Behold The Paintings of David Bowie: Neo-Expressionist Self Portraits, Illustrations of Iggy Pop, and Much More

Would you believe that David Bowie, era-transcending pop star, actor, and avid reader, found not just the time to build a formidable art collection (auctioned off for $41 million last year at Sotheby's), but to do quite a few paintings of his own? Even Bowie fans who know only his music will have seen one of those paintings, a self-portrait which made the cover of his 1995 album Outside. That same year he had his first show as a painter, "New Afro/Pagan and Work: 1975-1995," at The Gallery, Cork Street.

"David Bowie paintings show a knowledgeable approach to art, influenced by Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Francis Bacon, Francis Picabia..." says Very Private Gallery in a post on 25 of those works of art, adding that his style "also shows a touch of post-modernism, more precisely neo-expressionism movement."

Comprising canvases painted between 1976 and 1996, the selections include not just Bowie's self-portraits but depictions of such friends and associates as Iggy Pop, painted in Berlin in 1978 just above, and pianist Mike Garson.

Bowieologists recognize his "Berlin era" in the late 1970s, which produced the albums LowLodger, and "Heroes" (all to varying degrees involving the collaboration of Brian Eno) as an especially fruitful period of his musical career. But the galleries and museums of the German capital also witnessed Bowie's first immersion into the world of visual art, both as an enthusiast and as a creator. The city even found its way into some of his paintings, such as 1977's Child in Berlin above. "Heroes", the final album of Bowie's "Berlin trilogy," even inspired a bit of Bowie artwork, the self-portrait sketch below modeled on the record's famous cover photo by Masayoshi Sukita, itself inspired by Erich Heckel's 1917 painting Roquairol.

But just as Bowie the musician and performer couldn't stop seeking out and incorporating new influences, so did Bowie the painter's attention continually turn to new subject matter, including the mythology of the tribes inhabiting present-day South Africa. At Very Private Gallery you can see not just more of his finished work but more of his sketches, including studies of Hunger City, the thematic setting of his elaborate Diamond Dogs tour as well as for a film planned, but never actually shot, in the mid-1970s. Despite the considerable difference in medium between music and images, Bowie's visual work still comes across clearly as Bowie's work — especially a face drawn, true to elegantly nostalgic form, on a pack of Gitanes.

Related Content:

96 Drawings of David Bowie by the “World’s Best Comic Artists”: Michel Gondry, Kate Beaton & More

The Art from David Bowie’s Final Album, Blackstar, is Now Free for Fans to Download and Reuse

David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

David Bowie Lists His 25 Favorite LPs in His Record Collection: Stream Most of Them Free Online

The Story of Ziggy Stardust: How David Bowie Created the Character that Made Him Famous

David Bowie Offers Advice for Aspiring Artists: “Go a Little Out of Your Depth,” “Never Fulfill Other People’s Expectations”

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch a Star Get Devoured by a Supermassive Black Hole

Likely, in a moment of quiet downtime, you've wondered: Just what would happen if a star, burning bright in the sky, wandered by a black hole? What would that meeting look like? What kinds of cosmic things would go down?

Now, thanks to an artistic rendering made available by NASA, you don't have to leave much to imagination. Above, watch a star stray a little too close to a black hole and get shredded apart by “tidal disruptions,” causing some stellar debris to get "flung outward at high speed while the rest falls toward the black hole."

This rendering isn't theoretical. It's based on observations gleaned from "an optical search by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) in November 2014." The “tidal disruptions” witnessed above, writes NASA, "occurred near a supermassive black hole estimated to weigh a few million times the mass of the sun in the center of PGC 043234, a galaxy that lies about 290 million light-years away." It's a sight to behold.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Free Online Astronomy Courses

NASA Puts Online a Big Collection of Space Sounds, and They’re Free to Download and Use

Free NASA eBook Theorizes How We Will Communicate with Aliens

NASA Archive Collects Great Time-Lapse Videos of our Planet

Andy Warhol Hosts Frank Zappa on His Cable TV Show, and Later Recalls, “I Hated Him More Than Ever” After the Show

Had Andy Warhol lived to see the internet--especially social networking--he would have loved it, though it may not have loved him. Though Warhol did see the very beginnings of the PC revolution, and made computer art near the end of his life on a Commodore Amiga 1000, he was mostly enamored, unsurprisingly, of TV. “I love television,” he once remarked, “It is the medium I’d most like to shine in. I’m really jealous of everybody who’s got their own show on television. I want a show of my own.”

