Live At The Village Vanguard

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

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Max Gordon’s memoirs of running the Village Vanguard from 1935 to 1980, when the book was written and the joint was still standing, is a fun, breezy, name-drop heavy read. His descriptions of the MacDougal St. scene in the 30s are fantastic — even back then hardcore Villagers were complaining that the neighborhood wasn’t what it used to be. The Vanguard started out as a poetry club, then a folk club (Leadbelly played race music!), then a comedy/review club (introducing the world to Judy Holliday and Comden & Green; later Woody Allen), then, finally, the legendary jazz club it is today. Through it all Max Gordon, try as he might to persuade you that he has a fondness for art (and, somewhere, he does) his true passion was this: the ringing of the cash registers. The hondler of all times this Max Gordon is. And with what glee does he tell you at such a price he can book a Harry Belafonte, a Dinah Washington, a Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Anyway, it’s a great little book you can finish in a couple of subway rides — there are some nice little anecdotes about Lenny Bruce and Charles Mingus and Miles that sound too good to be true.

I Guess This Is Good News

Jordan | No News Is Good News | Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

I can neither access the Red Cross’ website or get through on the phone. CNN said they’ve raised $21 million in two days, beating the previous record (the Tsunami). But they need more dough. It’s a friggin’ mess down there, as you don’t need me to tell you. Of course, the Federal Gov’t would have a lot more dough — and National Guard — to send down their to help if we weren’t stealing oil in Iraq. . . but that’s another story. (Also — did I hear Bush right? Did he say something about the EPA waiving certain restrictions of oil refineries to keep the cost of gas down? Dude, we already have the cheapest gas in the world — isn’t global warming fucking up the Earth enough? Can’t we have expensive gas for a few months? Would it be so bad to take the fucking bus?)

¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!! (1984), Pedro Almodóvar, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Perhaps Almodovar’s most gleefully depraved film, “What Have I Done To Deserve This” gives a few weeks in the life of a speed-addict housekeeper with a Nazi-sympathizing husband; a drug-dealing, check-forging son; another son on the receiving end of a NAMBLA relationship; a mother-in-law who collects lizards, eats cupcakes and yearns to leave Madrid; a prostitute neighbor and another neighbor with a telekenetic daughter. And they’re all very lovable! And the wallpaper — Ay Dios Mio!

The Brother From Another Planet (1984), John Sayles, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, August 29th, 2005

One of my favorite New York City films — imagine a cross between The Man Who Fell To Earth and Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Asssss Song. John Sayles is incapable of writing an uninteresting character or trite exchange of dialogue. He just can’t do it. One of the all time indie classics.

Airport ’77 (1977), Jerry Jameson, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, August 29th, 2005

Now I’ve seen “Airport ’77.” (Yes, this is the one where they sink in the Bermuda Triangle.)

All Queens Weekend: Sunday

Jordan | Out & About | Monday, August 29th, 2005

Ann & I were invited to the Bohemian Beer Garden by Denise & Chris.

Chris mugs (or is it muggs?) as shenanigans surround him.

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John eats a pickled tomato (from Guss’) as Amy whips out some travel Scrabble.

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Shappy eats a pickled tomato.

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Shappy plants one on Cristin.

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Hoffman plants one on Ann.

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As the sun went down we stopped by Cristin and Shappy’s, ostensibly to pick up Kerry’s copy of the Airport Tetralogy. But what we found was so much more:

The VHS tapes include The Blob, Phantasm, Tootsie & The Brady Bunch. The red plastic device is, indeed, an 8-Track player.

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And here are the 8-Track tapes.

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Shappy, in Beneath The Planet of the Apes T-Shirt, shows off Darth Vader Slurpee cup.

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This is just the tip of the iceberg of the Pez Dispenser collection.

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Cristin holds a Borg cup holder in her left hand, a Twinkie the Kid “Twinkie” holder in her right.

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Icee Bear.

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Note Captain Caveman on the top right. To the left of him, Grimace.

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Note the New Kids on the Block piece on the bottom right.

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He-Man always uses a napkin.

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Note how the Star Trek triumvirate mirrors Homer’s three college roomates. This is, again, just a glimpse into how much care Shappy takes with his collection.

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The Meteor Man. No one remembers the Meteor Man.

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Tron, Duke from Doonesbury, NKOTB and a comic book featuring the mysteries of Birds Eye products — all together at last.

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You are looking at the Wailing Wall. Only the most obscure comics are featured here. The Life and Times of John Paul II. Jimmy Olsen meets Don Rickles. Donald Duck Splits the Atom. Some of these are worth a boatload if untouched — but Shappy is more realistic. “I take really good care of ‘em, but I’m still gonna’ read ‘em.”

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This is me in a Darth Vader mask that “changes your voice” to sound like James Earl Jones. I’m also holding a lightsaber that went “wooooomp” when you moved it.

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Shappy holds a pillow with Geraldine on one side and Flip Wilson on the other.

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Airport 1975 (1974), Jack Smight, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, August 29th, 2005

Now I’ve seen “Airport 1975.” (Yes, this is the one with Karen Black.)

