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‘Some YoYo Stuff’: Don Van Vliet
12.17.2010
06:35 pm

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How do you capture the mystical, maddening and surreal world of Captain Beefheart within the medium of film? One way is to make an impressionistic documentary that has little reference point outside of its own surreality, which is exactly what film maker Anton Corbijn did with Some YoYo Stuff.

In 1993, Corbijn, known primarily at the time for his stark, grainy and beautiful photographs of rock stars, spent several days with Don Van Vliet (Beefheart) interviewing and photographing him. With the participation of Don’s mother and David Lynch, Corbijn constructed a film as dadaist as Captain Beefheart’s music. Van Vliet’s observations on life and his art are haiku-like in their succinct clarity and wit.

Penetrating the veil of Beefheart’s world was probably an impossibility. The best a documentarian could hope for is to approximate the mindset one enters in listening to Beefheart’s music. In other words, make a movie as trippy as the work of your subject. Van Vliet was remote, both figuratively and literally. As he got older he became increasingly reclusive. His writing and occasional communiques were like those of a modernist monk of the left hand school. He spoke in an ancient craggy voice that sounded like hollow bones being rubbed together. Corbijn’s film communicates the desert father aspect of Beefheart’s existence. There’s an otherworldliness about the whole thing that seems as though it is being beamed in from another planet.

Some YoYo Stuff is a fittingly offbeat tribute to one of the most uncompromising and innovative musicians of the 20th century. Captain Beefheart brought a kind of crazy wisdom to modern music.

Anton Corbijn describes the making of Some YoYo Stuff:

I love don. i knew very little about him when we first met in 1980, but after our meeting and subsequent photo shoot i went back home and started listening to his music, and soon started looking at his drawings and paintings. my respect for him grew as the years went by; we kept in touch, and i visited him and his wife jan a couple of times. these visits and the death of frank zappa were essential for me in terms of thinking about making some sort of film piece on don.

for shortly after zappa died, i was in a bookshop and realized how many books and bits of writing existed on him, and when i then went looking for anything similar on don i left the shop empty-handed. i felt that he deserved everyone’s attention and as i am not a writer, i figured i could maybe put something on film with him. it took me a while, but i did finally manage to say: ‘if you ever want me to make any sort of record or film about you, just let me know ‘cause i would love to do that’. he said: ‘yes, please’, and apparently had been waiting for years for me to ask, turning away others.

it was a simple affair to make the film: his mother sue opens the movie with the photograph that i took when don and i first met, saying: ‘this is don, my son’, and, apart from david lynch (famous film maker - t.t.) asking him a few questions via projected film, it is all don’s thoughts on various matters. some funny, some serious, but all sharp, poetic and beautiful. you really want to hear every single word he says - whether it’s about paint, miles davis, an ear (‘nice sculpture’) or the desert.

i recorded his words separately. and then filmed him sitting in front of a film projection i had made in and around the desert and edited it all together in a way that i hoped was in keeping with his world. he supplied me with two never-used bits of music, one of which is an instrumental that i made into a one-minute music-video without don, using a mackerel instead. this was the first bit of the film i showed him, and he was rolling around with laughter, and it was after that i dared let him see the rest.

apart from showing the world at large what a unique man and artist don is, i really wanted to make it great for hím, as he is also a warm and funny guy and i do think the film brings that across.”

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Sinead O’Connor performs a powerful acoustic version of ‘Troy’
12.17.2010
06:22 pm

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Music

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In 1990, when Sinead O’Connor was at the absolute height of her fame, I was supposed to write about her for some magazine I can’t recall. I went to Austin, TX for the interview and I found myself standing at the side of the stage during the concert. She and her band (which included Adam and the Ants guitarist, Marco Pirroni) performed a handful of numbers before some computer they needed went kerblooey. Vamping while the roadies valiantly tried to fix the problem, O’Connor strapped on her acoustic guitar and did a spine-tingling version of “Troy” that brought the house down. In a lifetime of concert-going, I have never in my life seen such an intense live performance.

“Troy” is the gut-wrenching, first-person account of a woman, presumably O’Connor herself, walking in on her lover with another woman. Her execution of the song that night was brilliant, almost deranged with grief. As she sang it, you felt it was happening to you and those emotions washed over you. I was turned into jelly by the intensity of the performance. Everyone in that theater, I’m pretty sure had the same reaction as I did.

At the song’s conclusion, she ran off the stage and vomited up in a trash can right beside me. (Forgive me when I tell you that my reaction at the time was, “Wow, she’s really hot”—but she really was, trust me. Even puking).

