Dedicated to classics and hits.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Show Review: Dum Dum Girls, Blouse & Lube

Show Review:
Dum Dum Girls, Blouse & Lube
@ The Casbah

  I was surprised as I walked up to the Casbah at 915 PM that there was a) a line, down the block to get in- never seen that before. B) A 94/9 FLAG flying out front- I didn't know they had one of those and other then the usual Tim Pyles level support I am frankly unaware of 94/9 EVER taking an interest in Dum Dum Girls.   91x music director Robin Roth was perhaps less of a surprise given her legitimate roots in the San Diego local music scene but personally I think it is time for some major league alt rock stations to take up the gauntlet and start playing some Dum Dum Girls in regular rotation.  Sorry if I'm obsessed with commercial alt rock radio but I think I've got it figured out- you need to get to the point where you have a record that MIGHT reasonably be played on alt rock radio AND you need to be ready to come to town and play at cost for one of their radio shows (and sell tickets and be amenable.)  Is there something I'm missing here?  So who is it going to be then?

  Local opener LUBE are straight up the most exciting local San Diego band since the come up of Dum Dum Girls themselves, Crocodiles and Wavves.  I can't think of another act I've seen since then where I've felt they had a legitimate shot at getting out of San Diego.  True they are young- but they seem to have the proper level of commitment.  Last night they had a bassist- a competent to excellent basis and generally seemed to be channeling "early Sonic Youth" with brief appearances by Factory records/Bauhaus-y post-punk.  I mean they are so young, and have so much time, the mere fact that they aren't terrible and unwatchable is enough to get me excited, but they are a quality live act with above average songwriting and quality influences.

  Blouse played competent to excellent synthy rock.  They've got enough songwriting chops and a broad enough appeal so that some kind of breakthrough to a broader Audience seems in the cards.  The live show is far from their electronic roots- they now present like a rock band with a keyboard player vs. a synth act playing rock songs.  It's to their credit- the crowd was deffo into the sound.

   Dum Dum Girls took the stage in front of a heart illuminated with neon blue lights. The tour outfits are going to draw attention for real....not here though.  The crowd was pretty much strangers- other than the local alt rock radio luminaries and the full Casbah hierarchy there weren't more then 5-10 people who were around when the Dum Dum Girls WERE a local San Diego band (for about six months to be fair.)  I have 100% no problem with that- in fact it is a sure sign that Dum Dum Girls are making progress.   I mean not to be cynical about the underground and the core scene and DIY glory and all that stuff, but you either move on, fail to move on or never get the chance to move on at all- so...moving on is a key part of all three formulations.

  I'm just going to put out there that I think Dum Dum Girls are ready to the west coast alt rock radio show circuit. Middle of the bill for one of the late Summer radio jams?  I promise that this blog will go 100% in the tank for whichever local radio station makes the jump- I know, I know, that blog is but a tiny speck in the great whirl of infinity but I thought I would just put it out there.

  Anyway, from where I sit, Dum Dum Girls have clearly made the leap from "maybe" to "yes" in terms of securing themselves a viable future.  Sold out weeks in advance shows don't lie.


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Book Review: The Thirty-Nine Steps(1915) by John Buchan

Cool cover for the "book version" of The Thirty-Nine Steps

Book Review:
The Thirty-Nine Steps(1915)
 by John Buchan

  9/10 people who have heard of The Thirty-Nine Steps are thinking about Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film version.  John Buchan's novel is typically credited with being the first "true" spy novel in the way we understand it today, though any mention of that needs to also credit the 1903 novel The Riddle of the Sands by Irish author Robert Childers.  The Riddle of the Sands has many of the plot elements of the spy novel in place, specifically the discovery of a secret plan by Germans to invade England, but it is the The Thirty-Nine Steps, with its narrative of chase and retreat, that formalizes the conventional plot/stylistic elements of the spy novel as we know it today.

