Reading List

  • Reading List & Essential Records

    Originally appearing in The New Yorker in 1967, The Pine Barrens is a non-fiction account of the New Jersey Pinelands, a largely rural and undeveloped land that takes up a large portion of the state.  Nearly 1.1 million acres are part of the national reserve and in 1983 the United Nations designated the land an international biosphere. The area is known for orchids and carnivorous plants as well as some of the purest water in the United States.  With all that said, there's also a whole bunch of weird shit happening down there. For starters, the area's inhospital living conditions made it the perfect place for the dregs of the society to hide, so in the early days, you had people like moonshiners and fugitives settling there. Today, the offspring of these dregs are called "Pineys" and they're basically like rednecks and live a sort of ecked out existence deep in the woods. Kind of like Cajuns. The Jersey Devil supposedly lurks there and there are more than a few ghost towns. It's a good story, with lots of lore but tons of facts and good "New Yorker" style nature writing. As more and more douches continue to flock up to the Catskills. You should play point with your friends and go here. We'll leave you with one of the best bands to ever come from Philadelphia, The Strapping Fieldhands, and their song "In the Pineys", which you can listen to from Siltbreeze here.


  • Reading List | Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb

    The first car bomb was actually a horse & carriage loaded with dynamite. It was masterminded by Italian anarchist, Mario Buda and was intened to take out J.P. Morgan near Wall Street.  The bomb didn't get him but it did ignite an acessible and inexpensive means of getting your point across.  This is a great and fascinating read, brought to you by Verso Books.

  • Reading List | Ivan the Terrible by Henri Troyat


    Immerse yourself in a monster. This is a good book on a terrible person. Troyat's version is the one you want own. Buy it here.

    Categories: Books, Reading List
  • Reading List | Locked Room Mysteries


    I've reposted this post and the post below because they seem somewhat relevant to the new Sherlock Holmes movie.

    Gaston Leroux is a French writer best known for writing the Phantom of Opera, but his genius best shines in his book, The Mystery of the Yellow Room. The book stands out as being one of the first "Locked Room Mysteries" - a subgenre of fictional dectective crime novels where a crime, usually a murder, is committed under impossible circumstances, in a setting where no intruder could have entered or escaped. Hence the "Locked Room". The detective assigned to the case, as well as the reader are then driving through the story in search of a rational explanation as to how this could have happened. Like a game of wits, solving the puzzle makes for the ultimate page turner.

    Though The Mystery of the Yellow Room is one of the novels of this kind and a very good one at that, some of the true masterpieces of the genre come from John Dickson Carr aka Carter Dixon, whose caper, The Hollow Man is consider to be the greatest locked room mystery of all time. Below is incomplete list of locked room mysteries well worth your time.



    Categories: Reading List, Books
  • Reading LIst | Lusts of a Moron | My Life and Loves

    Lusts of a Moron, by Momus, is not exactly literature but it is a pleasurable cross referencing bonanza in to the mind of a true savant.  Nobody drops more cultural  knowledge into a single song then him.  Take for example, the lyrics to Bluestockings, a song about the dirtiest books ever written. If I were looking for a dirty book suggestion, this song would be a good place to start.

    I love you, you're so well read
    Blue stockings well spread
    Your carnal knowledge knocks me dead

    I love you, you're so well read
    Bluestocking give head
    I love you, you've read:

    Ovid, Anaïs Nin
    The Song of Solomon
    The Perfumed Garden and Georges Bataille's
    The Story of the Eye
    The Petronius Satyricon
    The Arabian Nights, the Decameron
    The Marquis de Sade's 120 Days
    And Serge Gainsbourg singing songs to Sweet Jane B

    I love you, you're so well read
    Blue stockings well spread
    Your carnal knowledge knocks me dead

    I love you, you're so well read
    Bluestocking give head
    I love you, you've read:

    Sacher Masoch and DHL
    Portnoy's Complaint and mine as well
    Frank Harris, The Life and Loves
    Lusts of a Moron, Wings of a Dove
    The Latins of the Silver Age
    The triolets of Paul Verlaine
    Lautreamont and G. Cabrera Infante
    Mishima Yukio and Sweet Jane B

