David Lynch doesn’t like giving interviews. He has to be coaxed by interviewer Mark Cousins, to give answers to his questions.
Mark Cousins: David Lynch, you don’t like doing interviews, do you?
David Lynch: No I don’t.
Mark Cousins: Why are you sitting on this sofa then?
David Lynch: To do you a great favor.
Lynch certainly does a great favor here, in this fine documentary Scene By Scene, as the cult director goes on to explain his thoughts on films and film-making:
A film is its own thing. And in an ideal world, I think film should be discovered knowing nothing, and nothing should be added to it, and nothing should be subtracted from it.
The usually taciturn Lynch then opens-out about his life; his insecurities (why he once wore three ties); his ideas on the speed of rooms; why he doesn’t follow politics (‘I don’t understand the concept of two sides’); and his response to criticism in his portrayal of women:
..the problem is that somebody sees a woman in a film, and then mistakenly assumes that that is the way the person sees all women, when in actuality it’s just that particular woman within this particular story.
The interview concludes with Cousins asking Lynch about his thoughts on mortality.
Inside, we’re ageless. And when we talk to ourselves, it’s the same person we were talking to, the same age, when we were little, and it’s the body that’s changing around that ageless center.
Recorded prior to the release of The Straight Story, this fifty-minute documentary, made by BBC Scotland, gives great insight into David Lynch and his method of film-making.
Watch it—before it’s gone!
A full transcript of the interview with David Lynch can be found here.
The Château d’Hérouville where David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Elton John, The Grateful Dead, The Sweet and Fleetwood Mac recorded is up for sale.
Located near the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, in France, the property is described as a coaching station, built in the 18th century, which includes 30-rooms, and 1,700m ² of living space.
The selling price is 1, 295, 000 Euros.
In 1962, composer Michel Magne purchased the property and developed it into a recording studio. Magne is best known for his Oscar win for Gigot.
The Château was particularly popular with British artists, starting with Elton John, who recorded three albums at the studios, Honky Chateau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player and Goodbye Yellowbrick Road. Elton suggested the studio to Marc Bolan where he recorded his 1972 album The Slider; and Bolan recommended it to David Bowie who record Pin-Ups in July 1973, and then Low in 1977.
But the Château wasn’t just known for its considerable musical pedigree. Producer Tony Visconti claimed star-crossed lovers Frederic Chopin and George Sand haunted the building—Chopin had trysted with Sand while living at the mansion. Bowie also noted the studios supernatural feel.
I never realized what an awesome role model Rosey Grier was to kids (and grown men who enjoy needlepoint) in the 1970s. I mean, how many former NFL players do you know of who wrote books on needlepoint and sang songs like “It’s Alright To Cry”? None probably.
More than anything, Grier was showing that it was okay for young males to be in touch with their softer side and that there was nothin’ shameful about expressing emotions like crying. What a stellar message to get across, especially in the early 1970s when I’d imagine it was a lot tougher for even a former NFL tackle to get that message out without laughter and ridicule.
Rosey Grier is 80 years old now, and an ordained minster who keeps up a brisk pace of public service. He is the last surviving member of the Fearsome Foursome. As a bodyguard for Ethyl Kennedy during the 1968 presidential primaries, when RFK was assassinated, it was Rosey Grier who took control of the gun and subdued, Sirhan Sirhan. Let’s also not forget his co-starring role in 1972’s The Thing With Two Heads (Ray Milland plays a rich white racist who has his head transplanted onto the body of a death-row inmate played by Grier.)
Below, Rosey Grier sings “It’s Alright to Cry” on a children’s TV show in 1974:
Freddie Mercury first met David Bowie in the summer of 1970, when he was trying to sell Bowie a pair of suede boots. Mercury co-managed a stall in Kensington Market, with Roger Taylor, and while Bowie tried on the footwear, Mercury quizzed him about the music business. David was disenchanted and asked Freddie, ‘Why would you want to get into this business?’
