(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘The Possibility of an Island


The grand old man of pit-diving, Iggy Pop, has gotten in touch with his inner chanteur.  His new album, Préliminaires (officially released in the U.S. today), is ballad after ballad.

But perhaps as interestingly, The Shirtless One’s newest has lyrics based on French author Michel Houellebecq’s apocalyptic clone saga The Possibility of an Island… and so takes its place as the latest in a distinguished line (Dylan, Bowie, Pink Floyd, et al.) of rock albums based on important works of literature.

As we hum along, we might tip the birthday beret to Count Alessandro di Cagliostro, born on this date in 1744.  In one popular version of his life, he was he was a nobleman and great magus; in the other, a scheming fraud. The latter holds that Cagliostro was born Giuseppe Balsamo to a poor family in Palermo, Sicily, and that, when his father died, he was educated at the expense of some of his mother’s relatives. It has been said that he robbed his uncle, forged a will, and spent time in Palermo’s prisons more than once.  (Indeed, his reputation as a charlatan is so great that he shows up as a crooked character in Marvel’s Dr. Strange) In any case, it does seem that he was a “man of the era”– he knew and mixed with illustrious contemporaries like Mozart, Goethe, Casanova, and Catherine the Great…  but apparently not his fellow noble and birthday buddy, the Marquis de Sade (who was born on this date four years earlier, in 1740).

Alessandro di Cagliostro