If Ernie Kovacs Had Lived to Make a Music Video (Review of Residents Demons Dance Alone DVD)

May 16, 2010

The title of this review pretty much sums this up for me and the 5 stars in my opinion are justly rewarded. For those unfamilar with Ernie Kovacs, he was a television icon of the 50s and 60s who specialized in broading the horizions of the medium to such a degree that we havent yet caught up to him, cept for the Residents that as.

I had purchased the album which contains the majority of the material presented here and in a strange way Ive grown to prefer these live versions of those songs as opposed to the studio versions on “Demons Dance Alone” the lp.

The back of the dvd tells the long intricate story of the troubles they had in trying to make a competent concert video of the show. They used night vision type cameras for a good deal of the performance which hads a flavor and a twist to the visuals. True it makes for a grainy picture but it does add to the atmopshere of the music.

The performances are inspired with audio al from a single shows performance but footage from several performance for the visuals. A complicated task that I think not a single music group could pull off for a concert video and frankly wouldnt attempt to pull off either.

They’re three separte versions of Mr.Wonderful (Ms. Wonderful and Life Would Be Wonderful) which acts as a recurring theme for the album, and please look for the nod to Snakefinger with the spirited cover of his song off the “Greener Postures” album (a great album by the way, not Phillip “SnakeFinger” Lithan at his best but still a great album).

I have to recommend this as the top two of the dvds (with Kettles of Fish on the Ouskirts of Town box)they have out now and tops among all other concert videos that ive ever seen(actually I rank all the Residents dvds above other artists dvd offerings, but perhaps im too biased).

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Shout Factory Drops The Ball (Review of SCTV The Early Years DVD)

May 16, 2010

Let me explain this one star review right out of the gate. These shows are GREAT, this boxed set is NOT. SCTV was a classic in studio (and dare I say better performed and a more creative) alternative than the charter cast edition of SNL. The celebrity impersonations are all classic, the skits were ground breaking and when familiar characters reappeared, the new sketches were refreshingly different. That being said, the desire to see all of the earliest 30 minute length shows should have resulted in a stronger demand than just this one set.
SCTV’s 30 minute shows ran from 1976 to 1981 with Candy and O’Hara (all but omitted from this set’s content but featured on the cover) involved with the show until ’79, Ramis (also missing) from ’76 to ’78 and Thomas, Levy, Flaherty Martin, Rosato, Duke. The majority of these short shows clearly come from the last two years (1980-1981) because Candy, O’Hara, and Ramis are all but missing completely from ever show included in the box. The sad reality of this set is that it is now three years old.
There are two possible reasons why Shout failed to release ALL of the 30 minute shows. The first reason is that Shout just might not be in a position (be it copyright issues or show availability) to release all of the shows. The second possibility is that Shout decided it was against their interest to release all of the earliest shows because of lackluster sales of the previous four 90 minute DVD sets.
I am willing to believe that Shout only has the right to the 1980’s shows but that does not make this set “The Best of the Early Shows.” I recommend purchasing the 90 minute sets and waiting for Shout to release all of the earliest shows in sequential order from 1976 to 1981. The likelihood of this happening in the near future is not likely because the barrage of Shout Factory SCTV releases now 3 years old.

Was Jaco Overrated? (A review of Weather Report: Unreleased)

May 16, 2010

His solo albums say he was not but this collection shows just how great his predecessor Alphonso Johnson and his replacement Victor Baileywere nearly as good too. True they were probably admittedly only sidemen behind the adventurous music Zawinul and Shorter were creating(this set is also produced by the two creators with alot of work done by Zawinul himself.
jaco fans will love this album too for it contains a 6 minute version of his bass ballad to his then wife “A Portrait of Tracy”.

Listening to this I have discovered just how important all the bass players are in the music that was created. The music is terrific and demands attention for some of the amazing solos often played in it which I think sets them (the band) far above the legion of smooth jazz that has followed after them which some feel the band actually helped create.
I personally feel Jaco was a tremendious fretless bass player with a terrific knack for song writing as well which you will barely find on this set. I do love this album but long still to hear a live rendition of “Three Views of a Secret” from “Night Passage” and Jacos masterpiece “Word OF Mouth”. Three Jaco penned tunes are in this collection and he plays on nine of the cuts and still sounds different from the rest. But the others alothough the music is different to an extent were terrific in their own right, and I think that was the reason they chose not to release only “Heavy Weather” era band material and and a good mix of bands instead.
My small dislike of this album is the inclusion of “River People” which sounds very much like the original. I think it was included because the leaders were so happy with the song and their ability to record a song that sounds almost mechanic live on stage.
Do enjoy this album and investigate some others like “Live in Tokyo” and of course “8:30”. I personally like this one above the two I mention.

“Dialoguing” along with no particular place to go

May 16, 2010

X-What did you do with those pancakes?

Y-Pancakes? I think I threw them in the toilet.

X-They weren’t meant to be eaten anyway

Y-Should I be worried if I begin to hallucinate?

X-No, just ride it out, the worst that will happen is that you will run out the front door and land on your face.

Y-I guess I can’t fly then

X-No

Y-I want to go try anyway.

X-Suit yourself, this is a one story building

Y-You are saying you don’t mind if I fly away?

X-I am not saying that because I know you won’t go anywhere? To be honest though, if you did fly away, I wouldnt care much about that either.

Y-I pay half the rent you know you bastard. What if I did leave, what the fuck would you do then

X-Eat inedible pancakes and fly away too.

Y-Yeah, try to fly off the brooklyn bridge.

X-I wonder if Walt Whitman took a piss on the horse carriages when he walked the bridge.

Y-He didn’t publish that leaf of grass.

X-Write it for him.

Y-‘Of the whispered voice deep within my body calling, To the helpless horse drawing the weight of the world across the thunderous life of the river. I relieve the faint cry from within to wet his deathless beard during his lugubrious journey to the outer borough,”

X-You are not Walt Whitman.

Y-I quoted that verse.

X-From whom?

Y-hm, I guess it doesn’t matter from whom if I just made it up.

X-Asshole

Y-I think you are right

X- Go make edible pancakes this time.

