Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

I was feeling a little old school, or possibly nostalgic, so I chose some Suzanne Vega to listen to while in the work van today. I went with her Days Of Open Hand album from 1989. It was her third album and the one with her hit, Book of Dreams, on it. The opening salvo of Tired of Sleeping and Men In A War is pure magic: melodic, funky, thoughtful. Later, the stark Predictions mesmerizes with its sharp picked guitar lines and its catalogue of fortune telling methods like an incantation: ‘Let’s tell the future/let’s see how it’s been done’. I like SV a lot, and she continues to bring out interesting albums. I saw her live in 1987 when she was promoting her second album, Solitude Standing (the one with Luka on it), and then in the noughties when she had her excellent Beauty and Crime album out. And when I was deejaying at local radio station 3RRR back in 1986 I played her first album a lot. Some wags joked she was part of the ‘new waif’ movement: kind of New York, folkie songwriter sensibility – usually slender, preferably spiky-haired female. I’m not sure who else was in it (Laurie Anderson?). Maybe it was a movement of one. I loved that album, especially the song Some Journey. I so wanted her to play it at the first concert, but she didn’t. Another great song, Small Blue Thing, always conjures up for me a vivid memory of a dream of a place: it’s a cold night and I’m in some compound like a basketball court with wire fences, and I’m holding onto a…small blue thing (probably a decorative blue pebble). I like how a lot of her songs take things and objects and places and anthropomorphizes them. New York Is a Woman. Ironbound/Fancy Poultry has ‘breasts and thighs and hearts’. One of her latest albums is a tribute to the writer Carson McCullers, who wrote The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (great title). That just feels so right.

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Still on the New York vibe I guess, I stopped home for lunch and happened to catch some scenes from the Woody Allen film, Annie Hall. An old favourite, I know it well. There was the classic ‘sneezing’ scene (you’ll have to watch it to know), and the scene where Annie (played by the amazing Diane Keaton) sings Feels Like Old Times. I love Paul Simon‘s turn here as a slick west-coast music producer, with entourage, enticing Annie to come to a party. The way his wrist goes limp when he says ‘nothing’ is a perfect gesture. Such a pleasure to watch. Was it Simon’s idea, or did Woody suggest it? Great writing, great acting, great film. I spotted a young Jeff Goldblum in it just as I was leaving. The earlier scene where Woody’s character pulls the media theoretician Marshall McLuhan out of a crowd in order to make a point to some hapless schmuck is a classic. ‘If only life was always like this!’ Indeed! My favourite Woody film is Stardust Memories, a couple of films after this one. It’s about a Director going to a retrospective of his own films. So meta (and very hard to find). Just as well I saw it three times during its cinema run back in the day.

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I read some more of the manga Ya Boy Kongming! on mangafire. Eiko befriends a singer who it turns out, surprise surprise, is a member of what will be her rival group for a place in the upcoming mega concert. I’m still liking the manga, and I applaud the mangaka’s attempts at that very Japanese pursuit of eliminating conflict at every turn, but I do wish Kongming would stop quoting The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I’m not a fan. I know it’s probably appropriate considering who Kongming is, but instead of Sun Tzu, I’d rather Lao Tzu.

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