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Thursday 30 April 2015

Louie, Louie, Mr Tambourine Man, Dylan and His Typewriter

Dylan on the Royal Caravan in the workspace above Cafe Espresso (59 Tannery Brook Road), Woodstock, New York, 1964.
Driving home from university last evening, I heard Andrew Messenger deliver the news on ABC Radio that Jack Ely had died in Terrebonne, Oregon, aged 71. In case anyone was wondering who Jack was - indeed, who The Kingsmen were - Andrew played a snippet of the unforgettable Louie Louie, the song that in 1964 was the subject of a Robert Kennedy-instigated FBI investigation into obscene lyrics. 
This one song was even the subject of an entire book, Dave Marsh's 1992 Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock 'n' Roll Song: Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing, for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics
As Messenger pointed out, it was Ely, a then guitarist with the Portland band, who delivered the "lyrics indecipherable at any speed". Apparently his incoherent vocals were partly the result of his braces. In February 1964, an outraged parent wrote to Attorney-General Kennedy alleging the lyrics were obscene. The FBI investigated the complaint and in June 1965 its laboratory obtained a copy of the recording. After four months of investigation, the FBI concluded that Louie, Louie could not be interpreted and was "unintelligible at any speed". But drummer Lynn Easton later admitted he had yelled "F***" after fumbling a drumstick at 54 seconds into the song.
Dagenham-born Colin Larkin
Memories of writing about the Louie Louie saga myself, during a prolonged study into the history of rock and pop music more than 15 years ago, recalled the work of my then "guru", the British writer Colin Larkin, editor-in-chief and founder of the 10-volume Encyclopedia of Popular Music. The London Times described this work as "the standard against which all others must be judged". Larkin is now CEO and editor-in-chief of the "Best Things on Earth" online multi-media rating site.
The compiler of the most extensive database of popular music in Europe and the US, Larkin also wrote the All Time Top 1000 Albums in 2000, and added to this book his All-Time Top 100 Singles. I was so impressed by this latter list (that is, I agreed with almost every selection) I downloaded all 100 tracks and, as advised by Larkin, put them on five discs for the benefit of myself and some very grateful friends.
Larkin wrote of it, "The most opinionated list in this book. I will not even begin to defend the absence of Chuck Berry, ABBA, Queen, the Smiths, Frank Sinatra and so on. This is the choice of the author, as of today. The fact is that Mr Tambourine Man still does make me shiver ... Time will tell, of course. Trust me with this list, it would make a SPIFFLING 5-CD SET for the longest of car journeys."
At No 1 is Mr Tambourine Man, which was at least in large part written (well, completed anyway) by Bob Dylan on a portable typewriter while in the back of a station wagon the day after he had visited civil rights activists Bernice Johnson and Cordell Reagon in Atlanta, Georgia, in early 1964. Dylan had started writing the song at the Waldorf Astoria in Toronto, Canada, in late January-early February of that year. During a couple of days of revelry at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Dylan did some more work on Mr Tambourine Man on his typewriter.
Anyway, without further ado, here is the Top 10 of Larkin's All-Time Top 100 singles:
1       The ByrdsMr Tambourine Man (1965): "Still a rush to flatten the hairs on the forearm every time it is played on the radio. Roger McGuinn’s 12-string opener has to be the definitive. Four of the five original Byrds sound like sweet little angels on the vocals."
2       Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Loving (1966). It was with great delight that a few years later I got to meet Spencer Davis and we discussed how much we agreed with Larkin's choice of the original (Hammond organ and backing singer-less) version of this song.
3       Bob DylanLike a Rolling Stone (1965): "Another showcase for the Hammond organ, this time played by Al Kooper. His frills add to Dylan’s first masterpiece of the modern rock era. Truth, pathos, irony and life, dusted off in a few minutes."
4       Scarlet Party  101 Dam-Nations (1982).
5       Booker T and the MGsGreen Onions (1962): "Although the Hammond organ once again features prominently [through Booker T. Jones], the real clincher is the fruity sound it makes in combination with Steve Cropper’s Telecaster guitar. An incredible, unrepeatable piece of music, copied by millions but never remotely challenged."
6       The Kingsmen Louie Louie (1963): "It doesn’t matter what they were singing about. Richard Berry may have taken the lyrics to the grave with him, but he left us with this magnificent opus of sound. To think the Beach Boys did it as well. Take another listen to the drummer, he comes in at least half an hour late."
7       The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night (1964): "[A] perfectly constructed song. And Lennon really sounds sincere when he sings, 'You know I work all day, to get you money, to buy you things'.’’
8       The KinksWaterloo Sunset (1967): "Was it Terry Stamp meeting Julie Christie on Hungerford Railway bridge or not? Either way, millions of other couples have experienced the same sunset. Ray Davies’ most evocative song, beautifully opened by Pete Quaife’s rumbling bass."
9       Big YouthConcrete Jungle (1973).
10    The BeatlesStrawberry Fields Forever (1967): "It really is a piece of music that was 40 years ahead of its time, but that’s 'nothing to get hung about'."

