Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Source: VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS: A Prayer for Wild Things

The Millennium Ecosystems Assessment - the first comprehensive assessment of the status of the world's natural resources in terms of their contributions to human life and well-being - was  completed in 2005 by more than 1,360 scientists working in 95 countries.

They  found that changes in biodiversity due to human activities were occurring more rapidly in the past 5o years than at any time in human history, and that the direct causes (or drivers) of this loss are either remaining steady, showing no evidence of decline over time, or are increasing in intensity over time.

In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of the Earth, and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago.



The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity, a legally binding global treaty, was opened for signature at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and entered into force in 1993. The Convention has since been signed by 187 countries and the European Community.

In 2002, at a meeting of the Parties to the Convention, it was acknowledged that biodiversity loss was still accelerating at a rapid rate. A Strategic Plan was adopted, later endorsed at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. Its aim was to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss.

You can download keynote document Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 (published in 2006).

GBO-3 will be launched in 2010. Currently in draft synthesis form, open to reviewers comments until the end of this week.

The UN International Day for Biological Diversity is on the 22nd of  May.



A pygmy owl on Mt Fitzroy, Argentina.

Source: VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS: A Prayer for Wild Things

See Also:

BIODIVERSITY HOSPOTS : The most remarkable places on earth are also the most threatened. These are the Hotspots, the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth. This is an excellent website from Conservation International, centred around a global interactive map.

Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World (2nd edition)

This 2009 report by A.D.Chapman is recommended by David Attenborough as the most reliable document available.

'The total number of accepted described species in the world is estimated to be close to 1,900,000, well above the 1,786,000 given in 2006. Worldwide, about 18, 000 new species are being described each year and for the year 2007, 75% of these were invertebrates, 11% vascular plants and nearly 7% vertebrates.'

redlist_logo The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™   is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. From its small beginning, the IUCN Red List has grown in size and complexity and now plays an increasingly prominent role in guiding conservation activities of governments, NGOs and scientific institutions.

In a new report (Dec 2009)  titled “Species Feeling the Heat: Connecting Deforestation and Climate Change,”  the Wildlife Conservation Society profile more than a dozen animal species and groups impacted by changing land and sea temperatures, shifting rain patterns, exposure to new pathogens and disease, and increased threats of predation.


Goodall1403 Jane Goodall is a woman with a mission. Most famous for her work for chimpanzees in the 1970s, she has devoted her life to nature conservation and  travels the world constantly, admonishing and encouraging lawmakers and politicians to do the right thing, energising and inspiring young people with a message of hope for the future.

Goodall (such an appropriate name) has four reasons for hope: 'our quite extraordinary intellect, the resilience of nature, the energy and commitment of informed young people who are empowered to act, and the indomitable human spirit.'

This book is a testament to these beliefs, profiling as it does numerous individuals who, by virtue of their extensive commitment and deep love for the creatures they are trying to help, have succeeded in rescuing endangered species from extinction, mainly through captive breeding.

Some have been re-established in the wild including the Californian Condor and Red Wolf in the USA, The Crested Ibis in China, the Golden Lion Tamarin in  Brazil, the Mala Hare-Wallaby in Australia. Others, such as the Iberian lynx and the Bactrian camel, and the giant panda, will only survive long-term if areas of natural habitat safe from human encroachment, are provided for their protection.


Christmas Island Park Manager Max Orchard and his wife Beverley have spent 16 years nurturing injured or orphaned Abbot's boobies. The numbers of these birds, which nestonly   on Christmas Island have declined dramatically due to phosphate mining destroying their habitat.

Another section looks at what the book calls 'The Heroic Struggle to Save Our Island Birds - the Black Robin in New Zealand, the Stellar Albatross in Japan and the birds of Mauritius amongst them.

This is followed by 'The Thrill of Discovery', which tells the stories of new species still being discovered and the rediscovery of species that were believed to be extinct, like the coelecanth and the Wollemi pine.

