Discussion:
Death of Jay Landesman, Beat Writer and Editor
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Steve Hayes
2011-02-27 14:14:17 UTC
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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/arts/27landesman.html?ref=obituaries

February 26, 2011
Jay Landesman, Beat Writer and Editor, Dies at 91
By WILLIAM GRIMES

Jay Landesman, a writer and editor whose journal Neurotica analyzed the
anxieties of postwar America and whose Broadway musical, "The Nervous
Set," has been called the first (and only) Beat musical, died on Feb. 20
at his home in London. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by his son Cosmo.

Mr. Landesman aptly summed up his life in the title of his 1987 memoir,
"Rebel Without Applause." He was an animating figure in one
countercultural scene after another: as the editor of Neurotica; as the
founder of the Crystal Palace, a daring cabaret theater in his hometown,
St. Louis; as a mixer, mingler and promoter in the swinging London of
the early 1960s; and later as a bohemian at large.

None of this frenzied activity brought him acclaim. Among his
high-profile friends in the arts and entertainment, he achieved the rare
distinction of being famous for not being famous. If celebrity eluded
him, his enthusiasm never flagged. Throughout a long, eccentrically
creative life, he bubbled over with ideas, although they tended to run
along the lines of "Dearest Dracula," the musical he wrote and staged at
the Dublin Theater Festival in 1965, or his dream project, the Jay
Landesman Museum, a celebration of his life and career that, alas,
remained on the drawing board.

"Hell has no hustler like Jay with a new project," Cosmo Landesman, the
film critic for The Sunday Times of London, wrote in "Star Struck: Fame,
Failure, My Family and Me" (2008).

Irving Ned Landesman was born on July 15, 1919, in St. Louis, where his
family had an antiques business. He attended the University of Missouri
and Rice University in Houston.

Mr. Landesman founded Neurotica in 1948 after discovering, somewhat to
his surprise, that the psychoanalysts and writers whom he approached
were intrigued by his proposal for a quarterly that would explore the
connections between neurosis, sex, the arts and the plight of what he
called "the creative, anxious man" in postwar America.

Neurotica never attracted more than a few thousand readers, but it
earned a place of honor in the annals of hipdom for its provocative
analysis of American culture, with contributors like Marshall McLuhan,
Anatole Broyard, Chandler Brossard and Carl Solomon. Mr. Landesman
reissued it in book form in 1981 as "Neurotica: The Authentic Voice of
the Beat Generation."

In 1950 Mr. Landesman married his second wife, the former Frances
Deitsch, a lyricist he had met in Greenwich Village. She survives him,
as do his sons Cosmo and Miles, both of London, and three grandchildren.
Rocco Landesman, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is
a nephew.

After turning over publication of Neurotica to Gershon Legman, a
frequent contributor who went on to write the two-volume study "The
Rationale of the Dirty Joke," Mr. Landesman returned to St. Louis and
founded the Crystal Palace in what had been a gay bar called Dante's
Inferno. It became a cultural hot spot as he booked little-known
performers like Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Mike Nichols and Elaine May,
and an 18-year-old singer named Barbra Streisand.

"The Nervous Set" - his unpublished, semiautobiographical first novel
about the editor of a magazine called Nerves adrift in Greenwich
Village - provided the basis for a musical.

Adapted by Mr. Landesman and Theodore J. Flicker, with music by Tommy
Wolf and lyrics by his wife, "The Nervous Set" opened on Broadway in
1959 (with Larry Hagman playing an outrageously offensive writer) to
mildly appreciative reviews at best. It closed after 23 performances,
leaving in its wake two songs (from the original production, at the
Crystal Palace) that remain popular, "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men"
and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most."

Undeterred, he collaborated with Nelson Algren on a musical version of
"A Walk on the Wild Side," which was produced at the Crystal Palace in
1960.

In 1964 Mr. Landesman took his family to London, where he tried his luck
as a theatrical producer and set to work on a second novel, "Bad
Nipple," which, like the first, remained unpublished.

In the early 1970s he founded the short-lived Creative Arts Liberated,
an "anti-talent agency" with the motto "We take the sting out of success
and put the fun back in failure!" It did not thrive. He had better luck
as a publisher. His Polytantric Press, founded in 1977, reissued
Elizabeth Smart's neglected 1945 novel "By Grand Central Station I Sat
Down and Wept" and published quirky new books by even quirkier authors.

