Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
One last AA event before I go: former MOJO editor Iggy Pop book tour stop. Then, vigilant avoidance of women who resemble Anne Bancroft.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Ann Arbor's Gallery Project has an amazing show up through May 11 organized around the theme of temporality. There are two mixed-media assemblages by Weldon Higgins that were influenced, according to his artist's statement, by Duchamp, Rauschenberg and Joseph Cornell.** The Cornell connection makes sense; they have something of a shadow box aura about them. The first piece, "60," is stunning. It's a large canvas covered in early to mid-twentieth century newspaper clippings about Amelia Earhart and the Hindenburg disaster and too many others to count. "AND THEY WROTE IT DOWN AS A PROGRESS OF MAN" runs across the bottom, painted on over the newsprint. Cut up film stills of (I think) James Cagney and a Fred-and-Ginger-style 1930s dance team come perilously close to bumping up against a face wearing a surgical mask. There are small platforms that extend from the base of the main canvas with human teeth in them, and a jar eaten up by rust and a bird's nest with a tiny avian skull nestled inside. The commentary on transience and decay is arresting once you start tuning in to it, but not so strong that it becomes over-obvious or didactic. You have to work a little to fit the pieces together.
**There's a piece by Gloria Pritschet in the show (Familial Matrix I and II that seems influenced by Cornell, too--lots of black-and-white paste-ins of family photos, with little shelves for curios like screws and rings and wee daguerreotype-like portraits.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
When Nureyev announced he was ready we walked into the room to find him naked, drying himself from a shower. I was even more unprepared for this and didn't know which way to turn my eyes. Blushing, I introduced myself and hesitantly showed him the costume. My hesitation was like a red flag to a bull. He picked up the costume and pinched the material nonchalantly between his fingers, before dropping it with disdain. He looked at me mockingly, and said the material was awful. Then rubbing himself suggestively with the towel he lectured me on tights, and said that it would be wasting his time trying them on. He had a perfect pair which he'd brought back from Switzerland. Then looking me slowly up and down he said -- 'Well.'
To say nothing of:
Patrick Procktor asked me to spend a few days with him at Tony Richardson's house in the South of France. We flew to Nice and drove to the old house, which is deep in a pine forest. We arrived as Mick Jagger left, and Patrick, who knew the place, rushed ahead. I discovered him in the guest-room lying on Mick's unmade bed. "This is mine," he said, "and there's no need to change the sheets."
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Speaking of the Mo-dettes, the blog Filthy Sick has posted streaming mp3s from their 1980 single "Dark Park Creeping" b/w "Two Can Play." "Dark Park Creeping" is on The Story So Far but "Two Can Play" isn't. I got the 1977-1980 Rough Trade singles compilation "Wanna Buy a Bridge?" off that blog a while ago and it is still leaving me speechless daily. Delta 5, the Slits, Essential Logic, Kleenex, the Raincoats and YMG all on the same label at the same time like it was no big deal. The early Kill Rock Stars comps are all the same way. These were some extremely musically prescient moments in time, and some equally prescient people, in front of and behind the scenes.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Thousands found dead in AREA CEMETERY!!
Don't date 15 year-olds.
This is not symbolic.
Carrier pigeons make the best pets.
Men and women can't be friends.
And, my personal favorite, penciled next to the door,
The bottom of this door handle is very sexy like Pamela.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Reporting from opposite sides of the Pond, The Daily Show's John Oliver and fellow Brit Andy Zaitzman host this absolutely hysatirical weekly "audio newspaper for a visual world" from The Times Online.
Pushing at the corners of the English language is one thing, but the neo-gonzo DIY slang trend seems to be getting out of hand. Maybe it's Wired's way of proving it's keeping up with the collective vernacular inventiveness encouraged by Web 2.0. That's my hypotothesisnuse, anyway.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
One of my very favorite films, Tjenare Kungen (that's God Save the King in Swedish) now has several clips up on YouTube. I happened to write a kind of capsule summary of it last year for a zine that never ran (though it still might), so see what you think. If you don't know Swedish, don't worry, it's pretty easy to figure out what's going on in the clips regardless. I continue to nurse a massive crush on Abra that shows no signs of shrinking. It may look slick, but this is no Josie and the Pussycats--Malmros gets it right, and if it's not exactly Show Me Love with guitars, either, it's still got plenty of girl punk grit and authenticity.
Tjenare Kungen (English title: ‘God Save the King,’ Ulf Malmros, 2005)
Place: Gothenburg, Sweden
Heroines: Abra and Millan
It’s 1984. Punk is over—hell, postpunk is pretty much over—but teenage Abra keeps the ’77 spirit alive in the face of new wave poseurs, dino-rock misogynists and disapproving family members. When she meets the like-minded Millan after a show the two become best friends, roommates and bandmates, working together at a sausage factory by day and searching for a drummer and bassist by night.
