May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper, RIP

Film is the most difficult art form to master. Think of all the “perfect” songs you've heard in your life, or perfect paintings. The count will likely be significant for both. But when such reflection turns to movies, the typical observer/critic will list but a handful of entries worthy of such recognition.

So when having experienced a particular movie becomes a more apt description than having seen one, and when the reaction ranges from not being able to move off the couch overnight (as was the case with my ex) to having been haunted for months (as a friend of mine recently reflected) --– and when such comments are commonplace --— then you start talking Master with a capital 'M' for its director. There you go, Mr David Lynch.

Lynch's tour de force, of course, was the 1986's Blue Velvet. The premise was simple: evil exists everywhere, even in places you don't expect it could actually lurk. The setting: some mid-western Nowheresville, complete with the picket fences, shiny fire trucks and lush front lawns. All is fine on the surface, but below lurks a motley crew of deranged psychopaths, with its ringleader a gentlemen by the name of Frank Booth.

Enter Dennis Hopper in that lead role. Summoning what could only be personal demons of his own, Hopper delivered the energy and the goods for everything old Franky boy had going on; and it wasn't necessarily pleasant to look at. What we got was a foul mouthed, pill-popping, nitrate-inhaling, gut-busting, ear-chomping serial kidnapper complete with major some pretty out there sexual habits and a rather maladjusted circle of cohorts. All of this action in a film noir setting, complete with 50's lounge music and fresh faced teenagers along for the ride. Troubling? You ain't seen troubling until you've sat in front of this movie, my friend.

Here is the classic “Beer at Ben's” scene that highlights two of Frank Booth's favorite past times: drinking cold beer and having sex, with Hopper at his best and an equally glorious performance by the late Dean Stockwell as the crooning Ben. This is the bit that launched the themes for thousands of frat and Halloween parties as well as added dozens of catch phrases into the popular lexicon, including “Heineken? Fuck that shit: Pabst Blue Ribbon!;” You're so fucking sauve" and many more...

Blue Velvet was Lynch's vision supported by Hopper's execution. Without the two, it wouldn't have worked the way it did. Both went on to subsequent works that were at times uneven, with both even turning into the occasional caricature of themselves. But Da Vinci, Mozart, Chaplin, and Lennon could all be accused of the same.

What's important is their work during their peak years; those moments in time when the full creative capacity of the human spirit is captured and put on display for the rest of the world to breathe into their own consciousness and become something different as a result. Chalk Blue Velvet up as an example of just that; and as the rare perfection of the film making art form.

Dennis Hopper died today after a battle with prostate cancer. Despite the ugliness of his final year, he was still tough enough to get himself to his recent Walk of Fame ceremony.

Here's to Ben. Here's to Frank. Here's to Dennis Hopper.

May 25, 2010

Missing multiplier effects?

During the first phase of the Digital Era, we were delivered stuff that made us more productive, like word processors, spreadsheets or accounting software.

Now in the second phase, we're getting stuff that makes us less productive, like Facebook and You Tube.

Plus, except for the few that were/are involved in their development, how many jobs has Blogger or Facebook or MySpace actually created?

We're doommed.

(So goes a perspective recently presented to me in an informal chat. An interesting take...)

May 20, 2010

Now this is how to do a parade

We all know the type: guys (and to a lesser extent gals) whose leisure time is devoted to globetrotting the world, seeking and attending those places and events that stand out as the ultimate fun grabs.

Sometimes referred to as scenesters, these people fall into two basic demographic categories --- pre-marriage and post-marriage --- both of which afford the time and money for this perpetual pursuit of nonsense.

Rio, the Derby, Mardi Gras, Oktoberest, the Olympics, various music fests, the Super Bowl, and on and on. Where there's a mob, there's a party; and everyone loves a good party, right?

But after putting our crack public opinion polling department into action this morning, none of our scenester friends were cognizant of this event (below) called the Bay to Breakers, an annual alleged foot race in San Francisco. Take a look at some random craziness from this clusterfuck:

Furher investigation (this time from our crack research department) reveals that this is a major deal on the west coast social calendar, complete with massive nudity, rampant public drunkeness, random sex and violence, frightened children in costumes and all the other activities which should appeal to the modern leisure class. Nanoburgh scenesters: you are now advised.

With the horse racing season possibly on the brink, Saratoga's tourism oficials might be advised to make a road trip to check this gig out. SPAC to Track, maybe?

SPECIAL THANKS: to the most excellent Barstool Sports for making us aware of this craziness.

May 15, 2010

Stately home demolished, for no good reason. Say what?

In response to the self-appointed First Family of Saratoga's action to demean and insult everything the city stands for by razing 23 Greenfield Avenue, we have but one reaction.


May 13, 2010

The effort to save Troy's Proctor's Theater

Today's shout-out:

For those of you with interest in Capital Region history, architecture, urban revitalization and the City of Troy: take a look at Don Ritter's excellent piece Will Troy’s Proctor’s Finally Be Saved?

May 6, 2010

Albany loses a piece of its soul

Sometimes the loss of a building -- or a business -- is more than just a newly vacant lot or a personal inconvenience. Such was the case this morning with the news of a major fire at the Lark Tavern in Albany's Lark Street/Pine Hills area.

Long the gathering spot for a wide range and a long succession of local characters, the Lark was the kind of place where you could feel the spirit of Ole Albany within, and that empty barstool felt like it was occcupied by a ghost from Bill Kennedy's imagination. The front room was where you got caught up with those pals you haven't seen in a while or your new co-workers; the back room was where you got to hear the city's creative voices.

Our thoughts today are with our good friend Tess Collins. Here's to hoping she can somehow find the energy to pick up the pieces and bring back the magic.

May 4, 2010

Who says Republicans don't have any original ideas?

Just bring livestock to the Doctor's office!

A little bit late, but it turns out that the Republicans DO have their own idea for reforming health care in this nation. It's called barter!

That's right: the next time you're heading to that doctor's appointment, head out to the chicken coop and pluck a few fat ones from the bunch. Bring 'em with you, for chickens are the new currency for health care delivery!

Don't believe me? Well, just ask the GOP's newest Golden Girl (sorry, Sarah); US Senate candidate Sue Lowden:

But don't fret for Ms Lowden. If she loses this race, I'm sure that FoxNews can find a spot for her. She'll fit right in.

Now; I wonder if my lawyer will take nite crawlers for my consultation tomorrow? I have a few of them left from the weekend's fishing trip.


May 3, 2010

Spill, baby, spill

Virtually impossible, huh?

For those among us who forgot why offshore drilling might not be the no brainer some tout it to be, a reality check has been delivered to your mail box.

British Petroleum (BP) had stated it was "unlikely or virtually impossible" that an accident could occur that would lead to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish, and mammals.

That was during BP’s 52-page 2009 exploration plan and environmental analysis for the Deepwater Horizon well. Yes; the one that exploded on April 20.