29 August 2014

You'll Pay the Devil, All Right...

I know I'm not the first person to make this observation, but I've known about the video for "She's Gone" by Hall & Oates for almost as long as I've been listening to Abandoned Luncheonette  (we've both been around for a little while). And I've always had trouble reconciling this staple of AOR and Lite Rock radio stations with the sheer what-the-fuckery of the video.

Watch it.  I dare you.  Go on.

Now tell me what's more disturbing: the Neanderthal shape of Daryl Hall's head, or John Oates looking even more satanic than the actual devil portrayed in the video?

I mean, Jeebus... *shudder*

Bet you feel a cold chill when you think of his "Private Eyes" seeing your every move now, don't you?

27 August 2014


This Won't Take But a Minute, HoneyThis Won't Take But a Minute, Honey by Steve Almond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An opinion about a book of 30 microessays and 30 flash fiction stories shouldn't be very long. The essay half is on writing; it's now in my top 5 of writing resources. Not every flash tale resonated with me but "Unfriendly Cashiers" is any indication, each story holds a grain of real truth.

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20 August 2014

My Artist Statement (or, When in Ithaca...)

Via 500 Letters...
Don (°1973, United States) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, Don presents everyday objects as well as references to texts, painting and architecture. Pompous writings and Utopian constructivist designs are juxtaposed with trivial objects. Categories are subtly reversed.
His artworks demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. With a subtle minimalistic approach, he creates work in which a fascination with the clarity of content and an uncompromising attitude towards conceptual and minimal art can be found. The work is aloof and systematic and a cool and neutral imagery is used.
His practice provides a useful set of allegorical tools for manoeuvring with a pseudo-minimalist approach in the world of art: these meticulously planned works resound and resonate with images culled from the fantastical realm of imagination. With the use of appropriated materials which are borrowed from a day-to-day context, his works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.
He creates situations in which everyday objects are altered or detached from their natural function. By applying specific combinations and certain manipulations, different functions and/or contexts are created.
Yup, that sounds about right.

18 August 2014

To Absent Friends, Etgar Keret, My Misspent Mallrat Youth, and More Jodo

It's been a lot of quickie reviews of things I've been reading and watching lately. So let's do something different today, yeah?

RIP Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, and also actress Arlene Martel, who I met at the Rod Serling Conference last year, still trying to keep herself out there in typical L.A.-style.  This isn't one of those, "How dare they forget such-and-such?" notes.  Just a nod to the one I had a brief connection with...
Etgar Keret says a lot of things perfectly.  This bit from his interview in Granta is no exception...
I once met this very good writer. She told me that sometimes she comes upon a metaphor or a description and she writes it down on a notecard and keeps it in a box. Then when she writes a story and her character is taking a walk, she thinks OK, I’ll take a walking image from my box of notes. And I said to her, ‘Why? The guy is already walking.’ I don’t think a text should be beautiful. We’re trying to say something, to help something. It’s like sticking a feather on a guy’s back. You know he either grows wings for evolutionary reasons or he doesn’t have feathers. That’s my attitude to writing – although there are writers whom I love who I can see obviously don’t write this way.
Who wants to see where I spent my preteen mallrat years in a state of urban decay?

These photos break my fucking heart.  The building is still walking distance from the house I grew up in.  I haven't been inside it in at least 15 years.  Those lounge pits you see are exactly as I remember from the '80s, except the vinyl covering the seat cushions was a red violet instead of blue, if memory serves.  And there are a lot of memories.  Buying 45s, then, as technology progressed, cassette singles at the record store.  The Burger King that came, went, and came back where I got many a lunch after swimming lessons and learned the joys of the bacon double cheeseburger.  The Waldenbooks where I'd buy the Target novelizations of classic Doctor Who episodes, and perusing other books that no 10 year old had any business going through, but I got away with it as long as I wasn't anywhere near the Playboy section of the magazine rack.  I was never ever asked to stay away from the "personal massagers" section of the Spencer Gifts, for that matter.  All the classic Star Wars action figures and other collectible toys that sell for hundreds of dollars now that my parents paid the '80s equivalent of hundreds of dollars to Kay Bee Toys back then... ah well, the past is past.

Next up in my movie queue: Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain.

12 August 2014

Quickie Review: THE EYES OF THE CAT

The Eyes of the CatThe Eyes of the Cat by Alexandro Jodorowsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pure impulse buy at my local comics shop. I've been on a Jodorowsky kick lately (I'm working my way through his films and have already read The Incal and some of The Metabarons) so this shouldn't surprise anyone.

The first graphic novel collaboration between Jodo and Mœbius gives us twenty-four full page illustrations with minimal dialogue, as part of Jodo's attempt to do something unconventional while trying to subvert commercial constraints. (He says as much in his introduction to this 2013 edition.) While the story is short enough to warrant grumblings about the collection being overpriced, it has everything you'd expect from any Jodorowsky/Mœbius tale in Métal Hurlant magazine: surrealistic sci-fi illustrated by a master. On top of that... again, we're talking about full page Mœbius here, so while the collection could've (should've?) been cheaper, I was happy to pay what I paid.

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05 August 2014

Quickie Review: EL TOPO

I have a theory that there aren't enough trigger warnings in the world when it comes to describing classic cult Mouvement panique films. But in the case of Alejandro Jodorowsky's legendary 1970 "acid Western" El Topo, let's try.

For anyone who intends to watch this film, then TW: depictions and descriptions of extreme violence, rape, genital mutilation, incest, child abuse, ableism, sexism, racism, some trans... eh, fuck it, I give.

No, this isn't a go at trigger warnings. It's an acknowledgement that this is a film made at a time and place where ideas such as, say, using part of your film budget to make fake dead animals when you could just go kill some real ones were considered ludicrous--oh, which reminds me, TW: animal cruelty.

El Topo is precisely the kind of art that causes critics of all kinds to have to choose sides: Is the film easily dismissed for its depictions of sacrilegious, violent, depraved, misogynistic, and generally unsavory behavior, or is it an artist's expression, whose license allows, even demands the right to strategically depict sacrilege, violence, depravity, misogyny, etc. to be utilized as tools? Either way, the promise of this movie has been fulfilled--I have been thoroughly mind-fucked. I can only imagine what it would've been like to have seen it during its heyday as the "first midnight movie."

When you consider the world and the characters Jodorowsky created for El Topo, from the surrealistic representations of spiritual seekers and gurus as gunfighters, to the graphic (and I mean extremely graphic) metaphors about both the noble and depraved state of men, women, society, organized religion--might as well just say, "the whole world"--and then consider the questions the film puts forth about problems of mindfully attempting to navigate this condition in a spiritual manner... well, that's the mind-fuck.

Interesting note: I'm not going to say Jodo had any influence on Bruce Lee of all people (although it's a line of thought worth pursuing one day, given that Jodo's work really did influence a LOT, cf. Jodorowsky's Dune), but Jodo shows a progression to enlightenment similar to the progression Bruce Lee outlined at the end of his unfinished film The Game of Death, expressed as the need to symbolically defeat representations of old belief systems. (Except, where gunfighting is merely the symbol Jodo uses, Lee attempts to show the close integration of the martial and the spiritual.)

Anyway, did the character of El Topo manage to navigate his path and achieve enlightenment? All I can say is this: at first, I thought this movie was about a particular man's search for spirituality gone horribly wrong. Instead, it's about man who, with conviction, devotion, dumb luck, by hook and by crook, actually does manage a measure of enlightenment. His response to that enlightenment is horrific... but utterly and completely understandable.

Mind. Fucked.