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FROM THE VAULT: Hey, Mr. Spaceman

April 18th, 2019

SPIRIT-HURT

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally appeared in the November 2001 issue of Magnet and reported in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. We are reprising it here to mark the auspicious occasion of Spiritualized performing at The Fillmore Philly on Good Friday, in support of the new LP And Nothing Hurt. Enjoy.

 

BY JONATHAN VALANIA

Somewhere Over The North Atlantic, Sept . 25, 2001
Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space—35,000 feet above the Earth, to be exact. We’re on our way to Ireland to tag along on a Spiritualized tour. It’s gonna be fun, but there are some risks involved. As Americans, we’re traveling under the threat of death from Osama bin Laden, The Evil One, who lives in a cave. During the course of our trip, you might feel a little like Salman Rushdie without the bodyguards; hell, we all feel like that now. My advice is do like they do in Ireland: Keep drinking. I should also tell you we’ll be arriving in the middle of the latest flare-up in Northern Ireland’s on- again/off-again civil war, or The Troubles, as they call it over there, where one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Despite all this, or maybe because of it, I promise this trip will be worth your while. We’ll witness the rebirth of one of the world’s great live bands. We’ll suckle sweet Guinness from the mother teat of Ireland while Spiritualized blows wave after shiver-inducing wave of ecstatic peace across our bodies. And we’ll all come together. As the world crashes down around our ears, for a few minutes at least, we’ll feel safe. This, my friends, is a very in-demand vacation package these days. Plus, we’ll get to talk in circles for many hours with Jason Pierce, the band ‘s auteur. Ever since the release of 1997′s Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, Pierce has become the Head Shepherd In Charge of the Space-Rock Flock. We’ll talk about drugs and God and volcanoes. About broken hearts and broken bands and broken records and how to fix them. And, in the end, we won’t really have learned anything at all. Except this: Music, not religion, is the opiate of the masses. Religion is more like the cocaine of the masses — and the world doesn’t need any more cocaine right now. Cocaine kills.

Before our arrival in Dublin, however, you should understand the events that have conspired to bring us together with Spiritualized are long and complicated, stretching back more than 100 years. For all intents and purposes, they begin in…

Sils-Maria, Switzerland, September 1888
Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, writes Twilight Of The Idols, which contains the following passage: “For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity or perception to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication.” A year later, Nietzsche would, quite literally, go insane.

Planet Earth, 1889 -1979
A lot of stuff happens.

Rugby, England, 1980
Fourteen-year-old Jason Pierce walks into a pharmacy and makes his first purchase of recorded music. The album: Raw Power by the Stooges. A decade later, having adopted the nom de rock J. Spaceman, he’ll form a band called Spiritualized, which makes modern psychedelic/rock music. One particularly astute critic will describe Spiritualized’s music as “Stooges for airports.” Coincidence? Not really.

Rugby, August 1984
Pierce receives a government grant to attend Rugby Art College, which he promptly misuses to purchase an electricspiritualized2_1.jpg guitar and amplifier. Pierce meets classmate Peter Kember (a.k.a. Sonic Boom, a.k.a. Peter Gunn), son of a wealthy importer. Kember ‘s initial impression of Pierce is that he’s “someone who is very smart, but very lazy.” Kember and Pierce bond over a mutual interest in psychedelic music and recreational drug use. Pierce turns Kember on to the Stooges. Kember reciprocates by turning Pierce on to the Cramps, Velvet Underground and heroin. They form a band that combines all four influences and call themselves the Spacemen. Later, they’ll add a “3″ to the end of the moniker, borrowing the number from an early Spacemen gig poster that reads “Are Your Dreams At Night 3 Sizes Too Big?”

“Taking drugs to make music to take drugs to ” is their mantra and their methodology. At the height of Just Say No, they’ll openly sing the praises of mind –altering substances to the media. They’ll crown themselves kings of the one-chord drone, funneling White Light/White Heat-era Velvets and pre-mental-hospital 13th Floor Elevators through a mesmerizing prism of noisy trance rock. And they’ll do it all sitting down, as do the audience members. In fact, some lie flat on their backs. You seem, many of them have taken drugs to listen to music to take drugs to.

Via E-mail, Oct. 9, 2001, 2:07 A.M.

MAGNET: What role did drugs play in the creative process of Spacemen 3?

Peter Kember: It’d be a lie to understate their role, but plenty of folk have found our music enough to replace drugs for consciousness alteration. I always felt I was merely a conduit or antenna receiving moods/feelings and translating them into sound forms and lyrics in order to re-transmit the experiences that encapsulated our lives .

MAGNET: You have spoken very candidly about your heroin use during the band. Was that something you and Jason did together?


PETE KEMBER:
Sometimes. Not much, Jason took very little drugs during the S3 period—except lager and Jack Daniel’s. I turned Jason and other band members on to LSD, etc., and though we used heroin together occasionally, I think it was always more my weakness. Not to say hash, weed, speed, coke and mushrooms didn’t figure — they did frequently. I never believed in turning on friends to smack. Jason made his own choice, I have not been a social heroin user ever; (it’s) more a personal habit. It interferes surprisingly little, but for the effects of its criminalization.

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Don’t Cry For Kristjen

April 17th, 2019

Kristejen_Nielsen_by_Donkey_Hotey
Illustration by DONKEY HOTEY< /font>

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Kirstjen Nielsen, the unceremoniously axed Homeland Security Secretary, doesn’t want you to cry for her. Well, don’t you worry that morally vacant, Auschwitz-train-platform-reminiscent, blackened heart of yours, Kirstjen, I won’t shed a tear (the Trump administration has admitted that it could take another TWO YEARS to locate and reunite all of the children separated from their families). SMUSAlthough that’s not the sole reason for this rant, it’s definitely concurrent. Actually, Kirstjen’s appalling acquiescence and far-from-sufficient “just deserts” serve as near perfect illustrations of the malevolence and mismanagement that lurks in every corner of this pig-ignorant, incompetent, morally degenerate Trump administration. Have you any idea how many TOP-LEVEL Trump appointees and advisors have been forced out of or chosen to depart this administration … in a little over TWO YEARS?! Have you any idea how many TOP-LEVEL positions still remain UNFILLED?! Folks, those absolutely astonishing numbers are currently 63 and 140 respectively … and COUNTING! Please note that we’re not talking about the lack of a zoning officer here or there, we’re talking about the Trump administration’s deplorable numbers of missing HIGH-LEVEL consequential federal policy formulators and decision makers!

