Chicago Blog News
EatChicago has redesigned. SharkForum is a group blog featuring some big shots from the Chicago arts and music scene, including Redmoon's Jim Lasko, New City's Ray Pride and Nicholas Tremulis. And holy crap! Sour Bob is back!
Replay: from time to time we bring back a piece which we feel warrants further attention. This is one such piece. -ed.
Stephen Gaghan, Oscar winner and Louisville, Kentucky native, is a man with more talent and more life experiences than most of the rest of us could ever hope to understand. Louisville has sent forth some fine artists (My Morning Jacket are burning up the pop charts as I write) but only one of them has won an Oscar. The single fact of his success as a storyteller (which is essentially what he is) is that his ability to write and to move people emotionally was forged in the crisis of his drug addiction. And his ability was not destroyed by that addiction. The specter of DOPE and dependency in general hangs heavily over his best works ("Traffic," "Syriana") and his best works are as good as anything American cinema has seen since the glory days of the Ashby-Hopper-Coppola-Altman-Scorsese 1970's. An ex-dope addict, he has suffered for his art in the righteous and classic sense. The Easy Riders and the Raging Bulls have a clear heir in Gaghan. And yet Gaghan himself is less ambitious than he is eager. Eager to write better screenplays, eager to make better films, but with seemingly no ambition to add his name to any sort of pantheon, especially when there is more work to do and more stories to tell.
An incipient Sidney Lumet revival continues to bubble up from the underbelly of the American film community. The resurgence of films about police corruption, along with the recent rereleases of "Network" and "Dog Day Afternoon" herald a renewed appreciation for the 1970's master's works. Like "16 Blocks," Spike Lee's "Inside Man" draws heavily from a Lumet piece; in this case it's "Dog Day Afternoon" with a significant twist.
By the time May rolled around I had a large body of work together, and I was ready for attention. None developed. My trips to the AIC that summer involved, for the most part, staring at a small Van Gogh self portrait. I would drill into those eyes with everything I had. Nothing answered back, in a very deep voice. The painting was radiant. I was sullen.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
MORE FILMS ABOUT BUILDINGS AND ARCHITECTURE
Over at Movie City Indie, Ray Pride posts all manner of thoughts and links regarding contemporary cinema. But over at Shark Forum, the Chicaco artists online group, he posts more personal stuff that might not make the general-interest cut of his other sites.
I still remember the day that I really started working with found objects. I had collected them before, converting them to bookends and paperweights, but I had never really crawled inside their meaning or potential. I remember the day because it was April 15th, and I got off the O’Hare train at the Wicker Park station. The walk from the Damen, North, Milwaukee intersection to the studio at Cortland and Mendel is about a mile and a half, and it was a beautiful day. I’d gotten off work early in order to get my tax return in the mail at the Post Office downtown. In those days the downtown station was still housed in the hulking WPA era building which straddles Congress and the Eisenhower Expressway. I walked down Jackson to the subway and got on the O’Hare train. It probably would have been easier to take the Howard up to Armitage, but that train would have let me out in Lincoln Park, and I really don’t like it there.
Having been invited to join the sharkforum I find myself suddenly bereft of imagination. I might have hoped for a bigger story just coming out of the chute; something with more splash and impact. But it’s the little things that count, as Sergio says, and that sounds good enough. I’m happy the little red Uno has found a home with a friendly young man and dog.
Jack Fish by J. Milligan
pub. by Soho Press, 220 pp., $10.00
Another book about water in the midst of a trend which seems to be something to which all of us should probably pay attention.
It was mid March when I met Melanie. She was standing in front of me, waiting in line at Joe’s Fish House. She caught me looking at her, and she smiled as we made eye contact.
“Hi.” I said.
“Hi back.” She said.
My first concert experience ever was Frank Zappa with Captain Beefheart at the International Amphitheater in Chicago in 1975. Row Forty on the floor. The amphitheater was originally used for livestock shows. Our dog raced there once. I was ecstatic. Zappa was previewing the upcoming Apostrophe record (remember Yellow Snow?). Luckily, there was the Bongo Fury live record to document that tour because the sound was atrocious. I’m pretty sure that was Zappa on the stage. The guy next to me (I didn’t know him) passed out with his head on my shoulder. The air smelled funny.
A Meditation On The Enduring Importance of "Nashville"upon the Occasion of Robert Altman's Lifetime Achievment Oscar (part I)
My friend Tim Welch (one of the best American drummers of the last 20 years) makes the claim that Robert Altman's "Nashville" is the finest American movie ever made. I believe he is correct. When he first expressed this opinion I admit I considered it another blustery partial truth typical of a percussionist. "Better than "Citizen Kane?" I asked, better than "The Godfather" or "Bonnie and Clyde" or "North by Northwest" or "The Bride of Frankenstein"?
So that’s that. We took over a sub lease on a 3,000 square foot warehouse space in The Belly. That’s right, the building had a name. Moving in was easy, because we had nothing. Two days after the October fire we signed the sub lease and drove over to Handy Andy to buy wood for our new benches. Roger picked me up at work. He was dressed like a lawyer. We collected two by fours and plywood, gathering up drywall screws along the way. Roger stopped in the tool paddock and picked up a cordless drill and a worm drive circular saw. He didn’t even look at the prices.
The other night a bunch of middle-aged musicians were sitting around drinking scotch and telling road (war) stories from their touring days. Here's mine:
We were lost and late for the sound check. There were four of us crammed into the van with all our equipment, driving around Virginia looking for the nightclub, when we pulled into a gas station to get directions. The woman at the cash register, a forty year old bottle blonde with Kool-Aid orange lipstick, insect green eyeliner and low-tar cigarette dangling from her lips clapped her hands together and said, “Okay, listen up boys ‘cause I’m only gonna tell you once! You pull outta here, hang a U-turn and take a right at the first traffic light. You go two more lights and take another right. You go down this hill and the road just keeps winding down and around and around. It’s like you’re goin’ through this tunnel and the trees have these long branches that hang down just like arms trying to grab you. But you just keep goin’ down and around and just when you think you’re lost, you’re not! You just pop out the Devil’s asshole and there you are!”
(Sharkforum's own John Kruth has played with more famous and brilliant musicians than you can shake a stick at. Lately he's been working with Peter Stampfel. Following is a review of their show last week with John Hammond - ed.)
Somehow suppressing my inner old-fart, which was telling me "stay home---it's a school night" I went out to see Peter and John at MAKOR (which I still don't know how to pronounce).
An old saying goes like this:
"What you don't know can't hurt you."
Another favorite amongst artists and pseudo-intellectuals goes something like this:
"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."
Lately the news has me wondering.
Now you can participate in the (re)writing of history. Chicago Living Arts has created Chicago Wiki Arts: A Collaborative Site for Writing on Chicago Culture.