Over the next decade, Mercury and Bowie’s paths crossed—Queen hired Mick Rock, the man whose photographs made Bowie an icon, to shoot their equally iconic cover for Queen II—but it would not be until the summer of 1981 that Queen and Bowie worked together.
In his biography of David Bowie, Starman, Paul Trynka described what happened next:
According to Mercury’s personal assistant Peter Freestone,Bowie only realized Queen were in Mountain [recording studios] working on their R&B-flavored album Hot Space by chance. Asked to add backing vocals on the song “Cool Cat,” David stayed for a marathon session in which Queen’s song “Feel Like” was transformed into “Under Pressure.” David contributed the bulk of the lyrics, set over drummer Roger Taylor’s descending chord sequence. By now, Mercury had developed more of an ego than in his market-stall days, and it was Queen’s drummer who was at the heart of the session, interacting with the interloper. ‘Roger and Bowie got on very well,’ according to Freestone, ‘although the lyrics and title idea came from Freddie and David.’
‘It was hard because you had four very precocious boys—and David, who was precocious enough for all of us,’ says Brian May. ’ David took over the song lyrically. |t’s a significant song because of David and its lyrical content—I would have found that hard to admit in the old days—but I can admit now.’ David championed the song, encouraging Freddie, and contributing a classic, swooping melody, as well as one of his own distinctive, reflective middle-eight sections (‘the terror of knowing what this world is all about.’)
Queen were uncertain about the track, even after Bowie and Mercury re-worked their vocals and mixed the recording at The Power Station in New York, a fortnight later—John Deacon’s distinctive bassline was added at the same session, hummed to him by David. Brian was particularly unhappy, recalling the ‘fierce battles around the mix, and his own misgivings about the song’s release as a single; instead it was Queen’s record company, EMI, that pushed the collaboration…
This, of course, is Bowie’s biographer’s take. Queen bassist, John Deacon said in 1984 that the song was primarily Freddie Mercury’s, and developed out of a jam session. Also, the song Trynka quotes as the original “Feel Like,” is a separate track by Roger Taylor. Also, Hot Space was more Disco than R&B.
Yet, it is true that most of the song “Under Pressure” came out of a ‘marathon session,’ which explains Mercury’s incredible, improvised vocals. Open Culture gives a slightly different version of events:
And so began a marathon session of nearly 24-hours–fueled, according to Blake, by wine and cocaine. Built around John Deacon’s distinctive bass line, the song was mostly written by Mercury and Bowie. Blake describes the scene, beginning with the recollections of Queen’s guitarist:
‘We felt our way through a backing track all together as an ensemble,’ recalled Brian May. ‘When the backing track was done, David said, “Okay, let’s each of us go in the vocal booth and sing how we think the melody should go–just off the top of our heads–and we’ll compile a vocal out of that.” And that’s what we did.’ Some of these improvisations, including Mercury’s memorable introductory scatting vocal, would endure on the finished track. Bowie also insisted that he and Mercury shouldn’t hear what the other had sung, swapping verses blind, which helped give the song its cut-and-paste feel.
The ‘fierce arguments’ took place during the mix. Queen’s engineer Reinhold Mack is quoted by Blake as saying ‘It didn’t go well.’:
“We spent all day and Bowie was like, ‘Do this, do that.’ In the end, I called Freddie and said, ‘I need help here,’ so Fred came in as a mediator.”
Mercury and Bowie argued. Then Bowie threatened to block the release of the single. It never happened and “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie was released in September 1981. It was Queen’s second number one, making the top of the UK charts on 21 November. In America, it reached number twenty-nine a few weeks later. It is now recognized as a classic song, though Brian May would still like to re-mix it.
This is the Freddie Mercury’s and David Bowie’s isolated vocals from the recording of “Under Pressure.”
‘All of my films have really been statements about America, strangely enough,’ said director Terry Gilliam in this documentary about his work and career, made for The South Bank Show in 1991.
If you look closely at them, or I sit and try to describe them in some way, they’re all me reacting to that country I left. They’re seen through the eyes of somebody who lives in Britain, who’s been affected by this world, but they’ve all been messages in film cans back to America.