Y- I can’t cook anything edible, you know that

X-You can’t crack an egg, pour some milk and dump hungry jack in a bowl and mix it?

Y- You could have done that yourself instead of wasting time telling me about it.

X-Jerk

Y- I prefer being called an asshole, it sounds more specific

X-Don’t worry, you will be called an asshole too as long as I know you.

Y- I think I will make some of those pancakes I made earlier and try to eat them

X- Good, I will fly to Cairo

Y- Why, because it is hot and sand there?

X- No I want to get sick from the Nile River. I feel like I need to fight a severe bacterial infection.

Y- Those pancakes really did do a number on you. Maybe you will be immune from the bacteria like the locals because of the cakes.

X- What do I do about this? I NEED to fight something!

Y-Call me an asshole again and I will beat you up.

X-No, that is no fun. I want to fight an uphill battle.

Y- Go outside and run around naked for an hour. When the cops come to take you in, fight them

X- Maybe I will fly over the police precinct and take a shit on the building.

Y- You can’t fly

X- I still feel like trying

Y- Ride it out. Maybe you should chug some corn syrup, it might help

X-Did the mail come today?

Y_ There is no mail today?

X- There was no mail yesterday either, what is going on?

Y- No one lives us not even the hairy postman

X-It isn’t her fault she is so hairy.

Y- Where was she from anyway?

X-I don’t know, I think she is greek. Those Michael Dukakis eyebrows are kind of a give away.

Y- Wish she were nicer than she is.

X- I know, she has a constant look like someone took a shit on her lunch. Maybe they did.

Y- Anyway, no mail, no bills , no letters, no coupon circulars, no magazines, no hirsute letter carriers.

X- My magazine is late

Y- Which one

X- Boater’s World

Y- Thought you cancelled that.

X- Nope, I still like to pretend I have a boat.

Y. You’re weird.

X_ You’re an asshole

Y- Good, say that again and we can start that fight. I am getting kind of syched.

X- Sure asshole

Y-EUREKA!

The 2009 Garden State Film Festival

May 15, 2010

I arrived at the Paramount Theatre Friday night for the first of my two day stint at the Garden State Film Festival. As usual, I was early so I decided to go down to the beach and hang out on the rocks and watch the waves crash into the rock wall. This activity would prove to be the only highlight for me during my two day event at the festival. I hung out on the rocks as long as possible listening to the Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet on my MP3 player. At 6 precisely, I entered the Arcade.

The arcade looked more official than it had before. The ticket office was a tent which was set up in the center of the south entrance doors.  I looked around for familiar faces, Patrick spotted me and he was standing with other volunteers.

15 minutes pass by and we are just standing there, 15 more minutes passed, then 15 more minutes later more volunteers turned up and the people in the tent began talking to us. They gave us volunteers carnations. No one dressed up for their volunteer work. Workers at the festival had black staff shirts stating which company they work for. Us volunteers were scheduled to work as plain clothes guards and anyone trying to get into the arcade without a ticket for the opening night party were expected to see that carnation and know anyone with that on meant business.

After 7, people began showing up for the opening party. I but my best food forward. Soft spoken, I used eye contact to make sure people knew why I was there. The reason this job was such a waste of time was the ticket tent was set up 10 feet behind us “guards”.  It felt more and more like myself and Pat were guarding the restrooms to your right sign which was placed strategically between us.

After an hour of checking tickets and telling people to walk ten paces forward for their ticket, someone actually offered us volunteers a small bottle of vitamin water. Another volunteer came around with small pieces of various cheeses, cheery tomatoes, and pepperoni slices. I arrived to this event with the understanding that their would be food enough to skip dinner and eat it when I was no longer needed  to work. This did not happen and I went home finishing my cold green tea in my car and feeling hungry.

At about a quarter past 8 Pat and I were told to move to one side of the tent and we just had to make sure anyone going past the tent had a ticket. So we stood there. His back was to the tent and my back was to a collection of photographs and drawings.  Patrick had a stunning looking woman, tallish in a gray dress with white diamonds just walk up to him and started talking. I took a brief appraisal of how I looked, army jacket, slumped shoulders, glasses and with a carnation hanging from my silver necklace. Patrick seemed to have done away with his carnation and maybe that was why he got the girl talking to him.

Half past 8 came and someone materialized out of thin air and told us we were done. I took a brief walk to the other end of the now depleted arcade (the movie had started) and even the bartenders were bored.  I took a look at the same food platter as before and it was still filled with cheese, cherry tomatoes, and pepperoni slices, just 180 minutes older.

DAY2

I arrived in the parking lot next to the Wonder Bar at about 10am. I thought parking would be an issue all day since the film festival would be running for 12 hours straight. Again, I decided to kill the morning on the rocks in front of the convention hall. Again I listened to Beggars Banquet and much of my worries  about almost anything were being washed away with each wave that pounded into the rocks. It was high tide.

I wasn’t needed at the downtown theatre until half past 11. The wind was being evil but I enjoyed trying to walk against the wind and pretend I was putting on a mime show. Alas I ultimately became very bored and this would be the theme for the day.

It wasn’t 11 am yet before I started bugging the people in the tent for my gear (t-shirt, 2 weekend tickets etc).  Some guy, not looking at me stood within the tent and said “Volunteers sign this sheet over here” I signed the sheet, and said the hell with this and decided to take the Trolley “running all day’ to the downtown theatre where I was told I would be working.

The trolley was empty and it rocked in the wind. The driver sat studying the route he would be taking all day and in walked the founder of the film festival. She asked if I was a volunteer and immediately put me to work by having me hang posters in the trolley windows. Diane (Dawn?) guided the driver through the route and I was finally dumped off at the Synaxis restaurant. I was on time, please put that on the record.

