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Moment of Clarity: The rantings and ravings of comedian Lee Camp
06.11.2012
02:51 pm

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Activism
Books
Politics

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Lee Camp


 
Stand-up comedian, social satirist and political activist Lee Camp—the “Che Guevara of comedy” as Paul Provenza calls him—is best known for his popular “Moment of Clarity” web series and Camp has performed live for protesters at various Occupy sites around the country.

Now he’s an author, with a new collection of his work in print form, Moment Of Clarity: The Ravings of a Stark Raving Sane Man. I caught up with Lee Camp via email to ask him to clairify a few things for Dangerous Minds readers:

Lee, so it’s been a week… have you had a moment of clarity yet about what happened in Wisconsin?

Lee Camp: I’ll be writing that one tomorrow. It might just be a string of profanities. Wisconsin is just the first explosion in the corporate-backed Citizens-United-fueled demolition of our democracy.  If I can get over my moment of dispair-ity, then I’ll work on the Moment of Clarity. [See below!]

Do the WI election results auger as poorly for the future of labor and the Democrats as it seems? I was shocked at the delusion I saw on MSNBC on election night. It was ridiculous, I thought, especially what Lawrence O’Donnell said about Obama being the “biggest winner.” Absurd. 

Lee Camp: Yes, they are a horrible sign for the left, for labor, and for this country. I think that as this shit-storm continues people will have no choice but to wake up. At least, that’s my hope. And yeah, you see a lot of delusion from the talking heads because they know that if they’re too depressing, we’ll jump off a bridge. And if we jump off a bridge, they lose viewers. MSNBC is fighting for ratings, so they don’t want anybody dropping their “Lawrence O’Donnell” flag and stuffing handfuls of pills in their mouths.

Scott Walker, the next Nixon?

Lee Camp: Ha. Nixon would seem like a squishy lefty compared to Walker.

As a longtime observer of subcultures, one thing that is surprising to me—-and I should say upfront that I consider this a positive development—is how folks on the Left are starting to tentatively voice an opinion long heard on the Right, of favor of secession.  Would it be better to agree to disagree and let Red States do whatever they want—fuck over the unions, poison their water supply with fracking, teaching “Noah’s Ark was real” nonsense in schools, outlawing abortion, curtailing LGBT rights, making church attendance mandatory, whatever—while more, how shall I put this, better-educated regions of the country split off to do what we want? “We” keep “them” from living as they wish to live and vice versa, why not give up and face the facts? 

Lee Camp: Sounds kinda nice to me. The problem is that the blue states are on the two coasts. How we will stick together? Maybe a sky bridge over the country? The other problem is that even blue states will allow the corporate raping and pillaging of their land if enough money is poured into the political process. Wisconsin is not necessarily a red state, and it has a noble history of fighting for workers’ rights. However, this last election showed us that if people are handed a pile of shit and shown enough commercials saying it’s chocolate, they’ll eat it with a smile on their faces. 

Do you feel that given what we’ve seen shake out in the past decade, the unbridgeable philosophical chasm that exists between Left and Right, where no compromise, no civility and really not even a productive discussion can take place anymore, just yelling on cable news shows, can ever go back into the box?

Lee Camp: Hmmm, maybe. But the truly sad thing is that in many categories the politicians on the two “sides” are not offering different paths. They seem to agree on everything Wall Street and everything military industrial complex. So I think you will see continued energy breaking out of the two part system - like we’ve seen with Occupy.

Speaking of, do you think it’s time to retire the term “Occupy” and what are your observations about how it has seemed to fizzle out in 2012? All winter long, OWS seemed dormant, I was thinking, just because of how cold it was, but it didn’t really come back all that strong this year. What caused all of that amazing energy and commitment to disperse? Or has it? Is it just gestating?

Lee Camp: I think it’s still there, and I think it will come back strong. I don’t think you’ve seen the last of it by any means. Let’s remember what we’re watching here - a handful of protesters going up against riot cops with pepper spray and batons. Is it any surprise that there are going to be lulls? I don’t think this battle is over.

Do you think Romney can beat Obama?