All Queens Weekend: Saturday

Jordan | Out & About | Sunday, August 28th, 2005

Saturday Ann & I finally made it to PS1′s Greater New York Show. And, yes, it is as fantastic as everyone says it is. HOWEVER, I would like to use this space to publically refute the claims of two individuals — namely Denise Stockman and Dr. Jurgen Fauth who both (independently) claimed that it was impossible to “do the whole show” in one day. I say, “Pah!”

We got there early, saw half, split for lunch, then came back.

PS1 is very dogmatic about taking photos, so I have very few. (Ah, the changes at PS1!!!! Like so much in life, it isn’t black and white. Sure, I’m miffed by shills from Nokia and Target handing out promotional junk — but then again, PS1 has air conditioning now!!!!!)

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The Greater New York Show has miles and miles of fantastic art. (And some pieces which blow, too, I’ll be fair.) Of the 160 artists whose work was on display, the work that really blew me away (should they be googling themselves) was by:

(First Floor)
Amy Cutler
Michelle Segre
Yuken Teruya
Oliver Michaels (this was actually the coolest thing there. . . the “train” video.)
Kent Henrickson
Corey McCorkle
Andrzej Zielinski
Peter Caine

(Second Floor)
Kate Gilmore
Torbin Giehler
Dominic McGill
Rico Gaston

(Third Floor)
Justin Faunce
Pawel Wojtasik
Jonathan Herder
Aida Millett

(Basement)
Will Ryman

I only called BULLSHIT! three times during this massive exhibit. This was in the presence of the pretentious, offensive, lazy “work” of:

Carol Bove
Christian Jankowski
Laurel Nakadate

After the art, we were bombarded by MTV Beach Party.

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I was particularly tickled by the Moby-esque man in black.

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. . . .Later that night we heard music from outside. Just a half block away was the San Rocco, um, “Festival.” This consisted of a plastic Jesus with Indian restaurant lights on it, a bunch of fold-out lunch tables with old people drinking coffee and listening to a man sing Andrea Bocelli arias on a karaoke machine. When the raffle numbers were called out, none of the winners were there. (Timmy S!?! Where’s Timmy S., for his hundret dollahs?) Oddly, there were six cops in uniform hanging out “keeping the peace.”

After this, we ducked into the Irish Rover to hear the cover band. They did the best bar band version of “The Boys of Summer” you are likely to hear.

E-Ching

Jordan | E-motions | Saturday, August 27th, 2005

This Electronic I-Ching is easier to use than grains of rice or yarrow stalks (although if you have an actual, yellowing copy of the Book of Changes from the hardcore groovy man I dig your vibe mid 1960s like I do, there is no substitute.)

The Best Melon of the Season

Jordan | E-motions | Saturday, August 27th, 2005

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I know Krusty the Klown refers to Honeydew and “The Money Melon,” but when you get an awesome cantaloupe it, too, is a glorious thing. The cantaloupes at the United Brothers Fruit Market on 30th Ave are currently at their peak, like spheres of exploding juicyness — little bombs of sweetness. Call Don Rumsfeld — we finally found the WMD — if by WMD we mean Weapon of Mass Deliciousness!!

Cradle Will Rock (1999), Tim Robbins, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Saturday, August 27th, 2005

Odd that it took me this long to see this, a minor epic concerning the nexus of power and art during the apogee of the 30s labor movement. Perhaps I am inflating my grade because I am particularly fascinated with Italian Futurists, the young Orson Welles and the WPA, but this is a very enjoyable film with a dynamite cast. John Cusack as a young Nelson Rockefeller and John Turturro as the young actor in the Mother of All Barton Fink-feeling scripts are particular standouts. Hats off to the great Fellow Traveller Tim Robbins for making one of the most coherent Robert Altman films of our time.

Concrete Island

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Friday, August 26th, 2005

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JG Ballard’s novel “Concrete Island” is, in my opnion, a piece of nonsense. I only finished it because it was short and because it was the only reading material I had at work with me on two very slow days.

Heart of Glass (1976), Werner Herzog, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, August 26th, 2005

Sigh. I so respect Herzog and I am amazed at this film. But I am also not going to lie to you: it is just too damned slow and too difficult to follow for my tastes. The story behind the film, and the reason for renting it yourself if you are daring, is that Herzog had his cast under hypnosis while filming. The acting technique is therefore, um, very stylized. Everyone moves and speaks in a fluid manner, a little bit off in outer space, but not as over-the-top as you might think. Movements are unpredictable, as are emotional outbursts. But a lot of the time people just stand there like a zombie. And everyone is slow. S-L-O-W. The haunting music by Popul Vuh: Slow. The majestic Bavarian mountain footage: Slow. The glass blowing sequences: Fascinating, but slow. I’m glad I saw this; I don’t want to see it again. (Nota bene — perhaps this movie rocks in an altered state? After all, it literally was performed by people in an altered state!)

West Side Story (1961), Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Friday, August 26th, 2005

ACTION
Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,
You gotta understand,
It’s just our bringin’ up-ke
That gets us out of hand.
Our mothers all are junkies,
Our fathers all are drunks.
Golly Moses, natcherly we’re punks!

