Sunday, July 31, 2005

Not Quite Bourke-White #6



(AWK, post-mortem. We never saw the death-strap pierce his throat... Crime scene snap by TS, who doubtless had Weegee spinning in his blood-lashed mausoleum. Captured en route to Kentucky, September 12, 2004.)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Not Quite Bourke-White #5



(The pale paw of Wolcott, on the tear-laden road to Detroit, September 14, 2005... TS was lucky to receive probation for this crime against perspective... Although, wait - I sort of see it. The frame is ideally balanced! Yes, yes, wow, this is fantastic! Jennings? Get me Sue Kismaric at MoMA... Yes, NOW, goddamnit! Christ, this is gonna be big!)

(Camera Two: pulls back to reveal veterinary syringe protruding from Tom Smith's lower lip.)

Not Quite Bourke-White #4



(A confoundingly poor snap [or, depending on the number of bottles of DayQuil you've just quaffed, an uncommonly flattering portrait ] of TS from TLASILA's performance at Rochester, NY's Bug Jar, September 15, 2004. Photographer unknown at present, although forensic backtracking may yet reveal C. Grier to be the target of our sickly-sweet emnity.)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Not Quite Bourke-White #3



(Chris Grier, captured in bestial prime for seven eternities. Snap by TS, a man with no discernable higher motor functions, in the van after the gig in Providence, RI, September 17, 2004.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Not Quite Bourke-White #2



(Rat Bastard in all his panoramic glory, photographed by T. Moore [who truly captures the soul of the man, or at least a section of his sleeve] at Tonic, NYC, September 18, 2004.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Not Quite Bourke-White #1

This is the first in a series of wholly unfortunate images culled from the archive of To Live and Shave in L.A.'s September 2004 God and Country Rally! Tour. In lieu of the usual thin porridge, please accept these gobblets of elk urine while TS is away on holiday...



(Mark Morgan and Tom Smith from TLASILA's WFMU session, September 19, 2004. Skewed perspective courtesy of Chris Grier.)

Hauling Ass on the Sniardwy...

Here are some stills from Roman Polanski's superb first feature, the once-reviled, subsequently revered Knife in the Water. Pretty goddamned daring for 1962...



From Peter Cowie's essay:

Andrzej Wajda dominated Polish cinema during the late fifties with his trilogy of films concerning the occupation of Poland during World War II. Still a young director, he was able to capture the dreams, despair, and contradictions of his country’s lost generation. But it was the maverick Roman Polanski who emerged onto the international film scene in the early 1960s obsessed not so much with the big issues of the day as with the quirks and backwaters of human nature.

One could argue that a revolution in Polish cinema had occurred some seven years prior to Polanski’s embarking on Knife in the Water––when Andrzej Wajda had shot A Generation (featuring, among other young actors, Polanski himself). Communist party officials had bridled at Wajda’s view of youngsters surviving during the Nazi Occupation. But the influence of Italian neo-realism on Wajda and his contemporaries proved irresistible. There’s a gritty feel to the films of the “Polish school” of the late 1950s that recalls the work of (Roberto) Rossellini in particular. The crucial significance of the State-run Lodz Film School must not be forgotten either. Wajda, Polanski, Jerzy Skolimowski, and Kryzysztof Zanussi all studied there, refusing to kowtow to orthodox Communist doctrine and rejecting the entrenched view of film as a medium for state propaganda.

The five-year director’s program at Lodz was demanding. One learned every phase of the movie-making process. Ten-hour days were the norm, and Polanski says you went every day except Christmas. His 1958 senior thesis Two Men and a Wardrobe caused a stir when it won international films festival awards at Oberhausen, Brussels, and San Francisco. It is an exercise in the Absurd and the surreal that suggests the hostility and suspicion with which outsiders can be regarded like the two men in the film who emerge from the sea carrying a large wardrobe. “I wanted to show a society,” said Polanski, “that rejects the non-conformist or anyone who is in its eyes afflicted with a moral or physical burden.” Two Men and a Wardrobe marks several other themes the director would continue to explore in future films––relationships between people, claustrophobia, scorn, deceit, violence, and humiliation.



The following year saw the release of his next short, When Angels Fall, which paints the portrait of an elderly woman working as a lavatory attendant. She looks back on her life and loves lost in the War, her reveries continually interrupted by “customers.” Until The Pianist in 2002, When Angels Fall was the only Polanski film to refer to the wars that transfigured Europe in the twentieth century, and the short, hectic battle scenes have much to say about the arbitrary barriers that war can create between men.

His other two short films, The Fat and the Lean (1961) and Mammals (1962) continued to explore the drama of “the two,” of man’s inhumanity to man and the battles waged mentally on one another. There’s a surrealist feel to The Fat and the Lean, as a servant tries frantically to do an aged man’s bidding, even dancing before him to the terrible sound of a drum that his master beats implacably. Mammals also features two individuals in conflict, dragging a sled through thick snow and devising one stratagem after another to avoid doing the hard work. Both films carry that tinge of the macabre that would mark Polanski’s feature work and set him apart from other Poles of his generation.

