Sunday, October 17, 2004

Another miserable day in the city

Hi. Name's Allan. Some of you, depending on where you know me from, may know me as Pemmican, a web alias I've sometimes used. At the repeated insistence of Jetbert, a former SFU linguistics classmate and erstwhile Big Daikon poster, who is still in Japan, I have decided to create a blog. I'm entirely new to this and don't know yet what I'm doing -- but I've been mass-mailing things that interest me to friends for months and this seems like a natural extension of that.

What interests me, then?

1. Film. I'm a huge fan of John Cassavetes, in particular, with Love Streams slowly eclipsing Husbands as my favourite film of his. Other filmmakers whose work I've explored and enjoyed lately include Dusan Makavejev (though really of his major work I've only seen Sweet Movie, W.R., Mysteries of the Organism, and Montenegro -- if that counts), Miike Takashi (as inventive an exploitation filmmaker as one could wish for, and engaged, along with sometimes-collaborator Tsukamoto Shinya, in a sort of prolonged assault on the things that piss him -- and myself, as well -- off about Japanese culture, which is relevant to me because I lived there for three years), and Bruce Sweeney (I feel like a character in Dirty. Probably the guy from Port Alberni, tho' my temper's not as bad; I love that there's someone making local cinema, which seems quite a rare and precious thing -- I was absurdly pleased to hear people bitching about the uses to which the 1986 Expo site have been put in Last Wedding). Also in terms of Canadian cinema I'm excited to see what Lynn Stopkewich does next and love Egoyan's Family Viewing, Speaking Parts, and The Adjuster. Otherwise my favourite filmmakers are big, easy names to rattle off -- Antonioni, Wenders, Fassbinder. (More revealing to note that I also have a great, only slightly guilty fondness for zombie flicks, and am delighted that Romero is at work on a fourth Dead film). I'm not that interested in Hollywood cinema per se, tho' it can be fun to analyze and I sometimes love to hate certain films and filmmakers -- Steven Spielberg has come to fascinate me as a sort of pathological case-study, for instance. I don't make film, note -- I just consume it and sometimes read and write about it. It also interests me to note that Hollywood is busy plundering recent Japanese cinema for source material -- I hope they don't screw up Ju On (The Grudge).

2. Music, mostly of the weirder type. Back in the 1990's, wiith the help of mind-altering substances and a cool fella named Ian who gave me his LP collection, I made the plunge from punk rock and noisy postpunk like Sonic Youth into free jazz and avant garde music; initially I fell in love with the music of Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Albert Ayler, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. I rarely listen to any of that anymore -- lately I've been listening to a fair bit of Haino Keiji, Zoviet France, and am very excited about upcoming performances by Diamanda Galas and Paul Dutton in Vancouver. (Might make it out to Supersilent, too). But I've also been listening to a lot of punk and related things again. The Ex are great. I may make the difficult hike to Langley to see Nomeansno on Nov. 19. I was very pleased to see Mission of Burma play in Vancouver this summer, as well... There are still a fair number of musical blind spots, bands I haven't gotten around to yet -- most shockingly Nurse with Wound and Sun City Girls -- but I'm always willing to listen. Pure free jazz doesn't do it for me much these days, tho' I sometimes do spin Peter Brotzmann...

3. Books. I work at a local used bookstore. I've bookscouted for years. I'm not a pro and I'm not a rank amateur. I've made some money in my day -- the most I've gotten for a single book involved an eBay Buy It Now purchase of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, the Random House first, which I was able to own for almost a year before being forced to auction it off properly. I paid under $10 Cdn. for it and got $425 US (which was actually considerably less than it should have sold for -- it was in pretty nice shape. eBay sucks).

4. Odd cultural events in and around Vancouver. I just saw Annie Sprinkle at her recent Vancouver appearance and chatted with her briefly about how urgently she needs to see W. R.: Mysteries of the Organism. (I couldn't insult her by asking if she knew who Wilhelm Reich was, but I'm not 100% sure. She certainly didn't know Makavejev). She's such a sweet woman.

These are the things I probably intend to blog about, tho' I sometimes feel the need to share other things with friends: cryptozoological clippings, leftist political stuff, and the basic state of being alienated in Vancouver. (I have many rants about how fucked up life here is. It's quite possibly fucked up everywhere. I'm having a Last Exit to Brooklyn kind of week, which this is in part an attempt to remedy. At the very least, it may distract me from myself.

Anyhow, welcome to the blog. This'll do for a first entry.