Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Emily Bergl

Actress Emily Bergl attends the Broadway opening night of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" at The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

The Poetry of Rock n' Roll: "The Queen Is Dead"

In honor of National Poetry Month, each week I am featuring poetic lyrics of rock or pop songs.

This week, let's read the work of Steven Patrick Morrissey, songwriter and vocalist for the legendary British group The Smiths. Morrissey's lyrics have always naturally had a literary bent to them since his interests lie in the literary world. Marked by references to writers and poets as much as film and pop stars, Morrissey's lyrics often feature clever turns of phrase, black humor, and a deeply psychological confessional-style narrative.

Here is "The Queen Is Dead" from the 1986 album of the same name. I am deliberately not including the actual song in this post because I want the focus to be on the words.

The Queen Is Dead
by The Smiths

Through this land's cheerless marshes
Hemmed in like a boar between arches
Her very Lowness with her head in a sling
I'm truly sorry - but it sounds like a wonderful thing

I say Charles, don't you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail
Dressed in your Mother's bridal veil ?

And so, I checked all the registered historical facts
And I was shocked into shame to discover
How I'm the 18th pale descendant
Of some old queen or other

Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed ?
Oh has the world changed, or have I changed ?
Some 9-year old tough who peddles drugs
I swear to God,
I swear : I never even knew what drugs were

So, I broke into the palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

We can go for a walk where it's quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But when you're tied to your Mother's apron
No-one talks about castration

We can go for a walk where it's quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
Like love and law and poverty
Oh, these are the things that kill me

We can go for a walk where it's quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But the rain that flattens my hair ...
Oh, these are the things that kill me

Past the Pub who saps your body
And the church who'll snatch your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it's so lonely on a limb
Past the Pub that wrecks your body
And the church - all they want is your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it's so lonely on a limb

Life is very long, when you're lonely…
There is no official website for The Smiths.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Currently listening to...

...the old-school House music sound of "Turn Me Out" by Russ Chimes. This is the kind of song I would have heard on the dance floor, back in my clubbing days, that would have sent me running to the DJ booth yelling, "WHAT IS THIS? I HAVE TO HAVE IT!"

Congratulations, France!

Today, France became the world's fourteenth nation to approve marriage rights for same-sex couples. The lower house of the French Parliament passed the "marriage for all" law, sponsored by President Hollande, by a vote of 331 to 225. Although protests continue--even after the law has won--from the far right and the radical Christian agenda along with Jews and Muslims, this is certainly a time to celebrate.

Congratulations, France!

R.I.P. Chrissy Amphlett

We have lost one of the great voices of rock n' roll. Chrissy Amphlett, lead singer of the Australian band Divinyls has died at the all-too-young age of 53 from a three year battle with breast cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

The band's first release in 1983, "Desperate," featuring Amphlett on the cover in her iconic schoolgirl uniform and fishnet hose, ripped into the rock world. Her reedy, gravelly growl was immediately identifiable and gave the band an edge and a quality that demanded attention. Listen to "Elsie," the chilling, epic final track from "Desperate" in which Amphlett roars and rumbles (at the 3:26 mark).

She never had an education
She uses life as her vocation
Standing on ledges, clinging to the edges
The world's a hard place to land on

She has this one way conversation

Trying to avoid a confrontation
Memories of the kind that she'd rather leave behind
The worlds' a hard place to land on

Life can be lonely

Life can be very sad
Life can be something you wish you'd never had

She never had any affection

So she relates well to rejection
No stories wait discovery
Dreams have passed recovery
Never had a chance from the beginning

She just sleeps all day

In her squalid little slum
And takes little white pills
To make her body feel all numb
And it's dark and dirty
And there's nothing left to eat
And in her heart there's a feeling of defeat
Smells of bugs and fornication
And a bottle of cheat scent
Should she stick around
If this is all that life meant

Life can be lonely

Life can be very sad
Life can be something you wish you'd never had

Open the door Wally, open the door Wally

Her New York Times obit:

BEAUTY: Photography--Paul Octavious

Not only did photographer and designer Paul Octavious photograph these whimsical flying cameras, he built them himself! He says, "I built Camera Birds from cameras handed down to me from my Grandpa and others that I've collected over the years. Sometimes I wish I could get really, really high off the ground to shoot a scene below. I know these guys will get the perfect shot."

