November 04, 2009


(Or, "What I Did On My Holidays In Bakersfield"…).

No, I don't expect anyone to get all the way through this one. And yes, it has a soundtrack, which needs to be heard loud with a good sound system.

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October 24, 2008

Guerrilla Gigging

Some friends of mine playing as That Man Fantastic, live on the street in Oakland's Grandlake district. No, I'm none of the people in the video — I'm behind the camera (and in the edit suite), as always.

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July 10, 2008

Everybody Loves A Parade

For a little good-natured state-sanctioned surrealism, check out the eight minute video take on Alameda's 4th of July parade I did last weekend. You'll need a quicktime player (your browser probably already has one), and the soundtrack's kinda crucial (so don't turn it down), and it's probably a little large for some tastes, but other than that, what's to say? Amazingly, it's the first 4th of July parade I've seen in all the years I've lived here, and the strange mixture of NRA floats, Peace Now pink ladies, the Oakland Back Cowboys Association, and the various Mexican dancing horses all felt about right to me, but I guess I expected more marching bands and whackos on floats. Still, it's not so bad for a small urban town still struggling with the loss of the military and rapidly-changing demographics. (Alameda is just across the Estuary from where I live).

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December 17, 2007


Accidentally caught mid-flight on a local arts channel while skimming between Simpsons episodes and PBS pledge breaks, one of those fortuitous chancy Postmodern collisions between a familiar overheated shriek of Modernism and the self-conscious Postmodernism of late 90's Manhattan (I'm amazed I haven't seen it before). Made for each other, you'd think, in a place where the irony is arch (and the "i" in Irony most definitely upper-case), and where (mirroring the respective sins of their eras) the cliches both drip a hysterical earnestness and simultaneously preempt any criticism (and where the WTC sill stands). But I'm seduced by the cooler visual lyrical rhetoric as a sort of visual sprechstimme mirroring the music, and if you can't hear the Schoenbergs on the streets of Midtown, you'll miss seeing the Rothkos in the surfaces surrounding you. And dreams go forth to greet the distance….

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October 30, 2007

Oz Politics At A Glance

(A glimpse into the election for the non-Australians out there who aren't suffering through the contest between two of the most boring people on the planet… it's even better if you know that Rudd, Labor Party leader, speaks Mandarin).

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June 28, 2007

Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles

"I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original" — Reyner Banham, "Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies".

There's something deeply familiar but also quite exotic about the LA shown here (from an old 1972 BBC documentary); it seems transported from another world, both temporally and spatially. It's not just the dated cars, the empty freeways, and the references to Watts being rebuilt (it's difficult to know what to make of his comments about Watts and his visit to the ghetto — that's worth a whole article in itself), but it's also the sense of the vast bits of LA that he just glosses over or ignores completely. Banham takes LA on what I think he thinks is its own terms, but LA's more than just the Usual Suspects (Venice, Pasadena, Watts, Palos Verdes, Wiltshire, Sunset, Santa Monica, the beaches, Hollywood, Griffith Park, etc.), it's also Sun Valley, San Bernadino, Northridge, Simi Valley, even Victorville (well, nowadays, at least). Banham thinks of the sun setting over the Pacific as being iconic, a shared experience for Los Angelenos, and it is in its way (in a way that's definitely not true for that other Californian Pacific city, San Francisco), but most of LA is a long way from the sea, and the sun sets over refineries, hills, freeway on-ramps, housing projects, or the cars stuck in front of you on the Harbor Freeway a lot more than over Santa Monica pier or Hermosa Beach. And there's something deeply significant that by far the most articulate interviewee in the film is a Muscle Beach denizen (who we never actually get to see). Oh, and dig the Ed Ruscha "interview" near the end!

Jimmy Little loves Los Angeles too, but that's partly because I have the option of leaving it when I'm working or visiting down there (and because LA's attitudes can be such a bracing charge after the self-absorbed fog of smugness that so often envelops San Francisco). For all its reputation as a non-city or even an anti-city, LA at street level can feel a hell of a lot more like a huge bustling conglomeration of cultures, interests, people, and businesses (you know, a "city") than those self-centred places with a Real Downtown….

(Part of Flix and California).

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