For March 2008: SXSW - OBAMA/CLINTON CIRCUS - REALIST ARCHIVE UPDATE and FOUR NEW TRACKS OF MUSIC
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covering posts from February 4th through March 20th, 2008. Click here for most recent posts.
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DRUG COMICS - GOVERNMENT COMICS - OTHER INTERESTS
ON THIS PAGE: "THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN" - Three days aboard the Obama/Clinton Press Show (read)
Comics With Problems #23 and #24
Military Courtesy and Don't Bruise That Pig
Realist Archive Update #8 and #9, including the 1959 pre-legal Announcement of the Birth Control Pill - Abbie Hoffman ghosting as Ché Guevara - Norman Mailer on Norman Mailer, and P.K. on the successful LBJ Prank ... ALSO four preview tracks of music from upcoming LIVE AT HARRY'S LOFT album
See our special selection of political season comics at the bottom of this page
PREVIOUSLY DISCUSSED LAST MONTH: Bobby Getting Hep, Andy Warhol's Mr. Stompanato, RAW on Sexual Education, Captain Awareness on Sexual Assault, and Charles Manson Was My Bunkmate
Jonathan Haeber of BEARINGS offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. Shown above: a lithograph from the front gate illustrating a parade of children following Michael to an undisclosed location. Also note: the custom designed console for the Neverland Bumper Cars. Click here for the full post - Many other photos at Mr Haeber's Flickr set here ... (On a unplanned yet somewhate related note, see our review of MR LONELY below)
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March 17 2008
South By Southwest: Five Great Films, One Outstanding One, and One Floating Turd
- MOVIES -
SXSW just finished its nine day alcoholic assault on the city (G-d love it) and we return with a couple film recommendations that directly relate to the audience of this site.
SXSW FILM REVIEW
BEST FILM SEEN ALL YEAR
"SECRECY" Starring The CIA, USIS, USAF, NSA, Others.
Directed by Peter Galison and Robb Moss.
This very accomplished film does for National Security what THE CORPORATION did for the term Made In China. Your most political friends are going to be crowing about this like sugar freaks. You will too, and yes you should really see it. You'll love it.
SECRECY is about exactly the word itself: What does it mean to classify things, hide information, what is kept from us, for what purpose, all that great shit, back all the way into the 40s. The film also contains an amazing cast of interviews that leaves you literally stunned, "How the hell did they get that person to talk on camera?"
But information aside, SECRECY is quite simply an elegant and beautiful experience to watch. Set to a constant midtempo score and briskly paced it feels like one of the nicest educational experiences possible. Extremely distinctive visual choices. Most notable is the surprising knock-you-on-your-head decision to incorporate installation art into many of the sequences. This blending of information with modern art meditations on the same themes (paranoia, surveillance, lies, etc) is the sort of thing that makes each ingredient (the film, the information and the referenced art pieces) all suddenly brain-cracking in their combined effect. The information alone might be boring to some, the art piece might be pretentious to others, the interview might be a talking head - but blended ... I guess I'm saying, ho ho ho!, this is some hot shit! And it addresses probably our most important problem today. But enough about the subject, just do view it if it comes to town and certainly rent it when it shows up on DVD, gift that DVD to others, etc etc.
SXSW FILM REVIEW
Winner of the single biggest piece of shit I saw this week goes to ....
"21" Starring Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth. Directed by Robert Luketic.
The main reason this film is such an unsalvageably bad experience is because the original story it is based upon is so good, so this out of tune fuck up offends double. Based on Ben Mezrich's book "Bringing Down the House", this is a true-life story of five M.I.T. students who nearly busted numerous Vegas casinos through math. There's an excellent 'just the facts' documentary called BREAKING VEGAS, which you should watch instead. "21" is over-glossed garbage. It's the casting and direction in "21" that is so off the mark and thoughtless. A missed opportunity here for a cool stress-filled story of neurotic somewhat ugly students dipping arrogantly in seriously dangerous water, both morally and physically. Instead we are given fresh-faced pretty kids with bleached dialogue and gestures that click and pop like a People Magazine photoshoot. It's embarrassing how cool this film is trying to be. It's an ugly story that wrote itself; it should feel real. There are so many creative opportunities with a kind of story like this. So it's physically painful to see Hollywood gloss and meat-grind it into an hour and half long Mentos ad of cocky high-fives and hair gel. I had a joke this week that it's called "21" because you'll want to leave after the first twenty minutes. A Starsky & Hutch episode on this material would have fared better on my palette. Avoid it. Piece of shit.
Okay, there's our one negative review, here's some capsules on five other films:
1) "OBSCENE" (subject: Grove Press) Starring Barney Rosset (publisher)
Directed by Daniel O'Connor and Neil Ortenberg
With John Waters, Gore Vidal, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jim Carroll, others.
