Ted Mills
January 25, 2008 9:05 AM

Sigmund Freud once said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” And sometimes a bar is just a bar. That is, while many of the bars we stop at offer pages of cocktails and their variations, some bars keep it simple. Real simple. Nobody’s stopping by asking for a Blue Hawaii. So it was as our mixology party stepped into Monty’s Sports Bar.
The bar takes up a humble space next to Woody’s Barbecue in the Magnolia Shopping Center, a retail space that includes a supermarket, a health food store, a karate dojo and a fencing school (we want to meet the person for whom this combination makes for one-stop-shopping).
Don’t let the dark windows fool you, the interior of Monty’s is as well lit as a coffee shop, laden with announcements for game viewings, contests and of course, karaoke night .
But tonight it’s slow, and Mo Boek stands behind the bar, at first wondering what we’re all about. Well, we’re all about sampling cocktails, and Boek doesn’t let us down.
First up is a classic margarita, on the rocks and in a lowball glass, with the requisite-but-still-hair-raising rim of salt. Boek balanced the flavors just right, lining them up in opposition to the salt.
Boek has been tending bar at a number of Santa Barbara and Goleta locales for many decades.
Mo made us a Perfect Manhattan (“Perfect” in that it mixes both sweet and dry vermouth), which came in a charming small Martini glass. Many bars skimp on the vermouth, unbalancing the whiskey, but here (with Beam’s Eight Star) the mix was correct.
We left with a straightforward, no-nonsense Martini. If you like your martinis light on the vermouth, then Mo’s version might be for you.

VODKA MARTINI (Monty’s style)
2 oz. Level vodka
1 oz. dry vermouth

Fill a glass half-full with crushed ice. Add vermouth and let sit for 20 seconds. Strain out most of the vermouth, then add vodka to remaining ice, add contents to shaker and agitate. Pour straight into martini glass and garnish with olive.

5114 Hollister Ave.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

MOVIE PREMIERE : From current to currency – World premiere documentary shows how three men revolutionized the world of surfing

January 25, 2008 8:38 AM
“The way people used to surf, the way we used to surf, was this: we were waiters, we were bus boys. And we’d save up money and go surfing.” The voice belongs to surfing legend Shaun Tomson, executive producer of “Bustin’ Down the Door,” a historical documentary on the moment when surfing turned into a professional sport . . . and a huge money-making machine.
The last five years have not only been good for surf films, but also for serious studies of the sport and its history. “Bustin’ Down the Door” unveils a transformative time and aims to appeal outside the usual cult audience, much like 2006’s “Chasing the Lotus.” The world premiere of the documentary Sunday at the Arlington aims to educate and to bring back together the original crew of men who changed the surfing world.

Surfing legends, from left, Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, Mark Richards and Santa Barbara-based Shaun Tomson spent their younger years together, championing the surfing culture. The trio comes together again in Tomson’s new film, “Bustin’ Down the Door,” showing Sunday in its world premiere debut at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Courtesy Photo

Along with Tomson, Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew and Mark Richards formed the core group of Australians and South Africans who had a simple dream: “All we wanted to do was prolong the surfing lifestyle,” Tomson says. “We wanted to get paid to surf. It was a novel idea.”
At the time — 1975 — Tomson and the others were between 19 and 21 years old. Tomson and his cousin were still attending university, pursuing degrees in business. They were also poised to become world class surfers, and with a little skill and nerve, they managed to infiltrate the Hawaiian surf culture, win contests, and set a standard that defined professional surfing.

Below, Tomson was photographed for a 1975 cover of Surfing Magazine.
In interview, Tomson remains cagey about the exact details of how this all came to pass within two years. He insists viewers attend the film to see how it all came about.
He is also fond of hinting at a darker history promised in the film. “We put our lives on the line in the water and we risked our lives on land,” he says. “Success brought us big problems and took us down an unexpected road.” That road, presumably, is in the film.
“We weren’t disrespectful of Hawaii (and Hawaiian culture), but others had that sense about us,” Tomson says. “We had zero respect within the mainstream industry, but once we brought professionalism and commerce into it, we gave (the higher class of surfer) the time to just focus on surfing. And therefore they improved.”
Ironically, the industry Tomson and company helped create now churn out surf films that, he says, “exist to sell shorts and T-shirts. They’re advertising campaigns, not films.” “Bustin’ Down the Door,” directed by first-time filmmaker Jeremy Gosch and narrated by Edward Norton, funded itself independently, without corporate sponsorship.
Tomson went on to become a surf legend, winning South Africa’s Gunston 500 six times in a row. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to start up Instinct Apparel and Solitude Clothing. Having settled in Santa Barbara 12 years ago, he has since become involved with the Surfrider Foundation and acts as chair of its advisory board.

