The Louise Brooks Society, of which I am the founding director, is about to celebrate its 10 anniversary. Here is the announcement / press release:
Louise Brooks Society Celebrates 10 Years Online: Pioneering Website Marks Decade in Cyberspace
The Louise Brooks Society (www.pandorasbox.com),
the largest and most popular website in the world devoted to any silent
film star, celebrates 10 years on the internet. Since its launch in
August 1995, millions of people have visited this pioneering site. The
New York Times said, "The Louise Brooks Society is an excellent homage
to the art of the silent film as well as one of its most luminous
The LBS was founded as a fan-site, and over the years has evolved into
a comprehensive on-line archive and center for all things Lulu. This
250-page site features a wide array of information about the actress
including a filmography, commentary, links, bibliographies, vintage
articles and memorabilia, portrait galleries, a message board, and
contributions from fans from around the world. The LBS has a
long-running blog, as well as its own Louise Brooks themed radio
station, aptly named RadioLulu.
The mission of the Louise Brooks Society is to honor the actress by
stimulating interest in her life and films; by fostering and
coordinating research on her life, films and writings; by serving as a
repository for related material; and by advocating for the preservation
and restoration of Brooks' films. To date, the LBS has co-sponsored
events, mounted exhibits, "inspired" a documentary, and generated wide
spread media interest in the actress.
The site serves as home to the Louise Brooks Society - an
internet-based fan club and the first virtual fan club in cyberspace.
Most all club activities - including its newsletter, membership
meetings, correspondence, and the participation of individuals - take
place over the internet. At last count, its 1000+ members hail from 46
countries on six continents. Such a joining together by like-minded
fans was only made possible by the advent of the world wide web.
In its first ten years, the LBS has been widely praised, having been
written-up in publications from around the world including the "Sunday
Times" (London, England), "Stuttgarter Zeitung" (Stuttgart, Germany),
"Le Temps" (Paris, France), and "Melbourne Age" (Melbourne, Australia).
The LBS has also received coverage in the "San Francisco Chronicle,"
"Grand Rapids Press," "Atlanta Journal and Constitution," "Rochester
Democrat and Chronicle," and "USA Today.
The Louise Brooks Society - Highlights of 10 Years Online
1995 - The earliest pages of the Louise Brooks Society appear on the
world wide web. The LBS is the first site devoted to the actress, one
of the earliest devoted to any silent film star, and one of the
earliest "fan sites" on the internet.
1996 - The LBS receives its first reviews. "USA Today" notes
"Silent-film buffs can get a taste of how a fan club from yesteryear
plays on the Web. The Louise Brooks Society site includes interviews,
trivia and photos. It also draws an international audience." Later in
the year, a British computing magazine, "Net Directory," names the LBS
one of the five best sites in the world devoted to actresses.
1997 - Among its many web honors, the LBS is named a Hollywood Site of
the Week and Celebrity Site of the Day. The LBS made Yahoo's Desert
Island List and is named part of the Microsoft Network's One Click Away
1998 - Impressed by the popularity of the LBS, the television station
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) gives the go ahead to a documentary on the
actress. "Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu" plays to great acclaim and
is nominated for an Emmy Award.
1998 - Pages from the LBS are referenced in a book on G.W. Pabst
(Brooks' director in Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl) published
by the Austrian Film Archive.
1999 - Numerous schools (from the junior high to university level)
adopt pages from the LBS as suggested reading. The LBS is named a
recommended site by the online version of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
2000 - The University of Minnesota Press publishes "Lulu in Hollywood"
by Louise Brooks, and "Louise Brooks" by Barry Paris. Each book is
brought back into print following a petition campaign organized by the
2001 - The "San Francisco Examiner" includes the LBS in an article "Thirteen great film sites."
2002 - The LBS launches RadioLulu, a Louise Brooks-themed radio
station. This internet-based station features theme songs from the
films of Louise Brooks, vintage jazz, recordings by the actresses'
contemporaries and co-stars, as well as recent pop and rock music about
the silent film star (by Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, Soul
Coughing, etc.) ).
2002 - Pages from the LBS are referenced in three books, "German
Expressionist Films" (Pocket Essentials); "Sex in the City"
(Universe); and "Photoplay Editions" (McFarland).
2003 - Site traffic continues to grow. Visitor logs show that
individuals have visited the LBS from more than 60 different countries
including every nation in Europe as well as scattered countries across
Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and South America.
2004 - The bibliographies found on the website surpass 400 pages of
printed material, making them one of the largest such collections of
documentation so far assembled.
The Pope has died. Back in 1987, out of curiousity, I (and tens of
thousands of others) gathered to see the Pope drive down Geary Street
in San Francisco atop his Pope-mobile. I had been raised a Catholic,
and had attended twelve years of Catholic schools in the Detroit area .
. . . my mother told me once that as a very small child, I had
been blessed by the famous Cardinal Cushing of Boston.
The only other well known religious leader I have ever seen or been
close to was the Dali Lama. While working as a journalist, I got to
attend a press conference were the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet
spoke. I was sitting in an assembled room of journalists, about six
rows in from the head of the room where the Dali Lama sat. I thought he
looked at me, or at least, had looked my way.
Fri, Apr. 1st, 2005, 09:03 am
Poet Robert Creeley (1926 - 2005) has died. I saw him read on a couple of occasions in San Francisco. Here is the NYT obit
There is an interesting article in today's New York Times
about an art exhibition which surveys American surrealism
. Alas, American art of the 1930's and 1940's was not all Wyeth, Grant Wood and populist realism. Pictured below is "The Magic Hand" (1949) by Charles Rain, an American painter who lived most of his life in Nebraska.