His second volume of memoirs, "Jaywalking," came out in 1993.
"Landesmania!," a biography he commissioned his friend Philip Trevena to
write, was published by Tiger of the Stripe in 2005.

Cosmo Landesman located his father's need for attention in a crippling
anxiety about social status. "This is a man who could walk into an empty
broom cupboard and still worry about being the biggest name there," he
wrote in his memoir. Yet this unappeased appetite for adulation made
him, if not a creative force, an instigator of creativity - like
Falstaff, the cause of wit in others.

A prime example came in the 1960s, when he stood before his good friend,
the satirist Peter Cook, and delivered a deadly comedy routine that
elicited profound silence.

"Peter, this is subliminal humor," he said. "I'm trying to take the
laughter out of comedy!" Mr. Cook replied, "Congratulations, Jay."
--
Steve Hayes
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/litmain.htm
http://www.goodreads.com/hayesstw
http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/Methodius
Marko Amnell
2011-02-27 17:48:33 UTC
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Post by Steve Hayes
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/arts/27landesman.html?ref=obituaries
February 26, 2011
Jay Landesman, Beat Writer and Editor, Dies at 91
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Jay Landesman, a writer and editor whose journal Neurotica analyzed the
anxieties of postwar America and whose Broadway musical, "The Nervous
Set," has been called the first (and only) Beat musical, died on Feb. 20
at his home in London. He was 91.
[...]
Post by Steve Hayes
In the early 1970s he founded the short-lived Creative Arts Liberated,
an "anti-talent agency" with the motto "We take the sting out of success
and put the fun back in failure!" It did not thrive. He had better luck
as a publisher. His Polytantric Press, founded in 1977, reissued
Elizabeth Smart's neglected 1945 novel "By Grand Central Station I Sat
Down and Wept" and published quirky new books by even quirkier authors.
Interesting. I have long intended to read Smart's book but
somehow have never gotten around to it. I have always
liked the title -- there is something special about it.
But a whole book of prose poetry just about a woman
suffering for her love?
Post by Steve Hayes
His second volume of memoirs, "Jaywalking," came out in 1993.
Leno stole his idea?
Jack Campin
2011-03-01 00:31:46 UTC
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Raw Message
Jay Landesman, Beat Writer and Editor, Dies at 91 [...]
His Polytantric Press, founded in 1977, reissued
Elizabeth Smart's neglected 1945 novel "By Grand Central Station I Sat
Down and Wept" and published quirky new books by even quirkier authors.
Interesting. I have long intended to read Smart's book but somehow
have never gotten around to it. I have always liked the title -- there
is something special about it. But a whole book of prose poetry just
about a woman suffering for her love?
There's a lot more to it, in particular a long satire on small-minded
middle-American moralism as found wanting by the values of King Solomon.

I bought the British edition (Panther?) of the early 1970s (that is,
a few years before Landesman's: he can't have been taking much of a
risk). I bought it because of the cover design. I was coming down
off an acid trip and went into a second-hand bookshop. The cover of
that edition had a startling effect with the title appearing to be
half-dissolved by a teardrop, made even more startling by chemically
induced animation. Bu it stayed startling afterwards, and so did
Smart's writing.

I think the bookshop (in Auckland, NZ) is still there - I thought it
was in Shortland Street, but Google found me Jason Books in O'Connell
Street, only a couple of minutes walk from where I remember it. Seems
to be where Google Street View runs out of coverage.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
e m a i l : j a c k @ c a m p i n . m e . u k
Jack Campin, 11 Third Street, Newtongrange, Midlothian EH22 4PU, Scotland
mobile 07800 739 557 <http://www.campin.me.uk> Twitter: JackCampin
Marko Amnell
2011-03-01 16:49:14 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Jack Campin
Jay Landesman, Beat Writer and Editor, Dies at 91 [...]
His Polytantric Press, founded in 1977, reissued
Elizabeth Smart's neglected 1945 novel "By Grand Central Station I Sat
Down and Wept" and published quirky new books by even quirkier authors.
Interesting. I have long intended to read Smart's book but somehow
have never gotten around to it. I have always liked the title -- there
is something special about it. But a whole book of prose poetry just
about a woman suffering for her love?
There's a lot more to it, in particular a long satire on small-minded
middle-American moralism as found wanting by the values of King Solomon.
Okay, I am intrigued enough that I will take the plunge.
I just ordered it from amazon.co.uk. I had known about
her for a long time, as I lived in Toronto, Canada for
ten years. I did know there is more to it than just her
tortured love affair. I recall a good conversation about
the book with Hans Burger (who also likes the title),
a Swiss poet and lit crit professor (taught at Brown
University for a few years). Also proud of the fact he
had a telephone conversation with Elias Canetti,
but Canetti declined Burger's invitation to a Swiss
literature conference so he never got to meet him.

