Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cohen, Drown, Spinal Tap

I finished "I'm Your Man" today.  It was really well-written, and kept my interest for most of it's 500 some pages.  With all biographies of somebody that is still living, the end of the book kind of tapers off.  When I read "Life" by Keith Richards, he gets to the point where he is talking about his favorite foods and how to make them.  Because "I'm Your Man" is a biography, it doesn't have those self-indulgent qualities, but towards the end you just feel things dragging a bit as the author goes into details about Leonard Cohen tribute albums and concerts  The most interesting bits had to do with him recording with Phil Spector at the height of his madness.  The guy supposedly had guns everywhere and on one occasion held one up to Leonard's face and told him, "Leonard, I love you.", before running off.  He also had a habit of locking people in his house when they came to visit.  I also enjoyed the descriptions of his transition to making Casio keyboard inspired music, and how the book's titular album was conceived.  There are several great stories of other artist's becoming obsessed with "I'm your Man", including some really fascinating stuff from Frank Black.  Also, I found myself fascinated by his obsessions with various religions and his years spent becoming a Zen monk.  It's the kind of stuff that you might guess could be true from listening to the slow, deliberate, cyclic, and even meditative qualities of many of his best songs. 
I read Drown by Junot Diaz over the weekend as well.  The guy has a way of really getting deep-everything I ever read by him really depresses me.  I liked it quite a bit more than his newest book.  I stayed up late last night trying to finish it.  Next I've got Telegraph Avenue, the new Chabon to read.  Excellent.
Yesterday I made French Dips in the Crockpot and took them over to a Dental school friend's house for dinner.  They turned out real good.  Another friend brought chocolate cheescake that was pretty spectac too.  We played a card game and I think I came out the overall victor?  Natalie won one game and I won the other.
School this week has been great, I got to use my handpiece for the first time and drill on a learn-a-prep.  Also learned all sorts of stuff about Endocrine and the heart.  It's hard to concentrate fully, with Christmas break being so close, but I'll get there.
Tonight we are going to a little mini-TED talk conference and Natalie is speaking for about 7 minutes.  She's going to do great.
I have been listening to Handel's Messiah all day long.
This week for the Criterion pick I watched a movie I had seen a time or two before, "This is Spinal Tap," the 1984 mockumentary comedy directed by Rob Reiner, errr- Marty DiBergi.  I watched an interview with Stephen Colbert once where he was talking about the nature of good satire.  He said something about how the more ridiculous the news is, the less imagination he and his writers need to put it.  The perfect situation for great satire would be if he could just read the stories and presentation verbatim...the set-up would be the punchline.  He also said that the closer the news is to what he is doing, the less you should trust it.  I had that in mind this time when I watched Spinal Tap.  Maybe the reason the film resonates so much through the years is that they didn't have to stretch the truth really all the much-Spinal Tap didn't have to be more ridiculous than your average trend-hopping band that has found some sort of longevity.  Supposedly many musicians upon seeing Spinal Tap didn't find anything funny about it.  Some even thought it was a real documentary, others, (like Van Halen) related it to so much they stated that it could have been a movie about their band.  Several musicians pointed out the scene where Spinal Tap is lost somewhere backstage as something precisely that had happened to them.
I like This is Spinal Tap because it makes you want to take whatever you do so much less seriously.  I think a documentary of most people's lives would show us to all be petty and overly invested in the minute contributions we have to society.  That a fake documentary can make me feel this way is pretty amazing.  Here are a few of my favorite moments:
-Nothing beats the scene where the bass player gets trapped in the pod and gets out at the last minute just to have to get back in.
-I really wanted to hear more of the experimental jazz piece, Jazz Odyssey.
-Is it just me, or is Spinal Tap's Flower Child phase actually pretty good?
-I hope someday I can hear Shark Sandwich in it's entirety.
-I can't believe how strangely the movie is similar to the real documentary "Anvil".  I watched Anvil a couple of years ago and thought it was weird, but there are even more coincidences than I thought.  Particularly how they both end in Japan, being mildly popular.
-I wonder who has that mini-stonehenge model right now?  It's got to be in a museum somewhere.  Or maybe on Rob Reiner's mantle?

1 comment:

sissyneck said...

I've been sitting on Telegraph Avenue for a few weeks now...ostensibly I'm waiting for the winter break to "fully experience it", but I suspect that on some level I'm avoiding the loss of the anticipation of reading it.