Sunday, February 27, 2005

New Cinematheque Program is Out

Yay! I look so much forward to seeing the new Cinematheque program, so I can find out what's coming up. After I greedily snatch it up, most often from in front of the Granville Book Company, I spend the next hour or so reading it... It's not a particulary exciting spring season, after the Bergman festival, but there are movies I want to see almost every week: Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One: The Reconstruction; Gordon Pinsent's The Rowdyman (a piece of Canadiana I've not seen; I quite liked his other film, John and the Missus, tho'); an Orson Welles double bill of F for Fake and Confidential Report (aka Mr. Arkadin); and some heavy-hitting contemporary Russian cinema from Kira Muratova and Andrey Zvyagintsev. Plus there's Drawing Out the Demons -- a film bio of Attila Richard Lukacs, whose work has fascinated me since, in high school, on an obligatory field trip, I was floored at the VAG by a giant canvas featuring Henry Rollins, head shaved, sitting amidst cherubs, grapes, and the entrails of a disembowelled minotaur... There'll also be a Jewish film festival (I ain't looked to see what's coming to that, yet) and a film bio of Edvard Munch (I generally hate lives-of-the-artist movies, but I'll see this no less). Not a great spring, but a nice, solid one. Oh, yeah, Jacques Tati's Playtime will be coming up, too! I've always meant to get around to Tati...

Tomorrow is the last night of the Bergman festival; they'll be playing Bergman's ugliest, bleakest, most depressing film, From the Life of the Marionettes, a film Bergman made in Germany when fleeing tax problems in Sweden. It begins with a man murdering and anally raping a prostitute (if one can be said to rape a corpse), then reconstructs the days leading up to the crime. I've only ever seen it in a dubbed version on video, which I hunted down in my 20's, when I was trying to see every Bergman film available; I'm really looking forward to seeing it on the screen in its proper language. I'm a bit nervous about its content, tho', I gotta confess -- worry that maybe I'll find it an exercise in scab-picking. (Ooh, let's see what's under here...). It's a pretty damned dark film (I guess having to flee your homeland can do that to a guy).

Last Winks Review for Awhile

So the Winks soon commence their tour, flying east to play Toronto and Montreal; tonight at Cafe Deux Soleils, they played their lastVancouver gig for awhile, Todd bespectacled, Tim their horn player opening with a couple of evocative solo pieces for baritone sax... I bought a musician buddy out tonight who is typically difficult to impress -- he sets fairly high standards -- and even he agreed that the Winks are onto something quite remarkable (tho' he was a bit irritated, as he usually is, by any technical difficulties, like the longish soundcheck, the drummer missing occasional cues from Todd, and certain uncertainties as to the setlist... These things don't bother me so much. Tonight was probably the loosest of the last four shows I've seen; but if you can't be loose at Cafe Deux Soleil...). I found myself noticing Thurston Moore in Todd's vocal mannerisms (my friend thought there might be a Blonde Redhead influence, too). I scribbled notes about things I liked: one cool song that I don't think is recorded yet is called "Castle in the Clouds," devoted to their practice space (another Meatball, but I think different from the last Meatball). The song is the one with the line about washing one's mouth with a sip of tea; it has an interesting logic to its progression, and nice interaction between Todd and Tyr. Other lyrics from other songs stuck long enough for me to write them down: "hold it up into the cold until it's warm;" "please just give me holes to breathe through;" the observation in "Ice Fields," on Slippers and Parasol, that "the waters are infested." I liked Todd's marching in place as that song built towards its finale. Somewhere he stomped on a balloon that was bouncing around as a complement to the percussion, too -- also a good touch. I like it when the band open things up to jam noisily, which they did in another show-closing take on "Expressway to Yr. Skull," with Todd kneeling to manipulate effects pedals through most of it; they should feel free to jam more -- it's generally quite pleasing to hear. So loose or no, it was a good gig to see them off; wish them Godspeed or sumfin' on their tour, folks. Tyr: don't forget, I need an extra large t-shirt, when next you're gettin' 'em made.

BTW, it looks like their next Vancouver gig is on March 26th...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Constantine: Damned, Good

Look: I can't convince a single person of the merits of this film, but trust me: if the idea of a noirish, Byronic hero who chainsmokes, is damned to hell due to a past suicide attempt, and now battles demons on earth to get back into God's good graces (while cracking cynical asides about his lot in life) sounds like an amusing premise for a film, you'll probably enjoy Constantine. Christ: if you know what a Byronic hero is, if you know what film noir is, you'll probably enjoy this movie. Most fun piece of Hollywood fare I've seen since Hellboy, tho' considerably darker than that film. (And if that sounds like a good thing to you, then really, just trust your instincts and see it).

Odd how some people form little ratpack hate clubs against certain films, these days. It's got 46% on Rotten Tomatoes... It seems to be some sort of brand-recognition in reverse; you can prove yourself part of an elite group, these days, by trashing something. Oh well: most people are fucking morons, anyhow, right?

But not us.