Lee Camp:: Sure he can. The right wing is working furiously to purge all the black and Latino people off the voting roles. If that doesn’t work, we have some of the most hackable computer voting systems this world has ever seen. I’ve seen a monkey hack the voting machines. (Not kidding. Google it.) If a monkey can hack our machines, then a robotic tool like Romney can win an election. On top of that, Romney will have a money advantage. The only way for the left to win is to vote in such great numbers that it swamps the percentage points that will be stolen.

Below, Camp’s calm, cool and collected take on the Wisconsin recall election results and Citizen’s United:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Ray Bradbury has died

raybradbury_hasdied
 
Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles, died yesterday, June 5th, at the age of 91. Bradbury was a colossus of modern fiction, writing everything form fantasy, science-, and speculative-fiction to comedy, crime and mystery. He wrote twenty-seven novels, several screenplays, most notably for John Huston’s film version of Moby Dick, as well as plays, and hundreds of classic short stories.

Bradbury was an immense talent, yet in the early part of his career, his success as a mass market “pulp” author often led critics to overlook the quality of his writing, and its seismic influence on others - his fiction formed the template for future speculative science-fiction and fantasy writers to follow. Bradbury had a beautiful, poetic and lyrical style of writing, most notable in Dandelion Wine, which made his authorial voice unmistakable.

Indeed the quality of Bradbury’s writing helped science-fiction out of the pulp ghetto into the hallowed groves of literature. Though most associated with that genre, Bradbury denied he was a science-fiction writer, instead claimed he was a fantasy writer whose work owed much to the traditions of classical literature:

“First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time—because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”

Born in Waukegan, Illinois on August 22, 1920, Bradbury grew up in small town America - a world of dusty roads, with few cars, and tarmac avenues with old trolley buses ploughing the metal rails along main street. He also once claimed, in a BBC documentary, that his memory and experience was the source for much of his writing, and said his memory stretched back to his earliest experiences as a baby, being breast-fed in his mother’s arms.

He grew up reading books and watching Flash Gordon serials at the local cinema, and monster movies with Boris Karloff, while following the adventures of heroes in the early garish comics that later went on to deliver Batman, Superman and Tales from the Crypt.

“Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

Reading inspired his writing and Bradbury started his own fictions, eventually submitting short stories to pulp magazines in his teens - his first published story was “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma”, which appeared in the fanzine Imagination! in January, 1938. He received his first check of $15 for his story “Pendulum” (co-written with Henry Hasse) in 1941, when it was published in Super Science Stories. By 1942, he was able to have a career as a writer, writing stories for the various pulp magazines that were then available.

He progressed from stories to novels, with first big success being The Martian Chronicles, which was aided by a chance meeting with author Christopher Isherwood, who admired Bradbury’s work, and passed the book onto a critic who gave it a glowing review. From there, Bradbury had a career befitting the talents of such a great and marvelous man.

Bradbury’s influence has infused much of our cultural world - from films to comics, science to the imagined landscape of small town America, which is still very much as he described it in his fictions. Indeed, Bradbury’s vision of small town America was a precursor to Stephen King’s Castle Rock.

I greatly admire Bradbury’s work, and like everyone else grew-up reading his books, and regularly returned to them in my adult years. It seems as we grow older that all we reap is death, and this year has been a harsh harvest. Still, we should perhaps recall Bradbury’s line from Fahrenheit 451:

“Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made up or paid for in factories.”

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury 1920-2012.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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We Can Build You: Watch the Philip K. Dick android in action!


 
Here’s the second incarnation of the Philip K. Dick (aka “Phil”) robot, built by Hanson Robotics.

The first iteration the PKD android doppelgänger pooped-out back in 2005. Apparently this newer “Phil” is “smarter and more sophisticated than ever, and is growing smarter all the time.”

That’s when all the problems start…

 
More videos after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Nietzsche and Masturbation: Über-clench of the Übermensch


“Can I do it ‘til I need glasses?”

It was odd seeing Nietzche’s face on that pancake yesterday, as I’ve just been reading Gregor Dellin’s Richard Wagner, His Life, His Work, His Century, where I came upon a bizarre perspective on the renowned Wagner-Nietzsche feud – one far less elevated than the philosophical dispute detailed by Nietzsche in his essay “Nietzsche contra Wagner” and elsewhere.

