Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Revival Show



One does not conjure a pop Shangri-La of brand-new pasts through the trance of reading fresh broadsheet comics alone -- cueing or loading the incantation of endlessly-hip ear-candy helps hold the spell too. The soundtrack to my second childhood is supplied by The Tall Pines, those pioneering, preservationist genre-splicers of glam groove and country stomp, by way of West Virginia and Calgary to the concrete frontier -- asphalt-kickers, if you will. They burned down the Lower East Side’s Bowery Electric club last night; even for this bunch, it was an uncommonly high-spirited and hell-hounded show. They’ve been re-baptizing themselves in the sacred soundwaves of Nashville and Memphis on a recent tour there, and could’ve laid on hands and made the lame tap their feet if they’d wanted to.


This is a band with the creative bravery and assured instincts to open a set with four new songs, fitting here for a concert-full of favorites it felt like I was hearing the first time. Especially after “Take Me” a few songs in, they kicked up into some Opryland blacklight-poster nirvana and didn’t come down again, the call-and-response fallen-angel chorus between lead singer Connie Lynn Petruk and keyboardist/vocalist Katia Floreska reaching notably unheard-of heights. The Tall Pines are the band taped to the inside of my astral highschool locker door. Tune in their MySpace page at www.myspace.com/thetallpines -- you haven’t lived twice until you do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Slush Pile Funnies #5: The Happiness of Wonder Toe!

Over at Slush Pile Funnies, I've posted up another unfortunate comic idea called "The Happiness of Wonder Toe!" See what I mean when I say, "Happy wonder of the foot wisdom!"

Cowboy Mouth



The mythic West takes interesting forms whenever there’s a new sheriff in town. The past we think we remember morphs based on how we see ourselves in the present. During the return to cowboy diplomacy in the W years, the man from Crawford came to town as a caricatured local official in the Marvel miniseries that revealed the Rawhide Kid as the fiercest gun in the West, subverting the toughguy ideal two years before Brokeback Mountain. There were howls of protest from certain parts, though the whole thing was stylishly euphemized in one of the series’ few nods to period flavor (both old-West and neo-neocon) unvarnished with witty anachronism. The gay Kid laid low for a spell, but with that new bunch out to the Capitol spread fixin’ to both ask and tell, he’s back, more anachronistic and less euphemized than ever, in the Rawhide Kid: The Sensational Seven mini, by brilliant returning comedy writer Ron Zimmerman and mythic toughguy artist Howard Chaykin.

You won’t find a comic whose humor is quicker on the draw or whose true spirit is more peaceable, and you won’t find a funnier play, should you be blowin’ through Brooklyn anytime soon, than Hack! by Crystal Skillman. Subtitled “An I.T. Spaghetti Western” and held over twice like a gunfighter who can’t go anywhere without getting challenged again, it may make its last stand on June 27, and you don’t wanna be hiding under the bar when it does. That’s for the cast, actually; the whole thing is presented in living-puppetshow mode, with a black-box, waist-high wall that allows hilarious no-tech fadeouts and jumpcuts as the players pop up from behind it or sink in studied slo-mo under it.

 

As the reckless goldrushes of the tech and subprime bubble eras recede in history like the false fronts of Dodge, Hack! tells the story of computer-jockeys mixed up in a great hedge-fund robbery, on a mystic mission to double-cross and multiple-cross each other to either win it all or just get back their souls. And with civilizing humor, the play tames our modern frontier and our overextended horizon -- to a held-up score of Ennio Morricone classics, the cast of would-be ninja nerds and Eastwood-miming risk-junkies cycles through a series of online fake identities and live roleplay masks, but as the finale confirms and the Kid coulda told ya a century and a half ago, no one has to watch their back when we can all just be ourselves.

 

[Catch the next stage here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsSv3l7sYf8]

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unforgiven

(Posted in “Summer blockbusters: superhero, supermodel” and “Raj, Big

Bang Theory”)

 

It’s tragic when a hate affair ends. Like every red-blooded American

boy, I took dad to see Sex and the City 2 for Father’s Day (his

choice, my hand to god). As an epicure of bad film, I went expecting

the kind of jaw-dropping commodity delirium and self-executing

celebrity narcissism that reassures my faith that you’ve never seen it

all (and I knew I hadn’t seen it with Sex and the City 1 --

http://blog.comiccritique.com/?p=7 -- ’cuz the numbers keep going up).

