The Cure Performed the Entire “Disintegration” Album on the 30th Anniversary of Its Release: Watch The Complete Concert Online

30 years after its orig­i­nal release, The Cure per­formed the entire­ty of their 1989 album Dis­in­te­gra­tion at a con­cert held this past Thurs­day at The Syd­ney Opera House. Dis­in­te­gra­tion remains the band’s best-sell­ing album to date, and it now ranks #326 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Great­est Albums of All Time.” You can watch the show, from start to fin­ish, above. Find a setlist, with time­stamps, below.

17:15 Deliri­ous Night

23:44 Fear of Ghosts

30:45 No Heart

34:20 Esten

38:17 2 Late

41:10 Out of Mind

44:46 Bab­ble

54:42 Plain­song

59:25 Pic­tures of You

1:06:44 Close­down

1:11:00 Lovesong

1:14:40 Last Dance

1:19:52 Lul­la­by

1:24:46 Fas­ci­na­tion Street

1:29:47 Prayers for Rain

1:35:34 The Same Deep Water as You

1:44:47 Dis­in­te­gra­tion

1:53:11 Home­sick

2:00:16 Unti­tled

2:10:55 Burn @​

2:17:52 Three Imag­i­nary Boys

2:21:30 Pirate Ships

via Laugh­ing Squid

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch The Cure’s First TV Appear­ance in 1979 … Before The Band Acquired Its Sig­na­ture Goth Look

Three-Hour Mix­tape Offers a Son­ic Intro­duc­tion to Under­ground Goth Music

Stream 15 Hours of the John Peel Ses­sions: 255 Tracks by Syd Bar­rett, David Bowie, Siouxsie and the Ban­shees & Oth­er Artists

A His­to­ry of Alter­na­tive Music Bril­liant­ly Mapped Out on a Tran­sis­tor Radio Cir­cuit Dia­gram: 300 Punk, Alt & Indie Artists

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 2 ) |

The First Museum Dedicated to Japanese Folklore Monsters Is Now Open

As any enthu­si­ast of Godzil­la movies knows, nobody does mon­sters quite like the Japan­ese. The cul­tur­al tra­di­tion of giant crea­tures lay­ing waste to cities is known as kai­jūa com­bi­na­tion of kai (怪), “strange,” and  (獣), “beast.” The well of kai­jū goes deep, but the well of Japan­ese mon­ster­hood itself goes much deep­er. Take yōkai, the cat­e­go­ry of mon­sters, spir­its, and demons whose his­to­ry goes all the way back to the first cen­tu­ry. But it was­n’t until the medieval era that depic­tions of yōkai —whose name com­bines the char­ac­ters  (妖), with its con­no­ta­tions of attrac­tion, bewitch­ment, and calami­ty, and kai (怪), which can indi­cate some­thing sus­pi­cious, a mys­tery, or an appari­tion — turned into pop­u­lar enter­tain­ment.

Most yōkai pos­sess super­nat­ur­al pow­ers, some­times used for good but often not so much. Some look human, while oth­ers, such as the tur­tle-like kap­pa and the intel­li­gent if dis­solute rac­coons called tanu­ki (stars of Stu­dio Ghi­b­li ani­ma­tor Isao Taka­ha­ta’s Pom Poko), resem­ble ani­mals. But the wide world of yōkai also includes shapeshifters as well as only seem­ing­ly inan­i­mate objects. You can famil­iar­ize your­self with all of them — from the gong-bang­ing bake ichō no sei who hang around under gingko trees to the cloth drag­on shi­ro uneri born of a dishrag to the “tem­ple-peck­er” ter­at­sut­su­ki who lives among Bud­dhist priests and on a diet of rage — at the Eng­lish-lan­guage data­base

Demand for yōkai sto­ries increased dur­ing the ear­ly 17th to the mid-18th cen­tu­ry Edo peri­od, which saw the intro­duc­tion of the print­ing press to Japan. One pop­u­lar tale of that era, Ino Mononoke Roku, tells of a young boy who must under­go 30 days of con­fronta­tions with var­i­ous yōkai in the city of Miyoshi. It’s no coin­ci­dence that the very first muse­um ded­i­cat­ed to yōkai has just opened in that same place. “The Miyoshi Mononoke Muse­um, or for­mal­ly the Yumo­to Koichi Memo­r­i­al Japan Yokai Muse­um, opened in the city of Miyoshi after Koichi Yumo­to, a 68-year-old eth­nol­o­gist and yokai researcher in Tokyo, donat­ed some 5,000 items from his col­lec­tion in 2016,” says the Japan Times. “The muse­um dis­plays about 160 items from Yumoto’s col­lec­tion, which includes a scroll paint­ing of the famous folk­tale and crafts.”

