Weekly Download No. 49

Monkey Gone to Heaven by Pixies. I know I promised an obscure Pixies’ song.  This is not one.  Well this is one if you have never heard of Pixies.  But in reality, it’s one of the highest charting singles of their career.  I love movies. (this is a strained and nonsensical segue, but I’ll get there and close it up. I think)  Movies are, I guess, my third favorite artistic medium.  The written word is first, more specifically the novel. The note is second, more specifically, rock-n-fucking-roll.  But nothing can grab you by the face and force you to experience something like a movie.  Nothing gives me a sense of satisfaction like a truly great movie (is this where I do the top-ten list?….I’ll save it).  Like music, they (“they” being movies in the collaborative sense) almost all eventually rip each other off.  Even great shit (Tarantino has made a career off of it) is guilty of this.  But when I watch older (say pre-1965) movies that acclaimed critics and directors agree are “seminal” movies, I’m always really, really, disappointed.  I’ll give you four examples of “seminal” movies you should probably never see because if you are anything like me, your first thought as the credits roll will be “what’s the big deal?” (1) Citizen Kane (you have seen this story so many times, by the end you are actually rooting against him); (2) Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa (this movie has every action film cliche you have ever seen); (3)The Dirty Dozen (this movie has every war film cliche you have ever seen; and (4) Home Alone (just kidding, it’s still awesome. I couldn’t come up with a fourth one, sorry).  After viewing these movies with my already digested expectations of their greatness, I was a little disappointed in my reaction to them.  I didn’t dislike them.  I was more indifferent to them.  I felt myself saying “OK here comes the (1) montage showing his growing empire coupled with the growing disregard he has for anything but his career (e.g. Wall Street); or (2) gathering of heros to accomplish a goal (e.g. Oceans Eleven or even The Dirty Dozen); or (3) betrayal by the sinister member of the team that you knew from the beginning you weren’t supposed to trust (e.g. Aliens); or (4) burglar getting the top of his head burned by a blow torch (whatever, that’s awesome).”  What I failed to appreciate because I had seen those plot elements so many times was that the seminal movies were the first to have all of those things (sorry English majors). They had been copied so many times in so many movies that I was numb to them.  That these movies were the first should have some value, and it does, just not to me, not now.  I can understand the fascination that one (watch it) might have experiencing these movies both for the first time and when the things (“sighs”) that made them seminal were fresh.  But going back to them having fully experienced the fruit of their seminalness (made up word) they seem, for lack of better word, old.  And this feeling of these movie’s oldness led me to first listen to Pixies with trepidation (told you I could do it).  Pixies invented alternative rock in the ’90s (maybe with Sonic Youth in an Adam and Eve kind of way).  It’s fairly simple.  No Pixies, no Nirvana, then no Pearl Jam, then none of the rest of it, not the way we (children of the 90s) know it, not the way it both reached a popular critical mass and forever changed the landscape of music.  I had been told the Pixies did this and never received much credit for it and then broke up in ’93.  And, as such, (fully injected with the Citizen Kane disappointment), I had pretty much convinced myself, having not yet really listened to them, there was no way I was going to truly and honestly like (split/inf) them.  I was wrong.  They are fascinatingly unreal.  Monkey’s Gone to Heaven has maybe my favorite three word rock vocal performance ever (now there would be a list I should put together).  I get chills every time Black Francis screams “God is Seven!” I got to hear it in concert.  The one sound I wanted to hear.  And I got (drunken) chills.  The show was unbelievable.  The first 20 minutes of it was a screening of 1929 surrealist film titled Un Chien Andalou.  The least disturbing part of which was a shot of a man using a razor blade to slice open the eyeball of a young woman. Creepy.  It’s been 17 years since their break up.  Black Francis had a pot belly and black T-shirt.  He looked like the not so popular clerk at the very last independent record store.  Kim Deal looked strongly lesbianic.  They were perfect.  Enjoy.

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