|. . . 2014-04-09|
"It's supposed to be a carnival of tough," Dean told me. He noted that the company's unofficial slogan is "Iron Man meets Burning Man," and that Mudders go home with orange headbands, which they can wear to signal membership in an in-group. "People want to be challenged, but if you can mix that with something that's part of a shared experience — being part of a wider tribe — it gives you a sense of identity."- "In Cold Mud" by Lizzie Widdicombe, The New Yorker January 27, 2014
Soul-healing and soul-saving were privatized decades ago. But what of communal virtues? How best can they be rationalized?
This, this is the glorious Geist-shtep my middle age has witnessed. Burning Man sold spiritual-aesthetic community in delicious caffeine-enhanced concentrate without the boredom and picayune pecksniffery and earning-potential-waste of churchgoing or pilgrimage. And Tough Mudder sells an indelible (yet easily repeatable) sense of shared competency-unto-death without the boredom and life-risk and earning-potential-waste of the military or Peace Corps. Because god-and-country knows there's nothing more important than efficient self-growth.
(Of course I beat a dead horse of a different color on another track entirely: I reflexively sabotage "sense of community" as soon as I feel it creeping up my leg hair and "feeling tough" makes me feel ill. And of course any species which relied soley on specimans like myself would be just as doomed as one which relies solely on plutocrats and their Roman show-Senate of MBAs and entrepreneurship. In this species? They also serve who only get in the way.)
|. . . 2014-04-07|
For about five years, when I heard or read something about the web's destructive aspects I thought of a shy young self-publishing cartoonist who'd self-censored all her accurately perplexed autobiographical stories after some fool complained that they weren't funny. Of course shy young artists have been self-censoring forever, but the gatekeeper-to-gate ratio crashes "Before the Law" limits if you're tuned to every fool on the internet rather than, say, just the fool who happens to be your father or your graduate advisor.
The medium of comics, like the medium of silent film, naturally drifts between crude farce and complex emotional engagement. Let that child boogie-woogie. It's in her, and it's got to come out.
|. . . 2014-03-31|
Like Odets scripts and Cassavetes movies, most of the Neo-Realist canon looks simultaneously contrived and lazy, coasting on rhetorical conceit. Alberto Lattuada was a real director, though, complete with whistle and megaphone, and co-screenwriter/assistant-director Federico Fellini was no realist.
Re-doing Carmen as a noir and Carmen as an innocent victim is a sweet idea, although it leaves the lead little to do but be draggled — she's sometimes as much a prop as the sister in Night of the Living Dead. But John Kitzmiller plays fall-guy with the proper mix of dopiness and gravitas, and Giulietta Masina provides occasional shots of oomph in a transition from Gloria Grahame (in a supporting role) to Joan Blondell (in a supporting role).1 Linking it to the other occupation movie we'd seen that day, Lavorno's evil crimelord is embodied by the manager of the Hotel Majestic.
Interracial love and an unflattering view-from-below of the American occupation explains why this didn't get distribution at the time. What keeps it out of sight now? Inertia, most likely.
1 As noted by Joan Blondell scholar, Juliet Clark.
Ray, that really happened.
I know; I saw it with my own eyes!
|. . . 2014-03-30|
|. . . 2014-03-29|
Mixed feelings are more productive in fiction than in conversation. Even writers with definite or self-definitive prejudices will induce muddle in pursuit of a story. (And then, reversing the process, their biographers become disillusioned by the bigoted troll.) Those whose second thoughts resecond, rethird, refourth and so on to Reichian volume and density may be lured into the hunt merely by the blessed prospect of something captured.
You'd better bag the game, though. Otherwise all you've achieved is another unsatisfying conversation.
|. . . 2014-03-28|
The world of Big Boys and Royal Crests and Pheasant Lanes drains into a tiny graveyard clogged with leaves and empty spring water plastic bottles.
An artificial flower with holes in the leaves. "Hey, this silk's got worms!"
The wet arm goes numb. The wet days go blank. Large dark leaves which seem to have dropped onto tightly bunched smaller lighter ones are instead straight-stitched in place by thin branches.
At the bank, adults indulge in slapstick; on the train, children sit sullenly with strangers. Dead leaves jam themselves into the window corner: "Please take us away from this terrible place!"