Prints are available at his shop. Visit his site linked below.

BEAUTY: Photography--Matt Molloy

These colorful time-lapse clouds at sunset were created by Matt Molloy, who overlaps hundreds and hundreds of photos of a sunset to achieve this bewitching effect.

BEAUY: Installation--David Altmejd

The work of Canadian artist David Altmejd is very difficult to describe. His enigmatic pieces consist of large-scale installations that often involve the idea of a vitrine, or a glass display box. Such boxes are usually used in museum settings to display collections of mineral specimens, or perhaps taxidermied birds. With this sort of "cabinet of curiosities" approach, Altmejd uses natural materials in his installations, but these cabinets are puzzling, offering no logic to a coherent "collection" which is clearly not the point. The cases are often enormous and the objects in them are not... leaving lots of space. The objects can be composed of quartz, pyrite, amethyst, sand, resin, thread, metal wire, pins, needles, synthetic hair, glass eyes,chain, bronze, wood, pinecones, burlap, leather, and foam. It is this juxtaposition of natural, uncontrollable, living elements, placed haphazardly and sometimes with a sense of sweeping movement, against the sterilized plexiglass and mirrored plinths that generates a seeming clash of meaning. It suggests the unpredictability and messiness of life captured and frozen just as it is, in the midst of its drive, life force, heartbeat...

Although some pieces can be small to medium sized like the modernist doll house of The Outside, The Inside and the Praying Mantis (fifth image down), some are staggeringly large like The Index, which he assembled in the Canadian Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Bienale (third image down--click for a larger view). It is obvious that the power of his work lies in experiencing it first hand. I would love to see one of his pieces...

David Altmejd at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York City:

BEAUTY: Mixed Media--Haruki Ogawa

Japanese painter and mixed media artist Haruki Ogawa embeds paint and industrial materials in crystal-clear acrylic resin, creating arresting little cubes of texture.

Top to bottom: Conceptual Sculpture; Object #1; Object #5; Semi Object #2 (detail); Semi Object #2; Three Dimensional Drawing #1; Three Dimensional #2

Haruki Ogawa at Frantic Gallery:

Tilda at Las Pozas

For the May 2013 issue of W magazine, Tilda Swinton traveled to the legendary Mexican estate of Las Pozas to model couture by some of the most talented designers currently working. In 1945, the estate was created by Edward James (he was the American-British son of William James, heir to the 8,000 acre James family estate of West Dean House in Sussex, and an openly bisexual poet) more than 2,000 feet above sea level, in a subtropical rainforest in the mountains of Mexico just outside the town of Xilitla. James was a patron of surrealist art and artists which included Salvador Dali whom he supported for all of 1938! His surrealist art collection included pieces by Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Klee, Leonora Carrington, Pavel Tchelitchew, Pablo Picasso, Giacometti, and Max Ernst among others; James was painted not once but twice by René Magritte, and photographed by Man Ray! In this spirit, he created, on some 80 acres, a surrealist fantasy of strange structures up to four stories tall, turrets, steps/ ramps/ walkways and footbridges with fanciful curlicues, and buildings (with hidden rooms and staircases that go nowhere) with names like the House on Three Floors Which Will in Fact Have Five or Four or Six, the House with a Roof like a Whale, and the Staircase to Heaven. After James' death in 1984, the estate fell into ruins but in 2007, the Fondo Xilitla, a foundation that will oversee the preservation and restoration of the site, acquired the property. Thankfully, James' unique vision will continue to live.

Also in this spirit of surreality, photographer extraordinaire Tim Walker (previously here) teamed up with stylist Jacob K and the lovely, ethereal, and talented Tilda Swinton to recreate several surrealist masterpieces in and around Las Pozas. I am sure James would approve.