Friday, August 31, 2007

Ferdy Belland on the Furies, the Dishrags, and so forth

Chris Arnett of the Furies, by Femke Van Delft

Hey, y'all - Allan here. Thought this might be of interest - Nerve photographer Femke van Delft and I were at the under-attended, under-hyped Dishrags/Furies "30th anniversary of Vancouver punk" show; my piece on the night is in the current issue of the Nerve Magazine. Turns out that Nerve writer Ferdy Belland was also there, and submitted his own review, unsolicited. In many ways, his is a better piece - he was there for the whole show, for one, and knows way more background about some of the bands than I do. It deserved publication! So here's Ferdy's review of the night, and a couple of Femke's photos.

The Furies / The Dishrags / Duvallstar / Bug Nasties / Search Parties
Richard's on Richards, Vancouver BC
Saturday August 18th, 2007

This JEM Productions event was hailed by many as the 30th Anniversary of Vancouver's 'Summer of Punk,' and although the surviving attendees of that long-ago concert at the Japanese Hall were somewhat thin on the ground at Dick's that night, it was amazing that no less than two of Western Canada's earliest punk units were reformed in fine form for the show.

Search Parties almost severed the show's jugular before the show's heart could really get pumping, if only because they were so teeth-grittingly lousy. Granted, there was about 30 seconds’ worth of smirked amusement in watching a barefoot, howling young man in a hospital gown, jerking and spazzing about onstage like an electroshocked asylum inmate, slashing half-tuned un-chords from his acoustic guitar while the touchingly cute girls in the band bing-ed and ting-ed along with him on melodicas and Casio organs...all to the Maureen-Tucker-sitting-in-with-the-Shaggs beat of the drummer...but all in all, this is yet another pointless 'art' band you could have seen at Hoko's a few months back. I'm sure they're all nice kids and all, and were on the bill since one of the bandmembers was the daughter of a local punk luminary, but there needed to be an ex-Only staffer onsite to do them any critical justice. I needed a beer, with more to follow.

The electrifying appearance of Seattle's Bug Nasties woke everyone up from their post-Search Parties doze with a galvanizing set of soul-drenched rock and roll that evoked the OD'ed ghost of Johnny Thunders out of an overdriven halfstack. Leading the power trio, vocalist-guitarist Brother James Burdyshaw gets oldschool Sub Pop props from having once fronted Cat Butt, but here he seemed like Malcolm McLaren fronting the Commitments, counterpointed by the endearingly geeky Scott LaRose on bass and drummer Vic “the Stick” Hart (half Al Pacino, half Sonny Bono). Honest-to-Baal groovy rocknroll which would scorch Bryce Dunn’s moptop with their winning combination of garage-mod rave-ups; people began filing out onto the dance floor and frugging, for frug’s sake. The Bug Nasties have no choice now but to return across the border tout-suite, if only so we all can dress up sharp and shake our asses like there’s no more GST returns.

Vancouver’s punk princess Siobhan Duvall strode onstage, celebrating her 40th birthday in glamourous style (looking absolutely sleek and stunning in her high heels and a glittering, skintight crimson dress cut up to here) and chopping out her familiar set of garagey pop-punk tunes, fleshing out her unapologetic Debbie Harry worship with yet another pair of young black-clad journeymen on bass and drums. Although new songs don’t seem to come quickly for Duvall, the personable ex-Bombshells guitarist has been truly immersed in the city’s punk culture for over twenty years, as she happily remarked between mid-set shots of (pink?) liquor. Duvallstar’s set climaxed with a truly killer version of the Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” with the Furies’ Chris Arnett sitting in on lead guitar (more on him later).

Jade Blade of the Dishrags - Photo by Femke van Delft

This writer used to bitterly wonder where the hell inept sloppy-pop (cuddle-core) bands like Cub and Celestial Magenta came from, and to finally see the legendary Dishrags in action is to finally understand – and to accept with an open, warmer heart. Every time Carmen “Scout” Michaud missed a beat, it truly touched me. I didn’t feel cheated, and neither did the milling dozens who began filing out of the darkness and up to the stage to catch the love up close. You could see Scout leaning down low over the snare drum, peeking out with a sheepish grin at guitarist Jill “Jade Blade” Bain, but the mood onstage was too lighthearted for any return-snarls of offended professionalism…this was the Dishrags! Only smiles were sent back to the drum riser. Bassist Chris “Dale Powers” Lalonde’s elfin china-doll looks caught a lot of admiring looks from the nose-ringed hardcore boys in the crowd, but punk keeps everyone ageless, as it should. I’ll take the Dishrags over Shonen Knife any day.