By the way, if you see the film, stick around after the credits (I actually stood up from my front row seat at the Capitol 6 and made a public service announcement to this effect this evening). There's a nice little denouement awaiting you, thanks to critic Victoria Alexander for mentioning it in her somewhat strange review. Also: hey, what's with the American flags and eagles and such on the TV in the background, when Constantine confronts Balthazar? It's a pretty surprising image in a Hollywood movie -- must have slipped by someone's notice.

Outsider Art, or The Lunatics have Taken Over the Gallery

The Fortean Times has an interesting little article this week on Outsider Art. Follow the links around the margins of the page to see some funky images. Did I ever tell y'all I used to volunteer for the Riverview Art Therapy program and assisted with a patient art show? ...anyhow, enough about me...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

Riverbend's "Groceries and Election Results" is probably the most informative piece I've read this week about the situation in Iraq. A lot of the American left, even, are piping down, waiting to see what fruits the recent election brings. Other than random reports of violence on Yahoo Headlines I haven't seen a whole lot of commentary -- no one is quite sure what's going to happen, if Al-Jafaari will become the president, if he'll prove to be the moderate commentators make him out to be, or if he'll model the new Iraq on Iran... Anyhow, we gather that women, used to life in a secular Iraq, are greatly worried and that the US is basically in the process of creating an Islamist state. If that's how it goes, Osama bin Laden should send a thank-you card to Bush.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Zdzislaw Beksinski murdered!

Dig: one of the many things I do that keeps me far too glued to my computer is check up the Wikipedia Recent Deaths page, about three times a day. All the death as it happens! (What if someone whose art I care about dies and I don't know it?). I just discovered that a Polish artist, Zdzislaw Beksinski, of whom I'd never heard before, was murdered... I don't have the details yet, but check out this guy's art! (There are other sites out there but his murder has exceeded their bandwidth, it seems). It's actually kinda funky stuff, in a Dali-meets-Giger-and-they-play-Silent-Hill-together kinda way. Well, perhaps it's a bit more landscape-oriented than that. I've chosen Untitled Po230as my current desktop, replacing that quirky Eugene Chadbourne pic that was up for the longest time.

Oh, and the guitarist for Korn has found religion and left the band. I like him far better for it.

Leave the computer, Al, now.

Tights Vs. Winks

AKA, "no time for Tights." Sounds interesting -- the Blim e-mail describes tomorrow's (Wed. 23rd's) show thus:

TIGHTS: Todd & Tyr from THE
WINKS team up with digital gangsta, Andy Dixon (Secret Mommy) for some
improvised insanity... sometimes extremely subtle - sometimes extremely noisy,
their set consists of Andy's real time manipulation of Todd & Tyr's mandolin
& cello playing

Worth following the link to the music sample on Myspace, by the way. Oo, this is actually pretty cool. Really cool -- very abstract, but in very musical and pleasing ways. I've other plans, however, and I've only ever committed to Winks groupiedom, not Tights groupiedom... Is there a Tights CD yet? Uh oh, how busy are these guys gonna keep me?

Anyhow, the indefatigable Winks play again this weekend! (Hm, that's a good name for somethin', The Indefatigable Winks). The 26th, with Secret Mommy (follow link for samples -- official site here) at Cafe Deux Soliels -- Secret Mommy being the project -- the guy? -- that merges with the Winks to be the Tights, so they sound like they must be pretty interesting too. (Oo, these are pretty screwy samples, like Skist on drugs. Stop! I have enough interesting local music to listen to at the moment!). After this gig, the Winks embark on a tour, which means that cello-playing friend of mine had better commit to coming out this weekend, because there are no (as of yet, anyhow) confirmed subsequent Vancouver dates until April, after that.

More Tom Cora for Tyr: I found Gumption in Limbo on Soulseek. Maybe I should try to find some Sonic Youth stuff for Todd, too... but I think all my Sonic Youth is in print... Hm. (I like things that are out of print better, because then I can steal them and burn them as much as I like without feelin' any guilt. After all, I'm just keepin' the interest alive so they'll come back into print, right? I found Slow's "I broke the Circle" on Soulseek last month, I can't tell you what a charm that was for me...) Sometimes you gotta know when to draw the line, tho'. I am not burning the Winks' CD for anyone, for instance. I feel all righteous about it.

Yes, yes, I burned Black Mountain for some people, but they mightn't've gotten out to the gig otherwise and now they all have tickets... life is morally complex, leave me alone.

By the way, Blim is a cool little artspace if you haven't seen it yet. Bizarre to have a venue in the penthouse of an office building -- it feels like something you might see in Tokyo, but it seems like it must be a Vancouver first to me. Mebbe I'm wrong... Piers Whyte, on the bill, is someone I've seen before at Blim, a guy on a laptop who makes one helluva lotta noise for a small space, kind of like having Merzbow in your bathroom with you. I'm just not really the Merzbow in the bathroom type... So you can go and out-arty me; you won't get many opportunities.

