Thursday, September 01, 2005

Texts of Antiquity IV: Waste Management (Antenna #33, Miami Beach, 1990)

Waste Management: A Slum-Hopper's Guide to Tele-Squalor

In 1990, I was hired to write a column on movies appearing on cable television for Antenna, a South Beach alternative tabloid. Six pieces were published before the rag suffocated. A trio of weeklies (Antenna, The Wire, and Miami New Times) were competing for the same turf; today, only the latter remains. (Apologies for the Emergency Hospital blurb... Cabinet made it to DVD in 2005.)

After a rough night of mot-slinging with SoBe's least and dimmest there's nothing quite like worming one's way into a woefully mottled narrative. Waste Management will sub for the gentle, Karaoke-weary reader in slogging through toxic broadcast effluvia. Only those films deemed sufficiently capable of reversing life-affirming patterns will be suggested to the public by Waste Management's editorial board. We will only critique titles not yet legally available on home video.

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October 11 (Friday)

Shockproof

(year of release: 1949/network: TNT/air time: 2:20 pm/allocated time slot: 100m./actual running time: 79m.)

Fassbinder sub-muse Doug Sirk directed the inconsolable Cornel Wilde in this Sam Fuller-scripted noir of a parole officer's destructive affair with hot box parolee Patricia Knight. Tumescent gloss, a perfect morning-after complement to an evening spent baiting Washington Avenue's proto-dork valet pools.

When the Clock Strikes

(1961/TNT/4:15am/105m./70m.)

Hyper-prolific exploitation auteur Edward L. Cahn directed eleven (!) marvelously routine timesnuffers in '61, among them The Boy Who Caught a Crook, You Have to Run Fast, and The Police Dog Story. This obscure n*ir-tinged anomaly features James Brown (neither Mr. Super Dynamite Soul nor the Cleveland Brown-cum-blaxploit icon, but the stolid Texan b-vet) and Cahn regular Merry Anders as seedy feebs squabbling over hidden swag. Guaranteed to stultify, so in its way at least on a diegetic par with the typical Le Loft power confab.

October 12 (Saturday)

Hercules Against the Sons of the Sun

(1963/TNT/3pm/120m./91m.)

Peplum at its superannuated azimuth, with Mark Forest toplining as the mutton-toting Ercole
(transplanted to a pre-Columbian milieu). Many Incas tossed; soulless Hombre theme nights beckon!

Women's Prison

(1955/TNT/2am/105m./80m.)

In 1950 the majestic Caged staked out the iconography, but this roupy girdle cruncher delivered hot stock characters in menses-daubed halfslips. Subtextual corn chopping aside, Lewis Seiler's "jug"-posited long pig verity beggars delectation. Banji extends to Jan Sterling; house lection of her recidivist paperhanger "Brenda"'s self-mutilation should spur peroxide stocks.

October 13 (Sunday)

Emergency Hospital

(1956/TNT/4am/75m./62m.)

Second feature machinist Lee Sholem injects just enough tedium into this hardly inenarrable plasma-fest to render it compulsively smot-worthy. Sholem also directed the bleak Crime Against Joe and the tolerably low-fi, Christian robot-vs.-Commie technothug blare of Tobor the Great. For every offal-smothered shitwaffle like Dances with Wolves there are hundreds of Emergency Hospitals waiting to piss on your wheel rims. With vulpine b-stalwart Margaret Lindsay.

October 14 (Monday)

Portrait of a Mobster

(1961/MAX/12:30pm/120m./108m.)

Dutch Schultz-jinx, with brown-shod moon calf Vic Morrow limning all over the noetic srawlchart. Appropriately half-vile, with the great Ray Danton (see The George Raft Story for verification) reprising an earlier flesh peel of a certain Schultz comtemporary (see also auteurist fave Budd Boetticher's 1960 babe-intensive bio spool The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond). There are no snakes in Ireland.

October 15 (Tuesday)

Rampage

(1963/MAX/10:15am/105m./98m.)

