Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beauty and Beast?

A strange and unexpected development means that an addendum to my post on Annie Leibovitz seems due. It appears Vogue (and therefore indirectly Leibovitz, who shot the offending image) is taking some flak over the cover image of the April 2008 issue which is themed to pitch superstars of sports together with supermodels (a somewhat bizarre choice of theme, but I guess one that plays into twin American obsessions: strength and beauty). Apparently certain viewers of the cover image of James LeBron and Gisele Bündchen think that the representation of LeBron is stereotyping him as a monstrous specimen of black masculinity, or downright denigrating his humanity by portraying him with a facial expression which they read as rage-filled and frustrated and showing him as holding Bündchen in much the same way that King Kong is remembered to have done when "man"handling Fay Wray...

This snippet from FOX Sports is representative of the criticism:

But the image is stirring up controversy, with some commentators decrying the photo as perpetuating racial stereotypes. James strikes what some see as a gorilla-like pose, baring his teeth, with one hand dribbling a ball and the other around Bundchen's tiny waist. It's an image some have likened to "King Kong" and Fay Wray. "It conjures up this idea of a dangerous black man," said Tamara Walker, 29, of Philadelphia.

Magazine analyst Samir Husni believes the photo was deliberately provocative, adding that it "screams King Kong." Considering Vogue's influential history, he said, covers are not something that the magazine does in a rush. "So when you have a cover that reminds people of King Kong and brings those stereotypes to the front, black man wanting white woman, it's not innocent," he said.

If nothing else, Walker said the cover underscores the need for a more diverse workplace. "If more people of color worked for Vogue in positions of editorial authority, perhaps someone in the room might have been able to read the image the way so many of us are reading it now, and had the power to do something about it," she said.
Walker and Husni to me seem to be typical of ethnic minority representatives who are prone to read specific ethnic narratives into mainstream material. One sees similar tendencies in other academic disciplines where queer academics often live to read queer narratives into canonical literature such as Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw". Such interventions are often extremely enlightening, but one should always be alert to the difference discourse hierarchies that are produced by such interventions.

To illustrate, I would propose that an equally important narrative regarding gender ideology could be read into the cover image. Why is Gisele reduced to an object for handling by the active male subject, barely more important than the basketball he is dribbling with his right hand? Are we to take it that LeBron's right hand partner is the ball - the handling of which is the key to his multimillion dollar earnings, whereas Gisele is his left-hand squeeze, the morganatic wife that all kings (also those of the NBA, where LeBron goes by the moniker King James) can afford to keep along with their other trophies (
A morganatic wife. Defined by Captain Francis Grose in his Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811) as: ' A concubine; an allusion to an ancient German custom, according to which, when a man married his concubine, or a woman greatly his inferior, he gave her his left hand.' )

The other images in the Vogue spread can also be experienced online. They feature speed skater Apolo Ohno and supermodel Doutzen Kroes, snowboarder Shaun White and model Daria Werbowy, as well as swimmer Michael Phelps and model Carole Trentini. Of these pairings Ohno is of course an Asian-American, but he is diminutive of stature and does not pose in anything approaching a threatening manner. Phelps, while big, is portrayed as an elegant aquaman throughout, and Shaun White gives new meaning to the idea of the petite male... The final pairing is more parallel to LeBron/Bündchen, pitching discus thrower Jared Rome with Raquel Zimmerman. One image - titled 'Crouching Tiger' has Rome 'bench-pressing' Zimmerman over his shoulders. This image tells the same gender specific story as the controversial one, but because there is no inter-racial dynamics in it, there have been no comments regarding this shot.

One can perhaps see more about Leibovitz's intentions behind the cover tableau by watching the so-called
behind-the-scenes Diary at Vogue's web-site... Certainly the interview with Bündchen and James depicts them as equals - and they make it very clear that only one person was the boss at the shoot: Leibovitz, who literally made them jump through hoops for her...

One can also read
the cover story on-line here...

