Sunday, January 30, 2022

Situations arise, because of the weather

I first heard the Velvet Underground's "Some Kind of Love" decades ago and I never really appreciated it until recently. The only thing that stuck with me about the song was the line "situations arise, because of the weather." I pretty much think of that line every time there's a snowstorm, like there was yesterday.

However, I was listening to Internet radio while doing some mundane online task recently and that song came on and it crept right up on me with its sneaky sexiness.

Perhaps it was because this was the first time I listened to it with headphones: I really picked up on Lou Reed's sexy little noises for the first time. Which in turn made me really listen to the lyrics.

Here it is. Put on your red headphones and find out.

Some kinds of love
Marguerita told Tom
Between thought and expression
Lies a lifetime
Situations arise
Because of the weather
And no kinds of love
Are better than others.

Some kinds of love
Marguerita told Tom
Like a dirty French novel
Combines the absurd with the vulgar
In some kinds of love
The possibilities're endless
And for me to miss one
Would seem to be groundless.

I heard what you said
Marguerita heard Tom
And of course you're a bore
But in that you're not charmless
Cause a bore is a straight line
That finds a wealth in division
And some kinds of love
Are mistaken for vision.

Put jelly on your shoulder
Let us do what you fear most
That from which you recoil
But which still makes your eyes moist
Put jelly on your shoulder baby
Lie down upon the carpet
Between thought and expression
Let us now kiss the culprit.

I don't know just what it's all about
But put on your red pajamas and find out

The song is only partially like a dirty French novel. Rather than combining the absurd with the vulgar it combines the absurd with the subtle.

We know that this isn't some kind of actual love because of the insult in the lyrics: "And of course you're a bore, but in that you're not charmless." That's not what you say to someone you love, it's what you say to someone you don't even like very much but you still find them sexually desirable. 

And that's what makes the possibilities endless.

Another subtle feature: put on your red pajamas. Not "put on your fishnet stockings" or "put on your ass-less chaps" but pajamas. Although they are still red pajamas.

Now about the jelly on your shoulder, which is mentioned twice. The Internet has thoughts:

 Jelly was old black jazz slang eg Jelly Roll and commonly picked up by white musicians like Van Morrison etc.

The "jelly" is KY, and it's on the shoulder for easy reaching?

Lou introduces this song on their live album as follows:

"This song is called 'Some Kinda Love', which is a dialogue between a guy called Tom and a woman called Margharita, and he's just trying to drink her like tequila and she doesn't like being salt thrown over her shoulder."

Hope to have helped.

Though I will say that “Some Kinda Love” ends with a pretty strong insinuation of girl-on-guy buttsex, unless there’s another way to read “Put jelly on your shoulder/ and do what you feel most… that from which you recoil but which still makes your eyes moist…lie down upon the carpet.” Who needs Fifty Shades of Gray?

petroleum jelly on the shoulder was used so the lube is easy to reach I believe

Between thoughts and expression... 

This one was my favorite:

I think Lou wanted to suggest a deviant practice so strange that nobody could put their finger on the details — like Iggy Pop's "Of course I've had it in the ear before." But that's just a hunch, and I can't see how anyone could prove it one way or the other.

That's the way to do it - it keeps things slightly inscrutable and open to imagination.

I never found Lou Reed especially attractive except for maybe his Transformer period.

But that man can make some sexy noises.


Monday, January 10, 2022

From the sublime to the ridiculous at the Barnes foundation


Well the Barnes Foundation had a huge success with its Suzanne Valadon show. 

It’s hard to believe that “Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel” at the Barnes Foundation is the first American museum show for this sensational French painter...

...The show at the Barnes, curated by Nancy Ireson, is a thrilling tour of her portraits, nudes, still lifes and drawings.

I saw the show in October, but it was right before Mr. Fuzz died and he was pretty sickly at that point, so I was preoccupied with worry about him and didn't really enjoy the show. I'm glad it got a good response.

So how does the Barnes foundation follow up a show about a painter who portrays women as individuals and does not flatter her subjects and uses firmly delineated lines?

With her polar opposite, Renoir, in a "January Spotlight Tour" and just to emphasize the difference the tour is called "Renoir and Women." Just look at the difference between the image above and this one. Same subject, completely different approach, visually and emotionally.

The Barnes Foundation is heavily invested in the reputation of Renoir - it has the world's largest collection of Renoirs.

The NYTimes article about the Valadon show mentions that although the Foundation founder Albert Barnes had paintings by Suzanne's son, Maurice Utrillo, he had none by Valadon. No accounting for taste.

I have loathed Renoir since I got a good snootful of him in art school - I attended both the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the University of the Arts. So I was very pleased to see the "Renoir Sucks at Painting" movement which started a few years ago. They are still out there, primarily represented via an Instagram account. But they've actually done full-blown, in-person anti-Renoir demonstrations in the pandemic before-time.

I imagine the Barnes Foundation trustees were not pleased when they got wind of this movement in favor of good painting and against treacle.

Now I don't think every painting by Renoir is bad. I mean he only painted a zillion canvases, he was bound to do OK once in awhile. But his paintings of women were terrible because he was hung up on this "eternal feminine" bullshit. And most of his paintings were of women.

