DREAMWEAPON – The Art and Life of Angus MacLise opens May 10, 2011 in New York

Photo of Angus MacLise in Kathmandu by Ira Cohen

Via Boo-Hooray:

DREAMWEAPON / The Art and Life of Angus MacLise is the upcoming exhibit at pop-up / parasite gallery Boo-Hooray presenting the work of the American artist, poet, percussionist, and composer active in New York, San Francisco, Paris, London and Kathmandu in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The exhibition series is open every day May 10th – May 29th and will include an overview of poetry, artwork, and publications in Chelsea, a sound installation featuring the complete MacLise tapes archive in Chinatown, and a night of film at Anthology Film Archives screening never-before seen outtakes from Ira Cohen’s The Invasion of Thunderbolt PagodaDREAMWEAPON is curated
by Johan Kugelberg and Will Cameron.

TONIGHT Sept 8, 7-10pm, The Bowery: A benefit for IRA COHEN

From Ondi McMaster:

Poet, Publisher, Photographer, Filmmaker, Media Shaman
September 8, 2010 7-10pm
(Yes it is the first night of Rosh Hashana)

Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery New York, NY 10012
(212) 614-0505

The evening’s suggested donation is $20…. or more if feeling compassionate and generous. We will do a drawing among the donating guests for one of his signed prints. Ira Cohen himself may appear in the beginning of the evening and there will be a 9:30 showing of Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda.

Readings by poets and music of magicians, friends and peers of Ira, including

& others

We will be selling special CDs of Ira’s past readings($10) and signed photo giclees of a few images from his mylar series of the ’60s (see below). The giclees start at $250 each for 8×10’s $600 for 11X14, Jimi Hendrix or William S. Burroughs with cobra). (I will take preorders on these and you can pay now with Paypal by contacting me)

We need to raise money for Ira Cohen and his archives that have been displaced by the effects of the bedbug condition of his building. It has been an expensive and torrential experience, though Ira is for now staying peacefully at the Chelsea Hotel until he can return home.

This night is dedicated to him. Be inspired by his work. Come and support this benefit.

Here’s a story I did for the LAWeekly on Ira Cohen back in March, 2002, on the occasion of his reading at the Sonic Youth-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties at UCLA…

AKASHIC OFFERING: Ira Cohen, human being
By Jay Babcock

“Know that it is not imagination, but experience, which makes poetry. And that behind every image, behind every word, there is something I am trying to tell you, something that really happened.”

Ira Cohen said that, on a CD he made with DJ Cheb i Sabbah (The Majoon Traveler, Sub Rosa) back in 1996. And if any living American poet has experience to draw from, it’s the Earth-trotting Cohen.

Born in 1935 to deaf parents, raised on 92nd Street in New York, and higher-educated at Cornell and Columbia, Cohen went on to spend substantial creatively productive periods of his life in happening locations with adventurous people: the years in Morocco with Brion Gysin, William Burroughs and Paul Bowles; the mid- to late ‘60s in New York with the Living Theater, filmmakers Jack Smith and Alexandro Jodorowsky, and musicians like Tony Conrad and original Velvet Underground drummer Angus MacLise; and the ’70s, when he spent two and a half years in India, a year in Nepal, and the rest of the decade — in what Cohen calls his “Shangri-la period”—in Kathmandu, living with artists like MacLise and other members of Asia‘s “hippie-drug dealer-saddhu fraternity.” Today, Cohen reclines amid book landslides in a Manhattan apartment like some kind of psychedelic-in-residence, regaling visitors and phone callers with a steady stream of bohemian biography, financial complaints, and improvised observational poem-riffs that drip with the gathered wisdom of a uniquely blessed life and learned, generous, unrepentant “been there, smoked that” perspective.

“In the West, everywhere you look you see some kind of desecration of the human spirit,” he snorts. “Graffiti and ads. Used condoms in the Hudson River. Commercialized crapola. In the East, what you find on a comparable level is acts of consecration. That’s a very, very great difference. Now, yeah, there‘s a lot of poverty and suffering there. But there’s a lot of dignity in poverty—I saw people in Ethiopia starving during the famine who had more dignity than anyone on the planet. I can‘t say I’ve seen people putting flowers in little boats with candles and sailing them up the Hudson River with hopes for divine indulgence—not asking for something, but offering something, rather than trying to take something.”

Cohen‘s wide-ranging career—encompassing poetry, experimental and documentary filmmaking, audio recordings, astonishing “Mylar chamber” photographic portraiture, publication of the infamous Hashish Cookbook, and the editing of the landmark underground magazine Gnaoua (included on the cover of Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home)—is about offering something back to the world. Cohen calls that something—his collected works—the Akashic Record.

