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This Must Be The Place

Jordan | Out & About | Thursday, June 30th, 2005

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David Byrne played last night in Central Park to a house of dedicated, wet fans. Ann and I were among them.

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Accompanied by the Tosca Strings he played many songs from his solo albums (highlights:
She Only Sleeps With Me” and “Like Humans Do”) plus some old Talking Heads chestnuts (“Life During Wartime,” “I Zimbra,” “Road To Nowhere” and many others.) I’ve seen Mr. Byrne five times now, and this is the only time that I’ve seen him take rockin’ Neil Young-esque guitar solos. He performed “Psycho Killer” pretty spare, with just the strings beneath him, until he ripped out his axe, so to speak, and the drums kicked in. It was an unexpected moment. Also unexpected was the gorgeous reworking of Jimi Hendrix’s “One Rainy Wish,” the title of which an unpredicted pun.

Lastly, at the end of the show, Byrne and Co. disappeared and a wild collection of New Orleans brass performers took the stage. They were groovy.

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For millions of years, In millions of homes
A man loved a woman, A child it was born
It learned how to hurt and it learned how to cry
Like Humans Do

I’m breathin’ in
I’m breathin’ out
Ohhhhhh!
So slip inside this funky house
Ohhhhhh!

Dishes in the sink
TV’s in repair
Don’t look at the floor
Don’t go up the stairs

I’m achin’
I’m shakin’
I’m breakin’
Like Humans Do

I’m achin’
I’m shakin’
I’m breakin’
Like Humans Do

I work & I sleep & I dance & I’m dead
I’m eatin’, I’m laughin’, I’m loving myself
I never watch TV
except when i’m stoned
Like Humans Do

I’m breathin’ in
I’m breathin’ out
Ohhhhhh!
So slip inside this funky house
Ohhhhhh!

Dishes in the sink
TV’s in repair
Don’t look at the floor
Don’t go up the stairs

I’m achin’
I’m shakin’
I’m breakin’
Like Humans Do

I’m achin’
I’m shakin’
I’m breakin’
Like Humans Do

I’m breathin’ in
I’m breathin’ out
Ohhhhhh!
So slip inside this funky house
Ohhhhhh!

Wiggle while you work
Anybody can
The rain is pouring in
on a woman & a man

I’m achin’
I’m shakin’
I’m breakin’
Like Humans Do
I’m breathin’ in
I’m breathing out
Ohhhhhh!

Outraged at this Outrage of the Outrage

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

This knucklehead writes that smoking guns like the Downing St. Memo (or the revelations in Bob Woodward’s book and Richard Clarke’s testimony to the 9/11 commission. . .but they were over a year ago so you can’t blame people for forgetting them) are a waste of time for the anti-war movement. He couldn’t be more wrong. Even people who support the war on ideological grounds (you know. . .fascists) can not argue down a lie. I’d hate to see this guy’s theories gain traction on the left.

A Frappe On The Wrist

Jordan | E-motions | Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

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Iced Greek Coffee looks soooo tasty on a hot day, and all the Greeks on 30th Avenue look so happy sipping them. While I would never think to patronize one of the hardcore coffee bars near the subway, the Galaxy Cafe on our block is usually empty enough to seem inviting. We had a nice table in the breeze, overlooking the natural beauty and splendor that is Queens. Anyhow, I hadn’t had a cup of coffee since late April, 2002. This is when I began having very nasty reactions to caffeine. For years I wouldn’t even drink Coca-Cola. I started having the occasional Coca-Cola about 9 months ago and so far so good. (I used to get a horrible throbbing in my carotid artery when I drank coffee. The final time I had it, the throbbing lasted three days. I was convinced I was having a stroke and saw my doctor, who told me to switch to decaf.)

Anyway, I drank the frappe and it was soooooo good. But I made sure to drink a lot of water with it. I doubt if this does anything to dilute the caffeine, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. Almost instantly, I felt the effects. While I didn’t get a throbbing in my neck like I used to, I did get really antsy. I started talking really fast and then noticed that my leg was bouncing up and down. As I was talking and waving my arm around, I started saying really idiotic things. Ann gave me an odd look when I said that I wanted to go beat somebody up.