Prior to seeing SECRECY this was the single best documentary I'd seen at the entire festival, and it's still the most sentimentally affecting. OBSCENE focuses on the epic life of Barney Rosset, the publisher of Grove Press and Evergreen Review Magazine. People know of Grove Press for different reasons. I was introduced to it early through a filthy unallowed life-changing view of PXXXXX ZXXXXXXX! (still my single favorite xxxxx xxxxxx of all time) my wife knows of Grove as Samuel Beckett's U.S. publisher. And to others it's the book company that fought to legalize banned books like Lady Chatterly's Lover and emancipate the treasured work of Henry Miller. We all owe a debt to Barney Rosset for the legal battles he fought for our first amendment rights (honestly), and for this reason alone this film is an overdue honor to him. But what tips the scale into required entertainment is Rosset's participation with the film itself, offering up countless personal filmstrips, photos, memories, etc. Add to this the visual power of hundreds of gorgeous Grove Press book jacket designs, beautiful women and a ton of filthy words and you have an amazing viewing experience of this great history. My best to both filmmakers on a successful life with this picture. Highly recommended.
2) "CHOKE" Starring Sam Rockwell, Kelly Macdonald and Anjelica Houston. Directed by Clark Gregg.
I hesitate to say anything critical of "CHOKE" because as big Hollywood films go it is pretty decent and sharp. It also stars Sam Rockwell, who I've been personally rooting for ever since 1996's BOX OF MOONLIGHT. Anjelica Houston's performance is perfect, as well. And I think there's a rule that ever since TRAINSPOTTING I have to love everything Kelly Macdonald ever works on (I do follow this rule, so of course she's great here too) However, Fox-Searchlight did the dumbest attention seeking stunt of the entire festival, forcing all audience members to endure a bag search and full body metal detector wand at the entrance. This pretentious act of self-importance caused such a traffic jam (choke pun #1) and put such a bad taste in everyone's mouth (choke pun #2) that I joked it must be a Hitchcock-like ploy for the film itself. "We'll choke the line up at the door" Unfortunately, it wasn't. But since they decided to pull the dumb stunt, I feel obligated to mention my other joke about the film, that another good title for it could be "Mmmmm. Chocolate Pudding!" (applicable as a spoiler only after you've seen the entire thing) ... But a pretty damn good Hollywood film based on Chuck Palahniuk's clever novel about sex addiction. He also wrote Fight Club.
3) "HUMBOLDT COUNTY"
Starring Jeremy Strong, with Brad Dourif, Fairuza Balk, Peter Bogdanovich, Frances Conroy, Madison Davenport and Chris Messina.
Directed by Danny Jacobs and Darren Grodsky.
Man, what a fine film, this one ...
Full review forthcoming, please hold ...
Sorry, fun joke, given the promo image of the doorless outhouse. I knew I'd like this film once I was handed a pack of rolling papers with the film's name printed on them. This was the gimick handed out by the filmmakers, so it shouldn't surprise you that Humboldt County's prominent (serious) theme is about pot. But in the vast sea of 'serious' drug films, few address what is presented here, namely that of loss, family, and the weird anxious place of following the straight path, or risking other more soulful but potentially life-idling pleasures, which is a serious trap in itself.
Great emotionally moving film. Especially impressive is its choice to address California's current marijuana problem: Legal to grow for medical on a state level, Illegal in all cases and raided with great threat by the federal government. With this as a backstory there are some genuinely powerful moments including DEA raids, helicopters, possible violence, all that shit. And watch out for the shotguns. Recommended.
Postscript: Kudos for the casting Brad Dourif, whose performance is worth the price of admission by itself. Dourif is automatic royalty to me, particularly for his film-stealing performance as Billy Bibbit in 1975's ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST:
Yeah ... I have to admit that my interest in this film started with a joke to a friend. "Apparently that Radiohead film wasn't enough for him" - Grant Gee's previous work MEETING PEOPLE IS EASY was such a stylized and abrasive work I assumed that was his murderous style, and that this anticipated Joy Divsion documentary would be much of the same, only BIGGER static pauses, BIGGER broken shutters, BIGGER weird kind of video wall effects, shots of airports and BIGGER escalators, etc. Happy to report I'm an asshole for the assumption and was very wrong. With these two movies digested I now consider Grant Gee to be one of the most flexible and interesting music-based filmmakers around. MEETING PEOPLE IS EASY looks the way it does because Radiohead looks and feels like that. And if this is any big leap to make, Grant Gee has now managed to make a film look and feel like Joy Division, as well. And what an achievement, considering we're dealing with footage from over thirty years ago.