    I love you, you're so well read
    Bluestocking give head
    Whisper what they said:

    "Le silence de la chambre est profond
    Aucun bruit n'arrive plus
    Ni des routes, ni de la ville, ni de la mere
    La nuit est a son terme, partout limpide et noir
    La lune a disparu
    Ils ont peur
    Il ecoute, les yeux au sol
    Son silence effrayante
    Il parle de sa beaute
    Les yeux fermees
    Il peut revoir encore l'image dans sa perfection"

    There are more than a couple heavyweight authors named here. My Life and Loves by Frank Harris, a monster of a book that was banned in countires around the world is one that we keep on our shelves. Harris was an Irish born journalist, author, editor, publisher and one-time roommate of Aleister Crowley. He moved to New York and founded his publishing company, The Frank Harris Publishing Company, to promote and distribute his works in America. Those works are now part of the collection at Princeton University.



    On a side note, other books suggestions pertaining to the genre come from Susan Sontag, who credited the following five erotic novels as "true" literary works.

    Categories: Sex, Reading List, Music, Books
  • Reading List | The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol


    Chris Trela (producer of the documenatry Guest of Cindy Sherman) teamed up with photographer Gretchen Berg and counterculture icon, John Wilcock (one of the founders of Interview Magazine & The Village Voice) to reissue the 1971 classic, The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol. They've updated the content with some interesting stories and new photos and kept the entertaining interviews: Taylor Mead, Nico, Viva, Marisol and the rest of the usual suspects in tact.  The editors will be discussing the book and signing copies at the Gagosian Shop (988 Madison Ave) on June 24th. From 6-8 pm.



    This is a rare exception to the usually unimpressive mix of new Warhol media products that have over saturated the market. The industrious producer/publisher Chris Trela releases this substantive work that is both interesting and entertaining.

    Source: tmagazine


  • Reading List | The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp

    The Naked Civil Servant
    Quentin Crisp

    Quentin Crisp was an English born writer, theater performer, gay icon, raconteur and eccentric. He moved to New York in 1981 and died in 1999. He is said to have possessed a collection of scarves that rivaled Imelda Marcos' shoe collection.  Those scarves and just about everything else can be found here.

    Categories: Reading List, Fashion, Books
  • Reading List | The Official CIA Manual of Trickery & Deception

    Below text via Dangerous Minds, where there's more links:

    The CIA has released its official secrets of magic (stage magic, that is, don’t get any ideas) in a just-published book. Now THAT sounds like an excellent holiday present for quite a few people I know. From Wired:

    At the height of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency paid $3,000 to renowned magician John Mulholland to write a manual on misdirection, concealment, and stagecraft. All known copies of the document — and a related paper, on conveying hidden signals — were believed to be destroyed in 1973. But recently, the manuals resurfaced, and have now been published as “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception.” Topics include working a clandestine partner, slipping a pill into the drink of the unsuspecting, and “surreptitious removal of objects by women.”

    This wasn’t the first time a magician worked for a western government. Harry Houdini snooped on the German and the Russian militiaries for Scotland Yard. English illusionist Jasper Maskelyne is reported to created dummy submarines and fake tanks to distract Rommel’s army during World War II. Some reports even credit him with employing flashing lights to “hide” the Suez Canal.

    But Mulholland’s contributions were far different, because they were part of a larger CIA effort, called MK-ULTRA, to control people’s minds.

    Categories: Books, Reading List, Crime, Magic
  • Richard Allen | The Charles Dickens of Skinheads






    Red 777
    Undo Mundo

    "James Moffat (1922-1993) was a Canadian-born writer who once published a magazine about bowling and who, under sundry pseudonyms, wrote hack fiction (westerns, children’s stories, mysteries). In 1970 he was asked because he was so versatile and prolific, to write a book for the New English Library about skinheads, the white working-class youths whose thuggery seemed, to some, an authentic cry of alienation and, to others, the decline of Western civilisation.