Also recently ordered but have not arrived yet:

_Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions
of War_ by Barbara Ehrenreich. Her thesis sounds
similar to the ideas of René Girard and Roberto
Calasso. From amazon.com:
"Rather than approach the subject from a physiological
perspective, pinpointing instinct or innate aggressiveness
as the violent culprit, she reaches back to primitive man's
fear of predators and the anxieties associated with life
in the food chain. To deal with the reality of living as prey,
she argues that blood rites were created to dramatize and
validate the life-and-death struggle. Jumping ahead to
the modern age, Ehrenreich brands nationalism a more
sophisticated form of blood ritual, a phenomenon that
conjures similar fears of predation, whether in the form
of lost territory or the more extreme ethnic cleansing."
http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Rites-Origins-History-Passions/dp/0805057870

_Topics in Classical Automorphic Forms_, by
Henryk Iwaniec, a standard textbook on automorphic
forms, a type of function used in number theory.
Post by Jack Campin
I bought the British edition (Panther?) of the early 1970s (that is,
a few years before Landesman's: he can't have been taking much of a
risk). I bought it because of the cover design. I was coming down
off an acid trip and went into a second-hand bookshop. The cover of
that edition had a startling effect with the title appearing to be
half-dissolved by a teardrop, made even more startling by chemically
induced animation. Bu it stayed startling afterwards, and so did
Smart's writing.
I think the bookshop (in Auckland, NZ) is still there - I thought it
was in Shortland Street, but Google found me Jason Books in O'Connell
Street, only a couple of minutes walk from where I remember it. Seems
to be where Google Street View runs out of coverage.
Arindam Banerjee
2011-03-01 23:18:08 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Marko Amnell
Post by Jack Campin
Jay Landesman, Beat Writer and Editor, Dies at 91 [...]
His Polytantric Press, founded in 1977, reissued
Elizabeth Smart's neglected 1945 novel "By Grand Central Station I Sat
Down and Wept" and published quirky new books by even quirkier authors.
Interesting. I have long intended to read Smart's book but somehow
have never gotten around to it. I have always liked the title -- there
is something special about it.  But a whole book of prose poetry just
about a woman suffering for her love?
There's a lot more to it, in particular a long satire on small-minded
middle-American moralism as found wanting by the values of King Solomon.
Okay, I am intrigued enough that I will take the plunge.
I just ordered it from amazon.co.uk. I had known about
her for a long time, as I lived in Toronto, Canada for
ten years. I did know there is more to it than just her
tortured love affair. I recall a good conversation about
the book with Hans Burger (who also likes the title),
a Swiss poet and lit crit professor (taught at Brown
University for a few years). Also proud of the fact he
had a telephone conversation with Elias Canetti,
but Canetti declined Burger's invitation to a Swiss
literature conference so he never got to meet him.
_Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions
of War_ by Barbara Ehrenreich. Her thesis sounds
similar to the ideas of Ren Girard and Roberto
"Rather than approach the subject from a physiological
perspective, pinpointing instinct or innate aggressiveness
as the violent culprit, she reaches back to primitive man's
fear of predators and the anxieties associated with life
in the food chain. To deal with the reality of living as prey,
she argues that blood rites were created to dramatize and
validate the life-and-death struggle.
This reminds me of the lovely little kid goats I fondled before they
were to be sacrificed, ceremonially, at the site of our very earliest
public Durga puja near Kolkata.
In those days, the people ate little meat. Meat-eating was done as a
result of such sacrifice. The brave animal had to die, the priest or
his helper had to kill, in order to make the population not namby-
pamby, but have some martial spirit instead. The knowledge and
experience of ghastliness, is essential in combat situations.

In due course, animal sacrifice was replaced with the symbolic
sacrifice of a coconut, or gourd.