Photo copyright Annie Leibovitz

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Be Good or Be Gone

My friend Pat Thomas from S-F recently posted a best of 2007-blog where he shared some of the musical highlights of the previous year, according to his own eclectic tastes. Pat is a well-known figure in independent music - both as a performer and as a label head, editor, manager etc. There was a recent write-up on him in S-F Weekly, which is great but which just scratches the surface when it comes to all the stuff Pat has been involved with in the nearly 25 years I've known him... Here's a little quote from the article:

Steve Wynn, founding member of epochal L.A. guitar-rockers Dream Syndicate and an enduring solo artist, had this to say: "If Pat Thomas didn't exist, someone would have had to have invented him. Imagine a hybrid of Ralph Gleason, Miles Davis, Soft Machine, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Albert Grossman, and Stokely Carmichael. Hurts my head to think about it. But Pat does all that and more, in a way that's effortless and natural."
Among the recommendations Pat gave was a reference to Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan, who was completely unknown to me. I guess when Pat says that a singer merits comparison to Nick Drake, I prick up my ears and rush off to hear some tunes by the man in question! Here's Pat's comment:

Fionn Regan - I think this dude is from Ireland, he's a young fresh face in the folk/singer/ songwriter crowd and most amazingly is the VERY first person that I've heard in 20 yrs that has been compared to Nick Drake and actually has some of Nick's magic in his sound. sort of the missing link between Nick Drake and folky/acoustic Dylan.
Here is Fionn's MySpace page with 4 songs and a nice video of the song "Be Good or Be Gone". I'm embedding it below:

What's great about the video is that the acoustic ambience of each location is kept intact, so that we hear Fionn with real echo, reverb etc. dictated by the environment of each shot, ranging from an elevator to a church, a cow farm, a parking garage etc. - to a pet shop full of parakeets (my favourite, though, is the one in front of the "Tripe Dressers" shop-front)... Neat!

Info on Fionn Regan is still scarce, but we can have a bit of fun with
this interview Fionn has done with himself...

There were a couple of nice reviews in British papers. Here is Betty Clarke in The Guardian:

Fionn Regan was born in Dublin but now lives in Brighton, and his debut album evokes the best of both cities. Seaside imagery and Celtic romance flood each impressive acoustic rhythm, the cosy folk fighting off a chilly cynicism. The usual suspects influence Regan's style - there are the lilting high notes of Damien Rice, the scathing tone of Bob Dylan and the literate lyricism of Nick Drake - but the frozen heart and warm touch belong to Regan alone. "Step out of your dress and I'll wear you like a hood," he sings in The Underwood Typewriter. Hey Rabbit has the twisted naivety of Alice in Wonderland, while an acoustic guitar chases an excitable piano melody in Bunker or Basement. Woven through the wonder is Regan's gorgeous, easy voice, as spellbinding as anything his imagination can conjure up. Folk has a new Pied Piper.
Check also the MOG page for Fionn...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tour of the 'Villes

Since road trips seem to be on my mind today, I'll continue with another US-memoir. A couple of years back I had occasion to go on a grand tour of the southern 'Villes, to wit: start in Gainesville, Florida, drive up to Louisville, Kentucky and finally, crossing the Smokies, end up in another Gainesville - this one in Georgia. This peculiar itinerary was occasioned by a couple of invites (the two Gainesvilles) and a conference on 20th C. literature sandwiched in between (it was easier to get travel grants if the trip included a big conference to-do)...

Whenever a road trip is called for, it is crucial to stock up on local interest CDs. For this trip the new acquisitions included Daniel Lanois, for the Acadian flavour, a bit of Alison Krauss for the bluegrass tie-in (it was cool to cross into Kentucky to the strands of "A Man of Constant Sorrow"), and finally Emmylou Harris' Red Dirt Girl to celebrate that not all of the soil in question ended up on the necks of Rednecks...

Red Dirt Girl is actually the best Daniel Lanois-produced CD I've ever heard. Only problem is he had nothing to do with the production and recording of it! He did do Emmylou's previous album, but the sound of this one is even more typical of his work: the hopping bass-line, fuzzy scratchy guitars, and juicy-bone cajun rhythms. Turns out it's Malcolm Burn who is responsible for that - not inconceivably because he has worked as engineer on many Lanois productions, including Dylan's Oh Mercy, and Wrecking Ball, the previous Emmylou offering. Kinda makes you wonder who learned from whom in that producer-engineer partnership... Check out some of Burn's work on MySpace. Don't miss his foray into weird indie film-making, Touched.

One of the most attractive songs on Red Dirt Girl is the bouncy up-tempo job "One Big Love". Emmylou Harris wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the disc - except that one! Mind you, she did a wonderful job, esp. on the ballads - "Michelangelo" and "My Antonia" (interesting duet w. Dave Matthews, channeling Marty Robbins), and the title track is a nice Southern epic, following two close friends from childhood to untimely end. But still it's the irresistible beat of "One Big Love" that has recently re-caught my fancy.

