The Dream Syndicate “Days of Wine and Roses.” Dean Wareham
mentioned this as a seminal and inspiration record in his memoir Black
Postcards.I can see why it has
those Velvelt-esque guitars that Wareham also liked to use in his bands.This band went onto form other cool
splinter bands and releases like the solo Steve Wynn records, Mazzy Star, and
Opal.Back in the day when I was
just getting into underground music I had their more roots rock inspired Out of
the Gray and quite liked it, too bad I bought on cassette. Where is it now?
Anyway, this record still sounds pretty cool and contemporary or rather
timeless and classic.
Dean & Britta “Back Numbers” Dean Wareham’s Luna spin
off band with girlfriend/band mate Britta Phillips continues to churn out dreamy
melancholic pop. Britta has a lovely singing voice that isa good counterpoint to Wareham’s Lou
Reed-like vocals. It’s no surprise that two of my favorite tracks are sung by
Britta: “White Horses” and “You turn My Head Around.” But I also really like
the Wareham sung “Crystal Blue.”I
think Wareham has yet to turn out a disappointing album, some are better than
others, but he continues to make beautiful and smart pop songs.
Thom Yorke “The Eraser.”It sounds a lot like a Radiohead record, but that’s not a bad thing at all.It is sonically textured and dense with noise like those Radiohead records. I think my favorite track is “Black Swan.”
I was in Osaka, earlier this month,July 4-6, for a conference (College and University English teachers) at Kinki University (pictured below). I stayed in central Osaka in the Namba district, the picture above is from that area near the station). I hadn't been in the Kinki area for about five years so it was interesting to compare it to Tokyo, however, due to the conference I didn't have much time to hang out.
I haven't been posting many pictures, because Typepad (the blog site I use) upgraded the system and it took me till now to figure out how to do it properly.
I recently saw the HBO produced documentary White Light, Black Rain directed by Steven Okazaki. It was a fascinating look at the survivors of the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He settles on 14 interviewees, who all have their own individual horror stories of the attacks. The most moving and disturbing images were the pictures drawn by child survivors, actual photos of the carnage, and medical study films/photos of the wounds and causalities of the survivors. It was a poignant and moving film with a haunting score that had several compositions by Brian Eno in it.
For some reason I haven’t gotten around to reading Graham
Greene’s well-known ‘entertainment’, The Orient Express, until just recently.This anniversary edition contains an
analytical introduction where Christopher Hitchens discusses the charges of anti-Semitism
against Greene and convincingly defends him.His story has been appropriated through the years and made
into several film versions, however, his own version was one of the weaker
productions according to Greene and Hitchens in the introduction. The book seems
somewhat shocking in that one of the main characters is an alcoholic lesbian
journalist.And one of the main
plot points concerns a chorus line girl becoming the mistress of a Jewish
details were chosen in order tot titillate the audience that he was trying to
reach-he wanted it make a lot of money and be made into a film, but that doesn’t
necessarily detract from the novel in my opinion.Not one ofhis
major novels, but a worthwhile diversion.
Ravelstein is Saul Bellow’s last novel published in 2000,
when he was 85.It has a certain
affinity with Philip Roth’s Everyman in that it is preoccupied with old age,
sex, and death.The narrator comes
across a cranky and cantankerous using outdated slang and descriptions of
modern life. Ravelstein is an undisguised Allan Bloom, who comes off as a
pompous blow hard. All in all, I found it a bit disappointing since it doesn’t
have the vigor of earlier work like Augie March nor the poetry and pathos of
This marvelously tense scene—from the season's penultimate episode, titled "Nixon vs. Kennedy"—is Mad Men in a nutshell. (The AMC series has its second-season premiere on July 27; the complete first cycle of 13 episodes is now out on DVD and Blu-ray disc from Lionsgate.) The televised Nixon-Kennedy debates are generally acknowledged as the moment when image overtook content and began supplanting it; for the hard-drinking, impeccably tailored men and women who populate the randy, smoke-filled offices of Sterling Cooper, the self is a performance, adjusted according to the demands of The Room. Context is everything. Everyone leads at least a double life. (For the men, juggling a wife and mistress is practically a job requirement.) Denial is enormously useful. (One character was pregnant all season and didn't know it.) But it's the dashing über-WASP Don Draper—né Dick Whitman, son of a prostitute, orphan of the Depression—who most fully embodies the idea of the self as a brand that can be revamped on the whims of the market, without remorse or apology. He is what he does. (And why is Donald Draper in this room? Because he generates revenue.)