  The protagaonist, Richard Hannay is a self-described "colonial" from South Africa with training in mining.  He's a kind of early James Bond type. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Strait is the Gate( La Porte Étroite)(1909) by André Gide

Andre Gide

Book Review
Strait is the Gate( La Porte Étroite)
by André Gide

  Sometimes when you read Wikipedia pages they are amazingly concise with no extra details.  For example, the Wikipedia entry for this book has this to say:

The story is set in a French north coast town. Jerome and Alissa as 10-11 year olds make an implicit commitment of undying affection for each other. However, in reaction to her mother's infidelities and from an intense religious impression, Alissa develops a rejection of human love. Nevertheless, she is happy to enjoy Jerome's intellectual discussions and keeps him hanging on to her affection. Jerome thereby fails to recognise the real love of Alissa's sister Juliette who ends up making a fairly unsatisfactory marriage with someone else. Jerome believes he has a commitment of marriage from Alissa, but she gradually withdraws into greater religious intensity, rejects Jerome and refuses to see him. Eventually she dies from an unknown malady which is almost self-imposed. (WIKIPEDIA)
  AND THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS.  André Gide won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1947- he got four titles into the 1001 Books list- The Immoralist, The Counterfeiters and Fruits of the Earth.  Gide had a lengthy, prolific career- so much so that his author page on said Wikipedia is called a "partial" list of works- and even that has something like 50 titles listed- some novels, some non fiction.

  My best take on Strait is the Gate is that it represents an intermediate step between the 19th century bildungsroman and the 20th century existentialist love story, with strong elements that point in both directions.  The Penguin Classics edition is only 128 pages- making Stait is the Gate something close to a novella. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Museum Review: Agnès Varda in Californialand @ LACMA

Museum Review:
 Agnès Varda in Californialand
@ LACMA in the BROAD Museum
November 13th, 2013- June 22nd, 2014

  French filmmaker Agnès Varda is best known for two films she made decades apart: Cleo From 5 to 7(1962) and Vagabond(1985).  During her career she made dozens of other films, and spent two "brief but intense" spells in Southern California/California, to which this exhibit is devoted. During her time here she made at least one important documentary (on the Black Power/Black Panther party in Oakland, CA.)  She also made at least two unsuccessful features.

  The centerpiece of the exhibit is an installation of a house made out of film stock from one of her California era bombs. Called, My Shack of Cinema, it is literally a small house made out of shot film stock.  The walls have a collage from a "summer of love" type movie she shot, a collection of photos from her trips to Oakland to hang out with the Black Panthers, the hippies of Sausalito and street musicians of Los Angeles.

  Varda, as one of those film makers whose proximity to the epicenter of the French New Wave often results in her being lumped into that category incorrectly, has an interesting perspective on the recent history of cinema.  Because she has a perspective somewhat different then her better known peers, a museum exhibit makes more sense in the context of her better known films then I expected.

  At the same time, the level of studio art expertise brought to bear is just "ok."  It's nice to see a house made out of film stock, and a collage of photos from one of her movies, but they mostly shed light on Varda as an Artist vs. making some larger statement.  I would have gladly looked at several more walls worth of California photos, but limiting the size of the exhibit also makes sense.

 While I was there I also had a chance to check out the Fútbol: The Beautiful Game exhibit, also at the LACMA/Broad Museum (same floor as Varda in Californialand exhibit.) It's a museum exhibit about Soccer- interesting for sure- highlight is the video work Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, by the artists Philippe Parreno and Douglas Gordon.  Zidane consists of footage from 17 different cameras which remained trained on Zidane throughout the duration of a single game.  The long periods where he is simply standing around make for an interesting video/installation piece and make a trip to the exhibit worth while.

 It was also my first visit to the Broad Museum itself.  The outside stairway/escalator set up inevitably remind the viewer of the Centre Pomidou in central Paris- it's almost like a quotation of that building.  The interior is spacious- as you would exhibit from a museum whose "Permanent Collection" consists of a Richard Serra sculpture, a Chris Burden item and a Bruce Nauman video piece- AND END OF LIST. 

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