Yesterday, in a newspaper article about writers Julie Orringer and Ryan Harty (splendid people both), I was mentioned
in the San Francisco Chronicle
. See the last paragraph of the article. . . .
Today's New York Times
reports that Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged Television News
has arrived. According to the article, in the past four years, at least 20 federal agencies have made and distributed hundreds of "fake" television news segments. These so-called "news reports" portray the administration and its efforts in a positive light. This revelation comes in the wake of Bush telling reporters in January that his administration would no longer pay pundits to support his policies. . . . does the word propaganda come to mind ?
Philip Lamantia - a sublime poet whose work was published by City
Lights, has died. I had seen him read his poems on two or three
occassions. An article
ran in today's San Francisco Chronicle
. "Philip Lamantia, the blazing San Francisco poet whose embrace of Surrealism and the free flow of the imagination had a major influence on the Beats and many other American poets, died Monday of heart
failure at his North Beach apartment. He was 77. . . . "
Lamantia began writing poetry in grade school and was expelled from
junior high for "intellectual delinquency" when he immersed himself in
the work of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. At age sixteen, after
being introduced to surrealism by the Miro and Dali retrospectives at
the San Francisco Museum of Art, he began to write surrealist poetry.
Shortly afterward, Lamantia left home to join the Surrealists in New
York City and was welcomed by Andre Breton as "a voice that rises once
a hundred years." In 1955, he was the first poet who read at the famous
Six Gallery reading where his friend Allen Ginsberg first read Howl
contains links to many informative essays and articles. Here is a splendid portrait of the poet by Harry Redl.
Like something out of the works of Kafka . . . . Imagine a secretive,
police state where citizens who are told they have violated the law are
refused the opportunity to see or read the very law they are accused of
This happended to a Haight Ashbury neighbor of mine, John Gilmore
when he was asked to show ID when attempting to board an airplane.
Gilmore asked to see the law, but nobody could produce a copy. Later,
he was told the regulation was "Sensitive Security Information" and was
unavailable for inspection. Recently, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an article
on Gilmore and his fight with the United States Government to enforce a
law it won't show anyone. And like something out of the works of Kafka,
it makes for thought-provoking reading.
If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody hears it - does it make a sound ?
If a citizen "breaks" the law, and nobody knows about the law - does the law exist ?
I can't claim to have ever met Hunter S. Thompson. Though I encountered him on a few occasions.
The first time was when The Booksmith (where I work) hosted him for booksigning around the time Proud Highway
was first released in 1997. I hung around in the back room of this San
Francisco bookstore while Thompson and his entourage (which consisted
of actor Johnny Depp and science writer Timothy Ferris) and staff of
the Booksmith drank and smoked and talked. It was a sort of huddle
before the big play.
Thompson's booksigning was really a receiving line - a kind of meet and
greet, as the author let it be known that he would not sign books under
any circumstances. Earlier, he had signed a few hundred bookplates.
Once the event began, my job was to affix the bookplates to copies of Proud Highway
as customers and fans passed through the line. (It's glamourous work, I know.
Most were thrilled to simply meet the famed "gonzo journalist."
Thompson said "hello," raised a glass, chatted, and had his picture
taken. Some brought him gifts, such as drawings, or bottles of whiskey.
One or two - thinking themselves clever - slipped an edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
or Hell's Angeles
out of their jackets and asked Thompson to sign their "special" copy.
The poor fools. . . . His voice raised, Thompson would let out a string
of expletives and pound the table with his fist. And the once bold
autograph seeker would then shrink away. This "booksigning" went on for
a couple of hours, until the ranks of the curious and the devoted
dwindled. On the way out, Hunter S. Thompson shook my hand.
A year later, at the time Thompson's long lost novel, The Rum Diary
was published, I had the chance to work on a collaborative web project
with the author's publisher, Simon & Schuster. The project was the
- a webring set up
among four independent bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area. The
webring was meant to promote Thompson's new book. And to that end, with
the author's cooperation, his publisher sent us a large batch of
digital files - scans of unpublished letters, photos, manuscripts, and
other material related to The Rum Diary
The scans were divied up among the four stores. And a webring,
featuring unique content of interest to the author's many
readers, was launched. I had initiated the webring project in hopes of
luring the increasingly reclusive author back to the Booksmith. But no
such luck. Instead, our payoff was signed bookplates, which the four
stores were able to offer their webring customers as an incentive
to purchase The Rum Diary
. (Remember, this was way back in 1998, when the internet was still a brave new world.) The "Rum Ring"
a big success. It received a good deal of media attention (with
coverage appearing in both local newspapers and in national trade
journals), and it sold a lot of books. I think the Booksmith sold more
than 800 copies of The Rum Diary
at the time.
The "Rum Ring"
on-line for a number of years, where it continued to attract viewers
and individuals seeking information on Thompson. And thus, my last
"encounter" with the famed journalist occurred in the early 1990's when
I was called by a reporter for
the San Francisco Examiner
(or was it ESPN
and asked to comment on Thompson's latest endeavor, that of a sports
writer. I don't know why this reporter called me (I suppose I was as
close to a source as he could get), and I don't remember what I
remarked. I suppose I commented on this or that. I was quoted
somewhere. What is clear in my memory, though, is Hunter S. Thompson's
larger than life personality. It is a sad thing that he took his own
life yesterday. His many readers will certainly miss him.
Last night I hosted an event with Harvey Pekar, author of the American Splendor
comics. Harvey was swell fellow, and we chatted about early
stream-of-consciousness fiction writers, orange pop, bookstores in
Cleveland and Detroit, and the state of Ohio. The event was a big
success. Here is a picture of Harvey and I, a couple of guys from the