Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Goodbye FRIENDZONE

James from FRIENDZONE passed away and recently I'd been meaning to reach out to him and let him know that this was still my favorite song of the decade:



FRIENDZONE made music that helped me through some of the worst days of my adult life and the least I can do is help pass it on.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bill Evans MOON BEAMS (1962)



Seeing a Nazi clocked unconscious on the nuevo PDX carpet made the day.  Endure.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thomas Pynchon INHERENT VICE (2009)

Loved the film, loved the book even more, just because there was more of it. Pynchon's sense of humor is relentless and right on my wavelength, and he mixes the conspiracy/investigation of the mysterious Golden Tooth with heavy handfuls of American history, the occult's alternate history, and levitates it with a constant, near equal-parts interest in television, film and music.


I am putting together a college Am Lit curriculum around the PI novel (invented here by Poe) as the truest expression of the American soul on paper, and one that permits examination of prime movers forces without rolled eyes.  Chomsky and Pynchon have similar interests, but where as Chomsky would be viewed as tiresome to most of the population, a fine detective romp is an easily digestible way to get those nutrients.  Stand-out course materials would be CHINATOWN, Raymond Chandler, even True Detective S2 for a study on what goes wrong in this avenue.  

(The audiobook narrator is aces, btw.)  Pynchon is concerned, as a lot of art is, about how the hippie movement lost steam and fizzled out into the ether. Only he has some answers too, that lead to even more intriguing questions.  Hippies, for lack of a better term, were disengaged consumers-and needed to be reprogrammed.  So they had to lose momentum.  Picking off and jailing leaders, introducing harder and harder drugs, etc.  The Golden Tooth is a shorthand for an Iran-Contra type situation, where the feds and 
'concerned citizens' use independent contractors to achieve their ends.  How did we get from the commune to the reign of Reagan within a decade?  Nixon has to be the most important American since FDR, and by force of will turned the cultural waters towards straight-laced suburban life from a dream now so hazy it doesn't seem like it could have been there at all.  

INHERENT VICE captures this with stupefying grace.  The NYT, the New Yorker, et al. reviewed it as a genial, lightly apocalyptic work (detective novels can't be deep!), but it isn't apocalyptic at all.  It is more about how forces keep progress at a bay, how stasis profits and will be fought for, as if capitalism has an immune system, and waves of killer T cells to come after infectious agents.  How do you explain the loss of the biggest counter-cultural movement in the U.S. in the 20th century?  We should at least try.  Mostly it was absorbed back into the superorganism, another wonderful, alternative revenue stream offering a diverse portfolio.  

Twinkie sales may be down, but we're making a killing on yoga pants.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

GREEN ROOM dir. James Saulnier (2016)



Perfect weekend to watch a movie about fighting neo-n*zis set in Oregon.  Catch it on amazon prime. Anton Yelchin is terrific (rest in peace) and I finally know what an Imogen Poots is.

Friday, January 20, 2017

HELL OR HIGH WATER dir. David Mackenzie (2016)



A terrific, 'manly' melodrama, right?  I loved how it not just identifies banks as villainous, but reflects on how their remorseless repossession of homes echoes that of white settlers a hundred years before.  I think a lot of the anger that 46% of voters expressed in November is tied to understanding that circumstances are more difficult than they need to be, that they are being preyed upon, but they wildly misidentify the culprit.  Predatory banking, whether through mortgages for homes banks are all too willing to foreclose on, or credit cards that make life real easy until it isn't, until you're effectively a debt/wage slave...we have monolithic enemies now, Voltrons of ten thousand people who cannot be challenged to showdowns at high noon.

The only option is to disengage, do everything within our power to remove leverage they have over us.  Don't join, don't sign, pay cash.  Because wily coyote one might be, but probably not smarter than the combined forces of accountants and lawyers and executives who need to make the quarterlies look good for a bonus.

I hope plenty of people get to see the film and don't get distracted from the message by the gunplay, or Chris Pine's enviable mustache.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bill Evans YOU MUST BELIEVE IN SPRING (1980)



Enjoy the last day of President Obama with a peaceful resolution to endure.  Endure out of spite or malice, but endure.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Thomas Pynchon THE CRYING OF LOT 49 (1965)


I was always intimidated by Pynchon's reputation, but the INHERENT VICE film encouraged me that he might be more of a genius-jester than a heavy-and-dour, the other option for midcentury American male novelists.  And he is.  LOT 49 is highly amusing, running through life in the mid-sixties southern California dream, and could even be read as a precursor to IV, as it follows a possibly-medicated housewife falling deeper into an inconsequential conspiracy, which may or may not have been constructed to give her something to do.  Pynchon is an astounding conjurer of sentences, employing names and nouns as chances at joy.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

True Top 40 2016



I saved 3 spots for when LEMONADE ends up on Spotify.
#1 Freedom
#10 Formation
#31 Daddy Lessons

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Scott's 2016 Film Top Ten



If you subscribe to the podcast, you help them make more from advertisers so do it! The least you can do for a charming vehicle to get Scott's opinions into your brain.  He has a very intriguing list, and pairs each member of the top ten with a couple films in similar emotional/stylistic wheelhouses.  Lo, tho he call it a "basic bitch" list, it is just as honest, well-articulated, and exciting as you've come to expect from Scott.

Ben's Basic Bitch Top 5

5. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!
4. LOVE & FRIENDSHIP
3. THE LOBSTER
2. JACKIE
1. LA LA LAND

Monday, January 09, 2017

Bud Shank CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' (1966)



Being a self-identified square means you can stan for West Coast jazz.  Would also like to express gratitude for the great state of California,  gearing up to defend the republic for four years.  Proud to have lived there and paid some CA taxes.  Get you some Eric Holder, I love it.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

JACKIE dir. Pablo Larrain (2016)


I was skeptical heading in but Larrain hit me in the Mad Men+Malick sweet spot and made a beautiful, graceful film.  Portman's first scene was a little shaky but nothing else seemed like an impression, she became inseparable from the first lady of the twentieth century.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Gary Gulman IT'S ABOUT TIME (2016)



Got to see Gary on NYE with Steph.  He reminds me of Bob Newhart, in his slyness and mild-mannered storytelling. Being soft-spoken means you have a much larger range to play in than comedians (who I enjoy, in small doses) like Bill Burr, who is always at 10, then going to 11 or 12 for emphasis. Steph was dying at the role-playing bit.  I've been a fan since Last Comic Standing in high school, so it was really neat to meet him in person.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Eluvium FALSE READINGS ON (2016)



Portland has its very own master of northwesterly ambient, the way the sky can clear but the trees are still gently raining on you.

Monday, January 02, 2017

FRIENDZONE DEMOS (2016)



Hoping this is a sign that they're going to put out a new album in 2017. This is a great fix until then, but skip HS100.