There are many fascinating stories like the successful efforts to teach young whooping cranes to migrate from Wisconsin to Florida by leading them on the route with a human in an ultralight aircraft. Jane Goodall talks about this on a video embedded in the book's complementary website which includes many other additional species survival stories.

Jane Goodall says she is often accused of being unrealistically optimistic. In fact, she deserves our thanks and praise for keeping hopes alive and inspiring millions of people the world over with her undinting efforts, to make us see the beauty and importance of nature and to encourage us all to do more to help preserve it.

'Hope for Animals and Their World' by Jane Goodall with Thane Maynard and Gail Hudson [Icon Books UK/£17.99]



The Indian white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis), a critically endangered species which has lost 99.9 percent of its population due to diclofenac poisoning. Source: Scientific American

One of the most important stories in Jane Goodall's book concerns the three species of now critically endangered Asian Vultures. At one time, India had the highest density of vultures anywhere - close to 87 million - and the highest number of cattle in the world - 900 million. The vultures did an efficient job of cleaning up the 10 million or so dead cattle per year. Then, in the 1990s, the vultures started dying in huge numbers. Their populations fell by 97 per cent in one decade. - one of the steepest declines experienced by any bird species.

In 2003 the culprit was identified - an anti-inflammatory pain-killing drug diclofenac used in veterinary medicine to treat colic in cattle. In vultures, it caused a deadly kidney ailment. This has now been banned, captive breeding sites for each species has been established, but the problems involved in saving these birds are immense.

In their absence, populations of feral dogs and rats have taken over their scavenging role and have multiplied in numbers, with subsequent effect on the human population, as both species carry rabies.

A 2007 study by the Bombay Natural History Society, a M_Id_834 conservation group, estimated there were only about 11,000 white-backed, 1,000 slender-billed and 44,000 long-billed vultures left in the wild in India.

In December 2009, further problems were identified. A ban on diclofenac had led to a safe alternative being used - ketoprofen - which conservationists believed to be harmless to the birds. Now it seems that this drug also is lethal to vultures in large doses. Another drug, meloxicam, is now recommended as the safe alternative. [See: 'New drug threatens India's endangered vultures' by Elizabeth Roche (AFP)]

See also:

Birdlife International's account of the Asia vulture crisis

Wildlife film-maker Mike Pandey's site and his film 'Broken Wings'

'Following their broken wings' - An Indian Express article on Pandey's film.


Vultures face extinction as gamblers seek visions of the future

Inhaling smoked vulture's brain confers gift of premonition, according to vendors of traditional medicine in parts of Africa. [The Guardian. 30th December 2009]

Sunday, December 27, 2009



Source: 24 Fantastic Future Wonders of Green Design from the excellent WebUrbanist site.

Post-Copenhagen, you could be forgiven for thinking that the game is up, that the world is going to end. The stentorian arguments between 'climate change believers' and 'climate deniers' escalated into an emotional and unhelpful tirade of accusations and counter-accusations, with a fervour of a religious dispute. On the streets, protestors were given short shrift by sci-fi police. In the chamber, the vast mass of 'developing' nations were sidelined whilst China, US, France, UK and significant others hatched a leaky deal. The mainstream media fuelled the atmosphere with incendiary headlines. What a cacophony!

Meantime, behind the scenes, the really important story is unfolding.

What follows is a summary of the main arguments of  a report from the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate which points the way forward. The paper is called 'An Analysis of a Technology-led  Climate Policy as a Response to Climate Change' by Isabel Galiana & Christopher Green of McGill University. [This link gives you a video presentation and a pdf of the whole report]

The summary of their arguments is as follows:

1. Human induced climate change is a problem, that left unattended will become more serious as the century progresses.

2. To substantially reduce global GHG emissions will require a technological revolution.

3. Our paper demonstrates that:

- The magnitude of the technology challenge is huge.

- The required technologies are not ready - and many still require  basic research and development.

- A policy of “brute force” mitigation to meet arbitrary and time-specific emission reduction targets will not work. One cannot cap CO  emissions unless there are good, non
carbon-emitting energy and/or energy technology substitutes.

