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.

“National Lampoon” (What, Again?!?!)

Almost all of these depressing and catastrophic developments were news to me.  As I said earlier, in what has proved to be the most surprising frequent topic in this blog, I stopped paying much attention to the operation and its spin-offs after 1978 or so. (I’ve never even seen a “Vacation” movie since I regard Chevy Van Chaser as toxic unfunny.) But the NatLamp story is still enlightening on several levels.

One, in the contest to revive a once-notorious outsider magazine, Punk and CREEM now have to give up the Botch Crown to National Lampoon. Obviously no other publication has fallen as far or squandered so much energy.

Two, this is further confirmation of a most peculiar failure of understanding: reviving a brand is weak and lazy. It’s just throwing out an imitation. Inventing a hit brand is a lot harder, but the real task at hand.

Third, the piece touches on a crucial transformation: NatLamp started as a mixture of the subversive and the sophomoric. And it eventually went with the easier option. Part of that whole horrible wave where racist and sexist and generally bigoted humor was considered “bold” or “rule-breaking,” whereas the opposite type of satire was and is the tough way forward.

Yeh, I know — it’s cheap fun to satirize the squares and the Establishment. But those are extinct. The powerful and smug and cruel and hate-mongers and anti-thinkers are the targets of our time, and they can be fired upon.

Sex Talk! (Now That I’ve Got Your Attention) …

A worthy piece with a valuable perspective on what sadly seems like an invincible truth.

The sex instruction I got from my parents was pitiful nothing, including, yes, only crude jokes from my Dad (example: Handicapped man with uncontrolled palsy quivering decides to treat himself to an ice-cream sundae.

“I’d like a sundae, please.”

“Yessir. Chocolate, strawberry and vanilla?”

“Yep.”

“Whipped cream?”

“Sure.”

“Crushed nuts?”

“No, it’s palsy.”)

Which had the function of showing he was extremely uncomfortable talking about sex with his son. The up side was that he was uncomfortable talking about sex with sexist men, so he didn’t inculcate any of the bashing of those Martians-with-boobs-among-us that all too many of my peers got.

My Mother was basically silence. And a determination that I shouldn’t get any sex information from porn novels or films or paintings or anywhere, really. About all that happened was that her cousin once remarked in my presence: “Well, at least he’s all boy!” [i.e., Not Gay] to which my response in my head was “What the heck do ya mean?”

But the repulsive, enduring truth is that the porn-bashers  almost never have a clear plan to replace smut with smart. They want to stamp out filth and replace it with flowers and bunnies that don’t have sex like rabbits.

Did I mention that I just found my copy of I Am the Beautiful Stranger (not with this classic wonderful cover, dang it) in a basement box?