Thursday, August 04, 2005

Not fair to comment on something that won't be generally available for a while, but on reading a version of Sasha's upcoming EMP-proceedings chapter on the indie-rock, I think I can say two things: (1) I agree with so much of what S. says, esp. about particular bands, that it's unclear, even to me, if my resistance to the general stance is anything more than sentiment. (And I felt this when I heard an earlier version.) (2) When it comes to criticizing indie's insularity, how it conceived or conceives itself in relation to the larger pop/mainstream context, and so on, I'm much more at ease with metaphorical figures on the order of "coming to the party" and "joining the conversation" than with "taking over the world" (for reasons explained earlier) and "playing on the wrong team." (Similarly for, as I think I said to Jordan in another context, the "seat at the table" trope, which I don't think S. uses -- I always want to ask, what's being served?) But this, perhaps, is merely framing.

Could say more about '80s v. '90s (another place where I'm mostly with S.), and so on, but I'll follow his example and can it for now.


John Shaw asked some straightforward ?s about AF, and I tried to answer him/them straightforwardly.


Back to France from London as of Tuesday. Yesterday, we attempted w/ no success to gather mushrooms in the woods, in a location given by a local restauranteur, then returned to our natural habitats at a brocante a few towns away (antique/junk fair, that is -- heavy on the old linens and Edison Gold Sound cylinders), I bought exactly one record: Libertango, a 1974 Astor Piazzolla LP on French Polydor. (Plus a mildly beat-up 1907 ed. of Ruskin's book on Gothic -- the few English-language books at these things are usually dead cheap.) Later in the evening, we went to the annual recital of operatic repertoire held at the town's 14th century church (no longer used for services). Not my idea -- if it wasn't in a Looney Toons short, I probably don't know it* -- but pleasant enough, one dramatically impressive mezzo-soprano in particular. But, listed on the program as instrumental interlude by the pianist and cellist, between hunks of Verdi, Puccini, Gounoud, Offenbach, and so on was -- Astor Piazzolla's "Libertango"! But they didn't actually play it -- just went to the next vocal piece w/o comment. (The program ran quite long as it was -- 8:45 to midnight, with the crowd demanding more than the pro forma encore.)

Other odd moment: The only English-language selection (and the closest thing to musical comedy or light opera or whatever one calls such proto-pop) on the program was a rendition of "Old [sic] Man River" that brought home how foolish I must sound getting all the vowel values wrong in my attempts to pronounce French:

"You and me, we sweet and stran...Get a little drink, and you land in gel..."

*Well, they did do some aria that I've previously noticed sounds very much like "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You." What is that, anyway?


Have tried to write a little London recap, but it's just me sending you postcards. Afraid I'm more comfortable writing about/during the dull periods. But let's see, how quick can I do this?

Passed one of the attacked tube stations on the way in, too disoriented to be sure which one. When Bree was given advice about where to find sheet music by a v. friendly bookstore owner, his directions included a glancing mention of which way you can't go anymore. First full day there was the day the suspects from the second, failed bomb attempt were brought in; the "Got The Bastards" headline was the next morning, though most papers were more circumspect -- you could read off their politics from whether the front page photo was of the shirtless perps, or of investigators in white shroudlike outfits. I could not feel a lot of distress on the street, but I don't have any previous impression of the city to compare it to -- certainly saw any number of packed buses, crowds pouring out of tube stations, mixed race groups of kids, and not only kids, outside pups, walking down Charing Cross, and so on. Panel discussions on Islamic extremism most every time I switched on the TV in the hotel room -- except for an episode of Stargate, and an episode of a multi-part doc. on jazz in Britain from which happened to cover the beginnings of free improv, w/ talking heads from Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, etc.

Will cover Haines separately at some point, same for an improv show feat. Phil Minton/John russell/Roger Turner (+ guitar & delay cat Dave Draper and a trio called Kindness May Lash that sounded like a vitual tribute to Oxley/Bailey/Guy, all at a not-quite-completed venue in Hampstead called The Red Hedgehog) that I dragged Bree to a couple nights later. Stilton w/ celery and biscuits at Rules. Brian Friel's The Home Place w/ Tom Courtenay; text a little heavy-handed, but right-minded on eugenics, and Bree was tickled to see some real-deal theater. Neal's Yard Rough Trade playing Colossal Youth when I walked in, and stocking my book. British Museum: Orerries, steles, a bust of Ptolemy. You know, barbarism. Nelson's Column; book in socialist shop recommending the tearing down of Nelson's Column. Brick Lane Sunday market -- seriously the most right-now spot I've been in a decade, clothing designers (Bree and I bought a blouse and a tie from this guy, bootleggers, amazing macrobiotic food, contemp. art bookshop, dude selling Roy Ayers and Bryan Auger recs (and funk 45s) w/ no fixed price. Cortland Galleries at Somerset House -- sat w/ Manet's Bar as long as my eyes held out, went back for another look two days later. (A little late in the game for me to be filling out the Zola-Manet-Benjamin connections, given the title of this blog, no?) Brixton: excellent looking UK hip-hop shop not open the day I went, but I did manage to commune with an ackee and salt-fish pattie, and you know you want to buy your meat at halal stands blasting some kind of dancehall/Dre hybrid. Too rainy to look for Brockton Park. Quite odd to realize that I have now, in fact, walked down to Electric Avenue -- while Bree was visiting Buckingham Palace, returning w/ a description of dolls gifted to Elizabeth and Margaret "from all the children of France." Quick peek into the Charles Dickens museum, housed in one of his mid-career residences -- monogrammed knife-rests and such. Did have a bindi, at Douglas' rec, but stupidly scheduled a visit John Soane's Museum for the day it was closed.

Good red bookstore in London; bought books on Sinatra's left connections (day before encountering a BBC story on a documentary about his Mafia connections) and "The Red Virgin," noted and bypassed Topple The Mighty (Kuhn/Gill), a book advocating the destruction of various London monuments -- the morning after I'd seen the British Museum and Nelson's Column for the first time.

Bree scored one v. creepy clown marionette on Portabello Road; and a book that at first appeared to be a biography of Yvette Guilbert (the diseuse that was one of Lautrec's main subjects), but which turned out to be a book on theatrical technique inscribed to her by its author and re-bound in her "personal" binding, w/ her name on the spine. Not even expensive, b/c the bookstore had misfiled it. I resisted as many books and records as I bought, and bought too many, inc. Coati Mundi's 1983 solo album and The Blue Orchids' The Greatest Hit (cheap, in an Oxfam), and copy no. "J" of Elmslie/Brainard's Shiny Ride (not at all cheap, in a strange shop run by a strange American -- "I lived in LA five years for my sins" -- who at least gave me a decent break off his asking price for paying cash.)

I also have to say that I'm good with a nation where Darwin is on the fucking money.

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