Montecito resident Shaun Tomson, right, discusses soon-to-be-premiered “Bustin’ Down the Door.”
The other five members also had their successes. Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew heads the Association of Surfing Professionals. Mark Richards is considered one of the best board shapers. All have earned numerous titles.
And if luck will have it, all of them will be attending the premiere, a rare chance for this group to be in the same room.
“When I look at the movie, it’s like looking at someone else’s life . . . We all look so fragile,” Tomson says. “I’m amazed that it all happened the way it did.”
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Arlington Theatre,
1317 State Street
Tickets: $15
Information: 963-4408, www.bustindownthedoor.com
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

FILM : Time for our favorite season – The 23rd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival brings stars and celluloid to town

January 25, 2008 8:37 AM

That particular time of year has fallen on us again. The mutable weather hovers between sun and rain. Despite the cloudy weather, unfamiliar people from southern cities wear sunglasses. When the wind rises it catches on laminated movie credentials hanging around necks, making them flutter in the breeze. People unfamiliar with State Street stumble out of dark theaters, amazed at what they’ve seen, then try to figure out where to eat for 30 minutes before diving in again.
Yes, it’s the 23rd Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which, as you read this, has already been in town for one evening. But today, running through Feb. 3, is when the real schedule-juggling, stargazing, contact-making party begins.
Here’s what the Film Festival seems to have learned from last year: don’t mess with the formula, just add to it. Celebrity appearances and award presentations serve as a linchpin for each evening, and the list is formidable: Angelina Jolie, Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Ryan Gosling, Javier Bardem, Julie Christie and more. The Virtuosos Award — new for 2008 — honors five rising stars for the price of one. What a deal!
The series of panels — on directing, producing, writing and more — return in force this year, as does the 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking competition, which often results in some of the quirkiest and freewheelin’ short films in the festival . . . and they’re homemade too.
The festival divides 215 films into several categories and sidebars — the regulars, such as Latino Cinemedia, To the Maxxx (extreme sports films), and East x West (Asian cinema), plus new sidebars, such as Eastern Bloc — again focusing on developments in sub-layers of film with their own devoted followers. And for kids (and families) there’s the absolutely free Applebox, a weekend, morning-only fest of family films.
The festival tantalizes with the idea that maybe you’ll see a brilliant, life-changing film and be the first one to know all about it. Not all films are guaranteed to have as much as a DVD shelf life, so pay attention, because those memories remain important.
Lastly, let’s not forget what makes a festival great, other than the films — the schmoozing, the celebrating and the party going. The mass gathering of the film tribes always is cause for much merriment. Can the festival top the Biltmore-set Will Smith party last year, of which people spoke in rapturous tones for days? Or Q’s Sushi a Go-Go turning into three levels of hell, purgatory and heaven? We’ll let you know in 10 days.
For a full schedule, check www.sbiff.org.

Ted’s Top-10 checklist
With 215 films, so little time, what am I curious to see?
‘The Unknown Woman’
Closing night film from the director of “Cinema Paradiso. One of his best, they are saying.
‘In the Company of Actors’
Sure, I’d love to watch Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving rehearsing “Hedda Gabler,” as this doc does.
I missed last year’s anime spectacular, “Paprika,” and it took me months to catch up. Not this time.
‘Away From Her’
Brilliant actor Sarah Polley turns out to be a brilliant director, I have been told by my sources.
‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’
Because I missed it when it passed through town. What can I say?
Three Hong Kong directors for the price of one: Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To!
‘D Tour: A Tenacious D(ocumentary)’
The D Men make me laugh, who knows what awaits in a doc?
‘Frank & Cindy’
What happened to the man behind OXO’s one-hit wonder “Whirley Girl”? This doc sounds like a dysfunctional journey I’d like to take.
‘George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead’
Yeah, I know I can wait for a regular release, but this is Romero!
‘The Mourning Forest’
Naomi Kawase’s film has sent online reviewers into comparisons with Mizoguchi and Kiarostami. I’m intrigued.