The Furies are hailed as Vancouver’s very first punk rock band, even predating DOA, and holy shit - were they a treat to behold. Chris Arnett is one of the very few local frontmen who can honestly swagger cockily onstage without looking like an asshole, even if he’s wearing shades and a sleeveless T-shirt…that ensemble, completed with his dark curls and his overdriven Gibson, made it seem as if Lou Reed was re-writing Bruce Springsteen. The big bad bald bassist bulged his shirtseams with his biceps, and the drummer hacked and pounded the beat until everyone’s head was happily nodding along. Very much a sight to behold as Arnett kept stepping atop the front-end speaker riser to rip through frenetic guitar solos which were almost in key and always on top. The Furies gave one a glimpse into times when ‘punk’ was more about attitude than codified sound, and one hopes that we won’t have to wait until August 2037 for their next set. Calling Wendy Thirteen!

The only real beef I had with the show was Dick’s being half-full, but like the early punk shows that first lit up this rain-sodden burg, it’s always a case of quality versus quantity. We were there, and the coked-out meatheads at Skybar weren’t.

-Ferdy Belland

Chris Arnett of the Furies, photo by Femke van Delft

Monday, August 27, 2007

OJ Simpson versus Billy Wilder

Okay, look, I really don't give a fuck about OJ Simpson, but does anyone else think this is bizarre? Plans to stock Simpson's hypothetical "confession," If I Did It, were scrapped for being in bad taste, after a huge public outcry; the rights to the book were awarded to the family of victim Ron Goldman, since Simpson owes them money from the civil suit that stemmed from the murders; and now pre-orders for the book - to be published in the, I guess you could say, "Goldman edition," with special notes and so forth from the victim's family - are skyrocketing. I mean, it's a viciously appropriate move, and don't get me wrong, there's certainly a concept of justice at work here - a very dark, public, and sensational form of justice - but, uh, on some level, if it's in atrocious bad taste to read OJ's hypothetical confession when he publishes it, is it somehow now in good taste to read it when it's been taken from him? I'll leave aside the motivations of the Goldman family, whose name appears as the author on Amazon - but what's inside the mind of the people who are preordering it in droves? Whose blood are they hungry for? (At this point, it's not even clear whose blood is on the pages - is it STILL profiteering from Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman's death, or is it now Simpson's blood being spilled?). I sorta don't blame Barnes and Noble for deciding not to stock the book, no matter who is publishing the fucking thing.

Speaking of media circuses, anyone who likes devastating critiques of the same, and who has not yet seen Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole, should go to the Cinematheque tonight. A great film - darkly funny and very accurate, starring Kirk Douglas as a cynical but energetic reporter covering - and manipulating the coverage of - an artefact-hound trapped in a cave collapse.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Charles Mudede and Zoo: Good News, Bad News

For those of you checking in based on the Q&A with Charles Mudede last week at the Vancity Theatre, the bad news is that I'm not posting the whole of my interview with him here, as promised. The good news (for me) is that this is because a prestigious film journal has expressed interest, and are currently looking at it. Apologies for the change of plans, but they contacted me a couple of days ago, and really, how could I refuse? It will be so much nicer to read in a magazine then on a blog. I will keep you posted as publication date nears. In the meantime, not to disappoint, here are a few outtakes from the interview, re-organized to stand on their own; some passages may seem a bit opaque, but this will all be cleared up when the final version sees print...

A: I was curious about the radio report we here, where it’s said that federal agents are telling people not to talk about Mr. Hands’ real name.

C: That was Tom Leykis. He said that he was receiving calls from Boeing workers saying that federal agents had arrived, telling them not to talk about this guy. We didn’t say that, but Tom Leykis did.

A: You didn’t have any directives not to mention his name or anything like that?