Nietzsche, of course, spent much of his life, prior to his complete physical and mental collapse, struggling with appalling ill-health; attacks of near-blindness, madness and incapacity that ruined his academic career and are nowadays almost unanimously thought to have been the symptoms of advanced syphilis. In 1877, when Wagner and Nietzsche’s friendship was apparently in its pomp, but Nietzsche’s health was moving through an especially rocky patch, Wagner (a bullish individual, to put it mildly) instigated a correspondence with Nietzsche’s then-doctor, evincing a great deal of concern for his younger friend, but an arresting want of tact:

“In assessing Nietzsche’s condition I have long been reminded of identical or very similar experiences with young men of great intellectual ability. Seeing them laid low by similar symptoms, I discovered all too certainly that these were the effects of masturbation [by hiding under their bed, perhaps]. Ever since I observed Nietzsche closely, guided by such experiences, all his traits of temperament and characteristic habits have transformed my fear into a conviction.”

Yes, what Herr Dr. Wagner wants to focus on is the possibility that Nietzsche was, in Wagner’s words, “a confirmed masturbator.” Back then, the world’s foremost pastime was widely considered to be an extremely risky business, as Dr. Balthazar Bekker’s study of 1716 (still influential in Nietzsche and Wagner’s day) details – the following, believe it or not, are just a few of the physical consequences supposed to derive from so-called “self-abuse:”

“Disturbances of the stomach and digestion, loss of appetite or ravenous hunger, vomiting, nausea, weakening of the organs of breathing, coughing, hoarseness, paralysis, weakening of the organ of generation to the point of impotence, lack of libido, back pain, disorders of the eye and ear, total diminution of bodily powers, paleness, thinness, pimples on the face, decline of intellectual powers, loss of memory, attacks of rage, madness, idiocy, epilepsy, fever and finally suicide.”

Which must have spiced up the average wank no end. But spare a thought for young Nietzsche, who already suffered from a decent number of these symptoms and must have regularly entertained the possibility that they were, so to speak, self-inflicted, just as Wagner (indiscreetly) would later allege. Dellin makes a good case that, for Nietzsche—a sexually sensitive man in sexually sensitive times—Wagner’s betrayal of his privacy was, once he learned of the correspondence, impossible to forgive or forget, the unflattering designation made in painful proximity not only to Cossima Wagner (the chick Nietzsche most dug) but also – and worse still – history itself!

But beyond Delin’s suggestion that Nietzsche’s subsequent philosophical feud with Wagner is only a smokescreen to distract history from these rumors and resentments, I couldn’t help entertaining the idea that Nietzsche’s entire later philosophy was an elaborate refutation of the possibility that he was a “confirmed masturbator” –  which Nietzsche could well have imagined his own medical history would suggest to future generations even louder than Wagner’s lay-prognosis.

After all, whichever “moral” worldview Nietzsche attacked – be it Christianity, Buddhism or Socialism – he always did so primarily on the grounds that they were only the symptoms of decadence and that the cultures in which they originated and spread had long since stopped being able to control themselves. As Nietzsche noted in Twilight of the Idols:

“There is a time with all passions when they are merely fatalities, when they drag their victim down with the weight of their folly (...) all the old moral monsters are unanimous that ‘the passions must be killed’.”

Which is to say that you would only preach against the passions if they were fucking you up in the first place! The more moral the philosophy, insisted Nietzsche, the more debauched its adherents; Christianity, then, for whom “the only ‘cure’ is castration” (“if thy eye offend thee, pluck it out”), would therefore find its natural adherents among the most hopelessly degenerate:

“Survey the entire history of priests and philosophers, and that of artists as well: the most virulent utterances against the senses have not come from the impotent, nor from ascetics, but from those who found it impossible to be ascetics, from those who stood in need of being ascetics.”

What might the private life of such a moralist and would-be ascetic look like, then, at its worst? You might envisage (were you alive in the nineteenth century, that is), none other than a chronic masturbator, one (say) whose habit had become such a “fatality” that they risked permanently blinding and paralyzing their mind and body with the “weight of their folly.” 

