I’ve been drifting away from Wes Anderson for awhile now. I didn’t like The Darjeeling Limited much at all, and while I didn’t hate Moonrise Kingdom, I didn’t really like it either, which is potentially a worse sign than if I’d actively disliked it. So why did I think The Grand Budapest Hotel was kind of good? Or at least an improvement? It was just as much a soulless doll house as Moonrise Kingdom, and like Moonrise Kingdom it played just as much to Anderson’s weaknesses as to his strengths,but for whatever reason, I found myself enjoying it much more. Maybe it just had a stronger story, or appealed more to my sensibilities.
Anderson is a clever guy, and you can’t help but suspect him of trying to neatly sum up his own work in a line spoken near the film’s end: Zero, the lobby boy-turned proprietor of the hotel, speaking of his mentor, Gustave H, the zealous concierge, says “his world had vanished long before he ever entered it. But I will say he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace.”
This may be so, but sometimes I really wonder if that grace, no matter how marvelous, is going to be enough to sustain Anderson for long.
"I lived in Lexington, Kentucky for twenty years…people in Louisiana seem to like music more than in Kentucky…but that’s a matter of opinion, I guess. Like there ain’t no such thing as the world’s best guitar player or the world’s best-looking girl".—Ol’ Sam, in conversation, literally one second before riding off into the night on his bicycle.
I just finished Peter Guralnick’s Careless Love: The Unmasking of Elvis Presley—in fact, I finished it exactly 37 years to the day that Presley was discovered on the bathroom floor of his home: the book is actually the second half of Guralnick’s two-volume biography. I haven’t read the first part, but this, the second begins in 1960, just after Presley leaves the Army, and is basically already in free fall, surrounded by sycophants, drugged to the gills, deeply bored, and almost insurmountably lonely. Presley’s cage was golden, true, and he’s as much to blame for its construction as anyone, but reading Guralnick’s book, you can’t help but feel for him, as you would for any prisoner.
I’d seen the video above a couple of years ago, and it was one of the first things to make me start to reassess my opinion of Presley, which had basically been the usual criticisms: a sellout, a phony, a drug addict, all the shoddy gauds of Las Vegas rolled into one.
But this video, shot six weeks or so before Presley passed on to elsewhere, is a profoundly moving thing, not quite an invalidation of the worst aspects of Elvis and the choices he made, but nearly so. Guralnick writes of it in his book, calling it a moment of “grotesque transcendence…when at the end he signals…“I got it,” and goes on to complete the song with no help from Charlie or Sherrill Nielsen or any of the other background singers who frequently sustained his notes now in the more difficult passages, the expression on his face, the little-boy sense of relief that he has actually pulled it off, is both entrancing and heartbreaking. And then it is back to the standard finale, the giving out of kisses and scarves and the ritual departure that make up the carefully constructed facade he has built to wall himself off from everything but the approbation of the crowd.”
When I see this performance it I feel like I’m watching a man pushing a very heavy stone to the top of a hill, a stone that’s going, at any moment, to roll back down, but there is, in that one moment, that one moment at what we could call the summit, the moment of relief that Guralnick points out, there is that weightless feeling that lands almost exactly between falling and flight.
Twitter was recently flooded with images by confused shoppers who found Doritos in the refrigerated section at Target, next to ground meat, sour cream, and shredded cheese. Target finally reported that they were promoting a recipe for a “walking taco,” where you crush up the chips, pour in taco toppings, and eat straight from the bag.
While I can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of this post, I will say that it reminds me of something that I ran into on the internet awhile back: I used to frequent this message board,and someone posted something about how horrified they were to see a commercial for Sonic where they were pouring chili over Fritos. More than one person chimed in saying that they had never heard of such a thing, how gross it was, who could ever have thought of that, etc.
Is it just because I’m from Texas, and Frito pie sort of churns through the hearts of all good and true citizens, that I was aghast that none of these people seemed at all familiar with this dish? I’m guessing the answer here is yes, because if you’re from Texas and if people from other parts of the world/country are not intimately familiar with every aspect of your culture, you’re typically pretty horrified.
