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Here's what some of us are saying about [that movie with LA being destroyed by tornadoes and NY being destroyed by a tidal wave]. My first reaction on seeing a trailer in the theatre months ago was "Hey, I thought after 9/11 we didn't do that self-hating Independence Day shit any more." Corporate America has mobilized all forces of modern communication to let us know that it's OK to self-hate again, with saturation TV coverage, print ads, internet streams, tie-in programs on the Discovery Channel (even though the science is dubious), an endless loop on the video billboard at the Holland Tunnel--everywhere you turn there's some sign that this is an unmissable (pseudo) event. The "money shots" do look intriguing but you have to be suspicious when that's what all they show in the ads. Also, let's face it, Roland Emmerich's previous movies--Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla--blew chunks.
If you hate the mainstream news media, you'll like the Daily Howler. Bob Somerby is very good at showing how the major newspapers and TV networks distract us with trivia ("Kerry has a personal valet," "Kerry threw ribbons, not medals") while the Republican Party, which controls all three branches of the government, robs the store. As our army (and Treasury) are slowly chewed to pieces in Iraq, Maureen Dowd talks about Kerry having peanut butter sandwiches made for him. But let's let Somerby tell it:
While they clowned about Gary Condit, Osama’s men were tooling those planes. And now, as they clown about peanut butter, Osama’s men are still at work. And what will happen to your country because [Jodi] Wilgoren and Dowd set the tone? Let us finally tell you your future: Osama’s men will come with a bomb [...] and they’ll destroy an American city. American society will end on that day. And when it does, you can think of Wilgoren and Dowd—and you can think of the “letters editor” who laughed in your face with that letter today.1 They’ve made a joke of your discourse for years—while your enemies hunt for a bomb.In his most recent screed, Somerby catches the New York Times subtly pushing the Republican script that Kerry voted against certain weapons systems. The paper tells you Bush's ads on the subject are "cynical" but doesn't tell you why. You have to search NEXIS to find that out Dick Cheney opposed the same weapons systems during Bush I. Now, it's hard to defend Kerry on any level, but he's our only reasonable hope of getting rid of Bush, and unfortunately the Times is still pluggin' away for old George, using the same tactics they used to bring down Gore. Somerby shows how the journalists advance the Republican meme du jour with everything from subtle word choices to the numbing repetition of long disproven canards such as "Gore says he invented the Internet." His parsing of the propaganda is invaluable.
1. The Times printed a letter stating that Kerry had “only fingernail scrapes to show for his three Purple Hearts.” In the case of his first Purple Heart wound, Kerry had shrapnel dug out of his arm by a medic. There were no stitches, apparently, just ointment applied, but "fingernail scrape" simply isn't true. The other Purple Heart wounds--shrapnel in the legs and butt--were unquestionably more serious. Maybe the Times editor thinks having jagged pieces of metal penetrating your flesh is no big deal.
Some really good signs and slogans over at the freewayblogger: "Impeach Cheney First," "Quagmire Accomplished," "Real Soldiers Are Dying in their Hummers So You Can Play Soldier in Yours" (good one--I hate Hummers), "32,000 Dead and I'm Still Paying $2.29 for Unleaded," and more--all printed large, hung on freeway overpasses and billboards (until someone takes them down), and photographed. Great! Maybe even Kerry'll get the message that Americans don't want this war.
Three Hour Friends
Yesterday, May 12, WFMU's Kenny G played the final episode of Friends on his radio show. One catch: his program lasts three hours so the episode was stretched to fit. If you'd like to hear this epic moment in television slowed down to one-third normal speed (theme song, commercials and all), a page with links to streams, as well as a complete transcript, is here. The voices are all completely intelligible, except for the fact that everyone sounds severely medicated. And of course, there are no visuals. (The concept of Friends 3x was suggested by 'FMU program director Brian Turner, who says he didn't think Kenny "was crazy enough to do it.")
In case you haven't heard, curator Larry Rinder is leaving the Whitney Museum, not for another power-position in the art world but to return to the school from whence he came in California. Wow, can we have the last three years back? "BitStreams," "The 2002 Biennial," "The American Effect"--critically panned, enervating shows (or reportedly enervating; the picture of the superheroes in wheelchairs with IV drips, etc., did not inspire a $1.50 card-swipe for a trip uptown to see the last of the three).
The "whoops--never mind" of the Rinder years happened because of the Backlash Effect. Former director David Ross's supposedly "wild" programming (e.g. "Black Male") scared some trustees, so they hired "dapper fuddy duddy" Maxwell Anderson, as Slate.com described him (also now departed), as director. Anderson hired Rinder, who had served on the curatorial team for the bland 2000 Biennial. Despite a near-universally acknowledged mediocre eye, Rinder received much adoring press from non-critic journos, for reasons that remain mysterious. All that publicity, so little to publicize.
The art-jazz-electronic duo Plasmodium has a CD out titled Clairaudience, blending fusion, sampladelia, grunge, and twisted Southern humor. At the music's core are jazzy grooves performed by Jim Thomson (drums, vocals) and Bob Miller (trumpet and keyboards), augmented with loops, samples, and electronic treatments a la the "labfunk" of Recloose or Atjazz. Miller's nimble trumpet is a versatile lead instrument, moving from traditional muted phrasing to wah wah-ed electric guitar shrieks.
Veterans of the Virginia music scene centered around Richmond and Charlottesville, the pair has an interesting provenance: Miller gigs with the salsa group Bio Ritmo, while Thomson drummed in the 80s for the nuclear mutant hardcore outfit GWAR. Although mainly jazzy, Clairaudience spins a dazzling range of musical fictions, from "Tristay"'s reverbed rockabilly lament to the paranoid psychedelic dirge rock of "Space Eye" (think Alice in Chains meets Air, if that's possible). The daily indignities of hapless convenience store clerk "Clive Buckledown," recited in a deadpan, detective-story monotone over sensuous electric piano loops, recall the white psycho jazz rap of Kentuckyan-by-way-of-Dallas MC 900 Ft. Jesus.
In a more Cagean mode, the sound collage "Rethinking the Raven" presents echo-treated field recordings of a suburban smart guy spouting increasingly ridiculous, palsied nonsense syllables into fast-food driveup intercoms. ("Sir, can you drive to the window so we can take your order, we can't understand you.") The track is funny on a mean spirited Jerky Boys level, but also seductive, with the sound manipulations turning the baffled or bored utterances of the franchise employees into quasi-world music. One clerk's digitally twinned "I don't know/I don't know (I don't understand what you're saying)" becomes poignantly melodic through repetition, resembling an eerie call-and-response chant. In "Dr. Octobongopus" a bored lounge MC introduces the stage act of a polyrhythmic, multi-armed, but basically lame bongo player in a routine that is pure deadpan surrealism.
Sexy fighting babes are the rage in the secondary school art set. Are these images (Saranety's "Crystal Shards" series, from theOtaku.com) sexist or empowering? It's an inane dichotomy, really. You have the infantile large eyes and the sexual come-on of the costumes but also strong, confident, dynamic figures in fighting poses with weapons. The contrast makes the drawings interesting.
five by wenstrom