I'm visiting my brother in New Orleans for Thanksgiving. The next couple of posts will feature people I've met and things I've seen during this week in the Crescent City.
Lionel Batiste, known to most folks down here simply as Uncle Lionel, has been an integral part of the Tremé brass band scene for over 50 years. Bass drummer, band leader, and all around NOLA booster, Uncle has been at every single bar I've visited this week, often outlasting revelers several decades his junior. I watched him sing with Kermit Ruffins one night, dance to the music of his own band the next, and then hop onstage at 2:30 AM to sing and sway along to the music of Walter "Wolfman" Washington. New Orleans is full of characters, but Uncle Lionel is a singular presence.
Yosemite in the Sixties is a relatively new book of b+w photography capturing the famous Camp 4 at Yosemite, the epicenter of the climbing world in the 1960s. The book includes a forward by Yvon Chouinard, adventurer extraordinaire and founder of Patagonia.
Visitation Parish in Verboot, Oregon
Made on-site and available for sale exactly once a year, the smokey Verboort sausage and fresh, crisp kraut draw hungry people from all over the northwest. The sale begins at 9:00am, but the line begins to form around 6. Shivering and damp, people wait for hours beneath towering century-old sequoia trees to buy a year's worth of meat: the sausage holds up incredibly well in the freezer. My dad came here as a broke college student, and he and his friends would line their pockets with plastic bags so as to better capitalize on the low price of the all-you-can-eat dinner. There's even a beer garden, accessible only by climbing up onto the flatbed of an old farm truck and wishing for the best.
Those massive sequoias framing a sea of automobiles
Another shot of the line
Glory is the bulk sales counter at Verboort
These are "duck stamps," which aren't used for actual postage but instead to generate income for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Apparently, $0.98 of every dollar goes directly to purchasing wetlands and other endangered habitats. The program began in 1934, and the stamps above (top to bottom) are from 1944, 1959, and 1977 respectively. I'm no philatelist, but there's something very nostalgic about these. They remind me of a sign my dad has: it's a painted plywood cut-out of a snow goose emblazoned with an "Open Season" message and riddle with buckshot.
Hat tip to MAWOI.
The Velvet Underground: A New York Art is a new book that collects the promotional detritus used by the legendary band during their early days in 1960's NYC. A jumble of handbills, press clippings, and hand-scrawled lyrics, the book is the first of its kind and presents a pretty comprehensive snapshot of the greatest NY band ever as it figures itself out.
It even comes in a special edition featuring a fancy binding and 7" signed by Lou Reed and Mo Tucker.
The stunning first 5 minutes of Silent Light
I watched Silent Light, the 2007 film by Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas, last night. Strange, quiet, and moving, the film is set in a Mennonite community in northern Mexico and tells the story of Johan, a married man with 7 children, who has fallen in love with another woman.
Manohla Dargis of the NY Times describes the film as something of a meditation on "the limits of... faith and... faithfulness," but there is more to it than that. I can't quite put my finger on it; Silent Light is an otherworldly, disorienting, and yet somehow familiar film. I think a second viewing may be in order.
If Brian Wilson can be praised for his half-assed ideas and execution, then why not McCartney, who has more character here than the Beach Boys did on their Brother records? Truthfully.
Yeah! Lay it down Steve Thom!
Anyway, I was at a party last night and the DJ played Cotton-Eyed Joe. It wasn't like a thrilling Montell Jordan moment where we all looked at each other collectively recalling a thousand junior high lip syncs. It was just a bummer. The ironic DJ is fucking up musical Darwinism. Like we have to keep reminding each other about all the pap we forgot existed because finding the good stuff is just too easy nowadays? Just play some fucking Prince you know?
Someone shot off some mace and the party still went on. So I guess they were doing something right.
Ghanaian photographer Philip Kwame Apagya's relentlessly upbeat images of people at play and at rest. Using specially commissioned painted backdrops, the studio portraits depict (literally) the subjects' fantasies and desires. More often than not, these include new televisions or stereos and refrigerators full of fancy food. I like the ones showing less tangible ideals: a picnic on a well-kept lawn, or one's first adventure to the big city.
Hat tip to Weird Friends
Robert Rauschenberg, 1966
Paul Newman, 1964
Ike & Tina Turner, 1965
Signs of the Times, a comprehensive survey of Hopper's work, is up now through October 24th at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. Additionally, Taschen has released a corresponding book.
Thee Oh Sees and the Fresh & Onlys, live at the Compound 9.21.09
I first saw this film in a high school film class. Filmed illegally in 1976, in the hazy minutes before dawn in Paris, Claude Lelouch's C'était un Rendez-Vous is simply nine minutes of reckless, high speed driving. All we can hear is the revving and down-shifting of the engine, the squeal of tires as corners are rounded. The low-mounted camera add to the thrill, allowing us to really feel the swift motion of the car.
The title card at the beginning states that "the film was produced without photographic tricks nor changes in camera speed," and though the consensus is that's true, there has been speculation that Lelouch dubbed in the engine noise from a different vehicle (perhaps a Ferrari of his) to produce a greater range of shifting sounds and engine RPMs. Likewise, various nerds have watched the film with a stopwatch in hand, mapping the route and claiming that Lelouch could have never topped more than 75mph. Whatever the case, Paris has rarely looked as good as it does in the final scene at Sacre Coeur.
Harbingers of the newest strain of mutant Memphis pop, the Magic Kids and the Barbaras (two bands who share a hand-full of members with each other and the current Jay Reatard band) are making waves with their twisted variants of the Ronettes/Beachboys/Specter sound. Nylon Magazine has already announced that it's got a "band crush" on the Magic Kids, and the Barbaras' profile keeps rising with every Reatard tour. Anyway, it seems like both of these bands are always playing whenever I'm in Memphis, whether it's a daytime bbq or a 4am after-Gonerfest house party. If you find yourself in the Bluff City anytime soon, keep an eye out.
Magic Kids: Cry With Me Baby
The Barbaras' first practice.
If you're in LA this weekend, make sure to head over Heath Ceramics' LA shop for Japanese potter Akio Nukaga's reception and opening. If you can't make it (it appears the event requires an RSVP), Nukaga is giving a free wheel throwing demonstration tomorrow, also at Heath. More info here.
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