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THIS-N-THAT, THE MAGIC THAT IS TERRENCE MCNALLY AND OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS/OBSERVATIONS FROM THE WEEK

I can’t believe the week is already almost over and I’ve not posted anything since Sunday! Well, it has been a busy week. I’ve made mention of a certain boy I’ve been dating but I’ve yet to name him. I don’t want to blog too much about this part of my life because it isn’t only mine, you know? Also, I don’t want to “curse” or “jinx” a good thing. Anyway, he is gorgeous and his name is Rick. He walked away from a very successful career in the world of Big Business about 3 years ago to pursue his dream — to be a performer. And, he has been pursuing this with a vengance ever since to a great deal of success. He has already had his own cabaret show at San Francisco’s Purple Onion — not too bad. And he sits on the board of a very well respected theatre company. He has lots of connections to the world of stage and music entertainment. So, he was able to get us into the “world premiere” of Terence McNally’s latest play, CRUCIFIXION.

This is a play which McNally has been “workshoping/developing” with 13 actors for the past couple of years and it opens here in San Francisco on October 8th! I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but it is not to be missed. A very post-modern stage set and all actors are on stage at all times. intesting concepts, design and amazing performances. An amazing evening of theatre. Funny, touching, scary, disturbing and very human — I was transfixed by the script and the actors who brought it to life! I should also add that I think this might be the first play I’ve seen where I agreed with the use of full frontal male nudity. Normally, I think this just gets in the way (so to speak) of the plot and breaks the audience concentration — but it made sense in this play. Up until now my favorite McNally work was MASTER CLASS, but this takes its place easy! And, don’t get panty-knotted, but I did not care for LOVE, VALOR AND COMPASSION. I know, I know. I am the only queer man who disliked it. I just didn’t get it.

Rick and I also saw a really unusual evening of experimental music at the Herbst Theatre on Monday, followed by a nice dinner. One composer seemed to be a cross of Bjork, M. Monk and Philip Glass. It was uncomfortable. However, not as uncomfortable as watching Bjork and her wacky artiste hubby hacking at their feet with butcher knives while her wailing score plays in the background. …but that is an entirely different post.

Oh! And, the main reason I am making mention of Rick is that he is going to be appearing on stage with a friend of his who normally performs in NYC but is doing a show at The Purple Onion starting next week. Her name is Lau Hadar and you can learn more at http://www.luahadar.com — my understanding is that this is going to be a very fun show which will feature a “re-working” of “I’m Tired” from BLAZZING SADDLES. …this is the portion of the show in which Rick will be appearing. If you’re in SF, check it out!

I had a rough day at work today and an even tougher day due to a personal issue that has been on-going but is close to coming to a resolution. I felt so down until I quite accidentally walked into a Sanrio store! In the Ingleside area! Who knew? So I purchased a Hello Kitty pen for the office! Cheered me a great deal!

Hey, Jon — have you seen the new ChocoCat Giant Calculator!?!?!? It totally rocks! I think you might need it. LOL!

Today I had to ride BART and was sitting next to two cute girls. I would guess that they were about 14 or 15 years old. I would love to attempt to transcribe their conversation, but fear it would come across as if I were making fun of them and I would not want to give that impression — but their use of slang and excitement was great for my listening and viewing pleasure! Anyway, aside from the general glee and urban hooting — the topic of their conversation caught my attention. One of the girls was insisting that she found some great make out music and her friend was giving her grief until she finally agreed to listen to a bit of it on her friend’s Mini iPod. And, she agreed — calling her pal’s music “smooth and mellow-funked-up” …at least I think that was what she said — she might have said “smooth and mellow crunked-up” —- anyway, they were discussing the new Barbra/Bee Gees CD! Barbra is finding a whole new audience with playing a Focker and groovin’ along wtih Barry Gibb!

I really envision this album being more of a hit with the over 35 crowd, but maybe I am wrong. I noticed that Junior V and several other DJ’s have remixed a couple of the songs and they came out on vinyl this past Tuesday. I’ve not heard those remixes and I don’t know if there are plans to release them to CD. But, could Babs be getting club play? I do not go to clubs anymore. I am far too old. However, according to the newspaper the CD debuted at #5 on the Billboard Chart, #3 in the UK and is currently the #1 seller on Amazon.com. Babs is sellin’ — out. …but, selling.