- A policy that sets aside targets and puts the up-front emphasis on energy R&D, infrastructure, and deployment of ready technologies is intuitively sensible and workable.

- Carbon pricing has an important  ancillary role to play, first as a means of long-term financing of energy R&D, technology testing, and energy infrastructure development and renewal , and second as a means of sending a “forward price signal” as an (initially) low carbon price (say $5.00/tCO ) slowly and steadily rises over time (doubling say, every 10 years).
4.  A technology-led climate policy could generate an energy technology race that would challenge the creativity of the younger generations while minimizing sacrifice in lost economic activity or a weakened energy system. In contrast, “brute force” mitigation would require large sacrifices with no assurance of a stronger and more resilient energy system.

5.  Although we have neither discussed nor placed a value on spillovers from energy technology R&D into non-energy uses, it is likely that an energy technology race could generate many external benefits which could potentially prove to be as important as the
contribution to reducing GHG emissions.'

This is an important and significant paper that provides a much-needed focus for practically addressing the challenges of the near future.

The Generalist has been following this track since 1997 and has consistently argued that there is a 'new industrial/energy revolution' in progress.


If you don't believe it is happening see

The Unlikely Green Revolution of the US Military

Source: The excellent Skilluminati Research


See The Generalist's Previous Posts:








  • Earthed: The New Industrial Revolution
  • Nanocars
  • Sunday, December 13, 2009


    The Wire1402 In this age of transition between print and on-line, when we are told that all print is dying, its great to come across The Wire which is doing nicely thank you, servicing its niche audience with intense monthly coverage of an eclectic range of music outside of the mainstream. This issue is no 309.

    Founded in 1982 by Anthony Wood, it was owned by Naim Attalla's Namara group from 1983-2000, at which time it was purchased in a management buy-out by the magazine's staff and has published independently ever since. It is currently edited by Chris Bohn (a former colleague from the NME) with Ben Weaver on  Art Direction & Design.

    First off, this is a very sophisticated package, which is delightful to have and to hold. A kind of squarish A-4 (11 x9ins), perfect bound,  printed on thin tactile paper that smells nice.  The design is spacious and elegant, the type well-chosen and deployed and above-all readable.

    julian cope

    Transmission 15508 free download. Source: Radio Free Wolhman.

    The content I found genuinely fascinating.  The cover story on Julian Cope by Rob Young (the magazine's Editor-at-Large) is a brilliant, lengthy and stimulating piece on a complex man with a lot on his mind. The text lead-in describes Cope as a 'punk pagan, antiquary and cultural irritant' and as a 'future-primitive polymath'. Young describes his current band as follows:

    'Shaggy, leathered-up and tattooed, eyes wrapped in Raybans and 101442 with military insignia rampant, Black Sheep look like a bunch of ranters and diggers you might have found playing off a flatbed truck outside the perimeter fence at the 1974 Stonehenge Free Festival.' Their sound, he says, bridges the gap between Sun Ra and the MC5.

    Cope has a prolific number of new music releases in various genres, running alongside his investigations into megalithic culture and Odinism. The piece does full justice to all this complexity and is a compelling read.

    Untitled Also great to discover Peter Walker in 'Ragas and Sagas' by David Keenan. A  pioneering guitarist of 1960s raga-blues, who was the house musician at Timothy Leary's  LSD experiments, he is now being reclaimed by new acid-folk artists, currently touring the UK. He is a contemporary of John Fahey and Robbie Basho (two guitar greats who I loved in my youth and now need to re-listen to.

    [Interviewed John Fahey back in late 60s/early 70s when he 515AKYK58YL appeared with Pentangle at the Brighton Dome. He insisted I come with him to the toilets and interview him while he was having a dump - the first and last time I've had that experience.]

    There's a great feature called 'Invisible Jukebox' featuring Jim Jarmusch. Each month, they play an artist a series of records which they are asked to identify and comment on - with no prior knowledge of what they are about to hear. It works a treat.

    There's much more to discover, not least  in the extensive review section covering music, books, films and live concerts, including the legendary Ian Penman on disco.