I stepped into the restaurant, said I was a volunteer and a tall guy in glasses shaked my hand and said his name was Bill. He thanked me for volunteering. I nodded and said yep. He then told me I would be introducing each movie that came on in the restaurant. I must have looked as though a firecracker just went off next me, that is how I felt. He then said I to hand out 7 slips of papers to everyone in the restaurant. I got to work separating slips of paper then I began handing them out in the cramped (fire hazard) restaurant.  Noon came, Patrick showed up with his orange crew shirt and I was not told to say anything about the movies that they would be showing.  The movies were made by local students probably from several NJ high schools. Unfortunately, the serious films didn’t convey their messages very well but a particular comedy did stand out titled “In The Name of Love.” The story seemed to revolve around two brothers, one with a bitter girlfriend and the other trying to avoid her sister and a subplot involving a supermarket shopping list. The director made great use of flashbacks and it was the last film to be shown before we had to KICK everyone out of the restaurant before the next batch of films were going to be shown and the tall guy with glasses was going to have to charge 10 bucks admission per person.  Pat, me and two middle aged woman all looked at each other then we looked at the crowd of people and the waitress with black underwear serving lunch to several of the viewers of the previous batch of films. God was on the side of us lowly volunteers because most of the people did leave on their own accord.

Among the people heading to the front door of the Synaxis was a woman who said she was the mother of the filmmaker of the first film. She got close to my face, explained how important it was to see her sons film and how lousy she felt because it was her fault the whole family missed the film. Her guilt drove her to ask me if I could rerun the film and to bribe me $100 dollars to do this favor. My hands went up and I said that she had to go speak to Bill “Just look for the tall guy with glasses when he gets back”

Most of the people vanished and Patrick disappeared for his lunch that was set up for the volunteers at the local VFW. Sharon, one of the middle aged volunteers (also in an orange shirt, the bastards) told me I should go get some lunch too.

I walked to the VFW and it was only around the corner but all I could see was bingo. I saw no signs telling me where the food was, no one there to direct me where to go, and not even the slightest scent of food in the air. I decided to settle for a medium black coffee and plain bagal and cream cheese at the Dunkin Donuts across the street.  I planned to eat very slowly and take my time sipping the coffee. This experience was proving to be several levels of hell lower than I expected.

When I returned to the Synaxis, the second batch of movies were already showing and there was standing room only for these films. I already came to the conclusion that everyone seeing these films were the friends and family of the filmmakers and no one else.

Bill ran into a snag. He ran out of the rating slips and being tired of seeing poorly conceived, overly long student films, volunteered to take the trolley back to the Paramount for more slips. I had already tried to find more slips of paper at The Showroom but they were running low themselves.  I stood out in front of the Synaxis waiting for the trolley listening to Vince Guaraldi’s Almaville. A classic album which runs 42 minutes which I didn’t plan to be able to listen to from start to finish while waiting for this damn trolley.

I gave up and went back into the restaurant and Bill drove himself over to the Paramount for the slips. When he returned it was quitting time for all four of us volunteers . I didn’t see who was replacing us and I didn’t care.

I had thought of seeing the Johnny Cash documentary but I had no way of getting in without having to pay the $50 ticket to see the one film I wanted to see in the whole festival. I also had no staff shirt that would have allowed me some shot of getting in to see the film. Depressed, I walked slowly up Cookman back to the Paramount on foot . It was only 3:45. I thought about going to the freak show at the Asbury Lanes which was set to begin at 9 but without the Johnny Cash film around to fill the gaps of time. I wasn’t sure what the heck I was going to do. So, I went back to the rocks and listened to The Who’s Quadrophenia from start to finish. The wind was whipping around me and the waves were still pounding the rocks. Trying to enjoy something about the day. It was a quarter past 5 when I got tired of the rocks on the beach, the walking up and down the sidewalk, the lack of crowd and people and just went home.

Werner Herzog

May 15, 2010

Werner Herzog remains arguably the most important director to emerge from the New German Cinema movement.   The New German Cinema began in the 1960’s, and the directors that came from that movement are considered legendary.   Rainer Werner Fassbinder revolutionized cinematic drama, Wim Wenders made a impact in his legendary films, but it was Werner Herzog that managed to blur the line between fact and fiction with his documentary style of filmmaking.  Herzog received no formal training and the lack of training does not translate into a lack of intelligence as a film director.  Herzog continues to craft films that are uniquely different from anything that has come before or after he made his make on the industry.  Whether it was all midget casting, the hypnotizing of an entire cast, or the dragging of a ship over a mountain, Herzog’s intelligence and passion carried him to a level few others in any field have managed to reach.

Werner Herzog began his film career by creating films based on nightmares (Herzog, Even Dwarfs AC).  In “Fata Mangana”, Herzog attempted to film mirages in the Sahara desert. The film itself created an atmospheric vacuum for the viewer to exist in for a time.  While the film was described as a nightmarish vision by the director (Commentary Even Dwarfs), the documentary style gave the film a gritty realistic feel.

Herzog followed “Fata Morgana” with a second film created on location titled “Even Dwarfs Started Small.”  In this film, the director succeeded in creating a film that does manage to terrify the viewer.  This film consisted of a cast of dwarfs and midgets.  The goal of the director was to create a world where being a dwarf and midget is the norm and the environment around them appeared disturbing in comparison.  The plot for this film concerns a group of inmates who are trying to take over their institution.  Throughout the film, the inmates create a greater atmosphere of turmoil which grows until the films conclusion.  This film introduces some elements of filmmaking that would become characteristics of every Werner Herzog film to follow.  The director casted the midgets based on their appearance and their personality.  Few of the actors in the movie had no acting experience before starring in Herzog’s film.   Werner Herzog also used the plot to give the viewer images they would likely never see anywhere else.  In one scene, a dwarf woman shows some of her friends a collection of insects who are dressed in miniature clothes.   In another scene, a ceremonial procession was held and the leader carried a crucified monkey at the head of the parade. The director also introduced his chicken motif in this film.  Early in the film, there was a scene showing a chicken cannibalizing another chicken.

Throughout his career, Werner Herzog explored unusual stories to go along with his unique filmmaking style.  A 1974 example of this was “Heart of Glass” which told the story of a town whose only claim to fame came from a man who created stained glass. When the glass maker died, the town began to crumble because they felt they were doomed without the stained glass. In order to create an atmosphere within the film Werner Herzog had his cast hypnotized.   The hypnosis seemed to have a major role on the lead character Hias (played by Josef Bierbichler). Hias had the ability to foresee the future and he saw the downfall of the town.  Herzog successfully created the right atmosphere in this film which further cemented his reputation.

