Dedicated to classics and hits.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

19th century American author Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening, a kind of American version of Madame Bovary.

Book Review
The Awakening
by Kate Chopin
p. 1899

  The Awakening by Kate Chopin is often called the American Madame Bovary.  That makes her the fourth and last of the national Bovaries.  Let's see- you've got the original by Flaubert, the Russian Anna Karenina by Tolstoy and the German Effi Briest.  Although The Awakening is the only book of the four to be written by an actual woman there is nothing about it that marks off the presence of a female authorial voice.  The Madame Bovary of the awakening is Edna Pontellier, a bored New Orleans house wife of a wealthy Creole stock market guy.  Edna is unhappy, but she doesn't know why, oh, it must be her husband whom she decides that she no longer loves.

 It is impossible to read any of the quartet of national Bovary novels without reflecting on my own experience.  I have heard the words of Bovary/Karenina/Briest/Pontellier from the mouth of my own wife, and I've been through the marriage therapy sessions that these women lacked, so I am intimately familiar with the thought process that leads a woman from a "happy" marriage to an "unhappy" marriage without any assistance from a disrespectful or malevolent husband.  That is something that all of these protagonist's share in common:  A husband who doesn't "do" anything to merit abandonment.

After reading all four novels I am left with the abiding conviction that all four husbands make the same mistake of treating their wives with respect.  It seems like if all four of these characters had been treated with a bit less respect, they might have stayed married.  Perhaps they would have been unhappy, but they all seem to be pretty unhappy post separation as well, so it hardly seems like an unfair swap.

Guide to 19th Century American Literature

Book Review: The Awakening by Kate Chopin ,1899,  9/26/13
Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 1885, 10/15/13
Book Review: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James ,1880 , 7/16/13
Book Review; Ben Hur by Lew Wallace,1880  6/13/13
Book Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott,1869, 3/9/13
Book Review: The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne 1860, 9/19/12
Book Review: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1852, 9/12/12
Book Review: The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne,1851, 5/30/12
Book Review: Moby Dick by Herman Melville 1851, 8/27/12
Book Review: The House of the Seven Gables,1851,  6/21/12
Book Review: The Pit and The Pendulum  1842, 3/28/12
Book Review: The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe, 1844, 3/27/12
Book Review: The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, 1839, 3/20/12
Book Review: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, 1826, 6/18/12

Show Review: Burger Records Caravan of Stars f. Gap Dream & Curtis Harding

This is Curtis Harding.  His performance last night at the Burgerama Burger Recods Caravan of Stars Tour (San Diego stop) was worth talking about.

Show Review:
 Burgerama Burger Records Caravan of Stars Tour f.
 Gap Dream & Curtis Harding
Black Cat Bar San Diego

  Being a firm believer in the principle of "conservation of energy,"  I look at the feverish activity of Fullerton based, Sony distributed,  Burger Records with a mixture of envy and horror.  Burger Records: Hangin' w James Franco!  Filming Youtube Documentaries!  Organizing a 30 city US Tour with a bunch of bands w <100k .="" andd....="" fm="" it.="" last="" lp="" nbsp="" on="" one="" out="" p="" plays="" put="" s="" that="" this="" year="">
 I would never dream of trying to match their activity level, the music industry operates in terms of decades and no one remembers the stuff you do that doesn't come off.  At the same time, I'm trying to keep up with the Burger Boys, at least in terms of picking spots to go see the bands they are working with and the shows they are booking in San Diego.

 Last night was a doubly appealing opportunity because it was at a previously unfrequented venue, Black Cat Bar in San Diego.  Black Cat is located off the 15 on University Avenue, in sight of the freeway entrance, essentially.  Black Cat bar has a smallish stage in the corner.  It's not a bad venue, with the exception of the two standard size pool tables that crowd the space where a larger audience would stand.  It wasn't a problem last night, and I'm assuming that pool playing Audience must be important to them if they have not one but two pool tables, but it would be a reason NOT to have a larger Audience show at this venue.