Kraut-tainted safari palaver, notable primarily as '40's icon-by-proxy Sabu Dastagir's next-to-last feature. His Sabu and the Magic Ring alone is worth ten thousand latex-swathed nights of 40-weight-suckled, fist-boit-addled felicity. Directed by noir savant Phil Karlson. Bob Mitchum stars, farts, walks off the set.

October 17 (Thursday)

Cabinet of Caligari

(1962/AMC/6am/120m./104m.)

Heretical remake of Robert Wiene's 1919 piceous, somnambulant masterwork, abandoning the original's monorhinous Teut-bludgeon for Bloch-writ post-Psycho volk-shocks. Continuously aired on AMC; although not without detractors, one should nonetheless pay heed to this irritating gut-pummeller.

October 19 (Saturday)

Teenage Caveman

(1958/MAX/6:45am/75m./66m.)

Robert Vaughn, lumpen monolith, decades away from infomersh stewardship, sulks through post-apoc hormonal shudders in a rumen-girdled peignoir. Many bearskins jimmied in this zero-budget sop-fiesta from vestal atrocity-meister Roger Corman. Fuck Ken Brannagh.

- Tom Smith

Texts of Antiquity III: "Incredibly Terrible Music 2" (Bananafish, 2001)

Incredibly Terrible Music 2

Written for Bananafish 15, early 2001; I blew through several deadlines before Mr. Glass grew impatient and pulled the plug. Why? I'd been given only two dozen discs to review, but I stalled. Just couldn't find the words... (It happens.) This is the complete, unedited text of my eventually rejected submission.

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The young woman’s name was a damnable frivolity, Hen - a cool, weightless blast of sand. The fatal alley reached by faint paths, its face kissed with flickering ash and hazel. As even to the dead she may wave, so then would she hang in tatters, caught in her act, wind into hail. “The sum of few parts,” she cried, “And no judge of watercolors.” Urchins passed, Assemblagists, the last of their line…

The critic drinks another wee dram, a mortgaged approbation, the largest of rodents. In a private skiff with liveried oarsmen (later found in decalcomanic bed, heads split in non-figurative halves), the flimsy abstractions of decay and entropy give way to Elica’s CD release of vagrant fusilier Luc Ferrari’s Dance Organiques (Cinema pour L’Oreille). Knees up, head sideways to the long mirror by rose-glazed consul, by cathedral spire, by period Ernst eponym, Organiques’ hopeless silver slippers and swooning sonorities lay quickened, each a braided totem to the gentle sloping sublimations of the honorific, of its distracting amorous surcease. The bodies of lyres are made from pricked blood bladders, gourds of stagnant, tremulous transpositions, pulsations of winnowed order. Ghédalia Tazartès as Blaue Reiter grammarian “Fritz Jangle” in Analogous Prohibitions! (This bushbuck skin has not yet been de-colonized.) Three anagrams of “Ferrari’s breathless obsessions”: (1) No coming of spring, protruding ribs, symbols of Salmon-Head, Salmon-Shod; (2) Toward camera, cloven by sullen, blood-bathed swells; (3) My wife kept bothering me for big, pretty pills…

No such tent-to-tomb implausibility for sundered, two-strophe constrictors Volvox, who, with their Dual Plover/Spill CD retrospective The Damage Begins at the Mouth, prove themselves to have been the dusky, full-lipped pinpoints of smothered libido we’d all been waiting to piss upon. No fool party members, no youthful prattle in pink letters, no hoarse whispers or long drags. As “The Horrible Holes of Venus” forms its restricted, brilliant palette (a great battle of machete-wielding peasant Salic Franks, a stagnant, weathered gray; low, throaty poised pencils), it becomes quite clear that the nipple always fell too quickly from their mouths. Volvox were a never-failing brawl, perhaps the best band of their time. Certainly, “Huhnenblut” was worth the lives of ten thousand Cobains. With “Interferon (Matty),” Volvox painted four rolls: vendettas, manuscripts and galley-proofs, Parisian prig of gross belly and bad air, “76 photos of the period, unaltered or specially posed,” and imperceptible flights, pajama jackets. Their colds, coughs and sore throats were emblematic, an ancient blade; their feet, slithering through Melbourne streets suffused with yellow, kindling drifts, shot struts and spikes into Balla’s unprejudiced eye. What a goddamned great error!