Quite the opposite, then, of an anti-moralist like Nietzsche, who definitely didn’t have, as Bob Dylan sang, “One hand tied to the tightrope walker/ The other in his pants…”

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
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The Russian Bride Guide: How to buy a wife who doesn’t want to kill you
05.25.2012
07:16 am

Topics:
Books
Sex
Unorthodox

Tags:
Russian brides


 
In 2008, 47-year-old British businessman Barry Pring had just finished celebrating his first wedding anniversary at a restaurant near Kiev with his Ukrainian wife, Ms Zuizina. As they stood outside waiting for a taxi, Ms Zuizina realized she’d forgotten her gloves and popped back into the restaurant. A car came roaring ‘round the corner and took Mr Pring’s life.

Initially ruled by the Ukrainian police as a random hit-and-run, pressure from the British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Mr Pring’s remaining English family (who are contesting £1.5 million Pring fortune with the widow) has led to it being upgraded to a murder inquiry this week.

“Ms Zuizina, a former stripper,” notes BBC News, with a frigid nudge-nudge wink-wink, “met Mr Pring on the internet in 2006.” Say no more, guv,nor, say no more!

Far be it for me to pre-empt anything, but if it was foul play, this sort of thing is apparently quite common, which is why any gentleman looking eastwards for a younger, poorer wife might do worse than consult the charming Russian Bride Guide: How to Meet, Court and Marry a Woman from the Former Soviet Union by husband and wife intercontinental matchmaking duo Stuart J Smith and Olga Maslova.
 
I must admit to bringing a number of preconceptions to the Russian Bride Guide, but, randomly opening the volume yesterday on the bus (not hugely recommended) I instantly came upon the following halva-sweet sentiment:

“Of course, love is ideal…”

Well isn’t that outright romantic, I thought – it just goes to show yet again that you should never judge a book by its cover, even if that cover does feature a half-naked woman athwart a cardboard box.

Yet what is it, I wondered, reading on, that drove such idealistic men to travel so far and to undertake the risks and costs detailed in this very practical book (its chapters have titles like “Scams, Scammers and Sharp Practice”)? The Russian Bride Guide (a sort of “The Decline of the Western Woman”-type manifesto) explains:

“Because they simply don’t find fat, lazy, smoking, junk food-eating, sloppy, flip flop-wearing [!] women to be attractive. Unfortunately, this is all they seem to see at home.”

Faced with all these “self-empowered, man hating feminists” (in the book’s words), what can the RBG’s “fat, old, ugly and bald” readers (also the book’s words) expect from a Former Soviet Union bride?

“Why pick girls from poorer countries? Less money means fewer cars and more walking, more walking means slimmer bodies. The same scarcity of money means junk food is unpopular, hence less junk food consumption and slimmer bodies again.”

One of the ways the good old RBG tries to protect its readers is by warning them off really excessive age differences. While a couple of decades are the least every “fat, old, ugly and bald” Western man deserves, a cautionary note is struck for those hoping to aim for anything significantly more pronounced:

“If seeking a very large age gap, you must consider the future when she is bopping around the house listening to the latest dance music eyeing the young muscular gardener through the window and you are dozing in your rocking chair with Bing Crosby oozing out of your stereo. It happens; what do you think will happen next?”

Ummm, Svetlana’ or Uschi forgets her gloves (and who could blame her)?

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
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Books By Their Covers: Oliver Bevan’s Fabulous Op-Art Designs for Fontana Modern Masters

Fontana_Modern_Master_Books_1_10
 
In 1970, Fontana Books published the first of 7 paperback books in a series on what they termed Modern Masters - culturally important writers, philosophers and thinkers, whose work had shaped and changed modern life. It was a bold and original move, and the series launched on January 12th with books on Camus, Chomsky, Fanon, Guevara, Levi-Strauss, Lukacs, and Marcuse.

This was soon followed in 1971 with the next set of books on McLuhan, Orwell, Wittgenstein, Joyce, Freud, Reich and Yeats. And in 1972-73 with volumes on Gandhi, Lenin, Mailer, Russell, Jung, Lawrence, Beckett, Einstein, Laing, and Popper.