Abra and Millan’s band, which they call Tjenare Kungen, is ferociously punk and thrilling to watch. Roxy Music, the Vapors, the Pretenders, Blondie and Swede faves Ebba Gron round out the soundtrack.
Queer quotient: 3/10
An early scene in which strangers beat up a mohawked, not-skinny, boyish Abra reads like a queer bashing as much as a punk bashing. Millan humors a dopey boyfriend and Abra eventually sleeps with a pretty-boy student, but the real love story belongs to the two women and the thrill they find making music together.
Overall Rating: 10/10
P.S. This film also contains a still that visually summarizes my entire adolescence.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
This is a video installation by ming wong [sic] developed as part of a personal, self-designed German language and cultural immersion programme, as he was preparing to relocate to Berlin in August 2007.
Believing that one of the best ways to get insight into a foreign culture is through the films of that country, the artist has adopted one of his favourite German films as his guide, "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant" (1972) by Fassbinder, about a successful but arrogant fashion designer in her mid-thirties, who falls into despair when she loses the woman she loves.
Putting himself in the mould of German actress Margit Carstensen in the role of Petra Von Kant - for which she won several awards - the artist attempts to articulate himself through as wide a range of emotions as displayed by the actress in the climactic scene from the film, where our tragic lovesick anti-heroine goes through a hysterical disintegration.
With this work the artist rehearses going through the motions and emotions and articulating the words for situations that he believes he may encounter when he moves to Berlin as a post-35-year-old, single, gay, ethnic-minority mid-career artist - i.e. feeling bitter, desperate, or washed up. ("Ich bin im Arsch")
With these tools, he will be armed with the right words and modes of expressions to communicate his feelings effectively to his potential German compatriots.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Winehouse’s worrying series of relapses and collapses could simply be a trick of the light. Actors and singers were misbehaving vigorously before the advent of radio; Winehouse may seem like such a dedicated tearaway because the lens recording her movements is wider than anything a sixties celebrity would have encountered, doesn’t switch off, and continually feeds a twenty-four-hour newsstand....
...Winehouse’s delivery, though—take a little time to suss that one out. It isn’t really straight minstrelsy, because her inflections and phonemes don’t add up to any known style. Listen to the mid-tempo shuffle “You Know I’m No Good” and hear how she elongates and deforms the word “worst.” Is she channelling a little-known blues singer? Is she hammered? This mush-mouthed approach is Winehouse’s real innovation—a mangling of language that will pull you in, especially when you want to hear the words.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
If you don't have much patience for industrial emo ballads, I recommend skipping the first two-thirds of the video and jumping in right at the big Lacanian payoff, in which Kaulitz faces down his mirror reflection, walks through it and then disappears. Kelefa Sanneh is right; this man needs a stage name. Something Teutonic, but still glossy. Dietmar, maybe? Helmut? "Bill" isn't doing it.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Did you ever get on a ride and wanna get off?
Did you ever push away the ones you should've held close?
Did you ever let go? Did you ever not know?
I'm not gonna stop--That's who I am.
Presumably, all of his future rides will allow him to get off.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
If you like the earliest Sleater-Kinney and Gossip records, you might like Manchester's (UK) Hooker--not to be confused with half a dozen dude-rock bands with the same name. "Because of You" does a stellar job of imitating several songs off That's Not What I Heard, and "Fall to Pieces" is scarily convincing as an unreleased outtake from S-K s/t. Corin Tucker's vocal influence seems to have taken root all over the place these days. The second half of Gamine Thief's "Stereo Stereo," for instance, always makes me do an aural double take. "Wolf vs. Owl," too.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Dinner with Grandma
Going on tour
Getting stuck in an airport
Friday, January 18, 2008
One of the most determined was Canadian singer Louise Robey, whose subsequent video also serves as a tidy summary of everything that was crucial in 80s music videos, and possibly the 80s as a decade: Orientalism; the ironic use of wedding dresses; day-glo; black and white checkerboard floors; erotic snake handling; floating golden orbs; the hairstyles of Joan Collins; leotards; white suits; muscle men; name-dropping Somerset Maugham; and anxiety about transsexual sex workers.
The costume design here was clearly ahead of its time. M.I.A. and Tahita Bulmer are but dowdy copycats by comparison! But don't let the fashion distract you. Even Robey's Alexis-Carrington-at-the-Copacabana ensemble can't surpass the beautiful tragedy of Tim Rice's lyrics, which include Siam's/ gonna be the witness / To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness; I'd let you watch, I would invite you / But the queens we use would not excite you (!); and I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.
If the chorus sounds a little like "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)" to your ears, it may be because it was written by Björn and Benny from ABBA. Robey's whitest of white raps also echoes Nina Hagen's in "New York, New York." Perhaps, in a post-"Rapture" world, awkward white rapping was considered the wave of the future. Or even earlier...
