Sunday, February 27, 2005
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).
BTW, it looks like their next Vancouver gig is on March 26th...
Thursday, February 24, 2005
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.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
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: 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.
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
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.
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
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?
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.
Oh, right -- the Democrat was named Walter Mondale. ;)
Monday, February 14, 2005
Thursday, February 10, 2005
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
Friday, February 04, 2005
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
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.