Knife in the Water, Polanski’s maiden feature would define his maverick status once and for all. Polansk’s personality stamps every frame. As one critic noted at the time: “The weapons are glances, words (very few and always exactly chosen). Polanski is a holy terror of intelligent restraint––detached, ironic, playful as a cat with a mouse, encompassing with ease his alternations of the deathly serious and the dead-pan comic.” One should not, however, forget the contribution of Jerzy Skolimowski, who worked on the screenplay and urged Polanski to compress the action into twenty-four hours A poet and dreamer, Skolimowski had enrolled at the Lodz Film School in 1960, on the personal recommendation of Wajda, and would go on to direct films that sketch with sharp humor and sensitivity his country’s makeup––films like Barrier (1966), Le Départ (1967), Deep End (1970), and Moonlighting (1982).



The solitude, or rather isolation, that envelops so much of Polanski’s early cinema is seen again in Knife in the Water. He told The New York Times Magazine in 1971: “What I like is a realistic situation where things don’t quite fit in. I like to begin with a mood, an atmosphere. I begin to people the atmosphere with characters. When I thought of Knife in the Water, I thought, first of the north of Poland where I used to sail and of a theme that wouldn’t involve large numbers of characters.” In Knife in the Water, the Polish lake district appears utterly uninhabited. Not a single other human being even slips into the frame. So, despite the immense skies and vast stretches of water, the three characters remain trapped in a hermetic, Sartrean huis clos.



Polanski recalls that it was hell to shoot the picture in such cramped circumstances: “The yacht was quite big enough to accommodate three actors but uncomfortably cramped for the dozen-odd people behind the camera. When shooting aboard, we had to don safety harnesses and hang out over the side.” But again, constraint becomes a virtue. Polanski’s stifling compositions, with one face in close-up crowding half the frame while the two other characters talk in the background, lend a sense of incarceration to the battle of wits. And at every turn, the weather dictates the fickle mood. The desolate horizons in every direction. The waters of the lake, now placid, now whipped into irritation. The glaring sun at noon. The milky light of a summer’s evening. The dark, ominous massing of clouds. These elements work in alliance with the film’s dialogue time and again.



From the outset, Polanski creates neat visual ruses to reveal a strength or weakness: the youth’s display of agility as he shinnies unexpectedly up the mast, for example, sends an erotic message to the wife. Much has been written about the phallic symbolism of the hunting knife carried by the youth. The knife lurks not merely as a sign of virility, but also as a metaphor for psychological force in the duel between the two men for the attentions of the woman. Polanski’s rare gift for trapping emotions in imagery rather than exclusively via dialogue aligned him with a fresh, more subtle brand of cinema that swept through Europe in the early 1960s––with Michelangelo Antonioni, Claude Chabrol, Louis Malle, and with Central European directors like Miklos Jancso, Jan Nemec, and Ewald Schorm.



By film’s end, with the knife long drowned in the waters of the lake, everyone’s pride is bruised. The young man has dashed nimbly away across the floating logs to an uncertain future. The husband and wife are left by Polanski at a crossroads, both literally and metaphorically. The distinguished Polish critic Jacek Fuksiewicz has written of the “ruthlessness with which Polanski penetrates the minds of his characters, stripping off their successive masks to reveal cruelty, deceit and plain stupidity.”



Knife in the Water focused on the concept of non-conformity, on the subtle battles that erupt between the haves and have-nots. Most of the film’s witticisms are at the expense of the privileged, even pampered married couple, the prosperous “Establishment” in a Poland where most people were still struggling to cope with everyday poverty. More intriguingly, Polanski omits all reference to World War II, marking an escape from a past that obsessed Wajda and the somewhat older generation of Polish filmmakers. The youth in Knife in the Water (who Polanski considered playing himself) is a restless spirit, reluctant to accept orthodox habits, and his exit from the film, skipping nimbly away across the floating logs to the unknown promise of the mainland, confirms his survival instincts.



Nominated for an Academy Award, Knife in the Water failed to win against the dazzling and flamboyant Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, but at least it was the first time a Polish film had ever received an Oscar nomination, and it also introduced American audiences to a new brand of psychological cinema––almost “chamber cinema,” with a handful of contemporary characters, modest production values, and enriched with intellectual fiber.



All in all, the film marks a subtle and controlled debut for Polanski. Ahead lay Repulsion, Cul-de-Sac, Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown. But Knife in the Water retains a haunting, particularly Polish atmosphere that has dated barely a beat since it first appeared.





I've loved this film for years. Now, for those of you so inclined, it's your turn... Rent it, buy it, reenact it in your great aunt's attic, or set it alight. Either way, you'll slit your throat with glee.