Warhol realized his dream in 1979, though in a venue that may not have lived up to his fantasies: a New York public-access channel called Manhattan Cable, “which showed local sports matches and agreed to sell 30-minute slots to Warhol for around $75 a pop,” notes The Telegraph. Warhol made a total of 42 episodes of his odd interview show. The pop art impresario “wasn’t exactly a natural… when it came to the delicate art of chat-show hosting,” but “he didn’t let that stop him.” By 1983, one might have thought he’d have gotten the hang of it, yet he seems especially awkward when cranky prog genius Frank Zappa appeared on his show that year.

Luckily for Warhol, he is joined by Zappa fan Richard Berlin, who serves as a buffer between the two superstars. (Berlin is probably the son of William Randolph Hearst’s handpicked successor, whose daughter, Brigid, was one of Warhol’s film stars.) At least in the excerpt above, Berlin does all of the work while Warhol looks on, seemingly stupefied. But the truth is that Warhol hated Zappa, and after the interview, he wrote in his Diaries, “I hated Zappa even more than when it started.” Part of what the show’s ostensible host found so objectionable was Zappa’s egomaniacal personality. Though Warhol, like Zappa, controlled his own small independent empire, in temperament, the two couldn’t have been more different.

But there was also some personal history between them that goes back to the earliest days of the Velvet Underground. “I remember,” Warhol goes on, “when he was so mean to us when the Mothers of Invention played with the Velvet Underground—I think both at the trip, in L.A., and at the Fillmore in San Francisco. I hated him then and I still don’t like him.” Zappa wasn’t simply rude, however; at a 1967 show in New York, he turned his talent for ridicule into what Kaleidoscope magazine writer Chris Darrow called “one of the greatest pieces of rock’n roll theater that I have ever seen.”

The opening night was very crowded and Zappa and members of the Mothers of Invention showed up to show their support. (...) Nico's delivery of her material was very flat, deadpan, and expressionless, and she played as though all of her songs were dirges. She seemed as though she was trying to resurrect the ennui and decadence of Weimar, pre-Hitler Germany. Her icy, Nordic image also added to the detachment of her delivery. (...) The audience was on her side, as she was in her element and the Warhol contingent was very prominent that night. However, what happened next is what sticks in my mind the most from that night. In between sets, Frank Zappa got up from his seat and walked up on the stage and sat behind the keyboard of Nico's B-3 organ. He proceeded to place his hands indiscriminately on the keyboard in a total, atonal fashion and screamed at the top of his lungs, doing a caricature of Nico's set, the one he had just seen. The words to his impromptu song were the names of vegetables like broccolli, cabbage, asparagus... This "song" kept going for about a minute or so and then suddenly stopped. He walked off the stage and the show moved on.

What Warhol took personally may have just been the irrepressible outgrowth of Zappa’s disdain for virtually everything, which he expresses to Berlin in the interview. Original Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black speculated that he may have hated the Velvet Underground because “they were junkies and Frank just couldn’t tolerate any kind of drugs.” The two bands were also, briefly, competitors at MGM.

But perhaps Zappa just couldn’t tolerate anyone else taking the spotlight, especially a talented female performer. Warhol remembers Zappa's response to a compliment about his daughter, Moon. “Listen,” he supposedly told Warhol, “I created her. I invented her.... She's nothing. It's all me.” In contrast to the “peculiar” reply, Warhol writes “if it were my daughter I would be saying ‘Gee, she’s so smart,’ but he’s taking all the credit.” Zappa may have been a musical genius with a special entrepreneurial flair and incisive critical wit, but the “sexist autocrat… with a scabrous attitude,” as Carlo Wolff describes him, “was not a likeable man.” Certainly the mild-mannered Warhol didn’t think so.

Related Content:

Andy Warhol Digitally Paints Debbie Harry with the Amiga 1000 Computer (1985)

Andy Warhol’s Lost Computer Art Found on 30-Year-Old Floppy Disks

Frank Zappa Explains the Decline of the Music Business (1987)

Animated: Frank Zappa on Why the Culturally-Bereft United States Is So Susceptible to Fads (1971)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Joni Mitchell Sings an Achingly Pretty Version of “Both Sides Now” on the Mama Cass TV Show (1969)

"Records can be a bad trip. The audience can play your mistakes over and over. In a television special they see you once and you work hard to make sure they're seeing you at your best." 