Miki Sawaguchi’s Big Boobs CD is the glass that would melt in heat, an opium of eager scandal. It’s a rapturous death pang, far too ludicrous for its own trampled good, too reasonable in its scrolling insignificance. But it condemns the listener’s conceits, and its ghostpale protagonist is carried aloft by painted birds, ogre’s eyes, and dissident gas-identities. Its felicitous, pneumatic fluctuations harbor gratuitous lilacs and dyed-blonde wire-scrubbing brushes, and the future will not pity those who blinked in tipsy awe at the Go-Hole. The Alchemy release reveals appalling streets and dissimulated tears, but Sawaguchi’s first kiss is an October moon, and her old stone steps are as rigid as neon. “Be Straight” is particularly affecting; a dozen foreign tongues, each with its burden of sweet defect. On her rays and clumps one finds Proust’s Man of Quick Decisions and UB40’s Labor of Love II, yes, but also multi-volume cassettes of Douglas Wolk intoning the word “gamely,” the phrase “wrecking shit.” As “Mercedes Benz” (raised by twin aunts) rises precariously from its shuttered, spider-grille shores, Miki’s cigarette holder becomes a soiled, twenty-ton cherub, and the necks of the decent are forthrightly wrung. Electrolysis is not the answer – Sawaguchi’s green pricks and altarpieces are expressive of disgust, noble in their light-blue silk brocades.

Scraps of drowsy disrupted fuses and preliminary notebooks in crustacean pinks were thankfully not discarded for Joe Fonda and Xu Fengxia’s superlative Distance CD (Leo Lab). A benign second cousin to none, Boccioni’s The Charge of the Lancers as a benediction to those wedged in sleeping room transoms, air cleaved with the spit from Fengxia’s weeping guzheng. Blurred, terrifying, balding moral façades, splintered, stinging bulbs; here there are no insipid ice-cream shades. Fonda takes out a cigarette to smoke, offers one to the bather sitting next to “Underwater Market Selling Clocks,” and eventually to the subscribers of Kindercore’s Singles Club, whose coughs mirror the moieties of “Monastery on the Peak of a Glacier.” Such a bloody great battering ram! Long live hygiene, sole ululant circular form! The struggles of trivial incidents, several soft-looking pillows, prehistoric crabs scalding “Some Silent Movies” in the dark of tinkling, Luciferian toil…

Share my income and bed with an unholy social contact, some washed-up headline hog, only to end up an autonomous, skeletal fish? Why, sure! Especially if the slow ambles of the rigorously de trop, rose-glazed PHON:E:ME are seeping into filthy pun, field and combed plaster hillock. The Alt-X Online Network CD would lay its copious maiden egg in the graying pockets of gassy kicks, within the matted, pealing folds of ghosts’ loose utility suits, dark streamers against Melanesian sands. “On:e,” unfortunately, prefers to remain with its driver. “Author: Dysfunction” flashes its shield, a tattered Barthes pressed between smoked quartz and olive loaf; a lovely old trunk. Mark Amerika and collaborator Erik Belgum warm themselves by the kiln of unnatural gait, torn from the bosom of cross-purpose only long enough to wrest a reduction of the residual discrepancies in August Stramm’s posthumously adapted liner notes for the 1997 King’s X album You Lodged With Me In Flushing. The drape of the male, too big for sluggish lightning, joyless to lamp-edge and gray-brown air... “Net: Speak,” an old one in Aix, poised at the eulogistic crux of chic white treated-cotton mock turtlenecks and flood-swollen scars, spills its silver dish of candied, leering quips and missed cues. Buzzing word, lisping firmament. PHON:E:ME is a squat, cabalistic tong, but the lice sequestered in its bedding are in period coiffure, and thus at least worth gnawing.