My list is subject to change once the festival begins!

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

A Study of Betrayal : Norman Jewison’s socially conscious oeuvre honored

January 25, 2008 7:50 AM

Norman Jewison’s thoughts on the film industry can be summed up in the title of his autobiography, released in 2005: “This Terrible Business Has Been Good To Me.”
That is has, with five Oscar nominations for best director and a resume of blockbuster and Oscar-winning hits including “Moonstruck,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Rollerball,” and the movie that first raised his profile in Hollywood, “In the Heat of the Night.”
Yet the studio system that once gave Mr. Jewison his daring breaks has been replaced by corporate entities that, he says, are really only concerned with comic book sequels.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival honors Mr. Jewison by naming him Guest Director for 2008 and plans to screen three of his best-known films.
Born in Ontario, Canada, Mr. Jewison continues to cultivate young filmmakers through the Canadian Centre for Advanced Film Studies in Toronto, which he founded. In an interview, he is lively, down to earth, and ready to let rip on the state of the business, although never with the taste of sour grapes.

News-Press: The prep for this interview included watching “The Thomas Crown Affair”. . .
Norman Jewison: Ah! Thank you. It has that wonderful score by Michel Legrand, one of the best scores of any of my films. I love the chess scene (between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway). It’s a great piece of photography by Haskell Wexler, and a great piece of editing by Hal Ashby.
NP: It’s striking that, in a film billed as a romance-thriller, Faye Dunaway’s character only meets Thomas Crown once we’re halfway through the movie.
NJ: In those days you could take your time with films. “The Thomas Crown Affair” moves gracefully. It’s not choppy. So many films these days have that MTV editing. It’s sad. I think you need time to tell a story. But now, Hollywood and the studios have been taken over by multinational corporations, and marketing forces are in control. Once that happened, American films lost their originality. Everything interesting has moved to independent films. These are films we talk about at the end of the year.
NP: You’ve said that betrayal is one of your favorite themes. Why is that?
NJ: When I was very young, about 4 or 5 years old, everybody called me “Jew-boy” or “Jew-y” because of my name. “Jewison”: why, that means “son of a Jew.” But at 6 or 7 years old, my mom took me aside and told me ‘You’re not Jewish! You’re a Methodist!’ And for some reason, I felt betrayed by it. . .I think that’s why that may be a major theme. We’ve all been betrayed in our lives, by a girlfriend, by our family, by our jobs, or by our country. It pervades all my films.
NP: Your films have often had socially aware themes. Where does that come from?
NJ: When I started I was a Canadian, coming to New York at end of the ’50s to work. My first opportunity to deal with issues like racism and immigration was on the CBS television special with Harry Belafonte. I became very involved in the battle for equality in ’60s. A lot of us were. After the success of “In the Heat of the Night,” I knew that racism was a subject I wanted to revisit. And I did with “A Soldier’s Story” (1983) and “The Hurricane” (1999). But if you said 20 years ago that a black senator was going to be a viable candidate for president, I would have said you’re crazy. We’ve watched America change, and three of (those films) have something to say about this transition. It’s a remarkable time right now.
NP: Still, “The Hurricane” managed to anger a lot of people. (The film, which starred Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, drew complaints and lawsuits that Jewison and his writer had ignored certain facts and taken liberties with others).
NJ: Yes! It’s like they wanted to try him all over again. I couldn’t believe the hate mail that the film generated, and so much of it from Newark, NJ. But “Hurricane” is a cold case of justice denied. That lingering racism is why it’s remarkable that we can even make films like that. Denzel’s performance is one of the best in any of my films.
NP: Do you cultivate up-and-coming directors?
NJ: Yes. I do spend a lot of time with new directors, producers and writers. I’m very proud of Sarah Polley, who directed “Away From Her.” She spent time at our Canadian Film Center, which is like Canada’s (American Film Institute). There’s a point in a career when you can pass on all the information you know. I like that. When I met with Roger Durling, that’s what he explained I would be doing at the fest.
NP: Who were your mentors?
NJ: It was a combination of people. William Wyler let me come to his sets before I even made a picture. Freddy Zinnemann was also very supportive. I showed him the first cut of “Fiddler on the Roof” to ask him what I should take out. There were many others. They would give you the whisper in the ear you needed, they would take you out to lunch. It’s important, because filmmaking is such a difficult thing to teach.