Best,

Tom

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I Deleted My Christian Marclay Rarities, and I Dare You to Do the Same...

On the eve of what might well be a fantastic adventure, I'm feeling like dirt. Global madness is doubtless cyclical, as is the human proclivity to decry the present as the very worst of times. Still, can we have a few more bombings, please? Specifically, targeted at the nations and cities I'll be visiting in the next three weeks? Can't we all just strap C-4 to ourselves and implode every hotel, dolmus, taxi rank, beachfront promedade, and half-assed two-star restaurant on the stinking fucking planet? I call for jihad against annoyance. If my campaign is successful, I shall be tattered, yes, but blissfully ALONE.



Your Dear, Dear Friend,

TS

The Groan Heard 'Round the Cupboard

Fuck... I've just returned from a calimitous trek northward where I called on long-time friends who, unbeknownst to me, were experiencing a rather rough patch in their relationship. I ache all over... Revisiting such torments brought foul memories to the fore, and I wanted to tear off the top of my head to prevent them from circulating. (Far better to release them into the general population.)

Friday: torrential rains on the drive up, wilting heat otherwise. A cordial welcome, but weirdness soon set in. Then a jolt, screaming, and morose self-absorption and anger... Discomfort mounted; I had to escape. Bid adieu at half past three AM and drove until I was hallucinating from fatigue. Checked into a motel, collapsed onto the bed. Slept through the first wake-up call.

(You mustn't think me unsympathetic. However, there's only so much unsolicited advice one can dole out before unsustainable losses overwhelm. Every couple experiences an occasional semi-private meltdown; the only respectful response as a witness is to immediately leave the premises. These friends are delightful 97% of the time... I threw the dice on the wrong goddamned weekend.)

Saturday: the "free breakfast" turned out to be a half-cupful of watery orange juice from a lobby dispenser. I asked for the Jonestown Special, but the front desk crone just smiled...

Heat even worse than the day before, well over 987654321 in the shade. The interstate was buckling under the onslaught, crumbling from the accumulated weight of all the 18-wheeled traffic. I took backroads home. Added an extra two hours to my trip, but the slower pace managed to counteract the pain. Conceived an half-crocked idea for a new book, so the journey wasn't totally wasted.

Dad's memory is failing, Christoph died a few days ago, bombs are going off in Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey, trigger-happy Brit police just murdered a Brazilian electrician on his way from the tube, and my son... Christ, I'm so disturbed by his recent career change that I can't even bring myself to write about it. Can't remember when I've felt so fucking awful...



(Holiday joy fun fun!!)

I've phoned my newly argumentative friends a few times since returning, and they're probably going to be okay. (I certainly hope so. They're great people.) Heading out to the gym right fucking now to detox.

With luck, Elvira and I won't be blown to shit next week... (Egypt was her first choice for our vacation.)

TS

Friday, July 22, 2005

As I Lay Glomming...

A brisk d***load of the new Bear Family comp., a cup of high-test, and me...



If you've not been hipped to Atomic Platters, for fuck's sake, garotte your goddamned wirehaired pointer!

(Actually, it's rather expensive, and I understand if you've no interest in 1950s civil defense pop. You'd do well to visit the Conelrad site, of course. I've provided the link below.)



Otherwise, nothing much to share save m*sery. (Cue Andrezj Panufnik...) I hardly knew Christoph, really (we sat in a van together for two months, wandering through Eastern Europe with OHNE), but his death has been a stunner. Can't get on track.

TS

Christoph Gächter (1957-2005)

Christoph Gächter was a great friend of the arts, and a damned good documentarian. I met him in April 2002, while in Aarau, Switzerland during rehearsals for the first OHNE tour.

He died on Tuesday.

Stöff, accompanied by Corinne Studer, his fellow videographer and erstwhile girlfriend, joined us on our trek through a great swath of Eastern Europe. They drove the van, dealt with our ego trips, and shot mountains of digital video.

He left his mark on my life, and I'm really going to miss him. Absolutely one of a kind.

R.I.P., good Stöff!



(Christoph and Corinne shooting OHNE on the streets of Minsk, Belarus, May 2002. Photo by Dave Phillips.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bunraku as Coptic Flare

I'm feeling less voluable of late. With Noon almost in the can, tidal forces have noticably begun to shift. Lurching inward, girding for the next phase...

Watching (and replaying) Masahiro Shinoda's extraordinary Double Suicide has served as a kick-start. It's both guileless and (necessarily) manipulative, transparent and resplendent. Such perfect sets of contrasts!



From Jonathan Crow's All Movie Guide essay:

A landmark of modernist cinema, Double Suicide brilliantly recasts traditional bunraku conventions to a cinematic form that is visually stunning and emotionally riveting. Using his trademark graphic sensibility, director Masahiro Shinoda never allows viewers to forget that they're watching an adaptation of a play.