C: No, no. What happened was – the reason we didn’t mention his name was because we wanted a member of the family, his brother, to be part of it. We knew through the horse rescuer, Jenny – we had contact with him. We had promised that we were going to keep his name out of it, but we wanted him to talk about his brother.

A: Which he doesn’t do.

C: Which he doesn’t do. But just to show him that we were not going to throw his name around, we did that.

A: How does his family feel about the film?

C: We don’t know. We don’t know at all.

A: In the scene where the police are insisting the couple are watching the film – why are they so insistent? The owners get upset, but they force them to continue. Did they think they were complicit?

C: No, no, because they needed a case against the guy – because they had to verify the images. It was the only thing they could do, the police were stuck. They could only get’em on trespassing. If those two couldn’t confirm that that was their horse, they didn’t have anything they could do, so they were desperate. And to show the cop’s desperation, we were looking at the film image, and we want to capture – the cops need something, and nobody wants to deal with this – that’s what we were trying to convey. The cops are saying “no no no, you must look at this...”

A: The video we briefly see, that IS the horse and Pinyan?

C: Mm-hm! (Mudede explains elsewhere that it is a video of an earlier encounter between the two, widely circulated on the internet).

A: In your original article, you seemed quite skeptical about what these men were doing.

C: Oh, yeah.

A: Do you have any sympathy for the zoophiles? Do you regard them as damaged men?

C: No, I don’t see them as damaged men, no. I never felt what it was like to screw a horse. I don’t know what it’s like to be in that situation. It doesn’t mean you’re damaged or not, no. We’re saying we can’t resolve that desire in society yet. It doesn’t make any sense to do so. I’m not saying the desire is wrong or right. I’m just saying the desire has problems in terms of functioning in a larger legal framework... I only stand on human values, and human invented values, and I’ve accepted these ones, and I don’t like these (other) ones. I think that drugs like marijuana and cocaine should be legalized, but... these are all questions that are human essentially, and they’re not permanent or fixed or metaphysical. There actually active, fluid, and can change. That’s all I stand on, and so when I look at their values, I say – “no, I prefer my values.” Not because they’re the last values on earth, but because I think that they still are better, in terms that they make more sense to me than the value that you present.

A: How do you personally feel about these men, though? How do you respond to them on a personal level?

C: I have nothing personal against them at all. I’m not angry with them, I’m just saying that right now, it doesn’t make any sense to have sex with a horse, or a cow, and then to eat it. And that’s a big problem with me. I can’t accept that. That’s all.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Invasion: a waste of time and, presumably, talent

In the age of McCarthyism, it makes sense that an SF thriller that figured both the depersonalization of life under communism and the hysterical American (over)reaction to same would touch a nerve and be seen as a valuable cultural document, but despite its brilliant premise, I've always found Don Siegel's original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) a little short on craft; on a very basic level, it's too threadbare and ordinary a film, too rife with clumsy framings and barn-broad performances to really merit the status of a classic. Really, so is the 1978 remake, which relocates the paranoid thriller to San Francisco; it looks and feels, for the most part, like the mediocre commercial thriller that it is, with a soundtrack that is often grating and some strikingly cliched shots (tho' I retain a fondness for it, since it does take a few satisfying snipes at California consciousness-raising and has a witty W. D. Richter screenplay). The third remake I barely recall, but at the time, it seemed to be about nothing at all, and is perhaps the only Abel Ferrara film I find wholly negligible (beneath even The Driller Killer, which I haven't even viewed in completion); I never understood Ferrara's point in making the film, and may someday look at it again to reassure myself that there probably wasn't one. Could it have been as bad as The Invasion, though, the newest reworking of Jack Finney's original story? I sorely doubt it.

