November 18th, 2006

Chris Keeley

another homeless man

evicted from 2nd and D CCNV

Community for Creative Non-Violence



© Keeley 2006                                                                               Union Station Washington DC
Chris Keeley

Howler

Allen Ginsberg — as photographed by William S. Burroughs — on the rooftop of his Lower East Side apartment, between Avenues B and C, in the Fall of 1953.

Howler

Chris Keeley

Poison Pen and Ink

THE JOKE’S OVER

Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, and Me.

By Ralph Steadman.

Illustrated. 396 pp. Harcourt. $26.


Harcourt

Steadman impersonating Thompson.



The illustrator Ralph Steadman is a brave man. Not only did he survive humiliation, gunplay and hallucinatory despair through decades of collaboration with the legendarily difficult journalist Hunter S. Thompson, he decided to include as the epigraph to his memoir of those adventures a remark of Thompson’s: “Don’t write, Ralph. You’ll bring shame on your family.”



To follow this with a 400-page ramble is the sort of dare the prank-loving Thompson, who committed suicide last year, might have appreciated. For the sake of the Steadman family’s honor, it should be said that “The Joke’s Over” features a lot of Steadman’s drawings, though reduced too much from their original size. True, these pictures don’t exactly constitute writing, but they are brilliant. Splattery explosions of ink, detonated in the presence of politicians and stolid middle-class citizens, they stand as the mangling visions of a 20th-century Hogarth. When they originally appeared (usually in Rolling Stone), lodged amid Thompson’s prose, the images served as the visual equivalent of the writer’s “gonzo” — a term Steadman defines as “controlled madness” — explorations of America.

As for Steadman’s writing, let’s just say it won’t bring shame to his family, but it won’t slather the clan with glory either. At his best, Steadman, who is Welsh, does a passable imitation of Thompson’s mad rants.

They met in 1970 on Thompson’s home turf of Louisville, covering the Kentucky Derby on assignment for the short-lived magazine Scanlan’s. Steadman’s drawings — vicious caricatures of local residents, including Thompson’s brother — shocked the writer with their predatory vigor. Thompson, soon to become famous for a similar bloodthirsty tack in prose, demanded of the artist: “Why must you scribble these filthy ravings and in broad daylight too? ... This is Kentucky, not skid row. I love these people. They are my friends and you treated them like scum.” Their first collaboration ended with the journalist spraying Steadman from a can of Mace. “We can do without your kind in Kentucky. Now get your bags and get out, and take your rotten drawings with you!”

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Chris Keeley

Pretty on the Inside

Courtney Love at the Glastonbury Music Festival in 1999, during a performance by her band, Hole.



DIRTY BLONDE

The Diaries of Courtney Love.

Edited by Ava Stander.

Illustrated. 292 pp. Faber & Faber. $35.



There was a moment — let’s say 1989, since that’s when I discovered her — when Courtney Love seemed like the solution to every girl’s problems. A brazenly feminist punk rocker with big hips and a sloppy grin, she was the first female celebrity in a long time who wasn’t embarrassed to take up space.

Sure, they called her Kurt Cobain’s Yoko. And she certainly got into a lot of fights. But Love had a messy charisma and a style — those ripped babydoll dresses and smeared makeup — that felt like a satire of sexiness. Her 1994 album “Live Through This” was the first rock I’d ever heard that really focused on women, with lyrics about breast-feeding and rape and competition, but done with humor and a nutsy aggression rare among female performers. I listened to it about 50 times.

Love, now 42, had a colorful bio, too, like a punk Pippi Longstocking. A foster kid with a trust fund, a bratty sometimes-stripper who bounced between schools and juvenile detention halls, Love traveled the world after being emancipated at 16 by her therapist mom, and then popped up in the Seattle grunge scene. Her role models were women like Frances Farmer and Anne Sexton — crazy artists too pure to live — but Courtney Love felt more accessible, like a friendly, shaggy golden retriever throwing her paws up on the public’s chest.

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Chris Keeley

DIRTY BLONDE

DIRTY BLONDE

The Diaries of Courtney Love.

Edited by Ava Stander.

Illustrated. 292 pp. Faber & Faber. $35.





Love writes in her introduction: "I have always said that I would never write a book, and I really haven't." It's true—"diaries" is something of a misnomer, as "scrapbooks" would more accurately describe the collection of old photographs, hand-scrawled song lyrics and other documents that fill these pages. The materials assembled by Stander cover every phase of the rock star's "wild pirate life," from a failed childhood audition for The Mickey Mouse Club to an e-mail exchange with Lindsay Lohan about dealing with negative press coverage. (The compilation is so up-to-date it even includes her shocked reactions to the revelations about JT Leroy.) Along the way there are mimeographed flyers for early Hole concerts, a picture of the actual heart-shaped box that inspired Kurt Cobain to write the Nirvana song and photo after photo of Love herself, from candid backstage shots to more polished celebrity portraits. A foreword by Carrie Fisher and an afterword by political activists Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards (Manifesta) each, in their own way, celebrate Love as an unrestrained feminist, but the best way to understand her may be to plunge directly into the raw materials. One thing's for sure: you really have never seen a celebrity memoir like this.
Chris Keeley

Paradise Life

Paradise Life -

“I wanted to get the message out that any addict could get clean, stop using drugs and find a new way to live.
My personal life experience can be a living example to help educate the public that addiction is a humanistic
disease from which the addict and family members suffer no matter what supportive opportunities are given. The disease of addiction is completely profound in the aspect that help can only be obtained through a miraculous
process of Recovery otherwise known as Grace. I share about the horrors of my life and how wonderful my
life has become today. In the spirit of recovery my contribution is exemplified by the selfless effort of helping
other addicts find and achieve recovery. Today my goal is to help others unconditionally and to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. My understanding is my contribution will help alleviate the pain and suffering of addicts and those close to addicts by being exposed to this work of art. My motive was to bring to light the love and truth about the feelings of an addict who has found joy, happiness and freedom. This is the recovery revolution that is going on right now.”
- Chris Keeley
Copyright © 2006
by Christopher Keeley. 35335-KEEL
ISBN 10: Softcover 1-4257-3634-3
ISBN 13: Hardcover 978-1-4257-3634-7
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