“Akashic basically means timeless thoughts,” he explains. “It‘s Sanskrit for ’toward the shining manifestation. A spot in the ether, a point where a potential thing is about to occur.‘ Or, as Judith Malina said, ’the hidden meaning of the hidden meaning.‘ Or, as Paul Bowles said, ’God‘s home movies.’ I never wanted to be a photographer like the commercial photographers. For me, it was more about the involvement of the mirror, and scrying, reflection, crystal-ball-gazing, trying to get to some other place. It was all about reflection, in the deepest sense of the word. Like a shamanic trip: A shaman is some kind of magician who can take on all kinds of special journeys like astral travel and come back with answers by putting himself into a certain space. He takes on the pain, he goes out there, he comes back with the answer or with the medicine. He‘s a healer. I like all those words — tantra, akasha, healing, shamanism. Add a touch of surrealism and humor, and you’ve got me dead in your sights.”

What‘s been Cohen’s response to the 9/11 attacks and their global aftereffects?

“It hasn‘t impinged on what I do on a given day, but . . . my dreams are stranger. My fears are greater. I feel somewhat depressed, because I feel that there are millions of people out there who are hell-bent on one thing only, which is destruction. Think of it! That’s never been true before. Sometimes I consider human almost a bad word.

”As an artist, you just keep writing what you feel, and what you think, and be the conscience of Planet Earth. I feel that my arms are extended as a human being across another chasm, I‘m trying to think intergalactically, I’m living my life as best I can. I‘ve been pushing a peanut with my nose ever since I can remember, and I don’t know what else to do! I don‘t have a big podium—I just have a small pen.“

Arthur Radio Transmission #21 w/ Thomas (Ted) Rees

Excerpt from “filth-scape,” a manuscript of poetry by Thomas (Ted) Rees:

The Fence Dream
Goes like this: God is a burglar rob you straight out of the womb. Yes, God is a burglar rob you straight out of the womb. Oh, God is a burglar rob you out too soon and drops you on a wide boulevard. Air is full of money, collapsing coarseness. The new agora strokes your nipples and laces its fingers through your belt loops. Resulting constancy of blue balls drives the pursuit of plasticity, solace. You walk, electricity caresses every step, blink, a new sensation of blankness. As touch screens don’t touch back. Visibility is created by wallet thickness and frequency of use, so no one can see your body as you meander. Burgled of corporeality, you sense a smile on your unseeable visage. Beyond the city, another, never-wavering polis of compulsory paper-shuffling, turning in on itself. Praise the world’s pollyanna for gifting you, unseen. See.

STREAM IT: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Arthur-Radio-Transmission-21-6-13-2010.mp3%5D

DOWNLOAD: Arthur Radio Transmission #21 w/ Thomas (Ted) Rees 6-13-2010

This week’s playlist…
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This week’s collage, including illustration of Alejandro Jodorowsky by Will Sweeney and photo of Ira Cohen by Gerard Malanga. Double-click for fullscreen + scroll.

Let’s take a silver train underground
to the back streets of Atlantis
thru the corrugated iron roots &
then to the peak itself, to the
saddle of the last ridge past strewn
finally meandering thru cascading snow
wearing miner’s hats on the perpendicular
dark night &
going up to the edge of the Southern Cross
where we reach at last the pure white
glistening glaciers &
begin to chant over bones in rags
of Scorpio
Armless in the sticky substance how could
they ever have had a chance?
Permission will not be required
only poems of blood offered to
the memory of TREE
It is not ice which is eternal
but the fury of the absolute
separating the void from the spirit
of man,
uplifting like life when it is used
against itself,
that is, Radical Love — & again, we
are reduced to living beings
Caught by the instant
we are taken away
We live in the imprint of the flame
& we are helmeted within the internal
where the ray begins its passage
across the indignant sky
Vain clouds uncaring in a tangle of
culminate in the hermaphroditic mirror…

– Ira Cohen (taken from “Atlantis Express”)

Read more of Ira’s dome-shaking poetry here.

Stream: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Arthur-Radio-Transmission-13-4-11-2010.mp3%5D
Download: Arthur Radio Transmission #13 4-11-2010

This week’s playlist…
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"Life, revolution and theater are three words for the same thing: an unconditional NO to the present society," said Julian Beck.

Arthur Magazine proudly presents PARADISE NOW: The Living Theatre in Amerika, a DVD/36-page booklet/double-sided poster featuring rare, never-before-distributed films from The Living Theatre‘s historic and influential ’68-’69 American tour.

Here is the trailer preview teaser, which may not be safe for work but is Totally Safe For Life:

In 1968 the The Living Theatre, an anarchist collective theater troupe led by Julian Beck and Judith Malina, triumphantly returned to America from years of self-imposed exile in Europe. Their new production, which has already taken Europe by storm, was Paradise Now, an intense, challenging distillation and enactment of every principle that the Living Theatre held dear.

“Life, revolution and theater are three words for the same thing: an unconditional NO to the present society,” said Julian Beck. The staging of Paradise Now—a series of provocative scenarios involving group nudity, ideological declamations and the like—attempted to dissolve the boundaries of human interactions, forging a new harmony between the actors and audience. Of this process, Beck wrote:

“Collective creation is the secret weapon of the people… This play is a voyage from the many to the one and from the one to the many. It’s a spiritual voyage and a political voyage, a voyage for the actors and the spectators. The play is a vertical ascent toward permanent revolution, leading to revolutionary action here and now. The revolution of which the play speaks is the beautiful, non-violent, anarchist revolution. The purpose of the play is to lead to a state of being in which non-violent revolutionary action is possible.”

