Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ira Cohen's Death

I only just discovered that Ira Cohen died two months ago, roughly a week after my friend, Fumi Kimura. I should pay closer attention to the news of the day, I suppose. (Ira's obituary made the New York Times.) Mr Cohen was a friend of my old and good friend, Irving Rosenthal; and he was someone whose work, as a poet, a filmmaker, and especially as a photograher, I greatly admire. He made these two lovely photographs of Jack Smith, which appear directly below, and it was he who told Irving that Jack was dying, back in 1989, and that he needed to drop everything and go see him (which is what Irving did.) I haven't spoken to Irving in over a year. It's like that now with some friends, much as I care for them. When I see Irving (and it should be soon) I'll ask him if he spoke with Ira before he died.

The images below are from the Mylar Chamber series. Some of the folk depicted there were international celebrities like Hendrix, while others were underground heroes or just adventurous explorers, and one was his son's mother, Jhil McEntyre.

The other day I was trying to recall the term for the Indian holy men who lose themselves in the wilderness. The title I couldn't recall was Sadhus. These are images either from or related to Ira Cohen's film Kings With Straw Mats. Those depicted are Nagas (Naked Renouncers.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fumi and David On The Back Of The Truck

One of the things that is lost when a close friend dies is the possibility of a cherished situation, brought about by that person(similar to the one pictured below,) ever occurring again. There was a very particular feeling of sociability which Fumi maintained in her stall at The Alemany Farmers' Market which I doubt I shall ever experience again; and while I still have vivid memories of such Saturdays, I would prefer to have more experiences of the kind. That is: I would prefer that Fumi was still with us.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Little Stabs At Happiness

In my high school (E.O.Smith,Storrs,CT) library there was a book I studied from time to time on my lunch break in lieu of a meal. This particular book (whose author's name escapes me, could it be Underground Film by Parker Tyler?) was concerned, in part, with experimental film; and it included two film stills which struck me as beautiful, bizarre, and unforgettable. One image was from Flaming Creatures and the other from Little Stabs At Happiness. My admiration for the pictures preceded any knowledge that both came about in large part through the efforts of Jack Smith. Of course there is more to this film than Mr. Smith's performance and concepts. It is primarily the work of Smith's constant companion of that time: Ken Jacobs, a remarkable film artist even without Smith, but, for me, so much better with. I've limited myself here to the first and last sections of this masterpiece, since those contain Smith's contribution. I encourage anyone interested in Mid-Twentieth Century American Filmmaking to rent or borrow the video: Treasures From American Film Archives, Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986.