  But last night it was perfect for the 50-100 people who showed up for the San Diego edition of the wide-ranged Burgerama 2013 Burger Records Caravan of Stars Tour Burger.  I happen to be a fan of the original Carvan of Stars Tour, which was booked by Dick Clark, so I see what Burger is trying to do there and I appreciate it.

 The stand out performer last night was Curtis Harding, an African American from Atlanta who combines some real vocal "chops" with a standard ish garage rock line up.  But that voice is enough to make the well seasoned listener stop whatever they are doing and watch the performance.  If Burger does indeed have an LP and not just a 7" they have a potential break-out star on their hands.  If they do not have the Curtis Harding LP someone should snap that up right quick.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Law of the Border (1966) d. Lüfti Ö. Akad

Pervin Par plays the school teacher Ayse in The Law of the Border (d.  Lüfti Ö. Akad

Movie Review
The Law of the Border (1966)
 d. Lüfti Ö. Akad
World Cinema Foundation
Available on Hulu Plus Criterion Collection Channel

  And sometimes I watch a Turkish cowboys and indians type movie from 1966 that aren't actually in the Criterion Collection because I'm like "How many Turkish films can be on the Criterion Collection channel but not actually in the Criterion Collection proper?"  The answer is, "This movie."  It is OK though because this is actually a really interesting movie about life on the Turkish....Iraqi? Syrian?  It says "south east Turkey" on the World Cinema Foundation product page.

  I dunno it's cool.  The World Cinema Foundation page says this film inaugurated the era of New Turkish Cinema and it is clear that there is some influence of, what else, French New Wave.  It reminded me of a Pepe Le Moko.  The story revolves around a group of rough neck smugglers who try to do good but are "pulled back into it" in familiar fashion.  The performances are raw and edgy, and the actors are dirty.  It's very real, until you get to the climatic gun battle, at which point The Law of the Border turns into a shoot em up western.

 The restoration back story for The Law of the Border is pretty interesting.  Supposedly all copies of the film were "seized and destroyed" in the 1980 Turkish coup d'etat.  I can see why they did it.  The film is pretty sympathetic to the smuggler/anti-hero characters.  I guess you would call it subversive if you were a Turkish General.

Show Review: HAIM @ The Casbah San Diego

Show Review
@ The Casbah San Diego

   I'm fully cognizant of the downside to operating out of a secondary market.  San Diego is essentially the southern most outpost of the "Greater Los Angeles" media market that itself encompasses multiple top 20 markets in the United States:

1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA MSA: 9,377,938
11. Riverside-San Bernardino, CA. MSA: 3,108,211
14.  San Diego, CA MSA: 2,798,201
15. Orange County, CA. MSA: 2,735,375

  We are talking like 20 million people, and San Diego has about two and a half million of those people, making it basically one tenth of the second largest "Greater MSA" in the United States (behind NYC, which includes portions of multiple states.)  That means if you look at the music emerging out of San Diego sized market, it will be uneven.  There will be ups and downs, there will be bands that 'get out' and bands that never do.  In the mean time, the geographic location of San Diego proximate to Los Angeles ensures that there will always be a steady stream of the latest n greatest new thing, because all those new things have to go through Los Angeles, and a heft percentage of acts that play Los Angeles will play San Diego.

 And so I found myself at the sold out (two months ago) HAIM show at the Casbah.  Like XX, they are a band I don't like, but it seems like an obvious choice to see them at a Casbah sized venue if only to relieve oneself from the need of ever seeing them again in a larger sized venue.  The ongoing triumph of HAIM, whose debut record is out now on Columbia Records, is a mixture of savvy production and even savvier marketing.  In fact, if they gave out Grammy awards for the marketing of a new artist, I would call Columbia Records/HAIM the winner this year.

 I was shocked at how old the crowd skewed. I was expecting something similar to the group that showed up for the Disclosure set but instead it was more librarians, Moms and even Grandmas.  And their dates.  And a few rabid male super fans.

