June 8, 2006

I'd like to check out your public protest

Last Call! The Foreign Press and The Caribbean Tonight @ The Black Cat, backstage, 9pm, $7. Hope to see you there!

* From an Interview of David Berman (in Les Rockuptibles):

Q: How did you discover the Stones, what did they represent to you and what do they represent now?

Berman: When I was young, even up to an early teenager, I didn't know that the Rolling Stones and Kiss were two different bands. My confusion was due to the Stones "lips" icon. When it came to rock and roll, I looked the other way. I would not deign to pay attention to the details of all that tastlessness. I was an effete and fearful child.

I can't imagine putting on a Stones album in 2006. I've heard them all. I am through with them like I'm through with eating sour candy or inhaling balloons of nitrous oxide. If I was asked to provide entertainment for a party I would would probably play "Happy" or "Before They Make Me Run". Having said all that, they are the greatest band of any music in any era.

Q: Why did you choose "Cocksucker Blues?" What were the reason and the conditions of this recording, how did You choose the sound of the cover?

Berman: This is from the second of our first two shows, in July 1993. Drag City had a three day 'Drag City Invitational' at the Lounge Ax in Chicago. The lineup was thus. Royal Trux, Pavement, Palace Brothers, Smog, Silver Jews and King Kong. Each night the bands names were drawn out of a hat [on stage] to determine the order of bands. On our second night we were to play last. I wanted to do something risky so I pulled Steve [Malkmus] outside and into a station wagon to hear this song. I played it for him. We played this version of it ten minutes later. I believe Steve was only half paying attention to the cassette and had latched onto this one guitar motif. Bob [the drummer] had never come out to the car to listen to the original, he has only one drum beat anyway, and i'm trying to push the two of them into place with my eyes and no harness at all. I was shocking myself everytime I yelled 'where do i get my ass fucked,' And that was the last show we did as the original three silver jews, or any Silver Jews show up until march of this year.

-- Cocksucker's Blues, from the Drag City Invitational

* The Guardian talks with Medium Cool (a Dust Congress favorite) director Haskell Wexler. excerpt:

"Deep into his ninth decade, the legendary cinematographer and lifelong leftwing activist Haskell Wexler - and for once, that word 'legendary' is not misplaced - shows no signs of slowing down. 'Keeping busy?' I ask after we settle down to breakfast in his well-appointed seaview condo in Santa Monica, with the Pacific below us emerging slowly from the morning mists. 'Oh sure,' he laughs, 'busy enough to drag you all the way across town at eight in the morning.' Wexler looks a good 25 years younger than his advertised 84 years. Slim, with a light beard of wispy white stubble, he puts an interviewer exactly half his age to shame with his morning vitality and volubility."
"Wexler is like a Zelig of the post-second world war American left. Apart from being one of the most innovative cinematographers in Hollywood history (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Bound for Glory, In the Heat of the Night), he's been everywhere, done everything, met everyone and won everything - including two Oscars - and he's still busy. He's active in his technicians' union, which he sees as often working against its members' interests, and he's trying to make them rescind the old bylaw, still on the books from the McCarthy years, forbidding membership to anyone 'advocating the forceful overthrow of the United States government.' 'That's the bylaw they used for blacklisting people,' he says, 'and it's time it was done away with.'"
"But it's Medium Cool that is most important, a remarkable, prescient film about a Chicago newsreel cameraman who finds his 'objectivity' is a political trap, especially after his news director starts handing over his raw footage to the cops. Medium Cool contains not only radical politics (few American film-makers ever absorbed Godard so well; the opening sequence of newsmen filming a horrible car crash, then calling an ambulance, could be an out-take from Weekend) but also full-frontal nudity and obscenities, alongside vivid footage of the 'police riot' against anti-war protesters at the Democratic Convention in 1968; it's amazing it was even released."
"The fiercest attention Wexler received came in 1977, when he acted as cameraman for Emile de Antonio's Underground, a surreptitiously-filmed interview with members of the Weather Underground, ex-SDS radicals and bombers who'd been on the lam for five years. 'I was told to go down to Wilshire and La Brea and wait until a red Volkswagen went by, then to walk to a park and there'd be a guy with a red beard waiting on a bench, this dumb, fake beard. All types of clearances to make sure I wasn't being followed. And that went on for a few weeks.' Finally he was taken blindfolded on the floor of a station wagon to the safehouse - 'I could smell the ocean nearby' - and the interviews took place."
"As we're wrapping up, I tell Wexler how much the tranquil pigeon-culture scenes in Medium Cool remind me of Ken Loach's Kes, released the same year. He couldn't be happier. 'I haven't seen his new movie yet, but I worked a couple of days with him on Bread and Roses. Just being around this guy and seeing his quiet way was an inspiration. He suffered here because the US system, the phoney union, did everything not to be nice to him. And hell, anything I did that reminds you of Ken Loach is all right by me!'"

* Jake Shimabukuro plays George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps on ukelele in Central Park. Beautiful.


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