Locat­ed in Hiroshi­ma Pre­fec­ture (also home to the Onomichi Muse­um of Art and its famous cats Ken-chan and Go-chan), the Miyoshi Mononoke Muse­um fea­tures “about 160 items from Yumoto’s col­lec­tion, which includes a scroll paint­ing of the famous folk­tale and crafts,” an “inter­ac­tive dig­i­tal pic­ture book of yōkai” as well as oppor­tu­ni­ties to “take pho­tos with the mon­sters using a spe­cial cam­era set up at the site.” You’ll find a suit­ably odd ani­mat­ed pro­mo­tion­al video for the muse­um, which turns into a yōkai dance par­ty, at the top of the post. Whether or not you believe that these attrac­tive, bewitch­ing, calami­tous, sus­pi­cious, mys­te­ri­ous appari­tions real­ly inhab­it the world today, you have to acknowl­edge their knack for inhab­it­ing every form of media that has arisen over the cen­turies.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bam­bi Meets Godzil­la: #38 on the List of The 50 Great­est Car­toons of All Time

Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe & Elvis Pres­ley Star in an Action-Packed Pop Art Japan­ese Mon­ster Movie

Dis­cov­er the Japan­ese Muse­um Ded­i­cat­ed to Col­lect­ing Rocks That Look Like Human Faces

Two Cats Keep Try­ing to Get Into a Japan­ese Art Muse­um … and Keep Get­ting Turned Away: Meet the Thwart­ed Felines, Ken-chan and Go-chan

Watch “The Mid­night Par­a­sites,” a Sur­re­al Japan­ese Ani­ma­tion Set in the World of Hierony­mus Bosch’s The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights (1972)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

The Art & Cooking of Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Georgia O’Keeffe, Vincent Van Gogh & More

Mex­i­can cui­sine is as time-con­sum­ing as it is deli­cious.

Fri­da Kahlo fans attract­ed to the idea of dupli­cat­ing some dish­es from the ban­quet served at her wed­ding to fel­low artist Diego Rivera should set aside ample time, so as to tru­ly enjoy the expe­ri­ence of mak­ing chiles rel­lenos and nopales sal­ad from scratch.

Sarah Urist Green’s Kahlo-themed cook­ing les­son, above, adapt­ed from Marie-Pierre Colle and Frida’s step­daugh­ter Guadalupe Rivera’s 1994 cook­book Frida’s Fies­tas: Recipes and Rem­i­nis­cences of Life with Fri­da Kahlo, is refresh­ing­ly frank about the chal­lenges of tack­ling these types of dish­es, espe­cial­ly for those of us whose grand­mas ran more toward Jell‑O sal­ad.

Her self-dep­re­ca­tion should go a long way toward reas­sur­ing less-skilled cooks that per­fec­tion is not the goal.

As she told Nuvo’s Dan Gross­man:

The art cook­ing videos are immense­ly fun to make… And what I’m try­ing to do is reach peo­ple who aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly out­ward­ly into art or don’t know whether they’re into art so they’re not going to click on a video that’s strict­ly about art. But if you can present art ideas through a cook­ing tuto­r­i­al per­haps they’ll be more open to it. I love to cook. And I love to think about that side of art his­to­ry.

To that end, she takes a cou­ple of bite-sized art breaks, to intro­duce view­ers to Frida’s life and work, while the toma­toes are roast­ing.

As tempt­ing as it is for old Fri­da hands to skip this well-chart­ed ter­rain, doing so will not make din­ner ready any faster. Why not enjoy the non-cook­ing relat­ed sec­tions with the eas­i­est item on the menu—a tequi­la shot?

