(pic by Cynthia Wood)
Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival kicked off its 2010 festival by honoring the original paperback bohemian, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (and City Lights Booksellers), with its Barbary Coast Award for his contribution to Bay Area Arts and letters on Saturday, October 2. Those lucky enough to get tickets to the sold out night at the Herbst Theater enjoyed an unforgettable and only-in-San Francisco style event that featured poets, writers, illustrators, beat-era survivors like Michael McClure, as well as musicians Patti Smith, Steve Earle and Tom Waits.
While Steve Earle gave a heartfelt thank you to Lawrence for allowing him and others of his generation to be born into a world that never had to exist without the poem Howl, both Patti and Tom performed. Smith began by tipping her hat to Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby, before segueing into her own composition, Wing, while Waits performed Ferlinghetti’s Coney Island of the Mind, sung while he played the piano, accompanied by the Marcus Shelby Quartet. In the green room prior, Smith and Waits reminisced about when they last saw each other, agreeing that indeed it might have been 1975. From left to right, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, and Steve Earle. Photo credit: Cynthia Wood Photography. More info at Read More

Singer, songwriter, composer and actor Tom Waits joins the lineup of artists and authors who will pay tribute to the original paperback bohemian Lawrence Ferlinghetti when he and City Lights Booksellers and Publishers receive Litquake’s 2010 Barbary Coast Award for their contribution to Bay Area letters on Saturday October 2 at the Herbst Theater. Others to appear include Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, Winona Ryder, Michael McLure, New Yorker cartoonist Eric Drooker and others.
The material Waits has produced over the years has a direct connection to the bohemian nature espoused not only by Ferlinghetti himself, but also the literature to be found via City Lights Booksellers and Publishers.
In an era where a show like Mad Men has become so popular all across the board, it is easy to forget that for many, its nostalgic take gilds the era in a way that seems to be not quite complete or accurate. In the shadow of these Madison Avenue Mad Men types, a new kind of American was emerging—one typified by Ferlinghetti—that was looser, that put a paper back book in his or her pocket and mulled the post World War 2 American dream/landscape and said “no thanks.”
Whether it be Frank’s Wild Years, the soundtrack to One From the Heart with an image of an “old broken bicycle out in the rain with playing cards pinned to its spokes,” or even the channeling of a Richard Burton-sounding stevedore type in Singapore from the Swordfish Trombones album, Waits’ songs epitomize the idiosyncratic man or woman who looks at life with the eye of a poet despite what their circumstances seem to dictate. And then for better or worse, acts accordingly.
Litquake 2010 Barbary Coast Awards
Herbst Theater
Saturday October 2 at 8pm
Tickets: $25.00 in advance, $30.00 at door, $100.00 VIP
Tickets can be purchased here.Read More

Tom Waits beautiful heartbreaking song “Long Way Home” (Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards) gets a radical overhaul by the pop due Mates Of State. On their latest album of covers entitled “crushes,” the husband and wife team transform the melancholy ode to a wandering spirit into a sparkling blast of modernized Phil Spectorish pop. The song was featured recently on NPR music. It’s a radical departure but cool in it’s own right and gets a nod and smile from the Waits’ camp. Read More

On October 1, 2010 Perihelion Arts presents:
“Natural Selection” Paintings and Drawings By Kellesimone Waits
With Artist: First Friday, October 1, 2010 6-11 p.m.
Third Friday, Oct. 15, 2010 6-10 p.m.
Show runs Oct. 1-30, 2010
Perihelion Arts, 610 E Roosevelt St., Unit 137, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Artist’s Statement (After the break)
Definition of NATURAL SELECTION: a natural process that results in the survival and reproductive success of individuals or groups best adjusted to their environment and that leads to the perpetuation of genetic qualities best suited to that particular environment
I am frequently asked when I started painting. It’s one of those stock cocktail party questions that follow on the heels of the given opener: “So, what do you do?” I only came up with a good answer (which also happens to be true) a couple of years ago:
When I was five years old – I had the natural five-year-old girl fascination with pretty glamorous ladies (this hasn’t changed much). I distinctly remember my frustration with my limitations as a painter at the time (this also hasn’t changed much). It was from this place of frustration that I solved my first problem with a paintbrush. I discovered that I could piece together what I could do to make something I wanted to see. My equation became:
Circle = Head
Heart = Bodice
Triangle = Skirt
I’d then add features and some noodley arms and hair. Directly following this discovery I had the covetous instinct to keep what I had uncovered secret from my peers. It was mine, I was proud, and I was hooked.
In 2005, at 21, I participated in my first gallery show. Just weeks before the show opened I had unknowingly completed my first body of work that followed a cohesive conceptual topic. I say unknowingly because it was just that. I had no clue what I was painting about, but I was painting it over and over again. It wasn’t until after that show had come and gone and I had some distance from the work that the story of the work became clear.
In the years following that first show I became infatuated with concept. Infatuation morphed into dependence, as it’s been known to do, and about a year ago I realized that I had hit a wall. I couldn’t paint with out a concrete concept and once I began work on a specific chosen topic I couldn’t permit my self to veer off course. I was frustrated with my limitations, much like that time when I was five, except now my limitations were self imposed rather than natural.
This current body of work is a narrative survey of personal attraction and interpretation through media immersion. Though the selected works do, at first glance, appear to be an incongruous mash-up of unrelated topics, what I see is in actuality the result of my personal picture making evolution. With a melting pot of media imagery as my source materials (ranging from “National Geographic” to “Vogue”) I have selected only a handful of images. Much like the process of Natural Selection, my own process in selecting my subject matter was a natural one based on my personal history that resulted in the survival and reproductive success of particular imagery that was best adjusted to my environment. By selecting particular images and then choosing to paint them I have altered their life spans to exceed the average shelf life of a magazine, and in turn ensured their survival (if only in my own world). Read More

On the literary horizon is an extraordinary book entitled “Waits/Corbijn – Photographs 1977-2010” featuring an array of beautiful artistic images of Tom Waits taken by the renowned photographer Anton Corbijn. Tom Waits and Anton Corbijn are a perfect artist – artist match. Their 30-year collaboration now yields this book of portraits by Corbijn plus more than 50 pages filled up with images/writing by Waits himself. About 220 pages, ≠200 colour and duotone plates, roughly 22 x 30 cm, hardcover. English/German edition.
A selection of Anton’s work from Waits/Corbijn will be on display at De Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam from Sept 22th to Oct 12th, during the staging of Shakespeare’s Richard III which incorporates music by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. For info on the last remaining tickets go here. Read More
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