Mama Cass Elliot, The Argus

It’s hard to imagine anyone blessed with Mama Cass’ golden pipes being embarrassed by a recorded performance. A live gig, yes, though, celebrities of her era were subjected to far fewer witnesses.

The Internet was an undreamable little dream in 1969, when the sole episode of The Mama Cass Television Show aired. The former singer of the Mamas and the Papas died five years later, presumably unaware that future generations would have knowledge of, let alone access to, her failed pilot.

She may have described her variety show as “low key” to the Fremont, California Argus, but the guest list was padded with high wattage friends, including comedian Buddy Hackett, and singers Mary Travers and John Sebastian. Joni Mitchell, above, delivered an above-reproach performance of “Both Sides Now.”

Later, Mitchell and Travers joined their hostess for the heartfelt rendition of "I Shall Be Released” below, a performance that is only slightly marred by Elliot’s insane costume and an unnecessarily syrupy backing arrangement of strings and reeds.

Those who can’t live without seeing the complete show can purchase DVDs online.

Related Content:

Vintage Video of Joni Mitchell Performing in 1965 — Before She Was Even Named Joni Mitchell

James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, Live and Together (1970)

Watch 1970s Animations of Songs by Joni Mitchell, Jim Croce & The Kinks, Aired on The Sonny & Cher Show

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  She’ll is appearing onstage in New York City through June 26 in Paul David Young’s political satire, Faust 3. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The CIA Assesses the Power of French Post-Modern Philosophers: Read a Newly Declassified CIA Report from 1985

We might assume that philosophy is an ivory tower discipline that has little effect on the unlovely operations of government, driven as they are by the concerns of middle class wallets, upper class stock portfolios, and the ever-present problem of poverty. But we would be wrong. In times when presidents, cabinet members, or senators have been thoughtful and well-read, the ideas of thinkers like Francis Fukuyama, Leo Strauss, Jurgen Habermas, and John Rawls—a favorite of the previous president—have exercised considerable sway. Few philosophers have been as historically influential as the German thinker Carl Schmitt, though in a thoroughly destructive way. Then there’s John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, Aristotle… even Socrates, who made himself a thorn in the side of the powerful.

But when it comes to the mostly French school of thinkers we associate with postmodernism—Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, the Jacques Lacan and Derrida, and many others—such influence is far less direct. The work of these writers has been often dismissed as frivolous and inconsequential, speaking a language no one understands to out of touch coastal elites on the left edge of the spectrum. Perhaps this is so in the United States, where power is often theorized but rarely radically critiqued in mainstream publications. But it has not been so in France. At least not according to the CIA, who closely monitored the effects of French philosophy on the country's domestic and foreign policy during their long-running culture war against Communism and “anti-Americanism,” and who, in 1985, compiled a research paper to document their investigations. (See a sample page above.)

Recently made available to the public in a "sanitized copy" through a Freedom of Information Act request, the document, titled “France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals,” shows itself surprisingly approving of the political direction post-structuralist thinkers had taken. Villanova University professor of philosophy and author of Radical History and the Politics of Art Gabriel Rockhill summarizes the tenor of the agency’s assessment in the L.A. Review of Books’ Philosophical Salon:

…the undercover cultural warriors applaud what they see as a double movement that has contributed to the intelligentsia shifting its critical focus away from the US and toward the USSR. On the left, there was a gradual intellectual disaffection with Stalinism and Marxism, a progressive withdrawal of radical intellectuals from public debate, and a theoretical move away from socialism and the socialist party. Further to the right, the ideological opportunists referred to as the New Philosophers and the New Right intellectuals launched a high-profile media smear campaign against Marxism.

The “spirit of anti-Marxism and anti-Sovietism,” write the agents in their report, “will make it difficult for anyone to mobilize significant intellectual opposition to US policies.” The influence of “New Left intellectuals” over French culture and government was such, they surmised, that “President [Francois] Mitterrand’s notable coolness toward Moscow derives, at least in part, from this pervasive attitude.”