    Also a host of features on their website


    sigpro.transparent image

    Nest Violeta (2009) by Romuald Hazoumé

    If 'The Wire' is an example of the continued value of print, let's look at another publishing enterprise that has sprung-up on line as a result of the decline of print - The Arts Desk

    As I understand it, The Arts Desk has been established by a group of freelance art and culture journalists who all worked for The Telegraph (some still do). When  the paper cut freelance contributions in half and also halved the rates, this became a catalyst for a group to form to do their own thing.

    I have been following the site for some months since its launch earlier in 2009, and am impressed by both design and content. The first ads are appearing and the whole package looks confident. The writing is of a high standard, its graphically strong, and the site has a welcome freshness about it. Its worth supporting.

    image The site turned me on to Romuald Hazoumé, an artist from Benin, whose iconic masks and assemblages are made out of recycled plastic petrol cannisters and other found materials. I missed the show in London but you can download the pdf catalogue here.

    See Virtual Reality Quicktime video of his 2007 Installation at the British Museum here.       La Bouche du Roi.


    Also turned me on to:

      'Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy From Brooklyn Got Mixed Up With the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It)' by Bill German,. Reviewed by Robert Sandall.


    The extensive Tim Burton show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York


    An interesting interview with Tim Lawrence by Joe Muggs.'Tim Lawrence is an author and academic, whose musical studies have led him from the dance scene of the 1990s to researching New York's disco scene – his Love Saves the Day was the first and remains the definitive history of the music, history and politics of disco – and then to the singular figure of Arthur Russell.

    'arthur A cellist, singer, songwriter, producer, composer and 'electronic artist, Russell existed both within and without disco and many other scenes in a period of cultural ferment in New York when many of the sounds that form the fabric of popular culture were being first created. Russell is in many ways the very definition of a modern musician; traversing genres, exploring technology, latterly finding a diverse audience naturally via the internet and the networks of club scenes; however his most creative period was in the 1970s and early 1980s, and he died of AIDS-related illness in 1992, a full decade before the rest of the musical world would catch up with his methods and diversity.'

    Lawrence's biography of Russell is Hold on to your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene 1973-1992

    Friday, December 04, 2009


    John Michel1399

    'You do not have to be a New Ager to conclude that the only world order in which human nature can happily exist is the sacred order, the cosmological expression of ideal harmony and proportion which connected the esoteric base behind every ancient lasting civilisation.'

    - John Michell

    This is the last published work by John Michell and it is appropriate that it is one of his greatest. John was passionate about sacred proportion and a champion of traditional units of  measure. Since the 1960s, he had been putting together beautiful watercolours and diagrams on this theme and they provide the chief visual delight of this book, alongside Allan Brown's appropriate and excellent computer-drawn versions. They bring alive the geometrical and  numerical structure of nature in a powerful and pleasing manner, illustrating a text that will repay careful study and inspire artists and scientists alike.

    Copy of London 11nov09 057 Copy of London 11nov09 072Copy of London 11nov09 069

    Copy of London 11nov09 070 

    Copy of London 11nov09 011

    Scenes from the official book launch at The Tabernacle in Ladbroke Grove, London W 11 on 11th November 2009

    Previous Posts: JOHN MICHELL: A TRIBUTE and JOHN MICHELL MEMORIAL: 2 July 2009







    Under the radar and out of sight of the mainstream media, Headpress has been been quietly and steadily publishing an extraordinary range of underground cult books, of which the above are just a small sample illustrating some of their main themes.

    1. Really useful and interesting counter-culture biographies and histories.

    'It's All Good: A John Sinclair Reader' is an excellent anthology of biographical writings and poems. John Sinclair (see Previous Post:  GLAD DAYS: Tom Paine & William Blake, The Dirty Strangers & John Sinclair ) is one of The Generalist's favourite people. You can listen to his radio show with the Dirty Strangers here.

    'The Hunchback of Hollywood'  by Aubrey Malone, an accessible examination of Charles Bukowski's Life and Times.

