Friday, June 18, 2004


Now let us praise pirates. But only the creative, funny ones who take the cultural material shoved down our throats and tweak and tamper with them until something entirely new and subversive is created. One of the funniest things I've seen on the net in the last year is a series of GI Joe cartoon public service bumpers from the 80s which have been "remixed" by one Eric Fensler. There's 24 of 'em and they're free for the downloading. You will laugh until you cry, I guarantee it. Pork Chop Sandwiches!!!Body Massage!!!

One of the pioneers of such media mashups is the group Negativland. I saw them perform ten years ago and it was one of the strangest and funniest things I've ever witnessed. Their latest project is a highly unauthorized film called The Mashin' of the Christ that takes footage from 80 years worth of Jesus movies (most notably Mel Gibson's recent gore fest) and combines them to lunatic effect.

There's also a great site called Illegal Art where I originally found those GI Joe parodies. Here you'll find discussion of intellectual property issues, taboo releases like the DJ Dangermouse Jay Z/Beatles mashup, director Todd Haynes suppressed Karen Carpenter Story and much much much more. Don't tell anyone I sent you there...

Thursday, June 17, 2004


A year or two ago I saw a Camper Van Beethoven reunion show at Bimbo's in SF. They were in fine form, if a little greyer all around (as are we all). I especially liked their version of the Clash's 'White Riot', which in the context of their own comment on rich boy rebellion ,'Club Med Sucks', put the song in an entirely different light. It turns out they're back together again and working on that most feared artifact, a concept album. Says singer David Lowery:

We thought the most Camper-ish thing to do would be a rock opera. We're feeling like this is, politically, probably the strangest time ... I don't know, in a very long time. We wanted to comment upon the politics of the United States, but we wanted to do it in a way that wasn't shrill. So instead, we did a sci-fi rock opera."

In fact, the album was influenced by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's alternate-history cyberpunk novel The Difference Engine.

Says Lowery of the record: "It takes place in the late '60s/early '70s, told through the eyes of a young soldier in the army of the Christian Republic of Texas. North America is a bunch of different, separate nations, and this is the story of this conflict between California and Texas.

"It does involve space aliens," he adds, "just cuz it's a Camper record.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


I was going to ignore the big 100th anniversary Bloomsday Joycean celebrations, but at the last minute I decided to give in and share this dialogue between Jeffrey Eugenides and Jim Lewis (who he?) on the legacy of one Jimmy Joyce (as Mike Watt likes to refer to him).

I'm going off to masturbate at the shore in commemoration...


Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Slacker) finally gets his adaptation of Philip K. Dick's drug burnout classic A Scanner Darkly underway and Dick's daughters drop in on the set to give their blessing. High hopes, despite the fact it stars Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. Robert Downey Jr. is a brilliant choice for this one though.

(via greencine daily)


Fox News Channel loves Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911.

It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail.

As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, "F9/11" — as we saw last night — is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty — and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice.

I found this through CURSOR, a great site that functions as my front page newspaper most mornings...

Monday, June 14, 2004



Can someone appear in a Victoria's Secret commercial AND be one of the great poets of his time? A new book by Oxford prof Christopher Ricks says yes, and gives Bob Dylan the full lit crit close reading. I've had an advance reader's copy of this book for a while and have dipped in a bit, but it's a little daunting, so for now let's just check out Jonathan Lethem's take on Ricks' Dylan's Visions of Sin (Lethem is the author of The Fortress of Solitude, a novel that richly deserved every bit of hype it recieved a while back). The beginning of Lethem's review makes it clear that he's as much of a Dylan fan as Ricks:

Christopher Ricks and I share a privilege. It's one you share too, assuming you join in our almost fathomless esteem for the songs and performances of the sui generis poet-singer Bob Dylan. That is, to have had our lifetimes overlap with an artist whom stone Dylan fans like Ricks and I suspect future generations will regard, in his visionary fecundity, with the awe reserved for Blake, Whitman, Picasso and the like. This concurrence of our lives with his is a privilege that shouldn't be taken for granted: 40 or 50 years from now, one of the few questions younger people will be certain to ask of elderly witnesses to the 20th century is, ''Did you ever go to a Bob Dylan concert?'' If the reply comes: ''You have no idea what a hassle Madison Square Garden could be,'' it will certainly be met with shaming incredulity.

A Dylan book I did get around to reading was Chimes of Freedom by Mike Marqusee, which did a masterful job of setting Dylan's 60s songs in their political context. Marqusee is especially good at showing how Dylan's "sellout" electric period still had strong, if more subtle political undertones. (If only those outraged folkies back then could look into the future and see the Victoria's Secret commercial!)

I actually saw Dylan in 2002 for the first and only time (at a "cow barn" in a county fairground in Red Bluff, California). I think Bob and band might have been looser and more at ease than they would be at a bigger venue. I almost don't want to see him again for fear that it wouldn't be as good...