These observations stand in contrast to the previous generation of “left-leaning intellectuals of the immediate postwar period,” writes Rockhill, who “had been openly critical of US imperialism” and actively worked against the machinations of American operatives. Jean-Paul Sartre even played a role in “blowing the cover of the CIA station officer in Paris and dozens of undercover operatives,” and as a result was “closely monitored by the Agency and considered a very serious problem.” By the mid-eighties, the Agency stated, triumphantly, “there are no more Sartres, no more Gides.” The “last clique of Communist savants,” they write, “came under fire from their former proteges, but none had any stomach for fighting a rearguard defense of Marxism.” As such, the late Cold War period saw a “broader retreat from ideology among intellectuals of all political colors.”

A certain weariness had taken hold, brought about by the indefensible totalitarian abuses of the “cult of Stalinism” and the seeming inescapability of the Washington Consensus and the multinational corporatism engendered by it. By the time of Communism’s collapse, U.S. philosophers waxed apocalyptic, even as they celebrated the triumph of what Francis Fukuyama called “liberal democracy” over socialism. Fukuyama’s book The End of History and the Last Man made its startling thesis plain in the title. There would be no more revolutions. Harvard thinker Samuel Huntington declared it the era of “endism,” amidst a rash of hyperbolic arguments about “the end of art," the “end of nature," and so on. And, in France, in the years just prior to the fall of the Berlin wall, the previously vigorous philosophical left, the CIA believed, had “succumbed to a kind of listlessness.”

While the agency credited the diffidence of post-structuralist philosophers with swaying popular opinion away from socialism and “hardening public attitudes toward Marxism and the Soviet Union,” it also wrote that “their influence appears to be waning, and they are unlikely to have much direct impact on political affairs any time soon.” Is this true? If we take seriously critics of so-called “Identity Politics,” the answer is a resounding No. As those who closely identify postmodern philosophy with several recent waves of leftist thought and activism might argue, the CIA was shortsighted in its conclusions. Perhaps, bound to a Manichean view fostered by decades of Cold War maneuvering, they could not conceive of a politics that opposed both American and Soviet empire at once.

And yet, the retreat from ideology was hardly a retreat from politics. We might say, over thirty years since this curious research essay circulated among intelligence gatherers, that concepts like Foucault’s biopower or Derrida’s skeptical interrogations of identity have more currency and relevance than ever, even if we don’t always understand, or read, their work. But while the agency may not have foreseen the pervasive impact of postmodern thought, they never dismissed it as obscurantist or inconsequential sophistry. Their newly-released report, writes Rockhill, “should be a cogent reminder that if some presume that intellectuals are powerless, and that our political orientations do not matter, the organization that has been one of the most potent power brokers in contemporary world politics does not agree.”

Related Content:

12 Million Declassified CIA Documents Now Free Online: Secret Tunnels, UFOs, Psychic Experiments & More

How the CIA Secretly Funded Abstract Expressionism During the Cold War

Michel Foucault: Free Lectures on Truth, Discourse & The Self (UC Berkeley, 1980-1983)

Introduction to Political Philosophy: A Free Yale Course

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The First Bloomsday: See Dublin’s Literati Celebrate James Joyce’s Ulysses in Drunken Fashion (1954)

Here's a fascinating glimpse of the very first Bloomsday celebration, filmed in Dublin in 1954.

The footage shows the great Irish comedic writer Brian O'Nolan, better known by his pen name Flann O'Brien, appearing very drunk as he sets off with two other renowned post-war Irish writers, Patrick Kavanagh and Anthony Cronin, and a cousin of James Joyce, a dentist named Tom Joyce, on a pilgrimage to visit the sites in James Joyce's epic novel Ulysses.

The footage was taken by John Ryan, an artist, publisher and pub owner who organized the event. The idea was to retrace the steps of Leopold Bloom and other characters from the novel, but as Peter Costello and Peter van de Kamp explain in this humorous passage from their book, Flann O'Brien: An Illustrated Biography, things began to go awry right from the start:

The date was 16 June, 1954, and though it was only mid-morning, Brian O'Nolan was already drunk.

This day was the fiftieth anniversary of Mr. Leopold Bloom's wanderings through Dublin, which James Joyce had immortalised in Ulysses.