Now it is a few hours later. I’ve calmed down, but my stomach is killing me. My whole abdomen and esophagus is screaming in burning pain. I keep trying to belch, thinking this will make my stomach feel better, but it does nothing; it’s not gas, it is acid. I am debating taking some Tums, but the idea of putting anything into my system makes me want to vomit. And I know that vomiting now would feel like lava erupting out of my throat.

I am, in essence, in hell.

I’m never drinking coffee again.

History of the World: Part One (1981), Mel Brooks, A+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Brooks’ best, one of the funniest films ever. And what a cast! Cameos from Shecky Green, Bea Arthur, Sid Caesar, Henny Youngman, Jackie Mason, Ronnie Graham, Spike Milligan, John Hurt, etc. etc. And this doesn’t include the list of Brooks’ regulars like Madeline Kahn as Empress Nympho. Ms. Kahn’s ability to be daffy, cruel and sexy all at once is an unrivaled comedic triumph; she truly was one of the most gifted performers of the 20th Century. “History of the World” was incredibly ahead of its time — the Spanish Inquisition bit alone has inspired a season’s worth of Simpsons episodes. What Brooks does so well is mix in very complex jokes (eg “The Jig Is Up!”) with dopey old vaudeville schtick you can see coming down Broadway (“These Fifteen. . .oy! Ten, Ten Commandments!”) and some jokes that are just so stupid you have to laugh (“Nothing! I have Nothing for sale!”). This is one to be studied and studied.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Jared Hess, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Ann bought the DVD, so now we can freeze-frame and read all the little signs and posters and stuff in the back of the frame til the cows come home. Indeed, the props and costumes and overall attention to detail is one of the big stars of the show. The other is just Napolean muttering IDIOT! under his breath. How did they know that would be so funny? You look at that in a script and you think, “is this going to be funny?” Somehow, they pulled it off. I’d forgotten many things since seeing this in the theaters — the Happy Hands Club and Rex Quan Do. I wish the movie had more of, um, a plot. . .but it’s hard to dislike it. The “wedding scene” they tagged on once the movie got popular is a disappointment.

Oh My God! Lyndon LaRouche was right!!!!

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

While I have yet to buy into alien space lizard theories, there can be no mistake that it is very difficult to tell Democrat from Republican in certain situations:

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Land of the Dead (2005), George A. Romero, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, June 26th, 2005

Fun to watch with Ann, ’cause she sure likes to jump & scream during scary movies. More of an action-adventure film than a horror film, and similar in tone to Day of the Dead, not the (in my opinion) superior Dawn of the Dead or original Night of the Living Dead. What remains great about Romero’s films, though, is that he works in large themes. While one would never be able to pin down an exact 9/11 parallel, the motifs are there. As are other current issues of the day, like when to respect sentient life and corporate manipulation of fear. Most importantly, there are zombies eating intestines and getting their heads blown off. This picture is a fine way to escape the grueling heat.

No Pride

Jordan | Out & About | Sunday, June 26th, 2005

Ann & I were going to head into Manhattan to check out the Gay Pride parade & then see either the new Werner Herzog doc or the Penguin doc but it was so friggin’ hot that we couldn’t even make it to the subway. I really didn’t feel like hanging around the house, and Ann remembered that there was a Renegade Craft Fair at McCarren Park in Williamsburg. We fired up the LeBaron and drove over. We saw lots of funky T-Shirts (the best was a blue T-Shirt worn by a big guy which read “Site-Specific Installation”) and dolls and handbags and braceletes and ashtrays and totebags and tiny little pins and hats. I wore my Strong Bad “Your Head A Splode” T-Shirt and some people commented on it. We also saw Ann’s friend Kate who makes lovely little note cards and cute stuffed bunnies.

Billy Graham’s KKKrusade

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Sunday, June 26th, 2005

While Mayor Bloomberg and the media jizz themselves over Billy Graham’s rally in Flushing Meadows Park this weekend, let’s take a look at this article from Counterpunch from just a few years ago:

The Rebel Angel

“They Don’t Know How I Really Feel”
Billy Graham, Tangled Up in Tape

By David Vest

Almost thirty years after President Nixon resigned in disgrace, the tapes continue to come out, their power to sully reputations undimmed by time.

Now it is the Rev. Billy Graham who has been made to feel the lash of his own words, secretly taped by the president who sought his spiritual counsel and used him for “cover.”

