fjb, local currency: solo 1992-1998 (fayettenam)

the human hearts, civics (tight ship)

the human hearts on myspace

nothing painted blue, taste the flavor (shrimper)

info on older band and solo work; I have no idea who compiled the scarily complete discographies


To be a hair more specific: George Sanders is my favorite person to watch being bored onscreen. Also, to be fairer to Rossellini’s heavy metaphors, the plaster casting of the holes left around Pompeii by bodies turned to ash is a neat figure for the movie’s desiccated lovers – it’s a conceit out of a Mountain Goats song, or that one Bill Knott sonnet. Negative space, indeed, speaking of which

[63] Negative Space (1999, Chris Pettit). Half-hour or so British essay/doc that moves among the videographer’s road-trip footage (29 Palms, Leucadia, Vegas), appropriated fragments of (mostly) Out of the Past and The Big Sleep, and interviews with Manny Farber and Dave Hickey. In sum, an attempt to understand the American landscape, and how it affects our character and movies, through Farber’s criticism. I don’t know that I particularly agree with some of Pettit’s generalizations, as when he suggests that we don’t have much use for irony because actual physical distance (wide-open spaces) makes it redundant, but there are many pleasing way-stations along the road thereto: Farber comparing the car trip at the opening of Breathless unfavorably to that in Voyage to Italy and claiming that half the reason he came up with “termite” and “white elephant” is that they looked good in type; Hickey commenting that Farber is “so amazed when anything is good – I mean, this is a really negative guy”; and an anecdote about Shirley MacLaine making a point of asking Robert Mitchum the time when they worked together, “just so she could get a straight answer.” (Isn’t Mitchum, though, both an ironist and utterly American?) Excellent soundtrack choice: Dylan/Shepherd’s “Brownsville Girl,” an aimless narrative that doubles as film criticism (“All I remember about it was Gregory Peck and the way people moved.”) Shown with [64] New Blue (1995, Paul Schrader), a five-minute film (which can be seen here, though it doesn’t really work at this size) about a painting of Farber’s owned by Schrader, a web of notes, fruits, onion blossoms, and rebar (“to cut the sweetness”). Heartening to be reminded that Farber was painting at full force at 76 years of age – as marked by his inclusion of an orange 76 service station antenna ball, also a pop/Californian/Ruscha-esque play on still-life tradition.

[65] Me and My Gal (1932, Raoul Walsh). Highly structured and spatially controlled early Walsh, eminently watchable both on the level of the relations between settings (docks/chowder house; rooms of an apartment), the almost sculptural use of hats, the observation of Irish immigrant faces and folkways, and the push-pull of sweetness and toughness in the performances of Joan Bennett (seemingly a very different actress before she went brunette) and Spencer Tracy. Many of the selections in the current Farber tribute series are films he didn’t get around to writing about at length but (according to Kent Jones’s worthwhile little essay, which I wish were online, in the Lincoln Center Film Society’s monthly schedule) taught repeatedly in San Diego, and you can see why this one might have repaid study – almost nothing in this film, including dialogue and minor physical business, happens just once, with the net effect of strong organization of potentially chaotic material. Despite the “street-level”/”little folk” concerns, Walsh isn’t programmatic about his choice of techniques: Bennett’s farther directly addresses the camera twice (to ask us if we want a drink!), and a sequence in which Spencer Tracy mentions that he’s just seen “Strange Inner Tube” (that is, the 1932 Norma Shearer/Clark Gable adaptation of Strange Interlude), upon which the principals play a love scene with audible internal dialogue, per the play/film – it’s funny, but not ultimately played strictly for laughs. (The O’Neill was a not infrequent object of satire at the time: cf. Groucho. I think there’s a routine along similar lines in one of Wheeler and Woolsey’s films.) Best thing I’ve seen in ages.