Just as the black clad puppeteers are visible during traditional bunraku performances, so are they seen throughout this film as they hand props to the actors, move sets, and — as if agents of fate — guide the characters to their inevitable bloody end.



The sets turn and break down like a kabuki stage while the walls and floors, blow-ups of voluptuous Edo-period woodblock and abstract calligraphy, threaten to overwhelm the characters completely. Both through Monzaemon Chikamatsu's narrative and Shinoda's deconstructed style, the film seems to push the two doomed lovers toward their destiny while tragically hinting at a world beyond this fate. Shima Iwashita delivers the finest and most honored performance of her long and illustrious career as both the courtesan Koharu and self-sacrificing wife Osan.



A masterful example of modernist filmmaking on every level, Double Suicide pulls off a rare feat: a film that wears its self-conscious theatricality on its sleeve while still creating a drama that is emotionally compelling.



Matthew Johnson's précis of buraku added to my appreciation of Shinoda's uncanny achievement:

Bunraku is the name commonly used for ningyo-joruri, literally puppets and storytelling. This simple name not only describes a puppet performance, but also alludes to its predecessors. There was a long tradition of travelling storytellers who used biwa as their accompaniment. There were also travelling puppeteers. When these two art forms were joined is not exactly clear, but the beginning of what is now called Bunraku was 1684, when Takemoto Gidayu set up his own theater in Osaka.

Takemoto Gidayu began his career as a narrator under some of the most acclaimed masters of the period in Kyoto. He soon became famous in his own right, and was known for intimite story telling that spoke the hearts of the characters. In 1684 he decided to branch out and form his own theater, and was helped in his effort by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the greatest playwright in Japanese history, and Takeda Izumo, a famous theater owner and manager.

Until this time, Chikamatu Monzaemon's work had mostly been in the Kabuki theater, working with Sakata Tojuro, the actor who created the wagoto, or soft style for which Kansai Kabuki became known. Drawn to Bunraku by Gidayu, Chikamatsu worked as a bridge between old-style joruri and Bunraku. While often keeping much of the fantasy of older tales, Chikamatsu's works are distinct for adding human elements. His drama's usually revolved around the confucian concepts of the importance of loyalty (to one's feudal lord, family, etc.) over personal feelings and the tragedy that arises when one blindly follows the precepts.

Chikamatsu's other great accomplishment was the creation of sewamono , or plays about the merchant class. Greatly received in Osaka, a commercial town, a majority of these sewamono were about shinju, or love suicides. By trying the revolutionary idea of taking a recent event, that of the death of a courtesan and her lover, and dramatizing it into the play Sonezaki Shinju, Chikamatsu captured the imagination of the city. The play spawned not only copies, but influenced others to actually commit double suicide in the hope that their love would live on forever. ..

For the complete text of Johnson's history of bunraku, go here.

Shinoda's Sonezaki Shinju was issued by Criterion, and is available through the usual avenues. You've thus no reasonable excuse to avoid it. Netflix it, buy it, but make the effort to see it.

TS

"Noon" Preview: Live Stream Alert

Chris Grier, To Live and Shave in L.A.'s ever-faithful majordomo, will be previewing fragments of the v0.9a beta version of Noon and Eternity on Melbourne, Australia's Triple R FM (http://www.rrr.org.au/) on the 20th, at approx. 6:00 EST.



Way too fucking early, I know. (I'll be submitting to an interview as well. Place your bets now, as I'll likely be muy incoherent.)

Grab the stream, listen.

TS

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Too Bad Weenie, That's Your Hot Dog Hand...

Connoisseurs of the immutable will recognize this post's title from Prime Cut, Michael Ritchie's peerless '72 mob freakathon. Perfect for 3:01 AM, which is what it is now. Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Sissy Spacek, Gregory Walcott (amazing as Weenie, slightly more animated here than in Plan 9 from Outer Space), and Angel Tompkins... A film this acidic couldn't possibly be financed today, and we're all the poorer for it.



(If you've never seen this titanic lil' flicker, race your lame ass over to Amazon/your local non-retard retailer and scoop it up FAST.)

Anyhow, I made it back from Florida. Unbelievably fucking foul out, high 90s, miserable... Must have listened to Noon a dozen times during the round trip. To my mind, the beta version's about 99% there. AWK phoned on Saturday; he should have v0.9b ready by the end of the week.

More Later,

Tom

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pausing for an Uncommercial Message

Taking a break until Sunday. You drones need time to catch up.



(Above, another still from H.G. Clouzot's brazen 1947 procedurial Quai des Orfèvres...)