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Typewriters in the Führerbunker

Ingo Mersmann, owner and managing director of the German spy museum 'Top Secret' in Oberhausen in western Germany, sits at an Adler standard typewriter purported to have been used by Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge in the Berlin Führerbunker in the final weeks of the Third Reich. Mersmann is recreating parts of the massive bunker, and the exhibit is scheduled to open in September. I suspect the machine Mersmann is shown using in these publicity shots is actually a post-war Adler. The model comes up regularly for sale on German online auctions:
In the weeks leading to Anzac Day, SBS screened a series of classic war movies, including Apocalypse Now Redux, We Were Soldiersthe Oscar-nominated 2004 German-language film Der Untergang (Downfall) and Kokoda. It was the first time I had ever watched Downfall in full and naturally I was fascinated by the part of Traudl Junge (1920-2002), Hitler's secretary, played by Alexandra Maria Lara. The more so for Lara's adept use of  Continental standard and Remington portable typewriters.
Checking out just how accurate the portrayal had been, I was surprised to find Junge had at one time wanted to settle permanently in Australia. She lived in Sydney with her younger sister, Inge Kaye (born 1923), in 1975-76, spent a further 18 months there in 1982-83, and visited Melbourne in 1992 and 1995. Australian authorities rejected her application for permanent residency because of her role in the Third Reich. But Junge's mother, Hildegard Humps, who strongly disapproved of her daughter's work with the Nazis, did emigrate to Australia, arriving in June 1954 aboard the Fairsea. She stayed for only two years before returning to Munich, where she died in 1969.
This is said to be the "original" Junge typewriter. In the movie DownfallAlexandra Maria Lara, playing the part of Junge, is seen using a Continental:
Lo and behold, with Downfall still fresh in the memory banks, this morning I learned about the 'Top Secret" exhibits. Mersmann, born in Bielefeld in 1954, last year became owner and managing director of the Institute of Espionage GmbH in Oberhausen. He has been an art dealer since 1975 and also claims to have worked for the West German intelligence service. He is now a "recognised international expert on the subjects of espionage, counter-intelligence and terrorism".
Mersmann's recreated Führerbunker will comprise five exhibits, including Hitler's rooms, Junge's office, the radio room and the clinic of Hitler's doctor Theodor Morell.
In Downfall, Junge (Lara) is also seen using a Remington portable to type Hitler's will. Below is a Continental portable (serial number R348995, 1941?), later auctioned as one allegedly identified by Junge as the typewriter she used in the bunker. It has a "custom-made" 4mm (0.1575 inch) Antiqua font, apparently so Hitler could read the type for speeches without wearing his glasses. It came from the Collection Haucke in Wolfenbüttel with a detailed and signed 1970 letter from Junge identifying it as one of three models which accompanied her in the last two years of the war, between Hitler's "Wolf's Lair" (The Wolfsschanze in the Masurian woods about five miles from the small East Prussian town of Rastenburg, now Kętrzyn in Poland) and the bunker. With it was original blank Der Führer stationery and carbon paper.
Traudl Junge was born Gertraud Humps in Munich on March 16, 1920. She died in her home city, aged 81, on February 10, 2002. She was Hitler's last private secretary, from December 1942 to April 1945.
After typing Hitler’s will, she remained in the bunker until his death. In May, Junge got as far as the Elbe but was unable to reach the western Allied lines, so went back to Berlin, where she was arrested in July 1945, imprisoned and interrogated by both the Soviet and the American military. Later, in post-war West Germany, she worked in secretarial jobs and for many years was chief secretary of the editorial staff of the weekly illustrated magazine Quick.
At Hitler's encouragement, in June 1943, Junge married Waffen-SS officer Hans Hermann Junge, who died in combat in France in August 1944. In 1989 Junge's manuscript about her life throughout the war was published in the book Voices from the Bunker by Pierre Galante and Eugene Silianoff. Also that year she was interviewed for the BBC documentary The Fatal Attraction of Adolf Hitler. Her memoirs Until the Final Hour, co-written with author Melissa Müller, were released in 2002, when she was interviewed for the documentary Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary. Parts of this interview were used at the start and end of Downfall.
Also in the Oberhausen exhibit is this Olympia Robust portable typewriter said to have been used by the Gestapo. It is identical in all aspects to the one in its original wooden box, bought in Australia a few years ago, which I once briefly owned:

