Saturday, June 24, 2006

to blog the impossible blog (Move it)...

Birthday Greetings to Gary on June 20th from his friends the Russian artist Irina Roon and Scottish cartoonist Nulsh

above illustration by Nulsh

above illustration by Irina Roon
Click to enlarge (illustrations hosted by flickr)

The Times last Sunday ran a front page story about employers snooping on potential employees by scanning their blogs for tell-tale signs of (supposed) aberrant behavior, wrong-thinking attitudes, non P.C. party-lines tread and Uncle Frank Z so eloquently put it in 1966--"Who are the Brain Police?"--indeed? I mean, this is a Democracy, ain't it? (Step outta line, the Man come, and take you away--to the Priory of Sion, or Butlins, or Tommy's Holiday Camp--or to the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time and I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and...and...)

...and actually, a situation not that far afield from the creeping paranoia served up by Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly", about to open here in the Richard Linklater roto-scoped animated version, which is about the best new film I've seen since "Capote", my number one favorite film of last year.

Saw "A Scanner Darkly" in a preview last March 13th accompanied by Caroline and my guy Richard Porton (Cineaste editor/ stellar author of "Film and the Anarchist Imagination"/ talking head brainiac on the new Criterion DVD edition of Bunuel's "Viridiana", well worth your investment) and I was shook, shaken and stirred to say the least by the fidelity which Linklater rendered this dark vision writ all too large in contemporary skies (just keep reading that newspaper). Dick is one of my favorite authors (check his short story "Faith of Our Fathers" in Harlan Ellison's "Dangerous Visions Vol. One" anthology which you can order at schnell!) and we all left the Broadway Screening Room shuddering at the disquieting cautionary tale of surveillance in the not too distant future rendered therein, a tale which has more than a passing reference to the current reality grid on which we gambol, in a play "Very Well Acted by You and Me"...

I've been after my friends Max Rudin and Geoffrey O'Brien (publisher and editor at the Library of America respectively) for awhile to do justice to Philip K. Dick's considerable oeuvre with a spiffy LOA edition (or two) which would give considerable imprimatur to this genius American maverick Cassandra, and actually ran into Geoffrey last night at the the Film Society of Lincoln Center's gala opening of their Benoit Jacquot retrospective (luscious hors d'oeurves at the lavish reception afterwards--wonderful to see Richard Pena, Kent Jones and all the nice folks from the French Embassy there, not to mention VA Musetto, Brad Balfour and other good people) and Geoffrey (great writer--"Sonata for Jukebox" is about the best damn book about Music per se--pop, jazz, classical, you name it--and what it actually FEELS like, the texture and taste of it, as you engrain it into the luminous fibers of your nervous system, and most likely your DNA molecules, plus all the socio-philosophical ramifications that precede and follow from this liberating electrochemical miracle), Geoffrey says they're considering publishing a PKD edition (why not 2? Dick wrote incessantly, as if his very life was at stake-- which it actually was...) so keep those cards and letters coming in to the LOA, kids (Paul Williams--yes, that Paul Williams, not the cuddly songwriter, but the Crawdaddy grandaddy of rockwrite, wrote a splendid appreciation of Dick's work the research on which should have given him plenty of pointers on how to cope with the various New Age shucksters and jivesters--Timothy Leary, please don't call home-- who came upon this fair land in the wake of the great mid 60's Psychedelic Evolutionary Shift--as Beefheart was fond of saying, "a little paranoia is a good propellor"...but Williams too was no match for scary Avatar Mel Lyman and his Fort Hill Communitarians) (speaking of which, BAM is running Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point" right now starring Fort Hill foot soldiers Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin--also note that John Fahey wrote a very funny story about Antonioni hiring him to score some of this particular film in his "How Bluegrass Destroyed My Life" book of short stories, well worth checking out...)

and speaking of the great mid-60's Psychedelic Evolutionary Shift, Tom Stoppard's new play posits the Dionysian, pipes 'o Pan, Giles Goatboy spirit of "Rock 'n Roll" (the play's title--check this Guardian review) as being the primary engine of political change/cultural ferment in the 60's western world, rolling East over time and eventually resulting in the Prague Spring/Velvet Revolution when the Russkies finally cut and run, to eventually succumb themselves to the seductive power of rockroll itself (and select Uriah Heap, for Pete's sake, as their favorite band!). Stoppard's play throws Syd Barrett (Syd's musical setting on his "The Madcap Laughs" album of James Joyce's Pomes Pennyeach ditty "Golden Hair" is referenced and heard in Act 1 apparently-- as is music by the Stones, Pink Floyd et al throughout), Mick Jagger (Mick and Vaclav Havel attended the London premiere last week), my buddies the Plastic People of the Universe (a band who were imprisoned for a song, and whom I have played with), and Karl Marx into the theatrical mix...a strange brew indeed for Stoppard after "The Invention of Love", whose AE (I owe you) Housemaniacal drift I confess bored me to death ("like mortar board"--pace my late friend Viv Stanshall).