Draper's underlings see him as an enigmatic superhero. ("No one's ever lifted that rock," says one junior staffer. "He could be Batman for all we know.") He's a swami of the sell, able to bring grown men to tears with his pitch for the Kodak Carousel slide projector, which he fills with happy photos of his unhappy family. Draper is a stoic, obnoxiously so. "Mourning is just extended self-pity," he tells his wife, Betty (January Jones), a Grace Kelly look-alike who is grieving for her mother. He's a cynic, or wants to be. "What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons," he tells his client Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff), with whom he is in love. (Rachel is a Jewish businesswoman, and thus a doubly exotic specimen within the sexist, anti-Semitic country club that is Sterling Cooper.)
I really enjoyed Wild Things when it came out, it's neo-noir with lots of T&A, as well multiple double crosses. Here's what the AV Club has to say about it:
If you're one to lump John McNaughton's sleazy South Florida noir Wild Things into the so-bad-it's-good category, I'm afraid to say the joke is on you. Pitched somewhere between an old-fashioned, twisty crime melodrama and a straight-to-video erotic thriller, the film could not have existed before the current age of irony. Granted, it probably functions just fine for viewers looking for a little T&A to go along with their double-crosses, but McNaughton (Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer) and screenwriter Stephen Peters are operating on another level, too. The whole movie is in quotation marks: It knows the genre inside and out—if you can look past the gratuity, the mechanics of the plotting are impeccable—but everything that's implicit in a classic noir has become shamelessly explicit here. So instead of Barbara Stanwyck descending a staircase wearing an anklet, there's the doe-eyed Denise Richards sopping wet in translucent white, making her intentions very, very clear.
"Fuck off" are the first words uttered in the script, and it sets the tone for a movie that makes a running joke out of the ugliness and greed of human nature. It's a film without heroes: Those who aren't already nakedly vicious and self-serving from the start are revealed later to be more duplicitous and evil than originally assumed. You have to go six names down the cast list to find someone with a conscience, and even she's not immune to temptation. As the opening shots of the Everglades none-too-delicately suggest, these characters occupy a moral swampland, with alligators snapping at their heels. But where another movie might have tsk-tsk-ed prudishly, McNaughton and Peters turn their corruption into gleefully sordid sport, letting fly with wet t-shirts, lipstick lesbians, a threesome, a catfight, and rampant double entendres. Wild Things is a movie that's sophisticated in its classlessness.
Black Postcards a memoir by
former Galaxie 500 and Luna front man, Dean Wareham, is probably a book with a
limited audience. However, I am that audience, I’m a huge fan of both of his
former bands and his current project, Britta & Dean.He writes about his time with both
bands, the music industry, and the trials and tribulations of his personal
life.It comes as no surprise that
he is a gifted storyteller; I have always been extremely impressed with his
skills as a lyricist. Particularly, the breakup of Galaxie 500 was bitter for
him since it was a band he started with friends who were trying to make him
look like the bad guy, but here are always two sides to the story and he gets
to put his version of the story on record in this book.He makes life in a critically acclaimed
indie band sound sort of depressing, but I think he relishes the fact that he
had been able to make a living doing something that he is good at and loves.
There is some very personal
soul searching in regards to his love life.He chronicles the break up of his marriage and subsequent hook
up with current flame and co-band member Britta Phillips, with whom he has made
the excellent recording L’Advventura. (I need to catch up on their
catalogue-but indie’s aren’t always easy to find).Wareham seems like a thoughtful and intelligent guy who would
be interesting to talk to. (I was impressed that quotes Graham Greene and reads
Murakami and Hollenbecq-three of my favorite writers) I think this would make
an excellent companion study of the music industry alongside the fascinating
Wilco documentary, You Are Trying To Break My Heart.
Eileen Chan is best known for the naughty film version of
her novel Lust, Caution directed by Ang Lee. However, I was intrigued by what I
had read about her books before that production saw the light of day.But I didn’t get around to reading her
short story collection, Love In A Fallen City, until I had already seen the
infamous film version. Nonetheless, I found this collection of stories taking
place in Hong Kong during the war or after the war very intriguing and exotic.These were fatalistic tales of sophisticated
women and desperate women bound by family, tradition, and society looking for
an escape through education or a love match. On one side there’s claustrophobic
family relations and power plays about arranged marriages and which matches
will benefit the family most.Then
on the other side there’s opium addicts, illicit love affairs, cocktail
parties, and bomb raids. It was a really intriguing mix of invented reality for me to lose myself