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Literary/I Want My DVDs

There was a time I was way over black-and-white photography. Now I seek it out and feel relieved when I am looking at it, like, “Ah, that’s nice.” Color photos were starting to burn my eyes.

by CHRISTY MACKSON, MARTIN SPIRE, DENISE DENISE, MATT EL
Apr 1 2006, 12:00am



Confidence Games
Thatcher Keats
Charta Books

There was a time I was way over black-and-white photography. Now I seek it out and feel relieved when I am looking at it, like, “Ah, that’s nice.” Color photos were starting to burn my eyes.

Thatcher Keats has put together a great book of B&W work. A lot of it has a doing-LSD-in-the-woods-listening-to-the-Melvins feel, which is rad. You can smell the bongwater, taste the strychnine, and feel the crust in your eyes. Then there’s the comedown, years later, when things get calmer. This book is like a journal of that.

ARNOLD LAINE



Sex Advice From…
Chronicle Books

I really liked this book and thought it was interesting.

LYING LIAR



Enero
American Apparel

This is the first issue of American Apparel’s newspaper, published straight from Mexico City, and you know what? It is totally substantive, understated, smart, and lovely. Swear to god! Nice work.

CHRISTY MACKSON



Second House
Richard Prince
Gladstone Gallery

After the Man and Woman books, now Dick Prince is building a house for them! Ha ha ha. OK, just kidding. But you can sort of look at it that way. Prince has a “project house” (my quotes, I think) going on in upstate New York. It’s a fixer-upper that he does goofy shit to and inside of. This is a book of photos taken in and around it. I wish I were a famous artist who lived upstate. It looks like so much fun. I will put this awesome book under my pillow tonight and dream of it, and if I don’t get what I want within one week, I will kill myself.

FRANK BLANK



Apples and Olives
Lee Friedlander
Fraenkel Gallery

Lee Friedlander is the god of black-and-white photography. These are his photos of apple and olive trees, that’s it, and they have so much visual and emotional depth that looking at them makes the back of my head feel numb. I am not even stoned while saying this, and I am also of sound mind and body. It is a fact of life: Friedlander makes spiritually transcendent photos. Fuck off for thinking I am a hippie.

DENISE DENISE



Even the president of the United States sometimes has got to stand naked.
Ari Marcopoulos
jrp | ringier

I am going to be the first to admit that I am fucking ignorant. I always had some weird preconceived notion that Marcopoulos was just some skater pretending to be an artist. I repeat: I am an asshole. This guy is a fucking great photographer! Autobiographical, with a permeating sense of tragedy and/or pathos. I love it! Sorry for being stupid—for real.

EVEN STEVEN



African American Vernacular Photography: Archive
ICP/Steidl

Portrait-studio and roving-photographer works showing scenes from African American life from the Civil War era on until the mid-1930s. These are deep little slices of life; each picture in here makes you want to know more about the story behind it.

GARY HUCKLEBUCK



Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power
Richard Carwardine
Knopf

There was way more to this homo than the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. This heavy, definitive bio has it all. Do yourself a favor and make this the book that you may take a while to get through, but you at least finish after a few months. Put it on the back of your toilet and set a goal of half a chapter per shit, even if your legs fall asleep. You will be a better American for it. (PS: You also want to polish this off before the Spielberg biopic starring Liam Neeson that is in preproduction comes out. You will look really smart.)

HANNIBAL COMBS



Marzo
American Apparel

This is the third issue of American Apparel’s newspaper, published straight from Mexico City, and you know what? It is totally substantive, understated, smart, and lovely. Swear to god! Nice work.

CHRISTY MACKSON



Rag
Rag Publications Ltd.

Is this a first for fashion journalism? Rag is a free tabloid that’s witty, perceptive and accessible and covers all those up-and-coming young designers and cool boutiques that you should really know about but were put off because this kind of stuff usually gets covered in abstract, turgid essays and “daring” photo shoots in pointless glossies like Tank, Pop and Another Magazine that no-one, not even their subeditor, can comprehend. Rag makes me love fashion and clothes as much as I thought I did.

PIERO MARTINETTI



A Year in the Life of TheManWhoFellAsleep
Greg Stekelman
Friday Books

This is the book version of themanwhofellasleep.com, a strange and amusing site filled with the Kafkaesque ruminations and cartoons of North Londoner Greg Stekelman, a narcissistic 31-year-old Jewish guy. You may know him from Time Out’s “Tube Gossip” column. Poetic and sardonic, A Year in the Life… is one of the most imaginative and enjoyable diaries published since Brian Eno’s A Year With Swollen Appendices. If we call Stekelman “Woody Allen for the iPod / MySpace generation” he’ll think less of us but it’ll look good on the posters.