I am all excited about seeing MIRROR MASK tomorrow night! Tho, I wonder what sort of vision will spring from the combo of Gaiman and the Jim Henson Group — but it can’t possibly be dull! Milford and Alan are meeting me at the Lumiere for
7:30pm tomorrow night. We will be having a light dinner of Korean BBQ and then the movie at the later showing! Can’t wait!

The Castro Street Fair is this weekend, but I am feeling the need for some “alone” time, I think. So, at this point my plan is to go to the beach on Saturday and just chill out with my iPod. And, maybe take in a movie Saturday night. Not sure what I will do on Sunday.

One of my dearest friends on the planet, Bethie, just called me to let me know that her crazy step mother decided to pierce her father’s cat’s ears. Not positive, but I should think that PETA needs to be alerted. Is that not animal abuse?!?! Aside from the pain, cruelty and possible infection — but even worse — should a beautiful red cat be forced to wear cheap hoop earrings from Wal-Mart?!!?!? I think not!

Oh, and I am so upset for poor Kate Moss! H&M fired her when those pix surfaced of her doing blow with that loser British rock star. I can’t think of his name. So, is that how she stays so thin? I wonder what she will look like in another 2 years at this rate? Still, Kate needs the work!

OH! And my brother continues to make way-cool connections in the world of NY art, but this is the coolest in my book! His pal, Susan Domelsmith, is making quite a name for herself as a jewlery designer and all the “cool” celebs are pursuing her work. I guess her biggest supportor/client is Goldie Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson. But look at this client sporting Susan’s latest design!


…I mean, come on! No one is cooler than Debbie Harry! No matter how old they might get — Debbie and Iggy are always going to be cool! I am most impressed. You know I would be happy to just sit in a room and stare at Ms. Harry for hours on end. Of course, this would probably really creep Debbie out — but I would be happy!

Oh, and Alan and I scored tix to see Bauhaus at the Warfield next month! Yay! And, I do believe Alan got us great seats! This will be the second time I’ve seen Bauhaus — the last time was about 8 or 9 years ago when they did that reunion tour. And I’ve seen Daniel Ash live 2 other times. I don’t really care to go to rock shows much anymore, but one must make an exception for the band who warned us that Bela Lugosi’s Dead… And, then went on to tell us again in THE HUNGER just before David Bowie “off’s” Ann Magnuson.

Writing of Ann Magnuson makes me think of Bongwater — the band I miss a great deal and the band to which I offered myself as a personal slave in 1991. I got a letter and a free shirt from Kramer for my offer. This then makes me think of Paper Magazine which is still pretty cool and for which Magnuson writes a column. This then makes me think of Details Magazine which used to be wicked cool in the 1980’s — and fairly gay. Remember Cookie Meuller’s column on the downtown NY art scene? This then bums me out because Cookie died and Details magazine went all corporate on our asses. Oh well.

Time for my cup of tea, a bit of music — am thinking Marianne Faithful for this evening — and then bed time!

Happy Friday, kids!
kisses,
matt

September 29, 2005. Uncategorized. 15 comments.

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HOW WILL WE FEEL 20 YEARS FROM NOW?

Last night I was chatting with a friend about the power of music artists and their lyrics on our lives. He is more into Stevie Nicks than I am into Babs. Yes, it is true.

So, we talked a great deal about reigning High and Spinning Priestess of Rock. I opened up about how I’ve always been touched by her work. Without question, those Stevie lyrics are quite often beyond what one would describe as “cryptic” so I’ve always known that my interpretation of her lyrics is all about what I bring to them at any stage in my life. He agreed, but he actually knew what many of the lyrics had meant to the writer.

He explained the real meaning behind one of my top 3 favorite songs of all time, “Sara” —- Suddenly those particular lyrics which had always seemed so mysterious and sensual made total sense to me. A meditation on an unborn child. Hmmm… Now, that song will always have its own personal meaning for me, but it will also now carry a new one — and, somehow, there is even more hope and strength added to the lyric.


