November 17th, 2007

The Shock Doctrine

I was talking to Katherine Dunn on the phone and she told me about this book she was reading called the Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, and it deals with Milton Friedman and the effect of his macroeconomic philosophies, which it relates to the evolution of mental health care from the 1940s. I went to Amazon and it looks fascinating. Among the things Katherine told me about it is that it makes the case that the reason our taxes haven't gone up as a result of the Iraq war is that the war is being financed by loans, 85 percent of them coming from China. It talks about how Friedman's policies were the actual reason for the Tienemen Square protests, how he tutored Pinochet on how to handle Chile before the junta took over the government, and a bunch of other things that flat boggled my mind, including how these policies came into play after Katrina and the SE Asian tsunami. I can't wait to get my copy.

In the meantime, I'm still trying to wrap my head around Richard Kelly's Southland Tales, which I saw last night.

More later....

Showtime at the Apollo


Last night's Spiritualized show, featuring Jason Pierce, a dude on keyboards whose name I don't know, a string section (violins, viola, cello), and a choir, was awesome. J. Spaceman, as he's also known, from his previous incarnation in Spaceman 3, has gradually been incorporating more influences from gospel music, spirituals, and blues in his druggy drone space rock, to mixed effect. I thought Let it Come Down did this brilliantly, while his next release, Amazing Grace, was a lot spottier, though still worth listening to, with some great songs like "She Kissed Me (and it felt like a hit)" and "Lord Let it Rain on Me." Anyway, stripped down to the instruments above, and performed live, those songs and others shined a revelatory light on the music. Basically, Pierce's preoccupations lyrically can be reduced to: 1) drugs, 2) love, 3) heartbreak, 4) God (and/or Jesus). His relationship with all of these topics is a shifting one, marked with irony and, at times, an emo-like raw honesty. And of course he combines them, sometimes over the course of a single song, or suite of songs, because at his best, his music kind of blends together. There were so many highlights last night that it's hard to pick out just one, but I did find a video on youtube of a performance of "Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" from earlier in this tour.



The opening act was a really charming guy named Simple Kid, a Beck-like performer who played his songs on an acoustic guitar while surrounded by laptops and other winking, blinking devices. I was impressed, even when he did a duet with Kermit the Frog--what else? "It's not Easy Being Green" -- hey, the guy's from Ireland! Here he is demonstrating shaving techniques in "Serotonin."



And here he hilariously rips Black Sabbath on this mashup: "Average Man V Paranoid":



And a tip of the hat, or perhaps flip of the finger, to Sir Elton. Sure, an easy target, but it's a good song:



Hey, I like the guy!

Incredibly, the renowned Apollo Theater RAN OUT OF BEER after Simple Kid's act!! And they had 3 tiny bars, each with a single bartender. Unbelievably poor liquor management!  Boo!
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Another road trip



Left to right: Deborah Newton, Marina Bleiler, Paul DiFi, Richard Bleiler.

Here's a memento of an earlier book-buying trip, just sent to me by Messr. Bleiler. If I look more than usually flyaway, it's because I had just enjoyed a late September dip in the Atlantic.

Marina and Richard are newly married. Marina being from Russia, we had to bring her seaside to experience fried seafood Rhode-Island-style.

Posted by Paul DiFi.
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Lesser-known Icons 28


[Click for astonishments]

Before there was Mr. T of the A-Team, there was Mr. T, the Ticonderoga Pencil Man. Just think how easy this costume would be to re-create for Halloween: a black unitard, two strips of masking tape on the chest, and several Devo hats stacked atop each other!

Is the Brazil Nuts guy wearing an Argentinian gaucho outfit?

The fact that two identical Johnnie Plug-Cheks appear together seems to imply that there is a whole cloned army of billions of these guys.

The alarmed look on the face of the woman confronting the beckoning Squibb Toothpaste-Tube Creature surely indicates that he's made a filthy suggestion about where he intends to squirt.

Posted by Paul DiFi.