That would be a great opening paragraph to a full-on explication of why The Invasion is a negligible film. Unfortunately, the movie is so negligible that it doesn't even merit a full-on detailing of its faults. It is a clumsily-crafted hired-gun genre film, in which a presumably talented filmmaker, Oliver Hirschbiegel, who directed the workmanlike but somewhat specious The Experiment and the recent Downfall, with Bruno Ganz in a widely-praised turn as Hitler, lends his name and prestige to what might just as well be an instructional video on the dangers of collective action, such is the level of passion on display. The most glaring example of the film's indifferent assembly is a scene where Kidman and the child she is protecting race to the roof of a building to meet a helicopter, as the infected, the running zombies, the (new, improved, and now podless) pod people - whatever you want to call them - run after them; Kidman and kid spill out of the exit just as the soldiers are piling off the helicopter to confront the mass of Enemy Other emerging behind them. We SEE the soldiers with guns drawn, and we SEE the Other massing behind Kidman and her keep. Cut to: Kidman and kid in copter, safely being whisked away with all soldiers apparently on board. What about the showdown on the roof? When did the soldiers get back on the copter? Were shots fired? Are the podfolk, who are aware that Kidman and so forth pose a drastic threat to their collective takeover, simply placidly watching the copter fly away? Presumably you're supposed to be inattentive enough to such details not to mind much what happened: on with the narrative, it's not important. Certainly not important to Hirschbiegel, anyhow; to me, it's an inexcusable display of filmic indifference, and not the only one on hand.

It's on the level of meaning that the film fails most glaringly, however. It rather ridiculously - like the recent sequel to 28 Days Later - suggests that war, violence, discord, wife-battering, and territorial squabblings are all the inevitable consequences of a world where individual identity and emotion are paramount, and that as long as we privilige the latter, we have to accept the former (did this really seem like a profound observation to anyone involved in the making of the film?). After all, one of the symptoms of the titular phenomenon is that (as radio and TV broadcasts in the background demonstrate), as more and more people acquire the alien virus, world peace ensues, with India and Pakistan reconciling, Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush pledging a peaceful relationship, and troops being pulled out of Baghdad. Such horrors must be stopped at all costs! If the filmmakers are suggesting - in the manner of Saul Bass' great, neglected ant-consciousness film Phase IV - that we need to actually be flexible enough to adapt to the challenges of collectivity, if we are to survive, it is in no way explicated in the central drama, in which an alternately stiff and strident Nicole Kidman protects her child and herself from the alien virus, at all costs; we identify with them, and see the podless pods as the enemy, simply because that's the kind of film we're watching and it would require too much original thinking to frame things differently. The possibility that maybe surrendering your individuality is sometimes the right thing to do is never seriously considered, which, really - given the improved world the film hints at - it needs to be, for the movie to amount to anything more than a bromide.

Best thing in the movie: a brief appearance by Veronica Cartwright (from the 1978 version), who still manages to make being neurotic and high-strung seem sexy in her late-50's. Add her to the list of older actresses I covet sexually, alongside Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, and Helen Mirren. Veronica: the highlights in your hair looked great! By the way, didja realize that one of the minor characters in the 1978 film was played by Lelia Goldoni, from Cassavetes' Shadows? I hadn't, until recently.

Given the spate of horror films that show lone individuals running from an evil, transformed mob - we could also include the remake of Dawn of the Dead on the list - it will be very interesting to see what is done with the new adaptation of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend that's bein' cooked up, a text which also poses more interesting challenges than past film adaptations (like, say, The Omega Man) have done justice to. I enjoy so few commercial films now, tho', that I am not holding my breath.

Adrian Mack is Great (let it be known)

5 reasons why Adrian Mack (music editor at the Nerve Magazine) is great:

1. He has never once made a frivolous or unnecessary change to my writing. He does EDIT my stuff, when necessary - it's not that he doesn't do his job or such - but (I truly believe) he recognizes effective prose, and doesn't want to fuck with it to produce mere journalese, or for the sake of asserting hierarchy. This is rare indeed, as is the faith that readers might PREFER to read good writin' to generic newspaper-style prose. When he does step in, it's always for the betterment of the piece. You may think that that is the standard role of an editor, but I actually find it rather exceptional behaviour.

2. He likes the new Meat Puppets CD as much as I do, ie, he has good taste in music (I ain't seen him in his role as drummer - for John Ford, Rich Hope, etc - sufficient times to really evaluate him as a musician, but it's cool that he has been on the other side of the fence, too).