I wrote yesterday’s post about why, perhaps, happiness remains so elusive for so many of us — I was wishing I had the guts to share this thought on a more personal level with someone in my life who has somehow gained a special place of importance in my heart. Someone with whom I feel a very strong connection, but don’t know why. I’m also not quite sure why my normal up-front/honest personality seems to retreat when I try to bring up a topic of gravity beyond the arts or day-to-day routine of life.

As I was chatting with my friend I mentioned how much I had loved Stevie Nicks’ solo LP, “Rock A Little” when it had first come out. I was fresh out of high school, just about to start my “adventures” in college and trying to figure out myself and why I could not seem to stay away from drugs. It was an important album for me as I began the on-going journey of knowing myself and won the battle against the evils of addiction.

However, over the years, that importance has been eclipsed by the hopelessly dated production of the album. I mean, we are talking 1980’s Drum Machine and Synth Hell! As any true blue fan would, he disagreed and pointed out that some of her mose lovely prose came from this album. I told him that I still listen to “Talk to Me” and “I Can’t Wait” but cringe as my ears adjust to a stylistic sound for which I never much cared. It is the melody and the lyric that matter to me so I deal with the sappy production values.

Very late last night I pulled out this very CD and played it as I wrote out a few thoughts in my journal. As I was writing, the opening track started to blare out — the echo effects, the drum machines, the faux-rock-n-roll guitar riffs and those distinctive synth sounds that get us thru “I Can’t Wait” …I was humming along and then the track came to that portion where Ms. Nicks stops singing and speaks — “How will we feel 20 years from now?” —- with the producers tweaking that to echo and various speed effect.

Then it struck me that this recording was almost exactly 20 years old. The song and album that played a fairly crucial role in my life was now asking a question that I could answer.

How do I feel 20 years later?

From a big picture perspective I am feeling pretty damn good! The last 20 years have been good to me. I’ve not needed to lean on those illegal chemicals for well over 18 years. And, sure, nothing is easy. I’ve lost friends to death, distance and petty disagreements, I’ve lost my father and my dear grandmother, aunts and uncle. I’ve seen my baby brother grow into a complex and gifted adult artiste, my mother and I have been working toward an understanding of each other, I’ve known lovers who I can no longer really remember and others who hold wonderful places in my memory, I fell into a career which brought me both joy and dispair, I’ve fallen into a love which allowed me to learn so much about who I was during the time we shared, and when that love turned out not to be for “forever” I learned even more about myself. I came out stronger, but even a bit more confused about some of life’s bigger questions. More than a year later, I know what I want and am working to achieve it. And, of course, I could never imagine that I would find myself living in such a fragile, dangerous and scary world. Perhaps it always was, but since the unbelievable tragedies of 9/11 I think our western collective view of the world and our own place in it has been shaken to the very core.

But, it is 20 years later. I feel good, but there is so much more I want and need to experience. Work has taken a significantly different place in my priorities. Friendship and love have taken a more urgent and important place for me. In fact, I’ve never appreciated the value of my friends’ love more than in these past 16 months. And, never have I been so sure of how much I value the importance of sharing life’s experiences with one person. And, if I’ve learned one thing as I’ve moved into “middle age” it is you don’t get much if you fail to ask for it or put energy and focus into what it is you desire/want. You have to be strong. You have to fight. You have to care about others and you can’t hide in fear.

You have to keep moving forward with kindness and respect. To borrow a line or concept from John Irving — you’ve got to keep passing those open windows, but try all the doors. You can’t just walk past those door without turning the knobs and taking a peak.

So, now — 20 years later, I find Stevie Nicks’ question even more powerful than ever before.

“How will we feel 20 years from now?”

—- echoing into a plethora of echo, drum and synth effect, that question pounds into my brain. I wish I knew the answer now. Don’t we all?

September 25, 2005. Uncategorized. 9 comments.

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HAPPINESS…

I was watching a movie and a concept was presented that caught my imagination. An idea that I think applies to a lot of us on many different levels. For me, I am thinking of one specific person I know. The idea is:

We humans are cowards in the face of happiness. We need to find courage to hold on and to pursue happiness.