Don’t trick your­self into think­ing there’s noth­ing more to learn.

For instance, I did not know the Span­ish for “I can’t get over this hang­over,” but Frida’s pet par­rot did. (Didn’t know that either.)

Green also offers some quick how-tos that could come in handy for oth­er, less time-con­sum­ing dish­es, like a sand­wich or a plate of home­made pasta—everything from how to make home­made toma­to sauce  to denud­ing prick­ly pear cac­tus pads of their non-edi­ble spines.

If you’re undaunt­ed by the Fri­da recipes, per­haps you should pro­ceed to Sal­vador Dali’s tow­er­ing Bush of Cray­fish in Viking herbs, or the Futur­ists’ high­ly sug­ges­tive Meat Sculp­ture. Oth­er recipes come from Vin­cent Van Gogh and Geor­gia O’Ke­effe. See above.

Books ref­er­enced in the videos include: Din­ner with Geor­gia O’Ke­effe; A Painter’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Geor­gia O’Ke­effe; Dal­i’s Les Din­ers de GalaVan Gogh’s Table at the Auberge Ravoux: Recipes From the Artist’s Last Home and Paint­ings of Cafe Life; and again Frida’s Fies­tas: Recipes and Rem­i­nis­cences of Life with Fri­da Kahlo.

View the full playlist of The Art Assignment’s Art Cook­ing episodes here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Futur­ist Cook­book (1930) Tried to Turn Ital­ian Cui­sine into Mod­ern Art

MoMA’s Artists’ Cook­book (1978) Reveals the Meals of Sal­vador Dalí, Willem de Koon­ing, Andy Warhol, Louise Bour­geois & More

Sal­vador Dalí’s 1973 Cook­book Gets Reis­sued: Sur­re­al­ist Art Meets Haute Cui­sine

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in New York City this June for the next install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Metallica, REM, Led Zeppelin & Queen Sung in the Style of Gregorian Chant

Gre­go­ri­an chants became a thing very briefly in the ear­ly 1990s, when Ger­man elec­tron­ic group Enig­ma com­bined them with the Soul II Soul “Keep On Movin’” drum loop and that ever­p­re­sent shakuhachi sam­ple for “Sad­ness Part One”. And then that song was *every­where* for the first half of the 90s, giv­ing rise to chill­out music like the Orb and The Future Sound of Lon­don.

Gre­go­ri­an music fad­ed away as a trend in dance music, but it’s nev­er real­ly gone away. Bol­stered by some claims that the sooth­ing voic­es help increase alpha waves in the brain, groups like Gre­go­ri­an (cre­at­ed by Enigma’s Frank Peter­son) set about arrang­ing pop songs in the Gre­go­ri­an style, start­ing in 1999.

Oth­ers have fol­lowed suit, or should I say fol­lowed cowl (such as Aus­cul­tate, which cre­at­ed the Queen cov­er below).

But Gre­go­ri­an (the group) is the king of them all, and Petersen’s project has gone on to sell over 5.5 mil­lion albums.

Corny or not, the project is immense­ly pop­u­lar world­wide, and has pro­duced ten “Mas­ters of Chant” albums, along with Christ­mas CDs and such. And while our cur­rent pop stars have to get into ath­let­ic con­di­tion for their Vegas-like shows, there’s some­thing to be said for a group of blokes just stand­ing around on stage singing in uni­son like they’re in a crypt. Looks like a decent gig. Here’s a full con­cert:

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A YouTube Chan­nel Com­plete­ly Devot­ed to Medieval Sacred Music: Hear Gre­go­ri­an Chant, Byzan­tine Chant & More

The His­to­ry of Clas­si­cal Music in 1200 Tracks: From Gre­go­ri­an Chant to Górec­ki (100 Hours of Audio)

Expe­ri­ence the Mys­ti­cal Music of Hilde­gard Von Bin­gen: The First Known Com­pos­er in His­to­ry (1098 – 1179)

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

1980s Metalhead Kids Are Alright: Scientific Study Shows That They Became Well-Adjusted Adults