TS

Postcards on the Lam

A calm afternoon. Unpacked my bags, threw the dirty laundry into neighbors' faces. Too relaxed for lunch; sunned in the back yard instead. Post office, dry cleaners. (The life of this superstar is well beyond human kin, non?) Rang AWK on my way to the gym; I'd failed to locate the postcards I'd meant to mail in Manhattan. He couldn't find them either. We then talked about the album, the few remaining adjustments, the upcoming trip to Turkey, etc. Said goodbye, and stumbled inside. A relief to be back on the treadmill. Seventy minutes on the Alpine glider (listening to Fourth Drawer Down, again), then over to the free weights and machines (the new Shave album). Home around 9:00 PM. Eventually found those cards; I'd forgotten I'd stuffed them into the Noon lyrics notebook. (Must still be in shock from US Airways' reverse-service treatment.) They'll receive no NYC postmark, but perhaps their recipient won't mind...

Just started Clouzot's Quai des Orfèvres; Suzy Delair, Bernard Blier... Perfection.



(Simone Renant adjusts Suzy Delair's shoulder pads in an early scene from Henri-Georges Clouzot's delightfully caustic 1947 policier Quai des Orfèvres.)

More tomorrow,

Tom

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Writing About Flying Is So Much More Exciting Than Fucking...

Yeah, finished the album (actually, more of a beta version, Noon 0.9a) early this morning. A few mix adjustments are necessary, then post-production begins in earnest. Absolutely fucking psyched.

On to the thrills. The car service sent a no-nonsense, bottle blonde babushka, and we chatted aimably in Russian and English on the way to Newark Int. Exhaustion always seems to set in once the passenger-driver blab winds down; this ferry across the Styx was no exception. One last panimayu, a listless nod, and then I was outside the Town Car, watching my eyes roll back into the driver's skull. Damn, I drooled all over my linx waistcoat!



(Tom's lint-trap mind wanders, and his three working paws shuffle along in dour accompaniment... On the way to the terminal, July 12, 2005.)

Arrived 90 minutes ahead of schedule. Elvira phoned with her customary seven ring alert; we chatted via Messenger until boarding. Looks like Spain is out, and the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is in... Crammed into the herring tin, and off to Charlotte-Douglas...



(The awe and wonder that is the US Air lounge, Newark Eagle, or Freedom, or whatever the fuck they're calling it now, July 12.)

A delightful three hour weather delay in North Carolina. I hate this goddamned terminal. Seventy-five percent of the passengers are fatties; they have rocking chairs set up throughout the joint! I made a short film of passersby; enough to curdle the blood of a combat surgeon.



(One of the less horrific frames from Tom's video, Charlotte-Douglas Airport, July 12.)

An even smaller jet, stuffed with twice as many passengers. No service whatsoever. But, I got what I paid for, which was practically zilch. ($94.)

Escaped from long term parking, and zoomed south on I-75. Listened to the Noon beta twice. Don't wanna beat an infant horse o'ermuch, but... I'm stoked.

Made it back in uder three hours. Ready to pass out, so I'll bid adieu until tomorrow.

TS

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Soundtrack to Plamegate

Broiling in Manhattan today... Long lunch with Marc Weitz (Menlo Park); after the Thai iced teas cooled us down we got into our groove and began formulating the Noon strategy. Shooting for a January/February 2006 release. Afterwards, one last walk into the Village. Bought red leopard skin creepers at 99X, another travel guide (for Turkey) at Barnes and Noble. (Andrew's playing "XXXXX" on the Steinway... What a fucking great life this is! Now he's segued into XXXXX's "XXXXX." And now XXXXX. And then XXXXX... He prefers keeping the playlist private.) Home to HQ, sweltering. Final mixdown push yielded gold. Midnight approaches; vocal overdubs until 4:00 AM, most likely. Then a few hours' rest, the cab to Newark, and my own bed by 10:00 PM...

(We finished the album, and we'll definitely keep you posted.)

Love,

TS

Monday, July 11, 2005

Coney Island Mongoloid

Sunday breakdown:

Kim Rancourt popped round HQ at noon, and soon we were racing down the Westside Highway for a tour of Coney. Outstanding!

Slight downer vibe at the onset, however. KR took us to Woody Guthrie's former residence on Mermaid Avenue, a now decrepit, abandoned, slowly disintegrating structure. No historical marker, plaque, commemorative hypodermics from the local junkhounds, nuthin'. I was stunned. (Dylan writes of the home in his remarkable Chronicles autobiography.)

Hit the sideshow, walked the strip, gawked at the bathing beauties slogging through the slime, and marveled at the young women casting their crab nets (baited with chicken parts) into the fetid Atlantic. Fathers proudly instructed their daughters in this arcane art; I found myself grinning with delight.



(A sturdy young lass readies the lure; soon, death will come calling on crustacean cousins...)

Our finale, a ride on the genuinely bone-jarring Cyclone. Got too much air on the second descent; lost my camera case. Well worth it.



(One is advised not to attempt to saddle up to the mighty Cyclone. In all but the heartiest, death will surely ensue...)



(The ever stylish Mr. Rancourt pouts seductively on the lip of the sideshow, July 10, 2005. Pop mavens know Kimbo best from When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water and After That It's All Gravy. To know is to stalk...)

