My skirt billowed in the wind as I tapped down 9th avenue in knee high black boots in search of a building titled Film Center. Like most moments in New York City, reality proved less glamorous than the icon—as opposed to an alluring Marilyn Monroe dancing gleefully in reveal, I was an irritable pedestrian anxious to arrive at the correct address before inadvertently flashing anyone.
Soon enough my father ushered me into a cozy recording studio. Hal Willner sat nonchalantly at a table containing various publications, including a catalogue for Halloween monster masks.
My father, Michael Minzer, and Hal Willner have been working together as creative partners for 23 years on various spoken word projects. Paris Records, established in 1985 by Michael Minzer, pre-dates Willner’s involvement. The Lion For Real marked Willner and Minzer’s first collaboration in 1986. Since then, the duo has produced seven albums together. Minzer brings forth the literary prospects and Willner controls the sound and music aspect. The merging of music, sound and word produce an atmospheric affect. The albums are experiential, never dry and never predictable.
In the recording studio, the musicians tuned their instruments under the gaze of Bill Frisell. While Frisell is a well-known Grammy winning musician, his role in the studio is as composer. Frisell wrote all the accompanying music for Paris Records’ newest project The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.
And who would call the Kentucky Derby such a thing? None other than a vehement anti-authoritarian, Technicolored eccentric known as Hunter S. Thomspon. The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved was published in 1970 and is widely recognized as the birthplace of “Gonzo” journalism. Also, the album holds significance as part of Hunter S. Thompson’s greater oeuvre. My father wrote in an email, “This is the first spoken word recording of Hunter’s work that presents a complete text of his writing,” The album in not a compilation, it is the thorough and pure musings of a unique American voice.
So, we’ve got the text, producers, musicians, composer, and an attentive sound engineer manning the station…
The final ingredient is the album’s leading voice: Tim Robbins. And, from what I heard off of a CD-R in my dad’s Volvo last winter, Robbins totally rocked it. Working alongside the acclaimed actor will be the supporting voices of Dr. John, Annie Ross (of celebrated Jazz group, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross!) and Ralph Steadman (as himself).
In reply to a simple “Why?” question, my father replied via email, “As with all Paris Records projects, we are concentrating on significant writing and are adding Hunter to the catalog because of his influence on contemporary American letters.”
I’d like to believe the late Hunter S. Thompson would be happy among the literary outlaws of the Paris Records canon. Keeping him company is wily Burroughs, foul-mouthed Terry Southern, contemplative Corso, lovely Ed Sanders, very radical Kathy Acker, Black Mountain College certified Robert Creeley, sentient Ginsberg, mutli-media connoisseur Ira Cohen, and the melancholy prince of creepy-crawlies Edgar Allen Poe.
Release date is tentatively Fall 2010.
Want to know more about Paris Records? Of course you do!
Check out parisrecords.net for more information about the label and its projects.