Altamont at 50

A nuanced, intricate look back that I think is quite necessary.  Some thoughts:

If you were stuck in the sticks as I was, it took years to piece together exactly what happened, period. Could not have imagined that I would get to a place where, after I found out they wanted $700 for a ticket to their latest concert, the Rolling Stones were performers I could hardly bear to think about.

The worthy move now is to step away from the monster villains Hell’s Angels, the tainted, tormented, tortuous superstars, the cosmic cultural moment and focus on the key victim. And never again imagine that Meredith Hunter died because he waved a pistol around.

You Are What You Bot, Not What Bots You

I got a malware pitch this week that tried to ask me “If I had any advice to blog writers.”

Sorry, evil machine, no direct response to you. But not the worst question. Because a quite simple answer came to me, which was of course an intention of the twisted bot pitch.

For me, blogs are:

Not Confessional

Not Confrontational

Are Conversational

Basically, the oldest message I’ve sent out on the Interwebs — don’t write/post/whatever you would not say on the open street where anyone could hear you. But try to hold an active, varied, funny conversation that entertains and provokes ideas and new interests.

I can do quick, informal reviews of whatever I want here, old or new. And I’m very gratified that these are now considered real journalism of very informal sort. That’s fun, and the fun is what I want to preserve.

Soundtrack Greater Than (Quite Fine) Film: “American Graffiti”

Here’s the usual blah blah blah about what is, yes, Lucas’s only “first-person” film. And I don’t disagree with the general assessment, but what’s left out is that the soundtrack album was huge: not only is it one of the most immaculate sequences of “oldies” ever made but it kicked off an enormous wave of interest in pre-Beatles rock and pop, which, to a degree unimaginable now, had vanished from the airwaves and popular culture in general by 1973. Sadly, there was a floating absurdity that pre-Brit-Invasion rock (not to mention pre-Motown R&B) was more or less dimestore tripe. The American Graffiti soundtrack was a major force in kicking that nonsense to the curb.

R.I.P.: Penny Marshall

“Laverne & Shirley” took place well after I had stopped watching regular TV series. And A League of Their Own is in my rankings, her second-best movie.

But her perfect work, and a landmark I think, is Big. It’s also my favorite Tom Hanks performance — he is in touch with how to feel and think like a child as, well, nobody his age could be and does an incredible job of portraying how a child in an adult body would pretend to be a grownup. The horrible gnarly matter of children and adult love and even (gulp) sex could have been screwed up so totally and seems to unfold the only way it could have worked. Josh’s interactions with best-buddy Billy are a marvel of tonal control as well as hoot after hoot jokes.

And, the first time we saw it, the ending made me cry and sense more vividly than I had in years how much I loved my Mother. No matter how warm and harmonious your childhood life is, every one of us wanted to ditch it with all our heart at some time. The final point of Big is: no, you don’t really want to throw it away, even if you could.

R.I.P.: Nicolas Roeg

I pretty much lost track after The Man Who Fell to Earth, but after all the decades some impressions remain as vivid as when they were new.

I saw Don’t Look Now at the old Crystal Theater in Missoula. I remember trembling with anxiety and never being so sorry I attended a movie alone. Thought the dum factual resolution of the plot was not nothing, but did not matter ultimately.

The version of Bowie in Man Who Fell was simply a superb addition to the ones he came up with himself, over and over. But I preferred the Mick Jagger in Performance to the one we have in this world. Bet I wouldn’t be as tired of him these days as I am of the human Mick.

Go-To Blaze (Foley)

For a long time, I argued that a prime paradox of Blaze Foley is that you both had to know him and not know him as a person. Except for individual songs, those who wrote tributes and assembled documentaries about him included bumps of sentimentality and drunken mumbling (even the Morlix tribute) (even the Duct Tape Messiah soundtrack). Maybe someday, somebody who never met him would assemble a perfect retrospective.

Now I’ve been persuaded that this new Blaze movie is a worthy wild thing and I intend to see it (though may have to be on the small screen). But if it’s your introduction, I have to insist that what you pick up first is Live at the Austin Outhouse (Lost Art, 1999) and next the Duct Tape soundtrack and if you still need more, try to get an advance listen to the movie score.

Is the selection of tunes on Austin Outhouse ideal? No, nope, no. But every track is outstanding, it stays alert and forms a beginning-middle-end program.