Fontana Modern Masters was a highly collectible series of books - not just for their opinionated content on the likes of Marx or Proust, Mailer or McLuhan, but because of Oliver Bevan’s fabulous cover designs.

This eye-catching concept for the covers came from Fontana’s art director, John Constable, who had been experimenting with a Cut-Up technique, inspired by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin and based on The Mud Bath, a key work of British geometric abstraction by the painter David Bomberg. It was only after Constable saw Oliver Bevan’s geometric, Op Art at the Grabowski Gallery in London, did Constable decide to commission Bevan to design the covers.

The first full set of books consisted of 9 titles. Each cover had a section of a Bevan painting, which consisted of rectilinear arrangements of tesselating block, the scale of which was only fully revealed when all 10 covers were placed together. Bevan designed the first ‘3 sets of 10’ from 1970-74. He was then replaced by James Lowe (1975-79) who brought his own triangular designs for books on Marx, Eliot, Pound, Sartre, Artaud and Gramsci. In 1980, Patrick Mortimer took over, with his designs based on circles.

The original Fontana Modern Masters regularly pop-up in secondhand bookshops, and are still much sought after. Over the years, I have collected about 20 different volumes, but have yet to create one complete painting. Here are a few samples, culled from my own collection and from the the web.
 
Fontana_Modern_Masters_Set
 
A small selection of Fontana Modern Master covers, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Lowlife: The powerful and compelling photographs of Scot Sothern (NSFW)

superman_scot_sothern
 
Photography, says Scot Sothern, wasn’t so much an interest, when he was growing-up, as something he was born into. His father owned a photographic studio, for portraits of weddings and baptisms; and Scot’s earliest memory is tied to a photograph.

‘My first clear memory correspond to a photograph and because of that I’m not sure if it’s a memory I would even have if not for the photograph to ring the memory bell in my head.

‘My father was a photographer with a wedding and portrait studio in the Missouri Ozarks and back in the fifties when I was about four years old cowboys were all the rage for boy tots like myself and portraits of little boys dressed in cowboy drag became de rigueur. I remember we were out on a farm and my dad wanted to set me on a rail fence, I guess the way cowboys were supposed to do. Anyway, it was too high and I didn’t trust my balance and freaked out when my dad set me there and so he had to take me down and let me stand in front of the fence instead. I remember him being irritated that I was acting like a pussy.’

Last year, Scot released Lowlife, a collection of his photographs and writing of his experiences amongst prostitutes in the 1980s:

’When I pulled off the freeway into San Diego, I had a single twenty dollar bill in my wallet. My car, a 1973 Toyota station wagon, rattled my teeth and died in idle. At stops I had to divide my right foot: heel on the brake, toes revving the accelerator. I had barely enough gas to get back to Los Angeles.

‘On El Cajon Boulevard I drove slowly and studied the street walkers. In their eyes I could see desperation-induced madness, premature death. In my eyes they could see my craving for the nasty little secret I kept from friends and family. I could give my twenty dollars to any one of these women. I could buy a quick sex fix and she could buy enough crack to put a smile on her face for an hour or so.

‘In the passenger seat, belted and buckled, frail and beautiful, my four-year-old son, Dashiell, slept curled around his best friend, a pillow-sized stuffed facsimile of Hulk Hogan. It was Sunday night and my weekend with my little boy was over.

‘When we arrived at his mother’s house, Dash awoke. He cried and clung tightly, arms around my neck. He didn’t want me to go. His mother Sylvia, my ex-wife, was happy to see me go, but first she wanted money. I made lame excuses. She called me a jerk and pried our son from my embrace. I took my twenty dollars and drove back to El Cajon Boulevard.’

 
scot_sothern_lowlife_book
 
More from Scot Sothern, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’: James Bond’s behind-the-scenes secrets

george_lazenby_james_bond
 
Your favorite James Bond tends to be the one you saw first. I saw Sean Connery first in a double bill of Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, at the Astoria Cinema, Edinburgh. This was soon followed by Diamonds are Forever at the Playhouse. Of course, Connery being Scots means I am probably biased, but his Bond had what made the series work best - sophistication, humor and thrills.