In the 1980s, The Par­ents Music Resource Cen­ter (PMRC), an orga­ni­za­tion co-found­ed by Tip­per Gore and the wives of sev­er­al oth­er Wash­ing­ton pow­er bro­kers, launched a polit­i­cal cam­paign against pop music, hop­ing to put warn­ing labels on records that pro­mot­ed Sex, Vio­lence, Drug and Alco­hol Use. Along the way, the PMRC issued “the Filthy Fif­teen,” a list of 15 par­tic­u­lar­ly objec­tion­able songs. Hits by Madon­na, Prince and Cyn­di Lau­per made the list. But the list real­ly took aim at heavy met­al bands from the 80s — name­ly, Judas Priest, Möt­ley Crüe, Twist­ed Sis­ter, W.A.S.P., Def Lep­pard, Black Sab­bath, and Ven­om. (Inter­est­ing foot­note: the Sovi­ets sep­a­rate­ly cre­at­ed a list of black­balled rock bands, and it looked pret­ty much the same.)

Above, you can watch Twist­ed Sis­ter’s Dee Snider appear before Con­gress in 1985 and accuse the PMRC of mis­in­ter­pret­ing his band’s lyrics and wag­ing a false war against met­al music. The evi­dence 30 years lat­er sug­gests that Snider per­haps had a point.

A study by psy­chol­o­gy researchers at Hum­boldt StateOhio State, UC River­side and UT Austin “exam­ined 1980s heavy met­al groupies, musi­cians, and fans at mid­dle age” — 377 par­tic­i­pants in total — and found that, although met­al enthu­si­asts cer­tain­ly lived riski­er lives as kids, they were nonethe­less “sig­nif­i­cant­ly hap­pi­er in their youth and bet­ter adjust­ed cur­rent­ly than either mid­dle-aged or cur­rent col­lege-age youth com­par­i­son groups.” This left the researchers to con­tem­plate one pos­si­ble con­clu­sion: “par­tic­i­pa­tion in fringe style cul­tures may enhance iden­ti­ty devel­op­ment in trou­bled youth.” Not to men­tion that heavy met­al lyrics don’t eas­i­ly turn kids into dam­aged goods.

You can read the report, Three Decades Lat­er: The Life Expe­ri­ences and Mid-Life Func­tion­ing of 1980s Heavy Met­al Groupies here. And, right above, lis­ten to an inter­view with one of the researchersTasha Howe, a for­mer head­banger her­self, who spoke yes­ter­day with Michael Kras­ny on KQED radio in San Fran­cis­co.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in July 2015.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Dev­il­ish His­to­ry of the 1980s Parental Advi­so­ry Stick­er: When Heavy Met­al & Satan­ic Lyrics Col­lid­ed with the Reli­gious Right

Sovi­et Union Cre­ates a List of 38 Dan­ger­ous Rock Bands: Kiss, Pink Floyd, Talk­ing Heads, Vil­lage Peo­ple & More (1985)

Watch Heavy Met­al Park­ing Lot, the Cult Clas­sic Film That Ranks as One of the “Great Rock Doc­u­men­taries” of All Time

A Blue­grass Ver­sion of Metallica’s Heavy Met­al Hit, “Enter Sand­man”

The Hu, a New Break­through Band from Mon­go­lia, Plays Heavy Met­al with Tra­di­tion­al Folk Instru­ments and Throat Singing

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 14 ) |

Take a Visual Journey Through 181 Years of Street Photography (1838–2019)

All of us here in the 2010s have, at one time or anoth­er, been street pho­tog­ra­phers. But up until 1838, nobody had ever been a street pho­tog­ra­ph­er. In that year when cam­era phones were well beyond even the ken of sci­ence fic­tion, Louis Daguerre, the inven­tor of the daguerreo­type process and one of the fathers of pho­tog­ra­phy itself, took the first pho­to of a human being. In so doing he also became the first street pho­tog­ra­ph­er, cap­tur­ing as his pic­ture did not just a human being but the urban envi­ron­ment inhab­it­ed by that human being, in this case Paris’ Boule­vard du Tem­ple. Daguer­re’s pic­ture begins the his­tor­i­cal jour­ney through 181 years of street pho­tog­ra­phy, one street pho­to per year all sound­tracked with peri­od-appro­pri­ate songs, in the video above.