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I disagree with the suggestion that Prada has sex on the brain; this collection is not about sex at all, but rather the denial of sex. These clothes seem designed to be looked at, lusted after, theorized, maybe even petted a little, but nothing more than that. It would get the organza all greasy.
The prospect of feminism thumbing its nose at haute couture is marvelous nonetheless:
Speaking after Sunday’s show to Suzy Menkes, the fashion critic for The International Herald Tribune, Ms. Prada quipped that the collection was revenge on men for the social and sartorial contortions they impose on women. She laughed when she said it, but she clearly wasn’t kidding around.
It is no stretch to suggest that the Prada collection read like the manifesto of a gender revanchist. The man in Ms. Prada’s current vision was domesticated and so passive as to be a neuter. One notes this not merely because the models looked abnormally robotic and were given nothing to wear outside the house.
Like a flipped version of the Unwomen in Margaret Atwood's feminist parable “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the Prada Unman was gotten up in humiliating tutu belts, severe high-collar shirts that buttoned up the back and odd cummerbunds that disappeared in a chevron down the front of trousers conspicuously lacking a fly... <Read more>
Friday, January 11, 2008
Make no mistake--an Avril Lavigne drag queen squealing I don't like your girlfriend...I think you need a new one would be great. But the remix video scraps the Preppy Avril v. Punky Avril face-off in order to concentrate on the rag-tag homoerotic misadventures of Avril and Lil' Mama. There may be boys in the back of Lil' Mama's drop top, but they barely register; they're just groping, disembodied hands reaching out of the back of the frame. Lil' Mama is the one in the driver's seat, picking up Avril and throwing an affectionate arm over her shoulder maybe a couple more times than is necessary.
Forget boys. The remix video is all about the watermelon Bonne Bell coded lesbian union of LIL' MAMA AND AVRIL LAVIGNE (as the lyric reminds us over and over again, and their vaguely romantic graffiti project attests). Doodling hearts around their joined names is optional. "Hey hey! You you! I could be your girlfriend!" Avril shouts at no one in particular, only to have Lil' Mama reply enthusiastically, " I'll be your girl, Lil' Mama be your girlfriend!" Who, exactly, is being girlfriends with whom here? Any kind of explicit boy love object is so missing from the video, it's tempting to elide him altogether.
In its crypto-lesbo subtext, "Girlfriend" is but a step away from that masterpiece of crossover collabo dyke-baiting "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," in which Eve offers Gwen Stefani a ride on her...erm...dune buggy (note the replay of the pickup scenario from the "Girlfriend" remix...apparently, a la Thelma & Louise, demi-erotic sisterhood is all about car travel), wears a black PVC jacket, fedora and suit top and scandalizes the naffs at a swanky party with her unapologetic, deviant Eve-ness. The glares and whispers that ensue make a lot more sense when you assume Gwen and Eve are holding hands when the camera's not looking. At the end they both get arrested and jailed, naturally.
The original "Girlfriend" runs on the narcissistic double performance of its star, but it ultimately goes the way of Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker" rather than Britney Spears' "Gimme More." The two Mariahs duking it out over Jerry O'Connell in a movie theater ladies' room was all good satirical fun, but the video it left it at that. "Gimme More" seemed to be after something...well, more. Britney I, in a blond wig, giggles at a bar with a couple of ladyfriends and watches black-haired Britney II execute a sloppy (if slightly sinister) pole dance. "I see you!" Britney II slurs, and Britney I looks up, fascinated. The entire video seems to be about getting off on watching Brit-Brit getting off on watching herself. If there's a better metonym for the Spears trauma industry, I can't think of one.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
The woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity...If the lawyer described above had been just as charismatic but named, say, Achola Obama instead of Barack Obama, her goose would have been cooked long ago. Indeed, neither she nor Hillary Clinton could have used Mr. Obama’s public style — or Bill Clinton’s either — without being considered too emotional by Washington pundits.
In A Room of One's Own, Woolf laid out her famous Shakespeare's sister argument this way:
She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother's, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face...what is true in it, so it seemed to me, reviewing the story of Shakespeare's sister as I had made it, is that any woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at.
Steinem didn't necessarily have this specific passage in mind when she wrote her op-ed. But even if she didn't, she played the same rhetorical gambit, imagining a successful male icon's female twin in order to show how a lucky throw of the gender dice determined his success. If gifted women in the sixteenth century were doomed, their twenty-first century counterparts are still handicapped. Who, speaking of the election, better fits the bill right now of the "half witch, half wizard" chimerical marvel, "feared and mocked at," than Hillary Clinton? If she loses, will she end her days in a lonely cottage outside Chappaqua?