The Bad Name of Tony

A name seems to be a random thing. I can’t remember even a fraction of the names of people I meet. What was his name again? Dick? Bart? I forget. a_560x375But there are a couple of names which I have learned to be wary of.

Andrew isn’t a good one; it reminds me of of a few bug-eyed goofs and my boarding school days at St. Andrew’s College, where I learned the misery of life.

StAndrew_098_TZBut the worst name, by far, would have to be Tony. I’ve had the misfortune of knowing a litany of Tonys, none of them decent.tony-montana-jumpieI knew Tony when he was a student teacher, never doing what he said, sneaking out to smoke in his car at recess. I remember Tony the teacher, smiling thinly, never saying what he believed, acquiescing to further his career. I remember Tony the foreman, acting crazy, never listening, yelling and spreading vitriol to suit his ends. anthony-perkinsAnd I remember Tony just before he retired, never reflecting on anything, lashing out, as he went alone to nowhere: “Stop trying to walk me around the pond!” blue-truck-1I still don’t know what that means.

Guided by Voices: The Club Has Reopened

Guided by Voices, featuring Robert Pollard on lead vocals, have a full-on sound, murky and raw, a straight shot of indulgence and jolly vice, like nothing else.

The band has been around for over 30 years and, despite never cracking into a major market, has maintained a loyal following known for their chant of the faithful, “GBV!” The show is made up of some 65-80 songs – 10-14 songs in the encores alone, almost all of which – like the above Alex and the Omegas – are barely 2 minutes in length, all replete with power chords, chants and leg kicks.Screenshot (1342)They are not a traditional band, although oddly enough that is exactly what they seem, a case of beer on stage, bottles of Jack Daniels and plenty of smokes to go around…yes, even today.
20140524_011359They have split up and got back together numerous times. The last CD – Motivational Jumpsuit – was to be the last, but now there’s another coming in a month – Cool Planet. artworks-000071966118-y2juzs-originalThis, their final reunion tour, is returning to New York this summer and will play The Stone Pony, which according to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame is “one of the greatest rock clubs of all time.” An intriguing combination to be sure.

Marie Antoinette of Wall Street

Excess is best. Or at least excess is great while it lasts. Screenshot (1329)So is the message of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006).Screenshot (1320)While Coppola’s film does attempt to present the Queen of France’s point of view, placing her debauchery in the context of her heritage and youth, the film depends almost solely on a litany of gluttonous imagery. Screenshot (1306)Scorsese makes no such effort, starting and ending with scenes meant to shock – dwarf tossing through orgies to drugs on top of drugs – that becomes tedious and, rather than offer a point to reflect, childishly glorify the experience. Screenshot (1290)There might be a moral buried somewhere in these films –  after all our heroes meet bad ends – but that isn’t the theme of either. Instead we are made witness to tributes to consumption, all of it beyond our wildest dreams – palaces and helicopters – and how marvelous that really is. Screenshot (1319)It is an interesting comparison of time periods – the French Revolution and Wall Street America – exposing two societies which hid behind claims of freedom, knowledge and tolerance to maintain the excesses of the few who continued to grind the species towards extinction. Screenshot (1301)

Life, A Burning House

As true and fine this arc of life may appear, there is no avoiding the suffering and isolation in the end. The world is rotten. That’s our curse to bear.20140521_230355I think of when I was young and didn’t know like I know now, but still had that sense, the darkness looming, that what was coming was a dreadful thing, sudden and terrible. Life was a burning house, everything eventually consumed, down to the last timber.

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Maybe that’s why I like to hide in the bathroom downstairs.

“Saving Mr. Banks”: Paving the Road to Hell

We know what to expect from a Walt Disney film, everything from the adorable creatures to the clear delineation between good and evil. DisneyAnimals1The latest Magic Kingdom offering, Saving Mr. Banks  is no exception, giving a Disneyfied version of the media giant’s acquisition of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. saving-mr-banksWalt is a simple man – so the story goes – who has promised his daughters to get Mary Poppins on the screen, while Travers is cast as a lonely, psychologically damaged spinster who only gets in the way.screen_shot_2013-08-02_at_12.31.50_amTravers’ intense dislike of musicals and cartoons is the challenge to be overcome, and while they failed to convince her in real life – Travers so furious with the butchering of her work that she refused to work with Disney ever again – a different story is told in the film, Travers tearful in her epiphany of the Wonderful World of Disney in the end. PL Travers cryingAs banal as some might see this change, we need to remember that the pixie dust from this manicured perception is in fact ashes of the dead.

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Porn Marionette

I am not a writer. I am not a teacher. These are my chosen disguises. I walk down the hall, sure-footed, professionally dressed, and see my reflection in the fish tank, dark with purple-black rocks, and wonder who that might actually be. 20140516_154055He vanishes like a wave and I listen to my steps down the next hall. I think of being something else, a truck driver, a goaltender, an emperor, a porn star. Screenshot (352)I think of myself in these modes where I might not hold my thoughts so tight, not be so worried about others laughing at my stupidity. I wonder about choosing again, being another me. I look at those around – these nincompoops in nincompoop hats – and cringe. I forge on, alone, less of anything, but less a marionette, a sitcom bit player, stumbling in for my laugh. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have to be happy with that. And tell myself that again and again.

Strength in a Line

It is impossible to define what makes beauty. We tend to  think it is in the face. Baboon-03-HD-WallpaperThe nose can’t be too big, nor the ears, eyes, teeth, lips; the skin cannot have a scar, a mark of any kind.pittsburgh 053Most important of all is in the jaw, the line from neck to chin, defined, curved, a strength of line upon which all else sits.

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The look must be full and indifferent, demanding, subsumed, terrified, trapped, raw, all at the same time, a performer desperately nervous for her debut.

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It’s a lot to ask.