Well, thank God, at least we now know, directly from the moron’s mouth itself, precisely the kind of standard the president has established for those he does choose for appointment to high-level positions within his administration: Ivanka Trump Kushner. Yep, that’s right. No finer a judge of human capability on the planet than the Chump in Chief himself recently stated, and I quote: “I considered Ivanka to lead the World Bank because she’s very good with numbers.” Well, I’ll be damned! Little did I know that my grandsons qualify for not just high-level U.S. Government appointments, but “world-level” positions as well! Who knew?! With that in mind, can it not be surmised that Trump was so impressed with Scott Pruitt’s astonishing ability to distinguish between lilacs in bloom and the waftings from landfills, that he immediately selected him to head the EPA?! And, can it not be presumed that Trump was so taken with Herman Cain’s extraordinary prowess at spinning pizza shells, he knew immediately he wanted him to play a roll in formulating federal “dough” policy?! [*winces* — The Ed.]

And that’s not the end of the story by a long lapsus linguae. Given his past performance, is it not within the realm of possibility that upon learning of the rampant touching, groping and kissing without consent alleged to have taken place within the AccuWeather organization, Trump quickly determined that its head misogynist, Barry Myers, would be the perfect choice to, dare I say, “grab” the reins, whips and chains at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration?! Okay, last and for any number of reasons certainly not least, I believe the rumor can now be substantiated that when confronted with the terms “incompetence,” “negligence” and “conflicts of interest” regarding his cabinet appointments, our fearless fatheaded leader replied that bladder leakage, a woman’s night clothing, and family budget squabbles were nobody’s damn business but the parties concerned. And through it all, Trump’s lemmings, both low-IQ and lowdown, continue to demonstrate their inability to smell, think and chew gum at the same time. Or, as the late, great, sagacious newsman, Edward R. Murrow, so 2019ishly signed off nightly, “Good night, America, and good luck.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up later stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

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THE PINK FLOYD: Arnold Layne

April 15th, 2019



PREVIOUSLY:
Win Tix To See Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets @ The Met!

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Win Tix To See Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets

April 15th, 2019

Nick-Mason-Saucerful-of-Secrets

 

Some people simply should never, ever trip. Syd Barrett, the former singer/guitarist/central songwriter for Pink Floyd, was one of those people. The van Gogh of early rock music, Barrett cut off his mind to spite his face, still swallowing acid by the handful even as his increasingly deranged behavior dislocated him from his bandmates and, for that matter, everybody else back on planet Earth. Tragically, most of his genius escaped recording, though it did beam directly into the illuminated skulls of the Britpop vanguard, frugging stoned and immaculate at London underground clubs like the UFO where Barrett worked out early Floyd’s deathless outer-space-blues-Hobbit-hole-folk-trot.

By the time Floyd’s debut The Piper At The Gates of Dawn came out in August of 1967, Swingin’ London had gone mad–bathed in strobing mod Technicolor, drunk on the Day-Glo ambrosia of psychedelia and frugging to the blare of maximum R&B. Rock ‘n’ roll was reaching critical mass, outgrowing the three-chord friction of horny teen angst and expanding into the realm of art. Pop stars, the newly minted aristocracy of turned-on English youth, were now expected to be poets and seers, and the race was on to find strange new sounds to telegraph this strange new state of mind.

But sadly by that point, Barrett’s wick was already burnt. By the spring of 1968 he’d been fired by his own band. There were a couple of hard-to-listen-to but unforgettable solo records, painstakingly pieced together by his former bandmates from the intermittent moments of lucidity and SYD_BARRETTfocus they could get out of Barrett by that point. The Madcap Laughs and Barrett still sound as haunted and frayed as the man who mused aloud in his last song for Pink Floyd, “I’m wondering who could be writing this song.” After that he retired to his mother’s basement in Cambridge, more or less, never to be heard from again. He passed away in 2006, but his legend still looms large in the alterna-verse where he is regarded as the patron saint of rock’s psychedelic martyrs.

The Floyd, of course, carried on. David Gilmour was brought into replace Syd on guitar and vocals, and everyone pitched in on songwriting. By Dark Side Of The Moon, Roger Waters would become the band’s central songwriter/conceptualist and de facto leader, and Floyd would become the AOR FM colossus we’ve come to think of them as today. But in the six years between Piper and Dark Side, the band spent six albums — Saucerful Of Secrets, Ummagumma, More, Obscured By The Clouds, Meddle and Atom Heart Mother — groping in the dark for their sound and vision. And while those albums have their share of pointlessly overlong psychedelic dicking around, they also yielded some of Floyd’s greatest, albeit lesser known, songs: “Fearless,” “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun,” “The Nile Song,” “Cirrus Minor,” “One Of These Days,” and “Echoes” to name but a few. All of this and more — much, much more — is comprehensively curated on the 2016 box set The Early Years 1965-1972, which spans 29 hours over the course of 10 volumes (plus a bonus disc!).

It is this period, along with a generous number of Piper At The Gates Of Dawn tracks, that Floyd drummer Nick Mason is re-animating with his newish band Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, which performs at The Met Philly on Saturday April 20th. We have a pair of tickets to give away to some lucky Phawker reader. To qualify to win, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at Phawker66@gmail.com telling us a much, with the magic words CAREFUL WITH THAT AXE, EUGENE in the subject line and the correct answer to the following Pink Floyd trivia question: Who is/was Lucifer Sam? Please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!