3. The guy can WRITE. I don't scour the local free papers lookin' for him, but when I do bump into his prose, I am almost always entertained - I mean, digging deep for the socio-cultural significance of celebrity upskirts is all right by me (hey, didn't there used to be an MKUltra reference in that column, about how Britney and whatnot were Monarch sex slaves?). I wish his Hinder review were online; I laughed out loud, readin' that one.

4. He knows more about weird conspiracy theory shit than anyone else I know, but, unlike the people you meet who try to convince you that their given conspiracy theory is the correct one, he also retains a sense of humour and distance and is both aware of, and has a healthy respect for, consensus reality, which makes him very entertaining to discuss these matters with. Whatever else he may or may not be, Adrian Mack is not a humourless fruitcake.

5. He's, like, a really nice dude. Ever aware that I work hard for the Nerve for little in the way o' tangible recompense, he sometimes goes out of his way, when I have been exceptionally productive, to provide very thoughtful, delightful daubs of payola for me (he tracked down John Cassavetes on the Cavett Show online and burned me a disc of it, I mean, ain't that great? Find me another editor who does shit like that! Thanks, man!). Don't worry, Mack: I love writing for the Nerve (with the exception o' the odd episode of horrifyingly inappropriate captions bein' attached to my writing by OTHER editors, who shall go nameless and uncredited). And no one else in this no-dick town is gonna pay me for my Meat Puppets reviews ANYHOW.

Cheers to Adrian Mack!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

CORRECTION - Charles Mudede Saturday Only

Hey, y'all - I'm being told Charles Mudede will only be in attendance at the Saturday screening of Zoo.

The article, by the way, is here...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Zoo opens Friday at the Vancity Theatre; Charles Mudede will be in attendance

One of the year's more controversial documentaries, Zoo deals with the Enumclaw horsefucking case - a story which fascinates me, but seems to immediately turn off about half of the people I mention it to - particularly reactionary and inflexible young liberals, who are convinced, sight unseen, that it is a work of exploitation. This was not my reaction, and I've actually seen the film - a few times, now: Zoo is, believe it or not, tasteful and reflective and more unsettling - in a calm, creepy way - than exploitive. My only criticism would be that it pulls a few punches - it avoids going into a great deal of detail as to what the men were actually doing in the barn, and you get the feeling that more challenging questions might have been asked the zoophiles, whose interviews comprise most of the narration of the film and whom the filmmakers are at pains to normalize, perhaps feeling that their actions alone will do enough to make them look like weirdos to most people... Still, it's well worth seeing, and seeing again - it's one of those films that leaves you feeling a bit mystified and fascinated, unsure what has just happened to you, turning it over like a puzzle in your mind. Sean Kirby - who was also the DOP for Police Beat, a film I much love - captures the beauty of western Washington State and offers many compelling images - it feels, if a cheap comparison is excusable, like Errol Morris by way of David Lynch. Charles Mudede, co-author of the film (with director Robinson Devor) and author of the article linked about it - click on "Enumclaw horsefucking case" above - will be in attendance Friday and Saturday, and my interview with him (I hope in a more or less unchanged fashion!) will appear in the movie section of tomorrow's Georgia Straight. The film screens in a double bill with Your Mommy Kills Animals, about animal rights activism, which also sounds quite interesting.
It's funny: I made my break into publication with a story on Zev Asher's film on a controversial cat killing case, Casuistry; now I'm fording the wall of the Georgia Straight with a documentary on horse sex. People are going to start thinking I'm strange.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Zombie solidarity, Zoo, Paul Rutherford obit, Furies, Rebel Spell

I am informed that there will be another Zombiewalk, the third, on August 25 starting at 3pm from the VAG. Alas, I am far too preoccupied to make time to lurch around downtown this year - I feel enough like a zombie in my freetime that I scarcely need to pretend I am one. However, as an act of solidarity, I thought I would show a picture I found in a shoebox at my parents, of me dressed as a zombie for a Grade Two Hallowe'en event, I think. I'm pretty sure that's me. I do not believe, at that point, I had seen Dawn of the Dead - my father once took me to a double bill of that film, and Phantasm, in Mission, and I LOVED them, and was warped for life - but I may have seen images of zombies in Famous Monsters of Filmland, which I was very likely reading at that point.

