Sun 22 Apr 2007 11:24 PM
In Serbia a lot of people hate me because they want to westernise, not understanding that the western world is bipolar, with very good things and very bad things. Since they don’t have experience of the west, they even believe that western shit is pie.–Emir Kusturica
Despite my predilection for hiding in my room events overran me recently, out into the Richmond and in front of what used to be the jock-lite Last Day Saloon and has now become the yuppie-lite Rockit Room. True there was a birthday to celebrate and true two people had invited me but I was a little shocked at how readily I had consented to being taken away from my room. Maybe the mood was just there, perhaps the moon was in a special phase– I dunno. It may have been because two Serbian/Rom style bands were playing. Years ago I dwelled in a dank little hovel called Leather Tongue which was so similar to the dank little hovels I hid away in on purpose
that I kept going. It didn’t pay well and it didn’t help any minor mental issues I might have had but it did introduce me to plenty of movies I would never have chosen to hunt down and rent on my own. After renting it out to hip Mission scum a thousand times I checked out “Black Cat White Cat” by Emir Kusturica which drilled into my mind and deposited some of the most flamboyant images ever captured on film as well as some of the most scintillating music ever, er, captured on film. If Fellini had been into carnies more than circus freaks and was thrilled by saturated colors (and been Serbian) it would have been his movie. I travelled back in time a couple of years and caught his earlier festival success, “Underground“. Last year at a different job I was hawking shit on eBay when I pulled the soundtrack to “Underground” from a bin of CDs. My hands were shaking and I played it on the office stereo. Then I played it again and again until I was quite certain that everyone was going to kill me so I had my boss price it out. Not in the store’s computer– Argentinian release so it’s $1.99… Awesome! To this day I think this is the only CD that I have danced to with another person. Waiting for my ride to The Rockit Room I played a couple choice cuts and bobbed around while finishing my roommate’s beer. The first band of the evening took their identity-crisis cues from Hector Babenco’s depression-era drama “Ironweed“, glorifying the hobo/drifter lifestyle by not bathing and playing guitar, a washboard and a bass made from a washtub, broom handle and a single tightly wound length of twine. The kids, friends of the birthday girl, ate this up and had skipped their showers special for the event. I tried not to be bothered by this and watched them play but wondering what to expect from the next two groups in the bill.
Zoyres was a quartet: full kit, tuba, clarinet/sax and trombone. Fascinating shit, ultimately danceable and exactly what I was hoping for. It’s weird how the tuba took over where the bass would be and the trombone player kicked ass playing with a brash style reminiscent (tho probably because I can only name two others: my dad and Labamba from the Conan O’Brien show) of Don Drummond. The Brass Menazeri was even more bombastic with nine members, three tuba type instruments, accordian, clarinet, saxaphones and trumpets along with two drummers (a hand bass and a couple rack snares) and vocals. Both are local and I would recommend you check out either if your local is the Bay Area. So the evening went quite well even tho the drinks were horribly over-priced, most of the attendees living as caricatures running around like sugar-addled, snot-nosed brats and my getting home past my bedtime. I should just stop here… But it makes you think, don’t it? So far as I could tell everyone in these bands were American born and bred but both bands played distinctly Eastern European (with some Klezmer mixed in) gypsy music with no obvious Americanization taking place. It’s as authentic as The Dropkick Murphys but somehow entirely less offensive. Hell, the opening band, The Inkwell Rhythm Makers, co-opted not only their music but their dress and shtick from impression of a time long gone. Does America, appropriate outside culture so readily and so completely that there’s no bothering with integrating it with our own? Or do we just not really have any cultural identity not relating to commerce so we borrow heavily from places that have more than a couple centuries under their belts? Ysabella Dolfin wrote in her blog:
Watching local access Asian TV In Japanese. A cooking show. I have no idea what any of the ingredients are… but I recognize ground beef and some type of musrhoom. I am getting the feeling they are cooking “American” food. But they are serving it over rice with sliced fresh spinach. The theme song is some kind of Japanese rap music.
Now that’s a proper culutral mish-mash– anything the Japanese have done since 1945 has basically been one form of cocktail or another. Pop music, art, fashion, day to day living, advertising, food… it seems that every aspect of Japan has been touched by America and has incorporated, in the most fucked up way possible, the source material by taking what they think they understand and dumping tradition on top. Hell, the Japanese advertising industry has essentially become the hallmark of the Japanese approach to international relations. Why are we so fascinating to them? Cowboys? The independence of owning your own car? Where the hell is our culture out in the world that’s not a McDonald’s? PS- my efforts to make these pictures integrate into this post have failed but I’m sick of the second one disappearing so I’m gonne give up. Deal with it.