    2. Cult books on outsider culture.

    Here is 'Gigs From Hell' - True Tales of rock and roll gone wrong from the underbelly. Other titles include 'Bad Mags: The Strangest, Most Unusual, and Sleaziest Periodicals Ever Published' and 'Trashfiend: Disposable Horror Fare of the 1960s and 1970s.

    3, The House Journal

    'Headpress', Edited by David Kerekes, has reached its 27th issue and its a particularly fine anthology of words and full-colour graphics which includes amongst other material,  an extensive interview with Alan Moore, a meditation on 9/11, a great piece on the Deviants from another of their published titles 'Keep It Together: Cosmic Boogie with The Deviants & Pink Fairies' by Rick Deakin, and a dark side Psych Primer.

    Get connected. Pass the word. www.headpress.com


    3949619355_bd5c7cbb2e_o Original letter in which Philip K. Dick records his feelings about the movie 'Blade Runner'.  For more on Philip K. Dick see Previous Post: PHILIP K. DICK: A SCANNER DARKLYPhilip_K_Dick






    This post is really some sort of musing on the disappearance of letters and typewriters, prompted by three things:


    - the discovery of the wonderful website Letters of Note . Its creator Shaun Usher says the site 'is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes and memos.' Its a beautiful concept elegantly realised and highly recommended. [thanks to Bigfug]


    - the news that Cormac McCarthy's portable typewriter on which he wrote all his brilliant novels, is being auctioned today and is expected to reach some $20,000. He has had his Olivetti Lettera 32  since 1963 when he picked it up second-hand for $50 from a pawn shop in Knoxville, Tennessee. He claims to have written 5 million words on it during which time, he says, the only maintenance required was 'blowing out the dust with a service station hose.'  The replacement machine - another Olivetti bought by a friend of his for $11. See: No Country for Old Typewriters [New York Times]

    - sorting through The Generalist Archive. In times past, one kept carbon copies of every single letter and article and I have them still. In addition, hundreds of handwritten often lengthy letters from friends and colleagues. Now, of course it is rare to get a handwritten letter. As I have discussed with other archivists, cataloguing e-mails is quite a problem. This poses a problem for future historians and biographers.

       'Email is better for politics because it's more agressive. Handwriting for sex, I think.'

    -Julie Burchill

    [Coincidentally or not, just after publishing this piece, whilst sorting through a large pile of newspaper clippings (yes, I am still clipping newspapers), came across the excellent piece by John Harris called 'The Last Post' on this very theme [The Guardian 13th October 2007]. After bemoaning the state of affairs, the article ends on the upbeat fact that in 2006, sales of pens and stationery in the UK had reached £546m (up 4% from the previous year). Now, of course, we have the additional concern about the fate of Royal Mail !


    I am a member of one of the last generations who began their journalistic careers using typewriters. At one stage in the early 1970s we all invested in IBM golfball typewriters (first introduced in 1961) 21359121_1f5df4504a  which were the cutting edge at the time. They cost literally thousands of pounds and were built like a tank. The small rotating typeball allowed you to change font styles within a document. Many years later, when I tried to sell it, I think I was offered £20 for it.



    This is a picture I have on my wall - Corona by Robert Cottingham (1997), one of the leading painters of the US Photorealism movement.

    According to Urban Dictionary, qwertyuiop - the top line of the keyboard- was the first "word " ever e-mailed It is also claims that the longest word you can make out of those letters is - 'typewriter' !!

    According to Wikipedia, a popular story about the QWERTY layout is ' that it was designed and used for early typewriters exactly because it was so inefficient; it slowed a typist down so as to reduce the frequency of the typewriter's typebars wedging together and jamming the machine. earlymodels

    'Another story is that the QWERTY layout allowed early typewriter salesmen to impress their customers by being able to easily type out the example word "typewriter" without having learnt the full keyboard layout, because "typewriter" can be spelled purely on the top row of the keyboard.