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Deluge of film : Storms don’t dampen festival opener

Actress Abigail Breslin, co-star of the movie “Definitely, Maybe,” talks to the media during the walk on the red carpet at the Arlington Theatre on Thursday night.

January 25, 2008 7:45 AM

Torrential rain may have flooded the streets of Santa Barbara, but they did not deter the 23rd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival from celebrating its opening night with a star-studded ceremony.
With an entire block of State Street closed down in front of the historic Arlington Theatre, fans and press waited, not for limos, but for a VIP tent to produce stars onto the red carpet.
The festival, which runs through Feb. 3, hosts 215 features, including 21 world premieres, numerous shorts, nightly awards and tributes honoring some of Hollywood’s most exciting actors and actresses, themed mini-festivals of genres like sports and nature documentaries, and panels of directors, producers and writers.
“This I what I envisioned five years ago (when I started), that we’d be an ‘Oscar’ festival,’ ” director Roger Durling said. “I’m having an out-of-body experience right now.”
The opening-night film, “Definitely, Maybe,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin, is a romantic comedy about a father explaining his relationship history to his daughter on the eve on his impending divorce. Both Mr. Reynolds and Abigail (“Little Miss Sunshine”) walked the red carpet, talking to fans, posing for photos, and answering questions, along with co-stars Derek Luke and Liane Balaban.
“Most of the scenes with Reynolds and Breslin take place in her character’s bedroom,” said director Adam Brooks, who also appeared and introduced his film. “So we set up a very cozy, nice place for her to work. Abigail is a very focused actress. She has enormous powers of concentration.”
Also spotted on the red carpet Thursday evening: actress Shohreh Agdashloo and actor Dennis Franz. The former, who starred in “House of Sand and Fog,” also sits on the festival’s panel of judges.
The death on Tuesday of actor Heath Ledger hung over the festival, as only two years ago the actor, fresh off his Oscar-nominated role as Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain,” received the Breakthrough Performance of the Year Award. In his introduction to the event, Mr. Durling spoke to the audience about the 28-year-old’s sudden passing.
“We have lost a member of our family,” Mr. Durling said. “Please let’s honor him for what he gave us . . . he gave us art.” With that, Mr. Durling announced that this year’s festival would be dedicated to Heath Ledger’s memory.
As they did last year, the celebrity invitations announced at the beginning of the year mirrored the Oscar nominations that were announced this month. Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Ellen Page and Julie Christie have all earned Best Actor and Actress nominations; Casey Affleck, Javier Bardem, and Amy Ryan received Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominations (as did Mr. Jones and Ms. Blanchett, for different films). All seven will be in town during the festival to receive awards.
“We must have a little magic crystal ball,” said Mr. Durling, noting that invites to the Santa Barbara festival typically go out in May — long before Oscar nominations are announced. “The gods are looking after us.”
Two films nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, “Mongol” and “The Counterfeiters,” will also screen at the festival. Last year, a popular festival favorite, “The Lives of Others,” went on to win that Oscar .
After the film, the opening night festivities spilled out into the still-tented street and Arlington foyer for a party. While the streets in the immediate vicinity were in blackout mode — thanks to a storm — the festival still had enough backup juice to keep the party going.

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Linktastic fun with the “Church” of $cientology

It all started here, with the chilling and funny in a car-accident way Tom Cruise Scientology video that leaked onto the Net. YouTube had it first, then Co$ threatened, they took it down, and Defamer.com, bless their cotton socks, put it up and refuse to take it down.
I am morbidly intrigued by cults, and no doubt Co$ is one of the most powerful and one of the most dangerous. Their ultra-seriousness, their righteousness, and–from the videos I’ve seen–their barely contained anger and victim mentality make them ripe for mocking, but read further and they become quite frightening.
The Cruise video led me to this fascinating BBC Panorama doc from May 2007, where John Sweeney investigates the “Church” and becomes victim to their harrassment, including being followed, being verbally assaulted, and on and on until Sweeney finally snaps and screams his head off. It’s quite shocking, but I find it strange that the BBC, who had once investigated the cult in 1987 (as my friend Chris reminded me), didn’t prep Sweeney for the kind of “bull-baiting” that is exactly intended to result in outbursts like his. Watch it and ask yourself if you could handle the same pressure. Also, the footage the Co$ shot of the outburst was then sent to Sweeney’s boss, his boss’s boss, and so on to smear him and to try to get him fired.
That in turn led me past the wonderful Operation Clambake website and onward to XenuTV.com, Mark Bunker’s site. Sweeney should have watched how Bunker runs rings around these pesky twerps on his many journeys into the cold, evil heart of Co$ in Los Angeles and more importantly in Clearwater, Florida, which to non-cult members is a “occupied city.”
For a gruesome record of what Co$ is capable of, check this slideshow (contains some disturbing autopsy photos).
For some more lighthearted info about Lord Xenu and the Co$ creation myth, check this funny animation.
But for the best laughs of all, the infamous South Park Scientology episode which the Co$ got pulled off TV…still exists on the web, the glorious web!!!
Here’s a harrowing first-hand account of the cult from someone who was brainwashed for over a decade.
Now that $cientology has angered the geek community, there’s even more leakage of their precious, dark materials. Here’s an Orientation Video for your amusement. Don’t watch too long or Xenu will get you!!!