Soon afterwards, the lights went on and the sold out house was told that Sinead had the flu and couldn’t continue with the show. Refunds were given out, but I’d have to say that if only for that one song, the crowd would gotten their money’s worth that night. The next morning they were off to another city and the interview never happened.

The official music video for “Troy”—which I am assuming was done by John Maybury, who also directed her video for “Nothing Compares 2 U,” because it looks just like his work—is how most people first caught a glimpse of the fragile, twenty-something bald Irish singer and it was a striking debut. But nothing… er… uh… compares 2 that song live, which is why I’m using this clip here instead. The intensity builds and builds, really a masterful performance.
 

More Sinead O’Connor in The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Let them eat cake: Rich people have ‘empathy deficit’
12.17.2010
04:23 pm

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Fascinating new research study from the University of California titled Social Class, Contextualism, and Empathic Accuracy indicates that “the wealthy” have an “empathy deficit” compared to people on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. That’s right, poor people were found to have superior skills at accurately reading human emotions. The wealthy, not so much.

Rich people, because they don’t often need anyone else’s help, don’t use the empathy muscle much, and so it goes a bit flabby, I suppose… I know of someone who once bragged of eating a $500 hamburger to his staff who made much less than that a week and who didn’t have health insurance.

There are a hell of lot of societal ramifications because of these differences, obviously. Might even explain why some people watch FOX News or vote Republican!

Here’s the abstract:

Recent research suggests that lower-class individuals favor explanations of personal and political outcomes that are oriented to features of the external environment. We extended this work by testing the hypothesis that, as a result, individuals of a lower social class are more empathically accurate in judging the emotions of other people. In three studies, lower-class individuals (compared with upper-class individuals) received higher scores on a test of empathic accuracy (Study 1), judged the emotions of an interaction partner more accurately (Study 2), and made more accurate inferences about emotion from static images of muscle movements in the eyes (Study 3). Moreover, the association between social class and empathic accuracy was explained by the tendency for lower-class individuals to explain social events in terms of features of the external environment. The implications of class-based patterns in empathic accuracy for well-being and relationship outcomes are discussed.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Whistleblowers want Boeing safety claims investigated
12.17.2010
03:26 pm

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Current Events

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Admittedly, I am a white-knuckled flyer. The idea of strapping myself into a rocket and hurling myself across the country, or the ocean, fills me with absolutely paralyzing dread. To the point where if I never had to fly again, I’d be extremely relieved. Thank god for Prince Valium, is all I can say…

Considering the fact that Boeing supplies many of the large aircraft flying America’s skies, this report, from Al Jazeera, makes me want to fly even less.

As of the time I’m posting this, only 16,000 people have watched this clip. This story really needs to get out there. The fact that no American news network is touching this story is telling.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
One of the best galleries of classic rock artwork that you’ll ever see
12.17.2010
01:53 pm

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Art
History
Music

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Joe Albanese has put together an outstanding collection of classic rock picture sleeves on his Facebook page. This might be the best gallery of images like this I’ve ever seen. Truly outstanding stuff on display. These are but the tip of the iceberg.
 
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Thank you, Douglas DeFalco!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart RIP
12.17.2010
01:47 pm

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Art
Heroes
Music

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Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart has apparently died at the age of 69 after many years of rumored ill-health. I’m in shock at the moment. He was one of my greatest musical heroes and one of the most powerful and distinctive vocalist/lyricist/composers of the last century.  Play Orange Claw Hammer (below), an a capella powerhouse from Trout Mask Replica as loud as you can and know that there was a real depth of feeling in the man’s work that went beyond weirdo freakishness. Bon voyage, good captain. We’ve lost a true original.
 
via Rolling Stone :

Don Van Vliet, who became a rock legend as Captain Beefheart, died today from complications from multiple sclerosis in California. His passing was announced by the New York-based Michael Werner Gallery, which represented his work as a painter. His Trout Mask Replica was Number 58 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. “Don Van Vliet was a complex and influential figure in the visual and performing arts,” the gallery said in a statement. “He is perhaps best known as the incomparable Captain Beefheart who, together with his Magic Band, rose to prominence in the 1960s with a totally unique style of blues-inspired, experimental rock & roll. This would ultimately secure Van Vliet’s place in music history as one of the most original recording artists of his time. After two decades in the spotlight as an avant-garde composer and performer, Van Vliet retired from performing to devote himself wholeheartedly to painting and drawing. Like his music, Van Vliet’s lush paintings are the product of a truly rare and unique vision.” Van Vliet leaves behind a wife, Jan. The two were married for more than 40 years.