Some stuff:

1. The Georgia Straight on Thursday will be running a feature of mine on Zoo, the film about the Enumclaw horsefucking case. I interviewed Charles Mudede, the author of the article previously linked. Not sure what this will look like in print, but it's my first piece in the Straight, so I'm quite happy. Mudede will be in attendance at the Friday screening at the Vancity Theatre.

2. Jazz fans will be saddened to note that avant-garde trombonist Paul Rutherford, who, if memory serves, performed here a few years ago when the Dedication Orchestra came to the jazz festival, has died.

3. Anyone planning on seeing the Furies and the Dishrags live this Saturday - a show I highly recommend - might be interested in revisiting my interview with Furies frontman/guitarist Chris Arnett. The new CD is great, in a trog-rock kinda way.

4. The next Nerve will be chock-full of me: a Meat Puppets review, a Furies review, a People Like Us review (if Adrian uses it), a writeup on Under the Volcano - which will also get some space here, if I can just make it through a few more things I gotta do. There will also be part two of my Mike Watt interview; part one, dealing with his involvement in the Unknown Instructors, is here, if you are reading this currently; if it ain't August 2007 as you scan these words, you'll have to root through the Nerve's archives to find it, if you care - look at the bottom of their Contents menu. By the way, yes, I realize I have not yet posted the transcript of my Dan McGuire interview here, but no one has complained or indicated interest, so maybe I can just shelve that for now and move on to transcribing tape for this lingering Rebel Spell thing I'm working on, which has only been on the back burner for about five months. Their newest four songs will be appearing online on August 28th at, their new label, so it seems like a good time to get off my ass.

Not that I am spending that much time on my ass these days.

Hey, I really need to get laid, if there are any takers.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hubert Selby Jr: It/ll be Better Tomorrow

Say what you will about him, there are at least three real contributions to my life that Henry Rollins has made, over and above that of his music (which I have enjoyed many times - Black Flag were probably my second musical love - after the Who at age 13...):

1. Turning me on to the Stooges' Fun House and the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat in a very early (1982?) article in Spin magazine. I was 14 and living in the suburbs, having heard of neither band (tho' I think I knew who Iggy Pop was at that point). It changed my listening forever and prepared me for much that was to come.

2. (For better or for worse - ask my friends): Vastly broadening my comfort about talking about masturbation. Hell, he may have even IMPROVED my masturbation, by lessening any leftover Catholic guilts about it through his own openness. I keep sending him letters of thanks, in fact, with a few stories of my own - like the one about how, at age 12, my not wanting to confess to a priest what I was doing in the bathroom for so long probably saved me from a Catholic adulthood, to say nothin' of the possibility of bein' raped by a MIB - but, heh, he never writes back.

3. Turning me on to the novels of Hubert Selby Jr. I don't think I would be quite the same person without having read the immensely painful, but immensely spiritually rewarding, book, Last Exit to Brooklyn, when I was a teen. It's up there with the films of John Cassavetes and Ingmar Bergman, for me, for providing a painfully honest, spiritually serious, questing and passionate take on the human condition, but it does so while resiliently maintaining a lower class perspective, which literature is so generally lacking. One of the people in this documentary I'm watching on Selby - an excellent little film that I highly recommend, called It/ll Be Better Tomorrow; official site here -- talks about Selby's language being the equivalent of the music of Charlie Parker, but anyone who REALLY knows his jazz knows that this is Albert Ayler territory. There are screams of love, pain, ecstacy, sorrow and need from the very depths of the human soul. Except it hurts a lot more than Ayler, noisy as he may get; Ayler's story is sadder, but his music is more rapturous, easier to take. It affirms life in joy; Selby affirms life in tears. In any event: the man deserves great respect.

Anyhow, I wanted to tell y'all about this anecdote from the DVD I'm watching. Selby's novels - especially Last Exit, written in the 1950's - were at times called obscene, because they frankly depict sexual activity (and drug use and violence and homosexuality/transsexualism, and, of course, deep human suffering) and because they have plentiful profanity. The novels are so aware of the pain of the characters that, for all of this, one is more likely to think of Christ's compassion for Magdalen than of pornography, tho'. Even I - a man who has, at times, "entertained himself" ala Rollins with the works of Bataille and de Sade - cannot imagine anyone ready Selby salaciously, whatever controversies his books may once have generated.