    The most likely explanation is that the QWERTY arrangement was designed to reduce the likelihood of internal clashing by placing commonly used combinations of letters farther from each other inside the machine. This allowed the user to type faster without jamming. Unfortunately, no definitive explanation for the QWERTY keyboard has been found, and typewriter aficionados continue to debate the issue.'


    A typewriter performance mask by Jeremy Mayer

    Thursday, December 03, 2009


    This is an article I wrote that was published in Issue 9 of The Face magazine [ January 1981]. More on this important magazine to come.



    Montgomery Clift

    (Oct 17, 1920- July 23, 1966)

    ‘That’s….Montgomery Clift, Honey!’  

    – The Clash

    He was the first. A bisexual intense, isolated loner. The first of a completely new breed of film actors to seem obsessed. He was disturbing, a chameleon of the emotions. An overnight sensation, he became the most powerful actor in Hollywood yet remained a total enigma.

    If he had died young he would have been a huge cult figure; instead he became, in the words of one observer, "the slowest suicide in show business."

    He influenced Brando and Dean, de Niro, Pacino and a hundred other young bucks yet he has since been erased from the public memory. Now The Clash sing about him and two major movies are planned on his life. So who was Montgomery Clift?


    Edward Montgomery and Roberta Clift were twins, born to Bill, a Southern gentleman and born salesman and Ethel, an unstable woman who was to dominate Monty's w hole existence. A deeply sensitive child, he spent his early life travelling from one exotic location to another as a result of his parents' disintegrating marriage but was always surrounded by high culture and the things that money can buy.

    BeforeandAfterMontgomeryClifta He began acting early and, by the age of 14, had reached Broadway and was attracting attention with his fine features and intense manner. Already a dedicated professional, he was much impressed by another boy in his theatre company, Morgan James. James not only took him to burlesque shows but also fired his imagination with a story about how he once had to play a rough sailor type with a hangover for his acting class. James deliberately stayed out all night, wandering around the docks and came to rehearsal, unshaven, to play the part.

    Clift became fascinated with this idea and long preparation, the accumulation of subtle details, was to characterise every part he played.

    Offstage his life was an emotional minefield. His mother was smothering him and, when he did make the break from her, it was only to take up with two mother substitutes: Mira Rostova, who became his acting coach, and Libby Holman, a rich society queen with two dead husbands behind her. But by the time he was 19 Monty had realised he was primarily gay —a career killer at that time—and the fact that he was forced to lie and compromise his own sexuality set up dark internal tensions.

    He began pulling an increasing number of "pranks", such as hanging by his fingertips from a window ledge 13 stories up and he developed a growing fascination with drugs. Longtime friend Kevin McCarthy, later to star in the original Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers, tells how he used to accompany Clift to Powders, a big drug store on Madison Avenue, where Monty would engage in serious analytical discussions with the pharmacist on the merits of downers.

    The first of many serious illnesses - crippling dysentry contracted on a Mexican holiday - prevented him seeing active service and he spent the war playing soldiers on Broadway. In 1945 he got his first starring role as a fighter discharged from an Army hospital for mental cases in Foxes and he became a matinee idol.

    Soon the Hollywood offers began rolling in. Monty flew to California but told the moguls straight that his artistic conscience would not allow him to sign away control of his career. There was a part of him that simply didn't care and this gave him negotiating power.

    His Broadway acting got more daring, more innovative and the film offers got better. Finally, in the summer of 1946, he accepted Howard Hawks' deal to play opposite John Wayne in a tough western, Red River, shot on location in Rain Valley, Arizona.


    Hawks, who discovered and made Lauren Bacall and Carole Lombard, admired Clift but couldn't shape him. Wayne thought Clift an "'arrogant little bastard". Yet all agreed his performance was powerful and Clift knew the implications. He later said: "I watched myself in Red River and I knew I was going to be famous, so I decided I would get drunk anonymously one last time."

    In fact. Red River was delayed in release for one and a half years as Howard Hughes sued, claiming Hawks had stolen the climactic scene from his infamous picture The Outlaw. Clift The Search

    In the meantime Clift had made The Search for Fred Zinnemann, a post-holocaust refugee drama in which he came across as a hero with a conscience, vulnerable, realistic, disillusioned.