NICK MASON’S SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS PERFORMS @ MET PHILLY APRIL 20TH

Syd Barrett illustration by SALEM SHANOUHA

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CINEMA: Hellboy Is Hella Bad

April 12th, 2019

hellboy_ver4_xlg

HELLBOY (Directed by Neil Marshall, 120 minutes, USA, 2019)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC Hellboy is an odd sequel/reboot mashup that simultaneously ties up the loose narrative threads left behind by Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) while introducing a new cast and the fresh hell that will befall them. In this incarnation helmed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers),  Hellboy (David Harbour) is assisted by spirit medium Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane) and Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense agent Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) as he attempts to stop a Gruagach, which is essentially a giant walking/talking warthog, from resurrecting Nimue, the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) who can give him the power to kill Hellboy.

You see, during King Arthur’s reign Nimue wanted to create a world where man and monster co-existed, but Arthur betrayed her and used Excalibur to dismember her, scattering her still living remains throughout England. While just about everyone wants Hellboy dead, Nimue decides having Hellboy as her king and fulfilling his destiny as the beast that unleashes armageddon is in her best interests. It’s been over a decade since Hellboy II: The Golden Army and thanks to a power play by the comics creator Mike Mignola, who wanted to write the final installment of the trilogy; both Guillermo del Toro and Ron Pearlman exited the film in early development.

Losing del Toro’s brilliant-bordering-on-fetishistic curation of the franchise leaves us with a film that lacks the power and vision of its predecessors. On top of that, the fairly pedestrian prosthetics and creature designs restrict David Harbour’s ability to act or perform action scenes. As a result, Harbour’s take on Hellboy feels less like Ron Pearlman’s relatable everyman in a world of monsters that we’ve all come to know and love and more like someone who doesn’t really understand the character’s underlying motivation. Simply put the film is a hot mess of bad ideas and poor execution. A decade ago a film like this might have been championed by horror geeks on the strength of its heaping helpings of blood and gore, but that really doesn’t really serve a purpose here. Comparison’s to del Toro’s vividly imagined and gorgeously crafted films only highlights the sloppy editing, puzzling needle drops and thread bare CGI of this reboot. The fans deserved better.

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ARTSY: I Will Dare

April 11th, 2019

DARE ME postcardrgb

 

Opens May 4th at James Oliver Gallery, 723 Chestnut Street, 4th floor. Reception from 6pm – 9pm.

PREVIOUSLY: Q&A W/ David Jablow

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CONTEST: Win Tix To See Americana Icon Kris Kristofferson At The Keswick Tomorrow Night

April 10th, 2019

convoy_movie

 

This picture was taken back during the Carter Administration when America was still shirt-optional, everyone drove 18-wheelers, women rode around on men knapsack-style, and there was always an explosion in the distance. Always. Kris Kristofferson is older than dirt now, but back in the day, as my mom used to say, he got more ass than the men’s room hopper seat at Howard Johnsons. For all I know, he still does. But back then he forged a career as a badass beardo sex symbol in instantly forgettable movies like Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia, Vigilante Force and Semi-Tough, but the reason we are gathered here today, dearly beloved, is to celebrate his legacy as A Great American Songwriter. Beneath all that grizzly bear facial fur and smoky cobalt blue eyes beats the heart of a cowboy poet and a goddamn intellectual. As he sang in “The Pilgrim,” he was “a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.” A redneck and a Rhodes scholar, a boxer and a beatnik, a protest singer and a decorated helicopter pilot in Vietnam, a janitor and a millionaire many times over. He made hard living look easy. As he told Maxim:

Mel Tillis and I were good friends during my first few years in Nashville. One night in 1965, I went to his home already pretty tanked and rang the doorbell. Just as his wife opened the door, I dropped and shattered a fifth of vodka all over the front porch. (I don’t remember the brand, but it was definitely whatever was cheapest at the time.) I can’t imagine why, but she wouldn’t let Mel go out with me that evening.

​I decided I would drive up to Fort Campbell and see my old Army company before they flew off to Vietnam. On the way, I blew a tire and rolled my car and ended up hanging upside down, wheels up and still turning, when a police car arrived.

I was pretty sure I was OK, but I thought it would be funny to give them a scare, so I stayed as still and as quiet as I could as they cautiously approached, and I heard one of them say the driver couldn’t possibly have survived that one. Just as they were peering in and sizing up the situation, I yelled as loud as I could, “Get me out of here!”

They about had heart attacks and were so relieved that they didn’t that they offered me a ride to the Army base. I got there just in time to board the plane to Vietnam and say hello and let everyone know that I might as well go with them, since I had just totaled my car and had nothing left to lose.

You don’t write a song like “Sunday Morning Coming Down” unless you’ve been there. Repeatedly. And most people sitting on the top of oil rigs, cowboy boots dangling in the breeze 10 stories above the Gulf Of Mexico, don’t stave off boredom smoking cigs, swigging tall boys and writing songs as deathless and hallowed as “Me And Bobby McGee,” a song that will forever set in stone his rep as one of the great silver-tongued scuffed-denim troubadours riding off into the twilight sunset of the American Century. Because back then most people didn’t know that freedom was just another word for nothing left to lose. But they do now.

We have a pair tickets to see Kris Kristofferson at the Keswick tomorrow night. To qualify to win, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at Phawker66@gmail.com telling us a much, with the magic words THE SILVER TONGUED DEVIL in the subject line. Please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON PERFORMS @ THE KESWICK THEATER THUR. APRIL 11TH

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PANDA BEAR: Buoys

April 10th, 2019

On the heels of releasing his sixth studio album, Buoys, in February, Panda Bear a.k.a. Noah Lennox has shared a video for the album’s title track. Starring Beatrice the French Bulldog, it depicts an unusual dating show with an ultimately jubilant ending. The “Buoys” video follows previous videos for “Token” and “Dolphin”. It was directed by frequent collaborator Danny Perez (who also did the Buoys artwork and directed Animal Collective’s visual album ODDSAC), and is part of an ongoing collaboration since 2007 between Danny and Panda Bear. About the video, Danny says, “Dogs see past how many followers we have and how many tickets we sell. This allows us to relax, be ourselves and not sweat the small stuff. I wanted to make a video that relayed the themes of the song’s lyrics to the confidence and bliss that comes from the relationship with an animal.”