MARTIN SPIRE



Tsotsi
Rialto

South Africa has some very serious gangs committing some very very serious crimes. Because of the blatant racial segregation over there, the black people are angry and the white people are scared to death and spend their lives in fortresses that they build and driving cars that shoot fire balls at anyone who dares to come near. This is kind of what Tsotsi is about. Tsotsi actually means thug over there and this is the story of the main character, well, being a thug. Somehow though, the film is totally beautiful and made me cry.

GREG FLECK



Dave Chapelle’s Block Party
Hopscotch

The only thing I haven’t missed while Dave’s been off smoking cones in South Africa, is his penchant for throwing to an ad break every five seconds and the cheesy, epic hip hop performances at the end of each episode. That’s the trade-off though and it’s always worth the 70/30 split. But what if things had changed and there were absolutely no breaks, for almost four times longer, and instead of a fading rap you got the concert of your dreams?

DOUG DOUG



Mastodon – The Workhorse Chronicles
Riot

I’m a firm believer in the phrase ‘red hair, no future’ and to be fair, this usually applies to most gingers. They seem to be an evolutionary step behind; or is it ahead? Well it doesn’t really matter. The point is that they should all be drowned in a sack at birth. But these guys survived, and they play some crucial fucking metal. I mean the sort of shit that makes lightning shoot out your eyes and induces the loss of all bowel function. These guys have been around forever, from playing to nobody in basements to packing stadiums at Ozzfest in 2005. This DVD gives a detailed history into the beginnings of the band through to what has turned into a giant red headed woolly mammoth with a metal goatee. This shit definitely makes you hold your hand to the sky and unscrew a pretty gnarly light bulb.

RON HOWARD



Velvet Redux Live MCMXCIII
Warner Vision

We know that everyone starts their affair with rock music as a result of the Velvet Underground, but I guess not many people were turned on to them by this here one-off reunion film. I, however, have the dubious honour of going crazy for Cale and co. as a direct result of seeing this on Rage when I was twelve. Forget Lou and his pixie bots and wrap around shades, for me it was all about headless guitars and reading glasses. The fact that a bunch of school teacher-looking guys and a mumsy drummer could still make a kid feel like the coolest dude in class speaks more about this band than any overly nostalgic review ever could.

GREENWOOD



Unknown White Male
Rupert Murray
Word of Mouth Films

Unknown White Male is worth seeing for both the peculiar story it tells and the interesting questions it raises about memory and human choices. When the main character, Doug, finds himself on a New York subway with no memory of his past (including his name and address) he begins the process of rediscovering his identity and reacquainting himself with life. However, what makes this film so extraordinary is that it’s a DOCUMENTARY, i.e. true. It’s weird but compelling viewing. The other thing is, it’s made by a friend of mine. So far, the only significant things my friends have made are cigarette burns in my sofa.

MATT ELEK



The Devil & Daniel Johnston
Jeff Feuerzeig
Tartan

Seems everyone’s got a Daniel Johnston story. One time in London recently he’d just finished a successful press day of interviews and photos. He was happy with it, enjoyed the questions, and strolled out of the room. He instantly returned, faced everyone in the room, struck a dramatic Superman pose and bellowed “FEAR YOURSELVES!” and bolted out the door. This touching documentary has stacks of these moments as it follows the prodigious Johnston from his loving home in West Virginia all the way to critical acclaim in Austin, Texas, before winding up in the funny farm. Johnston was fairly sane until he took acid at a Butthole Surfers gig in the mid-80s and mangled his mind forever. The LSD exacerbated his bipolar disorder and his decline is hard to watch, particular when he disappears in New York City convinced that Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth, who’s trying to look after him, is in league with Satan. But the film’s ending is really drawn out and Johnston’s supposed genius remains unquestioned. He can draw and write songs? Now that’s something else.

CAMILLE MOUNIER



Nick Broomfield: The Early Works
Nick Broomfield
Metrodome

Nick Broomfield is the undisputed puzzlemaster when it comes to documentary-making. Every sequence he shoots slots into place at the last minute. This hefty beauty contains 10 hours of Broomfield’s early docs, including the banned 1975 film Juvenile Liaison in which Broomfield supplies the rope with which the Lancashire police force’s juvenile liaison department—they deal with truants and shoplifters—duly hangs itself.

MARY CONTRARY
 

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