The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 23, 2017
by Dan
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Alan Aldridge 1943-2017

British artist and designer Alan Aldridge died last week aged 73. In the words of designer Mike Dempsey, Aldridge “was a major influence on the British design and illustration scene in the 1960’s.” Although he is perhaps best known for … Continue reading

October 6, 2016
by Dan
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Gimme Danger

A Jim Jarmusch documentary about Iggy Pop and The Stooges? YES. Gimme Danger is scheduled for a limited release on October 28th.

May 5, 2016
by Dan
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Today in Micro-Trends: Cassette Tape Book Covers

This is another one of those posts that started out on Twitter — a flippant tweet from me sparking a conversation about books with cassette tapes and vinyl records on their covers. It turns out that putting a record on … Continue reading

January 25, 2016
by Dan
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David Bowie’s Forgotten Non-Fiction Books

Tom Gauld for The Guardian. (And, on a related note, if you are looking for Bowie links, Daniel Benneworth-Gray is compiling a list)

October 26, 2015
by Dan
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Love Among the Ruins

At the New York Times, Edmund White examines our enduring fascination with the New York of the 1970s: Recently there’s been, in TV and film and certainly in books, an intense yearning for a specific five-year period in New York City, … Continue reading

January 8, 2015
by Dan
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Glenn Gould and the Gas Mask

In an interview with CBC Radio in 1958, pianist Glenn Gould recounted how he came to play Beethoven in a gas mask. Now CBC Music have turned that anecdote into a charming short film illustrated by designer Heather Collett, and … Continue reading

October 24, 2014
by Dan
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Penguin Modern Classics The Cut-Up Trilogy by William Burroughs

Following on from yesterday’s post on Penguin’s pocket hardback classics, Penguin Modern Classics are also reissuing William Burroughs’ cut-up trilogy with menacingly dark collage cover art by Julian House:

October 21, 2014
by Dan
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Iggy Pop’s BBC Music John Peel Lecture

Last week, Iggy Pop delivered this year’s BBC Music John Peel Lecture on the topic of ‘Free Music in a Capitalist Society’ at Radio Festival 2014 in Salford: I worked half of my life for free. I didn’t really think about that … Continue reading

February 26, 2014
by Dan
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Eve Babitz: Muse and Writer

Lili Anolik on the stranger-than-fiction life of Eve Babitz, “an irresistible hybrid of boho intellectual and L.A. party girl”, for Vanity Fair: Eve Babitz’s claims to fame rest, in large measure, on her claims on the famous. She’s the goddaughter, of … Continue reading

February 7, 2014
by Dan
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Sounds from a Concrete Island

I’m sure there are some of you who’ve already heard of UK sound artist Janek Schaefer. He has, after all, been recording and creating sound installations for past 20 years, and he even won the British Composer of the Year … Continue reading

February 4, 2014
by Dan
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Pete Seeger & Llewyn Davis

Leo Braudy, author of Trying to Be Cool: Growing Up in the 1950s, on the late Pete Seeger and the Coen brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, at the LA Review of Books: Llewyn is the solitary fame seeker, doomed to … Continue reading

December 24, 2013
by Dan
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David Byrne on Creativity and Constraints

David Byrne talks about music, technology and his recent book How Music Works (now out in paperback), at Salon: I’m not saying that the artist doesn’t put their feelings into it, or any part of their biography, but that there’s a lot of … Continue reading

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