In “The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser,” the director attempted to film an ancient German folk story. The story involves a man who turns up in the center of a small town at the age of 18 years old. It is revealed that the young man had spent his entire life in solitude and without any human contact.  The young man never learned to speak any language, never learned to walk and he never learned to eat and take care of himself. An unknown man visited him during his youth and feed him and cleaned him.  Kaspar Hauser began to learn in the town and because he was never exposed to society, he learned elements of the world around him that no one else could see or understand.  Shortly before Hauser dies from a knife wound caused by an unknown assailant, Hauser tells that he sees a world that he never lived in.  Herzog once again had cast a major role to someone with no acting experience. The title role went to a man who wanted to be known only as Bruno S. Bruno had only appeared briefly in a single documentary prior to Kaspar Hauser. Werner Herzog decided to cast the lead for his film based on the man’s life experiences and not on his acting experience.  Bruno had spent the majority of his life in institutions and much like the role he played, his ability to function in society was clearly affected by his experiences.  A few years after Kaspar Hauser was released Bruno appeared again in a Herzog film that was written specifically for Bruno.  The title of this film was “Stroszek”.

Bruno S. had expected to be in a different Herzog film titled Woyzeck; the director decided to cast Klaus Kinski in the role.  Herzog decided to create a film specifically for Bruno S. to star in. After a week a week of writing, Herzog wrote “Stroszek.” (HerzogAC Stroszek).  Much like Kaspar Hauser, Stroszek was a film made for Bruno S. and his life experiences.  The story opened with Bruno S. saying goodbye to his fellow inmates in prison.  After his release, Stroszek encountered a hooker (played by Eva Mattes) and his old landlord.  The three struggled to survive in Germany and they decided to leave the country and move to America.  Stroszek, Eva and the landlord settled in Wisconsin and they try to adapt in their new country. Stroszek is perhaps the director’s most compelling film because of all it was able to accomplish with so little.  Eva Mattes was the only actor with any serious training. Every other person in the film either never received any formal training or they were actual people living in Wisconsin.  By mistake, the films action takes place in Plainfield, Wisconsin. The director was working on a project with the famed documentarian Errol Morris. Morris was planning on filming a documentary in Plainfield because the town is famous for the amount of serial killers it had produced. After the project collaboration fell through, Herzog decided to film a large section of his film in this town.  (Herzog AC Stroszek). The film’s ending remains striking for its obscurity. Stroszek, distraught over all of the events that had occurred, decided to drive as far as his truck would take him. Armed with a shotgun and frozen turkey, he entered a desereted amusement park and started the carnival machines filled with animals. After he started these machines, Stroszek boarded a ski lift and a solitary shotgun shot implied what he did on the lift. The film ends with a dancing chicken that continues to dance up until the closing credits.

Werner Herzog claims that he does not purse to make political messages in his films but many of his films approach political issues without stating an opinion.  In “Stroszek” the financial troubles the German immigrants run into is represented with scenes involving a sleazy banker threatening to take their mobile home away.  The director may or may not have been making a statement on capitalism in America.

In a more recent documentary titled “Lessons of Darkness”, Herzog filmed the burning oil fields of Kuwait which were ignited by Saddam Hussein’s army at the conclusion of the Gulf War.  The last scene showed two western oil workers ignite a uncapped well and this scene closed with a close up of the two oil workers smiling and smoking cigarettes. The political messages could have been obvious but Herzog worked to downplay what the viewer sees. Throughout the film, the workers are presented as being good.  The final scene is contrary to what we were shown in the film.

Another documentary entitled, “Little Dieter Needs to Fly” followed the story of a Vietnam veteran who despite his having no legs, wanted to be able to fly an airplane again. The film could have made several political statements but instead the film follows Dieter’s desires to make peace with what had happened in the war and his desire to fly an airplane.

While working with major actors was something Werner Herzog seemed to avoid in his early films, Klaus Kinski was an exceptioN. Herzog believed that people who fit the character’s personality closely could play the role with little or no experience required. Klaus Kinski possessed a fiery personality which attracted the director’s attention so much so that Kinski would be cast in five of Herzog’s films.  The first collaboration between the actor and director occurred in the film titled “Aguirre”.

The film “Aguirre” followed a plotline similar to Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”.  The story was based on a Monk’s journal and his written account formed the basis of the narrative.  The exhibition consisted of a group of Spanish soldiers and their search for El Dorado.  After some mishaps with flooding and altercations with Indians, Aguirre attempted a coup against the leader of the exhibition and he promoted a false king to rule the group.  The crew began to dwindle down to a few due to sickness and starvation. The film concluded with the megalomaniacal Aguirre commanding a group of monkeys which had overrun the raft.  The final shot showed Aguirre standing alone on the raft in a Richard III type pose. Even though Aguirre showed no sign of life, his pose suggested he was alive and lost in his dreams.  The character Aguirre fitted the character of Klaus Kinski.  Kinski, as described by the director was a man with two sides.  At one time Kinski could be gentile and quiet; at another time, Kinski could be on the brink of psychotic madness.  Once again we can see Herzog casting a character based on the actor’s personality and not necessarily on the actor‘s abilities.  (Herzog,My Best Fiend)

Werner Herzog went on to cast Klaus Kinski in two more films which were shot back to back.  Both films give the actor the ability to play a pure evil and complete madness.  In the first film, Werner Herzog ventures to remake F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu.”  The story opens with Harker (played by Bruno Ganz) going to see Count Orlock (portrayed by Klaus Kinski). The film follows much of the same formula as the original with Lucy Harker (played by Isabelle Adjani) defeating Orlock by keeping him at her bedside until dawn. While the Murnau story ends at this point, Herzog takes the story to a disturbing conclusion. The director created a pale atmosphere within the town which was being decimated by the plague. As he always had done Herzog uses his documentary type style to create a sense of realism within the town.  In one scene a family is sitting in the courtyard and they are going through a daily routine with poignant accuracy. The family is being turned away from their homes because of their being infected by the plague. This scene gives the viewer a profound sense of pain for the characters who are all doomed to die.  In “Nosferatu” the director for the first time, employed major actors for all of his lead roles.  By the late 1970’s Herzog’s reputation began to make it difficult for the director to keep talented and established performers from wanting to be in his films.