Monogrammed canaries, possessed of more black jadite coral cord than Chopin’s pursed lips, sink from the exquisite knowledge of Video Games of the Twelfth Century’s bundled wraps and oppressive regeneration. In an old-fashioned shantung suit and a hard straw hat with green ribbon, the hands of the Burping Turds CD comp fumble for hospitable chaos, a sour-mash blight intent on draining the magic glass, sooty galoshes. Linoleum Scrounge’s “Elvis Annoys Me” has red berries darkening the hawthorns of paralysis, circulating from tethered hand to deep-split squalling catboat. As justification for the claims made in this manifesto, Faxed Head’s “Ragnarok (of the Rock)” dwarfs the moorhens (lacking high stilts) which root among bishops and birch coxcombs. Pieced together with roots and fragments of drudges’ cravings and the sick fancies of orange blotches and sea-myrtles, Dave Phillips/Schimpfluch Gruppe’s “Furz” wards the blank waters of asphalt cataracts, monstrous French lutes depicted in pestilential coils of medieval liturgical splendor. MSBR’s Slavonic, amber-tasseled “#1 Flash” takes a swig from a broad-brimmed landlord’s flask, a frail network of veins inside the mythic coat pocket of shallow relief, spring torrents. With red cheeks and demure country-like manner, Baloney Bong’s “The Stuffed Dog Company” abruptly drops its bag and collapses on the couch. The furnishings of Bad Day Slab’s “The All-Time Best S.W.S. Song and Plus No One Even Knew It Existed” are disheveled and old, thrown down in fits of divisible rage. There may not be a future for Gang of Pork’s relationship with “Weirdness on the Edge of Town,” its inept phrases (“6,000 behind tracked fruit-face/Mae is my and so, thews!”) and careless copyists’ rusty wheels (shout-outs to the asbestos recycling industry) having long been postdated. With the grotesquely reassembled fountainhead root suggested by the shape of its crushed pilot’s crag, Incontinence’s “Bob Radar Bob Destroys Earth” maintains the cool disinterest of its uniformed attendants. Steel spikes emerge from Stomach Contents’ “Throat Scrapings”; its “fakir’s beautiful beard” reprise pisses through the flames of charitable pedantries. Teenage Car Upholstery-Q from Nebraska’s “#Petrasobincliusiulfazikomapaktch4(*+-//!!!@)” necessarily violates one paradigm as it creates another. After a rapid theft, Video Games of the Twelfth Century’s narrow shoulders and clammy, balding primitives are disfigured, detached with idle fanfare. Silenced by slanderous tongues, it nonetheless refuses to crawl away. And that, young mealworms, is its ultimate utility.

Tired of walking in the mud and finding nothing, I screamed terribly, an oblique strip blinking with the crowd’s yowls of laughter. As snow settled on the barrel of the stubborn struggle of the violated and amputated, Francisco López’s Untitled #104 CD capsized and drowned in a narrow path between baleful walls. I marveled at the splendor of the Alien8 inventory closet, at its sheer burnished squat steel. The room is empty except for one orange-white chewed cuticle and a small Gladstone bag on an unassuming couch. Their position is exactly the reverse in the case of dogs’ sages, food prohibitions, and nervous, comely limbs. There was the sound of foul heels firing in the streets and on the rooftops. Untitled’s prehistoric apparitions howled through nicked field glasses, quantifying the drained and flagging bosom of your middle years, your calculated cypress twists. The sun is always on its author’s eyes; giant sentient quills swarmed over contemptuous, submissive steppes. A small, rather ill-groomed person, the saint arrived at his goal, luminous airs shed. The temptation to write history backward is both omnipresent and perennial, an iridescent ruff billowing in the spray of dark depths and skillful thumbs.

-Tom Smith