Friday, April 24, 2009


My follower Milky chided me last evening at the Throbbing Gristle event here in San Francisco for somehow not paying proper obeisance to the event of A.H.'s birthday last Monday, but it's actually quite important for me that this set of notes on a particular cultural preoccupation doesn't become what it purports to analyze, a fetishistic love-fest of a brutal regime, ending in a place I can only just imagine: where the cleaning lady finds me one day, swinging by the neck, raised aloft by an elaborate pulley system, cold to the touch, wearing only a pair of vinyl briefs and a gas mask, surrounded by pornographic magazines open to their most German images. We'll leave that end to those who really do enjoy such things, the likes of Motor Racing Bosses and Princes of the Realm.

But, while on the topic, we find here:
A report by Ofsted, which expressed concern that secondary pupils were repeatedly studying Hitler is part of a wider debate about the nature of Britain's enduring obsession. Those concerned at the ubiquity of the Third Reich in the history classroom and beyond to the nation's bookshops and living rooms fear it stunts understanding of other periods and leads to an unhealthy personality cult.

On the opposite side of the argument there are those who point to the monstrosity of the Nazi regime and its leader, arguing that it is difficult to run out of important issues relating to Hitler to highlight to the wider population.
And to which I can add only that it is difficult to run out of unimportant issues as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

JG Ballard, dead today

Crash, a dance written under his influence, the score for the last section above, a recording of the entirety below.

from the book:
I stood with my feet apart, hands on my breast bone, inhaling the floodlit air. I could feel my wounds again, cutting through my chest and knees. I searched for my scars, those tender lesions that now gave off an exquisite and warming pain. My body glowed from these points, like a resurrected man basking in the healed injuries that had brought about his first death.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Georgic for a Forgotten Planet

Lynne Sachs showed one of her latest films, Georgic for a Forgotten Planet, last night at ATA, a cultural icon here in San Francisco. The film, like Vergil's Georgic, is a lovely and meditatively poetic paean to agriculture, although, unlike Vergil, the film's focus is on the separation of our citified culture from the husbandry of the earth as well as the separation of our own persons from what surrounds us. I was struck in particular by a number of plaintive shots of the Moon over the city, hardly visible against the streetlights, ignored by those below, a forgotten deity.

Many of her films center on ecology and our damage of the same and we saw a number of those as well. Also included on the program were the films of her partner Mark Street, including one of his more abstract works titled Winter Wheat, a beautiful bubbling hand-manipulated piece of 16mm art, which took on an environmental urgency in the context of the other films.

But the reason that Georgic is the cynosure of this bit is its use of my first CD in the soundtrack, most noticeably my manipulated music boxes. If memory serves, this is the one that begins the film.

Some of the others from Music of Love are used as well, and some moments of Hagalaz. I'm flattered of course, and happy these sounds have a new life. The actual box, holding the last few guitar picks of a previous life, sits on the piano behind me as I write.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


A habit I picked up years ago from Ed Toomey, formerly of Neef, who picked up every playing card he saw on the ground - a surprisingly common find - compels me to scan the terrain for interesting bits of detritus. I no longer carry them home to fill filing cabinets and adorn the walls; I merely scrutinize and inspect and leave undisturbed. But recently I came across one of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries' screeds on a New York city street, and was reminded of my colleague Barry Drogin's opera named after the selfsame amusing and intolerant religious leader.

In the current missive, Alamo is persecuted, like all good Xtian martyrs, but in his case again by the anti-Christ, who has taken the form of the US government, now accusing him transporting minors across state lines for immoral purposes. In Barry's opera, Alamo's persecutor du jour is the Cult Awareness Network, and a particularly poignant moment occurs when Alamo's polemical rant against the Catholic Church suddenly becomes personal, and we suddenly see through a window to his soul, consumed by a deep and pervasive sadness, a frantic desperation of a man trapped and scared and alone, wondering why God has forsaken him. Barry has put up a section of the score and recording, linked to above and here below, respectively.

Update: Barry has informed me that, and I have apologized for:

As per its full title, "Alamo! a scena for a cappella voice and Bible (King James version)," calling "Alamo!" an "opera" is an error in scale - kind of like calling a one-act play a full-length play, or, say, any orchestral piece in one movement a symphony.

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