I'm protective of this music too, as it's some of the early teenager music I grew my hair out to, age 13-14. It's also some of the only stuff that has endured for two decades since. This film is very much a visual treat on the history of the band, using archival footage projected onto new locations, and filled with interviews. Some wonderful camera tricks, like focusing in on pixels of old footage for a texture, having waveforms wrap the screen during music, other pleasing ambient moments. What's best, however -- what will matter most to any Joy Division fan -- is that the film features music you'd never expect to hear. We're treated to the VERY FIRST DAY'S demo recording of the band when they were still called Warsaw and very influenced by the Sex Pistols. It's ridiculous to hear Ian Curtis scream BOLLOCKS BOLLOCKS BOLLOCKS, FUCK YOU! But it's here. The maturity and decline is handled with just as much focus and insight. A thoughtful labor of love on one of the finest two-album bands of all time. Do see this film it if arrives in your city. And it's completely Thom Yorke free.
5) "MISTER LONELY" Starring Diego Luna, Samantha Morton, Denis Lavant, Rachel Korine, Anita Pallenberg, and Werner Herzog.
Directed by Harmony Korine.
Wow. It's fitting that I end this with a bit on the Joy Division film and the Harmony Korine one, because they were, out of about 45 films, the two I was expecting to dislike the most. It's with a big feeling of surprise and a knod that I write to say MISTER LONELY is fucking incredible. And please understand something. I really fucking hated Mr Korine's two previous films. Both GUMMO and JULIEN DONKEY BOY struck me as stupidly cruel adolescent movies, mocking their subjects, and that I'm glad he made that FIGHT movie about getting his face punched in because he deserved it. They also bothered me most because I liked Korine a lot before them. I thought KIDS was excellent (for its time especially) and Korine's book CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS is exciting in its many ideas and energy. For years people have known the kid has talent and a soul - and it is so nice to say without any hesitation that MR LONELY is brilliant. I allowed myself to see it based on my own voyeuristic interest in these three descriptive words: Michael Jackson Impersonator - and I'll leave you with no more and no less. Except to say that the film is MUCH more than this - and that the third word of the three word hint is a description of something it taps into that is VERY POTENT - and, just to continue for a bit more, that there are five specific moments that genuinely moved me to the point only genuine timeless art can move you. I left the theatre feeling like I was in a different city, and this feeling lingered for hours. It is a terrifying movie at points, too, so there's no vitriol lost from his previous efforts, except that you can tell he's an adult now ... or that 50 Cent has loaned him his magic stick for a night or two. Anyway, thanks for the film, Mr Korine. Very recommended - and for many of you this is probably going to be your girlfriend's favorite movie of the year, too. So take them to it.
We return April 1st with four issues of The Realist and some other things before then, including an "EASY DOES IT" Follow-up.
ITEM NUMBER ONE: Ninth Update to the REALIST ARCHIVE PROJECT. Pleased to announce even more great things from this incredible magazine. For this month, we have:
MAIN ITEM: The Semantics of God by Robert Anton Wilson - From Issue Number Eight, 1959. This is the earliest piece of writing from Wilson for The Realist. I can say without any exaggeration that there's at least ten of you out there whose eyes are popping out of your sockets just reading that this item is available for viewing. Don't thank me, Thank Paul Krassner. This is the first printing of one of Wilson's most important character-defining articles. CLICK TO READ.
Other items in this update include Abbie Hoffman on HOW I LOST THE WAR, a great piece on Segregation Era South entitled COLLEGE TEACHER IN MISSISSIPPI and, as shown at the CLINTON'S COCAINE CONNECTION, from issue #122, by Mark Giacomelli.
We return with more issues added to the archive on April 1st.
ITEM NUMBER TWO: 'Proud to Announce' We adopted a WFMU fixture (shown below.) Claim your own piece of WFMU real estate for 12 months with a pledge of $150. Yes, The Money Drive is going on right now. But for such a unique 100% LISTENER SPONSORED place like WFMU it's a welcome interruption. Anyway, blah blah blah, if it's worth it to you, pledge to this excellent radio station. The DJ premiums alone are better than anything you'll likely buy, hear, or download this year, too. And I really like this year's crafty ambition of installing a FM Booster Antenna within Manhattan.
1) "THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN"
Just returned from three days aboard the Obama/Clinton Press Show - I covered the debate in town, along with the CNN buildup prior to the event, and later behind the press gates at the downtown Obama Austin rally. Click here for fourteen pages of coverage on the event. Highlights include chair condoms .. a very excited Bill Schneider .. The mystery of the photographic "spray" .. Howdy Doody Hillary Clinton .. SPIN ROOM EXPOSED .. Other odd bits - click to read
2) Two new issues of COMICS WITH PROBLEMS .. YES TWO ISSUES AT ONCE. At prices like this it's like we're giving it away for free! Wait, We are!