 Expecting something along the lines of a synth washed/drum pad playing/70s gauzy dream rock experience, HAIM instead played with a live drummer and presented like a fairly conventional trad indie four some who just happens to write top 40 hits.  Live, the hookiness prevails but the slick production does not, leading me to ask whether this band is destined for main stage Coachella performances and arena rock slots or WHAT.  Don't get me wrong- they do their thing and their fans fucking love it, but one would expect the extraordinarily slick production choices to carry through to the live set.  After all, savvy professionalism under a haze of phantasmal innocence is what HAIM is all about, right?

Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956) d. Hiroshi Inagaki

Toshiro Mifune

Movie Review
Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)
d. Hiroshi Inagaki
Criterion Collection #16

 I am relieved to have completed my viewing of Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai trilogy because it was the biggest remaining gap in the first 20 Criterion Collection titles.  Only two titles in the first 20 remain unseen: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom and A Night To Remember. I may end up buying Salo because let me tell you: you can not rent that shit on Amazon streaming video.  A Night To Remember is available on streaming video so I'll probably knock that out.  It's about... the Titanic and it was released in 1957? Looking forward to it.  I've also decided to go back and rewatch some of the classics that I haven't seen in some time: 400 Blows (on cassette during college in the film library?), The Seventh Seal (Netflix on disc?), maybe Sid & Nancy.  I'm not sure I'm going to watch Sid & Nancy again.

 In the thundering conclusion to the Samurai trilogy, famed Samurai Musashi Miyamoto continues his wanderings, and eventually gets around to killing his main rival, Kojiro Sasaki, during guessed it; island duel.  In between he kinda saves a village from bandits, actually he fails to save the village but helps the villagers drive off the bandits.  He finally agrees to marry Otsu and Otsu's rival Akemi betrays him and then dies.  It is, as they say, a rollicking good time, and I have to admit that for this episode I was emotionally invested in Miyamoto, even though the title gave me a pretty good idea about where the plot was headed.
Koji Tsurata as Kojiro Sasaki

  Toshiro Mifune is again iconic as Musashi Miyamoto, and the third film really shows off Koji Tsurata as the rival samurai Kojiro Sasaki.  I wouldn't say that the Samurai trilogy whetted my appetite for more Samurai movies, and oh by the way Hulu Plus has a shit ton, and not all of them are Criterion Collection titles either; but I do feel like I have a deeper appreciation for this chapter in cinema history.

 There aren't really any contemporary Samurai films (The last Samurai?) so it's not the same situation as with Kung Fu films.  Why did the Samurai movie go extinct?  A question for another day I suppose.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This Week in NYC, LA & SD: ZM CMJ Party, HAIM, Disclosure, Festival Supreme & Widowspeak

"HAIM: Hair" I swear to god HAIM weas standing in front of me at the Disclosure show last night.

This Week in NYC, LA & SD:

Saturday October 19th, 2013

Zoo Music CMJ Party f.
Dream Boys
Bleeding Rainbow
Punks on Mars
@ Passenger Bar in Brooklyn NYC

   Big ZM/AF/IMPOSE CMJ part on Saturday night.  If you are in NYC and one of my regular readers who isn't already going, you should def. consider checking out Dream Boys, if not every other band, but Dream Boys should be a revelation to the uniniatied, and their record on Art Fag is aces.

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Casbah San Diego

The Void San Diego

   I am deeply ambivalent about tonight's options but I don't actually have a ticket to HAIM.  I'm working on it.  I will let you know how it works out.

Wednedsay, October 16th, 2013
Friday, October 18th, 2013

Disclosure (SOLD OUT)
House of Blues San Diego

Fonda Theater Los Angeles

   Make sure you come ready to dance to this show, because they aren't really a band to watch, in a very literal sense.

Saturday October 19th, 2013

The Mighty Boosh at the Festival Supreme this Saturday, October 19th at the Santa Monica Pier.

 Festival Supreme f.
Tim & Eric
The Mighty Boosh
The Mr. Show Experience
Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles, CA.

  I have my fingers crossed on this one, but Mama needs to see The Mighty Boosh, let alone Tim & Eric.  Let alone The Mr. Show Experience.

Show Review: Disclosure in the Hotel Lobby of the W San Diego

This is Disclosure "performing" at a UK Festival.