The songwriter of that track is Patty Griffin, whose lyrics do a great job of catching the sentiments of youths celebrating their first serious love affairs during one of those special summers you think you'll have a whole bunch of while you grow up, but which in retrospect you realize that we are only allotted one or two of per life time... The lyrics encourage a carefree and non-violent outlook on life, and cooly advocate being a lover, not a fighter:

I guess I'm taking my chances
Giving up the ring throwing in the gloves
I guess I'm taking my chances
Trading in my things
A couple wings on a little white dove
And one big love, one big love
But the best part of the track is the rhythm, a re-working of a dance beat that could have been born in the late 1950s ("Everybody do like a Monkey", Griffin's lyrics urge us on), but definitely has 21. century spices added. A reference that might be a bridge between this beat and the fictive Monkeybeat of the 50s could be The Bangles' 80s gem, "Walk Like an Egyptian" - the video is still fun, but boy how fast the 80s got old!!

Emmylou's version of "One Big Love" is bound to make you happy. It certainly beats Griffin's rather insipid original, but Patty is still worth checking out. MySpace also gives you a few good songs by her. I am particularly fond of a grand ballad such as "Heavenly Day" - another, but very different, happy-maker...

Emmylou has a fine website with lots of sources, such as interviews and other goodies. Each album in her long career gets a little page of its own, including of course Red Dirt Girl. Emmylou goes track by track in her commentary and has this to say about "One Big Love":

This is the only one I didn't write. Malcolm felt that this record needed a song that could just be enjoyed for its groove. And after I heard this track I knew he was right. It's a great groove.
David Bowman did a great interview with Harris when the record came out, and it's clear that she is no slouch in the thinking department as well as the groove dept. But let's close with a couple of bona fide Lanois/Emmylou collaborations from Wrecking Ball, "Orphan Girl" & "Blackhawk":

The tour of the 'Villes certainly was a groovy trip, not least because of the good musical road companions we kept!

Big Sur writing

Since I had the good fortune to pick up a copy of Jack Kerouac's novel of delirium and paranoia, Big Sur, some time in the late 1970s I started pondering what the California coast might really be like. In 1992 I finally had the chance to road trip down Highway 1 from Northern Calif., and to see first hand some of the locations the Beats haunted and were haunted by during their West Coast jaunts. I also started discovering that Big Sur in particular was a well represented locality in late modernist and early postmodernist literature. Henry Miller lived there and wrote about it, and Richard Brautigan zipped by sometime in the early 60s and made fun of Miller...

The year before last I put together a research paper on these 3 writers for a conference in Sweden on place and haunting, and I have just received the proofs to read through for the publication of the book of proceedings...

Here is a teaser:

Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Richard Brautigan all wrote prose about Big Sur, California. This locus haunts these writings in three different ways: To Miller in Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch (1957) the potential of Big Sur as a true artists’ commune was lost to progress and materialism. He is haunted by the unrealized potential of a Romantic locus amoenus. To Kerouac in Big Sur (1962) the California coast he had loved to explore with Gary Snyder as his Buddhist mountain goat guru in the 1950s––the subject of Dharma Bums (1958)––was becoming a site of horror and delirium (tremens) by the early 1960s when he revisited Big Sur and Rainbow Canyon in search of peace of mind and inspiration for a ‘sea-poem.’ He is haunted by the loss of self and connection to a genius loci in the potentially sublime coastal vistas. To Brautigan in A Confederate General from Big Sur (1964) the locus of Big Sur has already become a fully textualized topos which can only serve as a vehicle for pastiche and postmodern parody of his modernist precursors’ anxieties. His text is haunted by intertextual ghosts of Kerouac and Miller’s gender and racial values, which are spoofed and sent up by Brautigan’s unlikely crew of beatnik womanizers and exploiters of both land and Native American (and Confederate!) heritages. The Californias represented in these three works thus serve to re-actualize the questions with which Walt Whitman ends his poem, “Facing West from California’s Shores”: “But where is what I started for so long ago?/And why is it yet unfound?”
I look forward to receiving the printed volume from Cambridge Scholars Press later this year...