    When this powerful image hit the screens, Clift became a star. Bobby soxers - that first postwar manifestation of teen fervour - worshipped him for his aura of sexless romance. With that single film, he suddenly had more power in Hollywood than even Clark Gable and the moguls needed him badly.

    It was the time of the Actor's Studio, the Method, of strange new masculine images and Monty went partway in search of this new macho, discarding his breeding, good manners, cultured airs and straight suits in favour of being beat. He lived in a shabby hotel, was awkward and Bohemian, wore t-shirts and blue jeans and walked with a sexual swagger.Brando190

    He met Brando around this time. Like Clift, Brando was born in Omaha but there the resemblance ended. Four years his junior, Brando was a muscular hothead who played bongos, rode bikes, kept a racoon in his apartment and was defiantly AC-DC. Brando may have accused Clift of having "a Mixmaster up his ass" but, to their mutual embarassment, they were both heavily influenced by each other.


    Elizabeth Taylor was another seminal figure in Monty's life. At the age of 17, she played a wealthy society girl for whom Clift killed his pregnant girlfriend (Shelley Winters) in A Place In The Sun, which was to transform him from a teenage idol to the biggest young film star bar none. Their love scenes, shot in intimate close-up with a six-inch lens, were startling at the time and captured their deep feeling for each other, which extended off-screen. When Taylor discovered Monty was gay their romance ended but they remained friends for life.


    An amazing picture of Clift shot by Stanley Kubrick. This and several other pics here from the brilliant site  If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats

    Supremely successful, Clift was emotionally screwed. He began seeing a psychiatrist and had a legendary 14 foot long medicine cabinet installed in his home, which he stocked with pills of all colours of the rainbow. For some two years he turned down every film offer and spent his time between nights of high society living with the likes of Garbo, Chaplin and Aldous Huxley, and nights of slobbish dementia with rough trade picked up off the Hollywood streets. For the record, Clift had a tiny penis, which led Kenneth Anger to nickname him "Princess Tiny Meat" in the unexpurgated version of his book Hollywood Babylon.


    He began work again with Hitchcock, in the summer of 1952, playing a priest in I Confess and then followed this with the peak film of his career. From Here To Eternity, based on the powerful novel by James Jones. He played Prewitt, a boxer and bugler, so Clift threw himself into mammoth preparations, working out with pros in the gym and taking bugle lessons to get mouth and throat movements right. Later Deborah Kerr recalled this detailed obsessiveness: "He spent two days figuring out how to say "Who's that?'"

    Frank Sinatra played Maggio in the film and Monty worshipped him. They would go off with James Jones and drink like there was no tomorrow. The press agent on the film recalls: "They were a motley trio. Jones looked like a nightclub bouncer with his thick neck and broken face. And there's this edgy cocky little wop Sinatra always spoiling for a fight, and then Monty who managed to radiate class and high standards even when pissing in the gutter."


    Clift's intensity affected everyone on the set, stimulating them to raise their standards, and it soon became clear that the film would be a big smash. Yet the nightly binges began affecting Clift and, for the first time, alcohol began to interfere with his work. Filming over, the friendship with Sinatra was not to survive. One night Monty came on sexually with a guy at a party in Bel Air and Sinatra had his bodyguards throw him out on the street and he never spoke to him again.

    Eternity established that Clift was in a league of his own but he retreated from his fame into aberrant behaviour. He became prone to a mental state termed "hebephrenic schizophrenia", a reversion to the childhood state, characterised by crawling around on all fours and eating food with his hands. During this period he turned down 163 movie offers including On The Waterfront, East Of Eden and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, which established Paul Newman, who was described as the new Clift.