(TLASILA's fearless compartmentalist stands before the photo-op prop for which he was made. Snap by K. Rancourt, July 10, 2005.)

Russians everywhere. I was in pig-eye heaven. Demurred a dog at Nathan's, but after eating their fries (likely dunked in lagpunkt lard) my vegan status should be permanently revoked.

Returned at 4:00. Worked on the album until...

TS

Another Perfect Day in New York...

Saturday recap:

All things being relative, an exemplary afternoon. A brisk gallop down Broadway to Union Square (where I completed errands and took snaps of the mournful 2012 Olympics display), then a saunter to the Village. Ran into Brian Turner (WFMU) outside of Mondo Kim's, exchanged pleasantries, etc. Bolted as the rain began to fall. I was soaked, but winds were kind, equally errant. Again well pressed and presentable, I walked to former ('95-ish) TLASILA Avenue A haunts. Stepped into a slightly disagreeable dive; nursed a beer while thumbing through the Voice. (Nat Hentoff's Darfur piece, Sloane Crosley's Katie Holmes essay, David Ng's Umberto Eco profile.) More rain...



(Dream low, and few will follow. Vidcap by TS.)

Lunched at Zen Palate, shot dyspeptic vid of the Broadway street fair, and snaked through the grid back to HQ.



(Tom's reflexive Russophilia erupts yet again...)

Mark Morgan checked in to track guitar overdubs; awesome, as usual. Fusetron's soon issuing a MM solo double vinyl totem; looking forward to august weirdness. (Or, four sides of Steve Howe rips. Mark's keeping mum.)



(Mr. Morgan listens to a playback and contemplates the larger issues, July 10, 2005.)

We ducked out for coffee, and...

TS

Saturday, July 09, 2005

As the Garotte Sidles Up to the Noose...

Time draws nigh. We've still much work to do. Extraordinary breakthroughs, but only so many hours in the day for dining. Can't hit all the restaurants and haute couture accessory shops in a single fifteen day stretch. By Christ, we've tried...

Oh yeah, the album. Well, it's coming along, responding to our whispers of encouragement, limping slowly behind the phalanx we've arrayed to advance our mango blitzkrieg.

A stellar achievement, this circumnavigation of flavors.

(Hope we get the record wrapped by Monday...)

TS



(The view from Union Square West, 7 July 05.)

Staring Down Morrissey's Hatchet Man

New friend C, a booker at W*********, one of the galaxy's premier modelling agencies, hooked me up today with an overhaul at John Barrett. It was a goddamned trip. I'm unaccustomed to such luxe levels of obsequy, but I could quickly learn to love being fawned over. As a grounded (and wonderfully wizened) gent, I found myself laughing at the rarified vibe of the salon while registering unambiguous admiration for the siege/hive mind groove.

Harry, a pleasant, non-android stylist recently imported from London, gave me a pretty groovy cut. He'd previously been in charge of parsing Morrissey's image from Mancunian basalts. (Yesterday, he apparently shared an elevator with Bowie and Iman.) Mala, my Spanish shampoo artiste, has been signed to Troubleman's leisure products division. Her debut conditioner drops in the spring.

Nine Russian girls were employed there; the majority of them spoke in their native tongue. While being worked over in the basin by Mala, I instinctively glanced at them. (Can't help it. Got a thing for the lingo.) I received the usual upturned nose salon treatment until I dropped a few по-русски cluster grenades. Then, the hot towels and iced coffees began to flow. Multilingualism has its benefits...

I'm passing out from follicle loss, but I promise not to continue this later.

Like a Million Dollars,

TS

Friday, July 08, 2005

London on No One's Lips

My ex-gal Kitt phoned early with news of the bus/tube bombings in London. Fuck... Andy Bolus (Evil Moisture) formerly lived only a few blocks from the King's Cross tube station. We'd taken that train together on several cider-addled occasions. Jared Loche (nee Hendrickson), my erstwhile Peach of Immortality partner (and Chemlab/Pigface personage) resides there also (as do other friends). He and his wife have a new baby... Hope they're okay. Christ, that bus was really blown to shreds. Poor bastards. (I include the terror twats, for they deserve our pity more than anyone. Imprecation, however, is a no-brainer.)

Kitt and I met for lunch at a cafe off Union Square West. No one was talking about the attacks. Sex, shopping, roommates, apartment hunting, errands... Everything imaginable but. AWK thinks it symptomatic of a collective exhaustion. Phony war, phony presidency, phony alerts, phony enemies. Of course. And then this, yet another series of martydoms. A linear and ultimately reciprocal transmission of grief, fear, and anger.

Walking back from lunch I crossed near ABC's Time Square jumbotron. Faces of injured tube passengers filed past the camera. The words "AL QAEDA" scrolled slowly, right to left, at the base of their newscrawl. No one so much as blinked a eye.