Ecstacy in the Army

Ecstacy and Ketamine are being given to soldiers returning from Iraq as an experiment in treating post-traumatic stress disorder: a great step forward, seeing if recreational favourites have legitimate uses. A bit surprising in the current political climate -- and the article suggests that LSD and psilocybin are also once again being explored for possible legitimate uses, for the first time in a very long while. (Early treatment of various disorders with LSD, from alcoholism to more emotion-based discomfitures, showed promising results; actor Cary Grant described some very positive experiences, and claimed acid taught him how to love). The world since Bush has taken enormous steps backwards on many frontiers, but it's nice that a few reasonable babysteps are being made in progressive directions, as well. I wonder if Hunter knew this was happening?

Apparently one of his last requests, by the way, was that his ashes be fired from a cannon. Ralph Steadman apparently has been given the job of orchestrating this -- he writes about it in the Independent, here -- some great little snippets of Hunternalia in the margins.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself

I guess everyone is already going to have read about this, but Hunter S. Thompson has committed suicide. I am stunned and saddened. Somehow Hunter is, however, one of those suicides I don't feel any anger at. It's odd how that works. Sometimes one is inclined to judge a suicide, for obscure reasons of ones own. I felt a sort of anger to hear that Spalding Gray had killed himself, for example -- perhaps because he did it in such a way that left his family looking for him, unsure what happened, for several days. (I gather HST's son found his body -- I'm not sure that that's better, but still, leaving people to worry for days is cruel). Gray had various health problems, as, I gather, did Dr. Thompson, but still, perhaps completely unfairly, I felt that his suicide was somehow selfish, self-indulgent, the wrong thing to have done. Other times (in the case of Phil Ochs, for me, or perhaps Elliot Smith, if that was a suicide) one feels more compassion -- one understands that one was dealing all along with an exceptionally sensitive soul that couldn't long withstand the pressures and realities of the world. Every now and then there are other kinds of suicides, too, ones that evoke neither sympathy nor blame -- what Durkheim called "altruistic suicides," where people die for a cause, for example. I read quite a bit on Andrew Veal, the young man who, after Bush's reelection, drove across the US to sneak onto the World Trade Center site -- Ground Zero, now -- and commit suicide there, as a form of political protest. I felt a certain admiration for the action as a political gesture, though I don't know Veal's personal circumstances and imagine he had other problems driving him on. I'm sure his family grieve him. Still, it took some sort of conviction to do what he did, some sort of desire to better the world, misguided though it may have been...

Though I know nothing of the actual circumstances that prompted Hunter S. Thompson to shoot himself, somehow it seems to me that it must have been more of an expression of protest, of self-assertion, rather than a concession of defeat. What to call it, a Hemingway suicide, a Mishima suicide -- ? How else could a man of his character -- which one gathers at least from his writing and from the HST mythos was gun-loving, passionate, intolerant of mediocrity, direct, forceful, irascible, curmudgeonly -- possibly die? It doesn't surprise me and I don't begrudge him his right to choose his own time. It's sad, and I'm sorry for his family and what they must be going through... But my respect for Dr. Gonzo has not diminished. It somehow fits the narrative. Of course, I didn't know the man, only his public persona... I don't really understand anything, here, am just sharing my off-the-cuff reaction, which is one of neither blame nor pity. The Doctor is gone. Glad he was around for as long as he was.

I wonder if, when I get to the bookstore tonight to work my shift, we'll have any of his books left. I'm betting not...


Addendum: Read this on speculations as to why HST did it, and this for one of his last published pieces for ESPN, on his new enthusiasm (shotgun golf) and a latenite phonecall to Bill Murray to talk about it. Also, Michael Moore's site has just posted HST's reflections on the 2004 elections. ("The question this year is not whether President Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but if the American people want it that way.") It's kind of fun to relive the whole sickening process of Bush being elected again through Thompson's eyes. Worthwhile reading, tho' it's sad to recall the optimism people felt thinking Kerry might just win. And by the way, we still had most of Hunter's books at the bookstore, but not Fear and Loathing.

Vancouver Complication

Ah, what a night. I have no stunning insights into the music, so you'll have to make do with mere description... In case you weren't there.

Gary Bourgeois, whom I used to know (tho' not well) through a mutual friend and some shared recreational proclivities, opened the night as "e," since it was as "e" he appeared on the Complication compilation. I had the "e" album for awhile, as I recall. It never had a big following -- as an index of which, in the used record business, where people are paying up to $500 Cdn for rare Subhumans singles, people rarely bother to stock the "e" album and don't, to my knowledge, get a lot of money for it when they do -- at least not in Vancouver. Gary is better known for his association with the Payolas, for whom he played bass under the moniker Gary Middleclass; he also is the guitarist behind a local prog-rock revival attempt awhile back, Mind Gallery -- you can usually find The Lemmings were Pushed in local used CD shops. He's a nice guy, and makes interesting music, tho' I'm not personally a progrock fan myself. I enjoyed his set, though, one number of which in particular was fun, where he interacted on his guitar with a program that produced tones based on randomly generated phone numbers. It was more interesting than hearing him to a Payolas song would have been -- a local musician playing us stuff he's interested in now, since he didn't really have hits to play. And tho' there were elements of 1975 in some of what he played, there were definitely current things too. Not exactly punk -- it was art rock. But an agreeable way to open the show.