Tuesday 28 April 2015

The Way We Were - With Typewriters

The outstanding British foreign correspondent Richard West died in Deal, Kent, on Saturday, aged 84. The GuardianThe Spectator and The Telegraph have run interesting obituaries - or, in the case of The Spectator, a rehash of a 1989 profile (see the praise from Graham Greene for West's insightful review of The Quiet American).
Used as the prototype of the fictitious freelance journalist hero in the 1973 book Harris in Wonderful, West (Harris) was described as surveying "the contemporary scene with a sort of bemused wonder, conspicuously harmless until he gets near a typewriter".
The Telegraph obituary for West drew a fascinating comment from Adrian Lithgow, who worked with West on the Mail on SundayLithgow, now managing director of George Berkeley Public Relations, worked  for the West Lancs Evening Gazette, Sunday Mercury, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Business and BusinessAge and since 2010 has also been an editor at BastideLife. Lithgrow wrote about West's astonishing skill:
"I remember when West came in to the newsroom of the Mail on Sunday to write an article, sat at an old Remington and proceeded to type. He didn't look up, consult a note, go back to correct himself, but wrote the 1000-word piece without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Got to the end after about 20 minutes, assembled the copy and put it in the in-copy tray and then left without a word to anyone expect a five-minute detour to see the then editor Stewart Steven. And his article appeared in the next edition without any sub-editor's correction. That was doing it in style!"
I'd like to challenge any young would-be journalist today (Jasper?!) to do that:
1. One typewriter.
2. 20 minutes.
3. No hesitating.
4. No consulting notes.
5. 1000 words.
6. No stopping for corrections. No need for corrections later.
Go! (JL: I wouldn't ask you to do something I haven't done myself!)
Perhaps the budding journo could try something else West did: One-time North Country newspaper colleague Michael Frayne (Travels With a Typewriter) recalled that West once wrote an article on a sheep dog trial through the eyes of a sheep.
Richard Leaf West was born in Chelsea, London, on July 18, 1930, the son of Douglas West, a publisher and sometime journalist who was once literary editor of the Daily Mail. He was raised in North America during the World War II years. A reporter and author, Dick West will be best remembered for his coverage of the Vietnam War and Yugoslavia.
Neal Ascherson's The Guardian obituary points out that West claimed “liberal censorship” at home, the precursor of political correctness, was stifling his attempts to report that moral permissiveness – drugs, porn, “radical politics” – were a bigger cause of US defeat than military failure.
Far from being a big boozer by normal journalistic standards, West went for a drink one night in Saigon, woke up the next morning on the edge of a paddy field, thumbed down a lift and asked the driver what was the nearest city. "Singapore, of course" came the reply. Which is about 680 miles from Saigon, as the crow flies.
West started his newspaper career at the Manchester Guardian (where he was assigned to cover the sheep dog trials) and later the Daily Mirror in London. As letters editor at the Mirror, he tried to spice up the pages with letters he wrote himself, including one headed "Why can’t we have a teenage Pope?”, as well as the classified ads page with “Beaters wanted for budgie shoot in West Midlands”.
West soon got involved in far more serious matters and went on to work in Eastern Europe, Southern Africa, Central America and Indochina. He was married to a former colleague of mine, the Irish journalist Mary Kenny (who gave the world that wonderful Private Eye expression, "Discussing Ugandan Affairs"). In his later life West produced biographies of Daniel Defoe and Chaucer. He once wrote a controversial book (River of Tears) about Rio Tinto Zinc. Far from being offended, an Australian director bought up 200 copies to give to his executives. The book also inspired Harris in Wonderland.