PREVIOUSLY: At turns disturbing, confusing, disgusting, hilarious, mesmerizing and stone cold beatific, Oddsac is perhaps best explained by clarifying what it is not: it is neither a rock documentary nor a concert film, nor is it the kind of film you would see at the cineplex. There are no stars, no car chases, no dreamy romantic interests who meet cute and live happily ever after. In fact, there is no plot, no linear narrative arc. Instead, there is a series of hallucinatory vignettes: a girl attempting in vain to stanch the flow of black goo oozing out of the walls of her home; a ODDSAC POSTERsad-sack vampire (played by Animal Collective’s Josh Dibb, aka Deakin) slowly disintegrating at sunrise after preying on a young boy; an ominous procession of fire spinners led by a gibberish-spouting demon (played by Animal Collective’s Dave Porter, aka Avey Tare); a wigged-out drummer boy (played by Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear) maniacally beating on his kit in the middle of an eerie boulder field; a bearded blue-hued muscle man (played by Animal Collective’s Brian Weitz, aka Geologist) harvesting mysterious eggs from beneath a waterfall; a nuclear family sitting around the camp fire suddenly projectile vomiting foamy marshmallow goo; and it all ends with a food fight. These images are buffered by Perez’s arresting visual abstractions and framed by an untitled set of Animal Collective songs created for the movie. As for the music, Oddsac finds the band continuing to move away from the rhomboidal Fugsian folk-rock of their early albums while eschewing the iridescent dance music of Merriweather Post Pavilian. It is a song cycle cued and composed to the visuals, and as such it is both darker and brighter, more heaven and hell, than anything they have released to date. As cinema, Oddsac is nothing short of remarkable—a mind-fucking eyegasm for people who like that kind of thing. As for what it all means, well, you are at odds with the film’s purpose by even asking. MORE

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: All The Pretty Horses

April 10th, 2019

TIME_Dem_Primary_Field

 

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY I know it’s early but with your leave I’d like to proffer two cents worth of Democrat “ticket” picking regarding the duos I believe offer the donkeys their best chances for success in 2020. First off, I semi-unequivocally submit that the winning ticket must be headed by a SMUSjenny (that’s the female equus africanus asinus for all ye non-farm dwellers). Why? Well, let us never forget that Hillary won the last election overwhelmingly, and but for the Russians and the slaveholding states’ Constitutional recalcitrance, she would now be revving up her return for a second term. All of which I think not only advantages, nay, indeed necessitates, a repeat performance at the top of the Democrat ticket. And, in keeping with the Clinton-Kaine twosome, I further believe that a man must occupy the lesser spot (I just don’t think American men are altogether ready for a same “stronger” sex ticket). So here, in order of preference, are the favored picks for the top and the bottom of the Dem ticket that I believe stand the best chance of crossing the 2020 finish line first:

PREZ
1. Amy Klobuchar (attractive, smart, combative, U.S. Senator — extreme likability factor, 2020 battleground state tipping advantage)

2. Kirsten Gillibrand (quite attractive, smart, combative, U.S. Senator — never discount eye appeal, populous state advantage)

3. Kamala Harris (attractive, smart, combative, U.S. Senator — populous state advantage, possible racial advantage?)

4. Elizabeth Warren (attractive, combative, U.S. Senator — name recognition and political experience & moxie pluses)

VEEP
1. Julian Castro (leading man handsome, smart, combative, high-level political experience & moxie — ethnicity, name recognition, and battleground state tipping advantages)

2. Beto O’Rourke (boyishly-handsome-in-a-faintly-RFK-kinda-way, exuberant, proven competitor, element of charisma — battleground state tipping advantage)

3. Cory Booker (damn handsome, smart, combative, U.S. Senator — political experience & moxie and name recognition pluses, possible racial advantage?)

4. Pete Buttigieg (handsome enough, really smart, exuberant, combative — LBGT connection and red state residence could be definite pluses)

I recognize that some if not all of these Veep picks might be loathe to accept second fiddle in the duo, but I’ve never been a proponent of the top of the ticket simply picking someone out of thin air to be the Oval Office back-up to a heart attack, stroke or debilitating illness. That type of selection doesn’t have to vie for national pre-approval or face the close scrutiny, and physical and mental “grind” of the primaries. Remember Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin? Heh, heh. The Vice Presidency should never be relegated to someone’s personal choosing. It’s way, way too consequential.

And, no, I don’t want Biden to run. The touchy-feely stuff aside, I believe he’s simply too old, period. He’s had his days in the spotlight. Like Bernie–and incidentally, Mr. Sanders, I just think you’re a bit too far left for today’s mid-westerners and suburbanites; could you win the nomination? absolutely; could you win the election? I harbor some serious doubts; but should you garner either one, I’ll back you 1000%–he’s the visual representation (snow white hair and wrinkles) of a Democrat party in passing. Time to go gently into that good evening’s pleasure (to you both: you might not think so, but I actually do know a smidge about late seventies transitioning).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up later stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

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THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATIONIST: Q&A With The Kinks’ Guitarist/Songwriter Dave Davies

April 7th, 2019

dave2

 

BYLINER mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA For anyone under 30, the best way to hear the Kinks’ deathlessly literate, arty, and quintessentially English guitar pop is watching the films of Wes Anderson. Pretty much any one will do – they are all larded with choice cuts indelibly wedded to strikingly precious visual tableaux. The films lend the music a vitality and transgenerational reach that members of the Kinks are no longer capable of. The songs may transcend time, but alas the men who made them cannot.