The bartender at Doctor Bombays said, "It's been a scary day. A huge guy came in this afternoon, really mean looking, bald, about 6' 5", with this beat-up leather jacket, no shirt. I think uh oh. He looks around real mad. Then he orders a Heineken. He takes it, takes a gulp, and paces back and forth really fast. Then he comes back and slams the bottle down as hard as he could exactly where you're sitting. Everyone looks, right? Then he walks out really fast. So Julie comes over to check the bottle, there's beer splashed all over the counter. She picks it up, there's about this much left in it. I'm like, uh, Julie, I don't think you want to pick that up just yet. Sure enough, about five minutes later the guy comes back in, looking really mad, grabs the bottle and starts pacing again. He takes another swig and slams it back down and leaves again. I can tell you, I didn't touch that bottle for the rest of the afternoon." (My theory is the guy really wanted a Heineken Light but was embarrassed to mention it.)
|. . . 2014-03-22|
by Anselm Dovetonsils
CAROLINE CAROLINE CAROLINE NO!
The newest Hotsy Totsy Club member continues:
SERIES PANOPTHALMACON: CAROLIÑA YES/NO/MAYBE Item 1: Days gone by, decades, four and a pocketful of months, a coin purse of months, smiling blindly. Apples, so trees, rows, bees, firewood stacked around Jack the Landlord's weekend shack, one day sneaking quick peeking, I saw a transciever-thing under the bunk, little curtain pulled back and I'd moved too quick from the big house, the unexpeced jump, hey Jack you got a like a radio station in this funkedy-funk lil cabin eh? Him bein a semi-famous DJ of AM yore so first impress related to Sh shh Okay yeah yeah. Okay. Talk and quiet in there Parsifal Yeah later holding Anna close for loves in the kitchen hey sub-audial and whisper in her ear, Jack's got some kinda wire runnin, in here I think, she's breath intake hold nodding just a bit and embraces tighter me a little closer, so now, me, what, do, so before I lived there I was up in the burb'd leftovers St. Rose, Saint Rose, teeny dwelling small doors and a window that held light of birdsong, college boy I run off it by a buncha Nam vets, 12 miles to the set-up in the orchards, running, run, quick, keep going hurry, run by abandoned trees abandoned fruit small bitter rose-cousins so having moves that went close to the thing in there, machines of perception, power of illusory norm, and chumped into complicit passive and fight it but make that fighting count for more than image son
Item 2: Go along with it, their arrogance will make them blind to us moving, quick, run, still, running, hold, and there you go, the holy damn house is wired, the whole house, even the secret room above the kitchen, second story railroad, and among much else the best piece of ass as piece of ass I ever was in participatory receipt, the light through 19th c. glass in the front bedroom, white clouds of sheet and earth skin love not the love combining souls but animal pure higher than shit sex with a beautiful look-alike, they made movies of us in there not knowing the cameras and the tape reels, the walls having neurons, on summer's wave and young, back in good grace with the vets, or tolerance because magic and connection, we started making movies at the lake and around as the Cochonists moved like a stain across the jumped-up country, kids coughed up tear gas residue all round, there was a drawly lil Texan hanging at the edge of the vet circle and I busted him on the sidewalk just hey man you're like a snitch or something right panic backfill stutter clamp eyes lock please and no please not a snitch I'm a re-porter, calls himself Don but his name's really Dan he tells me, Donny Dan, and weird my Dad met my mom as Dan but his name was really Don, but it's all noise then by now, Wheeler gets taken down by the swine-church Inquisit, those black light-eating suits in the background, untainted by anything like real contact, Wheeler's a commune out the coast a ways, all homemade homes homestyle babies and grains, no cars past this sign they the Cochons hated it and everything about it everything even anything like it especially, have to say this guys, because I, me, loved them, what they were as we danced in each other's arms, what they could promise to become, if they had been left alone, arrested the nominal owner Wheeler and ran the no-cars spirit-fence down, then lawyers feds sheriffs orders news scumsuckers brainwash text p.r. Judge Waffle Allrise
Item 3: day it went down news coming on the undervine Wheeler's done, another pig-victory, they hate us, I stole the gold-fringed Am.flag silky fine from its stanchion in Courtroom B where it happened, plus the eagle finial gold shiny bronze, newspaper said "Someone with a misplaced sense of allegiance..." took it home, then time, traded it for a lesser version from Jon the Queer, then time, movie days for school term-papers and hey, what it would look like that, what, flag, slo-mo shotgun blast, Antonioni against the redwood sky, super 8, Honeywell Elmo Bob gave me, Jesus, and Rather, yeah I know but true it's my life of a piece, he was undercover doing a vet return story, not yet a Cronkite, not even a Brinkley, and he's out there in the sideyard with me and that camera me and some ex-grunts as filming gets under way, and I get it set up pinned and stretched Old Glory got a shooter twenty paces north, and right as it's right then he comes running at it, the gun no I can't let you it's the flag it's what I believe my country my heart I can't let it go and he like puts himself in the line of fire and shit okay okay shit okay you can block this and see it happen in the real, promise, or you can let me draw the poison out into the virtual where I can no no you can't no, okay okay no, fuck here we go, okay no, alright, no
|. . . 2014-03-10|
Coated and hooded by pecking birds, struggling to shut himself into a phone booth for a few minutes of relative security. A flock descends.