My continuing fascination with California has resulted in, among other things, a course I ran a few years back, titled Writing California - check out my course page for that...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Beat Generation Revisited sequence

Over on the other blog I contribute to - The Atlantic Community - I have been posting online recaps and supplements to my current elective course The Beat Generation Revisited...

There are 6 instalments in the series proper, each based on a lecture, plus a few related items. Part 5 turned out longish, and therefore is divided in two parts. There is a total of 9 mini-lectures posted now that the teaching sequence is ended. The final instalment is based in part on mail-ins from my students with Beat related items they have found or were already familiar with...

Here are the relevant posts, if you want to get the low-down on the Beats:

0. Kerouac times

1. Basic Hip - Kerouac times, vol.2

2. Alan Ginsberg and the American Scream

2a. Howl tape unearthed

3. Dr. Benway, I presume...

4. Gary Snyder, Smokey the Bear, Avalokitesvara and other Bodhisattvas

5. "Minor Characters?" Beat Others, 1

5a. Beat Others, 2 - Racial Othering

6. The Beat Goes on...

Charlie Haden, Josh Haden - "Spiritual"

Unlike my main obsessions - Van Morrison and Nick Drake and various American folkies and songwriters, such as Townes Van Zandt - which are mostly under control to the extent that I don't write four blog posts on them every day, occasionally a minor obsession bubbles up and gets out of control...

Recently I have found myself listening fairly obsessively to a specific instrumental track whenever I drive my car to work, or to the supermarket. The trip to work is fine: it takes ten to twelve minutes and the track is eight minutes long, so no problems there. The supermarket, however, is less than five minutes away, which means that the track is not finished by the time I arrive at the parking lot... I then have to either cut it short, an option which even now makes me cringe, or I can choose to sit several minutes in the car while the track finishes, which often draws odd looks from other shoppers...

The tune in question is called "Spiritual" and features
Charlie Haden, bassist extraordinaire, and Pat Metheny. (Thanks to my friend Robert for sending me the track!) It is a 1996 track taken from Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories).The composition is very simple, the instrumentation purist: guitar and bass, the riffing quite haunting and irresistible - like one of those lullabies that get under your skin...

On Sam Sutherland writes about this track:

And giving the project a sense of closure, while commenting obliquely on the generational dialogue it represents, is the luminous "Spiritual" (composed by Haden's son, Josh), an instrumental prayer that exemplifies the balance of concision and deep emotion at the heart of this exquisite triumph.

Here is another good, congenial review of the album by Debbie Koritsas...

I didn't know much about Charlie Haden until recently, but find his biography very thought provoking. He is so typically American, in his background and his pursuit of excellence, yet so very un-Bush-like in his patriotism. More voices like his and more exposure to alternative understandings of what it means to be American are sorely needed in times like these...

Here Haden talks about his archeology in music and his re-situating of American music:

There was a necessity that I felt to play music from American composers in protest to what’s going on, to make a statement that just because you’re not for everything that this administration is doing, doesn’t mean that you’re not patriotic. So I wanted to do ‘America the Beautiful’ to show everybody that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done here in this country. And inside that song, Carla put the African-American anthem ‘Lift Every Voice And Sing.’ and Ornette Coleman’s provocative ”Skies Over America” (the title track of Coleman’s first recorded orchestral symphonic work from 1972). And then there is a Pat Metheny song that I’ve always liked, which he wrote for the movie, The Falcon and the Snowman. At the end of the movie they do this song with David Bowie singing called ‘This Is Not America.’ We do ‘Amazing Grace,’ Dvorak’s ‘Goin’ Home, which is from his New World Symphony. And we also do ‘Throughout,’ which is a Bill Frisell song that my daughter Petra did with Bill on a duet record that they did (2003’s Petra Haden & Bill Frisell on True North). When I heard it I really loved it and wanted to put it on the record. We also do ‘Adagio for Strings’ by Samuel Barber, put to a chamber orchestra, which I always wanted to do.

Haden provides music streaming from his website, but snippets only. His MySpace page provides two full tracks, one from American Dreams (w. Michael Brecker), the other also from Beyond the Missouri Sky, the Grammy-winning collaborative album with Pat Metheny.

Metheny on his part offers four very different tracks on his MySpace page, a favourite being "Last Train Home" from 1987s Still Life (Talking) - another track based on familiar melodic quotes... both American, Oriental and First Nations.