From the dawn of the prac­tice, street pho­tog­ra­phy (unlike smile-free ear­ly pho­to­graph­ic por­trai­ture) has shown life as it’s actu­al­ly lived. Like the lone Parisian who hap­pened to be stand­ing still long enough for Daguer­re’s cam­era to cap­ture, the peo­ple pop­u­lat­ing these images go about their busi­ness with no con­cern for, or even aware­ness of, being pho­tographed.

The ear­li­est street pho­tographs come most­ly from Europe — Lon­don’s Trafal­gar Square, Copen­hagen’s for­mer Ulfeldts Plads (now Gråbrø­dretorv), Rome’s Via di Ripet­ta — but as pho­tog­ra­phy spread, so spread street pho­tog­ra­phy. Rapid­ly indus­tri­al­iz­ing cities in Amer­i­ca and else­where in the for­mer British Empire soon get in on the action, and a few decades lat­er scenes from the cities of Asia, Africa, and the Mid­dle East begin to appear.

Each of these 181 street pho­tographs was tak­en for a rea­son, though most of those rea­sons are now unknown to us. But some pic­tures make it obvi­ous, espe­cial­ly in the case of the star­tling­ly com­mon sub­genre of post-dis­as­ter street pho­tog­ra­phy: we see the after­math of an 1858 brew­ery fire in Mon­tre­al, an 1866 explo­sion in Syd­ney, an 1874 flood in Pitts­burgh, a 1906 earth­quake in San Fran­cis­co, and a 1920 bomb­ing in New York. Each of these pic­tures tells a sto­ry of a moment in the life of a par­tic­u­lar city, but togeth­er they tell the sto­ry of the city itself, as it has over the past two cen­turies grown out­ward, upward, and in every oth­er way nec­es­sary to accom­mo­date grow­ing pop­u­la­tions; trans­porta­tion tech­nolo­gies like bicy­cles, street­cars, auto­mo­biles; spaces like squares, cin­e­mas, and cafés; and above all, the ever-diver­si­fy­ing forms of human life lived with­in them.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Humans of New York: Street Pho­tog­ra­phy as a Cel­e­bra­tion of Life

19-Year-Old Stu­dent Uses Ear­ly Spy Cam­era to Take Can­did Street Pho­tos (Cir­ca 1895)

Vivian Maier, Street Pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Dis­cov­ered

Pris­tine Footage Lets You Revis­it Life in Paris in the 1890s: Watch Footage Shot by the Lumière Broth­ers

See the First Pho­to­graph of a Human Being: A Pho­to Tak­en by Louis Daguerre (1838)

The His­to­ry of Pho­tog­ra­phy in Five Ani­mat­ed Min­utes: From Cam­era Obscu­ra to Cam­era Phone

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

When Boris Pasternak Won–and Then the Soviets Forced Him to Decline–the Nobel Prize (1958)

Behind the award­ing of the Nobel Prize in Lit­er­a­ture, there are sto­ries upon sto­ries, some as juicy as those in the work of win­ners like William Faulkn­er or Gabriel Gar­cía Márquez—and some just as dev­as­tat­ing to the par­ties involved. Last year’s award was post­poned after sex­u­al assault alle­ga­tions lead to sev­er­al mem­bers to resign­ing. (There will be two prizes award­ed for 2019.) The charges need­ed to be aired, but if you’re look­ing for details about how the secre­tive com­mit­tee selects the nom­i­nees and win­ners, you’ll have to wait a while.

“The Swedish Acad­e­my keeps all infor­ma­tion about nom­i­na­tions and selec­tions for the pres­ti­gious award secret for 50 years,” writes Alli­son Flood at The Guardian. New­ly unsealed doc­u­ments from the Acad­e­my have shone light on Jean-Paul Sartre’s rejec­tion of the prize in 1964, and the shun­ning of Samuel Beck­ett in 1968 by com­mit­tee chair­man Anders Öster­ling, who found his work too nihilis­tic (Beck­ett won the fol­low­ing year), and of Vladimir Nabokov, whose Loli­ta Öster­ling declared “immoral.”