Show Review:
in the Hotel Lobby of the W San Diego

  Disclosure, in town for a couple days before their sold-out gig at the House of Blues San Diego on Wednesday, took the stage at the W San Diego with all the swagger and majesty of a rock band.  The one who isn't wearing sunglasses in the photograph above was actually wearing a guitar.  They had microphones for singing/talking, and stood before an array of impressive looking keyboard/synth type apparatus.   Watching from the hotel lobby downstairs (which itself requires a wrist band or room key, Disclosure appeared to be performing in a style that they believed would appeal to "rock" Audiences in the United States.  A guitar, ok?

  And then, two songs in, disaster-  a sudden flash of LED lights and poof, the entire set vanished into thin air, all at the same time.  Darkness.  A five minute pause, and then again: The LED lights, a syncopated 4x4 beat and the beginnings of vocals and keyboard licks.  But not, another flash, and Disclosure as a "live" band was done for the night.

 So what did they do?  They DJed the W Hotel San Diego lobby from the DJ sconce situated above the "Library" bar.  And it sounded exactly the same.  Exactly the same.  I can only guess about what was live and what was Memorex in their initial set up but the answer has to be "a whole lot of it."  Not that this bothers me in any way.  Sitting in the lobby of the W Hotel San Diego lobby last night watching Disclosure "perform" I was struck by the idea that in some way, the Audience actually is the Artist, in the same way that he people who like something on Facebook are that something.

  Using that type of analysis, the performance is essentially meaningless is the Artist-Audience brings a good time without needing any kind of stagey performance type bullshit from the Artist.  This kind of Artist-Audience is at the heart of the concurrent rise of EDM, where the "Artist" is essentially a conductor, urging the Artist-Audience onward in paroxysms of Dionysian delight. If you look at this Artist-Audience from a rhetorical standpoint, the Artist-conductor is doing a superb job of communication with the Audience-symphony because of the emotional response they elicit.

 I have a simply philosophy when it comes to deciding how much bullshit I am willing to put up with to see new music.  "Is it something young women like?"  Excluding most top 40 and "screamo" style bands.  Young women have been important taste makers since the dawning of what Jon Savage called "the teen age" half a century ago. As young people move away from male dominated critical hierarchies (print publications) as sources for developing their personal aesthetics, the power of young women increases because men are at as great a disadvantage using newer micro medias as women were at using older mass media.

  So ultimately if these young women love Disclosure, and they do, who gives a fuck about what some Male critic thinks about their "authenticity" as live performers.  And why the fuck does Disclosure think they have to do something like that to gain an Audience?  Their Audience doesn't care at all.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Mark Twain looks alot like Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.
Book Review
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
 by Mark Twain
p. 1885

Guide to 19th Century American Literature

Book Review: The Awakening by Kate Chopin ,1899,  9/26/13
Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 1885, 10/15/13
Book Review: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James ,1880 , 7/16/13
Book Review; Ben Hur by Lew Wallace,1880  6/13/13
Book Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott,1869, 3/9/13
Book Review: The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne 1860, 9/19/12
Book Review: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1852, 9/12/12
Book Review: The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne,1851, 5/30/12
Book Review: Moby Dick by Herman Melville 1851, 8/27/12
Book Review: The House of the Seven Gables,1851,  6/21/12
Book Review: The Pit and The Pendulum  1842, 3/28/12
Book Review: The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe, 1844, 3/27/12
Book Review: The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, 1839, 3/20/12
Book Review: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, 1826, 6/18/12

  I was startled to discovery that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published a full 30 years after the Civil War ended.  Huckleberry Finn depicts the antebellum near south (Arkansas and southern Ohio figure prominently in the river driven plot.)  I won't say that Twain was nostalgic for that time and place, since the pages of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are chock full of unflattering characteristics of the people of that period, but when you consider that this book was published the same year as Germinal by Zola, it's hard not to see Twain as a huge outlier on the fringes of contemporary (in the 1880s) literature.

  I don't think I'm being controversial by saying that Twain is much, much more important inside America then outside. Growing up I had the impression was a major literary figure world wide, but I believe I was mistaken.  Hell, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer didn't even make the list of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.  Seems like they should include both or neither, since Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to Tom Sawyer.