 

And at the outset, it was promising: a lot more of the trademark

glam-schizophrenia shots with minor-celeb Carrie and her wholly

unfamous friends marching around like the planet is their runway;

lotta delusional Busby Dior affluence; and an opening setpiece at two

other friends’ gay wedding where the entertainment is Liza Minnelli

doing a ghastly cover of “Put a Ring on It” (whatever the price of the

real Beyonce’s dignity is, apparently the filmmakers did not meet

it). Then the shock set in…it really wasn’t all that bad.

 

Yes, for every one or two brilliant fellatio jokes and wry insights of

social-fringe satire there’s still seven lame juvenile puns and jags

of desperate writers’-room tragic hipness. And yes, when the girls

decamp to Abu Dhabi for a calgon-take-me-away vacay there’s a

nightclub-karaoke rendition of “I Am Woman” by the four postmodern

Barbies in the cradle of purdah that boogied right past the

post-murder frolic in teenpop heaven from Lovely Bones and the

jazz-dance alien-possession scene in Spider-Man 3 on my personal list

of the all-time most tasteless musical showstoppers. And okay,

there’s a decidedly mixed goody-bag of collector cameos, from Liza

(appalling) to Tim Gunn (hilarious) to Miley Cyrus (also appalling,

but it sets up the Tim Gunn one) to Penelope Cruz (ah, Penelope…um,

what were we talking about?).

 

But just as even Sarah Jessica herself has confided to interviewers

that she’s running an internal narrative in which the four fairytale

friends are a figment of Carrie’s imagination, the crumbling economy

has caused cracks to form in the franchise’s rich-and-famous sim.

There are nods to real-life tough times throughout, including several

unsentimentalized encounters with workin’ serfs of the global

plantation economy in the midst of the mega-resort locale. There’s a

great scene where Miranda and Charlotte have to get each other drunk

to admit what a crock idealized motherhood is (though I still saw it

as a missed opportunity for an arbitrary Ayelet Waldman cameo). And

karaoke counter-insurgency notwithstanding, there’s a lot of

relatively sure-footed culture-clash humor that sends a notably

good-natured post-9/11 message that the West and Middle East are gonna

have to effin’ get used to each other.

 

At least one internet wag has reviewed this as a horror movie, and I

admit that the major plotline of a crazed Samantha popping a portable

pharmacy of quack menopause remedies put me in mind of a reverse Larry

Talbot trying to turn back into the Wolfman. But the gag is genuinely

and dependably funny, damn them. It’s just one of many things I can’t

forgive the franchise for. ’Cuz this inexorable sequel reminds me that

those numbers go in one direction, and not only are none of us

getting younger, but there’s not necessarily any point past which we

can escape growing up.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Slush Pile Funnies

For the last little while I've been squirreling away some work on a site called Slush Pile Funnies. It's a new website dedicated to illuminating some of my worst comic book ideas into graphic novel pitches of various degrees of completion. Here's a blurb from the About page:
Every artist has ideas that we reject. We call them ‘bad ideas’ for any number of reasons and choose to focus our efforts on the ‘good ideas’. What if we did the opposite? What if we forced ourselves to entertain these denizens of our cerebral Salon des Refus├ęs? How would you develop them and what form would they take? Would you still think they were ‘bad’ when you were finished? Can this mental base matter be transmuted into some kind of gold? If so, would you still believe in the existence of ‘bad’ ideas? Maybe the ultimate question is, “are there any bad ideas for art?” I don’t know but these questions are certainly a good place to start and they are the genesis of Slush Pile Funnies!
So there you have it. Go take a look and if you're so inclined, please leave a comment.

Opening at ArtLexis this Saturday


ArtLexis (Blurred Books' gallery space in Dumbo) is having an opening this Saturday for a group show of artists from Montreal. Drop by if in the hood! Details here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

new post on Next Issue!



Hey! Pood lovers! Now that I'm out of school for the summer, Kevin and I started chatting aesthetics again and ---voila! A new Next Issue! Post--soon to be followed by a repsonse from the ol'Mutchster himself! So dig in! Read! Comment! Make Fun!--
here's a brief taste"

"What's all this hullabaloo about comics and photo-referencing? Cop
ying photos, tracing photos, deriving inspiration from photos is as American as apple pie. Any look around the larger art world, from galleries to museums to the local library flower show will tell you that photography is central to contemporary art practices and has been since at least Manet. Not only as a source of imagery--which it obviously is---but as Walter Benjamin, John Berger and Susan Sontag(among many others) have observed--as a "way of seeing", a point of reference by which we frame our experience of the world. Photography(in all of its manifestations)is our map of the world. None of us sees the world in a way not impacted by photography."

find the entire post here: Next Issue!

oh--and hey have we got some pood news for you! keep tuning in!