"This is not a social work slot: of course we want plays about contemporary social and domestic issues, but they need to be handled imaginatively and often with a light touch. Shameless takes people at the very bottom of the heap and makes them fun and life affirming."
-- from current writer's guidelines for comedy and drama on BBC Radio 4.
The bar for conversation in po-blog comment boxes is not high, but what developed out of Kasey's posts on competency is edifying; Jane D. and Kent J., both in non-vituperative moods, staking out opposing positions on what is alive/"discredited" in Marxist accounts of this 'n' that, and certain forms of revolutionary exhortation here represented by Badiou's Metapolitics and a recent Zizek interview. It does seem, though, that some (not all) of their differences boil down to the fact that Kent is inclined to read Zizek's statements quite literally, while Jane reads him rhetorically, not to say poetically. (On reading the interview just now, I guess I just hear him doing philosophy: If you take positions A, B, and C, you're being inconsistent about their normative consequences in being squeamish about D. I couldn't say whether Z's doing something else in other related writings. I do find myself agreeing more and more strongly
As to the ostensible framing subject: being a "member of community" is a luxury (not everyone with interesting aesthetic ambitions and the energy to do something about them finds a critical mass of like-minded peers, not even after actively searching for one) and a burden (my own experiences have involved the usual amount of self-policing); so too with adopting the ficiton that one or one's work is "autonomous." In any case, most artists occupy various points on the continuum defined by these two poles at different periods of their working lives. (Of course, to say this is to imply that the artist is the interesting unit of analysis; perhaps we should say instead that it's unfortunate for the fate of aesthetic positions that they cannot really manifest except as embodied by fickle individuals. Stay the course, flarfistas!)
A saddening footnote: I don't remember how I stumbled across it, but this blog seems to have begun as the group organ of Trainwreck Union, a self-created (as are they all) avant-garde made up of young Berkeley poets (recent grads, possibly, though I'm not sure) out to buck each other up, tell each other they're the greatest, etc. Terrific. But I get the impression that the formation set a land speed record shaking itself apart thanks to at least one member's naked ambition (which equals that of any speech-ballooned animal sticker seen in the last 3 years), leaving by the side of the road at least one embittered freedom rider. Only of note in that those involved seem, well, just so young. I don't think anyone who reads this would say that I'm one to make with advice, but since it's all hanging out there on the 'sphere: jeez, give youself a couple more years before turning careerist, or, for that matter, wheeling on your careerist ex-buds. You've got decades for that shit, trust me.
On more entertaining notes:
Pleasantly surprised to see the entirety of Hans Richter's film Dreams That Money Can Buy is online. Of particular interest to me, right now, is the segment "The Girl With the Pre-Fabricated Heart," based around a song by John Latouche. (Starts at 19:50.) I believe the singers are Libby Holman and Josh White, but I'm having trouble figuring out who the composer is (could be Paul Bowles), and am not geographically well-placed to do research. A little irked to learn that it's recently been screened at the Tate Modern w/ a new live score by fops The Real Tuesday Weld -- not that I dislike the group, but this isn't a silent film, and to my mind doesn't need the update.
For mersher Surrealism, see the 1956 Motorama promo film Design for Dreaming. Well-known, but I hadn't thought about it for years until Bob Massey alerted me to its home in the Prellinger Archives.
Best recent YouTube finds:
The epochal Leonard Cohen/Sonny Rollins "Who By Fire" from the so-good-you-couldn't-believe-it-was-network Night Music. [Related: I just learned that LC's first three albums were recently reissued; the only one with actual unheard songs is the first, which includes two tracks rec'd with original album producer John Hammond, before he withdrew for health reasons. I'm very curious to hear a track called "Store Room."
Brenda Lee sings "Dynamite" in 1957; she's 13, looks 10, sounds 30+. Also rockin', "Sweet Nothings", three years later.
Speaking of fops, this is the best of a handful of available Monochrome Set clips: their El single "Eine Symphonie des Grauens", live in '79 at Walker Art Center's New-No-Now Wave Festival. I suppose I'll be tracking down this at some point.
I'm not 100% sold on the single from the Cash-styled (and -penned) comeback record, but if you search "Porter Wagoner," you'll come up w/ a ton of clips from his '60s TV show, w/ some great Jerry Reed, and, jackpot, 8 or 9 early Dolly Parton appearances, w/ and w/o PW. All worth a look, but I love her early "Fuel To The Flame" (a hit for Skeeter Davis), outro'd by the host with, "That's a little pop, but awful good."
"We continue to broadcast several series about men and women coping with their early middle age. We are therefore discouraging all such offers this round."
-- BBC guidlines, ibid.
free music, discography, etc. here
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