The 'Australian Soldier' Who Killed Lord Kitchener: His Lover and His Typewriter

'Australian soldier Captain Claude Stoughton'
promoting US World War I bonds.
Australian passions have been inflamed. First, hundreds of thousands of them turned out at dawn services in various parts of the globe for emotional ceremonies celebrating the centenary of Anzac Day. Only to be admonished for doing so by a young TV soccer reporter, who tweeted, "The cultification of an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with is against all ideals of modern society ... Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered ... Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan ... Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation and their allies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... Innocent children, on the way to school, murdered. Their shadows seared into the concrete of Hiroshima." The nation was outraged and the reporter was summarily sacked. At least news reader Hugh Riminton had the intestinal fortitude to comment that while the reporter's tweets were "untimely, immature and in one case offensively wrong" ... "But lest we forget, our Diggers died for free speech." Someone also raised the issue of Je suis Charlie. This was far from satire, of course; still, as misguided, "untimely and immature" and "inappropriate and disrespectful" as they were, they were one person's opinions.
Asquith's squeeze: Ms Stanley
Feelings were already running high. On the eve of Anzac Day, a Sydney columnist pointed out that on January 13, 1915, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill had put forward the Gallipoli landings idea to a British War Council crisis meeting in London while Prime Minister Herbert Asquith was otherwise preoccupied writing his third love letter of the day to Venetia Stanley, a mistress 35 years his junior. Lord Kitchener said Churchill's plan was worth trying, so Asquith added to his love letter that he'd "see if it meets with your [Venetia's] approval". How dare, the columnist asked, the British PM put the lives of tens of thousands of Australian and New Zealand in the hands of his young female 'playmate'?
I have no doubt that in the poignant and sometimes tense atmosphere of Saturday, there were a few Australians and New Zealanders thinking, "If I'd only been there, I'd have killed Asquith, Churchill and Kitchener."
Well, as it turns out, an 'Australian' did kill Kitchener, 18 months after the London meeting and a year and six weeks after the Gallipoli landings. Or so he claimed ... 
He was Captain Claude Stoughton of the Western Australian Light Horse Regiment, a man who had "seen more war than any man at present" [in 1914] and to have been "bayoneted three times, gassed four times, and stuck once with a hook". Such stirring talk led to Captain Stoughton appearing before New York audiences dressed in uniform and telling war stories, and using his image to promote the sale of Liberty Bonds. One historian noted, "Captain Stoughton's career took off. His talks made decent money, his heroism earned him respect, and ladies found him alluring." 
Problem was, there was no such person as Claude Stoughton. But the fellow masquerading as this fictitious Aussie soldier did, in fact, claim to be responsible for the death of Lord Kitchener. Indeed, he told his story for a book called The Man Who Killed Kitchener and wanted a movie made of it.
Kitchener sailed from Scrabster to Scapa Flow on June 5, 1916, aboard the HMS Oak before transferring to the armoured cruiser HMS Hampshire for his diplomatic mission to Russia. While en route to the Russian port of Arkhangelsk during a Force 9 gale, Hampshire is believed to have struck a mine laid by the newly launched German U-boat U-75 and sank west of the Orkney Islands. Kitchener, his staff and 643 of the crew of 655 were drowned or died of exposure. Kitchener's body was never found.
While all this seems quite straightforward, there are still some astonishing theories about Kitchener's demise. The one that has 99 years on proved "most difficult to disprove" concerns a South African-born, Oxford-educated German secret agent and US citizen called Frederick "Fritz" Joubert Duquesne.
The theory goes that, posing as a Russian duke, Duquesne had joined Kitchener on the Hampshire and signalled the German U-boat. Duquesne allegedly made his own escape using a life raft before the ship was torpedoed and was rescued by the U-75. He claimed to have been awarded the Iron Cross for his act.