To mark this occasion a small group of Dublin literati had gathered at the Sandycove home of Michael Scott, a well-known architect, just below the Martello tower in which the opening scene of Joyce's novel is set. They planned to travel round the city through the day, visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown.

Sadly, no-one expected O'Nolan to be sober. By reputation, if not by sight, everyone in Dublin knew Brian O'Nolan, otherwise Myles na Gopaleen, the writer of the Cruiskeen Lawn column in the Irish Times. A few knew that under the name of Flann O'Brien, he had written in his youth a now nearly forgotten novel, At Swim-Two-Birds. Seeing him about the city, many must have wondered how a man with such extreme drinking habits, even for the city of Dublin, could have sustained a career as a writer.

As was his custom, he had been drinking that morning in the pubs around the Cattle Market, where customers, supposedly about their lawful business, would be served from 7:30 in the morning. Now retired from the Civil Service, on grounds of "ill-health", he was earning his living as a free-lance journalist, writing not only for the Irish Times, but for other papers and magazines under several pen-names. He needed to write for money as his pension was a tiny one. But this left little time for more creative work. In fact, O'Nolan no longer felt the urge to write other novels.

The rest of the party, that first Bloomsday, was made up of the poet Patrick Kavanagh, the young critic Anthony Cronin, a dentist named Tom Joyce, who as Joyce's cousin represented the family interest, and John Ryan, the painter and businessman who owned and edited the literary magazine Envoy. The idea of the Bloomsday celebration had been Ryan's, growing naturally out of a special Joyce issue of his magazine, for which O'Nolan had been guest editor.

Ryan had engaged two horse drawn cabs, of the old fashioned kind, which in Ulysses Mr. Bloom and his friends drive to poor Paddy Dignam's funeral. The party were assigned roles from the novel. Cronin stood in for Stephen Dedalus, O'Nolan for his father, Simon Dedalus, John Ryan for the journalist Martin Cunningham, and A.J. Leventhal, the Registrar of Trinity College, being Jewish, was recruited to fill (unkown to himself according to John Ryan) the role of Leopold Bloom.

Kavanagh and O'Nolan began the day by deciding they must climb up to the Martello tower itself, which stood on a granite shoulder behind the house. As Cronin recalls, Kavanagh hoisted himself up the steep slope above O'Nolan, who snarled in anger and laid hold of his ankle. Kavanagh roared, and lashed out with his foot. Fearful that O'Nolan would be kicked in the face by the poet's enormous farmer's boot, the others hastened to rescue and restrain the rivals.

With some difficulty O'Nolan was stuffed into one of the cabs by Cronin and the others. Then they were off, along the seafront of Dublin Bay, and into the city.

In pubs along the way an enormous amount of alcohol was consumed, so much so that on Sandymount Strand they had to relieve themselves as Stephen Dedalus does in Ulysses. Tom Joyce and Cronin sang the sentimental songs of Tom Moore which Joyce had loved, such as Silent, O Moyle. They stopped in Irishtown to listen to the running of the Ascot Gold Cup on a radio in a betting shop, but eventually they arrived in Duke Street in the city centre, and the Bailey, which John Ryan then ran as a literary pub.

They went no further. Once there, another drink seemed more attractive than a long tour of Joycean slums, and the siren call of the long vanished pleasures of Nighttown.

 The First Bloomsday 1954

Celebrants of the first Bloomsday pause for a photo in Sandymount, Dublin on the morning of June 16, 1954. From left are John Ryan, Anthony Cronin, Brian O'Nolan (a.k.a. Flann O'Brien), Patrick Kavanagh and Tom Joyce, cousin of James Joyce.

Note: This post originally appeared on our site in 2013--likely before many of you started to frequent our site. So it's time to bring it back.

Related content:

Vladimir Nabokov Creates a Hand-Drawn Map of James Joyce’s Ulysses

On Bloomsday, Hear James Joyce Read From his Epic Ulysses, 1924

Stephen Fry Explains His Love for James Joyce's Ulysses

Henri Matisse Illustrates 1935 Edition of James Joyce's Ulysses

James Joyce, With His Eyesight Failing, Draws a Sketch of Leopold Bloom (1926)

How to Build Leonardo da Vinci’s Ingenious Self-Supporting Bridge: Renaissance Innovations You Can Still Enjoy Today

Leonardo da Vinci, the most accomplished example of the polymathic, artist-engineer "Renaissance man," came up with an astonishing number of inventions great and small in the late 15th and early 16th century, from the helicopter to the musical viola organista, the tank to the automated bobbin winder. Even the devices he was born too late to invent, he improved: humans had crossed the humble bridge, for instance, for countless centuries, but then Leonardo created a new, self-supporting variety whose design, as followed by a kid and his dad in the video above, still impresses today.

