Thursday, January 31, 2008
Persnickety fact-checkers may insist there are a few smaller sculptures, but I should remind them those have been made with lazers. Wigan works by hand. In 2001, Japanese scientists made a tiny sculpture of a bull that measured 10 micrometers by seven (a micrometer is one-thousandth of a millimeter). We say "Bull!" Wigan is the man!
Willard Wigan's tribute to "The Wizard of Oz."
"My fellow Americans, I am sick and tired of not being president," said Clinton, introducing his wife at a "Hillary '08" rally.
For the rest of the article, visit the satirical newspaper, "The Onion." Click HERE.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
This is the sixtieth anniversary of a plane crash that inspired Woody Guthrie to write the song "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)." Many singers have covered the song, including the Kingston Trio, Hoyt Axton, Bruce Springsteen, and Los Super Seven. Here, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez perform the song in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The fire began in the left engine-driven fuel pump, and the plane crashed 20 miles west of Coalinga, California, on January 29, 1948. All 32 people on board died -- including 27 immigrants being deported to Mexico, who were buried in a mass grave in Fresno. The news accounts named the white Americans, and dismissed the others as "just deportees."
The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, "They are just deportees"
The anniversary falls in a hotly contested presidential campaign in which many candidates are stirring up fear and mistrust of immigrants, particularly Mexicans. These politicians are part of a longstanding American tradition of cowardly pandering for votes with xenophobia and racism, a tradition that has historically served them well. Someday we may put this tired old tradition to rest, and begin to recognize the humanity in immigrant workers -- regardless of documentation status -- and to respect their call for dignity and human rights.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
And you thought "alt-country" music was invented by Wilco, or maybe Uncle Tupelo? Ryan Adams? "No Depression" magazine?
Check out this early clip of the Band. These guys played "Americana" way back when everyone else was playing heavy electric psychedelic rock. After backing up Dylan on the 1966 tour, they retired to Woodstock to rediscover their roots in the basement at Big Pink. They must have found a time machine down there.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Gram Parsons turned the Stones on to country, and with former Byrds players Chris Hillman, Chris Ethridge, and the amazing "Sneaky" Pete Kleino, rolled the perfect heavy number taco, The Flying Burrito Brothers. This is the Burritos in their prime. The song is off the album "The Gilded Palace of Sin" (1969) and may be officially called "Christine's Tune," but everyone knows it as "She's the Devil in Disguise." This is pedal steel heaven. Gram's wearing a Nudie suit sporting cannabis leaves, pills, and peyote buttons, but his heart is in the right place. Salute the mighty burrito.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Bush has done so many vicious, stupid things it's hard to remember them all, not to mention list them. We could start with lying about the WMDs, and cooking the intelligence to start a war that has turned into an unwinnable quagmire with no end in sight.
Bush used the tragedy of 9-11 to push his political agenda, and wrapped himself in the flag with a big self-satisfied grin. He blasted those who disagreed for being unpatriotic and un-American, and punished whistleblowers -- or their families, in the case of Valerie Plame. As for "freedom," he tossed out habeas corpus, the Geneva Convention, and countless safeguards protecting our civil liberties. He approved warrant-free wiretapping on citizens, and condoned torture and secret "black" prisons where people could be interrogated and simply "disappear." Let's not forget Abu Ghraib, Osama bin Laden, Medicare, Afghanistan, Haliburton, all the special deals with powerful lobbyists, and all the outright lying to the American public.
Katrina? Blackwater? Global warming? Bush cut billions of dollars from health, education, and housing, while lowering taxes for the rich, and securing no-competition contracts for his cronies in Iraq and New Orleans. He created a privatized war, with an army of mercenaries accountable to no one. I almost forgot the environment, and how he junked regulations on carbon monoxide and other poisons in our air, water, and food, and virtually ignored recommendations from the scientific community. All in all, Bush created a climate of fear, secrecy, spin, and hubris.
Jim Holt, in a provocative piece in the London Review of Books, makes a convincing counter-argument. From the Bush-Cheney perspective, the war might not be a failure at all, if the goal was to take control of Iraq’s oil resources and its infrastructure. As quoted in an article in Vanity Fair, Holt states “The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest—including all yet to be discovered oil—under foreign corporate control for 30 years.”
A great deal for the multi-national corporations -- if not for the thousands of Americans and countless Iraqis who died since "Liberation."
Holt writes, "The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades—a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics—dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration—could scarcely have been more effective. The costs—a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws)—are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success."
Brian Eno and Nitin Sawhney, "Prophesy"
Nina Simone, "Ain't Got No..."
Naked City -- with Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Fred Frith and Wayne Horvitz --playing Ennio Morricone's "Once Upon a Time in America."
