Saturday, May 14, 2005

Don't think I'll be updating again until after I finish 2 pieces and get my grades in -- probably about a week. (I miss regular updates from Steve, but empathize.) Until then:


Resistible desire to see Monster-In-Law; I'll just wait and rent it, as I understand Elaine Stritch has a brief but saving turn near the end. But I do want to take a look at JF's new bio, to see how she accounts for the Klute Va Bien years. Hanoi Jane, by the way, would be almost perfect band band name, except everyone would think I was paying homage to Hanoi Rocks.


Rockism Watch, L.A. -- sorry, Los Angeles -- edition:

1) Had occasion to look back at this well-reported Citybeat piece on the economics of sampling by Dennis Romero. And the 4-out-of-5 moldy-fig/idiotic letters-to-the-ed. E.g.: "How do you jam with your buds on a sampler?"

2) Here in town, you sometimes see a bumpersticker reading "Drum Machines Have No Soul" -- and, once in a while, a guy in front of Amoeba handing them out. There were also a few by the register at Rhino Westwood the last time I was in, and I sorta went off on the blameless clerk, with the little "Look, drum kits don't have soul either" spiel I say to myself whenever I see one. Bree said I was a little scary -- as I apparently also was last week when I explained to her that I draw the bourgie line at having a lawn. (I was trying to be funny, but I seem to be having trouble modulating my tone.) In any case, I'd thought of trying to write something on the sticker thing -- but I was beaten to it (by nearly a year) by Daniel Chamberlain, in an L.A. Weekly piece I'd missed. It's sad to learn that the man behind it is one John Wood, a jazz pianist, ex-studio owner in the area, and son of Randy Wood, the founder of important regional R&B label Dot Records. Sigh. After the article and you'll find -- moldy-fig/idiotic letters-to-the-ed.

E.g. What’s wrong with today’s popular music is not that it is not the Beatles or Frank Sinatra, but that it seems to be dominated by amateurs. Since the beginning of language and culture, music has been made by musicians. Today, being a musician is no longer a requirement for making musical products. Perhaps this explains why Wood, a fine jazz pianist and someone who is part of a family business that recorded some of the finest black artists of the 20th century, is now disgusted by the current trends in music and technology. Um, yes, black artists who were largely considered non-artists and non-musicians when they were working, by the likes of you.

3) Jay Babcock in this week's Weekly, doing a solid job tracing the minimal lag time between recording and iTunes-distro of "Blue Orchid" -- and then swingin' free and wild in the last graph, like them great old rockcrits useta, comparing the track to the Who's instant single of "The Last Time," recorded to protest Mick and Keith's drug arrests, back when it all meant something, dammit. And ending with this:

Rock & roll represents nothing if not the absolute destruction of chains: the sweet-heat moment of dance action; the moving, trembling, deafening vibration of molecules; the mind-body-spirit reaction to being in the presence of culturally-personally-spiritually-aesthetically resonant sounds and songs. The door to that space has been closed for too long in rock. Perhaps, with “Blue Orchid,” that door is opening again.

Couple points: (a) Well, maybe he means to imply that it hasn't been closed elsewhere in pop. Fine; but why, exactly, need rock-qua-rock Reclaim Its Mantle? (b) Hmm, yes, let's bring current technology to bear on dissemination, but make sure it's grabby robotic claw-mitts don't sully our analog production. Way to counter-revolt, Jack. (c) Just for the sake of perspective, let's remind ourselves that the song in question is about breaking up with Bridget Jones.


Tonight: The Lodger and Hangover Square. Advice: If it's 1903, and you're a babe in music hall, give Laird Cregar a wide berth. (Cregar, whom I love, is one of the saddest Hollywood stories: After much fine character work [I Wake Up Screaming, This Gun For Hire] and the two anti-hero turns shown tonight, the handsome but porcine actor, seeking more traditional leading roles, went on a crash diet so drastic that his heart failed. He died at 30.) Tomorrow: Buck Benny Rides Again, a rarely-screened Jack Benny ensemble feature, and Fields' Man On The Flying Trapeze. Sunday: The 1973 Bacharach-David career-killer Lost Horizon -- George Kennedy sings! (And even with all this, I'm torn between a birthday party and Model Shop, which I'd been looking forward to.)

Monday: Jamming with my buds. On a sampler. I wish.

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