6 July 2000
Newspoetry Cultural Review 1999-2000
I heard that they made a movie of Denis Johnson's "Jesus' Son". I haven't
seen it. I saw "Chicken Run". It's pretty solid entertainment: possibly
Mel Gibson's most convincing acting to date. Oh, I also saw "Time Code".
That's a movie where the screen is divided into four quadrants, each of
which is displaying a continuous take. It was fascinating. Too bad they
didn't write it - it was improvised - it would have been great with some
writing. There's a new Moxy Fruvous CD out -- "The C Album" -- oh, yeah
and there is a new Robyn Hitchcock CD -- "A Star For Bram". Both of these
are available only through the web and are both collections of outtakes,
"A Star for Bram" being the B sides of last year's "Jewels for Sophia".
Speaking of outtakes, this year XTC will release a box set of demos called
"Fuzzy Yarbles." But their new album "Apple Venus Volume 2" is kind of
boring. But last year's "Apple Venus Volume I" was, I am prepared to argue,
the best pop album to be released in my lifetime. Oh, hey, I saw "Storefront
Hitchcock" on DVD. It's a good concert film by Jonathan Demme, the director
of "Stop Making Sense". It's good, too bad it never made VHS, and barely
made film for that matter. Last year's Moxy Fruvous album wasn't very
good. Conversely, last year's XTC album was great, as I believe I mentioned.
I saw a lousy John Cusak movie -- "High Fidelity", or something - featuring
Tim Robbins in possibly his worst role. He's still trying to pay for "Cradle
Will Rock", which is a great film about artists in repressive times. I
mean a really great film, which actually has John Cusak in it laying a
young Nelson Rockefeller. Uh, well, I missed a couple of plays up in Chicago
that sounded, well, okay. And every year some really nice box sets come
out which are prohibitively expensive so I won't go into them here. I
think it was last year that I bought "Invisible Hitchcock" the LP version
(there was a CD, an LP, and a DVD, all with different selections of songs).
Going on through August there is an incredible exhibit of paintings by
Remedios Vara in the Mexican Museum of Fine Art in Chicago. Last year
there was an interesting exhibit of paintings and drawings by American
writers in Kentucky. I didn't make it over there though. The Seattle Folk
Festival had some really happening Thai food. There was some kind of festival
in Chicago a couple weeks back that made driving difficult. I never figured
out what it was. And it's been a good year for literature. New books to
watch out for: "House of Leaves", "Johnny Werd: The Fire Continues", "Love
in a Dead Language", "HIV, Mon Amour". I saw "Vertigo" the other night.
It's pretty cerebral. But I digress... You should have seen the Chicago
cows. There were some pretty good movies in 1998, actually. Like "Pi".
But I guess I'm straying from my topic. "Arlington Road" may have been
Tim Robbins worst role. He'll be paying for "Cradle Will Rock" for awhile,
that poor wonderful guy. Not that Tim Robbins is the only director that
interests me. No. Admittedly, I haven't seen a good concert in awhile.
Well, that's not true. I haven't seen a good rock concert in awhile. But
this year I saw Richard Powers give an hour-long multimedia presentation
about the "Goldberg Variations" at the University of Illinois. It was
great and free. While the concert of the "Goldberg Variations" that followed
Powers cost $35 for last-row seats. But still, Murray Pariah can really
tickle those ivories. Powers has a new book out this year. Last year,
also, I saw a concert of music by John Cage and Luigi Nono put on by the
University of Illinois music program: string division. It was righteous.
And free. And underpublicized and underattended. Rudolph Haken looks handsome
in a suit. Still more books to watch out for this year by Julio Cortazar:
"Final Exam" (newly translated into English), "62: A Model Kit" (back
in print), and "The Winners" (back in print). And George Perec's "53 Days",
which would be a classic mystery novel, except the author died before
finishing it. I still haven't seen "Being John Malcovich". Did that come
out last year? Well, last year I saw a lot of movies: "American Beauty"
(annoyed me), "Election Day" (offended me), "Breakfast of Champions" (annoyed
and offended me -- it was great! Nick Nolte's finest role.). I heard the
Ben Folds Five for the first time last year. But that doesn't really count,
they've been around awhile. "Black Elvis" may be among Kool Keith's best
work by the way. Let's not forget "Mermaid Avenue Volume II", arguably
the best album to be released this year. Even if my favorite album to
be released this year is actually "Camper Van Beethoven is Dead Long Live
Camper Van Beethoven". Oh, I forgot to mention "A Heartbreaking Work of
Staggering Genius". That guy writes good autobiographies. Except for the
"Fuzzy Yarbles," there isn't much I'm looking forward to this year, culturally.
But still. I wonder what Terry Gilliam is working on.