The result of this shared voyage was the visionary, flamboyant creation of a temporary anarchist collective—free from the enslavements of war, violence, the State, money and the self. Audiences and critics were alternately enraptured and repulsed, radicalized and shocked. Was this the end of theater? Or the beginning of something else? Whatever it was, it was unforgettable, and it rippled into the increasingly volatile culture of the time via the subsequent work of people like the Doors’ Jim Morrison, who famously followed the Living Theatre’s “Paradise Now” around California and helped fund their work.

Director Marty Topp’s film of “Paradise Now,” produced by Ira Cohen, featuring music by the MC5, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Apache Indians and others, is an intense, unforgettable 40-minute film that documents what happened when the Living Theatre staged Paradise Now in America. We have packaged it with “Emergency!”, director Gwen Brown’s excellent but little-seen 30-minute 1968 documentary on the Living Theatre; a double-sided poster; an elaborate 36-page booklet of Living Theatre archival materials; exclusive video interviews with Living Theatre members Judith Malina, Julian Beck and Hanon Raznikov; the complete Paradise Now! script; and much more.

Arthur, together with the DVD’s producer Universal Mutant, is making Paradise Now available to all at the lowest price we can afford: $29.95 in the USA, and its equivalent for overseas customers. We printed an edition of 1000. To order via PayPal, click here to go to the Arthur Store.

Sunday, July 19 7pm: Arthur co-presents The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda + Paradise Now screening at ATA in SF


Sunday, July 19

Artists’ Television Access
992 Valencia, S.F.
(415) 824-3890



MCMAF & Arthur Magazine co-present

The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda + Paradise Now

Take an alchemical journey with Ira Cohen’s The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, a mythosphere filtered through Mylar and worthy of Kenneth Anger’s most lysergic moments, with ritual music provided by ex-Velvet Undergrounder Angus MacLise. Also on the program is Marty Topp’s Paradise Now: The Living Theatre in Amerika. “Life, revolution and theater are three words for the same thing: an unconditional NO to the present society” – Julian Beck, Living Theatre co-founder

Nieves Retrospective thru May 23rd at Printed Matter in New York, NY

Do you dream of a room filled with one-of-a-kind zines and art books made by amazing people, where you are free to spend long, contented afternoons perusing at your leisure? Consider Printed Matter your fantasy library. Currently on view is a collection of 100 + titles by Swiss publisher Nieves, ranging from “limited edition, photocopied zines, to more-formally recognized hardcover, perfect-bound and offset books.”

Included in Nieves’ catalog are works by Wesley Willis, Harmony Korine, Chris Johanson/Jo Jackson, Taro Hirano, David Shrigley, Maya Hayuk, Ira Cohen, Thurston Moore and many, many others

On view April 4th – May 23rd
Printed Matter
195 Tenth Avenue New York, NY 10011

For more info & hours, go here.

NYTimes on Arthur's "The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda" release on DVD

August 27, 2006 – Sunday New York Times

Long, Strange Trip for a Hypnotic Film


It took 38 years, but Ira Cohen’s cult film, “The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda,” which was first screened in 1968 at the high point of the psychedelic hippie head rush, is now commercially available. Given the close calls, the long absences and his chaotic archival system, Mr. Cohen, 71, is a little surprised himself.

“It didn’t really involve patience,” he said in his apartment on West 106th Street in Manhattan, surrounded by books stacked waist high. “It was just reality.”

In 1961 Mr. Cohen built a room in his New York loft lined with large panels of Mylar plastic, a sort of bendable mirror that causes images to crackle and swirl in hypnotic, sometimes beautiful patterns. After a few years experimenting with the technique in photographs, he invited his friends from the downtown scene — like Beverly Grant, Vali Myers and Tony Conrad — to make a film.

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FINALLY AVAILABLE: “PARADISE NOW: The Living Theatre in Amerika” DVD

UPDATE MARCH 26, 2013: Remaining stock of this dvd available from Secretly Canadian distribution. Click here for ordering info.

“Life, revolution and theater are three words for the same thing:
an unconditional NO to the present society.” – Julian Beck (Living Theatre)

“Paradise Now … more relevant now because we’re closer
to now than we ever have been.” – Hanon Reznikov (Living Theatre)

Arthur Magazine proudly presents PARADISE NOW: The Living Theatre in Amerika DVD — a fulminating art-meets-life installation brought to you in collaboration with The Living Theatre, The Ira Cohen Akashic Project and Saturnalia Media Rites of the Dreamweapon featuring rare, never-before-distributed films and a bacchanal of revolutionary multimedia documents from The Living Theatre’s historic and influential ’68-’69 American tour.