Monday, August 14, 2006

behold the overdog

Weekends are, by definition, too short. If longer than two days, then they'd hardly be simply the 'end' of something--they'd earn a name in their own right. It's an odd coincidence that they ended up falling on a Saturday and Sunday though, isn't it? I mean, I suppose the week could end in the middle all this time--a offputting full-stop during Wednesday and Thursday, giving us a differntly oblong shape to our work week. But then that probably disrupts the whole sabbath-as-end-of-week concept.

These are, with apologies to George Carlin, the kinds of thoughts that come into your head when you sit around the house and your television is broken.

Not that mine is. I've just been trying to avoid it of late. I've always had a pretty solid love-hate relationship with the Big Blue Light, and now I'm finally starting to drift toward the 'hate' side. This is a good thing, especially given the fact that I, like most 30something pop culture-devouring GenXers, am a garbage scow loaded with bad TV trivia. What was the name of one of the restaurant/bar/swinger hangout in "Three's Company?" (The Regal Beagle) Who was the late-night DJ on "WKRP in Cincinnati"? (Venus Flytrap) What was the name of the high school in "White Shadow"? (Carver) Things like this, and if you knew the answers to any of these admittedly softball questions, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. Some days I wish I could take an ice cream scoop to my brain and remove all this stuff, which would probably free up precious neurons to work on something to reduce our nation's dependence on fossil fuels.

I don't think I started to kick until the late 90s. I found better things to do than watch the telly until the programming schedule told me to go to sleep. There's words to spill on a page, gatherings to attend, people to call. It's still a struggle--I have my addictions to ending the evening with a little bit of viewing, and I pretty much have to check in with "The Colbert Report" and such every other night or so. It still has me, but I'm fighting.

Thus, the weekend was full of a lot of reading, and going to see the wonderfully weird SloMo Video Festival over in Westwood. 100 one-minute long films played, at some point, in slow motion. Wonderful, inspiring stuff, here and there. Good art, I think, should make you want to go create good art. A few of my favorites was slow motion footage of an intersection and a crowd of people crossing the street and a man in a silver suit and a huge sphere of a mask doing the hula hoop to the tune of the Carpenters "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft." Magnificent, and I wish I could show them too you, but instead you're going to have to keep an eye out for the show in your town (LA folk, you have a second chance--the show's coming to Echo Park on Aug. 24). The films are a little hit and miss (as 100 short films tend to be), but the end result is well worth a night out. It made me want to go film one of those tall, inflated rubber creatures who wave and wiggle with varying degrees of urgency in front of car lots at a very....slow....speed and play some music over it. But what?

'Dulcimers Played by Peter Neff, Strings Played,' by Labradford

My mind raced...first I thought of something beautiful, but apocalyptic. Maybe Godspeed You Black Emperor! or even Earth to get really grim (but that would probably require some start black and white, and I want the carnival colors). But the music has to be somewhat sad becuase despite their bright colors and generally big smiles, there's something a little dark about them. They're reaching for the sky, and not only will they never get there, it doesn't even appear to be their idea. It's that big grinding machine at their feet making them do it.

Thus, Labradford.

Labradford is music made not necessarily for slow motion, but for a slow internal pace. There is no TV in their world, only concepts and images, things that pop into your head that deserves some special attention, like when you drive by the home you used to live in when you were a child. Who lives in there now? Can they see your memories too? Or maybe the nothing that pops into your head when a ladybug crawls across your finger. Languid, thought-provoking stuff.

This song is built on a slow, mourning piano line and some slowly building strings (no dulcimers to speak of--the song's title is part of the minimalist asthetic of Labradford where on the album "E Luxo So" tracks were given the same titles as the album credits). Things are sad, but beautiful. Then at the 2:40 mark, something happens. A screen door opens and shuts with a start and a little fresh air comes into the room. Why did someone leave? Where did they go? Were they unhappy? Did just they have things to do? Ten seconds later the song begins again, right where it left off. Just as if no one left at all. Let's see, where was I?

Buy "E Luxo So" at InSound


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