"With a series of wooden poles and beams, 'Stick-Boy' shows his Dad how to build Leonardo da Vinci‘s self-supporting arch bridge, also known as the emergency bridge," say the description by Rion Nakaya at The Kid Should See This. "No nails, screws, rope, glues, notches, or other fasteners are holding the bridge in place… just friction and gravity."

Clearly it works, but how? According to a post at the blog ArchiScriptor on self-supporting structures, all such bridges, from Leonardo's on down, really do rely on only those two forces. "Notches in the members make it easier to construct, but strictly speaking aren’t necessary as long as there is some friction. Gravity will do the rest."

Leonardo, the post continues, "explored two forms of the structure – a bridge and a dome. His work was commissioned by the Borgia family, with the mandate to design light and strong structures which could be built and taken down quickly. This was to aid them in their constant struggle for power with the Medici family in Renaissance Italy." The site of the Leonardo3 Museum adds, "we do not know whether this bridge was ever put to practical use, but it is not hard to believe that such a modular construction, extremely easy to transport and to assemble, must have met with great favor from the Renaissance lords who were always on the lookout for new technologies to put to military use."

Leonardo himself called this "the bridge of safety," and it counts as only one of the ingenious bridges he designed in his lifetime. For the Duke Sforza he also invented several others including a revolving bridge which, according to Leonardo da Vinci Inventions, "could be quickly packed up and transported for use by armies on the move to pass over bodies of water," could "swing across a stream or moat and set down on the other side so that soldiers could pass with little trouble," and "incorporated a rope-and-pulley system for both quick employment and easy transport." All useful tools indeed for those who once sought military dominance in Italy, but even more beneficial as inspiration for the Renaissance boys and girls of the 21st century.

via The Kid Should See This

Related Content:

Leonardo Da Vinci’s To Do List (Circa 1490) Is Much Cooler Than Yours

Leonardo da Vinci Draws Designs of Future War Machines: Tanks, Machine Guns & More

Watch Leonardo da Vinci’s Musical Invention, the Viola Organista, Being Played for the Very First Time

The Anatomical Drawings of Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci’s Handwritten Resume (1482)

An Animated History Of Aviation: From da Vinci’s Sketches to Apollo 11

Did Leonardo da Vinci Paint a First Mona Lisa Before The Mona Lisa?

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Evelyn Glennie (a Musician Who Happens to Be Deaf) Shows How We Can Listen to Music with Our Entire Bodies

Composer and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, above, feels music profoundly. For her, there is no question that listening should be a whole body experience:

Hearing is basically a specialized form of touch. Sound is simply vibrating air which the ear picks up and converts to electrical signals, which are then interpreted by the brain. The sense of hearing is not the only sense that can do this, touch can do this too. If you are standing by the road and a large truck goes by, do you hear or feel the vibration? The answer is both. With very low frequency vibration the ear starts becoming inefficient and the rest of the body’s sense of touch starts to take over. For some reason we tend to make a distinction between hearing a sound and feeling a vibration, in reality they are the same thing. It is interesting to note that in the Italian language this distinction does not exist. The verb ‘sentire’ means to hear and the same verb in the reflexive form ‘sentirsi’ means to feel.

It’s a philosophy born of necessity—her hearing began to deteriorate when she was 8, and by the age of 12, she was profoundly deaf. Music lessons at that time included touching the wall of the practice room to feel the vibrations as her teacher played.

While she acknowledges that her disability is a publicity hook, it’s not her preferred lede, a conundrum she explores in her "Hearing Essay." Rather than be celebrated as a deaf musician, she’d like to be known as the musician who is teaching the world to listen.

In her TED Talk, How To Truly Listen, she differentiates between the ability to translate notations on a musical score and the subtler, more soulful skill of interpretation. This involves connecting to the instrument with every part of her physical being. Others may listen with ears alone. Dame Evelyn encourages everyone to listen with fingers, arms, stomach, heart, cheekbones… a phenomenon many teenagers experience organically, no matter what their earbuds are plugging.