Outside an old woman in rags goes along the bank of other phones, slamming the coin returns open, each one empty, but the hope...Plus maybe if he takes off this drip-dry suit underneath there might be a cape, and tights, and the memory of flight.
Within the sanctuary, unseen, unseeing, unheard, a fashion model slumps to the metal pebbled floor.
down the copper driveway a car with no one at the wheel enters the street, Gough, backward, makes a perfect turn and accelerates quietly, up there one eye cocked like a raven, tilt, the other one, tilt, he sees it, with his outstretched arms in the classic pose, the same red boots as always, the wind in the laundry sound of his cape flapping,
later the newscorp feeds will show the bee-line marked punctilious from Columbus and Grant to the warehouse in China Basin, the drone-Prius now running the lights on Folsom as, whang splinter crash, through the skykight down and swoop, votive lights flickering, a santeria chair with an early 18 c. piano shawl of shantung silk on its back, antique fringe on the crazy-painted rungs moving like synaesthetic visuals of a cheering rugby crowd, his perfect left arm under her perfect shoulders, and up through the hole he made coming in, the empty Prius turns off 4th onto Mission Rock, they're away before it purrs up and starts riveting the bay door with hollow point 16's and a gas cannon that detonates next to the altar, blowing candles all the way into the drywall,
bird's eye shot of Durant from 500 ft and some kind of swarm release, a cloud of sentient robot bugs, armed and as blind to cause as any soldier, rising up out of the hardiest trees in the East Bay, too late! too late!, they're edging the speed of sound, close up on her perfect face, she's too good looking for this shot, even knocked-out and slack-jaw drooling, pan out, out and back, p.o.v. Tamalpais, the dot of them arcing toward the Sierras, Sacramento down there muttering rutabaga wank to itself,
as they ascend canyon and ridge toward 49, Nevada City, Snyder's hat waving in exact temp with their syncopated breath and pulse, settling easy as a bag full of mouse diapers, down to the cabin he built up the Yuba from Downieville, and peace, domestic, unspoken mainly, love that holds itself close, together as can be for a week or two, both of them quiet, accepting, willing, she can cook! he's good with little things like lamps and firewood,
for now it's more than enough, it's redemption, temporarily eternal, these freaks each in their own iteration, someday maybe sure, some world out there yet unseen, not his not hers, where they'd just be two more unjungled creatures, making the day's account amid the steady quiet grace of an alien elect
tempo breath skylight/ edit your pleasure
Beat that, NYRB.
they're upside down!
Well, yeah; it's a weblog. But I've re-chronned.
Beat that, NYRB, 8 to the bar?
I'll even pay the first round.
|. . . 2014-02-04|
WHERE IS RHYME?
by Anselm Dovetonsils
Reading Voices: Literature and the Phonotext
by Garrett Stewart, p. 98)
Rhymes are not read. Where do we read?
Rhyme makes the answer very clear.
It is not found upon the page
but founded through the inner ear.
In a word, a double one:
Where do we read? What do you mean "we"?
Rhyme makes the answer very clear.
Less cleanly, I got your contracted auto-echoism of the transegmental drift hangin, rover drover.
We are impressed and grateful!