Now, how may animals are sacrified daily to the belly-god? I read
that 800,000 male calves were sacrificed annually for milk-making in
Australia alone, and the CEOs want to make $128m by not feeding them
before killing them. I suppose, that if you don't see that killing,
it did not happen. Einsteinism (appearance is reality; non-appearance
thus makes it never happened or at least not worth bothering about)
working well for business!

Cheers,
Arindam Banerjee
Marko Amnell
2011-03-02 10:42:57 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
[...]
Post by Arindam Banerjee
Post by Marko Amnell
_Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions
of War_ by Barbara Ehrenreich. Her thesis sounds
similar to the ideas of Rene Girard and Roberto
"Rather than approach the subject from a physiological
perspective, pinpointing instinct or innate aggressiveness
as the violent culprit, she reaches back to primitive man's
fear of predators and the anxieties associated with life
in the food chain. To deal with the reality of living as prey,
she argues that blood rites were created to dramatize and
validate the life-and-death struggle.
This reminds me of the lovely little kid goats I fondled before they
were to be sacrificed, ceremonially, at the site of our very earliest
public Durga puja near Kolkata.
In those days, the people ate little meat. Meat-eating was done as a
result of such sacrifice. The brave animal had to die, the priest or
his helper had to kill, in order to make the population not namby-
pamby, but have some martial spirit instead. The knowledge and
experience of ghastliness, is essential in combat situations.
In due course, animal sacrifice was replaced with the symbolic
sacrifice of a coconut, or gourd.
Now, how may animals are sacrified daily to the belly-god?
The belly-god? Moloch? That was the first thing that came
to my mind when I read the words "the belly-god." As portrayed
in the 1914 film "Cabiria":

Loading Image...
Loading Image...
Loading Image...
Loading Image...
Loading Image...