If it came to a second choice? Well, Moore never seemed sure if he was playing Simon Templar or Lord Brett Sinclair, and by Octopussy, he was cast as a sub-Flashman character in a dismal script by Flashman author, George MacDonald Fraser. Timothy Dalton was too dull and way too serious, perhaps he should have played it more like Simon Skinner, a slightly unhinged secret service man with a license to kill. Pierce Brosnan was good but deserved far better scripts - his Bond should have eliminated the scriptwriters. And as for Daniel Craig - started well, but he looks like he’s in a different film franchise.

For me George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the only possible second choice. He tried to make his Bond more humane, and kept much what was best in Connery’s interpretation. He was also assisted by a cracking script by Richard Maibaum (additional dialog by Simon “the mind of a cad and the pen of an angel” Raven); an excellent supporting of Diana Rigg as Countess Tracy di Vicenzo, and Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld; and one of the best opening theme tunes (and a glorious song sung by Louis Armstrong) of the series by John Barry.

Yet no matter what Lazenby did, or how good the film, he faced the momentous task of filling a role made by Sean Connery, and he was damned by a lot of critics for it. In this rarely seen interview, George Lazenby talks about the difficulties faced in making On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the rumors, the on-set niggles and why he was banned for growing a beard. First broadcast on the BBC, February 4th, 1970.
 

 
With thanks to Nellym
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘The Jodorowsky Constellation’: A lively look at a modern magician
05.12.2012
01:03 pm

Topics:
Art
Belief
Books
Drugs
Movies
Music
Occult
Pop Culture

Tags:


“Madwoman of the Sacred Heart.” Graphic novel by by Moebius and Jodorowsky.

On the heels of sharing The Holy Mountain with DM readers, I thought an Alejandro Jodorowsky documentary might be timely and this is a good one.

In 1994 French film maker Louis Mouchet interviewed Jodorowsky and a bunch of his friends and collaborators, including director Fernando Arrabal, Peter Gabriel, Marcel Marcea and artist Moebius.

Jodorowsky is witty and wise as he discusses his masterpieces El Topo and The Holy Mountain, his failed Dune project, the Tarot, his role as a teacher and reluctant new age guru. He’s kind of like Freud on psychotropics.

I hope you enjoy this fascinating look into the mind of a modern magician and trickster who is constantly evolving and adapting to new technologies and formulating new philosophies. 

“As soon as I define myself I’m dead.” ~ Alejandro Jodorowsky.

 


Alejandro Jodorowsky- Constellation 1/4 by zindabad7
 
Parts two, three and four here.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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A Moment of Lost Elegance: Radley Metzger’s ‘Naked Came the Stranger’
05.03.2012
04:31 pm

Topics:
Art
Books
Literature
Movies

Tags:

nakecamethestrangerposter
 
There are eighty thousand topics under the sun that can inspire great filmmaking. Out of that ocean of inspiration, the world of literary hoaxes, is not the first thing that comes to mind. But a handful films have come out of this weird wellspring, including Radley Metzger’s Naked Came the Stranger. (Directed under the cinematic equivalent to a purple-prose pseudonym, Henry Paris.)  Originally crafted as a sarcastic response to the lurid and highly popular works of bestselling writers like Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann, the book, “Naked Came the Stranger,” featured twenty four writers coming together to create one tawdry tale of marital infidelity in late 60’s America.

Now, leave it to a maestro like Radley Metzger to take this lovely bit of salacious NY Times chart topping pulp and turn it into a funny, sexy and whimsical film. A din of television noise begins the proceedings, all set in a bedroom riot of early 70s florals and crayola colors. A well executed shot reveals a slow sweep of the room, as an announcer intones “Immortal film classics to fall asleep by!” Speaking of which, an old fashioned alarm clock, with its face displaying a photo of legendary cinematic goddess, Marlene Dietrich, goes off, waking up Gilly (pronounced J-i-l-l-y and played by the woefully unsung Darby Lloyd Rains). Slipping off her sleep mask, she tries to rouse her hubby, Billy (Levi Richards) up with some well intentioned hanky panky before being stopped in her tracks as he calls out the name “Phyllis” in his sleep. Yes, something is afoul in marital Denmark, which is all too apparent to Gilly, from her husband’s bad bluffing about his dream to the comically flirty looks Phyllis (Mary Stuart) keeps shooting his way while the couple prepare for another installment of their radio morning show.