    James Dean was one of many young actors w ho idolised Clift. He obtained his unlisted phone number and would call him up just hear the sound of his voice. For his part Monty thought Dean was weird but when he heard of his car smash it shook him. He later said: "Dean's death had a profound effect on me. The instant I heard about it I vomited, I don't know why." This was an eerie statement as events turned out.

    place It was Elizabeth Taylor who, in 1956, persuaded Clift to start work again and star opposite her in Raintree County, described by one critic as a "pathological Gone With The Wind". The whole project was dubbed with trouble from the start. The author, Ross Lockridge, an obscure English teacher, killed himself after selling the movie rights. The film was shelved then resurrected.

    Then, midway through the production on May 12, Clift was at one of Taylor's dinner parties in a house on top of one of those winding Los Angeles canyons. On the way home he missed a bend and crumpled his car like an accordion around a telegraph pole. When he was finally cleared from the wreckage his body was found to be virtually unharmed but his face was a disaster area. His head was swollen as wide as his shoulders, he had severe concussion, his jaw was broken in four places, his nose in two, his cheekbones were cracked and his front teeth were missing.

    After hospitalisation the doctors wired his jaws together and he somehow finished the film. He took amphetamines, downers, alcohol, anything to dull the pain. He sweated so much with the effort that he had to change his shirt eight times a day. When the movie came out a ghoulish public flocked to see if they could notice which bits were shot before and after the accident. Astonishingly Clift finished the whole film before he would dare look in a mirror. He believed his career as an actor was over.


    Despite the fact that the left side of his face was now paralysed he managed to keep working. The following year he played opposite Brando in The Young Lions, portraying a character named Noah which he based on a picture of Kafka taken the year of his death.

    During shooting Brando lived on a diet of amphetamines and seconal while Clift was never seen without his hip flask containing a lethal mixture of bourbon, crushed Demerol and fruit juice. Brando tried to get him to enlist with Alcoholics Anonymous. He told him: "In a way I hate you. I always hated you because I want to be better than you, but you're better than me - you're my touchstone, my challenge, and I want you and me to go on challenging each other . . . and I thought you would until you started this foolishness."

    Clift did not or would not respond. In his private life he became a "superchild", constantly causing scenes and in constant need of attention. In restaurants he would throw food around and was fond of greeting waiters by saying "Hello, fuckface". Guests at his apartment like Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote stood it all with sadness.misf3

    When Marilyn Monroe met him she found a kindred spirit. They  starred together, along with Clark Gable, in The Misfits in 1960. By this time Monroe was so addicted to pills she could hardly function but she could still say of Clift: "He's the only person I know who's in worse shape than I am".


    RGbipALtcx5YVLv The director John Huston then persuaded Clift to star in Freud, one of the most disastrous and destructive movie projects ever conceived. It was to destroy Clift. The original screenplay was by Jean Paul Sartre but Huston didn't like the constant sexual references. It turned out that he didn't realise that this formed the basis of Freudian psychology. A sado-masochistic war developed between actor and producer. In one scene, Clift was required to climb a rope up a huge mountain set over and over, until his hands were a bloody mess.

    During filming Monty was hit accidentally in the eyes and developed cataracts as a result. In constant pain, suffering from deep fatigue and disturbing depressions, he finally-finished the film only to find himself embroiled in a lawsuit with Universal, who blamed him for the picture being over-budget.

    After this shattering experience no work was offered to him for four years. He was uninsurable, sick and desperate. One show business writer who met him wrote: "I saw him in 1964; his face had been altered by the terrible car crash he endured in 1956, his once lithe body was rigid, his movements constricted. And the face was a mask; the eyes were dull. He could hardly walk. A friend led him by the elbow. His hand trembled. He stumbled slightly as he moved along. He seemed as if he were in a trance, as if he were no longer with us, as if his overwhelming personal isolation was irremediable. And I remember thinking: he's a dead man."

    By the end of his life Clift, one of the great screen actors of all time, was being wheeled out as a curiosity at Andy Warhol parties. He was eating nothing but raw meat and canned baby food. After enduring enormous pain for ten years, he finally died of a heart attack on July 22, 1966.

    Hedda Hopper, the powerful Hollywood columnist, once asked him: "In one sentence, what is the story of your life."

    Clift replied: "I've been knifed."


    The Montgomery Clift Shrine


    Montgomery Clift