Friday, January 25, 2008
Fetsival participants believe pain pleases the gods, and the arduous journey to the temple comes after months of fasting and abstinence honoring the goddess Pavarthi for giving her son an invincible lance to destroy demons.
Compare it to our list here.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
According to ABC News, the company said Kervial "was responsible for basic futures hedging on European equity market indexes...That means he made bets on how the markets would perform at a future date." Bank chairman Daniel Bouton said Kerviel's motives were irrational, and the financial manipulations didn't earn him any money.
I'm no expert at bank robbing -- and I don't condone or encourage such felonious behavior -- but isn't robbing banks about getting the money? That's the trick, right? Otherwise, what's the point?
To give you some sense of scale, here is an actual photograph of a quarter of a billion dollars. Imagine twenty-eight times this much money, plus a little more. That's what we're talking about.
Robert Williams, American Artist, has been making strange surreal paintings and drawings for many years, back before he was in the Zap comics collective, even before his days illustrating beautiful, chrome-y hot rods for Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. Crazy hot rods I slavishly copied, by the way. Williams is a brilliant weirdo, and can be cranky and controversial, especially in his appraisal of the formal art scene, but he's always masterful in his eye-popping artwork and apparently driven to produce massive quantities with meticulous precision. Williams founded the influential "Juxtapoz" magazine, and formalized the burgeoning "Low Brow Art" movement.
Here is an old hot rod drawing by Williams. Wicked cool!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Heath Ledger, the actor found dead yesterday in New York City, recently gave an interview about his role in "I'm Not There," Todd Haynes kaleidoscopic bio-pic of Bob Dylan. Ledger was one of seven actors to play the mercurial singer, including Cate Blanchett, whose portrayal received an Academy Award nomination.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
This is some real down home blues from Texas bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins. They say he learned the blues from Blind Lemon Jefferson, and his older cousin Alger "Texas" Alexander, but he really learned it from life itself. Here he performs "Lonesome Road."
Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins (1912-1982)
Here's the "New Christian Science Textbook" from Matt Bors. Click to enlarge and study.
Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion –- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven.
~ Mark Twain
Three quarters of the American population literally believe in religious miracles. The numbers who believe in the devil, in resurrection, in God doing this and that — it’s astonishing. These numbers aren’t duplicated anywhere else in the industrial world. You’d have to maybe go to mosques in Iran or do a poll among old ladies in Sicily to get numbers like this. Yet this is the American population.
~ Noam Chomsky
Monday, January 21, 2008
They must see us as strange liberators...What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones? -- MLK, at the Riverside Church, 1967
Another excerpt from the Riverside Church speech, 1967:
This is the other speech, the speech they won't be quoting all day long. It was April 4th, 1967, when King spoke at the Riverside Church in New York City and delivered a fiery sermon about America and Vietnam. It is a powerful call to conscience during a time of war.
The full text can be found here.
"Fight the Power," by Public Enemy
Sunday, January 20, 2008
John Stewart of the Kingston Trio just died at the age of 68. The Kingston Trio seems dated now, like something out of folk music spoof "A Mighty Wind," and even back then hardcore folkies considered them inauthentic and "commercial," but they brought folk to the masses after The Weavers got blacklisted in the anti-communist scare, and long before Joan Baez showed up barefoot, with Dylan in the wings.
The Kingston Trio were clean-cut Americans with striped shirts and collegiate looks, not cafe beatniks by any means, but they somehow got America singing about murderer Tom Dooley. Barely out of diapers, I sang along, too, and also sang "Scotch and Soda," so I guess these guys had me singing about murder and booze long before grade school. How cool is that? John Stewart wasn't even an original member -- he replaced Dave Guard when the band was exploring new directions, covering songs like Woody Guthrie's "Deportees," and the Irish rebel song "The Patriot Game." Stewart also wrote the Monkee's hit "Daydream Believer." So long, John!
John Stewart is on the left.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
This is below us, I thought. This blog is about art and culture and music, and shouldn't stoop to celebrity gossip like the rest of the media. Honestly, I don't give a rat's ass about Tom Cruise or Scientology -- on the other hand, I don't want to take cheap shots at what might be a genuine spiritual search for meaning. This new video raises some questions. First and foremost, what the hell is he talking about? Fortunately, this article provides a glossary of terms and helps answer those questions. Click here for some clues to Cruise.
Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin were pretty cool, admit it. Yes, it's kind of silly, but a new box set compiles the old episodes. With these guys -- and Get Smart, Our Man Flint, and various other Bond-inspired spy parodies, who really needs Austin Powers? Riddle me that, Batman.