It did get me thinking (I was a bit high) about progrock. Is it valid that I have some interest in Japanese progrock, that I own some Ruins stuff, say, but have very little time for or interest in historical progrock or progrock as it survives in North America? Why should the Japanized version be more acceptible? (Short answer: because it takes punk into account). Anyhow, I stood up front, listening to "e" and edging ever closer to the stage. For most of thenight, the friend I went with and I were huddled up at the front, inches from the monitors...

After Gary got off, everyone gathered on stage for a group photo op, before things got too out of hand, and Joe Keithley did his MC shtick, joking about how with the age of some of the people on stage they should have a defibrulator handy, getting the audience to cheer them as being a "pretty good lookin' bunch" for their age. I wondered who one guy with long blonde hair was; he looked familiar -- I didn't clue in that it was Randy Rampage until later, when he joined DOA on stage, looking pretty much unchanged for all the years.

Next up came No Fun. It sure would be nice if No Fun had a CD for sale -- it kinda sucks that the only way you can hear "Work, Drink, Fuck, Die" is by seeing them live. Maybe that's why they don't sell CDs, tho' -- they figure that people won't come to their gigs... For "Be Like Us," David M. held up little flashcards with the lyrics, in the mode o' Dylan, with a few offensive new lines -- instructing the audience to jump into the ocean and cause a tsunami, for instance. Shithead had said earlier that Tony Baloney (sp?) got the vote for the best dressed man in the house, but I vote for David M., because he dresses more like I do. I hear one of these guys has a job at Chapters now... ah, dayjobs. It was neat to hear "Mindless Aggression" played live -- I bet it doesn't make their regular live show.

Next came the Dishrags, on stage together for the first time in 25 years. Sad to say, but I confirmed with Jade Blade, the lead guitarist/vocalist after the show, that this is a one-off thing for them; there are no plans to reform the Dishrags, tour, do new material, etc. It's unfortunate, but it makes seeing them play last night all the more a privilige, something to be grateful for. In the world o' girl groups, they're ten times edgier than Shonen Knife, have more genuine brass and intelligence than any ten riot grrrls, and they looked and sounded damned good on stage. (Plus they're a fuckin' great punk band, in any gender). Shithead ushered them on with jokes about promoting a gig that DOA did with them in an Esquimalt high school. The band opened with "Bullshit," did a song I didn't recognize, then the bassist, Dale Powers (also sharply dressed -- a great-looking orange top, very smart-looking, as were the rest of the band) stepped up to the mike for a cover of the Ramones' "I don't wanna walk around with you;" the short set ended with a kickass take on "I Don't Love You." People began to mosh a bit, but conservatively.

My friend and I joked between sets about whether anyone would get laid as a result of the show. We hoped so.

Next band: the Shades. Chris Arnette gave what I think was the most authentically punk rock performance of the evening. Throughout the set, and I don't know why, exactly, he had constant difficulty with his guitar, his amp, his cord, everything. Things came unplugged, things made weird explosive bursts of noise, and he didn't really seem to know which knobs on his guitar would do what -- or else just didn't know how to get his difficult equipment to stop doing the unwanted things. All these problems happened during and throughout the songs, too. A non-punk would have run off the stage in mortified embarrassment, but Chris just PLOWED FORWARD with enthusiasm and drive and an appearance of unrattled conviction in himself and what he was doing. It made for a helluva fun set, actually -- with music so noisy and fucked up as to be worthy of Flipper or Jandek, at times, but what the heck, I like Flipper, I like Jandek. It loosened us all up, it was good.

After a short break, much peeing and beer drinking on the part of the audience, and some equipment shuffling, DOA took the stage. At first they had their current bassist, who I guess was Dan Yaremko, doing duties, including a couple of old songs like "World War III;" the band were enthusiastic, tight, and played like people who get a lot of practice playing live, which fits, since of all the bands on the roster they were the only ones who regularly do gig. Things did get wilder after Randy replaced Dan, tho'. The moshing got enthusiastic enough that I ended up having to shelter my smaller female friend from flying elbows and other body parts (and some grope attempts, she reported), but I guess it counts as exercise. Not moshing for one can be difficult for a guy to handle; not moshing for two is a genuine challenge. Who'da thought so many old farts could mosh so enthusiastically? (Tho' there were kids in the pit, too).

I was surprised just how much I enjoyed hearing DOA play. "2+2," "Woke Up Screaming," "I Don't Give a Shit," "Rich Bitch" -- it was a great little set. Things continued to be high energy for the so-called Subhumans show that followed. Really, the Subhumans were Brian and some under-20 kids, including the estimable "Mike from White Rock" on guitar; I heard shouts of "Where's Gerry?" from the audience, but Brian did make the disclaimer that he had TRIED to get in touch with everyone. It was a fun set anyhow. "Slave to My Dick," "Fuck You," "Urban Guerillas," "Death to the Sickoids" -- it was too bad they didn't do "Firing Squad," but one can't have everything. People moshed with great energy and passion. It warmed my heart, even as I tried to keep them from colliding into us.