Your two new Problems:
Don't Ask Don't Tell (Issue Number 23) and D-Doh-D-DONT BRUISE THAT PIG (Issue Number 24) More soon, Thanks - Ethan
- T V - T I M E -
courtesy 'surfstyley' of youtube, here are two segments from a long lost 1970 NBC documentary on the counterculture bating but still very talented Al Capp entitled, appropriately, THIS IS AL CAPP
and what would a documentary on Al Capp be without a wall of wack-a-mole Mike Huckabees. Does anyone else find his face to be constantly tweaking?
You keep chomping on your gums like that you'll get rot-mouth, Mike. Maybe it's the diet pills? moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoney...
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FEBRUARY 6 2008
A little post Super Tuesday humor
Forgive me if anyone else has noticed this, but on the list of candidates on CNN's politics page I can't help but get a good kick out of this juxtaposition of Republican names:
Do you see it?
I have to admit I had no idea he was running.
Rest in Peace HST, Feb 20
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FEBRUARY 4 2008
Hello - Two New Items Here
Item Number One:
REALIST ARCHIVE UPDATE #8
Now over thirty full issues posted in the Realist Archive. This month dips as low as issue number nine and includes one of the most culture-changing subjects anyone could ask for. Announcing "THE BIRTH CONTROL PILL". Here's the original front page headline:
This is from 1959, and published close to a year before the FDA had legally approved the pill. Even includes, in what can only be interpreted as big brass balls, "Instructions on taking pills" (see page six) ... This is one of the earliest articles ever written on this HUGE subject, and certainly one of most specific - from a tense time when the pill was not yet legal in the U.S. and when all related news was often considered 'unfit for publication' and immediately censored. Early evidence of The Realist's developing strength as a valuable alternative information source. A great bit of rare history. CLICK TO READ.
We'd be remiss without pointing you to some other vintage reproductive rights items found here on EP.TC:
And lastly, to be seen with some caution, pro-life Roe V Wade era comic entitled WHO KILLED JUNIOR and pro-choice underground comic entitled ABORTION EVE.
BACK TO THE ARCHIVE UPDATE
Presenting Che in three acts:
Other items in this month's Realist update include, as shown above, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, P.K. and Ed Sanders ghosting for Ché Guevara. Sanders you might know from The Fugs but I like him best for the name of his 1960s magazine, "Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts" (wikipedia)
Also included in this update is Krassner's media report on the incredible success of The LBJ/JFK article. And also, an important interview with Norman Mailer.
Finally, we have a really interesting piece from Reese Erlich during his conspiracy trial as a member of the Oakland 7. Very cool bit of writing here about Erlich's experience attending court each day. The actual Oakland 7 trial did not include much drama - but it does pre-date the Chicago Seven trial with Hoffman and Rubin. So it's curious to read Erlich's criticism of his conspiracy trial to be lacking in certain ways, to quote his own critique:
"A proper political defense should turn the court into a street demonstration: supporters crowded in the aisles, loud booing when the police finks take the stand, speech-making by the defendants at every opportunity, and general pandemonium. The judge should have to clear the courtroom every 15 minutes and the courthouse should be in a constant state of seige.
Unfortunately, historical conditions aren't quite optimal for these tactics at this time."
One has to wonder with a good grin if Abbie or Rubin read this piece prior to their turn on the court stage. Erlich's piece is all about the tedium of the actual experience with this dream of things being a circus. Both Hoffman and Rubin certainly received this issue of the Realist and contributed to the same set of issues for the Ché Guevara bit. Naturally, it's one thing to have an idea and another altogether to go through with it - nor can we know if this was just Erlich passing on a thought GIVEN to him from Hoffman or Rubin. But it's fun to consider, in a very good way, if this bit of writing had any influence on the Chicago trials about a year or so later.
We've been steadily working on a new album for the last three years. In October we released a single-version of one of the main pieces, "Disneyland", which quickly went out of print as both a limited edition acetate and also as limited edition digital download.
03 "I Love You"
04 "An Empty Glass"
View this as an lo-res EP-sized preview of the full length CD or LP that should be available within the year. Also note this is the album version of Disneyland - which differs from the single version posted in October. Previous albums include SPREE, 25 Lessons and SNAP.
Alright, much more soon -
Comics, jokes, all that. See also the listing of political comics and drug comics below - Thanks, Ethan
Archive Photo of the month
Paul Krassner with
Instant Pussy car wax, 1967