Saturday, September 28, 2013

Young People & Their Companions

Bob Odenkirk & David Cross
It's been years since I've watched any Mr. Show, but I recently picked up the third season and have been enjoying revisiting what is arguably the best sketch comedy program ever. I saw so much of Mr. Show in the late 90's when it was originally on that I had it firmly implanted in my memory and hadn't felt the need to re-watch it for quite a while. One of the bands I was in at the time would take regular breaks from playing to watch episodes. But enough time has passed that its a gas to see this stuff again.

I don't throw this word around lightly but I am of the opinion that Bob Odenkirk is a comic genius and it's nice to see him get so much attention lately due to his role in Breaking Bad. In any case here's a couple of skits from the 4th episode of Season 3 parodying rock stars and their sullen demeanors (particularly the uncommunicative sarcastic British ones) and local news reporting and the future of kids' wear. Although the obvious source for the Smoosh brothers skit is Oasis, clearly Odenkirk had seen Public Image's notorious 1980 appearance on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow program, which I've included after the clip, he even throws in Lydon's doo-dah.  This illustrates another side of Mr. Show's genius their skits were never one note satires or parodies, they were multi-leveled and often contained staggering absurdist leaps of imagination.

 I was hoping to find an upload of the whole episode as its one of my favorites and the way the skits segue into one another is part of its brilliance, but no luck so here's what i could find and piecemeal it is- there's so many great details like Sarah Silverman's stupid VJ name Chrysalis. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"In A Lonely Place"

                                                                 CLICK TO DOWNLOAD MIX

This is a re-post of one of the first mixes I did for The Sound the Past Makes back in early 2011. I've been listening to it recently in my car and it's one of my favorites, so in order for it to get more exposure and to restore the pictures that originally went with it I've re-posted it here for your consideration.  Hope you like it!  If you've never seen the Nicholas Ray film "In A Lonely Place" starring Bogart and Gloria Grahame, I highly recommend it, as well as the book by Dorothy Hughes on which it is based. For another all time favorite check this post-

It was a gray overcast day, heavy with fog, as we made our way on U.S. Interstate 90 south towards the border town of Del Rio, Texas. Getting through Austin and San Antonio is always a great relief, as you watch the city of San Antonio disappear in your rear view mirror, and along with it massive traffic congestion and a freeway littered with roadkill, the land visibly opens up and the traffic thins and you know that you are entering the more rural and relaxed stretch of road that is I-90.  But something about the persistent low lying fog that day gave the whole drive an air of noirish intrigue.  

Other than the occasional passing car there were no people to be seen, only landscapes, though the landscapes themselves seemed to anthropomorphize at a surprisingly rapid rate taking on all kinds of portentous meaning. We passed a solitary grove shrouded in mist and seemingly alive with palpable mystery, there was an air of foreboding in its countenance, as if it was whispering a warning to maintain a safe distance, to stay in the car and keep moving along.
It felt as if we were not only driving through space but that time itself was receding and we were journeying back into the past. Everything we saw as we drove along had a look of age and dilapidation. Old rusted bridges, weathered windmills, Union Pacific rail cars and metal cattle on ranch signs all seemed to radiate with atavistic remembrance of down on their luck drifters, family secrets and recriminations passed down over generations, working men killing time in bars after hours of hard labor, and a small town torn apart by a never solved murder that passed into folklore and song. The Corridos sung here detail death over spoiled milk.
The towns floated by trancelike- Castroville, D'hanis, Knippa, Bracketville- names that felt strange on your tongue when spoken aloud, like some ancient incantation. Somewhere between Uvalde and Bracketville we passed an abandoned brick house caved in on itself, lonely and haunted on the side of the highway. Gnarled trees were slowly encroaching on the broken brick with an almost imperceptible creeping, working their way inside and taking root, returning the structure to its natural surroundings.  The house was being reabsorbed by its environment.
That night, after we finally reached our destination, and I laid down to sleep I found myself passing into dreams in which I wandered alone in similar desolate and haunted surroundings, the only sound was soft and familiar music playing somewhere in the background. When I woke in the morning I was alone, and the music was still there as the dream faded. I realized what had soundtracked my dreams was an all night radio station seeping through the thin walls from the motel room next door. I reached for a cigarette and leaned over and flipped on the TV. A movie directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Bogart and Gloria Grahame was just starting. I exhaled a cloud of smoke and laid back on the bed to watch the film and let my mind slowly turn over thoughts on how the divisions between dreaming and waking, and past and present seemed somehow more porous in this part of the country.