    Allen’s first novel, Skinhead, uneasily combined self-righteous fascist rhetoric, nihilist indifference and the shocked voice of reason. But it succeed with its authentic portrayal of Joe Hawkins, the 16-year old gangster convinced the Cockneys had lost control of their patch, London, and whose life of rape, drink and hooliganism ends in a kind of triumph when he is jailed for beating a cop – a punishment which, he gloats, makes him king of the skinheads.

    After that sold a million, the formula stayed pretty constant for 17 other novels – seven with the words “skin” or ‘Skinhead’ in the title. Allen bought to the task an enthusiasm for research, speed – he once completed a novel in less than a week – narrative drive and pulp fair. The opening line of Suedehead is masterful: “As he stood in the dock, Joe Hawkins considered the situation with a detachment”. Yet the author, uncomfortable with charges he encouraged violence, later blamed “leniency in courtrooms, catering to fads by mercenary-minded rage-trade merchants, a soft-peddling attitude by politicians who look for teenage votes and a overwhelming pandering by the media”.

    Rediscovered in his seventies, Allen was planning a sequel Skinhead Return, when years of writing at short notice aided by tobacco and booze finally caught up with him. He died in 1993."

    - The Richard Allen Project

  • The Whole Earth Catalog



    I was first turned on to the Whole Earth Catalog by my friend and old boss, John Wackman. He described the catalog as the sort of "Sears Catalog of cool and interesting things" as well as "the first blog." He couldn't have been more right.  According to Wikipedia, "The Whole Earth Catalog was an American counterculture catalog published by Stewart Brand between 1968 and 1972, and occasionally thereafter, until 1998. Although the WECs listed all sorts of products for sale (clothing, books, tools, machines, seeds -- anything for a self-sustainable ""hippie" lifestyle) the Whole Earth Catalogs themselves did not sell any of the products. Instead the vendors and their prices were listed right alongside with the items. This led to a need for the Catalogs to be frequently updated. Apple Inc. founder and entrepreneur Steve Jobs has described the Catalog as the conceptual forerunner of the World Wide Web."

    The catalog featured brief, blog-like entries on weird stuff that you would now find in selective, curated stores and websites around the city. These entries were written by the likes of: The Black Panthers, Walter / Wendy Carlos, William S. Burroughs, Peter Coyote, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Buckminster Fuller, Ram Daas, Wavy Gravy, Ken Kessey, Paul Krassener, Dalai Lama, Timothy Leary, Alice Waters, The Yippies, and so many more.

    Some of the more notable article titles included:

    The Global Mushroom Trade
    The Double Bubble Wheel Engine
    Left Handed Bears and Androgynous Cassowaries
    Poets on the Bum
    The Ultimate Swiss Omni Knife
    Son of Man Temple
    What are People For?
    Computational Chemistry
    A Witch's Manifesto
    Do It Yourself Eclipse Prediction
    Obeying Chogyam Trungpa
    Outside the Yuppie Zoo
    The Living Water Garden
    God is a Verb
    Tiptoeing Out of Real Estate
    Dr. Seuss: Architect of Social Change
    Death Does Not Exist
    Am I Psychic Yet?
    The Beauty of Disconnection
    Organizing Programs as Mind Extension Tools
    Juggling and Performing Mathematics
    Big Foot No Longer Fair Game
    A Hard Look at Soft Woods
    King Kong Died For Our Sins
    Model Rockets

    From the opening page of the 1969 Catalog:


    The WHOLE EARTH CATALOG functions as an evaluation and access device. With it, the user should know better what is worth getting and where and how to do the getting. An item is listed in the CATALOG if it is deemed:

           1. Useful as a tool,
           2. Relevant to independent education,
           3. High quality or low cost,
           4. Not already common knowledge,
           5. Easily available by mail.

        CATALOG listings are continually revised according to the experience and suggestions of CATALOG users and staff.   


    We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So far, remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the WHOLE EARTH CATALOG.


    Categories: Reading List, Hippies, Books
  • Who Reads What Reading List

    From 1988 - 2007 the Gardiner Public Library in Gardiner, Maine has been compiling an annual Who Reads What list in which they ask the most accomplished in their fields to suggest the books that have influenced them. Below are just a few of the many people involved with the project.