The night, alas, went slightly downhill from there. Brian remained on stage, Tony Baloney returned, and Rude Norton were reborn. Trouble is, Rude Norton have exactly one song, that I know of, that they actually contributed as a punk original to the scene, the fun "Tits on the Beach," later covered by DOA on a BYO compilation, Something to Believe In. Everything else was covers, and the sort of covers that teenagers in 1978 would be doing; and alas, the band, for reasons unfathomable to me, chose to eschew "Tits" for the covers! So we got to listen to the "Gilligan's Island" theme. "Green Acres." "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" (made a little bit credible as a punk-related song by the Circle Jerks cover of it, but not really). "Sea Cruise." The songs just weren't as good, weren't punk enough, and by the end of the Rude Norton set, there was almost no moshing to be seen; it was a bit of a strategical mistake, to follow DOA and the Subhumans up with Rude Norton; earlier in the evening, they would have gotten a warmer reception, I'm sure.

Three members of the Pointed Sticks came up next, with the Dishrags joining them onstage for backup vocals, and did "The Marching Song." A bit more enthusiasm for that one, from the crowd, but it was just one song; after which things began to really get loose, but in a non-bad way. Zippy Pinhead was present and smiling like he was on every good drug known to man -- one of a rotating pool of drummers. Tony Baloney's cute, 16-year-oldish daughter got on stage with a guitar and led a haphazardly assembled band through a couple of songs, Including, finally, a well-chosen cover, of "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Then there was an all star jam, and I got to stare up into Rampage's crotch as he leaned over the audience and gave an enthusiastic reading of the Stooges other great punk-cred-anthem, "No Fun." It brought the level of energy up, made for a good closing, but there was one great, great mistake: there should have been one more song. Given the last few years, with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and -- well, you know -- Joey really was SUPPOSED to step up to the mike and end the night on an enthusiastic rendition of "War." It was kind of obligatory, and the audience all knew it; but it wasn't to be had. We stood around for awhile, and there were some halfhearted attempts to get an encore going, but people were pooped from the earlier moshing and the night was quite late, as it was. Joey took the microphone, told us to give ourselves a big hand, because "we are the scene," and then told us to go home.

There was some joke he told about how even tho' we we're trash, we should resist the urge to throw ourselves in the dumpster on the way out... It was a bit of an anticlimax, but it was, all in all, a great night.

And now the bandmembers, like myself, can all return to their respective dayjobs and keep on grindin'.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut

I am an hour into it and have paused to pee, on the same night as when I wrote that last thing, below. I have been sucked into computerland and am listening to a Haino Keiji MP3 and typing this, before resuming the film. I have just checked Soulseek to see if I have located Bach in a Tub or any Luigi Nono or Animal Slaves, or if that European guy with all the Nomeansno bootlegs is online today (he ain't). Mike Watt covering "Riot Industry" by Cobra Verde hasn't come through yet, either (Mike Watt should release a covers-only album of songs he's done -- his take on "Rebel Girl" by Bikini Kill is a delight!). This is pretty cool Haino; wish I knew what album it came off.

Um, anyhow, this is my night, and welcome to it.

Thoughts on Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut, as yet unfinished by me (see above):

I can understand why some critics are compelled to say the earlier cut is the better of the two. Attached to the earlier version as I am, there are various ways that the director's cut requires me to change my way of watching the film that are somewhat unsettling and not wholly welcome. The loss, during the opening of the film, of "The Killing Moon," for one, seems from the gitgo to really jar against one's appreciation for, to force one to rethink and reaccomodate oneself to, the rhythms and the flow of the film. Trying to hold both films in your mind at once is like trying to watch both cuts of Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie back-to-back. Whether comparing them is necessary or not, it's very hard not to want to do it, not to want to reject (tho' not entirely) this new way of viewing the film in favour of the old... But who says its unfair to compare things, anyhow? We can compare as much as we like, as long as we're aware that we needn't come to any firm conclusion and that both "versions" perhaps should be regarded as separate works... A couple of points come to mind:

1. The original version of this film plays like a thriller, of sorts, with a slick, rhythmic flow from one scene to the next; one always feels like one is caught up in a narrative, with meaning seamlessly and skillfully subordinated/grafted to the plot developments, puzzling as they sometimes may be. The director's cut is more explicit, more inclined to explain itself and to underscore what, exactly, the events we're seeing mean; I liked the puzzle-like aspects of the earlier cut, though, liked that it required extra viewings to really see just how carefully constructed and coherent the film is; puzzles can be a joy to behold, sometimes, particularly if they require some effort to truly perceive. The necessity of second viewings probably won't be so pressing to those who come to the director's cut first; it's an easier, less enigmatic, in a way less trusting version of the film -- one that wants to make sure we understand, rather than letting us earn the privilige. Why should we be less puzzled than Donnie, though?