Per­haps the sad­dest of Nobel sto­ries has tak­en on even more vivid detail, not only through new­ly opened files of the Nobel Prize com­mit­tee, but also recent­ly declas­si­fied CIA doc­u­ments that show how the agency used Boris Pasternak’s Doc­tor Zhiva­go as a pro­pa­gan­da tool (hand­ing out hasty re-trans­la­tions into Russ­ian to Sovi­et vis­i­tors at the World’s Fair). In Octo­ber 1958, the author was award­ed the Nobel Prize in Lit­er­a­ture. He had, as The Guardian report­ed in Octo­ber of that year, intend­ed to “accept it in per­son in Stock­holm next month.” He may have had lit­tle rea­son to think he could not do so.

Despite his role as a per­pet­u­al thorn in the side of the Sovi­et gov­ern­ment, and their attempts to sup­press his work and refusal to allow Doc­tor Zhiva­go to be pub­lished, the repres­sive regime most­ly gave Paster­nak his rel­a­tive free­dom, even after the nov­el was smug­gled abroad, trans­lat­ed, and released to an inter­na­tion­al read­er­ship. Whether or not the Nobel com­mit­tee chose him as an anti-Com­mu­nist state­ment, as some have alleged, made no dif­fer­ence to his rep­u­ta­tion around the world as a pen­e­trat­ing real­ist in the great Russ­ian nov­el­is­tic tra­di­tion.

The award might have been per­ceived as a val­i­da­tion of Russ­ian let­ters, but the Sovi­ets saw it as a threat. They had “raged” against Doc­tor Zhiva­go and its “anti-Marx­ist” pas­sages, “but that only increased its pop­u­lar­i­ty,” writes Ben Panko at Smith­son­ian. Paster­nak had already been “repeat­ed­ly nom­i­nat­ed for the Nobel Prize” and the “world­wide buzz around his new book pushed him to the top of the list in 1958.” Upon learn­ing of the win, he sent a telegram to the com­mit­tee that read, in part, “Thank­ful, glad, proud, con­fused.”

Days lat­er, as The Guardian wrote, Paster­nak decid­ed to decline the award “with­out hav­ing con­sult­ed even his friends.” He sent a short telegram to the Swedish Acad­e­my read­ing:

Con­sid­er­ing the mean­ing this award has been giv­en in the soci­ety to which I belong, I must reject this unde­served prize which has been pre­sent­ed to me. Please do not receive my vol­un­tary rejec­tion with dis­plea­sure. — Paster­nak.

The author’s “deci­sion” was not as abrupt as it might have seemed. In the days after his win, a storm raged, as he put it. Even before the declas­si­fied trove of infor­ma­tion, read­ers around the world could fol­low the sto­ry, “which had more twists and turns than a Cold War-era spy nov­el,” Tina Jor­dan writes at The New York Times. It played out in the papers “with one front-page sto­ry after anoth­er.” Paster­nak angered the Sovi­ets by express­ing his “delight” at win­ning the prize in an inter­view. He was denounced in Sovi­et news­pa­pers, called by a Prav­da edi­tor a “malev­o­lent Philis­tine” and “libel­er,” and his book described as “low-grade reac­tionary hack­work.”

Paster­nak faced exile in the days after he gave up the prize and issued a forced pub­lic apol­o­gy in Prav­da on Novem­ber 6. The Acad­e­my held the cer­e­mo­ny in his absence and placed his award in trust “in case he may some day have a chance to accept them,” the Times report­ed. Paster­nak had hoped to be rein­stat­ed to the Sovi­et Writer’s Union, which had expelled him, and had hoped that his nov­el would be pub­lished in his own coun­try and lan­guage in his life­time.

Nei­ther of these things occurred. The events sur­round­ing the Nobel broke him. His health began to fail and he died two years lat­er in 1960. Pasternak’s son Yevge­ny describes in mov­ing detail see­ing his father the night after he turned down the Nobel. “I couldn’t rec­og­nize my father when I saw him that evening. Pale, life­less face, tired painful eyes, and only speak­ing about the same thing: ‘Now it all doesn’t mat­ter, I declined the Prize.’” Doc­tor Zhiva­go was pub­lished in the Sovi­et Union in 1988. “The fol­low­ing year,” notes Panko, “Yevge­ny was allowed to go to Oslo and retrieve his father’s denied prize.”

