the last week—since finishing my UCLA coursework—I’ve been sick with a cold. Hence not doing much other than reading novels: Molloy, This Side of Paradise, Pal Joey, Utz, The Immoralist, Malone Dies, Madame Bovary, An Unsuitable Attachment, The Unnamable, Castle Rackrent, Ennui, The Pat Hobby Stories, Wittgenstein's Nephew, ... and just started The Adventures of Augie March.
The image is the fantastic--that's the only word for it--library at Trinity, in Dublin.
OK, I'm stunned. Thinking of Tristan Tzara, almost a century ago:
took an oath of friendship on the new transmutation that signifies nothing, and
was the most formidable protest, the most intense armed affirmation of
salvation liberty blasphemy mass combat speed prayer tranquility private
guerilla negation and chocolate of the desperate.
L.A. Opera’s ad campaign focused on Peruvian heartthrob Juan Diego
Flórez (the Count Almaviva), but my favorite was Bruno Praticó, who played
Doctor Bartolo as if he were an assemblage of grunts, weazes, hypersensitive
complaints and self-absorbed miscommunications, i.e. Little Sid. He even walked a runty mutt on stage (above).
staging was graceful and attractive, though there was a bit too much of a good
thing in the way the people of Seville tended to break into flamenco spins ad
lib. The quieter moves were funnier: Figaro and Rosina (Nathan Gunn and Joyce
Di Donato) extracted laughs from kicking their legs off the beat.
totally dug the weird, raspy, tinny sound of the fortepiano.
Another terrific show. This has been a good season. Naturally they are broke now, and just had to get a $14 million loan from the county to keep the doors open.
was completely unprepared. I was expecting to watch a couple dozen people
recite the Pledge of Allegiance in a post office. The actual 8:00 a.m.
event in a Montebello country club ballroom was more like a rock concert,
complete with chaotic $15 parking. 871 people were taking the oath, and almost
everybody had family and friends. The ballroom was packed to the rafters.
cheerful old judge forgot to turn on his microphone, rendering his frail voice
completely inaudible during the hard part of the oath, when everyone is required to
and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign
prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore
been a subject or citizen
wasn’t much help for the people in the crowd who might have appreciated some
help with the 18th century diction.
crowd was literally from everywhere, just as in the stories. It was moving
(everybody crying) and also festive (everybody cheering and applauding).
was terrific. The silly exoticism of the drama and ceremonious manners (every
speech is repeated a dozen times) would seem to authorize campy levity, but
this production took its cue from Handel’s music, and presented a clear and
steady path into darkness. David Zinn’s scenery and costumes placed the action
in a menacingly swanky Fascist headquarters circa 1935, with
Tamerlano/Mussolini (Bejun Metha singing the impossible falsetto filigree)
holding P.O.W.s Bajazet (Plácido Domingo) and his daughter Asteria (Sarah
Coburn) as hostages. Jennifer Holloway as the scheming Irene provided a comic relief.
The principals were not only expert musicians, but perfectly cast. And PD was
terrific in the scene when he is thrown on the ground for his daughter to step
on, and in a terrifically moving death scene.
guess all this is a demonstration of the kind of production you can put on when you feel like pulling off a star turn and you’re Plácido Domingo in addition to being the General Director of the company. Well, good for him and lucky for us. A
century and a half ago the actor/manager-run theatrical company was the norm,
and Shaw and every other serious critic ridiculed it as a playgroud for ego
trips. Perhaps, but it obviously also has its advantages.
Saturday after Thanksgiving I had to crash through the insanity of the
Hollywood Christmas Parade, of all things, to get to a screening of Los
Angeles Plays Itself,
Thom Andersen’s 2003 video essay. Almost three hours of glimpses of Los Angeles
from Hollywood movies, with commentary.
Research. Chinatown, Blade Runner and L.A. Confidential go without saying. Likewise
and Kiss Me Deadly.
An Angelino academic would be expected to know about Bush Mama,
Model Shop, Bless their Little Hearts, Man Outside. But Andersen doesn’t stop
there; he not only discovers but finds interesting and relevant material in
antique gay porn—L.A. Plays Itself—and in trash like The Howling II: Your Sister
is a Werewolf,
and Death Wish 4!
Script. The analysis is
Zhdanovism for Dummies, “Los Angeles” being a synecdoche for the “working
class,” whose absence from a film, or negative representation = unreality,
self-hatred, mystification, delusion, … etc. Now and then the narrator
interrupts the flow of correctness with a “personal” confession of affection
for something politically beyond the pale (he compares Dragnet to Bresson and
some of the specific case studies are winning. In the first section, City as
Background, there is a wonderful anthology of how L.A.’s modernist houses
always seem to be used as the lairs of unspeakably creepy villains, from
Wright’s Ennis house (House on Haunted Hill) to the Neutra’s Lovell house (L.A.
Confidential). The one exception seems to be Koenig’s Stahl house, which
usually figures as the home of a likeable protagonist, but where bad things
Visuals. The video's ugliness is so
extreme it’s polemical. Some of the old movie clips look like they have been
faxed in. The clips are treated as illustrations of the thesis, not as
artifacts that might have their own qualities. The visual nuances are treated
as irrelevant. Curious, for a film about seeing.