They’ve been disguised with the Middle Ages and the Eighteenth Century and everything, but it’s about that. This one [The Fisher King] has no disguise—that’s what’s interesting about it. It’s there, it’s naked, this is the world.
Gilliam concludes the interview by dismissing any possibility of complacency in light of the success of The Fisher King .
Let’s say this film is successful and America is going to offer me money, there will be that tendency to say, “Oh, I’ll make more like this.” It’s easier to make films like this because I don’t have the same battles and I hope the perverse side of my nature is still there to rescue me from this, because I think that’s what’s kept me going is the sheer perverseness and because the easy path is that way…(Makes hand gesture) [and] I don’t do it
I think I’ll know when I’m really middle-aged when I go that way. If the next film is an easy film—you know it’s over. You’ll know he’s middle-aged, he’s fat, he’s a slob, he’s given up the battle.
As if that is ever going to happen, Mr. Gilliam!
Watch Terry Gilliam’s latest film ‘The Wholly Family’ after the jump…
When a friend told me there were more shots of the still nameless “Tank Man” who stood in front of a phalanx of oncoming weaponry in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, I figured I would find a few photos from different angles. I did not expect a widescreen tableau that completely recontextualized the scale of the protests (and the man’s bravery, seeing that he was but armed with two plastic shopping bags).
From this distance, you see past the four tanks in the original iconic photo, to a chillingly expansive mass of tanks and soldiers. The scale of the picture changes the story somewhat, don’t you think? (You can see a larger version here.)
I actually found this shot on the website of the right wing think tank, The Heritage Foundation! I suppose students risking (and often losing) their lives to protest an oppressive Chinese government can be easily co-opted for red scare fodder. Regardless, it’s not every day that I actually learn something new from the right wing!
A closer street-level view of the David and Goliath confrontation—shot just before the tanks reached “Tank Man” and stopped their engines—was published by photographer Terrell Jones in 2009. Look for “Tank Man” behind the guy running.
Ah, Borscht—a soup of Ukranian origin that has been popular in many Eastern and Central European countries for centuries. This is Allen Ginsberg’s version of the recipe.
COLD SUMMER BORSCHT
Dozen beets cleaned & chopped to bite size salad-size Strips
Stems & leaves also chopped like salad lettuce
All boiled together lightly salted to make a bright red soup,
with beets now soft - boil an hour or more
Add Sugar & Lemon Juice to make the red liquid
sweet & sour like Lemonade
Chill 4 gallon(s) of beet liquid -
Serve with (1) Sour Cream on table
(2) Boiled small or halved potato
on the side
i.e. so hot potatoes don’t heat the
cold soup prematurely
(3) Spring salad on table to put into
cold red liquid
1) Onions - sliced (spring onions)
2) Tomatoes - sliced bite-sized
3) Lettuce - ditto
4) Cucumbers - ditto
5) a few radishes
for Summer Dinner
Fun with Ron and Russell Mael, interviewed by Julie Brown on Music Box in 1985. Ron (as one commentator notes) is particularly “perky,” perhaps due to the excellent review in Sounds that claimed he was a better song-writer than Lennon and McCartney. Ron disagrees, but admits he is maybe a better song-writer than George Harrison.
Pier Paolo Pasolini said his first films were inspired by Antonio Gramsci, the founder and one-time leader of the Italian Communist Party.
To Pasolini, Gramsci was the ‘greatest Marxist theoretician in all Italy,’ who wanted popular art to be aimed at an “ideal people.”
But by the 1960s, this “ideal people” had been turned by capitalism into consumers—a culture of mass consumption, where works of art and politics had little or no value.
It was then that Pasolini instinctively rejected the idea of making films for mass consumption, and instead opted for a more personal and political film-making.
Based on Montaigne’s idea that ‘one does not really know a person until he has died,’ Philo Bregstein’s documentary Whoever Says The Truth Shall Die—A Film About Pier Paolo Pasolini offers a fascinating look at the life, artistic ambitions and political vision of the poet, writer and controversial film director.