We knew, long ago, of Nixon’s own anti-Semitism. We heard his voice on the first wave of tapes, wanting to know how his daughters were being deployed in his re-election campaign. When staffers told him they were scheduled to appear at functions in support of the arts, he protested, “No, no, that’s Jews and queers.”

Nixon himself has long since lost the power to shock us, even when we hear him proposing to drop nuclear weapons on Vietnam.

But this conversation with Billy Graham is something else again. Here is the most admired and influential religious leader in America complaining to the president of the United States about the Jews and their “stranglehold” on the media, and blaming them for “all the pornography.”

Even when Nixon replies that he agrees but “can’t say that” in public, Graham presses the point: Yes, right, but if you get elected to a second term, then we could do something about the problem.

Graham adds that while many Jews are friendly to him, “they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.”

Today, Graham claims to have no memory of the conversation, as if to throw ever-so-slight a doubt on whether it actually occurred. Alas, we have the tapes. Advisers (and network news anchors bending over backward to sound respectful) point out that the old evangelist is in his eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, an argument similar to the one used to try to keep war criminals from being brought to trial.

What they might have pointed out instead is that Billy Graham, at a time when he was presenting himself as a moral leader and conducting “Crusades for Christ,” was saying things no person with the slightest claim to moral stature could be imagined saying, under any circumstances.

Given nearly unfettered access to the highest halls of power, the minister used his influence to slander an entire people, to betray the trust of those who had by his own account been good to him, to urge the most powerful person in the world to act vigorously in the service of bigotry.

Closer in time to Dachau than to the present moment, the “preacher to the presidents” counseled the rankest, crudest, most heart-sickening anti-Semitism.

This news is especially painful to people who have revered Billy Graham, seeing him as a class act who operated on a much higher level than the Jerry Falwells, Pat Robertsons and Jimmy Swaggarts who came after him. I recall how some people who loathed and feared Nixon took comfort in the thought that “at least he’s talking to Billy Graham.”

Now that we know what poison he was pouring into the president’s ear, it will be impossible ever to think of him in the same way again. As paranoid as Nixon was, his spiritual advisor sounds even nuttier.

Dr. Graham says that the statements he cannot remember saying do not reflect his real views, and that he apologizes. For what, one wonders. The word “repentance” has been conspicuously absent from news accounts.

The very thought of all the times Billy Graham has “led the nation in prayer” is painful today, and not just to people who never liked him in the first place, who found him hard to take even at his best.

Had he been caught with a hooker, or with his hand in the till, or busted trying to pick up a boy in a bus station washroom, and it had come out only now, we’d probably just feel embarrassment for the old guy. But this goes way deeper. We have all said things we regret, things we’d never want made public. Graham said them to the president of the United States, from a position of privilege, by way of advice.

What must people be feeling who attended his “Crusades” around the time of that phone call, who heard him preach, who poured down out of the stadium seats at his call to conversion, now that they know what was really on his mind?

Dark Habits (1983), Pedro Almodóvar, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, June 26th, 2005

This early Almodóvar film is about a runaway cabaret singer/drug dealer hiding with a convent of odd nuns. One takes LSD and cares for a tiger, another writes dirty novels, another falls in love with the singer, only to have her heart broken. While the story kinda meanders, the sets, costumes, odd characters and overall attitude are enough to keep you involved.

Santa Claus Melon

Jordan | E-motions | Sunday, June 26th, 2005

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Yesterday was the day I first tried Santa Claus Melon. Yum.

From the outside a Santa Claus melon, with its long oval shape and splotchy green-and-yellow skin, looks like a small watermelon. Inside, however, its yellowish-green flesh looks and tastes more like honeydew melon. This member of the muskmelon family grows to about a foot in length, with some specimens weighing as much as 10 pounds. Santa Claus melon, also called Christmas melon, was so named because its peak season is in December. Choose a melon that is slightly soft at the blossom end, heavy for its size and has a yellowish cast to the rind. Avoid those with soft spots or with damaged skin.

Culture Wars Weekend

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Friday, June 24th, 2005

Billy Graham brings his Crusade (yes, he still calls it a Crusade) to New York. . .on Gay Pride weekend! Awesome! I had some Holy Rollers on my bus today handing out postcards and basically ruining my flow. I was sure to point out the Stonewall Inn as we passed by and its relevance to this weekend’s events.