The film Herzog and Kinski did after consecutive to “Nosferatu” was a cinematic adaptation of “Woyzeck.”  In this film Klaus Kinski plays the title character who suspects that his wife Maria (played by Eva Mattes) is having an affair.  Woyzeck is the subject of strange experiments throughout the film and his psychosis is being studied by the local physicians.  After Woyzeck discovers his wife is having an affair, the character concludes his downward spiral into madness and violence. Much like “Nosferatu”, Herzog had Kinski channel his violent aggressions specifically toward the character’s emotion, as a result, Kinski was convincing and powerful in both roles.

By the early 1980’s Werner Herzog had become a prominent filmmaker. His next major project was going to take place in Peru and the film would be called “Fitzcarraldo”. The original stars for this film were going to be Jason Robards as the title character, Mick Jagger as a mentally slow English assistant and Claudia Cardinale as Fitzcarraldo’s wife Molly. This film would prove to be the most trying ordeal the director has ever undertook.  After spending a year and half building two ships for the film, Jason Robards fell ill and had to leave the film. Shortly after Robards left, Jagger was also forced to quit because of his obligations to The Rolling Stones.  Werner Herzog was prepared to start production but he had no actors and his financiers were leaving him.  After failing to find a suitable leading man, Herzog decided to cast Kinski as the lead.  Fitzcarraldo is someone who is dreamer and an adventurer.  The elements in the character’s personality were not apparent in Kinski and this partially explains why Herzog was reluctant to hire him. The other reason Herzog was not enthused with the casting of Kinski was because of Kinski’s temperament and having to deal with his emotions in an uncomfortable foreign setting.  The story focuses on Fitzcarraldo’s goal to bring an opera house into areas of the world where that music is not known.    Herzog reworked his script and he took his cast to Peru for the filming.  Much like “Aguirre”, “Fitzcarralo’s” main action occurred on a boat traveling along a mysterious river.  Werner Herzog managed to accomplish several amazing feats.  During the story, the large steamboat Fitzcarraldo runs aground and his solution is to have the steamboat dragged over a mountain to the other side.  Herzog literally had the steamboat dragged over the mountain.  The massive undertaking resulted in accidents, one in which resulted in a worker being paralyzed.   Although he had to deal with the border war between Ecuador and Peru, the financing problems, cast changes, and Klaus Kinski, Herzog managed to create his crowning achievement in “Fitzcarraldo.”

I always sit behind THAT couple, The Who @ Holmdel,NJ 2006

May 10, 2010

I guess it is bad luck but as the guy next to me told me. “I know you said you always get stuck behind the making out couple” pointing at the couple sitting front of me “but this is ridiculous.”  In front of me the attractive blonde woman was now going down on the guy she was making out with. Few things are less romantic than a Who concert. For me their music always seemed to speak to the angry lost adolescent, the disaffected and the tormented by whatever in life, not love and romance. Then again, the other occasions were the same. The Henry Rollins spoken word show was not very romantic, yet there was a couple getting it on in front of me. The Blonde Redhead/ Interpol show was worse. I had a date to that one but the girl wasn’t into me and vice versa, yet, a couple was right in front me getting it on. I can say I did see The Who, and they were on a mission.

They were on two missions actually, one was to test drive their new songs in public, the other is to influence at least one 11 year old in some town somewhere, to pick up a guitar, a mic or a set of drum sticks and play because of their show. This is bound to happen at least once on this tour. Both missions were commendable, but the majority of the crowd were looking to here The Who play their

golden oldies, over and over and over again. If they hadn’t made a new album, I was going to feel sorry for them in spite of the fact I spent $200 to sit there. They started the show same way since (Who knows, they don’t) with “Can’t Explain”. then “The Seeker” then the new stuff was mixed in. I can’t call the music bad. I imagine “It’s Hard” sounded real bad back in the day. It will take some getting used to. Played next to their show stoppers, they just didn’t work well. The crowd appreciated it though. The drunken couple sat down which meant I could sit down, the wormy old man with the same height of James Arness to his credit stopped swaying in his place and sat down. For a moment, everyone sat down while Roger and Pete dueted a song. I then remembered what Pete Townshend said in an interview on a video I had seen. He said that he hated playing “Dreaming from the Waist” because Daltrey would look at him on stage and Pete felt that Daltrey sort of edging toward a singer songwriter (Everly Brothers) feel on stage. Pete changed his views since 1994, because that’s what they looked like up there. What choice did they have? they were on a mission.

Being on a mission, the Who’s point of the show was not on the emotional angst in their older music (I don’t think the band cares to remember the pain of their youth, why celebrate it and trot it around forever?). Their mission was not my goal to going. I wore my wartime coat specifically in honor of the hero of “Quadrophenia.” My favorite album of the Who, the album that was not touched on once during the show, a close second for me is another neglected album, “By Numbers.” You can’t always get what you want, and if the stones think I’ll spend $500 to see them in AC so they can blow off “Beggars Banquet” they ought to cut back on the blood transplants.

Their sound was good, the songs were getting worn out but it was good to hear some strange ones thrown in, if only to keep Pete and Roger interested. After awhile, I imagine someone could get sick of playing “Won’t Get Fooled Again” after 35 years. If that were Miles Davis, he would have went mad (he was doing rap music on his last studio album, that’s a long way from “So What”). Granted I am not the biggest fan of “Can’t Explain”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Behind Blue Eyes” and Baba O’Reilly, if anything I was hoping to relive the thrill of first hearing “Who’s Next” back when I was young, angry and always alone in high school. This point leads into something that went wrong for me at this show.