Ted Mills
January 18, 2008 11:57 AM

You don’t have to wait for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for Hollywood to come to Santa Barbara. In fact, Hollywood already works the bar at Trattoria Vittoria, the hot Italian restaurant in town. Charlie Manzo, or “Hollywood” to his fans, has been tipping and flipping tipple for the restaurant since its Valentine’s Day grand opening. When he’s not managing the bar here, he’ll likely be found at Stateside where he DJs.
When our gang rolled up on Thursday night, we were lucky to grab the last seats at the end of the bar — the rest of the restaurant was packed. Up first on the menu was the Mixed Berry, a mix of three flavored Stoli vodkas (blueberry, raspberry and black cherry), fresh muddled berries and a splash of Chambord. The drink comes served in a midnight blue martini glass with a sprig of mint, so none of us really knew what the cocktail looked like. Sweet up front, but with a tart, sour aftertaste — whether this was a vagary of the sometimes-sour berries, we couldn’t say.
Hollywood returned with a shooter/chaser called the Sweet Tart, a pleasing mix of Southern Comfort, Red Bull, fresh lime juice and orange juice, straight from his own recipe book. Southern Comfort and Red Bull make fine bedfellows, strangely enough, as they seem quite close on the taste spectrum.
A few more friends joined us, and soon the orders were coming two-fold. More drinks to sample? We were set. The peach bellini balances the tartness of the champagne with the sweetness of the peach puree. Hollywood disappeared down the far end of the bar near the classical “order-up” archway that looks into the kitchen, and returned with a blazingly red cocktail in a martini glass. At first the color threw us off as to what we were tasting, but soon we figured it out (or rather, Hollywood told us): a mix of Malibu rum, sour apple mix, cranberry juice and a dash of Sprite.
Stuck for a name for this just-realized concoction, we polled our companions and chose the obvious: Hollywood. And because we were surrounded by delicious food — especially desserts — our cocktail of the week choice has to go to the Liquid Tiramisu, which is, as they say about some power drinks, a meal in itself. Creamy, sweet and a little bitter, this is a beautiful cake-in-a-blender type of drink.

2 oz. Espresso
2 oz. Faretti Biscotti
1 oz. Dulseda
1/2 oz. Vanilla Stoli Vodka
Combine in shaker and add ice. Shake and strain into martini glass.

Trattoria Vittoria
30 E. Victoria St.
962-5014, www.trattoriavittoria.com
Hours: Dinner: 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Lunch:11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

Watching the watchmen – Woodard’s latest one-woman show premieres at Ojai Playwrights Conference

