Sunday, July 11, 2004

I have to be candid: My mood hasn't allowed for interesting use of this space for the last few days. The most easily discernable element of this is a fairly inescapable sense of pressure about several ongoing/upcoming projects, mainly: The Armed Forces book (which a friend just told me he'd advance-ordered from Amazon, despite the Sept. '05 pub date), the Dylan & Philosophy chapter, and a Philosophy & Literature summer course that starts in a little under a month and for which I don't have a syllabus, though I think it starts with the final sections of the Tractatus and ends with Eunoia. Add the occasional shorter freelance piece with a quick turnaround, and the knowledge that I ought to be revising at least one chunk of the diss for journal submission and tweaking my dossier in various ways for the job market. In sum: A fairly well-stuffed in-box of intellectually taxing work, which could get completed in the time alloted, but only by one of the more industrious and efficient versions of me, plus an almost audible buzz of guilt rising behind every strictly unnecessary activity. Including, over the last week to ten days:

DVD of Mamoulian's Applause (reputation precedes it too strongly; Love Me Tonight is far more entertaining), screenings of Singin' in the Rain and Johnny Guitar (both too well-worked over for me to have much to add here), and watching De-Lovely twice (actually, the last was strictly necessary, as were re-skims of two Porter bios, and tracking down some dates in the collected lyrics, for an upcoming piece); Calexico at the Getty Center (mariachi dub, an idea whose time has come), A.C. Newman at the Troubadour (4th show of the tour, current band still finding its feet) plus an opening band that could easily have been heckled: "Bright Eyes rule!"; most of Menand's American Studies, selected chapters of Anti-Capitalism Reader ed. Joel Shalit, Cecilia Vicuna's Quipoem/The Precarious (expensive book I happened to find remaindered in Seattle), more Jarnot, Mark Steyn's Broadway Babies Go To Sleep (a thoughtful and readable collection of essays on musical theater that gradually won out over Arendt just after Washington), a run at Megan Simpson's Poetic Epistemologies: Gender and Knowing in Women's Language-Oriented Writing, which I've so far just found myself wanting to argue with, John McCumber's Time in the Ditch: American Philosophy and the McCarthy Era, doubly so, and Brian Hinton's Let Them All Talk -- closer to necessary, an Elvis C. book very uneven on prose style and insight but containing a good bit of information I need. Would like to read that new Kael & Sontag memoir, but who knows when? Picked up Lew Welch's Ring of Bone today, remaindered for $2, while shopping for birthday gifts for grandmother (large print novel about Italian immigrants) and mother (already had a illustrated history of the Inland Empire, needed a card and a bow). The problem is with me, not the sounds, but ridiculously little recorded music is doing a damn thing for me right now, except for what I luck into on the radio show, most of which I haven't found time to revisit. A few things I'm excited about are coming in the mail soon, I hope, though the foremost among them is the first season of SCTV.

I probably won't post again, except for the playlist, until I feel capable of something more than an inventory. For now, two items: Despite the scorn I expressed for Rodney Graham's rock-as-art, his other projects seem intriguing, from the little bit of exploring I've been able to do (mainly an article in the free L.A. art-mag NEXT, sort of a less smarmy Coagula). Rael points out that the art-world attention to his music may be a function of the market and the social rather than any confusion or scamming about the status of the work on his part. I look forward to the mid-career survey opening at MOCA later in the month.

Finally, Jane complicates my take on "Redneck Woman":

"I think you miss the "Ol' Bocephus" deal almost entirely. It has everything to do with a) the fact that there are now three gens of Hank Williams', and Bocephus isn't the young one anymore, in fact he's b) of an older generation. I'm sure she woulda said Ol' Charlie Daniels if she'd had room; that syllable is doing TOTAL WORK in marking out generational identifications.

"(btw, if you're worrying about southern-ness and who gets to be country/redneck, listen carefully to Ol' Bocephus's "A Country Boy Can Survive," for the officially sanctioned territories. You need to spend some time in Redding, California, son.)"

To which I only add: Or Fontana, aka "Fontucky" in some circles.

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