Still, I have long been on record attesting to the fact that if the Martians landed their flying saucer on my front lawn and said “What is this thing you call ‘Rock n’ Roll?’” I would play them Dave Davies’ guitar solo in the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” And then they would know. It only lasts 15 seconds, but it contains multitudes — riddled with sex and violence, friction and sweat, riot and ruin, it is anarchy in the U.K. bottled and sold 500x50013 years before the official arrival of the Sex Pistols Never Mind The Bollocks. The Kinks augured the impending arrival of the punk the same way they foretold glam, heavy metal and Brit Pop.

While Dave gets his props as a blazing guitar-slinger, he has long been overshadowed as a songwriter by his brother Ray — which is a bit like Picasso’s brother and trying to make it as a painter — but the fact is the creative choices he made as a guitarist became so central to the appeal of so many of Ray’s most iconic songs that he should’ve been given co-songwriter credit on songs like “Waterloo Sunset,” “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion,” “Set Me Free” and “So Tired Of Waiting For You,” to name but a few. Likewise, songs like “Strangers,” “Death Of A Clown” and “Susannah’s Still Alive” — all written and sung by Dave Davies” — rank near the top of the Kinks’ songwriting hierarchy. Small wonder there is a decades-long sibling rivalry between Dave and Ray that continues to smolder to this day, with both men well into their 70s. Brothers in arms, brothers in harms.

We got Dave on the horn in advance of his performance at Scottish Rite Auditorium on April 9ththat kicks off a US tour in support of Decade, his new-ish collections of unreleased tracks from the 1970s. DISCUSSED: Darjeeling Limited,  Konk Studios, The Faces, Wes Anderson, Jimmy Page NOT playing the solo on “You Really Got Me,” slashing the speaker cone of his amp and unwittingly inventing hard rock, nervous breakdowns, why the Kinks were banned from touring America at the height of their powers, Hawaii slack-key guitar, the stroke he suffered in the mid-aughts, the current status of his relationship with is brother and the odds that the two of them will ever mount a proper final Kinks tour before it is too late.

PHAWKER: Let’s talk about Decade, the new album, first.Dave-Davies

DAVE DAVIES: Oh good, yeah.

PHAWKER: Tell me about this project. These are all unreleased songs from the ‘70s that were selected from here and there? In the attic, in boxes, under mattresses?

DAVE DAVIES: Yeah. My sons, Simon Davies and Martin Davies, helped pull the project together. Simon produced the album. I’m very pleased with the results. It was recorded and made in the ‘70s. We found time in Konk Studio and in various places to record. I always envisaged them coming out someday, but I didn’t know it would be after quite so long.

PHAWKER: Were these songs ever supposed to go on Kinks records and just didn’t make the cut?

DAVE DAVIES: They weren’t really planned to play into that. I didn’t have an agenda at all with it. It was just one of those things that…we had Konk Studio at the time. And we recorded a lot of quick things, going to make some demos and some songs. Listening to it back after all of this time…there are songs that would have fit nicely on some Kinks albums but hindsight is a great thing!

PHAWKER: *laughs* Rolling Stone described Decade as your “nervous breakdown album.” The ‘70s were kind of a rough time, yeah?

DAVE DAVIES: Well that’s interesting because the early 1970s was a pretty difficult time for me spiritually and emotionally. It’s like…’70, ‘72, ‘73…it’s kind of that time where I had a lot of ideas, but I wasn’t really in a good place. I was kind of developing a more spiritual perspective on life. So you could say that, really, t’s about a lot of things…how the world seems and sits in my mind, and what I was going through internally. It’s a very internal record in many respects.

PHAWKER: What can you tell me about that song, “If You Are Leaving”? That one…that’s a really great song!bw dave 60s gtr

DAVE DAVIES: Of course, thank you! Yeah…it’s kind of a mix of…sometimes you write songs and they might not seem to make sense at first, and then you realize you peeled a few layers off. You realize you’re right about all of the emotions and feelings that you haven’t really addressed properly. That’s one of those songs that reveals those feelings of like…”Maybe I don’t want to be in The Kinks anymore,” or “I want to leave,” Or “Is Ray leaving?” All of those kinds of feelings. So…it’s a song about doubt. What am I doing? Where am I going? What are we doing?

PHAWKER: Do you remember what year that was recorded or written, roughly? Was that the early ‘70s?

DAVE DAVIES: I think it’s early; I bet ya it was ‘73. But it might even be on the liner notes.

PHAWKER: Okay…I’ll have to dig those up. In the age of streaming, it’s so hard to find liner notes. Anyway…the next song I wanted to talk about on the new record is “Cradle to the Grave.” Another really strong track. It has a really strong Faces’ vibe if I’m hearing it correctly…especially your vocals. Were The Faces an inspiration to you? Were you colleagues or friends with them?

DAVE DAVIES: I really liked them. I thought they were a great band. I always thought Stevie Marriott was a very underrated performer, and a great guitar player as well. And it’s hard to kind of pinpoint my influences but, obviously, there’s a lot of music…you can tell my blues influences…and people like Leadbelly and John Lee Hooker. But some of the songs just came out. There wasn’t any kind of agenda, so to speak. Just to get songs done.

PHAWKER: So I wanted to ask you about this song. I only discovered it a few years ago, and I don’t know why it took me so long. But I think it might even be my favorite Kinks song. You wrote it and you sang it. “Strangers”?

DAVE DAVIES: Oh yeah. It’s funny because Decade kind of follows on from those themes of like, “Where are we going? Maybe we have a better chance of, like, sorting the problems out together.” That kind of vibe, ya know?Fanclub1967TheKinks3

PHAWKER: And that song heralds the onset of the sound of your songs on Decade — less mod and pop and more hairy, unshaven and bleary-eyed. Like everyone in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

DAVE DAVIES: Yeah, because there was a lot going on in my inner life. A lot of questions about where I was going. And so it does kind of follow that “Strangers” sounds a lot like “From The Cradle To The Grave” on the new album.