2. The original version of the film -- perhaps in part because of the aforementioned Echo and the Bunnymen song -- establishes more of a mood of nostalgia at the outset; the song triggers a near-intant warmth for Donnie, if we grew up when he did and this song was part of the tapestry of our adolescence. In a way, it's a more comfortable beginning. By eliminating this pleasure in the director's cut (by using a less enjoyable song), Kelly puts us at a greater distance from Donnie, delays our identification with him; this in fact gives us more time to observe him, to be affected by his mood, to make us know him better as a character outside ourselves and see him less as our reflection, our representative. Actually, it's more fulfilling an overall movie experience to have Donnie as our representative -- to view the film as a sort of romantic adventure (or, as I said, a thriller) with a very strange young man as its hero/antihero; but to view him as a character is, in its own way, quite rewarding too. One feels more affected by Jake Gyllenhall's performance, here, more aware of Donnie as person. Ironically, the director's cut really plays up the "Donnie Darko, Superhero" element of the film in the added scenes, while effectively making Donnie less our hero, and more of a troubled youth.

3. Finally, the longer cut of the film just tends to meander more. For all its greater self-explication, it loses a certain focus, or seems to, by comparison with the first. That's not altogether a bad thing -- less focus sometimes means more space for reflection and contemplation, which there is plenty of here. But still: some of what's been added seems just a bit like fat.

Anyhow, even if I hereafter stick with the previous version, I'm really enjoying the experience of watching the director's cut. Each previously unseen scene is a little delightful surprise (added later: particularly a moment in the second half of the film between Donnie and his father); and the film -- like visiting the Darko website -- adds a few nice details here and there to the text, that I suppose will serve to enhance my appreciation of the first cut, on subsequent viewings. Maybe that's the best way to use this film... It certainly shouldn't become the definitive version.

The one thing that remains untouched, thankfully, whichever version you choose, happens to be what I really love about Donnie Darko: its twisted affirmation of its protagonist's massive alienation, and its utter hostility towards the noise, confusion, hypocrisy, self-centeredness and suburban mediocrity that he's drowning in. I mean, that's really what we all love about the film, isn't it? It takes our side, even in our darkest moments. How many films made these days even try to do that?

Eugene Chadbourne and Co.: Musical Bones vs. Tendrils of Gel

Hm. Interesting. Not paying close attention (ie., not being stoned), when I played CORPSES OF FOREIGN WAR (by Eugene Chadbourne with the Violent Femmes) back-to-back with COUNTRY MUSIC IN THE WORLD OF ISLAM (by the same Dr. Chad, but backed by the Sun City Girls), I mostly noticed the similarities between albums -- the strong continuities to be found throughout th' body of Dr. Chad's more, uh, song-oriented material. Paying close attention tonight (ie., being stoned) it really comes clear to me the marked differences. There are both continuities and differences, really, but they come out at different times... am I able enough to write (in this state or otherwise) to capture the difference in language? The Femmes collaboration is much more angular and folksy, as one would expect. The moments of Chad-wrought disorder are more digressions, diversions from a bouncy, if twisted, dancin' skeleton at the heart of the whole thing; however flexible the skeleton, and however musical the bones are when struck, its joints are pretty solid, and only usually bend in certain predictable directions. Not to say that that's a bad thing: it suits it better, f'rinstance, if ya wanna focus on Chad's more discursive side (ie, his lyrics). Still, the interior structure of the Sun City Girls collaboration is more fundamentally gelatinous, more inherently amoebic, with the order existing more as a solid tendril anchoring said mass of pulpy gel to your brain. Pattern is only a means to an end. The human system is not designed to appreciate chaos in its purest form, so to really receive the beauty of it, to apprehend it, even, it needs to be tied to some sort of order... It's probably impossible to appreciate chaos as chaos per se; certainly the noisiest stuff I listen to is perceived as some form of order... To perceive is to order. Somehow, when perceiving order, I tend to prefer an order that emerges organically from the chaos... It's hard for me to always enjoy Bach, say, beautiful as it seems at times, since there's just so much order to be dealt with; it exhausts me... I prefer it when the tendril is fundamentally gel, where I can help make the order myself, where even being able to hear the stuff as music is an interactive experience; where I'm not being dragged through pipes but floating in the bath... the minimum possible order, only as much of it as my mind absolutely cannot do without. The Sun City Girls CD gets more at this than the Violent Femmes one. I think it suits this state better.

I wish I had some Camper van Chadbourne. Oh, and apparently I shouldn't set water on to boil for tea in this state if I plan to leave the kitchen.