TS

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

No Wickedness for the Rested

Another productive afternoon. The album is really beginning to take shape. Not that it didn't previously maintain form - far from it. It is wholly suffused. All we ask is that you divorce yourselves from previous notions you may have had about TLASILA. Give us the benefit of the doubt. We wished (as you also encouraged us) to blast past everything, to at last make redundant the withered genres and fatigued gestures against which we've so vehemently railed, to strip them of relevance, crush them, once and for all. Guess what...

We're sorting out credits here at HQ, and Andy will definitely get to chair the captain's buffet. He is the producer. His contributions have been inestimable. If his production of this album is any indication, then the next Sightings album (which he will also helm) will be nothing short of (add hyperbolic adjectival interjection here). I am the director, or, perhaps more truthfully, the rudder. It has been tremendously freeing to cede control to (and reciprocate trust with) AWK. Don Fleming had to leave for a holiday on the third day of post-production; his input has been sorely missed. Don is the enforcer. He keeps everything aligned. Once you've seen DF at work, you quickly understand why he's been chosen to shepherd so many major label projects. He remains calm, and imparts that (relative) serenity to others. It is a rare talent. (Alternatively, I complain, freak the fuck out, throw fits.) Together, we are the Trimurti. (Our superpowers include opening bags of wasabi peas without spilling the topmost layers, and hailing cabs on the first try.)

It was Elvira's birthday today. I'm guessing she drank heavily. (Russians do not deviate from genetic imperatives.) Couldn't reach her by phone, but will try after 02:00 (her time).

Managed to lock myself out of AWK's building for a few hours... (In the dark of the studio, I reached into my backpack and extracted my car keys instead of the apartment/front door keys. Know it seems idiotic, but I was rushed.) Took a taxi to University, where I joined Andrew and Cherie at Lannam. (Good Vietnamese joint near NYU.) Dined (more tofu, Roe), grabbed the keys, and walked back up to HQ.

Time for bed.

More on the morrow,

TS

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

No Longer Gargling with H2SO4

The afternoon of the 4th was spectacular. Perfect conditions, minimal pedestrian traffic, fewer dining options (thus focusing our efforts and eliminating consumer guilt). Found a secular Hindi spot; AWK and C had their fill of meat, and I was served a delightful platter of tepid chai and three small radish cross-sections. This was topped off by a spoonful of distilled water and a 1/64th portion of roti...

C cabbed it downtown to attend a party, and your TLASILA reps decamped to HQ. We composed a new song, rehearsed it for several hours, and spent many more recording it. Must have run through 60 takes. (My voice is only slightly tweaked; the vocal instruction's already paying off.) We were at it from 8 PM until 3 AM, and then AWK tweaked album mixes until dawn. Slack fucker. We've since roused, and the process begins anew in a few hours.

Elvira and I have decided on Spain for our holiday. Can't wait to chill with ETA insurgents and Jack Abramoff's golfing buds poolside.

More tour action possible in September - a solo (or duet) trek through Australia. TLASILA is tentatively set for a November swing through xxx.

Life beckons ever onward.

Love,

TS

Monday, July 04, 2005

Johnny Comes to Koreatown...

Sunday was brilliant. Perfect weather, superb company, and a lengthy meander through a broad swath of the best city on the planet... Andrew, Cherie and I ate Thai, hit Fluff for scones and cupcakes, then escaped to the pavement. The West Side was bathed in golden light, and even the odd girl who held her yawn for half a block looked stunning. We peered into the empty Alvin Ailey rehearsal space (dancers must have been elsewhere), visited Cherie's old digs, took snaps of the Béla Bartók bust, and hoofed it to Columbus Circle. There we purchased books, a timepiece, soap, DVDs, more juices. Shoved C into a cab; Andy and I went back to work on the alb. (He develops the equations, and I grumble about handwriting.) Worked until 1:00 AM (today, the 4th), then met Cherie in Koreatown for a late/very, very early dinner. The graveyard staff weren't terribly efficient, but really, who cares? The sake was hot, and we were laughing too loudly to notice the extent of the chaos. (Trays clattering to hardwood floors, briquet ash floating into water glasses, a general ambience of convivial mayhem.) Retired to a karaoke club where we rented a private room and savored our vocal excrescence. (They had two Sex Pistols selections in their songbook... Those were seen and raised by a pair of Bonnie Tyler compositions... Word to the unhinged: Spandau Ballet's "True" is very difficult to sing.) Left well after 4:00; walked across the boulevard for ginger soy chips and juices. (Naked's Vanilla Chai fucking rules.) Now? We're all here, delirious, anxious for tomorrow. If it's a tenth as cool as yesterday...

Love,

Tom

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Worst Live 8 Image, Pt. 1

Easing the debt burden of emerging nations: deefeecult for you; easy for me.



(Above, Sir Bob channels the late Senor Wences in what is perhaps the least flattering photo to emerge from Live 8. Pity the starving ex-members of Boomtown Rats...)