So many of us live in fear of being hurt and taking chances in life — that life slips thru our fingers and we shut our minds to the idea that we not only deserve to be happy, but that we can be happy. And, no matter what modern psychology preaches, I don’t think that we are meant to be solitary creatures. I think that we all need “alone” time — but I don’t think any of us need to be or want to be “alone” in life.

Yet, so many of us are afraid to take the chance of being hurt. …the fear of allowing ourselves to fall into love in the hopes that the other might not chose to catch us can prevent us from a “lifetime” of being happy. And, the idea in the back of our heads that tells us that the feeling of happiness can’t be real if it hinges on the existence of another — or the fear of
co-dependence. To a large degree, what is wrong with depending upon another for happiness? It can’t be all, but I wonder if it doesn’t need to be a major part.

Life is too damn short to not take chances. So many of us are so worried about yesterday and tmorrow we fail to see the importance of today.

…we miss out on happiness because we are terrified of it.

For the record, I’m not afraid.

September 24, 2005. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

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SELLING CLOTHES, THUMB SUCKING AND CASTING OUT DEMONS…

Friday night I ended up seeing two movies. The first was to kill time as I waited for 10pm at which time I had a date. I saw the Tilda Swinton produced coming-of-age movie, THUMBSUCKER. It was good, but I think I’ve seen enough coming-of-age movies to last me a lifetime now. However, it is worth seeing and the score from The Polyphonic Spree is awesome. I had my fingers crossed for an evening that would be a bit more romantic, but my date and I took in a veiwing of THE EXCORCISM OF EMILY ROSE — which has gotten decent reviews and has done great business. It also has a very impressive cast. It is also written and directed by the man who brought us one of those URBAN LEGEND trash movies. However, it was a good film. I think he was aiming to give us a new EXCORCIST for the Naughts, but that just isn’t ever going to be possible. I mean, the average audience does not seem to know what to do with horror that takes itself seriously and approaches subject matter from both a somewhat clinical and ambiguous way. Also, audiences seem to expect some form of comic relief in horror films — THE EXORCIST was a heavy film and any humor that came out of it came from what a viewer brought to it — or reacted due to discomfort at what was being projected onto the screen. This EMILY ROSE film, while stylistic seemed torn over whether it wanted to horrify us or entice us. And, it fell into some silly moments. Also, it claimed to be based on a true story — yet I’ve never heard of any of this. I am, however, familiar with the case from which Blatty based his novel, The Excorcist. Hmmmm…

Anyway, it was a nice evening.

Today I sold a close full of clothing to a thrift shop and then donated what they didn’t want to a thrift shop from which all profiits go to SF AIDS hospices. My pal, Milford, was kind enough to give me a ride to these places as I could have never carried this stuff on my own. Somehow it felt “freeing” to get rid of these clothes which were all now far too big for me. However, I’ve decided I’ve lost enough weight. In fact, I need to stop losing weight at this point. I am now at 160lbs and I do not want to be any thinner. My size 30 waist jeans are actually a little loose. NO! LOL! I am eating! I swear! Tho, I have a few friends who do not seem to believe me. Anyway, I am eating an exotic chocolate treat that MUST be worth a full day’s normal caloric intake! Next month — I am joining a gym. There is one down the street from GOLDs on Market — that is the one I will be joining. GOLDs is too cruisy pour moi.

OK — well a couple of DVD’s are waiting for me to watch them. I had plans for the evening, but they got canceled. So, it was me at Panda Express for dinner and a walk home. I can’t believe the weekend is almost over! There is one of those big SF fairs tomorrow — Folsom Street. ? I would like to go, but I think I am locked into plans. Oh well.

September 24, 2005. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

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…IN MY CLOSET

You might find any number of things. I’ve a Christina Ricci “PUMPKIN” Head Cut-Out, a poster of Isabelle Huppert getting her sick groove on in THE PIANO TEACHER, framed Kate Bush and Debbie Harry LPs, 20 years worth of journals, my senior year high school year book, clothes (tho, I just got rid of more than half because they no longer fit me! Yay!) — but the my most prized posesion is my framed LP of Andy Gibb’s “Flowing Rivers” …he was so cute. I loved him.