PHAWKER: Yeah. It’s a really, really beautiful song. It has, for my money, your best vocal performance. Like I said, I think that’s as good as any other Kinks song. I put that up there in the all-time top five of great Kinks songs.

DAVE DAVIES: Hey cool man! I love that!

PHAWKER: Don’t tell Ray that. He’ll get mad.

DAVE DAVIES: *laughs* I think he knows it!

PHAWKER: So, one last thing about that song. It was used very effectively in the Wes Anderson film, The Darjeeling Limited. Did you see that film in the theater? You must know the song was used, correct?

DAVE DAVIES: Yeah! I was really pleased that they used The Kinks’s music in that film. They used it in an abstract way as well, which was kind of quirky. The Kinks have always had that sort of quirky, abstract thing. It’s never something straight ahead; it’s always sort of multi-layered or not quite what you think. So I think Wes Anderson did a great job with that, in that film.

PHAWKER: Let me ask you about some Kinks controversies, for lack of a better term. There are pieces of The Kinks’s history that seem to be in dispute, and I just want to hear your side of that. One of them is: Who plays the guitar solo on “You Really Got Me”? There’s this notion of Jimmy Page somehow playing?

DAVE DAVIES: No! That’s a fabricated story; I don’t know where that came from. No. “You Really Got Me” is my guitar sound, my playing…everything is mine on it. So I don’t know where that B.S. came from.

PHAWKER: Well, I’m glad to hear that. I have to say, I think that is the greatest guitar solo in all of rock and roll. I’ve always said that, if the Martians landed today and said, “What is rock and roll?” I would play them that guitar solo.

DAVE DAVIES: Hey man! That’s cool! I don’t mind that!

PHAWKER: Tell me this thing about the knitting needle and poking a hole through the amp speaker to get that super-distorted sound on “You Really Got Me” and “All Day And All Of The Night”?

DAVE DAVIES: I don’t know where that came from. The thing is, I had this little green amp. It’s called an Elpico. I bought it at the store just up the road from where we lived. And I plugged it in, and it sounded just like every other amp. So I got a bit angry with it, and I got a razor blade and sliced the speaker cone up, all the way around. And I didn’t really expect it to work! I plugged it in, played a song…and I was amazed at the sound that came out! And then we perfected it and used it through a bigger amp…like as a preamp type of thing. And…you know…the rest, as they say, is history!DAVE DAVIES Death Of A Clown - Love Me Till The Sun Shines

PHAWKER: The reason why The Kinks are purported to have never broken in huge in the United States is because, in the mid-60s, you were banned from touring in the U.S. for reasons that I never understood.

DAVE DAVIES: Yeah. I never really did get to the bottom of it, but our management had some run-ins with the unions in America. I think we didn’t realize how big the unions were. I think they just banned us from getting our visas. Ya know, you can’t play America without Visas. So it was a big thing for us! Three years is a long time in the rock business.

PHAWKER: And you guys were at the height of your power!

DAVE DAVIES: I know…it’s weird. Yeah, we kept that clean with them. Then Ray comes up with these Village Green ideas. And then, we decided…ya know…to go more towards the English. I think, in hindsight, it helped The Kinks focus on music and where we should go. We focused Ray’s writing on the people we grew up with…and about home, really.

PHAWKER: I would agree. And I think there’s this sort of turning inward, and this sort of emphasis on your Englishness. I think it’s part of what makes The Kinks so unique.

DAVE DAVIES: Oh, I agree. I think so. I mean, Ray’s often written about family and the concept of family members. And there are familial characters and stories. Like Muswell Hillbillies and Village Green and characters that we all grew up with. They’re all a bit quirky and a bit odd. They gave us meaningful experiences.

PHAWKER: I wanted to talk to you a little bit about a couple of other Kinks songs that you wrote/sang. The first one is “Susannah’s Still Alive.” Talk with me a little bit about that. What is that about?

DAVE DAVIES: So “Susannah’s Still Alive” is really basically about a girlfriend I had when I was 15. Her name was Sue (or Susan). And she had what they’d call an illegitimate baby girl. And I didn’t see her for a few years because both sets of parents kept us apart. I didn’t see her again, in fact, until she was 30 years old. Obviously, I often thought about her. She sometimes popped up in our songs…like “Funny Face”, and obviously “Susannah’s Still Alive”. And it was this memory that just kept recurring.

PHAWKER: That’s really sad. It gives the song an even more powerful emotional backdrop.

DAVE DAVIES: I think so. Yeah.

PHAWKER: So was it sort of like…maybe you saw her somewhere? Or maybe you heard from someone who’d mentioned that they saw her, or something like that? You didn’t know where she was for years, and then it was like, “Oh, she’s still alive! That’s great!” Kind of like that?

DAVE DAVIES: Yeah, a bit like that. But also, it was kind of a mixture of my feelings for the girl…the baby girl…mixed with my feelings for the mother, whose name was Susan. So, it was kind expressing the feeling of love…wondering where they are and wondering what they’re doing with their lives. That kind of thing.

PHAWKER: So, you didn’t sing this song, but I think it’s one of your great moments as a guitarist. And that’s the song “Holiday in Waikiki.” I really like the slide on that song. Can you tell me about the making of and/or recording of it?

DAVE DAVIES: Growing up playing guitar, me and Pete liked Hawaiian songs. Like, steel guitar and bottleneck and all of that stuff. So there was a song that we used to play a lot that we heard growing up. And it’s a song called “Big Noise from Winnetka”, which has got a little Hawaiian flavor. And then, there was a song out when we were younger called “Hawaiian War Chant.” That was popular in the ‘50s—that Hawaiian slide. There’s even a bass riff on “Holiday in Waikiki” that we borrowed from “Hawaiian War the-kinks-the-kinks-are-the-village-green-preservation-society-special-deluxe-edition-6-cdChant.”

PHAWKER: That music must have sounded very exotic to an English boy in the early ‘60s.

