Glory Era of Glossy

Good to recall a time when print was the powerhouse it has never been since. I was young and foolish, being shaped into a professional, so I went along with the upbeat mood: print was invincible! tech could makes pages more gorgeous than ever before! ultimately, big follies like: we don’t need no steenking subscriptions, ad revenue will never go down! online publications and social media are mere fads!

I resemble the remark that Vanity Fair was improperly revived. however — they hired me as a freelancer to do short reviews that paid the most serious scratch I had received until then. I managed a couple and a kill fee for a third when the shakeup came and the new brass shoved us out the windows. I never accepted Tina Brown’s “famous for being famous is as good as famous for accomplishments,” but I will admit that a lot of those first features in the Vanity Fair before her were a boring mess.

R.I.P.: Fred Cole

Lifelong incarnation of “indie spirit rock and roll.” I discovered him and Toody when they were playing a Pierced Arrows album at Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula and I asked “who in the hell is this dandy item?” It was some early version of Straight To the Heart that doesn’t look like the one you can get now. Loved it, but sat around in ignorance until I read this definitive presentation by Bob Xgau. The double-CD is clearly where to begin, but I wanna snatch up anything I can find by Fred and Toody.

Surprise Books & Music Kick — En Francaise

Dropped by the French Culture Center (a must-visit for Boston locals — delights abound) and discovered that by chance it was the Library Book Sale. Hundreds and hundreds of volumes — $1 each! Zoot aloors!

What I grabbed:

Cinema magazine (May, 1971), featuring La Salamandre by Alain Tanner (not least because I can never have enough pictures of Bulle Ogier).

Cinema magazine (June, 1981), featuring Les Annees Lumiere by Alain Tanner (Light Years Away in the US) (not least because I saw this strange flick and loved that it did not even try to make linear sense)

Les Gens de Justice by Daumier (1974). Of course the jokes are lost in the French text, but the reproductions are so superior to any American volume I have run across that … less than a penny a page seems like the bargain of a lifetime.

Amour – Erotisme en Cinema, by Ado Kyrou, edited by Eric Losfeld (not sure what this means) (1966). Treasure of new to me film stills, from the heyday of hedonism-on-the-rise in movie houses. The historic stuff is also incredible. Has a bookmark. Looks the most-used of the books I got. Donated to the Cultural Center in 1969. (PS: the cover features a stylized image of Louise Brooks, confirming the country’s obsession with her erotisme.)

Various, La Chanson de L’Annee 2016 (MCA/Universal). Four-CD set! A bit less MOR than I expected, and way, way more fun than 25 cents a disc.

R.I.P.: Robert Guillaume

Sure he played a butler, but the best part was that we all knew this was a ruse. 

He was there to ladle on a particular brand of dry resentment about race and power and class convolutions. After I visited the place, he seemed very St. Louis to me. (I missed out on all his TV work after “Benson”.) And you have to say he elevated a mystic baboon from a potential nothing-shtick into an essential part of a major Disney franchise. (I argued that was not least because Rafiki seemed like the only character who was remotely from Africa.)

Expert Witness Comment for the Week

About an item from last week’s, actually.

Now that I’ve listened to the American Epic box, I have to underscore that you need to get it for the sound alone. This is the way I’ve always wanted these vintage sides to be. I’ve never heard the voice-to-voice and voice-to-instruments relationships so natural and consistent. They’ve been cleaned up and clear before, sure, but voices and instruments in particular seemed out whack even so. Not here.

I’m not enough of a tech head to have anything to say about the methods used on the recordings, and it may be too late in the game for the recording industry in general, but at least these sides are here.