ACTION AND JETS
Gee, Officer Krupke, we’re very upset;
We never had the love that ev’ry child oughta get.
We ain’t no delinquents,
We’re misunderstood.
Deep down inside us there is good!

ACTION
There is good!

ALL
There is good, there is good,
There is untapped good!
Like inside, the worst of us is good!

SNOWBOY: (Spoken) That’s a touchin’ good story.

ACTION: (Spoken) Lemme tell it to the world!

SNOWBOY: Just tell it to the judge.

ACTION
Dear kindly Judge, your Honor,
My parents treat me rough.
With all their marijuana,
They won’t give me a puff.
They didn’t wanna have me,
But somehow I was had.
Leapin’ lizards! That’s why I’m so bad!

DIESEL: (As Judge) Right!

Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;
This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!
It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
He’s psychologic’ly disturbed!

ACTION
I’m disturbed!

JETS
We’re disturbed, we’re disturbed,
We’re the most disturbed,
Like we’re psychologic’ly disturbed.

DIESEL: (Spoken, as Judge) In the opinion on this court, this child is depraved on account he ain’t had a normal home.

ACTION: (Spoken) Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.

DIESEL: So take him to a headshrinker.

ACTION (Sings)
My father is a bastard,
My ma’s an S.O.B.
My grandpa’s always plastered,
My grandma pushes tea.
My sister wears a mustache,
My brother wears a dress.
Goodness gracious, that’s why I’m a mess!

A-RAB: (As Psychiatrist) Yes!
Officer Krupke, you’re really a slob.
This boy don’t need a doctor, just a good honest job.
Society’s played him a terrible trick,
And sociologic’ly he’s sick!

ACTION
I am sick!

ALL
We are sick, we are sick,
We are sick, sick, sick,
Like we’re sociologically sick!

A-RAB: In my opinion, this child don’t need to have his head shrunk at all. Juvenile delinquency is purely a social disease!

ACTION: Hey, I got a social disease!

A-RAB: So take him to a social worker!

ACTION
Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn a buck.
Like be a soda jerker,
Which means like be a schumck.
It’s not I’m anti-social,
I’m only anti-work.
Gloryosky! That’s why I’m a jerk!

BABY JOHN: (As Female Social Worker)
Eek!
Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again.
This boy don’t need a job, he needs a year in the pen.
It ain’t just a question of misunderstood;
Deep down inside him, he’s no good!

ACTION
I’m no good!

ALL
We’re no good, we’re no good!
We’re no earthly good,
Like the best of us is no damn good!

DIESEL (As Judge)
The trouble is he’s crazy.

A-RAB (As Psychiatrist)
The trouble is he drinks.

BABY JOHN (As Female Social Worker)
The trouble is he’s lazy.

DIESEL
The trouble is he stinks.

A-RAB
The trouble is he’s growing.

BABY JOHN
The trouble is he’s grown.

ALL
Krupke, we got troubles of our own!

Gee, Officer Krupke,
We’re down on our knees,
‘Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease.
Gee, Officer Krupke,
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Krupke,
Krup you!

Beep-Beeep-Beep

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Friday, August 26th, 2005

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Paul Dickson’s book about Sputnik is a groovy read if you are into the politics and psychology of the Cold War. The sections on rocket science and radio waves are, thankfully, short. We need a guy in the spotlight like Dr. Werner von Braun again, just to keep things interesting. Good book, and makes that Donald Fagen song make a little bit more sense.

I, Scorecard

Jordan | E-motions | Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

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Julio-Claudian family trees here, here and here.

I, StayVpLateivs

Jordan | E-motions | Monday, August 22nd, 2005

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Much like Spock returning to his home planet to spawn, every now and again I am seized by an uncontrollable urge to watch all 13 hours of the BBC/PBS series “I, Clavdivs.” I’ve seen in three times before, I’ve written a mammoth paper about it in school and I’ve read two Robert Graves novels upon which the series is based (although, oddly, I can only find the second, “Claudius The God,” here at the house.” Anyway, I was up late watching the first two episodes (Marsellus and Drusus have already been whacked) and I’m about to fire up episode three. For those of you who’d like to play along, you can click on this link to hear the opening/closing theme — second only to “Good Times” as the greatest TV theme in history. For the Senate and the People of Rome!!!

American Dream (1991), Barbara Kopple, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, August 21st, 2005

A sickening horror film where no matter what the good guys do, there is doom down every corridor. Sadly, it is a documentary about organized labor in the mid-1980s. If you have the stomach for it, you can watch this film and see honest workers get royally reamed by the Man over and over again. First by the Company (in this case, Hormel — Boycott Spam!), then their well-meaning local, then the I-told-you-so National union, then the Company again, the media, the Reagan administration. . . It is a round-robin of ass fucking that will make you want to either blow your brains out, sing the Internationale or give up and join the GOP. Your stomach will really turn as weeping grown men who can’t feed their families fall one by one and cross their own picket line — a picket line that has no support from anyone (except Bruce Springsteen) because it didn’t follow procedure. Do you stand on the side of Solidarity, even if your local is run by idiots? I dunno. . .I need a Maalox.

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