Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's Pete Burns, but he's not pixelated

I'm on vacation with Pants all this week. Please poke around in the archives if you'd like while I'm gone. And if you're a music geek, watch this.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Physiology from top to toe

Bud Suite/BLOOM/The Rite Part
Friday, February 16
Power Center

Stephen Petronio really likes his développés. Not that this is a bad thing--his dancers can reel off perfect ones like they're like falling off a Balanchine-shaped log--but the choreography in general was much more ballet-focused than I was expecting. I spotted something that looked suspiciously like a brisé volé and a bunch of near-grand jetés. The opening duet of Bud Suite was gorgeous and so savvily, wittily exploitative of the unmined diamond deposit that is male-male partnering I was surprised Matthew Bourne wasn't somehow involved.

Watching any kind of live dance done to Rite of Spring is always nifty, but I liked the first half of the program best, content-wise as well as costume-wise. The white dress shirts in BLOOM were lovely on everyone, men and women both, even if the long sleeves had the unfortunate effect of making the port de bras all but invisible. And somehow, Subkoff made the deconstructed black dinner jacket/red hot pants combo work.

As well-integrated as the Rufus Wainwright songs were into each piece, I wonder whether it's generally a good idea to soundtrack choreography this articulate, this dramatically vocal, to pop songs or songs with lyrics. It creates too much of an opportunity for the lyrics to overpower the language of the dancers' bodies. Things get even trickier when you try to shoehorn in, as Wainwright does in BLOOM, the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. He succeeds, I think, but it all feels rather busy and redundant, since the creative movement broadcasts so much poetry already. How appropriate that Dickinson's "Hope Is The Thing With Feathers" should show up here; it's not hope that "sings the tune without the words," but dance.

[Cheers to whoever decided to shoot the entire company mid-pogo for the Bud Suite etc. promo package. And to MAKING SWEET POTATOES.]

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I don't want to claim that I'm special. But I'm a bit special.

I need someone to help me parse the Robbie Williams "She's Madonna" video. I've been throwing theories at it and nothing's sticking. Is it slagging off Guy Ritchie? Is it a meta-parodic in-joke? Aren't R-Wills and Madge friends? And is this just him being a big queer tease again?

[Addendum added 2/19: K-Punk's already on it]

Monday, February 12, 2007

Kaltes klares Rainer

HA! I knew that Emily Haines' "Doctor Blind" video looked familiar. Cf. this scene from Liebe Ist Kälter Als Der Tod:

There is a lot of Fassbinder on YouTube, though not as much as one would hope--a month or so ago I watched Deutschland Im Herbst but it's been taken down since then. Who knows, maybe it was never there and I dreamed it. It seems like the kind of dream I would have. No context, just angsty Fassbinder arguing with his mother about democracy intercut with even angstier Fassbinder slumping around his dank and unlit apartment, screaming at his boyfriend to make coffee. Constant screaming, in fact. Casual full frontal nudity and cocaine pick-me-ups. I do remember subtitles--can one dream subtitles?

Part of Querelle is still up. I have not seen the whole film but I am liking the aesthetic--very Todd Haynes/West Side Story/Pet Shop Boys video fantasia. Way more Italian than German, surely. Those are so cast-offs from the set of Satyricon it is not even funny. I'd have a go at parsing ye olde mise en scene but a particularly smart commenter has already nailed it: To truly understand this film one must have an appreciation for Fassbinder and also an understanding of Jean Genet. The movie is fucking amazing and is meant to be diffused, disjointed, jaundiced and lurid. Jaundiced and lurid! Yes! If there are two more precise adjectives for that 3 minutes 41 seconds I don't know them. Jaundiced in the sense of envious, spiteful and prejudicial but also quite literally manifest in the sickly yellow set and lighting design.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Having the last naff

Picking over the critical response to Bloc Party's A Weekend in the City (listen to most of the album here), I'm struck by the number of people who've linked their disappointment with the record to its B-side and lyrics, which they dismiss together as, in the words of one online commenter, "atrocious juvenile angsty bullshit." This is partly due to a certain amount of anti-sentimental rockist snobbery (how can the Bloc really jam when they're talking about, like, their feelings?), and partly, and far more interestingly, a result of a wholesale failure to understand or even consider what Okereke is singing about. Stereogum reported last November,

Too much of the second half sounds like "I Still Remember." Totally inoffensive, dropping lyrics like "I would go with you anywhere, I should have kissed you ..." Whaaa? We knew you guys were sensitive, but c'mon! Release that track directly to the soundtrack of whatever hipster teen soap for which it was written. "I still remember," says Kele. We do, too! "I'll love you in the morning," he says on the next track, "Sunday." Guess we will, too – but this is thin fucking ice, Bloc Party.

The ostensibly trite, vanilla lyrics in question include the following:

You said "it's just like a full moon".
Blood beats faster in our veins
We left our trousers by the canal
And our fingers, they almost touched

You should have asked me for it
I would have been brave
You should have asked me for it
How could I say no?

And our love could have soared
Over playgrounds and rooftops
Every park bench screams your name
I kept your tie

Unless Ryan and Seth have started making out on The O.C. recently, I'm not exactly sure which hipster teen soap this is ready for. Do saccharine lyrics deserve a pass because they document one of the richest and most neglected subjects in pop music--unconsummated, explicit queer desire? I'm saying yes. In the past, queer pop/rock songwriters have been expected either to turn out chirpy "we're just plain folks" pride anthems or to bury everything under six feet of subtext so as not to offend the naffs.* On the B-side of Weekend, Bloc Party have done the impossible. They've produced a half-dozen painful, perfect, lust-glazed love songs that sidestep mainstream gay pieties without selling out the radical queerness that makes them so precious in the first place. It'd be a shame if people didn't listen hard enough to notice.

*Morrissey might constitute a third route. Or possibly a route to the moon. It's no wonder Okereke's returning the signal, in the chorus of "I Still Remember" but also passim.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

What would Chris Martin be doing visiting a factory in Wigan?

Can we get on with this? I’ve gotta do AIDS and Alzheimer’s and land mines this afternoon, and I wanna get back for Deal or No Deal. Plus, Gwyneth’s making drumsticks.

The NYT's already hyped it, but Chris Martin on Extras is--well--almost as good as David Bowie on Extras. Oh, Northern English factory-working sitcom characters. Your vowels make me weak-kneed.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Double fantasy

See, all you rumor-mongers--how can Le Tigre be broken up when they're collaborating with Yoko Ono? "Sisters O Sisters" sounds swept together from the remains of "New Kicks" and "Dyke March 2001," but the second wave-third wave coalition element is inspiring nonetheless.