IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #12.8
Not much about J Church this time
It's raining! / It's such a gamble when you get a face.

 

EBAY

Still doing a lot of Ebay stuff. You can search "HBR" and you'll find it. I'm also selling some of Liberty's jewelry too. She makes it herself and it's really beautiful stuff. Since she's started making her own jewelry, it's been getting harder and harder to find her birthday presents.

 

HONEY BEAR AT CAFÉ PRESS

I've expanded my store a lot recently. I've put up a bunch of new designs made from old Cringer flyers. Let me know what you think. You can check it all out at www.cafeshops.com/honeybear

 

MILESTONES

Robert Quine (1942 - 2004)
Robert Quine was one of my favorite guitar players of all time. His playing with Richard Hell and Voidoids was pure inspiration to me. As I write this, I'm having a hard time thinking of another guitar player who has influenced me more.

I remember the first time I heard his guitar playing. Like most people, it was on Blank Generation. For me, that's the quintessential New York punk song. More so than the Ramones, the Dead Boys or even Patti Smith, that record and that song in particular says New York City to me. I could go on forever about that record and how much those lyrics mean to me. But for this I just want to talk about the solos on the title track. The frantic and edgy playing, I still haven't heard much like it. The only thing that came to mind was the brilliant opening phrases of the Byrds' Eight Miles High. His dense chords mixed with sharp isolated notes seemed right off of the pages of Coltrane or Dolphy.

But it wasn't a complete barrage. He knew when to hold up. He was a master of tasteful playing and timbre worked to his advantage. On later records, especially when he worked with his hero Lou Reed, he further explored this direction with understated, yet completely committed lead work.

I was really excited when The Quine Tapes were released. There had been stories of his library of live recordings of the Velvet Underground. Knowing he was picking some of the best stuff, you knew it was gonna be great. It did not disappoint.

The story now is that his overdose was an apparent suicide. His wife had passed away in the previous year and I don't want to read anymore into it.

 

DIALOGS

I've been writing down and collecting bits and pieces of a lot of my conversations recently. Not sure what I'm gonna do with them. They don't mean anything. Here's a couple for you to peruse…

BROCCOLI IS EVIL

"Broccoli is evil," he said.
"How do you figure?" Jessica wondered out loud.
"There's just something menacing about it. Look at it. There's something very masculine about it."
"What?"
"They're like these little tough guys. They're like these little Marines. They're like little jocks. They're tiny green Frat boys. I fucking hate `em."
"They're like little Ents."
"No they're not. They're like these little green Nazis."
"Oh, jeez."
"They're the skinheads of the vegetable world."

I DON'T LIKE OLIVES

"I don't like olives," Karrie said. "I can't stand them."
"Yeah, I don't really like most vegetables," he said.
"But you're a vegetarian."
"Yeah, but I just don't wanna hurt the animals. I don't care so much about my own health."
"That just seems crazy to me," she said somewhat disgusted.
"I'm something of a junk food vegetarian. I don't mind synthetic preservatives and chemicals as long they don't hurt the bunnies."
"But how can you hate vegetables?"
"I mean, I'll eat `em for the most part. I just won't be happy about it. There are only a few vegetables that I'll completely avoid and pick out of my plate," he said trying to defend his lifestyle.
"Like what?"
"Well, I can't stand beans. I can eat tomatoes only if they're cooked. I can't face them raw."
"Is it the taste of the texture?" she asked more fascinated than interested.
"Oh, definitely the texture. I can't handle it. Biting into a tomato to me is like biting into a fat pregnant roach filled up with fucking roach eggs."
"That's disgusting," she deadpanned.
"But it's true."

GOD, JUST PICK SOMETHING!

"God, just pick something!" Karen was getting annoyed.
"You pick. I really don't care," he replied.
"The silence is killing me. I'm gonna lose it if we don't put something on" she moaned only half sarcastic. Fifteen minutes of dead air and she was biting her nails.
"So much water and not a drop…"
"Don't you dare finish that sentence," Karen seemed genuinely pissed. Not so much as the sentiment, but she was angry that he would use such a trite quip.
"We could play some music," he tried.
"This is a video store. Pick a fucking movie!"
"Well, let's just watch The Poseidon Adventure again," he said with
some interest.
"We just watched that."
"En Francais?"
"Oh no."
"The Poseidon AdFRENCHture?"
"Excellent."

 

IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM

PUBLIC TOILET (directed by Fruit Chan)
Dong Dong is the God of Toilets. He was born in a toilet, he lives near a toilet and he understands life through toilets. The public toilet is a way of understanding world cultures whether it's his friends (Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Somali) or around the world. The public toilet is unique to its surroundings, which, as a common and natural function, is ultimately above judgment. Disdain and even disgust at other culture's public toilets can even be jingoistic.

Public Toilet is a film by Fruit Chan who has taken his internal camera and externalized it, audience be damned. The idea of the public toilet is the thread that goes from surface to subtext to depth and back. He's not interested in making a linear film and in the end has created something of a lo-fi epic. Using Digital Video with little or no concern to aesthetic quality or standard practices, he has made something beautiful and not just because of it's projected realism. The footage is ugly as hell at times and the repetition of dirty footage becomes a style of it's own. Ultimately, it becomes appealing in the way that Super 8 home movies have become beautiful. Chan is years ahead of his time.

Shot on location at the Great Wall, Hong Kong, Beijing, Korea, Rome, India, the variety of images are blunt and fluctuate in the filth of DV. But this helps to tell the story. Hey, it's a film called Public Toilet. Were you expecting Merchant / Ivory?

Spanning three continents, the film follows the lives of three different groups. The first is Dong Dong and his pals. His grandma is in a coma. His friend, Tony's little brother is also in the hospital with no cure. The two set off in different directions to find cures. The trip leads them across three continents and finds only existential solutions. Tony travels in India where he finds two brothers who speak Cantonese. They're going to India for the first time to help their dying father and to bathe in the Ganji. Dong Dong goes to Korea where he seeks a number of solutions.

This tangentially connects him with another story of a young Korean man who finds a woman living in his outdoor porta-toilet. Taking her to a doctor, he finds she has no bones. She claims to be a creature of the sea and therefore is like him and alien at the same time. For this, he thinks she is from the North. His best friend is also ill and takes off on a trip to find his own cure. Knowing he only has about ten years to live, he says a final good-bye to his friend not wanting to put that off for a decade.

Dong Dong travels to New York to find his cure. In Times Square he is almost oblivious speaking on his cell phone and standing in a tunnel of snow that connects him to the snow in China outside of the public toilet. While there, he meets a Chinese hitman on his last job. He's quitting at the request of his girlfriend. She is at the Great Wall looking for a healer to help her ill mother.

Another story involves Dong Dong's friend who has returned to Italy but that story seems to have been cut short because of the tragic death of actor Pietero Dilleti.

Terminal illness is a theme that Fruit Chan has visited before and it represents Hong Kong and China's future. Not based around Hong Kong, in this film it takes the form of new China searching out its identity and future. Pusan is false histories. Manhattan is violent death for cash. India is the possibility of rebirth. But none dominate and the answer isn't provided or even supposed by the filmmaker.

 

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