DAVE DAVIES: Oh, of course! It was very influential, really. Because, when we first started playing as The Kinks, one of the places we toured was obviously [mainland] America. But we also went to Hawaii, so there’s obviously been thoughts and feelings from that time as well. We went there and did some shows there early on.

PHAWKER: What about “Death of a Clown”? Great song. Where is that coming from?

DAVE DAVIES: Those were the early days of the ‘60s. You could imagine there were a lot of parties and stuff like that. One night, I came home and felt more like a circus act than a performer. And then I realized the story of the “sad clown.” It’s this clown and he’s really masking his own feelings of despondency and loneliness…all those kinds of things. So that kind of imagery came to my mind. That’s how “Death of a Clown” was brought into being.

PHAWKER: Great song. So…you had a stroke in the early aughts. Could you tell me a little bit about where you’re at? Tell me a little bit about what happened. It’s my understanding that you convalesced for a time. You stayed at your brother Ray’s home and he took you in?

DAVE DAVIES: For a little, yeah. But I spent a lot of time at my sister Dolly’s house. Fortunately, I got back in shape. It was needed. It’s the only way to keep going without difficulty. Yeah, that wasn’t a very pleasant time. But I did learn a lot about myself, how I felt about the world, and my relationships. In a way, as with all of these seemingly negative things, they helped me explore a lot of things we should all be concerned about. How we are, how we treat other people, survival. I learned a lot from that experience.

PHAWKER: I’m assuming that this must have given you some new perspective on your relationship with your brother, Ray.

DAVE DAVIES: Oh, of course! My whole life. Everything in my life.

PHAWKER: You two are very infamous for having a sort of hot and cold relationship. There must have been some sibling rivalry or competitiveness.

DAVE DAVIES: Well, I think a lot of it was brothers being in a band and starting a band. And there was no template or guidebook on how to do it. We always had plenty of ideas and plenty of music. It was mostly inspiration. But obviously brother, family, friends…they clash. It’s not plain sailing by a long way.

PHAWKER: And where is your relationship with him at these days?

DAVE DAVIES: We’ve been hanging out in London. I just got back from London. We’re getting on really well. We’re trying to put some archival recordings together. We’ll see if we get on with that during the summer.

PHAWKER: That Kinks anthology that came out a couple of years ago is fantastic. One of my favorite tracks on there is that alternate, no vocal mix of “Waterloo Sunset.” Your guitar is really high in the mix of the instrumental version of it. It’s really beautiful.

DAVE DAVIES: Thank you! I think that song has a lot of aspects to it or facets. It obviously easily offers a very interesting instrumental. There are many tracks like that on Pete’s stuff and my own stuff that could be an instrumental. It was some interesting stuff.

PHAWKER: Great guitar parts on that. You wrote those leads, right?

DAVE DAVIES: That’s right. Of course, yeah.

PHAWKER: Not to open up any old wounds or dispute you may have had, but I just hope you get your share of the publishing and song credits. I know in the old school way—

DAVE DAVIES: A lot of those things were in the old school way, unfortunately.

PHAWKER: But there’s so much more to a song—

DAVE DAVIES: Well, absolutely. I’m very aware of production and arrangement. I’ve always felt that the arrangement side of things is really important: where things go, placement, stuff like that. That’s very important.

PHAWKER: Any of those iconic songs…if even one element was not there, it probably would not be an iconic song…ya know?

DAVE DAVIES: I totally agree. I think that’s absolutely right. People that are there and the people that contribute ideas and feelings…all of that makes it come together. The old school idea of it doesn’t cut it anymore.

PHAWKER: They really do need to rewrite the copyright laws and figure out how to credit people.

DAVE DAVIES: I think younger musicians and younger bands have learned from our mistakes. When you are in a band, you participate in everything. You participate in making music. So you should participate in the rewards.

PHAWKER: I think that’s what a lot of younger bands do. They split everything four ways and it avoids a lot of conflict.

DAVE DAVIES: Yeah. Young guys learned from us, I guess.

PHAWKER: When was the last time you played live with Ray? Is there any chance you two will R-598840-1480026037-4327.jpegdo any touring or concerts together in the future?

DAVE DAVIES: We don’t play yet because we are going to work on these Kinks archives and see how we get on with that. Ray played with me in London at a concert about three years ago. He came onstage at the end for “You Really Got Me” and we thought, “Oh, maybe we should try and do something.” We’re still in the talking stage, I’m afraid. But who knows.

PHAWKER: But never say never, right? It could happen, right?

DAVE DAVIES: Absolutely.

PHAWKER: So this archive project that you’re talking about…what is it?

DAVE DAVIES: These are old Kinks tracks. Some of them…we never finished. Some need tidying up. We’re at different stages of developing them. So that’s something we want to try and work on if we can.

PHAWKER: Do these songs span the entire career? Or are they just ‘60s songs?

DAVE DAVIES: There’s a couple Decade things and then ‘80s tracks. So, we’re still going through them.

PHAWKER: Are you living in the U.K. these days?

DAVE DAVIES: I live in the U.K. but I spend a lot of time in the States. My girlfriend lives in America, in New Jersey. I’m back and forth between London and America. I have children that grew up in California. I lived there for ten or so years. I have connections all over the States. But obviously, London is my home.

DAVE DAVIES @ SCOTTISH RITE AUDITORIUM COLLINGSWOOD NJ APRIL 9TH

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NO SURRENDER: Q&A W/ Amanda F*cking Palmer

April 5th, 2019

Amanda Palmer

 

SOPHIE_BURKHOLDER_BYLINERBY SOPHIE BURKHOLDER After a six year break from her solo work, singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer is back with a new album called There Will Be No Intermission. Her most personal work to date, she openly sings of her experiences with abortion, miscarriage, and the death of close friends. Now on tour in support of the new record, she plans to re-emphasize an emotional connection with her fans in three-hour-long shows that will arrive in Philadelphia at the Temple Performing Arts Center on Saturday April 6TH. We got her on the phone in advance to talk about the themes of death and loss in the new album, and how getting older has made her care more about the emotional capacity of her work, and less about what critics have to say about it.