What is known for certain is that Duquesne was a man with "an all-consuming hatred of England" (his sister Elsbet had been raped and murdered and his mother Minna imprisoned by Kitchener's army in South Africa) and according to his biographer was "a walking, living, breathing, searing, killing, destroying torch of hate".
Apart from "The Man Who Killed Kitchener" and Captain Claude Stoughton, Duquesne also used the nom-de-plumes Frederick Fredericks, Boris Zakrevsky, Major Frank de Stafford Craven, Colonel Beza, Piet Niacud, George Fordam, The Duke and, most colourfully, "The Black Panther".
Duquesne was born the son of a hunter in East London in the Eastern Cape on September 21, 1877, and died in the City Hospital, Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island), New York City, on May 24, 1956, aged 78. He is buried at Potters Field, Hart Island, in the Bronx.
From the Eastern Cape to the Bronx, Duquesne led a life of extraordinary daring.
The law caught up with him one last time on June 28, 1941, when he was arrested by FBI agents in the Manhattan apartment of his lover, his anti-British and anti-Semitic co-conspirator Evelyn Clayton Lewis. They nabbed Lewis and the pair's typewriter at the same time, and in turn 31 other members of the infamous Duquesne Spy Ring. These arrests led in 1942 to the largest espionage conviction in US history.
Lewis, the daughter of wealthy investment broker Charles Beverly Lewis (1869-1943), was born in Batesville, Arkansas, on February 23, 1903. When she was a teenager, the family moved to Dallas, Texas. After her arrest as an unregistered agent, she pleaded guilty, admitted she had let her own country down, and was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. The day she was released, February 28, 1943, her father died of diarrhoea in Dallas, aged 73.
Evelyn married John William Kingwell in Louisiana in 1945.
Duquesne's career of crime makes breathtaking reading. During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) he was captured and imprisoned three times by the British and once by the Portuguese, and each time escaped.
He infiltrated the British Army, became an officer and led an attempt to sabotage Cape Town and assassinate Kitchener. Captured and sentenced to death, he tried to escape prison in Cape Town and was sent to jail in Bermuda, but escaped to the United States and became an American citizen in December 1913.
The young Duquesne
In World War I, he became a spy for Germany and sabotaged British merchant ships in South America with concealed bombs. After he was caught by federal agents in New York in 1917, he feigned paralysis for two years and disguised himself as a woman and escaped by cutting the bars of his cell and climbing over the barrier walls, thus avoiding deportation to England. 
Duquesne fled to Mexico and Europe, but in 1926 moved back to New York and assumed a new identity as Frank de Stafford Craven.
Note: Not "tweeting" but "twitting"
In 1932 he was again captured in New York by federal agents and charged with both homicide and for being an escaped prisoner.
Duquesne the New York Herald journalist in 1913.
In between all this, Duquesne served as an adviser on big game hunting and was personal shooting instructor to Theodore Roosevelt, lobbied the US Congress to fund the importation of hippopotamuses into the Louisiana bayous, worked for Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America and later RKO Pictures as part of the publicity staff, was a New York Herald journalist and a war correspondent.
Duquesne had become a German spy in 1914 and was sent to Bahia, Brazil as Frederick Fredericks. He planted time bombs disguised as cases of mineral samples on British ships and was credited with sinking 22 ships. He moved to Buenos Aires and reported his own death in Bolivia at the hands of Amazonian natives. Duquesne returned to New York around May 1916 and the next month left for Europe posing as the Russian Duke Boris Zakrevsky.
Duquesne's World War II registration
In the spring of 1934, Duquesne became an intelligence officer for the Order of 76, an American pro-Nazi organisation.
Duquesne's "entrapment" in the office of Harry Sawyer, June 25, 1941,
three days before his arrest.
On June 28, 1941, following a two-year investigation, the FBI arrested Duquesne and 32 other Nazi spies on charges of relaying secret information on US weaponry and shipping movements to Germany. The 33 were sentenced to serve a total of more than 300 years in prison. Duquesne was sentenced to 18 years. In 1954 he was released owing to ill health, having served 14 years.  