But--I really want to see THIS play--not only as an early Rosencrantzian fan, but because a) I can get behind the play's thema, no problem, and b) as a rock guitarist, bandleader and songwriter (among other things that go bump in the night) of actual Bohemian descent (Stoppard's a landsman as well) who has played and toured extensively in the region (the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Poland and Hungary and Slovenia and Serbia and let us not forget Austria and Russia), and as someone who has actually covered Syd Barret-era Pink Floyd tunes on his albums (check my version of Syd's "Astronomy Domine" which is up at the free downloads part of my website), and one who has indeed performed Syd's haunting version of "Golden Hair" in his own shows (at the Brotherhood of Thieves, Nantucket, summer of ' The Idea House, Taipei, summer of '75...and at The Roxy--the beautiful crumbling old art-deco former Yiddish Theater in the heart of Mala Strana, Prague, where I performed this song by request as an encore--one of 6-- at a marathon 3 hour solo concert I gave there in November '96--fans wouldn't let me off the stage, and there were 4-500 of them...)--let us say, in light of That, I think I can, uh, relate to this particular play...

and would like to think that maybe, just maybe, this Eastern-moving whirlwind 'o change is still moving out there, and sweeping further East (could be the worst thing that's ever happened, pace the current administration and the Ann Coulter/Bill O'Reilly/William Bennett neo-con axis of weevil)...but I respectfully (well not too respectfully) disagree.

Some more whisked broomed and groomed tidbits:

Playing up in Woodstock last weekend was a real pleasure, Fred Perry's new Reservoir Music store was filled with fans and lovely attentive listeners for my acoustic guitar performance, and Fred is no stranger to pushing the cultural paradigm himself, in fact my meeting him at random on the street in Syracuse in '68 caused an evolutionary shift in my own musical consciousness: there he was, the longest haired person I'd ever seen at that point, and he approached and started talking to me up on Marshall Street (nexus of the Syracuse University freak scene) because I was carrying the first album by The Move under my arm (available at that time only as an English import--The Move a band of English import for sure--Andrew Oldham and Joe Boyd both agree on this should have been of world import) ..and he was astonished to see that someone else was hip to The Move as well...

Fred was carring an acoustic guitar case under his arm on which he'd hand-written in red magic marker: "Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band"..."Who's that?" I innocently asked (not realizing that a good chunk of my life was destined to be put at service to this particular Avatar and his merry men). "A group my brother's just produced in LA," Fred answered, and knitting my brow and wits together, I replied "Wait a second-- is your brother Richard Perry?" (the producer of Tiny Tim's first album on Warners, which I loved--an album which includes the brilliant song "The Other Side", cited in an earlier blog contest, the refrain of which goes: "The ice caps are melting, ha ha ha ha haaaaaa, all the world is drowning ha ha ha ha haaaaa, the ice caps are melting, the tide is rushing in, all the world is drowning, to wash away our sins..." --a song which should have been used in Al Gore's new film "An Inconvenient Truth"--good film it is too). Turned out Fred was Richard's brother, and it was Richard Perry who produced with Bob Krasnow the first Beefheart album "Safe as Milk" (shoulda been Gary Marker, but that's another sad story--we love you Gary!), Richard now has about 250 gold and platinum albums under his belt, including Rod Stewart's latest, but according to Fred, still maintains that "Safe as Milk" is his favorite...

Anyway Fred pushed lots of buttons in the 60's by bringing English import copies of "Are You Experienced?" and "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" (Syd Floyd's first elpee) up to Scott Muni at WNEW, who played them on his mainstream radio show, and thus a whole generation of Long Island and New York City area and Jersey kids had minds blown and hearts opened wide to the whole universe (and found it was Loving...sometimes)...and the rest is History still being writ, mene mene tekel upharsin...anyway it was wonderful to see Fred and his lovely wife and family and friends, plus my old friend graphic design supremo Janet Perr stopped by and was looking good and...

Gotta go and "Awake and Sing!" now and check out the revival of this classic Clifford Odets play uptown at the Belasco starring cool Mark Ruffallo (his turn in Jane Campion's "In the Cut" was so appealing) and the great Ben Gazzarra...

but let me leave you with a tip to please check out the debut album of my friends Super700, a fantastic Berlin-based band by way of Kosovo who sound like nobody else (and I'm not saying this just 'cause I played on their album), a band fronted by the exquisite Ibadet Ramadani and her two lovely sisters Ilrjana and Albana--their self-titled album (produced by Gordon Raphael, producer of The Strokes' first two albums) is out in Germany only now but you can order it through meanwhile, enjoy this clip of their song "Here Goes the Man" here (very subversive lyrics, not that easy to make out in the track) ((but easy to make out to...)




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