I will admit I had never heard the term “walking taco” until reading the Wikipedia article on Frito pie. My pals and I joke around that it sounds like cop slang for a prostitute: “This is unit 273, we got a couple of walking tacos on the corner of Milam and Thornhill. Gonna take a look.”
When I was 20 years old, I worked the graveyard shift at a gas station in a little town in East Texas. One night while I was working, I was bagging ice in the rear of the store, and, because I hadn’t locked the door, someone came in without my knowing, went behind the counter, and stole about five hundred dollars that hadn’t been put in the safe yet.
There were no cameras in the store, and, as the clerk on duty, I was—I guess—the most likely suspect. I say “I guess” because as far as I know, the cop that was in charge of the investigation never made any effort to collar anyone but me. This included him pulling up beside my father as he was pumping gas and asking him if I were ready to confess. I wound up taking two polygraph tests—the first was inconclusive, so a second was necessary. I remember sitting in the office opposite this guy, this cop, a guy whose name I’ve forgotten now—was it Martinez? that sounds close—and him asking me “are you into D&D? You seem like you would be.” I passed the polygraph, and left the building, and as far as I know at the time of this writing the real culprit is still roaming the Piney Woods.
I’ve been on sort of a media blackout for awhile now. I’m not sure why, but I’ve paid almost zero attention to news of any kind for maybe a month or two. I might just be too delicate to handle the intensity, or more likely it’s just way easier to back away.
I don’t know what exactly happened to this kid in Missouri, and I don’t know exactly what’s going on right now. I know what it looks like, and what it looks like is a fucking nightmare. I know that the worst thing about the event is that it’s so common that I’ve heard people wonder aloud why this particular shooting, which doesn’t seem to be in any way unique, has caused this much public outcry. I know from my own limited experience with police how unfair and intimidating they can be even toward someone like me, someone who basically sits at the top of the racial food chain, and I know that I have no idea how bad it can really get.
As long as I’m beating up on old hippies: I somehow missed that yesterday was David Crosby’s birthday. Let the whipping commence:
I’ve always held Crosby up as being representative of the absolute worst aspects of the Baby Boomer/60s generation—basically, a bunch of people that, for however brief a moment, had something like a genuine chance to actually change the way the world works, and who instead wound up being more or less carbon copies of their essentially conservative parents, only with superficial “cool” attitudes that only underscore their hypocrisy. People who were happy to do drugs and have promiscuous sex, but when it came down to doing the hard work, they just retreated.
My two favorite Fuck Yous to Crosby are Neil Young’s "Revolution Blues", a vicious song about a Manson-like cult attacking sing-songwriter enclave Laurel Canyon via dunebuggy, a song that Crosby dismissed as being too dark, specifically the song’s concluding line: “I hear that Laurel Canyon is full of famous stars/but I hate them worse than lepers, and I’ll kill them in their cars”, and, secondly, Jackson Browne’s "For Everyman", a song written in direct response to the Crosby Stills & Nash song “Wooden Ships”, about a gang of hippie idealists sailing off into the Grey Havens after a nuclear war. Where “Wooden Ships” is an elitist dream of leaving the cruel world behind, “For Everyman” refutes that entirely: it is democratic at its core—enlightenment is for everyone, Browne says, not just guys with walrus moustaches who’ve got enough money to escape the responsibility of living in the real world.
Hilariously enough, Crosby plays rhythm guitar on “Revolution Blues” and sings harmony on “For Everyman.”
He is 72 years old. He will probably outlive us all. They say evil never dies.
A buddy of mine and I were pretty hammered the other night, drinking beneath the supermoon beside a dried-up lake bed. Because he makes poor decisions, earlier that day he’d bought Skeletons In The Closet, the Grateful Dead best-of, and we were listening to it, sort of. Not even being drunk on possibly years-old Texas Spirit bourbon can make the Dead sound that good. But anyway, we were listening to “Casey Jones”—a studio version of which apparently does not exist on Youtube—a song about an engineer who is “riding that train, high on cocaine.” Granted, this is a fairly awesome subject for a song, but for the fact that “Casey Jones” is possibly the least frantic, coked-up song of all time. “Casey Jones, you better watch your speed,” sing these lazy potheads, all of them sounding on the verge of falling asleep at their instruments. The moral of the story, of course, is this: The Grateful Dead are kinda awful.