The Who were on a mission and that was to influence just one kid in every town to start playing because of them. I am sure they will succeed, they are not playing in front of anyone at 4:01pm now on a Saturday afternoon, this I am sure (they’re still in Jersey), but at this moment someone is likely getting into playing or singing because of what they are hearing on one of their albums. I suppose the problem is, they have changed and that is a good thing. How can anyone carry the feelings they had of youth and portray them and their songs linked to their dark memories with the same feeling? Their is something sick about that if you think about it. I guarantee, the last song you will ever be likely to hear Neil Young play live is “Motion Pictures”, or “Tired Eyes”. “Quadrophenia” was a tribute to who made the Who big, but there was alot of the youthful, anger of someone always alone in that album that I can still relate to. “By Numbers” was about dissatisfaction of being at the top of your game and looking down at the fall that is inevitable. Is that were the booze came into the picture? When you know you are going to fall anyway? Do it , but have some fun. Or I got this far fucking around, why not keep going and I will never fail. Perhaps that is the sober versus the drunken mentality. At any rate, they lost the feelings and grew up. If anything, the Spinal Tap joke does not work for them. They aren’t trying to hold on to some thing in the past. If anything, I am more of a preserved moose at 28 than they are these days, and yes I admit that it is pathetic. We can’t all be young and pissed off forever.

The Borgata Incident

May 10, 2010

Some people take their job way too seriously and at the expense of their own employers. Case in point was the Little Steven’s Underground Garage event at The Mixx in the Casino Borgata. This show was dropped on me by my older brother John whom I hadn’t seen for seven years before going to see the New York Dolls play for free at Vintage Vinyl. The bands that were going to play, were all complete strangers to me. This I still find hard to believe considering how I feel about garage rock. It is the only rock music that has the free spirit and is completely free of massive creative failed ideas. It also seemed fitting that on Thursday night I was going to see the Who try to bring about the type of music played on Friday night. Granted some of these bands have been around since Keith Moon was still drinking and breaking things. The list Swingin’ Neckbreakers, this is a Trenton trio of garage rockers with a mailman singing bass player, a drunken guitarist with a good sound on the instrument and a talented drummer, all of their names are still foreign to me. The Woggles, also garage rocks vets from Atlanta Georgia the Fleshtones who seemed to be prolific when I looked up their album list on Amazon. I found out since seeing them that they were the opening at on the first major tour put on by The Police (Reggatta de Blanc tour?), Mooney Suzuki, just Can fans I guess and The Zombies, well, two of them and a pick up band (the two guys dropped the original line-up in ’69 so they

shouldn’t be missed). Everything was set and arranged. $24 a ticket. Jeff picked up mine, we were set to meet up at the Saw Mill and head to A.C.

This would be the first time I had been in Atlantic City in 16 years. That statement would lead one to believe a few things, either I am really old and 16 years is not that big a deal, or I don’t go out much. The latter is still true though 16 years is beginning to be not that long ago anymore. I would be doing the driving from Seaside. I insisted on it because I do not like to drink. My older brother and his high school buddy Jeff are veterans of the rock concert scene. The hung out with the Ramones so much that it wasn’t a big deal. John used to hang out at the bar in CBGB’s with Debbie Harry back when he was 14! Vets of the last great rock scene this country will ever likely experience. We were all going to Atlantic City to celebrate the previous classic music scene. The garage bands of the 60’s. Back in the 60’s there was something called a local charts list. Each city and its surrounding areas had a local number one on their radio stations. In Pittsburgh The Sonics were number one with “Psycho” if one listed to top forty radio and billboard charts, Tom Jones or even worse might have been number one for months in a row. I still never seem to run into people actually like even a quarter(no Ill go as low as five songs) of the top 40 hits in the country right now, who is making this shit big? I have digressed enough.

The drive was a little daunting because I never did it before, John didnt know it either, Jeff was sitting in the back and fell very silent. The cool thing about these guys is theat they are indifferent , to a point, the point would be reached later that night. Finding The Borgata Casino was no mean feat. I made a wrong turn and ended up were you don’t want to be in Atlantic City, which is everywhere that isn’t a Casino. I corrected the error quick enough and we were in the parking garage. Finding a spot was easy enough. I found out that Def Leppard and Journey were playing a show at the Borgata that night…explained parking. In the Casino, I tried to be in awe of the surroundings, the lights, the money, but all I could be in awe of were the waitresses. They were almost

entirely nude! In a place like that you know it is alright to stare at their legs and breats with delight because they are used to it. It wouldn’t be alright to ask them out because most of them are likely still fuming from that jerk off that gave them shit for saying no at the start of their shift. I often feel I should pay for the sins of every bastard I never met, hence my perpetual guilt and single status. We had time to kill so John and Jeff went to one of the 40 or 50 bars around in the casino and decided to get pissed for the show. Jeff was cool with the drinking, a few beers for the buzz then in for the rock n’ roll kill of the eardrums later at 10pm. John, being a relative went straight to beer heaven. My sister wouldn’t be able to drink him under the table and that’s for that long a time in their lives. I am terrified that such a thing is in my fate.

So over to the impossible to find sober but easy to find ripped “The Mixx” nightclub for the Little Steven’s Underground Garage Rolling Rock N’ Roll Show. We three added to the seven already in line. This little man came out looking at the tiny row of people for the show and he told John he couldn’t wear his hate to the show, then he zeroed in on Jeff and told him he couldn’t come in because of his pants. Jeff apparently was wearing “sweat pants” to a rock show. The little man stood his ground to Jeff’s desperate rants against their dress code to a rock concert. It was to no avail, a plea to see the manager led only to the little man lying and his offering a refund for his ticket. The time was 10:30pm and the race was on, for a pair of pants!