Josh Haden, the composer of "Spiritual" is best known for fronting Spain, a low-key down-tempo rock ensemble. They have recorded the song on their album The Blue Moods of Spain. Josh Haden also has solo recordings to his name. Josh can be found blogging here on the excellent music sharing site Mog. And with Spain, on MySpace, here - featuring 4 songs, among them "Spiritual" (w. vocals)...

Upcoming conference plans: Life Writing and R. Gibbons

I plan to attend several conferences this spring and summer. I am particularly excited about one upcoming event in August: ESSE-9 in Aarhus (just down the road from where I work). ESSE is the European Society for the Study of English and they meet every two years for a large conference with 50+ seminars and workshops. They also let in American Studies people, esp. if one can maintain a British accent for upward of 20 minutes...

I have proposed a paper for a seminar on Life Writing, a hot topic in literary studies right now:
The purpose of this seminar is to define and exemplify the increasingly popular genre 'life writing' in academic terms. In order to move beyond the stereotype of mass-market biographies we need critical discussion of different forms and definitions of life writing. We welcome papers seeking to identify and explain the contours and interfaces between producers, subjects and consumers of life writing; between memory and writing; between emotion and narration; fact, fiction and documentary styles; between personal and cultural history and between new textual technologies, e.g. on the Web, and the life of a text.
Here is my paper proposal:

The Survival of a Dissident Poet: Life Writing before and after the Web – the Case of Robert Gibbons

Robert Gibbons’ volume of poetry
Beyond Time – New and Selected Work 1977 - 2007 forms a rare vantage point for discussion of the themes proposed for this seminar on life writing. Over four decades Gibbons has remained an unincorporated, strongly political, and consistently dissident voice in the American landscape of little magazines and independent publication. Unaffiliated with any formal movement or coterie Gibbons has instead focused on developing his personal poetics of nonconformity, specializing in the hybrid form of the prose poem.

While being forced early on to depend on the acceptance of journal editors to find publication outlets, Gibbons has latterly begun utilizing Internet and web-based publication options to a much larger extent. His spontaneous composition ideals make his output, not least in the form of
a web log, ideally suited for a quick turn-around in terms of publication.

His confessions and reportage from a place-bound life on the streets of his favorite cities and among clean, well-lighted book-stacks balance carefully between the personal and the political, detailing the vagaries of having a compulsion to write for dear life while simultaneously being compelled to work for a living.

I aim to situate Gibbons’ dual practice of web as well as journal and book publications in the ever expanding spectrum of forms of mediated life writing.

I hope to do the multifaceted work Robert Gibbons is producing right now justice. His current daily log of poems is developing into a fine body of texts - hopefully ready to become a book in their second incarnation in a few months' time... A snippet from today's poem (with Robert's permission, I hope):

I don’t know where compassion stands among the grand list of Buddhist virtues, but the cold this morning placed me right there among the lowliest of the low, where poets belong. Spare change, madam, trickle down unemployment compensation, mister?

Right now I await acceptance of the paper proposal - hopefully within 3 weeks...

Monday, March 3, 2008

In America's Shoes: Andrei Codrescu

I am a fan of Romanian ex-pat author, Andrei Codrescu, who is now residing in the US - Louisiana to be more specific. Andrei is a great humorist, using his TRRENNSILLVAYNIAN accent to great effect, and generally taking a mock-naive approach to all things American - as witnessed by his frequent NPR commentaries.

There is also a nice PBS Frontline/WORLD resource page on Codrescu, as well as many YouTube videos featuring him:

Here he talks about the New Orleans literary scene and his journal Exquisite Corpse. There is also a dig against George W. Bush:

There is a very long video of the Charlie Rose Show in 1993 where Andrei and others talk about the Road and going on it - triggered by Codrescu's hilarious documentary Road Scholar in which he goes coast to coast in a cherry-red Cadillac convertible...

And to close - here is some laugh-and-cry poetry from Andrei's The Living Conditions of the Gods:

Codrescu is a fan of the Beat writers (as am I). A paper of mine on the influence of Beats such as Ginsberg and Kerouac on immigrant writers - including Codrescu - has recently appeared.

Codrescu gets the last word. On Romanians and their 'national traits':
Romanians are culturally European, very close to the French. Socially, they are now building a society that is emotionally closer to the Balkans, Turkey and Greece. The inept postcommunist governments have kept Romania from implementing quick reforms, so the economy is a mess, way behind Poland or Hungary. There was never a clean purge of the "formers," either in government or in the secret police. It's not so much a matter of traits, as a political problem.