1. Theme from the Conversation-David Shire
2. Yesterday is Here-Tom Waits
3. Solo on a Raft-Walter Scharf
4. The Lonesome Road-Frank Sinatra
5. Generique-Miles Davis
6. End of the Night-The Doors
7. Girl of My Dreams-Trevor Jones
8. One For My Baby- Oscar Brown Jr.
9. Bebes-Tindersticks
10. All of You- Helen Merrill
11. Strangers in the Day- John Lurie
12. Lost & Lookin'- Sam Cooke
13. Mort De Felix- Tindersticks
14. After the Lights Go Out- The Walker Brothers
15. If I Should Lose You- Charlie Parker
16. The Lonely One- Nat King Cole
17. To the Office/Elevator-David Shire
18. Ballade Pour Un Cloporte- Jimmy Smith
19. Lament for a Trapped Spy- Gerald Fried
20. Angel Eyes-Jack Jones
21. Are You Warm Enough- John Lurie
22. Joe- Scott Walker
23. Angelitos Negros-Eartha Kitt
24. Some Small Chance-Serge Gainsbourg
25. Stairway to the Stars- Johnny Hartman
26. Nosferatur- Tindersticks
27. Swordfishtrombones-Tom Waits
29. Paradise Cove-The Surfmen
30. Lipstick Traces- Benny Spellman

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Pop Group- Beatniks of the Future

Marlon after a bongo session has a strange and haunting pre-cognition of futuristic beatniks called the Pop Group

I can't remember the exact quote but the Pop Group in one of their early interviews said something like they wanted to be the beatniks of the future. And the more I listen to their amazing recordings the more I think they nailed it with that quote. They were indeed futuristic beatniks, whatever that means, it captures a feel as well as the imagination, so fuck it lets go with it, they certainly did. Their sound- part free jazz, part spoken word, part dub, part tribal funk- was too unique to ever even be approximated by other bands, though Rip Rig + Panic who arose from their split carried on the beatnik/jazz vibe admirably.  So kids I implore you to fall in and groove to the gone, way out sounds of the Pop Group and Rip Rig + Panic.  And to read up on the band visit the excellent press archive at their web site

The Pop Group daydream Marlon

Nice Person to Person segment from 1955 with Edward R. Murrow interviewing Marlon Brando, including his house, his Dad, and a bit of bongo playing with Jack Costanzo.

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Mind Is Made Up, There's Gonna Be Trouble!

Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Barney Rosset of Grove Press- mid 1950's
It's surprising how relevant Allen Ginsberg's poem "America" remains. One could describe "America" as more of a series of killer one liners than a poem - hell maybe that's why I like it so much. The best recorded version is the serious plaintive one which I've posted first, but it's interesting to hear the live version, both were recorded in the 1950's, but the latter is delivered more like a stand up routine, with Ginsberg warming up to the crowds' initially hesitant laughter and starting to milk each line to what eventually becomes uproarious laughing and clapping. "It occurs to me that I am America, I'm talking to myself again".

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"It's Okay With Me"- The Long Goodbye OST 1973

Movie poster illustration by Jack Davis of EC comics and Mad Magazine fame

Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye from 1973 is one of my favorite films, one I can revisit regularly and always find something new that both surprises and deepens my appreciation for the film. Elliott Gould's take on Philip Marlowe (which some profess to hate-these people clearly don't get the smart ass nature of the character as written by Chandler) is my second favorite portrayal of the iconic private investigator, second only to Dick Powell's surprisingly definitive turn in Murder My Sweet. Sterling Hayden's performance in The Long Goodbye as a Hemingway-esque writer no longer able to write is also for the ages, and the scenes between Hayden and Gould are some of the most intense and electrifying in the movie. Two great actors from different eras, with completely different styles squaring off.

We could go a lot deeper into all the interesting individuals who make this film the masterpiece it is- a short list would include scriptwriter Leigh Brackett (noted female Sci-Fi author and scriptwriter for such films as The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, Hatari! and The Empire Strikes Back), cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and the unusual but effective casting choices of Nina Van Pallandt as Eileen Wade and director/actor Mark Rydell as Marty Augustine. Hell there's even a small henchman role for your boy Arnold Schwarzenegger and an uncredited cameo by David Carradine. And the guiding and unifying hand behind the whole film is of course director Robert Altman working at the absolute top of his game.

Although the film is a deconstruction of the private detective/film noir genre, I don't agree with the opinion of some critics at the time of its release that Altman's intent is hostile towards Chandler's Marlowe or mocking of his moral code. By transporting the P.I. to the 1970's he simply illustrates that the moral code and sense of honor that the main character attempts to live by puts him sorely out of place in the modern world and completely out of step with its inhabitants. Or maybe it's just that Gould's Marlowe with his cool rumpled suit and smart aleck muttering seems too fucking hip to me to believe that he is the real subject of ridicule here, especially compared to his cohorts in the film. Then again I'm partial to rumpled suits and hip mutterers.

The theme song, which is repeated cleverly throughout the film in different arrangements and genres, was written by John Williams and Johnny Mercer. The limited edition release of the soundtrack appears to be out of print so I feel okay posting it here for your consideration. It's okay with me! If you are not a fan of the film the soundtrack might simply bore you due to the myriad variations of the main theme but I find myself enjoying it almost as much as the movie, it certainly puts one in the mood of the film, though the rehearsal tracks at the very end aren't worth hearing more than once. If you haven't seen the film, start there, then if you like it proceed to the soundtrack and for that matter the book! And then there's the cat.

Below you'll find the original trailer, a lengthy discussion with Elliot Gould about the film and the full opening scene with Marlowe and his cat.

Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe