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Krista Gaylor's Picks

 

Darling Krista Kay seems the Audrey Hepburn of Powell's. She's smart (she can spell "cosmopolitan" backwards while blindfolded), talented (she's an artist and successful freelance photographer), and super stylish (she drives a vintage Volvo and gardens in high heels). But is she really the lady she first appears? After looking over her picks, we're no longer so sure. Her choices tend toward film, art, and photography books about people from the hirsute side of the tracks. If this sounds like your idea of sophistication, you're in the right place. If you're looking to recreate Holly Golightly's bookshelf, you may want to reconsider.

 

Books on Film

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind

Easy 
Riders, Raging Bulls I don't know much about film, but I can keep up with the best Hollywood gossipers. In an attempt to elevate and justify my shameful interest in the lives of celebrities, I found a terrific book. Easy Riders Raging Bulls begins with Hollywood in bad financial shape in the 1960's. Films made outside the US were considered daring and innovative, while Hollywood was producing heavily formulaic Doris Day or Rock Hudson vehicles. Studios didn't have a clue what was making British and European art films successful and were, for the first time, willing to cede power to young directors. Film equipment became smaller, more portable, and cheaper. Actors in these new films were grittier, story lines involved characters that weren't necessarily "good guys" and technical correctness was challenged. Films from this era included Bonnie & Clyde, The Graduate, Rosemary's Baby, Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, The Godfather, Nashville, Shampoo, Carnal Knowledge, The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now, Jaws, Klute, Star Wars, and American Graffiti. This book is a perfect combination of film history and densely packed tales of Hollywood scandal and titillation.
 
Tin House Magazine: The Film Issue

Tin 

House Magazine: The Film Issue In Tin House #6 we get more Hollywood academia, but with a literary slant. This magazine (more book-like in reality), published quarterly and based in Portland, is sexy intellectualism at its best. We are treated to interviews with directors Alex Cox (Sid & Nancy,Repo Man), Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Safe) as well as an interview by Ann Magnuson with writer Jerry Stahl (read Permanent Midnight). Learn about Henry Miller living in California and painting watercolors, read a portion of a screenplay based on the life of photographer Diane Arbus (let us all collectively pray that the movie does her justice). These people at Tin House are my kind of scholars. This is their first, and hopefully not last, theme based issue.

 

Books on Music

Stoned: A Memoir of London in the 60's by Andrew Loog Oldham

Stoned: 

A Memoir of London in the 60's I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book simply because it fed my infinite hunger for Rolling Stones information. More specifically, I was looking to spy on the Stone of my dreams – Charlie Watts. Thanks to Oldham's memoir I got fresh material. Oldham was a young, cheeky, hustling scenester and entrepreneur looking to make it big in 60's London. Oldham was a master at selling an image and he developed the driving sex and anti-establishment force that would become the Greatest Rock & Roll Band of All Time. Oldham says, "People say I made the Stones. I didn't. They were there already. They only wanted exploiting. They were all bad boys when I found them. I just brought out the worst in them." Sure, the Stones are hot, but it's only Charlie who really blows my hair back.
 
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs Mc Neil

Please 
Kill Me If you like your history bloody, rowdy, insolent, and glitter-filled, this book is for you. Please Kill Me tells the story of the evolution of punk through testimonies of those who were there. The story begins with the kink and drugged sounds of the Velvet Underground in 1960's NYC, through the formation of the MC5, the Stooges and Detroit rock to Patti Smith. Theatrics and visually confrontational theater combined with the rock & roll of the time gave birth to The New York Dolls, who cross pollinated with London's Malcom McLaren, inspiring the Sex Pistols. The Ramones and Blondie form, punk is featured in Vogue magazine, Sid and Nancy are dead, and then the Ramones go to LA to film Rock & Roll High School. This book is dark, sick, and perfectly satisfying.
 
Child Bride: The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley by Suzanne Finstad

Child Bride I wasn't reading Burroughs at 12 years old like 95 percent of my Powell's coworkers. I was reading V.C. Andrews and maybe that explains my susceptibility to sordid books. Child Bride embodies everything I love about trashy biography. It contains driving ambition, fame, fantastical excess, glamour, scandalous sex and rock & roll. I've always been fascinated with Priscilla and Lisa Marie but they have kept a frustratingly low profile. Child Bride exposes Priscilla's single-minded determination to marry Elvis Presley from the unbelievably young age of 10 years old. Both she and her mother were devoted Elvis fans and at 14 Priscilla's fantasy of meeting Elvis came true. Her family was transferred to Germany where Elvis was stationed as a GI. With her parents' consent, 14 year old Priscilla embarked on a strange courtship with the King of Rock & Roll. At 17 Priscilla was taken out of high school to live at Graceland. She married Elvis four years later. Only the bravest reader will proudly pull this book out in public.
 

Books on Photography

Other Pictures by Thomas Walther

Other Pictures Photography is an accident-prone medium and this collection of black and white anonymous photographs taken by amateurs, making every possible mistake, is full of genius. These small, orphaned images were shot during the golden age of the black and white snapshot, 1910 through the 1960's. These images are deliciously wrong. They derive their charm and energy from the serendipitous accidents: over and under exposure, lens flare, skewed horizons, blur, and amputated limbs. These anonymous amateurs spare us agonizing self reflection and their work is refreshingly innocent and successful as Art (with a capital A) because of it.
 
Mark Morrisroe by Mark Morrisroe, intro by Klaus Ottmann

Mark 

Morrisroe One of my favorite photo discoveries comes from a young, male artist who worked in New York in the 80's, whose tragically brief artistic career ended with his death of AIDS related complications at the age of 30. Mark Morrisroe's work is erotically charged drawing from his life as a gay man and a male prostitute. He photographed himself, friends and lovers in dark, grainy, distressed color, integrating Super 8 stills and black and white Polaroids. His work is decadent and his subject matter inseparable from his life. His work is technically experimental and takes on a sketchbook quality which includes titles and comments scrawled on the edges of his images. Morrisroe recorded the lush beauty and eroticism of his own personal documentary and his work is some of the most achingly sensual and intimate I've seen. He shot haunting self portraits up until his premature death at which time his last words were, "Turn Oprah off: I don't want her to see this."

 

Memoir
 
The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp

The 

Naked Civil Servant I'm not usually a fan of autobiography but The Naked Civil Servant is an exception. Quentin Crisp's book describes his life as a very "out" homosexual, with an outrageously effeminate manner and dress, living in London from the 1920's through the 1940's. Crisp was a flaming queen with the philosophy, "It was better, I need hardly say, to seem like a truly appalling woman than not like a woman at all." He wore an extreme amount of make up publicly at a time when eye shadow and nail polish on a woman was frowned upon. His physical appearance was intended to attract maximum hostility and it did. Crisp writes of poverty and social rejection with a keen, warm wit and his determination to be himself is an inspiration.
 

Graphic Novels

Jimmy Corrigan, or The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware

Jimmy 
Corrigan, or The Smartest Kid on Earth Brightly and beautifully designed, this "comic book" is encyclopedic, dense eye-candy illustrating an oppressively sad story of injury and loneliness. Ware's book is a semi-autobiographical account of his first contact with the father who abandoned his family. Jimmy Corrigan is a socially and emotionally inept, unhappy man who is dominated by his mother. The father/son meeting that drives the story line turns out to be another failure. Jimmy's fantasies and dreams as well as his family history are brilliantly interwoven between Jimmy's unfortunate and excruciatingly empty "real life". Ware's clean, sharp, simply detailed drawing style will boggle your mind while the story chokes you up and makes you squirm.


 

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