April 1999 Contents
Poetry: John Giorno at the Fondation Cartier (Paris)
Ghostly Humor in the Satie Museum (Normandy)
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Poetry Performance by John Giorno
Fondation Cartier
April 29th, 1999
Soirées Nomades Series

Critique by Guy LIVINGSTON

John Giorno is FAST! and ANGRY! and LOUD! and OBNOXIOUS!

...And living in the past.

The Fondation Cartier presented the last of the beat poets Thursday night as part of the Soirées Nomades, an excellent weekly series of performance artists and musicians.

Giorno spends his whole show yelling about all the famous people he talked to and/or fucked: Borroughs, Ginsberg, Bowles, Kerrouac, Warhol... At the end, we wonder what happened to authentic political outrage... why do the issues of the 80’s and 90’s not even put in a token appearance? Aside from a veiled and passing reference to AIDS, and some hip footgear, this could be the same show he gave in 1974 down in the Village.

It’s obnoxious, it’s self-parody. Some sound bites:

“NOTHING! recedes like success.”

“Too much is NOT ENOUGH!”

Sometimes it’s funny: The audience was in stitches over the poem entitled “What went into William Borrough’s Coffin.” This is the bawdy story of dressing Bill up for the underworld, complete with hat, drugs, and his medal from the Academy of Arts and Letters.

Totally exaggerated, totally over the top: Giorno is the real thing.

And yes, he BELONGS in a museum.
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Radical Erik Satie
Maisons Satie
Honfleur (Normandy), France
reviewed by Guy Livingston


(listen to our real audio excerpt)

Who would have guessed that the tiny French resort town of Honfleur, famous for its seafood, fishing boats, and summer tourist season, would be host to an avant-garde museum dedicated to Erik Satie? Admittedly, Satie was born in Honfleur in 1866, but so many museums of this sort feature decidedly dry papers displayed artfully on “the composer’s writing table,” conveniently placed next to “the composer’s armoire,” on which can be found a moth-eaten “composer’s hat.”

The Honfleur museum, located in the original Satie house, has nothing to do with that sort of musty place. This is a museum of surrealistic rooms which are more like stage sets than anything else. Music is provided in high-definition digital stereo via portable headsets that give the visitors a humorous and collagist commentary in English or French.

How crazy is this exhibit? The first room, by far the simplest, features a gigantic golden pear, which gently flaps metallic wings to the strains of “trois morceaux en forme de poire”! Subsequent rooms feature a white midi piano and shadow puppet lantern; a working merry-go-round of nonsense instruments; a 2 meter tall talking mechanical monkey; filmed interviews with members of “les six,” glowing wine/blood, terrific music, and a host of strange and weird devices too numerous to mention. This is performance art, opera, choreography, and haunted house all rolled into one. Everything is activated by remote control...no guides or docents are visible at any time; there are no guards or chaperones. However, the voice-overs and lighting effects—shadows projected onto walls, sudden bursts of rain, distant sounds of conversation and laughter—leave you feeling that the house is peopled from top to bottom with the ghosts of Satie’s friends and fellow artists. (hear a real audio excerpt by Yves Meylan)

Designed by Catherine and François Confino, the project is clearly intensely complicated-not only for the mind-boggling synchronization of machines, computers, audio tracks, infrared and robots- but also for the creative silliness and intellectual thought-work that went into the conception.

This is fun theatrical entertainment for anyone—musician, architect, restless child, or casual visitor. And for fanatics of Satie, the museum would be well-worth a major detour.

[Hours: 10:00-19:00 in summer, 10:30 to 18:00 in the off-season. Address: 67 Boulevard Charles V; Telephone +33.2.31.89.11.11]

[Audio Note: The audio extract is from track 24 of the limited edition album printed for the Maisons Satie by Musiques + Solutions and the Association Satie Honfleur. This track is made available here for public relations purposes only, and is copyright 1998 by Studio Patrick Abrial, France.]

[Satie Site: Check out the complete Erik Satie official site.]

The Avant-Garde Pont de Normandie

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Copyright 1999 by Paris Transatlantic