Tangier: From the Romans to the Rolling Stones.
The writer Richard Hamilton and former BBC correspondent for North Africa has published his second book on Morocco, ‘Tangier: From the Romans to the Rolling Stones’. A mosaic of Tangerine history, anecdotes and vignettes describing Tangier through its eccentric inhabitants and renowned interlopers. A fascinating roll call of a city with a chequered past and a blossoming renaissance on the cards.
After reading the book and meeting Richard at the Moroccan launch at the American Legation in Tangier I wondered what does the somewhat obscure ‘El Muniria’ hotel in Tangier have in common with the infamous 1960’s ‘Beat Hotel’ in Paris, where artists sought out freedom to experiment and create without censorship and then came to Tangier looking for the same?
Namely William S Burroughs, who started The Naked Lunch in Tangier, Brion Gysin who invented the “Dream Machine’ a kinetic artwork you viewed with your eyes closed, he also pioneered ‘the cut ups’ technique in Tangier and Harold Chapman the photographer who documented it all in Paris amongst an entire community of oddballs, poets, writers, artists, musicians, pimps, prostitutes, and anyone else you could imagine; mirroring the artists, atmosphere and advetnures captured in Tangiers in the book.
Watch Richard here at the American Legtation in Tangier describing the artist and polymath Brion Gysin and the Cut Up method
If I draw a quantum map from Deal in Kent (where Harold Chapman was born and lives today, who tutored and mentored me) to the Beat Hotel in Paris and then to the El Muniria in Tangier and back; a set cosmic of connections reveal themselves rather like a venn diagram of artistic intersections in time and space across cities and continents.
It seems that the after international heyday of Tangier the city fell into decline but is staging a comeback with native creative forces leading the way. Landmark buildings such as museums, hotels, cinemas are being restored to their former glory and the mood is upbeat bustling with energy and optimism.
I pitched Richard a few questions and immediately grasped his deep affection for Tangier
· Can you describe your writing practice and how the book came together?
· Which is your favourite anecdote in the book?
· Tangier is charged with creative electricity, what are the elements that combine to make this energy bubble to the surface?
· It feels like Tangier is on a ley line of sorts as odd things always seem to be happening? Can you shed any light on this?
· How does Tangier compare to other Moroccan cities?
Tangier From the Romans to the Rolling Stones Richard Hamilton https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/tangier-9781784533434/