Phyllis and Billy, our two illicit lovebirds, carry on their affair with all the subtlety of a meat hammer, with Gilly finding solid evidence after she follows him down to his mistress’s (nice) NYC apartment. Hanging out on the stairwell, she listens in on their dirty talk, which is undoubtedly the worst kind of its stripe. I’m not talking Barry White, Big Daddy Kane or even Black Oak Arkansas, here, I’m talking the dreaded cutesy baby talk. They literally refer to each other as “love bunny,” much to Gilly’s horror, though it doesn’t stop her from having some manual fun.

This incident ends up being a catalyst for Gilly, feeling that to better understand her husband, she must depart on a series of her own little affairs. No love bunny nonsense here, just a grown woman exploring herself through the willing partners in her life, ranging from a high-strung “ineffectual creep” who is momentarily transformed by Gilly’s transgressive gift to a beautifully shot “silent film” encounter with one suave friend. (How suave? The man invites her to “capture a moment of lost elegance.” Bryan Ferry just swooned.) But the real question remains-will our heroine be able to better understand her husband or realize the grass is greener and move on? (Seriously, “love bunny”??? Grounds for divorce RIGHT THERE.)

Naked Came the Stranger is a perfectly polished and funny film. It’s definitely one of the more whimsical efforts of Radley Metzger, with the tone being very light and cheeky. Taking a book that was critically maligned and making a legitimately good movie out of it is a borderline alchemical move, but one that, in the hands of a master like Metzger, feels like a piece of cake.

The cast is terrific, with Rains taking the lead as the plucky and adventurous Gilly. She brings a likability and a strong sense of confident femininity to her role. This is a great contrast to the girlishness of Stuart’s Phyllis. Rains is alternately very funny, beautiful and sexy. The image of her in top hat and tails, Ala Marlene, is a striking one. Darby Lloyd Rains has the kind of powerful gravitas to pull it off without seeming like she is aping Dietrich. Stuart is also good as the cute but love happy annoyance mistress, making this a 180 from her role in Gerard Damiano’s masterful Memories Within Miss Aggie. All of the male actors are good too, but this is really the ladies’ show. (Though, Marc Stevens’ cameo during the costume party sequence is a huge highlight.)

With being a Metzger film, everything looks good. Paul Glickman, who was also responsible for the cinematography for Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann, did an equally wonderful job here, with even the urban jungle of NYC looking a bit dewy and pretty. There is also an assortment of fun touches throughout, including a reference to Metzger’s serious Camille 2000, with the film playing on the television, prompting Billy to remark, “Why don’t they show the Garbo version?” There is also a brief mirror shot, as you see the reflection of Gilly gently remove a wig off of Phyllis. Mirrors and reflection itself tend to be a trait of Metzger’s work, whether it is his softcore work with Camille 2000 and The Lickerish Quartet or his latter works, like Pamela Mann. This all gives further proof that you can have depth with beauty.

Distribpix has once again done right by both Radley Metzger’s work and the viewer by presenting this film in a gorgeous restoration of the original 35mm print. Artists like Metzger deserve to have their work preserved with the level of detail and love that companies like Distribpix provide. In addition to the restoration, there is also a bounty of extras, including a Director’s commentary from Metzger himself, a split-screen featurette comparing the “hot” and “cool” versions of the film, a “film facts” subtitle track, deleted scenes, trailers, ephemera gallery and much, much more. There’s also a photo card and a 40 page booklet, detailing the origins of the book, the movie and even the soundtrack. It does not get much spiffier than this.

Naked Came the Stranger is a fun and sweet-natured film featuring good visuals and a pitch-perfect performance from Darby Lloyd Rains. It would make a fun, couples-stepping-out double bill with the previous year’s Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann.

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
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