I watched the film again recently (it is the earliest film I
really like) and its "invocation to Moloch" scene has been
on my mind a lot recently because of the massacres in Libya
(literally the country is devouring its own children). One
interesting fact about the movie is that Giovanni Pastrone
was inspired to make the epic film by the Italo-Turkish
war of 1911-1912 which led to the creation of the territory
now known as Libya. The war itself was interesting because
it introduced some modern military tactics, featuring the
first bombing from an airplane, as well as the first bombings
from dirigible airships. "Cabiria" (paid tribute by Fellini in
his "Nights of Cabiria") was one of the earliest feature
films, and helped to popularize the notion of feature-length
movies. It was also one of the costliest movies made to
date, costing $100,000 ("The Thief of Bagdad", 1924,
starring Douglas Fairbanks, was another record-breaker
at $1 million, and another of my favourite silent films).
It is an odd fact of film history that the concept of
feature-length movies was inspired by these epic films
made in Italy after the Libyan war in a climate of jingoism
and militarism (which continued into the fascist years of
Mussolini). "Cabiria" introduced the hero Maciste who
featured in countless later films, especially during the
sword and sandal heyday of the 1960s. The original
bare-chested muscular action hero (decades before
Arnold Schwarzenegger), in the film he is only a slave
(and in blackface) but he steals every scene he is in.
Bartolomeo Pagano plays Maciste, and he was a famous
movie star in Italy throughout the 1920s. The story goes
that Pagano was an unknown longshoreman working in
Genova when the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio (who wrote
the intertitles for "Cabiria") happened to see him walking
by and was so impressed by his appearance and physique
that he asked if he would like to act in an upcoming film.
Post by Arindam Banerjee
I read that 800,000 male calves were sacrificed annually for
milk-making in Australia alone, and the CEOs want to make
$128m by not feeding them before killing them. I suppose,
that if you don't see that killing, it did not happen. Einsteinism
(appearance is reality; non-appearance thus makes it never
happened or at least not worth bothering about) working well
for business!
Arindam Banerjee
2011-03-02 12:27:51 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Marko Amnell
[...]
Post by Arindam Banerjee
Post by Marko Amnell
_Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions
of War_ by Barbara Ehrenreich. Her thesis sounds
similar to the ideas of Rene Girard and Roberto
"Rather than approach the subject from a physiological
perspective, pinpointing instinct or innate aggressiveness
as the violent culprit, she reaches back to primitive man's
fear of predators and the anxieties associated with life
in the food chain. To deal with the reality of living as prey,
she argues that blood rites were created to dramatize and
validate the life-and-death struggle.
This reminds me of the lovely little kid goats I fondled before they
were to be sacrificed, ceremonially, at the site of our very earliest
public Durga puja near Kolkata.
In those days, the people ate little meat.  Meat-eating was done as a
result of such sacrifice.  The brave animal had to die, the priest or
his helper had to kill, in order to make the population not namby-
pamby, but have some martial spirit instead. The knowledge and
experience of ghastliness, is essential in combat situations.
In due course, animal sacrifice was replaced with the symbolic
sacrifice of a coconut, or gourd.
Now, how may animals are sacrified daily to the belly-god?
The belly-god? Moloch? That was the first thing that came
to my mind when I read the words "the belly-god." As portrayed
Loading Image...http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Cabiria_1914_poste...
I watched the film again recently (it is the earliest film I
really like) and its "invocation to Moloch" scene has been
on my mind a lot recently because of the massacres in Libya
(literally the country is devouring its own children). One
interesting fact about the movie is that Giovanni Pastrone
was inspired to make the epic film by the Italo-Turkish
war of 1911-1912 which led to the creation of the territory
now known as Libya. The war itself was interesting because
it introduced some modern military tactics, featuring the
first bombing from an airplane, as well as the first bombings
from dirigible airships. "Cabiria" (paid tribute by Fellini in
his "Nights of Cabiria") was one of the earliest feature
films, and helped to popularize the notion of feature-length
movies. It was also one of the costliest movies made to
date, costing $100,000 ("The Thief of Bagdad", 1924,
starring Douglas Fairbanks, was another record-breaker
at $1 million, and another of my favourite silent films).
It is an odd fact of film history that the concept of
feature-length movies was inspired by these epic films
made in Italy after the Libyan war in a climate of jingoism
and militarism (which continued into the fascist years of
Mussolini). "Cabiria" introduced the hero Maciste who
featured in countless later films, especially during the
sword and sandal heyday of the 1960s. The original
bare-chested muscular action hero (decades before
Arnold Schwarzenegger), in the film he is only a slave
(and in blackface) but he steals every scene he is in.
Bartolomeo Pagano plays Maciste, and he was a famous
movie star in Italy throughout the 1920s. The story goes
that Pagano was an unknown longshoreman working in
the intertitles for "Cabiria") happened to see him walking
by and was so impressed by his appearance and physique
that he asked if he would like to act in an upcoming film.
Marko, thanks for the info. Recently my ear lobes were pulled and my
belly was soundly rubbed by the Head Monk of the Buddhist Monastery at
Hue, Vietnam. "You are from India" he declared, and plenty of his
young disciples listened. I did not think it would have been seemly
to claim Australian citizenship at that moment. So I agreed,
whereupon he pulled my admittedly elongated earlobes and said "Like
Buddha". He then held me tightly and rubbed my belly, saying I was
the "Laughing Buddha". My wife was too astounded to take the
photograph, it would have been just great if she could have pulled it
off. Still, we have with us a photo of the Head Monk and his young
disciples.

Our tour guide explained that the Laughing Buddha had nothing in his
brains, which was why he was always laughing. He kept all his wisdom
in his belly - had he kept same in his head he could never laugh, for
he would be too sad to do so. Because he was a good-natured chap, and
always wanted to give away his wisdom to whoever so wanted. So, it
was always lucky to stroke his belly.

Incidentally, it was the Head Monk of the same monastery who had self-
immolated himself most famously in 1963, as a protest against the
atrocities against the Buddhists by the Diem govt. of South Vietnam.
I saw the car there, which he had driven to the place of his self-
sacrifice.

As for my belly, hopefully I will do what I have been sternly told to
do by my younger daughter - get rid of it. She wants it off after her
return from a planned 2-year stay in the UK. Will I lose some wisdom
in the process? Will I become sadder with more stuff in my head than
in my belly? Hmm. Maybe, if I am less than 100Kg I may be considered
for a role in some movie? Who knows, it is a strange world.

Cheers,
Arindam Banerjee
Post by Marko Amnell
Post by Arindam Banerjee
I read that 800,000 male calves were sacrificed annually for
milk-making in Australia alone, and the CEOs want to make
$128m by not feeding them before killing them.  I suppose,
that if you don't see that killing, it did not happen.  Einsteinism
(appearance is reality; non-appearance thus makes it never
happened or at least not worth bothering about) working well
for business!- Hide quoted text -
- Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -
- Show quoted text -
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