Saturday, July 21, 2007

great Matt Groening interview--

“I have lots of dreams about working on The Simpsons,” Groening says, “but they’re all real-life dreams. The most recent one is the best one, because . . . well, it was just a good dream. I dreamed I was in the back row of a giant auditorium, and I didn’t know where I was or why I was there. But it was this crowded, formal event, and I say to the person sitting next to me, ‘What is this?’ And he says, ‘These are the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies.’ And I say, ‘Really?’ He goes, ‘Yeah — you should be very excited. The Simpsons is up for the Nobel Peace Prize.’

“I say, ‘Wait a minute — no! It’s a cartoon! What’re you talking about?!’ He says, ‘I agree it’s far-fetched, but, you know, you should have a speech ready, because there’s a good chance that you might win.’ I say, ‘That makes no sense at all! That makes no sense at all!’ And then, [half-assed announcer voice] ‘And the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize . . . The Simpsons!’ So I go up onstage, and I say to myself, in the dream, ‘I’d better have a joke.’ And I say, ‘Gee, it’s such an honor for The Simpsons to win the Nobel Prize. You know, this hasn’t happened to a cartoon since Porky Pig...’”

Friday, July 20, 2007

another YouTube - Everything but the girl - I don't want to talk about it
which was written by Danny Whitten (pic below)--one of the subjects of "Tonight's the Night"--for the first Crazy Horse album...

wonderful, very well laid out "musings of an English expat" blog Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop has Pale Fountains, Linton Kwesi Johnson & c & c....

today's YouTube - Neil Young and Crazy Horse- Tonight's the Night because I just heard it coming through the rain out of the recycling truck as it passed & stopped...
Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?

"Despite a sharp national decline in crime, American criminal justice has become crueler and less caring than it has been at any other time in our modern history. Why?

The question has no simple answer, but the racial composition of prisons is a good place to start. The punitive turn in the nation’s social policy—intimately connected with public rhetoric about responsibility, dependency, social hygiene, and the reclamation of public order—can be fully grasped only when viewed against the backdrop of America’s often ugly and violent racial history: there is a reason why our inclination toward forgiveness and the extension of a second chance to those who have violated our behavioral strictures is so stunted, and why our mainstream political discourses are so bereft of self-examination and searching social criticism. This historical resonance between the stigma of race and the stigma of imprisonment serves to keep alive in our public culture the subordinating social meanings that have always been associated with blackness. Race helps to explain why the United States is exceptional among the democratic industrial societies in the severity and extent of its punitive policy and in the paucity of its social-welfare institutions..."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

great series of West Vancouver "Unsquatted Houses" amongst much else at Aaron Vidaver's Filckr site

The Angry Island

"“It’s a great English conceit that their past is written in granite, whilst pretty much everyone else’s is written in sand,” he declares. “Having lived this long with the English reverence for the gay pageant of time, I’m always astonished by how little the Europeans make of history and with what ease they will, and indeed can, discard the trappings and links to the past to make way for the convenience and comfort of the present. They seem so cavalier with it, so spendthrift. For the English, discarding the past is like spending capital. Eating seed corn. In England, changing the shape of a telephone box evokes a fury that might be justified by grave robbing.”"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

At some point in the mid-80's I got the greatest hits album of English organist/singer Georgie Fame, who's now Van Morrison's bandleader, but in the early-mid 60's had a very commendable and unembarassing line in soul/R&B covers. My favorite though was a version of a song who's original version I didn't know at all--Billy Stewart's 1964 "Sitting in the Park"--here's Georgie's version. A while later I was able to find the pretty decent Chess compilation of Stewart, who immediately became one of my favorite singers. He deserves to be much better known. He died very young in a car accident in 1970. His over-the-top version of "Summertime" makes Jackie Wilson look like Leonard Cohen. Anyway here's Billy's magnificent original, which became a sing-along late night driving classic without equal. The song enjoyed a long life, I knew--70's ultra-smoothies GQ had a big hit with it--but until I started hunting around I never realised how strong its cultural grip has continued to be. The song's sweeping chords and narrative strategy--here I am, all alone in the park & thinking--turned out to be the basis of many, many raps, especially from hispanic rappers for whom the original was an established "lowrider classic" of their parents' generation--here's Mr. Junebug & Mr. Chino Grande's versions. But my favorite "version" (sadly not on Youtube) by the Alocranes (scorpions)
only had a hint of the chords in the background, but it bypassed both Billy & George's wounded tenderness & the rapper's bragadoccio to tell the dramatic story of the 1970 founding of Chicano Park at the foot of the Coronado Bridge in San Diego. (The story of Vancouver's Crab Park an interesting contrast.) But the democratic ideal of the "park"--a common space for romantic contemplation, recreation & cultural activity--bounces back from there to Billy Stewart on his bench--the places songs lead us...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

great Linda McQuaig on Connie Black's National Post--

"Black liked to present the Post as an irreverent, scrappy upstart of a newspaper that shook up the staid Canadian media scene and challenged the establishment with its "take-no-prisoners" approach. The only problem with that image was that, far from challenging the establishment, the Post was – and is – the establishment.