Intimations from Sylvia Plath at the Grocery Store
"'The word,' according to Lacan, 'is not a sign but a node of signific- Pages 115 to 341 are not shown in this preview. Frail the white rose please take your change
|. . . 2014-02-03|
Like everyone else I liked Mudhoney and acknowledged the one hit of the one-hit crybaby. But my favorite grunge band was Ed's Redeeming Qualities. When I first heard them in '89, Ed's consisted of four songwriters and one musician:
Together they seemed happier than they expected to be apart; they sounded like a 1989 unheated-apartment version of boiled cabbage at the Hungry Hash House. Or, OK, then, they sounded like "garage-folk, with an emphasis on storytelling and black comedy and poignancy." They taped a couple of cassettes and released an EP, curated and hosted a fine vaudeville series, made mistakes on the radio, and then Dom Leone got sick.
Characteristically the opening number of Ed's next release, a final cassette of the original line-up, promised "So many things that can kill you dead; if you don't have cancer there's a hole in your head." Someone like They Might Be Giants could easily have recorded a tribute to the periodic table of elements; Ed's made it personal.
Carrie, Dan, and Neno moved to San Francisco, kept playing Dom's songs, and kept sticking Dom's scrawls on the merchandise. Their first CD was gratingly bare, but their second seemed more at home in the trio format. Third was best, recorded live, with all-musician no-songwriter Jonah Winter to put sonic love handles on the old favorites.
For now, though, and with the aid of these fine digitizations, I'm reaching back to 1989. From the "Ed's Day" EP, Carrie Bradley explains how the patriarchy maintains power in one solidly idiomatic pun. From a tape made the year before, Dom Leone explains how the patriarchy maintains power in one completely moronic consultation.
|. . . 2014-01-22|
"War, in other words, destroys pretense." - some preening asshole in 2002
For all my life I've been called pretentious, and for all my life I've proudly accepted the charge. It seems to me a just label and a worthy calling. It has at any rate called me to all that's seemed worthy.
The opposite of pretension isn't sincerity. The opposite — and the end — of pretension is silence. First comes pretension, then tension, then sleep.
whether it's the intention of your intension or the other way round, it's pretty intense
|. . . 2014-01-21|
Millar's muse wanted to horrify us with suburban life c. 1960. Millar's job wanted a suspense plot with a revelatory twist. Their relationship ended in divorce.
A well-constructed comedy with sparks of recorded life — in the 1940s it would've been just another picture; in 2013 it's a fucking miracle. Period points for a leading actress who actually looks like a '70s leading actress.
I could accept Joaquin Phoenix as a Thorne Smith hero, an all-rich all-white Urbanland as Spike Jonze's social experience, and porn ELIZA as contemporary Hollywood's sincerest conception of soulfulness. But when a content-shoveler's work-for-hire was pitched and published as his own writing under his own name without legal intervention, disbelief dropped to the floor. And disbelief landed mad.
|. . . 2014-01-02|
Weinstein thought he had a lock on this one, but nothing beats the one-stick-of-dynamite-against-the-Hoover-Dam accuracy of Brad Pitt's tail-end turn in 12 Years a Slave. His bizarrely indulged, buff, and merrily twinkling speechifyin' retroactively consigned Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance and the relatively uncompromised aspects of the script to middlebrow trimmings around another exercise in torture porn. And with Paul Giamatti right there for the asking!
|. . . 2013-12-31|
Nov. 4, 2013 may represent a high-nonpotable-water mark for Adam Gopnik. In the New Yorker of that date, he finished a long essay about his, his mom's, and his girlfriend's total awesomeness like so:
Women, I thought, remember everything. Bread forgives us all.
Cf. B. Kliban:
And thirty pages later, in a piece on JFK's assassination, Gopnik demonstrated the exact limits of male memory:
“Know why you couldn’t figure this one, Keyes?” the guilty Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) tells his virtuous insurance colleague Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) at the end of the great “Double Indemnity,” in a taunting confession. “I’ll tell ya. Because the guy you were looking for was too close. Right across the desk from ya.” Keyes’s beautiful, enigmatic rejoinder is: “Closer than that, Walter.” He means that the cop and the killer share more than they knew before the crime, that temptations that lead to murder are available to us all; the lure of transgression makes us closer than we think.
From the screenplay:
Closer than that, Walter.
The eyes of the two men meet in a moment of silence.
I love you too.
|. . . before . . .||. . . after . . .|
Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2014 Ray Davis.