Yes (2005), Sally Potter, D

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, June 24th, 2005

I have enormous respect for Sally Potter. She has made a truly one of a kind film and, especially after hearing her speak at tonight’s screening, it is clear that every frame up there on the screen is her vision. Her vision and my vision, though, don’t really see eye to eye. The gimmick of the film — iambic pentameter — worked for me. The plot? Well, there really isn’t a plot once you get past the impressive verse. Once you realize this, you begin to recognize that the characters are horribly thin, you don’t give a shit about any of them, and some of them (the maid, especially) are disturbingly annoying to watch. Then you determine that the visual style of this film, something you weren’t paying attention to because of the iambic pentameter, is completely overwrought, obviously covering up that there just is no there there. Finally you start checking your watch and — holy shit! It’s only been 40 minutes? Oy!

Grey Gardens (1975), Maysles Bros., Muffie Meyer & Ellen Hovde, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, June 24th, 2005

This is the third time I’ve seen Grey Gardens and each viewing just opens up more questions. What really happened in New York that forced Little Edie back to East Hampton? If Big Edie has such a sharp tongue and is aware enough to give knowing glances to the camera, why does she allow herself to spend her days on a mattress piled neck high with filth dripping a mysterious brown ooze? And what does “The Marble Faun” expect to get from either of them for hanging around the house? Was Tom Logan a previous “Marble Faun?” Could it be that Little Edie has her head screwed on straight after all? And is she a fashion genius as the DVD commentators (and Ann Farrell) would have you believe, or was it just by cosmic coincidence that her upside down skirts and head-towel-shmattes matched at all? I don’t know. We’ll never know. But the film deserves even further study.

Westworld (1973), Michael Crichton, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

This movie came on TCM last night and there was no way I could turn it off. While part of me likes it for the cheesy 70s computers, I must admit that this is far “smarter” a thriller than comes out of Hollywood these days — especially those by Mr. Crichton. While the plot is exactly the same as Crichton’s later “Jurassic Park,” there is a wonderful intratextuality about “playing roles” that is oh so 70s and heavy. The “kill” scenes are right out of Peckinpah because it is all, like, why kill, man? There is definitely a feel to this film (as with another film Crichton directed, but did not write, called “Coma” from 1978 — should the guy haved stayed a director?) Plus you have Richard Benjamin as a hero!! Only in the 70s could a neurasthenic Jew ever be the action hero! The ending is pure chase (is there even any dialogue in the last 40 minutes?) but the set up earns this.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Doug Liman, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

The sexiest thing in this picture is neither Ms. Jolie nor Mr. Pitt, rather extensive photography of 570 Lexington, the old General Electric Building. It’s spire with Thor-like bolts of celestial lightning make a perfect backdrop for the escaping hot spy ninja babes. It is very hard to dislike this movie, despite every attempt from its incredibly asinine script. It’s so very odd, because the dialogue is quite clever and there is a fine attention to detail in the set and costumes and overall use of . . .just the perfect props. But the story makes absolutely no sense. At times I felt that this was part of the charm — that the filmmakers didn’t want us to take the story seriously — but then I would reverse this position, realizing that, no, this is an actual action-adventure film. So, in that regard, it is a miserable failure. But why did I enjoy it so? You go see and tell me. (Side note: how marvelous an art project would it have been to extend the first fifteen minutes to feature length? Jolie and Pitt in gorgeous outfits and a marvelous home not communicating and looking solemn at one another. If only it was in a foreign language, too!)

Searching For Debra Winger (2002), Rosanna Arquette, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

To quote Artie Lange, “Waaaaaah! Waaaaaah!” Anthropologically, this movie is fascinating. Nothing but vox pop of Hollywood actresses whining about their lot in life. 75% of them are the clueless primadonnas you’d think they are, Ms. Arquette included. 25% of the subjects, though, are actually sharp and have something to say. (These women include Whoopi Goldberg, Martha Plimpton and, surprisingly, Jane Fonda.) Anyway, if ever there was a movie that didn’t need to be made, this is it. I still don’t know why I sat through the whole thing.

Tom Cruise May Be An Idiot. . .

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, June 20th, 2005

but the trailer to War of the Worlds looks awesome. I’ll see it, no matter how much he talks about E-Meters being better than medicine.

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