Friday, January 18, 2008
These bleak winter months in the Northwest I can't help think of travel -- trips I've taken, trips I plan to take -- and space travel comes to mind. "UFOs at the Zoo" is a record of space travelers, in a sense, but not the high-and-tight NASA jocks manning deathstars -- more like space gypsies. Here is a clip of a documentary about the Flaming Lips, which I got for my birthday.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
The radio was a piece of crap, and I fiddled with the controls and adjusted the antenna and scanned past the usual heartbreaking Norteno laments, wedding polkas, the off-key brass of mariachis, until I finally found something familiar - faint at first, then louder, coming across the Gulf from some mega-tower in Louisiana. I can't convey the feeling, sitting there alone at the kitchen table in the middle of the night. It wasn't exactly homesickness, and it wasn't sadness, but more like a feeling of distance. Great distance, and time. The song played clearly and faded away. Van Morrison, Into the Mystic.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
American Idol? Puh-lease. Mariah Carey has greater range, and Jessica Simpson is MTV-cute and sells more records, but Edith Piaf has soul. Here she performs La Vie En Rose in 1954. It's her most famous song, describing the happiness she had with her lover, the boxer Marcel Cerdon. Cerdon died in a plane crash in 1949 while flying from New York to meet her in Paris. Piaf's life was tragic from the start, and she found solace in music and narcotics. She was discovered by a nightclub owner in the Pigalle area of Paris, in 1935, while busking in the streets.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I'm Not There
The Lives of Others
No Country for Old Men
This Divided State
Still planning to see...
There Will Be Blood
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Grindhouse (in one piece)
Into the Wild
Monday, January 14, 2008
This story will have wine merchants and advertisers jumping for joy -- but wine snobs will either confess ignorance (not very likely) or scramble for rationalization. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and Stanford's business school have linked the enjoyment people experience drinking wine directly to the price tag. That proved to be the case, even when drinkers were unaware it was exactly the same Cabernet with drastically different price tags. We're talking pleasure centers of the brain here, not just the subjective blather we've learned to ignore from wine snobs. So keep buying your two-buck Chuck, but if you really want a great wine slap a high price tag on it. Me, I'll have the ninety-buck Chuck.
For more about the study, click here.
Rolling In At Twilight
Rolling in at twilight -- Newport Oregon --
cool of september ocean air, I
saw Phil Whalen with a load of groceries
walking through a dirt lot full
of logging trucks, cats
looking at the ground.
I yelld as the bus wheeld by
but he kept looking down.
ten minutes later with my books and pack
knockt at his door
"Thought you might be on that bus"
he said, and
showed me all the food.
For audio interview with Gary Snyder, 1991, by Don Swaim, follow link:
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Doc Watson and Leo Kottke
Jorma Kaukonen, Jefferson Airplane induction to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Embrionic Journey"
Jimi Hendrix plays 12-string acoustic blues, "Here My Train a-coming"
Friday, January 11, 2008
This grilled octopus with fennel, green sauce and chickpea puree may look strange to you, but it tastes fantastic. I ate it last night for my birthday, at a wonderful Northern Italian restaurant, Cafe Juanita. The grilled octopus began a perfect meal (actually, the Grey Goose martini kicked things off nicely) and joined the other antipasti from the sea, bacala -- salt cod fritti -- with a caper maionese. Delicate, lightly done. The prima piatta was goat cheese gnocchi with Lamb Sugo. Amazing. For the main course, my girlfriend Wendy ordered the Roasted Duck with Peccorino Romano and pomegranate seeds, which was perfect. I had the cinghiale - Wild Boar braised in organic local milk -- with a "Ligurian Silk Handkerchief" - a delicate sheet of homemade pasta. This was food elevated to the high level of art. Everything was perfect.
Yes, an extravagant meal -- a birthday feast -- and it might puzzle the meat-and-potaoes types, or offend those thoughtful vegetarians and vegans who sneer as I pass by. With all due respect, to hell with them. This is life!
To finish, we had a Pralus Chocolate Souflee with Crema Inglese, and a couple liqueur glasses of Limoncello. Ahhhhh.
Gourmet Magazine ranked Cafe Juanita among the fifty best restaurants in the country, and I can see why. It was definitely worth the drive to the Eastside.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
A current favorite is the hilarious Sundance Channel series, Slings and Arrows, about the behind-the-scenes life of a Shakespeare Festival. Cast and crew struggle to produce plays as the theater runs out of money. Witty dialog and great acting by all, especially Paul Gross, Martha Burns, Mark McKinney, and Stephen Ouimette. A great meditation on art and the marketplace, replete with laughs. Available on DVD.
Every year, I try to get to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to see some plays, and I bet backstage life is not unlike this series. The whole town of Ashland is given to Shakespeare those summer months, with Elizabethan pennants snapping in the breeze as you rush to dinner and plays and have a great time. I can be found at the beautiful outdoor theater modeled after the Globe, or feeding the ducks in Lithia Park, or soaking up ale with Falstaff over at the Black Sheep Pub. I highly recommend a trip.
