Friday, May 7, 2010

so lumpy

Steve Schmidt, The Secret, oil on canvas

Land of Kush's Egyptian Light Orchestra, Monogamy (out 5/31/2010, Constellation)
Ted Hughes, Moon-Whales and Wodwo (1976 and 1967, respectively)
The Fall, Your Future, Our Clutter (2010, Rhapsody)
Jeff Mangum @ Le Poisson Rouge (below)
Vic Chesnutt, Is the Actor Happy? (1995, Rhapsody)

I'm sure the Jeff Mangum video is everywhere already, so I'll just make it a little more everywhere-er. He's still got that one little thing that only he's got.

Jeff Mangum surreptitiously recorded performing last night in New York at the Chris Knox benefit at Le Poisson Rouge.

I wish now I had a video of the song Vic Chesnutt played to me and about nine other people two Halloweens ago. He said Jeff Mangum showed up at his house all excited and said "Vic! I have a song for you!" and taught it to him. The song was undoubtedly a Jeff Mangum song, full of trapeze leaps and shaky huddlings on those little platforms up on the circus tent poles, and undoubtedly Vic's as well, delicately hollered from his chair, half-working fingers barely managing a guitar.

I love how in "Sad Peter Pan," Vic is just pushing the paint around and wants to be Aaron Neville. Don't we all.

Vic Chesnutt, "Sad Peter Pan" (Rhapsody)

Steve Schmidt (top) is a Baton Rouge painter whose work was in the same show discussed yesterday and his work over the years has been reliably scumbled yet precise, great colors, painterly business, filled with just the right tincture of mystery to keep me looking. Maya, ever the precise critical voice, shrugged and said of The Secret, "I like it. It's so lumpy."

Land of Kush's Egyptial Light Orchestra is the stuff of lurid massive delusion; an epic poem for oud and bellowed nightmare with a little Speak-n-Spell thrown in. It kept me in good company when the power went out at work yesterday.

Right before the darkness took hold, I had been reading something about Sylvia Plath and realized I'd never read a line of Ted Hughes, and upon grabbing Moon-Whales at the library I could see why. Had I not been in the library I'd have dramatically called out to those gathered at my feet "This is awful! No wonder she put her head in an oven. Is this written for children?" and then I realized that, in fact, it had been written for children. Still dreadful.

Wodwo was a whole nuther matter. One of those brave combos of poems and prose and a play like nobody would dare today - how to market such an non-cohesive package? One's agent would perform a befouling act over such an idea now.

I dug the III'rd of his IV Stations:
You are a wild look - out of an egg
Laid by your absence.

In the great Emptiness you sit complacent.
Blackbird in wet snow.

If you could only make one comparison---
Your condition is miserable, you would give up.

But you, from the start, surrender to total Emptiness,
Then leave everything to it.

Absence. It is your own

Weeps its respite through your accomplished music,
Wraps its cloak dark around your feeding.
Vic Chesnutt, "What Surrounds Me" (Rhapsody)

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