So, what is it called when someone gets off to their sex partner wearing those cartoonish animal costumes? There must be a name for that. Not sure why it is on my head. I think because I had a nightmare last night that I was running through the halls of the Over Look Hotel with Shelley Duvall and we ran into that room where the two men are engaging in oral sex and one is wearing an animal mask/costume. Oh, that Stanely Kubrick — always ahead of the pop culture curve! But, what is that called? And, no, I am not into it. Just curious if anyone knows. ????


So, my “secret friend” MUST be in the UK. I wish he or she would just tell me who they are! Today I received the UK version of the new Barbra CD which has the better title of “Guilty Too” — but everything else is the same. AND — I received a DVD copy of that way-cool film from Japan, KAMAKAZI GIRLS as well. Both from the UK. …but no return address other than Amazon.com UK and some British distributor of Asian films. I am not sure I am spelling “kamakazi” correctly. I am far too lazy at the moment to look it up on Google. But, can’t wait to watch it — it doesn’t open in SF till a week from tomorrow. I should think it is already playing in NYC, tho.

I have a late night date tomorrow! I am all excited about it. I really like this guy — and, I think he really likes me. I think. I just like being near him. I think of that old song, “The Nearness of You” …sigh.

Well, my mother is currently in transit away from my hometown which looks to be destined for the worst hurricane in Texas histroy. The Gulf Coast has had a hard year — what an understatement. Of course, for some reason my mom decided to discontinue her flood insurance and her area of Texas always seems to flood — and, I grew up very close to Galveston Island. Saying a little prayer for all my friends and family tonight — however, I feel like they are going to be OK. I think, due to the tragedies of New Orleans — for the first time I can remember, they are actually evacuating. Thank goodness!

OK — time for bed!

September 22, 2005. Uncategorized. 9 comments.

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CONVERSATIONS ON A MOVING BUS…

I had to ride a bus this evening. Aside from the fact that I hate buses, it was a very crowded ride — and I was forced to touch the rail thing so I didn’t fall into the small sea of people. Anyway, the following “conversation” or “discussion” happened as we rode down Van Ness.

Former Hippie Lady Turned Power Exec: “OK, someone really needs to use deodorant. Someone really stinks and I am getting sick”

(obnoxious, but true. …the offending odor was steaming out of a tall white rasta-wanna-be college-age-‘dude’ — who was, of course, standing next to me — arm pit aimed at my face)

Pissy Middle Management Guy: “Amen. Somebody needs to take a bath!”

Tall White Faux Rasta Boi: “Fuck you both. This is the way human beings smell. Get over it and shut up.”

FHTPE: “Son, don’t speak that way to me. And, no, clean human beings do not smell like rotting flesh!”

TWFRB: “Fuckin’ bitch.”

PMMG: “Hey, don’t speak to the lady that way! You stink and we shouldn’t have to smell it”

TWFRB: “Dude, shut the fuck up or I am taking your ass down”

FHTPE: “Oh, please — we’re all terrified! …Of the way you smell you sick little brat!”

Random girl sitting below the would be white rasta boy: “Yeah, I think you need to do something about your hair.”

Ok, now I am sort of in the middle of all this negative and urban anger brew. I am just trying to get to Walgreens and survive the stench which is making me sick — however, these three jerks were just being mean. …but, then, of course — I get pulled into it.

TWFRB: “Look, assholes just because I don’t smell like this Jew who’s been dipped in some chemical cologne bath doesn’t mean that you have the right to give me your shit.”

(several passengers begin to this San Francisco hissing thing that is so popular here.

FHTPE: “He smells good! If I were he I would pour some cologne over your ugly head!”

RGSB: “You are such a fucking asshole. I’m Jewish and I am going to kick your ass”

me: “Would you all please shut up! If you can’t take the smell get off the bus, if you can’t take it like a man do something about the way you smell and leave me the fuck out of it. And, actually, I suggest YOU get off the bus anyway and get to your Nazi rally, freak.”

…oops.

MUNI Bus Driver: “Cool it, people or you’re all getting off my bus!”

TWFRB: (screaming) “Stop the bus — I’m getting off!”

(majority of people sitting begin to clap)

Stinky pig boy gets off the bus in a huff — but his scent lingers. I get off at the next stop.

Why me?