 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds: Leaving your holes open with Captain Beefheart: 1969 interview LP

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
Werner Herzog Doesn’t Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas..But It’s a Nice Thought
12.17.2010
01:13 pm

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Amusing

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Well, I admit it. I was fooled. And yes, it seemed almost too good to be true.  And yep, it was.

So, this isn’t Werner Herzog reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, but it’s still a nice thought, just like the one I have about the fat guy in the red suit with the white beard, who’s allegedly bringing me lots of presents…I hope.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Thank you Congresswoman Diane Watson!
12.17.2010
12:59 pm

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Heroes
Politics

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A few days ago I called the office of United States Congresswoman Diane Watson, who represents me and the other residents of the 33rd Congressional District here in the metro Los Angeles area. I called Rep. Watson to encourage her to vote against renewing the Bush tax cuts for millionaires.

Since Rep. Watson was one of only 148 members of the House courageous enough, smart enough and as committed to the well-being of the common man enough to vote against this obscene affront to the concept of fucking “fairness” in this country, I wanted to thank her publicly. Rep. Watson will be retiring at the end of the 111th Congress and I want her to know how incredibly grateful I have been to have someone who I tend to agree with 100% of the time, representing my interests in Washington. For me, the match between constituent (that would be me) and Representative has it has never been better (and I’ve always lived in areas leaning heavily toward liberal politics). I will be sorry indeed to see Congresswoman Diane Watson retire, but wish her the very best.

Ironically, I clipped the following text from Michelle Malkin’s blog. She prefaced this by calling Diane Watson a “racist.” I’m a 45-year-old white male, so if I agree 100% with this, would that negate Malkini’s idiotic charge of racism? This took guts to say in this political climate!

WATSON: You might have heard their philosophical leader. I think his name is Rush Limbaugh. And he said early on, “I hope that he fails.”
Do you know what that means? If the president, your commander-in-chief, fails, America fails.

Now, when a senator says that this will be his Waterloo, and we all know what happened at Waterloo, then we have him and he fails. Do we want a failed state called the United States?

And remember: They are spreading fear and they are trying to see that the first president that looks likes me fails.
Now just understand what’s at the bottom line.

And you know we just got, 48 hours ago, we just go back, we were in Beijing, China, Hong Kong, China, we were in Taiwan, we were in Guam, we were all over the Far East.

I just want you to know: People look at the United States as a country that has changed its way and has elected someone from Kenya and Kansas, I’ll put it like that.

And they’re saying, “We thought you would never do that.”

So we don’t want to have this young man, and he just turned 48 — we want him to succeed, because when he succeeds, we regain our status. We regain our status.

It was just mentioned to me by our esteemed speaker, “Did anyone say anything about the Cuban health system?”

And lemme tell ya, before you say “Oh, it’s a commu–”, you need to go down there and see what Fidel Castro put in place. And I want you to know, now, you can think whatever you want to about Fidel Castro, but he was one of the brightest leaders I have ever met. [APPLAUSE]

And you know, the Cuban revolution that kicked out the wealthy, Che Guevara did that, and then, after they took over, they went out among the population to find someone who could lead this new nation, and they found…well, just leave it there (laughs), an attorney by the name of Fidel Castro…

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
McDonald’s Drive Thru Center Play Set For Kids
12.17.2010
11:23 am

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Amusing
Unorthodox

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Here’s a nifty last minute gift idea for your kid this year. You’re welcome. Oh, and calories not included.

Mc Donalds Mcd Drive Thru Center (Closed Box)

(via TDW)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The new Word Lens iphone app is truly impressive
12.17.2010
09:48 am

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Science/Tech

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I’m not someone who is over-impressed by gadgets and technology. I realize it’s almost heresy to admit this in today’s world, but even though I own a cell phone, I never, ever carry it. I just don’t like to be bothered. BUT, that is not to say I wasn’t kinda bowled over by the new iPhone app called “Word Lens” which was released yesterday from Quest Visual.

You simply point your iPhone’s video camera at text and it will do a real-time Spanish to English translation (or vice versa). Other languages to follow. As one of the reviewers points out, “It’s like a visual version of Douglas Adam’s Babblefish.”

That it is! Once they load up on some more languages, this puppy would really come in handy hitchhiking around the galaxy, eh?
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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