Monday, November 22, 2004

What did you see, hear, watch the past week that you loved, hated, were intrigued, or confused by? I wanna know. We all wanna know.

Film/Shocking Revelation--You'll never believe, but ancient Greek men had a love for the boys. Greeks today don't want to believe it. But a new Oliver Stone film dares to suggest that Greeks in the ancient days were not averse to some man-on-man sex. Who knew??
11:45 pm

The 10 Hippest Books
According to John Leland, author of "Hip: The History"
1. Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
2. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
3. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
4. The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
5. Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed
6. The Confidence-Man, Herman Melville
7. Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
9. Neuromancer, William Gibson
10. Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson
Darn, I think I've only read 2 of these, so I'm only 20% hip. I've read some of Leaves of Grass, so 25%. Other top 10 hip lists (hip music, hip films, and more) are the hip history website. Click on "essentials." An NPR story on Leland and his book is here.
--4:40 pm

Art begets Music begets Art
The Nation has a fabulous interview with Branford Marsalis about his musical homage to, and interest in, the art of Romare Bearden, on the occasion of Bearden's National Gallery showing in Washington. Over the New Year's holiday, I got to visit that show and his collage work especially is really fascinating. I don't know a damn thing about painting, but the imagery was haunting and breathtaking, and the juxtaposition of separate painted objects with their own identity reminded me of alot of music I listen to (especially Ornette Coleman) and have tried to write before, back when I did that kind of thing. There's Rothko-like attention to space and time, but the subject matter is cultural imagery and not (just) color.

Branford shows that he really is too smart and too cool to be tied down to Jay Leno. Here's an excerpt, tying his own musical evolution to truths he has learned from Bearden.
In the last five or ten years I've gravitated more to German classical music more than anything else, because composers like Brahms and Mahler have been able to illuminate the beauty of melancholy, even when they're writing in a major key. And Mahler has the double whammy of being Jewish, and Jewish music also has that beautiful sense of melancholy. It was only when I heard Uri Caine's Mahler record [Urlicht/Primal Light] that I realized how uniquely Jewish Mahler's music is. Even Wagner's crazy ass has that same thing, and there's Schubert and Schumann--particularly the lieder, simple melodies that are so melancholic and so beautiful. What the German composers and philosophers understood--and what Bearden also understood--is that one cannot be a complete human being without embracing the melancholy in oneself. Bearden had some rough times. He had a nervous breakdown, he stopped painting and started writing songs. He had a crisis of conscience. And then he got on the other side of it and said this is what I am.
In the same issue, Arthur Danto pays tribute to Bearden.
--2:45 pm

Ryan takes on the Ryman, take 2
Remember a couple years ago, Ryan Adams made national news by acting like a child at his Ryman Auditorium show in Nashville, barking at a patron and demanding he be thrown out for requesting a Brian Adams song? He was back over the weekend for the first time since the incident. The Tennessean offers a review here. Apparently, he behaved himself. The Article 19 staff didn't attend the concert, but managed to partake of the free food and beverages at the after-party, due to our considerable community status. Nothing says Americana like smoked salmon dip, Ryan. Nice work.
--1:15 pm

Film/Weekend Box Office
1. National Treasure
2. Spongebob
3. The Incredibles
4. The Polar Express (disappointment?)
5. Son of Bridget Jones

Music/Website--Best Beatles resource on the Web?
Check it out.

Music/CD--Rufus Wainright's Want Two is a pretty audacious recording. I have become a big fan of his song-writing, and the rich orchestrations and thick harmonies of Want One are continued here. Almost every musical setting announces itself as terribly serious and important and may be suffer at times under this weight. But his melodies are soaring, as ever, and his voice shines through them. So far, I haven't quite latched onto any of the songs the way 4 or 5 grabbed me from the first half of the series, but there's time for that.

A few lyric highlights, to give an idea:
from "Gay Messiah"
He will then be reborn
From 1970's porn
Wearing tubesocks with style
And such an innocent smile

Better pray for your sins
Better pray for your sins
'Cuz the gay messiah's coming

from "Waiting for a Dream"
There's a fire in the priory
And it's ruining the cocktail party
Yesterday I heard the plague is coming,
Once again, to find me

There's a fire in the priory
And an ogre in the oval office
Once again, we all will be so broken
Now can I finally sleep again?

I haven't watched the DVD that comes with it yet, but it is a concert at the Fillmore, and seems to be more than just a couple songs. If so, this could really be quite the bargain.

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