PRINT Summer 1996


Dennis Cooper’s Real Life Rock

Dennis Cooper is a writer based in Los Angeles. His novel Horror Hospital Unplugged is forthcoming from Juno Books in September.

Greil Marcus is on sabbatical from his regular Artforum page. During his absence, different writers will count down their own Top Tens.

  1. Underworld

    second toughest in the infants (Wax Trax). Unlike The Black Dog, Orbital, or Future Sound of London, Underworld aren’t visionary formalists who happen to make electronic dance music. Also, unlike the insanely overrated Moby, they’re the real thing—an often brilliant alt. rock/techno hybrid band who obliterate the line between smart electronic music and smart rock ’n’ roll as epitomized by, say, Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation. As someone who’s old enough to have suffered through ’70s jazz/rock fusion and prog rock, I know these sorts of mixed-genre marriages can lead to mere freakishness, but American indie guitar-rock has inbred itself to the edge of brain death, and tech no/jungle/trance/ambient/et al. are so alive. Not to mention available.

  2. Camel Wides Light

    (R. J. Reynolds Company). If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke, quit. If you smoke and don’t feel like quitting, Camel Wides Light increase the breadth, weight, and draw of the standard low-tar cigarette to strangely poetic effect. After them, everything else smokes like a True.

  3. Stephen Prina

    Retrospection Under Duress (Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York; Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles; both March 2–30). Prina’s pristine, puzzlelike, chapelesque installation, with its crosshatch of comedic, erotic, and sublime tones, was sly to the point of delirium. People tend to be unnecessarily intimidated by Prina’s prismatic conceptualizing, his ultradry style, and his love of clinical environments, but he’s probably the wittiest, warmest, most pleasurable, and least show-offy of the surviving, late-’80s, high post-Conceptualists. The men don’t know but the little girls understand, etcetera.

  4. Claritin-D TV Ads

    (Thomas G. Ferguson Associates, Inc.). The smartest, creepiest campaign of the year. New Agey pastoral landscapes, acid-trip color scheme, mildly surreal computer animation, a lulling and pointedly incoherent voice-over, a glassy-eyed woman gazing blissfully at a huge, UFO/God/sun pill etched with the word Claritin-D. It feels like Scientology gone pharmaceutical, but I asked my doctor, and Claritin-D is just a fancy new name for pseudoephedrine, i.e., “nasal decongestant,” i.e., a mild, legal form of speed long available for pocket change at most 7-Elevens under the more prosaic moniker Mini-Thins.

  5. Eileen Myles

    Maxfield Parrish (Black Sparrow Press, $13.50). Myles basically talks shit in skinny columns and calls them poems. Thing is, she has one of the sawiest voices and most restless intellects in contemporary lit—honest, jokey, paranoid, sentimental, mean, lyrical, tough, you name it.

  6. CD-ROM Games

    CD-ROM technology is largely the turf of duded-up arcade games. But programmed in such a way as to exploit the medium’s hallucinatory sense of space, embedded with sufficiently detailed graphics and a random enough narrative, it becomes apparent what a distinct and immensely open-ended new ball of wax we’ve got here. See: Dust: A Tale of the Wired West (Cyberflix); Cosmology of Kyoto (Azuma Lander International); Alice to Ocean (Against All Odds); Buried in Time: The Journeyman Project 2 (Sanctuary Woods Multimedia Alliance Corporation); Welcome to the Future (Blue Sky Entertainment); Bad Day on the Midway (Inscape).

  7. Guided by Voices

    Under the Bushes Under the Stars (Matador). Post-Modernism was worth it for these guys.

  8. Get Lost

    Part of “NowHere” at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, curated by Anneli Fuchs and Lars Grambye (May 15–September 8, 1996). Based on its prospectus and the weird range of artists involved, this could be the “early bird” exhibition of the year: an inspired attempt to explore the commonalities of postrave art—video, graphics, music, environmental design—and the work of contemporary gallery artists who have ties to psychedelic drug culture and/or a general interest in the principles, effects, and machinations of the trippy.

  9. Agota Kristof

    The Third Lie (Grove Press, $20). The third novel in a trilogy (with The Notebook and The Proof) by this Hungarian writer. Bleak, taut, hallucinatory, erotic, horrific, devastating. If anything is certain in this world, Kristof’s trilogy is one of the great literary works of the century.

  10. Dano Sulik

    Accidental Lovers (Falcon Video/ International Collection, $59.95). I know these sorts of things are wildly personal, but correct me if I’m wrong. This beautiful, spaced-out, eager-to-please young Czechoslovakian porn star is a little piece of the sublime translated into gay-male iconography. The frustration created by his limited availability is kind of amazing.