And while the vibrations may be subtler, her philosophy could cause us to listen more attentively to both our loved ones and our adversaries, by staying attuned to visual and emotional pitches, as well as slight variations in volume and tone.

Related Content:

How Did Beethoven Compose His 9th Symphony After He Went Completely Deaf?

Hear a 20 Hour Playlist Featuring Recordings by Electronic Music Pioneer Pauline Oliveros (RIP)

How Ingenious Sign Language Interpreters Are Bringing Music to Life for the Deaf: Visualizing the Sound of Rhythm, Harmony & Melody

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  She’ll is appearing onstage in New York City this June as one of the clowns in Paul David Young’s Faust 3. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Sci-Fi Radio: Hear Radio Dramas of Sci-Fi Stories by Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. LeGuin & More (1989)

Image by Mr.Hasgaha, via Flickr Commons

If you dig through our archives, you can find no shortage of finely-produced radio dramatizations of your favorite science fiction stories. During the 1950s, NBC's Dimension X adapted stories by the likes of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and even Kurt Vonnegut. Later in the '50s, X Minus One continued that tradition, dramatizing stories by Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Poul Anderson and others. By the 1970s, Mind Webs got into the act and produced 188 adaptations--classics by Ursula K. LeGuin, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke. And the BBC did up Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.

Those productions will keep you busy for a good while. But if you're wondering what the 1980s delivered, then tune into Sci-Fi Radio, a series of 26 half-hour shows which aired on NPR Playhouse, starting in 1989. Some of the adapted stories include: "Sales Pitch" and "Imposter" by Philip K. Dick, "Diary of the Rose" and "Field of Vision" by Ursula K. LeGuin, "Wall of Darkness" by Arthur C. Clarke, and "Frost and Fire" by Ray Bradbury.

You can stream all episodes below, or over at Archive.orgSci-Fi Radio will be added to our collection, 900 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free. Hope you enjoy.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy: Hear the 1973 Radio Dramatization

X Minus One: Hear Classic Sci-Fi Radio Stories from Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury & Dick

Listen to 188 Dramatized Science Fiction Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard & More

Dimension X: The 1950s SciFi Radio Show That Dramatized Stories by Asimov, Bradbury, Vonnegut & More

Hear 6 Classic Philip K. Dick Stories Adapted as Vintage Radio Plays

Talking Heads Perform The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” Live in 1977 (and How the Bands Got Their Start Together)

Back in the summer of 1975, the Talking Heads were still an unknown band, laboring away in obscurity. Amidst a stifling heat wave, they practiced in every day in a New York City loft. And so it went until they got an early break--a chance to perform live at CBGB, as the opening act for The Ramones. “Hilly [Kristal, owner of CBGB, asked Johnny [Ramone] if we could open for them, and Johnny said, ‘Sure, they’re gonna suck, so no problem,’ ” Chris Frantz (Talking Heads drummer), recalled in an interview with The New York Post. “There were very few people in the audience, maybe 10 altogether," he adds. "Five came to see us and five came to see the Ramones.” The lucky ones.

By 1977, the bands had released their debut albums and embarked on a European tour together. Equally innovative but stylistically different, their histories would remain forever intertwined--something that's perhaps best captured by the clip above. If we have our facts right, in January 1977, the Talking Heads opened a show at the Jabberwocky Club at Syracuse University with a cover of The Ramones' 1976 single "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend."  You can listen to the complete 20 minute set below. Also, in the Relateds further down, find footage of both bands playing at CBGB in 1974 and 1975.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

The Talking Heads Play CBGB, the New York Club that Shaped Their Sound (1975)

The Ramones, a New Punk Band, Play One of Their Very First Shows at CBGB (1974)

Watch the Talking Heads Play a Vintage Concert in Syracuse (1978)





  • Great Lectures

  • FREE UPDATES!

    GET OUR DAILY EMAIL

    Get the best cultural and educational resources on the web curated for you in a daily email. We never spam. Unsubscribe at any time.



    FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA

  • About Us

    Open Culture editor Dan Colman scours the web for the best educational media. He finds the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons & movies you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between.


    Advertise With Us

  • Archives

  • Quantcast