September 21, 2005. Uncategorized. 12 comments.

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LIKE BUTTA BUT WITH A LOT OF SUGAR…

I’ve not posted anything for a while. I guess I’ve been more than a little down about all the horrible crap that Karl and his family have been going thru with the loss of Heather. For even tho, Karl and I are no more — they will always feel like my family to me. So, I’ve been upset that there was nothing I could do from here on the west coast. Of course, even if I were still in New England, there would be nothing I could really do to help anyway. It’s just a sad situation.

But, tonight I feel inspired to post because there is new BARBRA PRODUCT in the record stores! Yes, Babs and the once-oh-so-hot-lead-singer/songwriter-of-the-Bee Gees have reunited after 25 years to record a sequel to the 1980 hit LP, “Guilty”
Interestingly, “Guilty” remains Bab’s biggest selling LP/CD of her career. I guess after “Emotion” it is my least favorite record she ever made, but I’ve never been too trusting of things that achieve such mass popularity and, even tho I did play that record till you could see thru it, I was a bit upset that Barbra was doing disco. But, as I recall — the period of 1976 to 1983 was really the only time I was not teased for loving Babs. That was her superstar defining era. …then, she did YENTL. …which was a hit, but not so big with the under 30 set. …and, I was back in the fringe — which I preferred.

However, I do enjoy listening to Guilty from time to time because it is so not “Simply Barbra” — it is Barbra singing along with the Bee Gees and not so worried about perfection. She was more or less working as a singer for hire, so to speak. Yes, she was a Woman In Love and she had nothing to be Guilty of except for selling lots and lots of records. In her afro-brilliance Babs soared with those mellow disco melodies and the belting was kept fairly low key. ….dammit! But, anyway, it was a different sound for my diva of choice.

The new CD, GUILTY PLEASURES, despite the poor cover photo of bared early 60’s shoulder and male pattern baldness — is a pretty good CD! Once again, it is Barbra singing along with the Bee Gees — the lyrics cryptic and none of the obsessive purssuit of perfection in the vocals which makes it sound much more relaxed. And, I make no secret of the fact that I was in love with Andy Gibb. …He was just so damn pretty! Anyway, Babs and Barrys’ tribute to Andy with the re-recording of Andy’s last real hit, “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away” is awesome. The best song is the duet called “Above the Law” — but this is not striving to be the mega-hit of 1980 yore. This is easy listening for Barbra and Bee Gees fans. It will be interesting to see how many of us are out there when the sales post. Before I go to sleep I shall watch the DVD portion of this DualDisc thing/concept. I’ve got my fingers crossed for lots of soft focus, back lighting and discussions on the “process of creating art” — and, of course, a few moments of Barbs pretending that she can’t remember too much of the first recording, etc. All the things I love about Barbra!

Now, can someone please talk her into a new haircut — and outfits that cover her shoulders??!? …and, could we please book a shaving of the head for Barry Gibb. I mean — we all know getting old sucks, but let’s do it with some dignity, people!

God bless, Barbra!

Now, stop making fun of me.

September 20, 2005. Uncategorized. 7 comments.

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A SAD DAY

Today marked the end of a horrible battle against an unfathomable disease.

The loss of someone we love is NEVER easy, but the loss of a child pushes beyond the boundaries of any despair. As sad as it is, I know that the soul of a beautiful little girl is now free of pain and the confines of frail body which could no longer put up the brave fight. However, there is no getting over the loss of such a precious little soul from our world.

Please send warm thoughts and prayers of healing for Karl and his family.

In loving memory of Heather Coleman.

September 16, 2005. Uncategorized. 5 comments.

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THE SHOES THAT PASSED WIND…

I really do like the way these shoes look, but they make the most obnoxious sound as I walk. At first I thought they sort of made a “squishy” noise or one of those sounds you sometimes hear from nurses’ shoes. But, no. As I walked thru the office today I realized that, with each step, it sounded as if my Ben Sherman shoes were farting. Not really very cool.

Right now I am listening to the CD soundtrack of Miss. Ross’ 1975 big screen extravaganza of fashion, ambition, Norman Bates and really bad acting, MAHOGANY. But, the music is soooooo velvet smooth with just a hint of the disco to come. And, those kick ass “wah-way” guitars — whatever happened to the mid-70’s “wah” “wah” guitar sound!?!?!? Why have we left it behind?