That's just the build up to the anecdote, tho': despite all this, one of the various writers interviewed for the film, Jerry Stahl, I believe, tells that when he first met Selby, he confessed that it was strange meeting him, since Selby was "the first writer I ever jerked off to." Selby apparently was taken aback and remarked, "You're sicker than I thought." Then - as Stahl tells it - Selby's voice raised in curiosity: "What part?"

One thing, tho' - don't believe the highfalutin' book critic in the film who tells you, like he thinks he KNOWS sumfin, that the irregular line lengths on Selby's page, where paragraphs stop and start irregularly, are indicative of the pauses between paragraphs. Obvious bullshit, I'm sure - even tho' I'm merely arrivin' at my own deduction here, I would bet dinars to dogshit that it's the correct one: remember that Selby used a MANUAL TYPEWRITER - observe his comments on apostrophes vs. slashes, also in the film, which center on this fact - and that the fastest and easiest way - and certainly the most hands-on way - to drop from one paragraph to another on a manual, rather than hitting the return key, would be to grab the fuckin' wheel at the side of the machine and crank it. I am absolutely positive that this is the method we're seeing at work; pauses my ass, this is sheer impatient pragmatism to get the stuff onto the page as quickly and purely as possible, and damn all the rest of that other meaningless shit.

Anyhow, this is a great documentary - even if you don't know the work of Hubert Selby Jr (and please don't judge it by exposure to any movies you may have seen; neither are very good, tho' Requiem is probably the better).

Post-script: I wonder if Chris Walter has read the book of Selby's stories I gave him? I really, really, really want Chris Walter to read Hubert Selby. Maybe he's the kind of guy, tho', who if you bugged him would dig in his heels? If I were a praying man, I think, I'd be down on my knees for this'un.

Post-script two: I wonder if Oprah is literate enough to have asked Cormac McCarthy what he thought of Selby? I haven't tracked down that fuckin' interview. One o' the Pulp Fiction guys sez it's on Youtube somewhere, but I really don't wanna see it. I mean, cripes, folks - McCarthy gives ONE SINGLE LONE FUCKIN' INTERVIEW post-success and it's with OPRAH? Fuck it.

Post-script three: and, uh, thanks, Henry.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Family Visit, plus Unknown Instructors placeholder

Currently in Maple Ridge, where my Uncle Alex (usually pronounced by my family as "Alec," a practice which I have adopted) is visiting from Nova Scotia. He's an exuberant fellow - a Celtic musician and an enthusiastic teller of Newfie jokes -- so for a change, family is trumping my chronicling of odd culture and Vancouver arts events. Took him to see John Fogerty at Deer Lake the other night, and am currently visiting him and my folks in Maple Ridge, without even a second thought about Koichi Makigami at the Powell Street festival, tho' it makes it the second time I've bailed on one of his Vancouver visits (sorry, Makigami-san!). One thing, though: I owe a brief note to those few Nerve Readers and Unknown Instructors fans who have actually visited my blog seeking the remainder of my Dan McGuire interview. It will be up in a few days, when I have the time to finish transcribing it, I promise. I think both poets and fans of Mike Watt, Joe Baiza, the Minutemen, and/or Saccharine Trust would find it very interesting - and there may be a bit of stuff on Iggy and the Stooges that didn't make it into the current issue of the Nerve.

By the way, if you haven't seen the current Nerve Magazine, or heard the new Unknown Instructors album, His Masters Voice - find a way to listen to the album that suits your conscience and find the new Nerve, since it features Watt, Baiza, and McGuire all in one. I like it a lot, and all the members I spoke to agree with me that it's a lot stronger than their previous venture. It's the first part of a two-part Watt-centric interview, to be followed next month by all Watt; I actually think this month's is the stronger month, tho'.

Oh, and while you're at it, there's also my review of the newest Jandek live album and a concert review of Tortoise (who suck) and Fond of Tigers (who don't), from when they played during the jazz festival.

That's all I can offer at the moment! (Oh, y'all know that the new Razorcake has my new Chris Walter interview in it, right? Alas, it's not so easy to find at the moment - I believe Scratch are all out).