Tuesday, February 07, 2006:

grand guignol and custard pie

The Clash -- (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais
The Clash -- Drug-Stabbing Time
The Clash -- London Calling
I love The Clash, but it's probably the kind of love felt only if you have some bit of simmering rage left unaddressed.... It's tuneful punk, and of course they're known for their punk/reggae bridge, which you can get a taste of on "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" here, from their U.S. version of The Clash.

"Drug-Stabbing Time" is a grittier track than "Hammersmith": distorted guitar and a brisker pace, with somewhat hoarse vocals and a saxophone that comes thundering over the hill like the lone horseman of the apocalypse, no others present or necessary.

I remember the first time I heard "London Calling"--the guitar and drums followed by those first few notes of the bassline skidding in, and suddenly I knew that there was some great music on deck. First hearing that LP reminded me of first digging into the Beatles catalogue, buying CDs my parents didn't have, finding plenty of songs I knew by heart mixed in with others that I'd never heard before but that were just as good. The CD London Calling is a great CD in general but particularly great for long drives: you'll be crooning, yelping, head-bobbing, banging the steering wheel.

These three tracks are from their first, uh, four LPs, I guess, if you count the UK and US versions as separate. I'll probably post some Clash again, from the other three; they have good tracks buried on them, though they're not generally held in as high regard.
[The Clash (U.S. version)]
[Give 'Em Enough Rope]
[London Calling]

... some films:
La Sentinelle: Either this film is very intelligent or I am very dense, but much of the plot seemed not to follow from what had already been established, with increasingly distancing effect over the course of the film. I can handle a few cases of "why did that happen? that's odd" but by the end, the film gave me a serious case of WTF which resolved itself into "WTF-ever."

Night of the Iguana. Right. Huston is usually a good director, but the boxing scene was silly and the story in general struck me as weak. As for the cast, it's got Richard Burton playing Richard Burton in a frock, in extended rehearsal for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, in which he plays Richard Burton with pockmarks. Instead of seeing the story, I kept seeing Tennessee Williams, talking to himself:
So he goes past the hotel. Why? He doesn't want her to get that telegram. Also, there's another hotel, more isolated, where an old flame is. Why is she there? She's visiting. So how does he know she's there? No, no, you're right, that's wrong--she runs the hotel. Yeah, she runs it. This'll provide a neat ending. Okay, but then she must be very busy. Uh, no, no, it's off-season. Ah. So why does she take him in? She cares for him still. So the story becomes a simple romance. No, she takes the others in too; it will provide some additional conflict. So she's a doormat? No, she's ... she's brusque, gruff, at heart a softie, but afraid of being hurt again. Okay. Who else works there? A cook. He sleeps a lot. And who else? Two handsome young shirtless Mexicans. What do they do? They dance around and shake maracas. What else? That's all. They must have personalities, regrets, ambitions.... No, they just dance around and shake maracas. Sometimes they put them down, for instance if dancing on the beach seducing the hostess or if chasing an iguana and not dancing. I see. Don't worry about it; no one will be thinking about what they're doing there, or not doing. Okay.... So what happens? Well, by the end he's no longer interested in little girls. So miracles do occur. Sometimes, if you're a defrocked minister.

Promises: Wow. Take half a dozen children living in and around Jerusalem, both Muslim and Jew, with differing levels of faith, interview them and follow them through their daily lives in dangerous surroundings--watch them at school, in sports events, hanging out ... introduce them to each other and watch them trying to feel their way through the treacherous intractable politics. I thought it was truly a wonderful film, not because of the political history but because of the voices of the children--certain, doubtful, thoughtful, flippant, patient, exasperated--each of them explaining, in their own way, what the conflict has cost them: a brother, a father, a constant needling fear. And it was a very nice and much-needed, though maybe unintended, bit of counterpoint at the end with Faraj, stateside, working in a Wal-Mart dealing with customers annoyed by the unavailability of stick pretzels. After the laughter died down I was wondering "and how much different am I from that, really? Didn't I, just a few days ago, post some trivial complaints based on relative comfort and wealth?"

... some politics:
The President has seen National Treasure, so he's heard about the Constitution; if he noticed any mention of the Bill of Rights, it really doesn't matter. It is his Divine Right to spy; after all, he's constantly talking to God and God is, uncustomarily, talking back. Besides, it's A Different World After 9/11: the U.S. intelligence community needs more things to know about and ignore, like people learning to fly planes and not bothering to learn to land them, which is obviously not a Big Red Flag. No, the intelligence community, intelligently, recognizes that the real threat is in breastfeeding mothers, war protestors, people who get off on anthropomorphic animals, people downloading movies rather than buying them in the subway, and anyone who happens to talk to any of those people. Luckily this includes most of the world, insuring the necessity of information-gathering (whether to ignore it or to act on it in violation of Constitutional law) for decades to come.

The shift in focus is part of that oft-touted ideal of small government, which means that Bush and Cheney can continue cutting public services, subcontracting them to companies headed by close personal friends so they can deliver fewer services more inefficiently, racking up private profit through the generosity of tax breaks provided by a public laid out over a barrel. And then complain about the lack of funds for public services, and claim the only solution is more contracting and more tax breaks. Which is not incongruent with one definition of insanity.


I'm having some computer troubles here: a borked video card making every page, document, and image look a bit like timid abstract art. More posts later. Or shorter posts sooner.

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Brought to you by the same creative team that brought you Saving Private Lynch and Spontaneous Government-Assisted Statue Removal, it's Big Brother Is Your Friend: We Know What We're Doing, and We're Doing It All for You, So Quit Complaining Already.

Hey, I love Night of the Iguana. Deborah Kerr was great in it! You thought the story was weak, but I believed that she effected a positive change in Richard Burton's character. I guess I'm just soft at heart (or in the head).

Don't mind me, Jon, I'm just a cynic.

I had your site open a couple of days ago and then I crashed my computer and forgot all about it. Checking it out now.

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