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Bob Somerby has a good series of essays on the negative response of so-called liberal columnists to Michael Moore's movie. He singles out Ellen Goodman, whose aversion to Moore and people cheering the film is so strong she actually defends Bush (who she admits "misled" us into war). Somerby pegs her reaction as class disgust, and suggests it's what's prompting many of the squeals coming from the pampered, perfumed "millionaire pundits" who shape opinion in Washington. Moore dares to rise above his working class station (even though he's rich now, himself) and show images in the movie of the people who will be--are being--ground up in the war machine, as well as revealing footage of Bush in his element of entitled movers and shakers.
The film critic tedg suggests that Moore's achievement--another reason the yammering head class is threatened--is that he's created a Movie that Undoes the Movie of the morning-in-America return to values the Republican disinfo machine has spun for 25 years:
[T]here is a strong tendency to adapt movie stories to political beliefs. This first washed upon America with Ronald Reagan - himself a film figure. He was able to stick to solid movie narratives to literally shape American's beliefs. His simple, movie-based 'sunshine in America' notion caught fire, even in the face of pesky facts.
Since then, 'conservatives' have adopted the movie locomotive and hitched it to the similar dynamics of religion to build a story. 'Liberals' (how do these names get invented?) have the unentertaining job of trying to pry minds away from the comfortable movie narrative and explain that life is not so simple.
They are always bound to lose, especially when business interests have a reason to feed the machine. So what to do? What to do?
Well, you make a movie about how dumb the Republican movie is. You weave a metamovie, or if you can an 'unmovie' that dissolves the fiction with facts. But even an unmovie is a movie, so it needs a simple narrative. Moore is faulted because his simple narrative is similarly simpler than life.
But here it is: Bush is a febrile dimwit manipulated by slick weasels. Saudis pull money from the west and then feed it back with obligations. Thinking of the world as a 'Bonanza' western is getting us in trouble and seriously hurting people.
I'll credit Moore with extreme movie intelligence in spinning a simple story (incidentally based on facts) to deliberately destroy a similar simple movie story spun by The Powers (which unhappily flies in the face of facts).
In doing so, Moore cleverly omits much. For example, he shows administration babblers claiming weapons of mass destruction and terrorist ties. And he then says nothing at all about the truth of these, because we all now know they are false. Having us fill the gaps with what we know from outside the film is masterful, like just showing us Bush's vacant face. Is his brain fried by his admitted drug and alcohol binges? Moore never even hints... except for four bars from JJ Cale's 'Cocaine' when mentioning Bush's year-long absence from military duty.
Showing the preparation for the press announcements is similar genius: it shows that these guys are all about spinning their own movie. And that one sequence where he literally sets the Bushites in 'Bonanza' with the 'smoke 'em out' mantra puts us the viewers as those who are smoking out the truth at a higher level.
This is masterful storytelling, and could be a milestone in changing, but not breaking, our ineluctable need to see the world as a movie.
No real comment about the Spider-Man movie: better than the first one; too much digital stuff that looks fake; really sick of that pretty boy who plays the Green Goblin's son; worried that we'll be seeing that lousy Goblin again in Part 3; ashamed of seeing a movie that has a Burger King tie-in with copycat scenes; thought Alfred Molina was great; wondered why, when that artificial sun sinks into the Hudson, there's no steam. Molina's digital arms hyper-realize the Steve Ditko originals, in the Baudrillardian sense that they're bigger, shiner, and have more moving parts and nasty chattering bits. Nothing beats Steve Ditko Doctor Octopus arms; the animation above is a mere caricature of their primal magic. It's Work in Progress:
Weighty issue of the day: thinking about de-linking the Bonaire webcams from the FAQ page. Bonaire is the runt of the ABC islands in the Netherlands Antilles (Aruba and Curacao are better known) but the diving excels and it's fun to visit if you like desolate, ass-end of the universe kinds of places. Some local entrepeneurs had four wonderful cams basically aimed at nothing: two looked out on the open ocean facing south and north, one showed a largely empty street where you might occasionally see a dog, and the fourth was the "reefcam"--an underwater view that was mostly a blue rectangle and every once a while a diver waving at someone back home, or a few fish.
Looks like the cams weren't paying their way, so the owners "sold out" to a local resort. The street cam has been replaced by a view of an outdoor dining area, the north and south-facing beach cams now include picturesque palm trees and deck chairs, and the reefcam view has some big lumpy, sunken thing in it that never moves. The descriptions on the cam-page haven't been updated yet, and it looks like the site's archive of old screen grabs is gone. The photo below is a tribute to the Cam Page That Was, a view from the old north beach cam. Let's raise a colorful tropical drink (with a little umbrella) to the forces of modernity and inevitable commerce.
UPDATE: Okay, the link is gone. Needed a slot for the Eyebeam reBlog anyway.
Update, Feb 2010: the cams are still going; a few have been added, such as the "donkey cam." Check it out, the link above still works.