Look­ing for free, pro­fes­sion­al­ly-read audio books from That could include  Doc­tor Zhiva­go. Here’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free tri­al with, you can down­load two free audio books of your choice. Get more details on the offer here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jean-Paul Sartre Rejects the Nobel Prize in Lit­er­a­ture in 1964: “It Was Mon­strous!”

Hear Albert Camus Deliv­er His Nobel Prize Accep­tance Speech (1957)

How the Inven­tor of Dyna­mite, Alfred Nobel, Read an Obit­u­ary That Called Him “The Mer­chant of Death” and Made Amends by Cre­at­ing the Nobel Prize

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

The Story of Pure Hell, the “First Black Punk Band” That Emerged in the 70s, Then Disappeared for Decades

In the mid-sev­en­ties, many peo­ple felt exclud­ed from and dis­dained by the main­stream of rock and roll, which had large­ly come to rep­re­sent itself as a straight white boys and girls club full of super­rich rock stars. The nar­row image fos­tered atti­tudes of implic­it racism and homo­pho­bia that explod­ed in the 1979 “Dis­co Sucks” back­lash. This despite the fact that rock and roll began as inter­ra­cial music built on the flam­boy­ant­ly ambigu­ous sex­u­al­i­ty of Lit­tle Richard, the racy short sto­ries of Chuck Berry, the grooves of Chub­by Check­er, the edgy beats of Bo Did­dley, and a great many unsung black female per­form­ers.

Now we tend to remem­ber 70s rock dif­fer­ent­ly, not so much as the era of KISS or the Eagles, but as the trans­gres­sive time of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Fred­die Mer­cury, of the huge com­mer­cial and cre­ative tri­umphs of women-led bands like Fleet­wood Mac and Heart, of punk and new wave out­siders set­ting the tem­plate for four decades of alter­na­tive rock: The Ramones, Pat­ti Smith, the Sex Pis­tols, Blondie, The Clash, Joy Divi­sion, Talk­ing Heads, Gary Numan, Kraftwerk…. We remem­ber it, still, as a time when rock was most­ly white, and when black artists most­ly record­ed dis­co, funk, soul, and R&B.

The record indus­try and radio mar­kets had seg­re­gat­ed, and it would stay that way into the 80s, though jazz artists like Miles Davis made seri­ous inroads into rock exper­i­men­ta­tion, bands like Parliament/Funkadelic released hard rock psy­che­delia, Prince chan­neled both Lit­tle Richard and Chuck Berry, and ear­ly punks like Detroit’s Death and Philadelphia’s Pure Hell made ground­break­ing punk and met­al. The for­mer escaped crit­i­cal notice, but the lat­ter became famous, then dis­ap­peared from rock his­to­ry for decades.

Death, the vision­ary trio of broth­ers who were recent­ly redis­cov­ered and cel­e­brat­ed, nev­er real­ly made it in their time out­side of a small cir­cle. Pure Hell, on the oth­er hand, were an inte­gral part of the New York punk scene and stars in Europe, and have been for­got­ten by most offi­cial punk his­to­ries. They “lived with the New York Dolls and played with Sid Vicious,” writes Cas­sidy George at Dazed, “but they’ve been large­ly writ­ten out of cul­tur­al his­to­ry.” They are some­times writ­ten back in, just as, to their dis­may, they were pro­mot­ed: as the “first black punk band.” But there’s far more to their his­to­ry than that.

“I don’t want to be remem­bered just because we were black,” says singer Ken­ny “Stinker” Gor­don. “I want to be remem­bered for being a part of the first tier of punk in the 70s.” He is not exag­ger­at­ing. New York Dolls gui­tarist John­ny Thun­ders pro­mot­ed the band, lead­ing to gigs as Max’s Kansas City and a fea­ture in Andy Warhol’s Inter­view mag­a­zine, “mark­ing their ‘place’ in a scene of cul­tur­al influ­encers.” They appeared in a 1978 issue of Melody Mak­er dur­ing their UK tour, in a pho­to with Sid Vicious, who wears his swasti­ka t‑shirt and pad­lock and chain. (Gor­don also wore a swasti­ka t‑shirt onstage.) Just one of many sec­ond-page write-ups in Melody Mak­er, NME, and the Euro­pean press.