An NPR interview with castmembers Gross and Burns. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12144988
The Prisoner was a secret agent show like no other. A secret agent (Patrick McGoohan) is abducted and imprisoned in a weird resort where the keepers are intent on breaking him, and he is equally intent on escaping.
"I am not a number," he repeatedly declares, "I am a free man!"
Like Josef K. in The Trial, the prisoner is kept in the dark and never learns the charges against him. The state has all power, and he must simply submit. In the 1960s, this theme resonated with a great many people who grappled with such issues, in one form or another, but it may seem a bit dated to conformists of today. After all, why not go along to get along? Equal parts Kafka and LSD-infused Pop style, this show is a long, strange, rewarding trip.
Be seeing you!
Patrick McGoohan is Number 6 in the Prisoner.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
January 8th is a big day for birthdays. Not only is it Elvis Presley's, it's also the birthday of David Bowie, and Robbie Krieger, guitar player of the Doors. It's the birthday of Shirley Bassey, who sang the theme from "Goldfinger," Dave Eggers, American writer, rapper R. Kelly, cranky chef Gordon Ramsey, comedian Soupy Sales, New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno, actress Butterfly McQueen, Mary Queen of Scotts, and Little Anthony. My birthday isn't for a couple days yet, but I've requested a medley from Little Anthony and the Imperials.
Monday, January 7, 2008
"Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard."
Read the article in its entirety on this link:
Are you looking for something? How about something dark, swampy, eerie, a wicked messenger that stinks of diesel fumes and a deep fryer? Something way down south? Something pentecostal with a little Elvis and a little Easy Rider? Don't go there. Stay home. Some strange scenes from Jim White and Andrew Douglas' weirdly disturbing travelogue "Searching for the Wrong-eyed Jesus."
Teaserama! This cheesy movie trailer advertises a burlesque film from 1955. Innocent by today's standards, this "shocker" contains several famous striptease queens of that bygone era, including Tempest Storm and Bettie Page. Perhaps as a reaction against an all-out, no-holds-barred porn industry that leaves little to the imagination, burlesque is enjoying a resurgent popularity! Called Neo-Burlesque, or New Burlesque these days, the emphasis is on naughty and humorous rather then raw sex.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Harold Pinter, famous English playwright, is still very much alive. Pinter's plays often feature characters struggling for verbal dominance, and dialog marked with theatrical pauses and silences -- nicknamed "Pinter pauses." Pinter might appreciate this fractured announcement.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
Some guy had a brilliant idea -- film all the crazy hippie runaway kids flooding the Haight and make a ton of money selling it to the curious squares! Why not? There were already tour buses jammed full of gawkers, why not some cheesy weirdo lava lamp psychedelic "trip" for the grindhouse? That's a very young Jack Nicholson, who acted in a lot of similar Roger Corman flicks, and Bruce Dern in a frightwig. This was the tipping point, a subculture on the verge of being packaged and sold by waterbed entrepreneurs with pencil-thin mustaches.
This clip reminds me of the Psychedelic Supermarket, a little rundown shop where I bought a blacklight poster and a teardrop-shaped peace amulet on a cheap leather string. It was lame, but to a sixth grader it seemed pretty cool. Squinting at the brilliant Day-glo posters, I literally stumbled into a dark backroom that looked like a sultan's tent with parachute silk ceilings and oriental rugs, and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I saw faint images of hippies sprawled out on beanbag chairs. A pretty girl in a headband swayed to the music, undulating to trippy psychedelica, maybe the Electric Prunes, and there was a whiff of strawberry incense in the room, and the slightly acrid smell of burning leaves. I probably got a contact high just standing there. I was dumbstruck. The baseball team would never believe this. I felt like Toby Tyler, first discovering the circus. There was no turning back now. PSYCH OUT! PSYCH OUT!!!!
The book starts with Picasso's trip to Italy in the spring of 1917 in the company of Jean Cocteau, Sergei Diaghilev, and Léonide Massine, three of his four collaborators on the ballet Parade that they were then planning. Erik Satie, the composer of Parade, stayed home in Paris, but Igor Stravinsky joined the group in Rome and swiftly became close friends with Picasso. Stravinsky and Picasso studied the Sistine Chapel and the museums of Rome, and with Massine and Cocteau explored the ruins of Pompei and Herculaneum. In Rome they went to the puppet theater, and in Naples they attended performances of commedia dell'arte, experiences that not only helped shape Parade but later directly inspired the ballet Pulcinella which Stravinsky, Massine, and Picasso created in 1920.
A clip from the documentary "Le Mystère Picasso", produced and directed by H. G. Clouzot. France 1956.