Sunday, December 18, 2005

In California until 12/26. Haven't been away quite long enough for returning to seem truly strange, though my first sensations, driving to Bree's sister's from Bob Hope International was of the scraggly wildlife along the sides of the fwys and the film over the air -- ugliness. (It's a damn Xmas-special set in Evanston right now.) Bree came home (a week before me) to moisture leaks and mold in her shut-up condo.; we'll hear from a toxicologist by Wed. whether it's bad-bad or just bad. Everything in the apartment has to be at least wiped down; books and sheet music, riffled and shaken out, fabric, washed. Went to a WeHo party w/ friends of her family on Friday, where one stranger seemed to be very convinced that I was, in fact, someone who had recently appeared on Desperate Housewives. This conversation would not have occurred in Chicago. Also met Ian Birney, the head of the LACMA film dept. (We had no idea the host knew him.) I've probably mentioned that Bree and I have admired him from afar for years -- not just for the good programming, but for his unpretentious manner of introducing and interviewing (Jeanne Moreau, Eva Marie Saint, many others). Just as charming in personal conversation; turns out he's from Toronto and put himself through school (until dropping out and getting involved w/ film distribution -- worked for Janus for a while) as a catalog model. Fascinating description of the way pages used to be shot -- the text would be made up on glass, and then the photo of the model was shot through that, which partly explains the weird poses in, say, a Sears catalog. Oh, where'd he drop out of? Northwestern.

Locals who happen to see this today -- Simon Pettit + local slate (Hofer, Maxwell, Apps) at The Smell tonight, approx. 6:30.

Ok, yes, you can go wrong with the Everlys -- they recorded a lot of indifferent material after leaving Cadence for Warners (apparently for major money by the standards of the time) in the early '60s. But they become interesting again later in the decade; after the US hits stopped, they were still fairly big in England, and there are several albums with a British Invasion sound. I particularly like 1966's In Your Image, pieced together from a few freestanding singles over the previous year or so -- the playing is tougher than what one associates w/ them, the vocals are still great, and there are good songs both by the bros. and outside writers -- "Leave My Girl Alone," "The Dollhouse Is Empty." I've always loved their hits (and there are early singles that aren't well-known anymore as well), but I had no idea this other stuff existed. (And why does Graham Foust, in Leave the Room to Itself, feel compelled to supply a "note" to a reference to, say, a Wilco song, but not to "All I Have to Do is Dream"?)

And Louis Jordan belongs on that list I mentioned before. And I almost certainly don't belong on this one, but thank you.

Wondering if my capacity to be argued into the valuelessness of the kinds of music I'm most capable of making is as much a big excuse as a sign of intellectual openness or probity.

"Men bought chips with markers backed by their failing businesses and unattended investments, their cars and houses; women pledged their wardropes, credit accounts, and children; and those the club managers deemed attractive enough were permitted to endorse vouchers promising future sexual labors for periods of up to five years of what would be, in fact, indentured prostitution. That lives were constantly being destroyed filled the casino with a thrilling and reckless energy, and awestruck, voyeuristic visitors were quite willing ot pay absurdly high fees simply to watch the action on the floor. Many of them, pale and trembling and sticky with cold sweat, had to be helped to their cars or rooms after an hour of two of watching the gamblers in their hopeless ecstasy." (Gilbert Sorrentino, Under The Shadow)

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