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It's fall, and that means it's time for another installment of Thor Johnson's Texas State Fair Photos. The collection is here: [2.6 MB flash file
]. And below are a few examples. I never cease to marvel at the overeating epidemic that seems to have struck the state since I left in '95. More of Johnson's photos, videos, and music here
, and an earlier post on him is here
. The photos really strike a chord with me--they're like the perfect combo of love and hate, sarcasm and pathos. It's unusual to see this kind of clarity of vision in a photographer--most get all absorbed with technique, as opposed to being a raw, outraged eye opening itself up to all the available stimuli in an environment like this. Somebody could probably take the same "kind" of photos at Coney Island in NY, but I don't think anyone here hates Coney Island or its denizens. Whereas, Texas (especially Dallas, where these are taken) has this layer of righteousness that suffuses ordinary ignorance and exploitation, making it seem more pernicious. I know Johnson loathes the false piety but as I said, there is also love in these photos. I went to the State Fair a number of times and it was always a kick.
Trailer Park Boys
on YouTube (a fine Canadian export--much better than American TV, IMHO).
The "What in the Fuck Happened to Our Trailer Park?" episode, with all the bad language intact. Unfortunately the sound drops out 2/3 of the way through Part 1
, but by then you've seen enough to skip ahead to Part 2
. There's more to this episode but I can't find it.
Some indispensable SCTV YouTubes
. Watch'em before the Man steps in and shuts down our fun.Jerry Todd - Video Dating
"Just because you love video doesn't mean you can't love a human."
Jerry Todd - Video Dinner
Ride Like the Wind
The original "yacht rock" parody.
Garth and Gord and Fiona and Alice
Until about 3 years ago, this was all I knew about Canada.
Whisper of the Wolf
Count Floyd screens "scary" Ingmar Bergman parody ("Who booked that? Prickly, was that you?")
Caution: not parent friendly.
Notes on the 8 BIT premiere at MOMA, Oct 7
(work in process)
--the 420-seat theatre was 5 seats shy of being completely full, I was told.
--My description of Game Boy music as "that tuneless stuff Malcolm McLaren likes" and Nullsleep's vituperative response from a live stage got a laugh. I'm resigned to my role as "the heel," as it is called in professional wrestling. Post-screening comments about that "battle" were interesting: a media critic who attended called it a "mods vs rockers moment" and a higher-up in a media arts non-profit said to me: "I was surprised--I thought you supported our music." I do, most of it--I guess this person hasn't been reading my blog lately
--The movie favors a sociological, narrative, theoretical style of art. A different 8 BIT would tilt more to the crazy, pointless, Dionysian (but not wholly uncritical) side, represented by Paper Rad, who use game imagery and techniques extensively in their online and offline cartooniverse. Kristin Lucas's pioneering game-based videos emphasizing (Modernity-damaged, personal) psychology over Marxist socio-crit could also be included.
--Rumor has it JODI footage will be inserted--I love them, but they were established Internet-dismantlers before they became game dismantlers (correct me if I'm wrong). They would be the logical centerpiece to 8 BIT: The Return. 8 BIT already borders on long--not sure it can handle much more run time.
--If 8 BIT as currently constituted seems balanced (and it does), it is because the music clips and the montages of game "trash" supply the ebullient, anarchic counterpoint to institutional critique.
--the audience laughed at the funny parts and everyone seemed into it, including many who hadn't encountered Super Mario Clouds before.
--the movie is driven by excellent music and, as mentioned, relentlessly tasty videogame imagery--these are the glue binding together what is otherwise a series of (intermittently great) talking head interviews.
--Music-wise, Bodenstandig 2000 is a perfect mix of gritty chip tone techno-rave, Nitzer Ebb white b-boy rapping/chanting, and Laibach-ian Euro-gloom: they're accomplished "major label" musicians keeping it real with gear anyone can own. Snippets of other outstanding performances keep the film humming.
--the other thing that drives the movie is, once again, a busy visual sensibility centered on games. This has less to do with the individual artists featured than the producers' in-depth research and use of found clips that show a real love for the idiosyncrasies and poetry of games. This unified visual style supplies the feeling of an art movement--even when the artists actually have quite different backgrounds and intents. (I personally see the DIY, WTF work of Bodenstandig and the BEIGE crew as being opposed to the overdetermined, overproduced global capitalist apologetics of, say, John Klima.) Producer/Co-director/Director of Photography Justin Strawhand deserves special mention for this unifying use of images and clips mined from the net and creatively montaged. (Not to slight the contributions of Director and original concept-er Marcin Ramocki)MOMA 8 BIT page
(there's a second screening on Wednesday, Oct 11)8 BIT website
Thomas Kean, Jr., running for Senate in New Jersey, turns his back on a woman whose son is serving in Iraq in this video
. Watch him retreat across the room and leave his smarmy campaign manager to stonewall her. The latter looks like the type of arrogant personality that traveled to Florida for the "Brooks Brothers riot" during the 2000 election theft. Kean Junior is hoping that New Jersey voters will confuse him for his more famous father, who sat on the 9/11 Commission; the son is running against Democrat Robert Menendez, a much better choice for Senator.
Joan Didion has a good article in the New York Review of Books on Richard Bruce Cheney
, one of the darker blots on American politics, who will be widely proclaimed as such if the U.S. ever returns to separation-of-powers sanity. He's not a blustering thug like Joe McCarthy or a conspicuous, out-front liar like Oliver North, but he shares their basic attributes. Didion gets at the peculiar way he has of screwing up and then profiting from it, while perpetually convincing everyone around him that he is super-intelligent and on the side of the angels. She points out the inconsistencies in his political principles, the only possible thread connecting them being the aggressive acquisition of power and wealth. She examines his statement about having "other priorities than military service" during the Vietnam draft era and the weaselly way he responded in the aftermath of shooting Harry Whittington in the face, making it seem like the victim's fault, and relates these utterances to the Administration's twisted and meaningless justifications for torture. It's a longish article but I recommend reading it and really thinking about this sharp (but ultimately dull) operator, and how we can prevent others like him from coming to power. One conclusion is he's a pure creature of Washington, his only real skill bureaucratic infighting within that cozy yet Byzantine environment. A reason he's so against government transparency is it allows creatures like him to thrive in the inky ooze. So--more openness in government. Constitutionally mandate a "VP blog" and make him spend a couple of hours a day answering direct questions from the people who pay his salary. I'd love to see his lying obfuscations taken apart by smart interlocutors on a comment thread.
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