It may well have been a scrappy upstart, but from the beginning it was an attack-dog fighting on behalf of Canada's financial elite, who have never been shy about defending their own interests. Could anyone seriously argue that, before the Post came along, we had heard insufficiently from business on the subject of the need for tax cuts, free trade or deficit reduction?"

& here's a review of her wonderfully titled book on Canadian foreign policy "Holding the Bully's Coat"...

Seijun (Tokyo Drifter &c) Suzuki's Princess Raccoon is out on DVD--I didn't know the "Raccoon" of the title meant those magic-scrotumed shape-shifting Pom Poko critters...

more Youtube nostalgia, from 1976 the giant disco hit Patsy Gallant's - From New York to L.A., which was an adaptation of Quebec singer/poet/activist Gilles Vigneault's "Mon Pays" (here also sung by Patsy) which had become, since he wrote it in the mid-60's, the unofficial Quebec anthem--


Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver
Mon jardin ce n'est pas un jardin, c'est la plaine
Mon chemin ce n'est pas un chemin, c'est la neige
Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver

Dans la blanche cérémonie
Où la neige au vent se marie
Dans ce pays de poudrerie
Mon père a fait bâtir maison
Et je m'en vais être fidèle
À sa manière, à son modèle
La chambre d'amis sera telle
Qu'on viendra des autres saisons
Pour se bâtir à côté d'elle

Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver
Mon refrain ce n'est pas un refrain, c'est rafale
Ma maison ce n'est pas ma maison, c'est froidure
Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver

De mon grand pays solitaire
Je crie avant que de me taire
À tous les hommes de la terre
Ma maison c'est votre maison
Entre mes quatre murs de glace
Je mets mon temps et mon espace
À préparer le feu, la place
Pour les humains de l'horizon
Et les humains sont de ma race

Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver
Mon jardin ce n'est pas un jardin, c'est la plaine
Mon chemin ce n'est pas un chemin, c'est la neige
Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver

Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'envers
D'un pays qui n'était ni pays ni patrie
Ma chanson ce n'est pas une chanson, c'est ma vie
C'est pour toi que je veux posséder mes hivers


My country isn't a country, it's winter
my garden isn't a garden, it's the plain
my road isn't a road, it's the snow
My country isn't a country, it's winter

In the white ceremony
where the snow is married to the wind
in this land of blizzards
my father had a house built
and I'm going to be true
to his ways, to his example
my guest room will be the one
that you go back to, season after season
to build beside it

My country isn't a country, it's winter
My refrain isn't a refrain, it's a gust of wind
My house isn't my house, it's the winter cold
My country isn't a country, it's winter

About my solitary country
I cry out before I am silenced
to everyone on earth
my house is your house
inside my four walls of ice
I put my time and my space
to prepare the fire, the place
for the people of the horizon
and the people are of my race

My country isn't a country, it's winter
my garden isn't a garden, it's the plain
my road isn't a road, it's the snow
My country isn't a country, it's winter

My country isn't a country, it's the contrary
of a country that was neither land nor nation
My song isn't a song, it's my life
It's for you that I want to possess my winters...

Monday, July 16, 2007

David Meltzer & Clark Coolidge's Serpent Power number 28 in in Rolling Stone's top 40 of 1967...

"...Meltzer on untutored post-folk guitar, Meltzer and his wife, Tina, singing his songs, poet Clark Coolidge clattering behind on drums and the soon-vanished John Payne fixing a hole on organ, their music was minimalist folk rock with noise - the climactic, electric-banjo augmented "Endless Tunnel" goes on for thirteen minutes..."

on the centenary of the birth of finest American film actress, all-day Barbara Stanwyck on TCM!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lower mainland trees

a visit with Elvis

"From the Thunderbird, they moved to a rented apartment behind a Chinese takeaway, and then, when the Fema money ran out, to this trailer in Cajun country, not far from the Atchafalaya Swamp. They have a new identity (which, for obvious reasons, I'm sworn not to reveal) and a new existence. Claudette works as a dispatcher for the local police department, and Elvis, when health allows, earns a little extra customising cars. Paying the bills isn't easy, even now that Jake Jr has left home and is living in Brooklyn, but the family's wants aren't great. Elvis grows snap beans, yams, and heirloom tomatoes in the yard, and neighbours sometimes bring fresh fish. 'I have what the Lord intends me to have,' he says. 'No man should crave more...'"

today's sentimental YouTube - Gilbert Bécaud - L'important c'est la rose & don't you forget it! also Jane Olivor's version--memories of North Vancouver in the late 70's...