PHAWKER: Why did you decide to take a six year gap in your work? Did you know you were going to take this much time off in putting out your own music?

AMANDA PALMER: That’s actually a little bit of a complicated answer, because I never unnamed-15really stopped putting out music, per se. Between Theatre Is Evil and this record, I’ve put out two full LP side projects, a bunch of singles, a bunch of videos. I don’t think three months have really gone by without me releasing something. But it’s a good question. I really wanted to be done with the stranglehold of album cycles for a while, but this record seemed like a really obvious collection. And I kind of let the material take the driver’s seat. At a certain point, I just had to admit that even if I didn’t want to make an entire record, it really, it’s still the way the world works. I also knew that I was never going to be able to command the attention of the media if I continued to put songs out every six weeks. It’s simply not the way the world works. And even though the Internet has vaulted us into the future technologically, the media still operates in cycles that haven’t changed since the 70’s. And that’s fine. I think things have remained that way for a reason. Then there’s also the really interesting artistic chicken-and-egg thing that happened. Now that I’ve put together this collection, it has suggested entirely new forms of artwork that have erupted around it – like the book and the tour – and this set of stories that go along with the album that I’m going to be hand-delivering to tens of thousands of people around the country. That may not have happened if I hadn’t gone back into the death-grip of the album cycle [laughing]. So I don’t mind. It gave me a reason to have some parameters and to work within them.
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Win Tix To See Amanda Palmer @ Temple University Performing Arts Center Tomorrow Night!

April 5th, 2019

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Amanda Palmer is a singer, writer, pianist, activist and blogger who simultaneously embraces and explodes traditional frameworks of music, theatre, community and art. She first came to prominence as one half of the Boston-based punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls, earning global applause for their wide-ranging theatricality and inventive songcraft. Her solo career has proven equally brave and boundless, including such groundbreaking works as the fan-funded THEATRE IS EVIL, which made a top 10 debut on the SoundScan/Billboard 200 upon its 2012 release and remains the top-funded music project on Kickstarter. In 2013 she presented The Art of Asking at the annual TED conference, which has since been viewed over 10 million times worldwide. The following year saw Palmer expand her philosophy into the New York Times bestseller, The Art of Asking: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Let People Help. The Art of Asking audiobook, which Palmer recorded herself, also topped the New York Times bestseller charts.

Amanda Palmer’s new album, There Will Be No Intermission, dropped last month via 8 Ft. Records/Cooking Vinyl. Her first solo album in more than six years, There Will Be No Intermission is Palmer’s third solo LP, and it’s the multi-faceted artist’s most powerful and personal collection to date, with songs that tackle the big questions: life, death, grief and how we make sense with it all. While the themes may be dark, the album’s overall sonic and lyrical mood is one of triumph in the face of life’s most ineffably shitty circumstances. Recorded over a single month in Los Angeles by John Congleton (who previously engineered and produced 2012’s acclaimed Theatre Is Evil), There Will Be No Intermission was entirely crowd-funded, this time by over 14,000 patrons using Palmer’s community hub on PatreonThere Will Be No Intermission could be heard last week in its entirety via NPR’s First Listen, and is now available in stores and on all DSPs.
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CINEMA: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

April 5th, 2019

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THE BEACH BUM (Directed by Harmony Korine, 95 minutes, USA, 2019)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC Everyone I know seems to have a Harmony Korine story. From the friend who once told me about how an applicant at the video store he used to work at listed the director as a reference — and how they called the number only to have Korine pick up. To another friend in whom Korine confided that he once lost almost 70 never-produced scripts in a bizarre house fire. Like the director himself, The Beach Bum is a study in larger-than-life chaotic personae that has been carfefully curated over the years and how it has affected those around him. Inspired by the music of Jimmy Buffett and starring the likes of Snoop Dogg, Jonah Hill and Martin Lawrence,  The Beach Bum is a straight-up comedy with a non-ironic feel-good vibe that will surprise those who’ve come to expect hipster transgression from Korine.

Taking place on the same opulent, neon-soaked shores of Florida as Spring Breakers, The Beach Bum stars Matthew McConaughey as the oddly charismatic and mischievous poet Moondog who spends all his time writing, seducing women, drinking PBR and smoking insane amounts of weed. Everyone loves Moondog, who leads a rather charmed existence with his very wealthy wife Minnie (Isla Fisher), whom he shares a open relationship with. When Moondog is summoned back to Miami for his daughter Heather’s wedding the night is punctuated by his wife dying rather tragically. Moondog is left her entire $50 million fortune on the sole condition that he has to finish his latest book of poetry that he’s been toiling over for years.

The plot of The Beach Bum sounds like something out of an 80’s stoner comedy, and Moondog’s world is populated by the kind of colorful characters you would probably expect from that bygone genre. My personal favorite being Martin Lawrence’s Captain Wack, a PTSD-suffering Dolphin Tour guide who has a coke addicted parrot and can’t tell the difference between sharks and dolphins. Moondog himself is definitely odd, but the character’s tenderness, depth and whimsy genuinely win you over. We view this Lebowski-on-the-beach fantasia through the prismatic lens of cinematographer Benoît Debie who turns The Sunshine State into a iridescent flesh-toned fever dream.

The Beach Bum is hilarious, quirky and the yin to the nihilistic yang of Spring Breakers. The film also feels oddly autobiographical, with McConaughey’s aging enfant terrible an allegorical stand-in for the 46-year-old Korine who will forever be infamous for writing Kids into instant-notoriety back in 1995 and trying to simultaneously live it down and live up to it ever since. If you’ve perused Korine’s recent press run for the film there is always a point where he is tasked with addressing his bizarre past, which has become the stuff of indie urban legends. The Beach Bum is easily Korine’s most accessible work to date and a film that could become a touchstone performance for McConaughey who really does something special in realizing Moondog and making you believe his hustle.



PREVIOUSLY: Q&A With Writer-Director-Provocateur Harmony Korine

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