My first house track! This might be classified as "Latin Horror House." [mp3 removed]
ADDENDUM: These recent pieces are "hand crafted" in the sense that no existing loops were used (a la Sony Acid or garageband). They're done with a shareware program where you plug in individual notes on staves and choose from menus of low-quality instrument sounds. It should be fairly obvious from the somewhat halting, robotoid delivery but it needed to be mentioned that these are "my" dumb (but hopefully good dumb) melodies.
Artist Diana Kingsley, who was the subject of an earlier post here, will be showing video works at Leo Castelli Gallery from July 7 to August 5 (18 East 77th St., NYC 10021, 212.249.4470). Here's the press release:Leo Castelli Gallery is pleased to present "Isle of August," an exhibition of video works by Diana Kingsley. The New York-based artist is known for her still photos, consisting of crisp, highly composed images where the subjects are undone by subtle flaws: an open fly on a nattily-dressed male model, ink from a name tag smearing the blouse of a bosomy conventioneer, a chocolate delicately placed on a hotel pillow but left too long in an overheated room.
Her videos keep the focus on the little things that sow the seeds of chaos. In Eat in, a piece projected from the ceiling onto the floor, ghostly takeout menus are slipped under an imaginary apartment door until they begin to pile up on the floor--an unceasing, almost stalker-like intrusion from the outside world. In buster, a gorgeously assembled image of an apartment interior is marred by a large, colorful lantern fly beating endlessly against the window glass, trying to make its escape. In Court Disaster, the viewer nervously watches the legs and backside of a female tennis player as she hops around a grass court, oblivious to the untied laces of one shoe threatening to wreck her game. The sumptuously-lensed works combine the rigor of minimalist design, the angst of an existential one-act, and the humor of a Chaplinesque slip on a banana peel.
New tune: "Streetsong 2" [3.48 MB .mp3]
Adrien75's new CD-R, Chickadoo Chronicles (Vol. 1), is out and available from Space Mermaid Music. Go get it, it's superb. Recall that in the '80s a certain type of dreamy, slow-tempo, home produced electronic music came out that was marketed as a meditation aid for stressed-out yuppies and had its own bin. Well, this is not that. Rather, it's a lineal descendant of the so-called ambient music of Aphex Twin or the so-called IDM (I hate that term) of Plaid or The Black Dog, which began to emerge in the late '80s after basement producers got better equipment and a clue.
On first listen Chickadoo's leisurely, jazzy-technoid tracks wash over you, but by the second or third the hooks start to jump out--and Adrien75 can really write good ones, little percolating confections of notes that are sweet but never remotely saccharine (try this .mp3 sample from "Who Wants More?"). By the third or fourth hearing those standout melody-textures have completely colonized your brain (in a good, as opposed to AM radio way), looping around mutating your synapses while you go about your daily routines. Six listens down the road, you'll be noticing the structures of the songs more: "Oh, this one has a hook that you think is coming back after the bridge, but then the bridge turns out to long ambient kind of thing, and it just ends." This was how Brian Eno described his third solo LP Another Green World--a series of tunes and vignettes swimming up out of the void, never to be heard again.Chickadoo extends and deepens the vocabulary of A75's last collection of tunes, Therms Forever. After a series of earlier albums that sounded initially somethat different from each other, he seems to have found a groove, or better, hit his stride. He has lost the overt drum and bass breakbeats of his first EP, released about five years ago, but added the bubbly synths that pervade this disc; his guitar comes and goes but isn't heard on this CD-R. He's clearly in love with electronic keyboards but also has an ear for musique concrete-y kinds of sounds (songs can suddenly detour into passages that are whimsically abstract), as well as classical structure, jazz grooves, and intricate rhythms. And did I mention that he can play instruments really well?
Adrien75 might be called "the American Richard D. James," a "kinder, gentler Boards of Canada" (not as angsty and schoolyard fixated), or even a more atmospheric Recloose (Carl Craig's funk/deep house protege from Detroit). But it's not really fair to compare music this original to anything else. One finds oneself wishing for a music theorist who doesn't exist--that is, who knows classical theory but is also willing to stretch it to accommodate the nuances wrought by new instruments and recording technology. This hypothetical person could then begin to describe in technical language the substantial musical achievement anyone with a thoughtful ear knows this CD-R represents.NOTE: A more casual, first-person version of this post appeared earlier; this one supersedes it.
Personal Business Crapola and Random Links
Posting may be light here while I wrestle with a music program I recently downloaded. My 5-year plan is to get the computer music thing mastered (up to a certain point of competence, of course) and then start synch-ing up my own compositions with the animations I've been doing. In the meantime (meaning now, not for the next five years) check out my LoVid performance photo in the upper right corner of this page. The duo tells me it's been a much reproduced image, in newspapers and so forth, as they tour around. Here's the post where it originally appeared. An emerging side goal of mine is to be the Fred McDarrah of the new media and electronic arts world; better start using grayscale more.Lastly, check out this website of Communist store windows by David Hlynsky, a link posted by Traveler's Diagram months ago. The pictures are still great!