Post script: I just put on Bach (did you know that Dr. Chad had adapted Bach for the five string banjo? I wish I'd picked up that CD when it showed up at Zulu used...). I guess the growing interest in noise-as-music can be productively tied to the breakdown of authority, tradition, culture, etc. we've witnessed in the 20th century. Even perceiving Bach requires a kind of submission to authority, and taking pleasure in it needs a respect for and appreciation of expertise, tradition, learning, for a unified hierarchical culture which you locate yourself inside. All of this -- I've been reading Hal Niedzviecki, and its about to start to show -- is fundamentally at odds with the desire for us to experience our own states, lives, individuality as important, special, etc., RIGHT NOW, to appreciate our own "specialness," to live in a me-ordered world (where even listening to music is all about you, your perceptions, your tastes -- not the academy, not "culture," not the values of elites); the conditions that produced Bach simply no longer apply today, hence the feeling that it is difficult to "identify" with this music (and God knows identity is everything these days). Consumer capitalism (aided by modern communications technology and a general increase in the western standard of living) has liberated us (with the help of a general rebelliousness and hostility towards old forms, which it's becoming increasingly tied to -- witness punk rock and its increasing commodity value) into a sort of mass individualism that is fundamentally anti-hierarchical... There is social breakdown, decay, chaos, a document of the anarchy into which we are plunged, inside music like that of the Sun City Girls and Eugene Chadbourne (or a thousand noisier, weirder bands); it's simply not the sort of music that could flourish in a strongly hierachical environment (hell, in many such countries, particularly those with unifying religious principles interwoven with the state, ie., Islam, it would be illegal... hm, is that what Dr. Chad is getting at with that title? Really, it's about as non-Islamic as country music could be... Country music in the world of Islam would probably sound a lot more like Garth Brooks, only in Arabic). What's interesting, though, is that, however non-hierarchical it is on some levels, there is also genuine cultural expression -- almost something like an emerging folk culture -- found through the act of embracing, composing, performing, recording, listening to, and even blogging about, this sort of music; there's a tribal element here (witnessed also, I guess, by the Sun City Girls fascination with the music of indigenous peoples, particularly where it interfaces with modern communications technology). The community that is embracing it IS a sort of tribe in its own right, and doubtlessly has its own hierarchies... but how different, how new, how fragmented a tribe it is. But fragmented in a unified way -- the "conformist individualism" of which Niedzviecki speaks. Uhh... it's how culture is adapting itself -- the growth of a different sort of culture, in the wake o' the collapse of that Western one they speak of, as a kind of tribal superglue. It isn't all bad... uh... except that it divorces us radically from tradition, is in many of its baser forms consumption-driven and market-mediated, and is probably not very sustainable in the long term for our species. But it IS culture! Some people hunt heads and worship trees, some folks dig Bach, and I get stoned and listen to noise.

Viewed objectively, culture is only a mirror (or maybe an index) of the conditions of the society that it manifests itself in... Uhh...

I think I need to listen to some Luigi Nono now. From the liner notes to his VOICES OF PROTEST, quote from the "Second Declaration of the Avana," whatever that is:

because now in the fields and mountains of America, along the slopes of
its sierras, in its plains and its woods, in solitude or in the traffic of
cities, on the shores of great oceans and river banks, this world begins with
every reason to stir and show its hot fists.

On the Conspiracy Theorists of Turkey

Well, it isn't much to write about, but there's a new bestseller in Turkey: a bit of speculative fiction set in 2007 that imagines the United States is controlled by a secret sect, modelled on Skull and Bones, the Yale secret society which, in fact, both George W. Bush and that Democratic nonentity who ran against him -- what was his name again? It amuses me to discover that it's slipped my mind already -- belonged to; and that said secret society, driving American foreign policy, leads to their invasion of Turkey, which then has to turn to Europe and Russia to help it repel the invader. Even more interestingly, the novel suggests that the US is experimenting with Tesla weapons, including ones that can induce earthquakes. (Aum Shinrikyo is believed to have been very interested in this stuff -- note that I haven't really read the articles I'm linking here, just giving a little bit of further material for those who want it, without, uh, necessarily vouching for it). This is very nearly the territory of people who go on about MK Ultra mind control stuff -- some people blow it, we suspect, way out of proportion -- except if it's looked at closely, there's some suggestion that it may be true. The novel is a runaway hit, and has various American diplomats worried.

Oh, right -- the Democrat was named Walter Mondale. ;)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Penis found in Ketchup Bottle

...But whose penis?

Vancouver Complication gig on the 19th... Next Winks gig on the 26th... Bergman festival ongoing... After a dry winter, things are starting to pick up.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

3rd Gig into Planned Winks Groupiedom tomorrow night (Friday the 11th or such), the Winks gig yet again at the Anza Club, starting at 11 PM. (Cool Winks fan site put up by the Doers, with lotsa pictures here, while I'm linking stuff... see what I mean about the fishnets). I've been thinking about them again. My literary Russian friend, who has little tolerance for or interest in what I suspect she regards as relatively meaningless low-culture kidstuff, probably wouldn't give much credence to it (she tends to accidentally but charmingly refer to my blog as my "blob," by the way -- which blob she also regards as being somewhat juvenile!), but all the same, in our current condition of anarchy and decay, in the general formless free-for-all that we find ourselves in, where everything is up in the air and pop culture ends up having to fill in enormous blanks in our lives, since there's pretty much fuck-all else in sight -- it's pretty exciting that people in their twenties are picking up things like cellos and mandolins and trying to create their own sort of "culture" with them. It's not unlike some punk poet sincerely trying to articulate his/her experience with sonnets or villanelles (tho' it's bound to attract more of a community, which is what culture is supposed to be about, ain't it? The glue of shared practice that binds us. Tho' villanelle writing punks are welcome to post their verse in the comments section if they'd care to). It speaks to me, anyhow, of trying to find some continuity with traditions that existed before the marketplace ate everything... It's just gotta be a healthy thing. And if it ain't, well, I ain't got no culcher any'ow, so I got nothin' to lose.