The first choice was the local shops, by local I mean in the borgata itself. I was a bit surprised that they had stores next to the Casino. This surprise added to my disappointment of what I was seeing. It was a fucking mall. I hate malls. I hate malls even more when they were asking for $104 for a pair of pants. By this point John and I were willing to chip in on a pair of pants for Jeff to gain admittance to the rock concert. Perhaps the amount they were asking was way too much. Desperation was beginning to set in, so Jeff scouted out the girls pants (the things one will do for Rock N’ Roll) but they

were priced even higher. Shit time to leave the casino and score pants elsewhere. Jeff was pissed John was pissed on beer and I was sober and flustered as I got behind the wheel in search of a Walmart (or anything) as 11pm rapidly approached (closing time). The parking lot attendant clearly sympathized our predicament. He told us where the exit to Mays Landing was on the AC Expressway. Exit 12 led to the land of massive corporate strip malls. Here, was the local shops, massive in size and standard in every suburban area in the country no doubt. Exit 12 was further away than we planned. By the time we got to the Target, it was closed, Old Navy was acroose the street, it was closed. Finally, we found a Walmart. It was just closing. Jeff, got and pleaded for a pair of pants, anything not sweat pants. No go. By this time the atmosphere in my car was ugly, and it smelled very bad. My car still smells bad a few days later.

John being a bit pissed had his arm sitting on my console while I was leaving the parking lot. I didnt realize this and I was wondering what that strange hissing sound was in my car. It sounded like a tire going flat but it was inside where we were sitting. John began to look around the sound stopped, then he stopped and it began again. Then the smell of spray deodorant began to fill the car. A long neglected can of spray deodorant was nearly entirely empyited in the center console. From that moment hence, my car will forever smell like a locker room. Sad but pardon my digression.

I was feeling guilty, I never been a veteran of these concerts and so I wouldn’t have minded missing something I never really experienced. I used to see shows quite a bit back when Birch Hill existed and metal shows were still good (Kid Rock marked the end of this period, I haven’t set foot in a mosh pit since). The metal shows might have been lived by someone else, I was not going to miss these shows so I offered Jeff my pants and I would walk around the Casino wearing someone else’s sweat pants til 6 am. It would be easy enough to do the exchange in separate stalls in the men’s room. Jeff, was not up for the prospect of wearing someone else’s pants for a rock show, and decided to

sit in the back of the car in the cloud of spray deodorant for hours, in the hope of falling asleep. Five bands would be performing in The Mixx. John and I decided to show clemency for our friends lack of fashion sense and split after three acts came and went.

The Mixx was nearly empty! Little Steven’s Underground Garage Rolling Rock N Roll show managed to draw about 80 people total into the night club. The bands couldn’t give a shit though. They got their thousand dollars up front and were playing with the knowledge that Little Steven’s checks never bounce. The first act was probably the heaviest, loudest rock trio ever. The Swingin’ Neckbreakers (named after a wrestling move, who knew I didnt) came on as we entered the club. John has seen these guys perform 50 times at least. The band is from Trenton New Jersey and I never heard a even a single song of theirs in my life. This band looked like they’ve been up and down the entire rock n’ roll seen and managed to survive the whole time. The reality was different, these guys were playing in this band part time and were doing real work in the day. The bass player/ singer is a mailman at the Trenton office. The music was fast, loud, garage rock heaven. I didn’t know any of their songs but they all sounded good, and playing the musical origins of punk rock, the guitarist lost his guitar for a moment while the band carried on. The dance floor was nearly empty but a few girls took to the space and lit it on fire. The band was second to my visual attention when one fine young woman began to dance in a tight black dress, and no bra causing her lovely breats to move around in generous visual delight. The band members with wives in the audience (the mailman) struggled to not stare at the glorious spectacle before his eyes. He was failing in his efforts. All of the acts had to do a song for the go-go girl dancers at the end of their set. They came on and danced with the band. I felt a bit like Austin Powers with a premature ejaculation problem standing their watching the girls perform. John’s eyes were lashed on to the same one I was staring at. We were staring at this one dancers crotch which seemed to be more revealing than the others (she looked like a lovely girl and she looked like she was having a lovely time). She also seemed a little self conscience that some of us guys could see the lining of lips

visible through her florescent underwear. That made the night for me, and I was so happy to have the pants to be there!

The Woggles from Atlanta Georgia were next. These guys also looked like the world had kicked their asses for some time. (I think most people heading into middle age look like the world kicked their ass.) These guys were more professional than the Neckbreakers only by virtue of their experience and their entertainment value. These guys weren’t young but they were enthusiastic and that made the music sound better. It has been awhile since I saw a band not perform a song for the sake of playing, but to live for the sound itself. The last show must have been the SUn Ra Arkestra. Jazz bands play the music for the emotion,, that’s why no song is played the same. it is how a performer feels. The Woggles made the music feel like an event, their stage act was only an act of course but it was fun. What crowd there was, got into it. It was at this time my eyes seized hold of a cute little blonde who looked like a companion of the night wearing a sun dress. At this time my attention went straight to this vision on the floor. She moved with a sinister grace as the singer did his best Daltrey stage dive impersonation and began to boogie with her on the floor (because she was the only hot little blonde visible from the stage, more came for the sets climax “Jezebel”, all the sets ended with a song about the insanely magical powers women have and they seemed to stem from the line by Led Zepplein “Soul of a woman was created below.” it was this devilish power that I have been longing for, onfortunately, I do not hide this fact very well. Also very unfortunate was the cute little blondes wedding band. She was alone but I decided to let the chance pass, fear wins out, fear of being turned away.

The conclusion of the show (for us, out of guilt because of Jeff and his pants) was The Fleshtones, immediately, I could see that this band was going to be really into audience participation. By this time I felt a little embarrassed for these bands. True they were the only ones making the money that night. (They didn’t even check for tickets at the door