Leibovitz documentary

This is an excellent PBS documentary on master photographer, Annie Leibovitz.

The program follows her to a number of spectacular photo-shoots on location, on tour with rock stars and in the studios of ballet and dance greats such as Mark Morris - but it also traces her family history, and her involvement with Rolling Stone magazine, Vanity Fair, and Vogue (all her editors are interviewed, but the footage of RS founder Jann Wenner is the most interesting). Many cult figures and celebrities appear in the film's historic clips, or are interviewed - including Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, Mikhail Baryshnikov etc.

The site PBS has set up for the movie is superb. Here is the beginning of the feature essay:

Born in 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Annie Leibovitz enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute intent on studying painting. It was not until she traveled to Japan with her mother the summer after her sophomore year that she discovered her interest in taking photographs. When she returned to San Francisco that fall, she began taking night classes in photography. Time spent on a kibbutz in Israel allowed her to hone her skills further.
A particularly moving segment is dedicated to her relationship with Susan Sontag, but we also get the view point of her mother, her sisters (one of whom, Barbara Leibovitz directed the doc.), and her daughters...

Leibovitz met Susan Sontag in 1989 while photographing the writer for her book AIDS AND ITS METAPHORS. "I remember going out to dinner with her and just sweating through my clothes because I thought I couldn't talk to her," Leibovitz said in an interview with THE NEW YORK TIMES late last year. Sontag told her, "You're good, but you could be better." Though the two kept separate apartments, their relationship lasted until Sontag's death in late 2004.

Be sure to also click on the Gallery link to see samples of Leibovitz' best shots. I particularly dig her portrait work (Sontag, fx.), but Sting as a mud-man and Whoopie Goldberg immersed in milk are also cool!

More superb Leibovitz work here from The New York Times (essay by Sontag can be accessed from there too)...

Time has told me...

As this is the debut post on this informal blog/notepad, I should probably come clean about the title I have chosen for the blog. It is, as many will know, a quote from a song by late great songwriter, guitarist and singer, Nick Drake. More particularly it is a line from the song titled "Time has told me" which originally appeared on Drake's 1969 album, Five Leaves Left. I have a medium to severe Drake obsession, and have had since the mid-1980s - at which time Drake had long since been dead and buried. I won't go into the sad and poignant story of Drake's demise on this occasion, but will return to it at some later point...

Drake's memory is well-served by many tribute sites on-line: is a fan site which has bio, discography, lyrics (not completely accurate), and a media section w. links. A lovely feature is images of hand-written lyric sheets in Nick's own handwriting - the US fan site - has similar features, plus fan fora for discussion and sharing of Drake-lore. There are regular news updates on the entry page. is a lovingly crafted English fan site with nice Flash animations. One of its unique features is a collection of fan artwork. A good feature here are sound files of Nick speaking There is an mp3 (w. transcript) of an old tape on which Nick Drake can be heard rambling about life and his tenuous place in it.

Bryter Music - The Estate of Nick Drake is the official site administering Drake's legacy. It is a friendly site, streaming many of Drakes song as one browses the pages. The aesthetics of the site are second to none, and some resources are unique to this site. I recommend reading Gabrielle Drake's moving posthumous letter to her brother...

A Place to Be is a collection and celebration of the impact of Drake's music on other artists. Here more content will appear as the collection evolves and moves from curator to curator. It was as part of this project that the much discussed video, featuring "Black Eyed Dog", which Heath Ledger directed and starred in shortly before his death, was first shown.

There is even a decent MySpace site for Nick Drake with 4 songs...

The Nick Drake Files is a now stagnant fan site located in Sweden.

As for book length bios, there are now several available, but all are speculative and occasionally strangely sensationalist... I was particularly troubled by the Trevor Dann book, which suggests - based on slim evidence from Drake's lyrics and poorly executed textual analysis - that Nick Drake was a traumatised or even abused child. We are waiting for the appearance of the first truly congenial Drake-bio - hopefully in 2009...

Two Drake DVDs will help tide us over: A Skin Too Few (available with purchase of the box set of Nick Drake's recordings, Fruit Tree) and Under Review - but separate reviews of those films will be posted here at a later point in time...