Two Large Vessels Were Found

AWK digging deep into the mix tonight. Making great strides, but we've still a long way to go. (We might be done by the 12th... No-one's holding their breath.) Still, this day's results have been revelatory. (Just a little frightened by it all, to be honest. That jolt, the cumulative shock of departure, motivates us absolutely.)

Not much else to write home about, unless you want details of lunch (Thai, hot - AWK almost swallowed his tongue), CDs purchased, conversational tangents, the usual Laurel and Hardy. Today, we focused on work.

Took a break, and Cherie arrived, looking mighty fine. Aaron Dilloway rang, and we shouted at him via speakerphone. He'd just performed in a Kalamazoo basement, and was pleasantly trashed. Check out his wedding announcement page at The Knot. Very cool.

Yrz,

TS

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Our Rousing Battle Cry: "Want Some Juice?"

Another full-on day. Up at eight; Andy worked on his album until noon, while I wrote and revised from the northernmost colonnade (adjacent to the impeccibly manicured rose gardens). At one, a call from Rat Bastard. The Squelchers had arrived, and were reserving seats for us at Epices du Traiteur, the small, unpretentious North African bistro on West 70th. On the way to the restaurant, AWK and I locked a first-look development deal for our Sleater-Kinney biopic. (We've been talking to Mary Steenbergen about playing Carrie, and comedianne Lisa Lampanelli is in negotiations to portray Corin. Kathy Griffin nailed her "Janet" audition, but there might be schedule conflicts on her horizon. Check here for additional details as the project evolves.) Arrived at Epices, and LRS had already ordered. Can't blame them, as they'd been up all night recording with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band at a Cambridge studio. (Max played me a DAT of the session; she and Alex fucking wailed on the Ray Charles classic "Jealous Kind.") Frank ordered grilled rib lamb chops and merguez for the LRS crew and AWK, while I tucked into a fat tank of O2. Delicious!

Experienced a major ephipany at my voice lesson. (More on that later, perhaps.) Juice and juice afterwards.

Later met with Don at HQ for another lengthy edit fiesta. Lots of progress. Mr. Fleming is departing for a family vacation on the 2nd, and thus we were obliged to cut his remaining vocal tracks. This took us well past fail-safe for attending the LRS blowout at Tonic. (We didn't wrap until 11:30.) Regrets? More than a few. (Six, to be exact.) Sincere apologies to Rat, the Squelchers, and channels that remained untuned. (At least by these fingers.)

New bootleg DVDs: Mahavishnu Orchestra (four lengthy clips instead of the usual three found on the majority of MO discs sold at Manhattan stalls), Velvet Monkeys (a very cool electronic set from 1987).

Cherie arrived with gym passes and tons of food from Pita Grill. Duality is golden. Scott's "Montague Terrace" wafts on the rolling red tide.

Dad turned 79, Elvira sent photos from her camping trip, and all is well in New York.

Love,

TS

Friday, July 01, 2005

Nothing from Nothing Leaves Everything, Pt. 665

Okay, don't wanna pimp AWK too fucking much, so... I did everything by my lonesome today. I saw no one, did no thing, nothing, with any other human being.

(We) hailed a taxi and landed in the East Village. Ran an errand. Hailed a second cab. Closer to Houston; micro-conference. Grabbed a third taxi. Lunch in Chinatown. (AWK) left for a meeting, and I walked north up Broadway to waste time in ill-stocked shops. Phone calls from Fleming, Morgan. Talked to Marc Weitz, Menlo Park prexy. New releases beckon (from Deerhoof, Icky Boyfriends). We're having a confab in a few days; hope to have Noon and Eternity in the shops and (download queues) by January, February at the latest. (We're mixing part of it this very second. "AWK" sits next to me. Wish you could all be here...)

(We) reconnected on B'way, stepped inside Best Buy and Au Bon Pain to snuff more valuable time, stopped at a bootleg DVD tent (I bought Miles Davis' 1969 Copenhagen quintet gig -- cheap dupe, no cover art, no label), and flagged down yet another cab to return to HQ. Awesome conversation in the taxi...



(Miles Davis, live at Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 4, 1969. The band: Wayne Shorter, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Chick Corea, and Mr. D. The only other group that comes close? The New Doors with Ian Ashbury...)

Bought a few groceries, the new Brighton Beach-themed ish of Time Out for Elvira (BB's predominately Russian/Ukranian, as you doubtless are aware), and walked back to (Andy's) crib. The glamorous life!

Worked on a mix until 9:15, then donned heavy linen overalls and jogged over to Seventh, where (we) met Cherie for Indian. (Okra curry, vegetable fritters, and a hamhock the size of Connecticut.) Now, I weep into my palak makkai malai. Why? Life is too friggin' good.

My dad's birthday is tomorrow, and in the evening, Laundryroom Squelchers play Tonic. All is beautiful.

Yours,

TS