  In the final summation it is the American-ness of Huckleberry Finn that strikes me.  Other then Uncle Tom's Cabin, major American novelists of the mid/late 19th century like Hawthorne and Henry James are American only in that they have American characters and settings- their work is strictly within the confines of the English Novel.  Twain, with his use of argot and especially with his use of humor, is something different, a naturally American novelist writing outside the constraints of the literary mainstream of the time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ordet (1955) d. Carl Th. Dreyer

Movie Reviews
Ordet (1955)
 d. Carl Th. Dreyer
Criterion Collection #126

  It's funny, but because I'm a criminal defense lawyer I can't watch television shows about crime.  I think I'm in much the same situation now with music, I don't actually relax by listening to music- don't even own a stereo actually.  I listen to music when I drive and when I run, and occasionally at the office, but I'm not kicking back with a brewski and putting on the latest LP on my turntable.  I think that's why I'm so into movies and novels right now, it helps me think about art without having to worry about the business issue that creep into any pure attempt to appreciate music as art.  So I'll often think about music or art while watching movies or reading novels- I find it to be a really useful exercise to focus on good examples of the art form, rather then filling my mind with useless garbage- which I don't mind- or didn't mind.

  Ordet is yet another good example of a movie I would never have seen without the COMBINATION of Criterion Collection and Hulu Plus but I'm telling you I am FEELING the Northern European cinema of Germany, Denmark and Sweden. I've liked every single one I've come across, and I feel like the Denmark/Sweden access is the opposite of the Japanese films: I shouldn't like them but I do.  Maybe because they are so g-d somber, and death obsessed, and because a Danish filmmaker working in 1955 can drop a casual Soren Kierkegaard reference into a film set in rural Denmark in 1925.  As one does.

  There is no way to describe Ordet that makes it sound appealing- I think it's so funny when I read other Criterion Collection focused blogs and they have these lengthy plot descriptions or in depth analysis of the film makers- um HELLO- the Criterion Collection itself does that for every single film.  If you're going to write about the Criterion Collection the focus needs to be on the COLLECTION not the individual films- they are just little pieces of this grand canonization of film that is truly unmatched- certainly in terms of the international scope of it.

  But man I LOVED Ordet- and I really dig Dreyer- he makes me want to go to Denmark: between current bands like Iceage and The Ravonettes, the history of existentialism, the movies- all of it   Ordet has a crazy ass ending that really gives the feature some oomph- which it needs because the plot elements are: A wealthy farmer, religious faith, a difficult child birth and a son who thinks he is Jesus Christ.  Did I mention is set in rural Denmark in 1925?  But it all comes together and the end left my jaw on the floor. And I watched the entire film in delight.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (2011) d. Andrei Ujică

It all ended in tears for Nicolae Ceausescu

Movie Review
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (2011)
d. Andrei Ujică
Streaming on Netflix

  Assembled entirely out of "official" state footage, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu is a totally unique approach towards its subject, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.  I keep waiting for 20th century Eastern European Communist Dictatorships to become "hot" but maybe I am putting too much on the trend-industrial complex to expect a real revival.

   The only moments in the film that are anything less then officially scripted Communist Part propaganda are the beginning and the end, both of which show parts of the hastily thrown together "trial" that immediately preceded Ceausescu and his wife being shot.  In these scenes, Ceausescu and his wife look like they are being "tried" in a high school class room.  Both look elderly, feeble and disheveled.  This disconcerting scene segues into the funeral for Ceausescu's predecessor,
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej.  Ceausescu met Gehorghiu-Dej in a Fascist prison camp during World War II, where they were roommates.

  After he takes control it is a blur of two hours plus of world leaders visiting, Ceausescu visiting world leaders, speeches to his Congress andddd more meetings with world leaders.  Some scenes have sound, other scenes are silent. Notable highlights include Ceausescu railing against the Warsaw pact invasion of fellow Warsaw Pact state Czechoslavkia, and visit to China and the U.S. (Jimmy Carter bay bayyyy)

  Word of caution, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu is three hours long so make sure you have the time!

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