him so he can stack it chronologically on his shelf at home. Like it’s predecessor, Punk Is Dead, Punk Is Everything goes heavy on the fliers, ticket stubs, ‘zine covers and cuttings from there and then which lends the whole affair the air of some meticulous and obsessive fanboys scrapbook. Which it basically is. The book moves from the smacked out New York mid-70’s antics of the Dolls, Ramones and Johnny Thunders to interviews on the early 80’s movement with Ian Mackaye and punk profiteering with Malcolm McLaren covering so many bases that if you are stuck for a punk rock Easter present then ta da! the hunt is over.

Laurence King Publishing

So you think you don’t need a book that’s a massive catalogue of hundreds and hundreds of logos eh? Well, so did we. Until this turned up. You can’t help but keep picking it up and flicking through it. It’s like a big, bound lump of visual candy that once you’ve tasted you have to keep eating forever and ever. It’s beautifully and minimally laid out allowing all of these familiar arrangements of letters and colours which you see 67,000 times plastered everywhere you go everyday to breathe on it’s milky white pages and become interesting bits of design that someone spent time and effort creating only to be used as the tight end of the corporate battering ram. The best bit of all is how the book is divided up into sections that initially seem bizarre but rapidly make perfect sense: ‘waves’, ‘cornucopia’, ‘incomplete characters’, ‘ambigrams’. Just saying them out loud is pretty calming.

Yeti 5
Yeti Publishing

Yeti is a truly beautiful labour of love looked after by the ever-insightful Mike McGonal, a guy who really knows a good thing when he sees it or hears it. We knew this already because Mike has written stuff in this very magazine in the past which was great and all but Yeti 5 is simply scrape-yer-jaw-off-the-floor super duper. From the scary, dog coming to get you cover by Saul Chernick through conversations with Will Oldham, Pat Gubler from PG Six and the late Leigh Bowery’s wife Nicola to work from German Surrealist artist Unica Zurn, drawings from Kyle Field from Little Wings and Kevin Arrow, a feature on Blind Willie Johnson, a Western Saharan travelogue by Hisham Mayet from Sublime Frequencies and the dearly departed Charles Gocher of the Sun City Girls as well as some great AIM transcripts compiled by some guy calling himself Bloodninja. Still not sold? It also comes with a free CD with artwork by Jeff Mangum, which features a compilation of the Neutral Milk Hotel man’s favourite ‘78’s. Cha ching.

Stephen Shore

You should already know Stephen Shore for his super well known collections American Surfaces and Uncommon Places. These two bodies of work pre-figured and hugely influenced the work of folks like Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans and Thomas Struth who you, your friends and everyone else with a foundation in photography now rip off. There is however far more to Shore than a cursory skim through those two works would suggest. This little book is like Shore 101 and covers everything from his great black and white shots from the mid-60’s of Warhol’s Factory scene as well as his conceptual late 60’s work through to his better known 70’s shots that effortlessly transform boring chunks of the American everyday into beautiful images that transcend localisation. You also get an exclusive Michael Fried interview and a bunch of essay by the man himself. Wow.

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