because the borgata gave birth to a total bust!) I heard that each band was making $1000, but it seemed to me that they were earning the money by playing an empty room. Was it poor promotion? Will the borgata host the follow up shows that are to have Shadows of the Knight, New York Dolls and The Remains? I would suppose not, but they might have signed on and have no choice. That said the lead singer of the Fleshtones tried to get all 25 of us in the crowd hyped up for their set. He got frustrated from his failure. Their music didn’t strike me the way the Woggles had. The Woggles had a more slicker and formed set. The Fleshtones actually sounded like a sloppy garage band! When this fact struck me and I got over the fact that the guitarist and bass player were cordless and would be roaming the entire floor (because they could) the music got real good. I caught my groove and it was a good feeling. These guys were also more into showmanship. Only the lead singer of the Woggles was willing to move about and speak like a southern preacher (the band is from Atlanta, Georgia) and the singer both looked like a farmer that heard The Seeds on the radio, went made for rock music and has been singing ever since (I bet this did happen!) He was comical and was entertaining, the band was working. The whole of the Fleshtones were entertaining. The set seemed to degenerate after awhile into a full on show instead of a set. It was when the band started to do push ups on the floor and tried to get anyone around them to join in for a evenings exercise that I found myself alone with the band (as drunk as the other 24 were, they had the sense to hide by the merch table) The lead singer was old and he was barely going down with each rep. I was getting into the spirit and was doing the clapping push ups before keeling over next to the singer who carried on for ten more just to make me look bad! Maybe not, but still this was their moment, their buzz, their night, all of the bands. I asked John how the singer of the Neckbreakers can find the energy to work full time as a letter carrier in the post office and still do these all night shows! John who was hanging out with the singer and his wife between the sets said it plain “It’s a buzz!” The letter carrying tires the shit out of you. I took two unpaid days off for this one all-nighter!

Mooney Suzuki hit the stage and began with only a fraction of Funkadelics Maggot Brain, then they began their songs. This was a big mistake, Maggot Brain is a masterpiece, you had better be good enough to play the whole thing if you start it. I wanted out, the hot little blonde even stuck in some ear plugs at this point. John thought these guys were snobs too and that was the end of the concert. Back at the car Jeff did what he said he was going to do, sleep in the back of my car, with the overpowering smell of that evil spray deodorant, and the sound of Journey and Def Leppard fans singing as they headed to their cars made his evening likely one of the worst for awhile. It was time for me to impersonate a professional Nascar driver, and head back north. John had about 10 beers but we still talked during the drive about baseball and football, some rock shows, some shit jobs it is funny about family, the conversation never changes and I hadn’t hung out with him in seven years. It was four am when I arrived home, my ears were finally buzzing from a show, first time since I was 20 and alive.

Random poetry

May 10, 2010

Fencing

Forward forward. Back back back.

When you don’t see it ….then you strike

“A palpable hit”

Reset, rethink, reconsider, reevaluate. Then fence

Forward, back back back, an attempt!, then miss

Thoughts rush in, too fast to stop

Too fast to halt the effects

“How did I miss? What went wrong? Was it this? Was it that? Did I                                            ever connect in the first place?”

Confidence fades, will to fight diminishes.  Forward forward back                                                                   back back back.

“No hit on either side” time passes maybe the game is over and                                                     maybe that is part of this useless game.

2

because of a fate…

Fearing dismemberment

Fate worse than death.

Laying in the bed, balked, disillusioned

Listening to Nick Drake’s “At The Chimes of the City Clock” relating to the songs message of protected isolation.

“Stay in doors beneath the floors,

talk with neighbors only. The games

you play make people say you’re

either weird or lonely”

Sometimes comfort is a prison. Being tired to a comfortable bed is still being tied down.

“And he will lose if he won’t choose

the one he may confide in. Sunny boy with smokes to sale,

went to ground with a face so pale, and never heard about the change,

showed his hand and fell out of range.”

3

Haikus 1.1 4/14

With pained, ill fitting

Legs, Back, Arms, Hands, Feet, Hair, Mind

Struggling along

Haikus 1.1

Clearing of the throat

I know you must be close

Seeing through my walls

Haikus 1.3

It wasn’t my hope

To be in precariousness

Someone will be hurt

Haikus 1.4

Stutters when’nt silent

Nervousness is Being

Silent! don’t stutter!

Haikus 1.5

Apologies at brink

I seeked silence, avoidance

I’m no pain merchant

Haikus 1.6

Live, Fearing the worst

Keeping myself in close check

This isn’t living

Haikus 1.7

Trying but why try?

Trying isn’t my resolve

Trying is all life

Haikus 1.8

Not trying is Death

Quiet silence of long night

living in Death

Haikus 4/14

for L…”us”:

crippled Foundation

we build our futures for us

sinking into swamps

Haikus 4/14

Blanketing Me!

my weekend was not with Her

But she owned my heart.

Haikus 1.9

I’m not happy

Only The Fool claimed such peace

Restlessness in heart

Haikus 2.1 4/17

Haikus 2.1

Bury fears within

Hiding the doubts, Take Comfort!

The facade is strong Written with a Purpose cont.

Haikus 4/17

More Alive, Alert

Feeding from Her energy

I will be made, break?

Haikus 4/17

Helping yourself up

cowering along alone

This is too common

Haikus 4/17

Eating away within (6 SORRY)

Ripped apart, reassembled

PUT THE PIECES BACK!

Haikus 4/17

Energy flowing

Fearing the dark, desperate fuel

Fear is Energy

Haikus 4/17

Blackening too much

Falling short of proposals

Decisions not mine

Haikus 4/17

Shakiness too soul

This brings vibrancy, Purpose!

Life is all born of Fear (6 AGAIN)


My One Minute Film Script

May 10, 2010

Shot of Door POV shot. Man enters the room and speaks angrily.

Man (confrontational)

Now look! Im not going to let you sit there, (whining voice) feeling so sorry for yourself?

(Cut to Medeium shot of man looking down off camera)

Man

I just can’t stand seeing you like this anymore and you have no right to expect to me to accept this any longer.

(Cut back to POV)       Man

(yelling) Now I demand! Demand! That you get your act together and stop feeling sorry for yourself!  I know you are frustrated about your size compared to me and the other people you have to deal with but you are almost (slowly) forty years old and it is time you started to accept your size! (pause)

(Cut to Medeium shot of man looking down off camera)

Man

Well?

(Cut to) Close up of the cat.

(Cut to) a new close up of the cat showing the animal as towering.

Cat

Meow which turns into a  Growl

(Cut to the man medium shot) arms move to hips and head lowers in frustration

(Cut back to the cat shot in imposing fashion, low angle upward)

Cut to POV)                             Man

(directed toward the floor) I’m sorry (pause)

to the camera.       I’m Sorry, OK?

Man turns to leave the room. While walking away says.

Why am I so pussywhipped?

(cut to cat)                  Film ends