Sunday, June 27, 2010

William Klein [part 1]

William Klein [part 2]

Who are you polly maggoo

Michel Legrand's score to William Klein's "Who Are You Polly Maggoo"

I found this on the Internet, and its a beauty of a Michel Legrand score. Basically an EP with five tracks, and for sure one of those items sold at a Shinjuku record store that would cost a couple of month's rent. But how can one resist Legrand at his best. Beautiful choruses, perfect arrangements that are slightly over-the-top, but wow.

Tribute To Cliff Richard, Anna Karina, and Jean-Luc Godard

Vivre Sa Vie - Nana's Dance

Anna Karina + Jean-Luc Godard = Cliff Richard and the Shadows.

Dancing at the cafe - Bande a Part (AKA Band of Outsiders)

Jean-Luc Godard and Cliff Richard on the same path.


For a few years now I have been obsessed with this little film clip of Cliff and The Shads. The tension between politeness and rock I think is unique.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Glenn O'Brien's "Soap Box"

Soapbox: Essays, Diatribes, Homilies and Screeds 1980-1997 Soapbox: Essays, Diatribes, Homilies and Screeds 1980-1997 by Glenn O'Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Whenever I see the name "Glenn O'Brien" in a magazine I usually buy that issue. I first discovered him during the highlight years of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine. He always struck me at that time as the perfect Manhattan journalist. He had good music taste, loved the visual arts, and was super urban witty in that classic Algonquin Round Table mode. One would think he would know Dorothy Parker, but alas, different generation and perhaps taste.So what we have here are a collection of essays originally published in Interview and Artforum and other locations. They deal with big issues like gender, art, music, sports, and culture among other subject matters. But the genius of O'Brien is that he makes these subjects personal and he is also peppered the writing with his good nature. Christopher Hitchens without the emotional up and down, just straight forward clear thinking yet a touch odd point of the view look at the world. Also buying this book in the used section at the Strand made it kind of an essential type of purchase in New York City.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Francis Ponge's' "Soap"

Soap (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics) Soap by Francis Ponge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have heard of Francis Ponge, but never read any of his books. Luckily i found this book at my favorite local used bookstore, and the subject matter interested me - Soap. Well, not soap in itself, but the fact that a writer wanted to write a book called "Soap."

And yes the book is about soap and washing your hands, it is also about writing. Or the nature of writing. If my eyes were covered (does that make sense while reading?) I for sure would think this is the work of Raymond Queneau, with respect to his "Exercises in Style." Both books have a strong visual picture, but its not the picture that is the subject matter, but how the tale or image is told.

So yeah, the book is about nothing, but really its about everything. Therefore its great!

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Robert Mitchum

Mitchum - In His Own Words Mitchum - In His Own Words by Jerry Roberts

The late and for sure great Robert Mitchum. A man's man. A girl's version of what a man should be. And one of the great screen actors of all time. But saying that, he was also a very sensitive and quite aware of his world or his surroundings as well. It is truly a sin that he never wrote a memoir, because via this book, one can gather he has or had endless fascinating stories to tell.

His main biography, "Baby I don't Care" is a masterpiece of sorts. And this book is sort of a side-dish of the main biography. In fact its important to read this one as well if you read the other. So what we have here are a collection of Q&A's with Mitchum that deals with childhood, his various troubles with the local law, and of course, his film career. "Night of the Hunter" gets a big nod in the positive from the main man, and he also thought that "Cape Fear" should have been more nasty. Or was that "Night of the Hunter" should have been more nasty? Well, nevertheless a truly unique movie icon and one misses him now in our daily life.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Walker Evans

Walker Evans: Decade by Decade Walker Evans: Decade by Decade by James Crump

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There is something so satisfying at looking at an artist's entire career in a book - and this one is a superb beauty. With Walker Evans, of course there are a lot of landscape images, but what impresses me the most are the portraits of various writers and fellow photographers. And the women in the book are beautiful. He really captures not the sexy, but more of the sensual aspect of their personalities.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Frank The Voice by James Kaplan

Frank: The Voice Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Along with Buster Keaton, Marcel Duchamp, Howard Hughes, Duke Ellington, Louise Brooks and Fritz Lang, I think Frank Sinatra is an icon of the 20th Century - or in many ways he is the 20th Century. Famous, but still a mystery, and a man who saw things differently then everyone else. James Kaplan, the biographer, sees him as a genius, and if that is true, then he is a man pretty much made up by his inner personality - which is insecurity, doubt, and pure instinct.

The plus side of the book is that it deals with Sinatra from birth to 1954. Professionally speaking, a bumpy ride to end all bumpy rides. He went from being an early teen star to the bottom of the heap, to the top again - but over time he became a great recorder of human emotion via his music.

So the book in ways reads like a fictional narrative where it starts off good, the middle part is despair, and the ending is hopeful for a better future. And all of this pretty much has a strong second character Ava Gardner, the muse, the wife, and demon for Mr. Sinatra. In many ways a perfect couple, in the Sinatra world, but in reality it must have been a total mixture of boredom, total despair, and pure blissfulness all in parts, but never put together like a perfect cocktail drink.

Although the book doesn't cover the entire 1950's, which I consider to be the golden age of Sinatra-life, due to making perhaps the first of a series of conceptual albums with a particular theme for capital Records. Those series of albums are without doubt landmark albums, and they are made to play all the way through from the first song to the last.

So yes, the book ends in 1954, my birth year, and also one can argue the beginning of commercial white Rock n' Roll with respect to Elvis hitting Sun Studios. This decade he would grow as an artist, and yet the doubt lurks in the murky background....

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John Zorn & Co. + Wallace Berman = Bliss