Also excited that I'll get to pass on some rare Tom Cora stuff to Tyr. I've been thinking she'd probably enjoy Roof's The Untraceable Cigar -- a fave of mine, better than the Curlew I've heard. Plus I'll finally get to share the Winks with a cello playin' friend o' mine! (she's finally going to make one of their gigs). Lookin' like an enjoyable evening... 11 PM, Anza club... Check it out...

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Somebody Commented on My Blog!

Hey, somebody commented on my blog -- see the January entry "Hen Na Yoru," there's a comment posted! And unless they've posted misleading information, it's not somebody I know, either! Somebody is reading this thing! (Somebody I haven't personally directed to this site). I'm stunned.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Torture, Terror, and the U.S.' new Dictator Friend

Guantanamo Bay has an official site! Bear in mind as you peruse this that some people have been incarcerated there, without charges, due process, or any clear end in sight, for three years. The United Nations has issued a statement worrying about prisoner's mental health, and released prisoners have talked about psychological torture and physical abuse. (I love the last line of that article, showing the sunny side of Gitmo: "Treats included pizzas, ice cream and McDonald's and the occasional chance to watch a James Bond film." The best of America -- not unlike dropping Pop Tarts into Afghanistan, its sure to win the hearts and minds of the people they're killing and torturing.) Meanwhile, in Uzbekistan, it looks like America has hand-picked another dictator to be friendly to, someone convieniently anti-Muslim -- while human rights groups report on that country's disappeared, murdered, and tortured prisoners, including two who apparently were boiled to death. God bless America! They're paving the way for a bright and shining future...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Jandek on Friendster?

Can it be? Three of the five Jandek profiles (sample here) are private and completely uninformative. It could be: Jandek might use Friendster. (Lars von Trier seems to -- I like his self-description, "I am Lars von Trier." Peruse thru his friends for Jean Paul Belmondo, Ben Gazzara and others...) Don't I have anything better to do with my time?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Black Mountain, Vancouver Complication

Anyone wanting to hear a Vancouver rock band with potential should head down to Scratch (or Zulu, or mebbe Red Cat) and buy the new Black Mountain CD -- you can hear an MP3 of one of the songs here -- one of the funkier tunes on the album, sorta sounding like an Acme-era Jon Spencer Blues Explosion covering a Black Sabbath tune (not the best song on the album, but still not bad). Overall, their music evokes Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Led Zeppelin, and more contemporary stuff that's harder to pin down, has smart, catchy, unique, edgy riffs and lyrics, and has the aura of authenticity to it, so rare in rock music these days. The band is led by Stephen McBean, formerly of Jerk with a Bomb and Pink Mountaintops; he seems to be doing a singer-songwriter kind of thing, and has a unique, raspy voice -- some people think he sounds like Beck, but I still can't quite figure out who he reminds me of. I don't have that much use for rock music these days, but I've really been enjoying this disc -- it's a surprisingly solid album for, uh, Vancouver to produce (not as good as the Winks' Slippers and Parasol, but the Winks aren't really a rock band. It's the fact that this is a rock album that makes it so surprising that it also happens to be quite good. By the way, y'all should really check for the next Winks show and be there -- they'll be doing quite a few gigs in February). Free jazz blower Masa Anzai does some pretty cool saxwork on a couple of cuts, too, including the gem of the disc, something called "No Hits." They'll be playing mid-March at some club or other; it could be a great show...

Also exciting: to correspond with the upcoming release on CD of the legendary Vancouver Complication, there'll be a gig on February 19th at the WISE Hall featuring some local punk legends from days o' yore. Gerry Hannah is coming to town, I gather, so I assume he'll be joining Brian Goble for the Subhumans' set; DOA and No Fun will play, natch; and there'll be a bunch of surprises from bands that haven't been around for a long time. The gig posters leave it unclear exactly which "members of the K-Tels" will play -- Art Bergmann doesn't even live here anymore, so it would be a surprise indeed if he showed up. (Damn, this would be a great time to insert my Art Bergmann anecdote, but I just don't have the energy. I'd love to see "Hawaii" played live... I never have... how can someone be my age, have lived around Vancouver most of his life, and never have seen "Hawaii" played live?). The Pointed Sticks are on the poster, but I don't know how many members of the original band will be there... To my surprise, the band I'm most interested in seeing play are the Dishrags, a cranky sorta feminist-punk band, who I always kinda liked. I used to have the "I don't love you" 7", which I bought for 49 cents at a Value Village, as I seem to recall... Tickets are going to go fast on this one -- the WISE Hall is not a big space. Pass this one on to your old punk friends.


Hey, there was a lie told, tho' I didn't tell it. Gerry Hannah IS in town, but he's not playing with the Subhumans at the Complication reunion, for the simple, valid reason that the Subhumans are not playing. (One of my coworkers is a friend o' Gerry's -- he's married to a teacher from the school I work at. I've actually hung out with him a bit -- have vivid memories of watching him and a lesbian couple discussing Buffy the Vampire Slayer at a party... It was kind of odd). Brian will be playing with Rude Norton and maybe DOA, so we might hear a Subhumans song or two, but it's going to take a bit longer than this for a Subhumans reunion. It may yet happen... I will, alas, remain silent as to the unfolding drama of Brian and Gerry's attempts to organize it.