But this portrait of Julie Manet is pretty good. 

Partly because it was a portrait of the daughter of his friends, so she does - partially - escape the eternal feminine treatment. 

And partly because, without the usual riot of colors he used, he was forced to focus on draftsmanship.

Mostly though, because he did a great job with the cat. He should have painted cats more. 

But thanks to Julie Manet's diaries, we know what a great big honking anti-Semite Renoir was:
...she faithfully records — and concurs with — Renoir’s relentless anti-Semitism (shared, alas, by the great Degas): “Today I was at Renoir’s studio, where the talk is all about the Dreyfus Affair and against the Jews. ‘They come to France to earn money, but if there is any fighting to be done they hide behind a tree,’ said Monsieur Renoir. ‘There are a lot of them in the army, because the Jew likes to walk about wearing flashy uniforms. If they keep getting thrown out of all countries, there must be a good reason for it and they shouldn’t be allowed as much room here…. It’s unsinkable, the Jewish race. Pissarro’s wife isn’t one, yet all the children are, even more so than their father.’ ”
So fuck 'em both.

Unfortunately Degas was an anti-Semite too. But I left that out of my play. And he does come off as a bit of an asshole, the way I portray him. Even if he did love Suzanne Valadon's work.

Valadon painted cats too.

Monday, January 03, 2022

Flashmobs 2021

Whither thou, graceful flashmob goddess?
I get a real kick out of flashmobs - when they are done right. I collected some of my favorite flashmobs in a Youtube playlist.

I even made a list of flashmob rules, which nobody asked for.

Unfortunately Youtube is now flooded with "flashmob" videos that break all the rules. Even worse, in the time since I made my list, a plague of "proposal flashmobs" have appeared and that's just terrible for so many reasons. 

A flashmob is not a private party, performed in public. And that includes birthdays, graduations, any other events. A flashmob should exist for itself, alone, as a public event, not as public window-dressing to a private event.

Flashmobs were more in vogue, a hot new thing, ten years ago, so there are more entries from then and so more chances for high quality. I fear we will see far fewer good flashmob videos going forward.

It's hard to top a bikini flashmob - you go, barely dressed college kids - you flash those pasty white bodies in the California sun. You are not their toy! 

Will we ever see a flashmob video of such perfect editing as the Ravel's Bolero in the Copehagen train station with the Cophehangen philharmonic? I fear not. 

And what about this adorable Bollywood flashmob from 2010 with the college professors and (fully clothed) college kids who range in dancing ability from painfully awkward to gloriously graceful? I so adore the Black girl who jumps into the performance at the 1 minute mark. I love her casual yet joyful dancing so much I almost tear up when I watch it. It's twelve years on now, I hope she has a job that she likes - maybe as a ballet dancer or dance instructor. Also thanks to this flashmob video I discovered this (definitely not flashmob) video, called Salaam-E-Ishq, a musical number as complicated and spectacular as anything from the golden age of Hollywood musicals. 

My native Philadelphia's City Hall Park has never looked so good as in this perfectly-edited flashmob video. The dude in the business suit - especially when he's in the fountain - raises this to next level.

This video, "IDF Israeli soldiers dancing to Kesha - Tik Tok in Hebron" is not called a flashmob, but I don't know what else it is. The fact that it's performed while on military patrol raises it to the level of sublime. You can't get any better than that.

It's so difficult to find good, recently-recorded flashmob videos now, because the majority of videos labeled "flashmob" on Youtube are nothing more than traditional staged musical and/or dance performances in public spaces. It took me ages to find videos from recent years that I consider real flashmobs:

  • Flashmob 'Danser Encore' Rotterdam May 2021 makes the cut although the video starts too late and is amateurish and badly edited. Also I'm not crazy about the song itself. And the performance is a little too raw, but that's better than too polished. And at least it has the performance starts with the element of surprise and builds gradually out of the crowd. It also helps that the person to get the flashmob going looks like a street crazy. It's always good to have the instigator look a little crazy, that way it's more gratifying when the entire performance in all its competent glory kicks in.
  • Choir Flashmob: Nessun Dorma (Puccini - Turandot) is technically a flashmob although it's not exciting - they could have picked a perkier, more well-known song. But at least it's flash and it's (barely) a mob. Which is much more than you can say for the overwhelming majority of recently-published "flashmob" videos.
  • Opera flash mob in Shangri la gets big points for having many of its opera singers dressed as food servers. The soprano's entrance is especially effective. Plus this video uses split screen at a few points which I have never seen before. And the crowd reactions are great. Points off for the commercial tagged on the end.

  • Flash Mob - Funny Student Performance During a Test should not technically be included because it breaks one of my cardinal rules for a good flashmob - it's not performed in a public space. However, it is so great in so many other ways I had to include it. It has the element of surprise, multiple cameras, a familiar catchy tune but original, very audience-relatable lyrics and even live music. And the reaction of the test proctor is priceless. This really captures perfectly the benign but subversive flashmob ethos right up there with IDF Israeli soldiers dancing to Kesha - Tik Tok in Hebron. And I agree with one of the commenters - if I was the prof I would give all the performers an A.