January 31, 2006

hello cowgirl in the sand

sam francis

* RIP Coretta Scott King.

* Joni Mitchell interview. excerpt:

Q: What sort of art and music affected you when you arrived in New York in the late sixties?

JM: Abstract Expressionists like Pollock and Barnett Newman were big at the time, but I was not a fan. I wanted to paint in a folk-artist-y way. My heroes were Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, and Rembrandt. I think Picasso is about as a modern as I got. But I incorporated things that they rejected as well as movements that happened later.

Q: I’m curious if you were affected by the great American cinema of the seventies, especially as you performed with the Band in Scorsese’s Last Waltz.

JM: I really didn’t see Martin. I was the only woman there; they added a couple of women after the fact. So that was strange—it was like being a girl on a football team. But I think Scorsese and [Scorsese’s longtime editor] Thelma Schoonmaker technically are magnificent. She’s the best editor in the world. In terms of editing and constructing a film, they’re at the zenith. I love Fellini. I like the Russian filmmaker Tarkovsky. I like some of the French New Wave, though sometimes the movies were boring and I just watched the clothes; they had these great fashions by Coco Chanel. My style of songwriting is influenced by cinema. I’m a frustrated filmmaker. A fan once said to me, 'Girl, you make me see pictures in my head!' and I took that as a great compliment. That’s exactly my intention.

Q: Apropos of Charlie Parker, did you also take a dim view of avant-jazz? How did your collaboration with Mingus shape your impressions of the genre?

JM: I wasn’t a fan—he chose me for the project. But I came to be very fond of him in a short space of time. Like me, he had a wide emotional spectrum, from timid—well, I guess I’m not so timid anymore [Laughs.]—to a raging bull. But I did like his most melodic songs, like 'Reincarnation of a Love Bird.' I didn’t appreciate the bombastic quality of Mingus’s music until I sat in amongst the horns with them puffing all around me. That’s the best way to appreciate Mingus, to be sitting right in the horn section. That was a thrill.

Q: What about philosophers or political leaders? Is anyone inspiring you right now?

JM: No. The world is full of madmen and shortsighted money-mongers. Mandela, Tutu, the Dalai Lama—other than them, the world is totally lacking in great men.

* Check out Leafy Green's piece on new weird america.

* "Americans have always assumed, subconsciously, that every story will have a happy ending." -- Adlai Stevenson

* From Richard Dawkins, who has an editorial in today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

"If a social engineer set out to devise a system for perpetuating our most vicious enmities, he could find no better formula than sectarian education. The main point of faith schools is that the children of 'our' tribe must be taught 'their own' religion. . . . But what can it mean to speak of a child's 'own' religion? Imagine a world in which it was normal to speak of a Keynesian child, a Hayekian child, or a Marxist child. Or imagine a proposal to pour government money into separate private schools for Republican children and Democrat children. Everyone agrees that small children are too young to bear the burden of heavy parental labels. Why then, is almost our entire society happy to privilege religion, and slap a label like Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, on a tiny child? Isn't that a form of mental child abuse?"


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