All of the hype sur­round­ing the band is part of the his­tor­i­cal record, for those who look through back­pages and archives, but their music has most­ly gone unheard for over a gen­er­a­tion, large­ly because their album Noise Addic­tion only came out in 2006. After they released their first sin­gle in ‘78, then refused to change their sound for a record deal, their man­ag­er Cur­tis Knight abscond­ed with the mas­ter tapes and refused to release them. Lis­ten to their debut sin­gle, a cov­er of “These Boots Are Made for Walk­ing,” above. Melody Mak­er called it, with a wink, “the for­mer Nan­cy Sina­tra hit.” The song reached num­ber four on the UK alter­na­tive charts.

Pure Hell describe their jour­ney through the mid-sev­en­ties New York punk scene in the mon­tage of inter­view clips at the top, scored by wicked, riff-laden record­ings of their songs. The sto­ry began with four friends from a tough neigh­bor­hood in West Philadel­phia. “We dressed in drag and wore wigs, basi­cal­ly dar­ing peo­ple to both­er us. Peo­ple in the neigh­bor­hood would say, ‘Don’t go into hous­es with those guys, you may not come out!’” They were pres­sured to join a gang, says bassist Lenny “Steel” Boles, but refused. They packed up a U‑Haul and moved into the Chelsea Hotel, then played their first show across the street at Mother’s.

Leg­endary sto­ries about the band abound. (They played Sid Vicious’ last appear­ance onstage and were caught up in the media cir­cus sur­round­ing Nan­cy Spungen’s death). What’s most inter­est­ing about them is the music and their last­ing influ­ence, despite what Boles describes as being “snubbed” by record labels unless they agreed to “do this Motown thing, say­ing like, ‘You guys are black so you’ve got­ta do some­thing that’s dance­able.” After los­ing their man­ag­er and their mas­ters, they set­tled in L.A., where they played with the Germs and the Cramps but “lost their momen­tum,” writes George.

“It was total­ly over by 1980,” says Gor­don. All the same, their heavy pro­to-met­al sound, draw­ing from reg­gae and Hen­drix as much as from Bowie and Nan­cy Sina­tra, sparked the admi­ra­tion of many emerg­ing punk bands, includ­ing Wash­ing­ton, DC leg­ends Bad Brains, who acknowl­edge the debt their furi­ous reggae/metal thrash owes to Pure Hell. Bad Brains broke col­or bar­ri­ers in New York a few years lat­er, and got most of the cred­it for it, large­ly because Pure Hell left behind noth­ing but a mys­te­ri­ous sin­gle and a “rumor,” says Hen­ry Rollins, “that they had made an album and that it was sit­ting in a clos­et.”

After the tapes resur­faced, near­ly every­one who heard the record became an instant fan, includ­ing Rollins. “If the album had come out when they made it, that would have been a game chang­er,” he says. “I believe [it] would have had a tremen­dous impact. It’s one of those missed oppor­tu­ni­ty sto­ries.” But it is also a found oppor­tu­ni­ty sto­ry. They are now get­ting recog­ni­tion for their music and his­tor­i­cal role. In 2012 they reformed to play their first show since 1979, with Ran­cid, Buz­zcocks, Pub­lic Image Ltd, and Social Dis­tor­tion. Pure Hell will find their way back into the sto­ry of New York punk, and it will be a more inter­est­ing sto­ry for their redis­cov­ery.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

CBGB’s Hey­day: Watch The Ramones, The Dead Boys, Bad Brains, Talk­ing Heads & Blondie Per­form Live (1974–1982)

New Doc­u­men­tary Brings You Inside Africa’s Lit­tle-Known Punk Rock Scene

Four Female Punk Bands That Changed Women’s Role in Rock

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

More in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.