Sunday 26 April 2015

Melbourne Print Museum Typewriters

Our man in Victoria, Michael Klein (occasional guest columnist with his Typewriter Technician recollections) has alerted me to a display of typewriters in Melbourne. It is at the Melbourne Museum of Printing in West Footscray. The museum's online typewriter page is still "in preparation", but declares the museum "has about 100 typewriters. No real antiques: nothing earlier than about 1925." Despite this claim, Michael's son took photos of some being exhibited, and they include a Featherweight Blickensderfer that is definitely pre-1925:

Saturday 25 April 2015

The Bard of Bunyah and his Brother Portable Typewriter

Australian poet Les Murray at his home in Bunyah with his
Brother Deluxe 762TR portable typewriter.
The Troglodyte on the
Privacy of Typewriters
Both of Australia's leading poets and Nobel Prize contenders use manual portable typewriters in preference to computers. One is David Malouf, of Brisbane, who uses an Erika 105 (below).
The other is Les Murray, the Bard of Bunyah, who uses a Brother Deluxe 762TR.
Les Murray typing. He can be seen typing and being interviewed about his use of a typewriter (and liquid paper!) here.
Cattle fattening land around where Les Murray lives.
Leslie Allan Murray was born in Nabiac on the North Coast of New South Wales on October 17, 1938, and grew up in Bunyah. As well as being a poet, he is an anthologist and critic. His career spans more than 40 years and he has published 30 volumes of poetry, as well as two verse novels and collections of his prose writings. His poetry has won many awards and he is regarded as "the leading Australian poet of his generation". In 1971 Murray resigned from his "respectable cover occupations" of translator at the Australian National University and public servant in Canberra to write poetry full-time. Murray has described himself as the last of the Jindyworobaks, an Australian literary movement whose white members sought to promote indigenous Australian ideas and customs, particularly in poetry. In 2007, Dan Chiasson wrote in The New Yorker that Murray is "now routinely mentioned among the three or four leading English-language poets". He is almost universally praised for his linguistic dexterity, his poetic skill and his humour. Murray's strength is the dramatisation of general ideas and the description of animals, machines or landscapes. He explores social questions through a celebration of common objects or machines, and dislikes modernism.
His poem "The Privacy of Typewriters", originally titled "The Typist" in 2012 (see top of post) before significant changes were made to it, first appeared in the New York journal Little Star last year.

I am an old book troglodyte
one who composes on paper
and types up the result
as many times as need be.

The computer scares me,
its crashes and codes,
its links with spies and gunshot,
its text that looks pre-published
and perhaps has been.

I don’t know who is reading
what I write on a carriage
that doesn’t move or ding.

I trust the spoor of botch,
whiteouts where thought deepened,
wise freedom from Spell Check,
sheets to sell the National Library.

I fear the lore
of that baleful misstruck key
that fills a whiskered screen
with a writhe of child pornography

and the doors smashing in
and the cops handcuffing me
to a gristlier video culture
coral line in an ever colder sea.