September 13, 2005. Uncategorized. 7 comments.

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DARK HORROR FROM JAPAN


…exactly

One of the many reasons that horror films from Japan are so effective is because they often go to the darkest places of the human psyche — places where we don’t want to go. The only film visionary who comes close to dragging an audience into such dark territory would be David Cronenberg. One could go on for days analyzing why Japan art can be so very twisted, conflicted and confused. From sociological to the political there a million theories — and many of them carry some merit. One thing that is for certain, in the most repressed environments — fantasies can often take themselves to the level of obesession and fetish.

In 1969 when Masumura Yasuzo brought a controversial 1930’s Japanese horror novel by E. Rampo he altered it to match his own twisted view of sexual relationships and the new found freedoms of artistic expression of the erotic. The film, BLIND BEAST, remains every bit as odd, twisted and shocking as it must have been upon its original release. Certainly exploration of S&M, mysogynistic fantasy and gore were nothing new at the time. However, audiences were not prepared to see great production values, acting and intelligence brought to the table with these sorts of things.

This controversial and often banned film was released to DVD last year. I finally got around to watching it thinking it might make for an interesting spotlight for the RI Film Festival next year. However, I think it might be just a bit much for this festival. But, it is a film that refuses to be ignored. A bored and somewhat plain model has taken to posing for S&M fantasy pictures for a photographer. She seems to do this not just for the money but because she doesn’t feel she has anything else she can offer to the world of art than her own humiliation. Do we have a doctor in the house?

A stunted blind artist who has long been obsessed with the “feel” of the female body decides that he must kidnap this woman because, to his fingers, she is the most perfect specimen of human flesh he has ever felt. Masumura presents the audience with some of the oddest set designs I’ve ever seen. The victim/model wakes up in a dark warehouse which we soon discover is filled with the life works of this insane blind man — who, with the assistance of his scary mother has spent years sculpting giant figures of female bodies and body parts. For a good 20 minutes we see a blind man chase a woman thru the curves and indentions of giant female anatomy. …someone has “mommy” issues.

After a series of failed escapes the victim finally gives up and surrenders to the blind man’s “project” to sculpt a real “life size” version of a woman based on her body. It is never quite clear if this will be “art” for public consumption or for some other “personal” use. Not sure I wanted to know. However, thanks to a fairly dense script we soon see the victim become a willing participant in the insane desires of her captor. After the sculpture is completed, the victim and the kidnapper soon become what Bryan Ferry would call “slaves to love” …or at least to their own desires. In the darkness of the warehouse amid the horrific sculptures the two begin to explore every possible angle of the human body — we see this represented thru the giant sculpted bodies upon which the two writhe and explore. In the madness the woman finds that she loses her own vision and is obsessed with letting her fingers do the “watching” and “exploring” of her kidnapper turned lover. Food is no longer of interest and ordinary orgasm is no longer enough.

And of course, we are lead into an exploration of S&M at its darkest levels. While this is certainly not an unexpected turn, Masumura and his actors manage to cause our mouths to drop with each trun of the plot.

…you know things are about to take a VERY odd turn when subtitles like this pop on to the screen.

In the event that you should decide to see this disturbing, effective and hopelessly sick film — I will not give away any further spoilers. However, suffice to say that Japanese film makers were creating film art that was going places that we in the west would never think to go. …And, I am fairly certain that is a good thing. However, one can’t deny the impact of this film and the intensity of the psychology with which this “horror” film is presented.

I was chatting with a friend about this movie and whether or not I should suggest it as a film for next years film festival in RI which will feature a side bar of Asian cinema. She was excited to hear about this movie and has already ordered it from NetFlix, but I have to wonder — when does a film stop being entertainment and start being something much darker? I think this film could be one of those marks where we take a wrong turn. Not for everyone, but certainly worth a look if you’ve a strong interest in the darker side of human nature and the psychology of S&M. …but not much fun. I did think it a good film, but I sort of wish I had just watched my DVD of YENTL instead.

View this one at your own risk.

September 11, 2005. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

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