    The Standard Oil Company by Ida M. Tarbell
    One Thousand by George Seldes
    Aims of Education by Alfred North Whitehead
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    The Shame of the Cities by Lincoln Steffens


    Jonathan  Franzen


    Independent People by Halldór Laxness
    The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
    "Two under-appreciated twentieth-century masterpieces"






    Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
    "I consider Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds a must-read not only for all investors - but for all thinking people. As Charles Mackay's classic so clearly demonstrates, follow the herd and you may just be headed straight for the slaughterhouse. With examples ranging from the Tuilpmania that occurred in the 1600's to the over-blown technology sector that we just experienced in the stock market, this recently updated classic is just as relevant today as it was the day it was published in 1841."





    Trails Plowed Under by Charles m. Russell    

    "Our greatest painter and sculptor of horses - better than Remington.  Also, great frontier-American humor in his story-telling.  Russell was a roper and a night wrangler; lived with Indians in Montana for 11 years - funny, funny reading!"


    "The New New Thing" by Michael Lewis    

    "Business journalist Michael Lewis has written a fascinating account of entrepreneur Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape, and Clark’s creation of Healtheon, his third billion-dollar company. This offers a new view of the future of the Internet, and an insider’s vision of Silicon Valley’s business."



    The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope

    Cousin Betty by Honoreé del Balzac

    "The Eustace Diamonds of Trollope's, which is part of the Phineas Finn and Palliser series of novels, deeply moved me, and resulted in my reading all of Anthony Trollope. I found him to be one of the most pleasurable of English authors and his books have given me years of enjoyable reading. "Cousin Betty of Balzac's, part of his human comedy (one hundred novels) also affected me and I've since read all of Balzac that I could find in English."




    Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown 

    Sacred Hoop by Paula Gunn Allen 

    Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole 

    Orlando by Virginia Woolf 

    The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 

    Ceremony by Leslie Silko

    " Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford, Ph.D, by far the most thorough and readable book I've found about the contributions of Native American people to the world. lso, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Paula Gunn Allen (Native American and feminist subject)."

    " A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Funny, poignant, real New Orleans. Also, Orlando by Virginia Woolf, and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and Ceremony by Leslie Silko, Native American."



    Fifth Business | The Manticore | The World of Business by Robertson Davies
    Night at the Circus by Angela Carter
    Money by Martin Amis
    Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
    The Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
    Libraby Don Delillo   

    "I read something like three books a week, so trimming down became an exceptionally daunting prospect. These few are works that really stayed with me and I can assure the reader of a jolly good time with any of the following. Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders by Robertson Davies. These books form a trilogy so read them in order. Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter. Wonderfully surreal. Money by Martin Amis. Funny, bitter, extremely British. Brazzaville Beach, by William Boyd. Caring, poignant and terribly romantic. The Viveroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin. One of the greatest writers of this last twenty years. Libra by Don Delillo. Alarming and American."



    Gone South by Robert McGammon
    Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt
    The Twelfth Angel | The Greatest Salesman in the World, Part 2 by Og Mandino
    Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
    A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay




    The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain
    The Robe by Lloyd Douglas
    The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
    100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

    "By the time I was around twelve, some of my favorite books were The Silver Chalice, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Robe. As an adult I have thoroughly enjoyed 100 Years of Solitude and The Prince of Tides.

    Both as Governor of Arkansas and now as President of the United States, I must spend a lot of time reading every day.  I also read about 70 fiction and nonfiction books each year."


    Kim by Rudyard Kipling




    The Foutainhead by Ayn Rand    

    "This tale of an idealistic architech is a compelling tribute to man's quest for personal freedom. I read it first in college and it had a profound effect on me at that time."




    Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf





    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy     

    "The most beautiful love story ever."



    People by Peter Spier    

    "People, by Peter Spier, is a delightful book, for adults of all ages as well as for children. Beyond its charm, it is a smiling lesson of ecology. I am impatient to share my delight with my grandchildren."



    Nothing if Not Critical by Robert Hughes    

    "Nothing if Not Critical by Robert Hughes. The greatest art critic of our time brings us up to date not only with the Art of our Time, but the Art of Criticism."

    Categories: Reading List, Books