Charlayne Woodard comes from a tough, competitive background in storytelling — her family.
“Sundays used to mean being at my grandfather’s, surrounded by my aunts and uncles, my cousins, and my second cousins,” she says. “And my granddaddy would start us off, and he’d tell a story, and I’d be thinking, how am I going to wow him.”
Now Woodard wows audiences with her series of one-woman shows that spin tales of family and growing up. Her most recent play, “The Night Watchman,” premieres in workshop form at this Saturday’s Ojai Playwrights Conference, along with other works in progress from other writers.
“You couldn’t be gentle with your stories around my granddaddy, or you’d be cut off,” she says. “You had to bring it. And my family would jump in with questions, and I’d have to start all over again.”
Woodard doesn’t face audiences that tough anymore, but it gave her the training to stand up for herself and standout. Much later, when she left the world of New York theater for the Hollywood film industry, she found that her storytelling was attracting attention.
“People would keep saying, that’s a great story, you should make it into a movie,” she says. But to Woodard, that was just one tale among many. Actors weren’t storytellers like they were on the East Coast, she realized, and if people seemed enthralled by her yarns, well then ?
Her first one-woman play went into workshop at a church retreat for women, where Woodard stood up in front of 450 women and, as she tells it, “450 women finished my sentences for me. Women were coming up afterwards to say, ‘Thank you for telling my story.’ ”
That play became “Pretty Fire,” a tale of Woodard’s trips from her Albany, New York, home to her grandparents’ home in the Deep South. The play premiered in 1992, and since then, she’s returned to the storytelling format several times, with “Neat” in 1997, and “In Real Life” in 2000, as well as a multi-character drama, “Flight,” in 2005.
Outside her appearances in her own plays, she has racked up a resumé of television appearances (“E.R.” and “Law and Order,” among others) and appearances in films such as “The Crucible,” “Sunshine State,” “Unbreakable,” and “The Million Dollar Hotel.” She also recently finished up a mentally exhausting role as Kate in Rebecca Bayla Taichman’s modern-dress version of “The Taming of the Shrew.”
“The Night Watchman” returns Woodard to stories of childhood, but she’s assembling them around a question of the modern life of kids, not her own past.
“(Children) are assaulted with so much information these days,” she says, “and it’s a lot for them to synthesize ? I feel that there’s less and less attention paid to the family unit.
“This is still an infant play, I haven’t really talked it out,” she says. Under Keith Bunin’s direction, Woodard says she’ll be using the chance to perform in Ojai as a way of shaping future incarnations of the play. “The audience becomes my scene partner,” she says. “It’s just between me and 400 folks.”
Other artists at the Ojai Playwright Conference include Neil Patrick Harris, Sally Field, Noah Wyle, Allison Janney, and more. See www.ojaiplays.org for full schedule.

When: Readings begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dinner and Celebrity Auction 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Matilija Auditorium, 703 El Paseo Rd., Ojai (Readings), and 1105 N. Signal Street, Ojai
(Dinner, Celebrity Auction)
Cost: $65 to $225
Information: 646-6090, www.ojaiplays.org

Cornelius! At the Walt Disney Concert Hall!!

Erica and I met Jon and Joan down in L.A. last night for the one-night-only appearance of Cornelius at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. For Jon and myself this was our first time seeing Cornelius since the Fantasma Tour in 1998. For the ladies, it was their first time ever. (CORRECTION: Jon reminds me he saw the band in 2002.) Keigo Oyamada and his band (which includes their smokin’ ace drummer Yuko Araki) dress sharp and produce a tight post-rock that breaks rock and and electronica into small parts and reassembles them into fascinating sculptures. There’s no other artist quite like it, though I would suggest The Books for the cut-up aesthetic and Yo La Tengo for the ability to play in different genres without sounding like parody. Accompanying the group was a video display which was synchronized to the music (or rather, the other way around)–and here I can use the powers of YouTube to present some of my favorites from the night. These aren’t just abstract vids, but crazy animations whose domestic backgrounds mirror Cornelius’ own bedroom aesthetic of music creation. “Fit Song” was incredible on the big screen, especially.
Opening for Cornelius was the two-man DJ operation called Plaid. I don’t know how to categorize their sometimes pounding electronica, as it verged often into the abstract. You wouldn’t be dancing to them. It’s too rhythmically complex to be ambient. It’s Plaid. Their video work behind them was a relief compared to watching two guys at laptops.
Finally, being my first visit to the space, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, is a truly beautiful thing to be inside. I may have problems with a lot of Gehry’s work, but inside the Hall it feels like being inside a giant wooden cup, vertiginous, and despite our balcony seats, we had a great view of the entire event and felt on top of everything. The acoustics are fabulous, especially for Plaid, as the various frequencies seem to come from different areas of the Hall. The bass was remarkable. The only trouble with Cornelius was moments were so frikkin’ loud that the very high frequencies rose to the top of the hall (wood, you know) and assaulted us. But I think that was the point. Oyamada plays his trusty Theremin and one of his bandmates was sawing away at some unidentified electronic instrument with a bow, producing some otherworldly screeches. And did I mention that the drummer is amazing?
So here’s some video. Fit Song:

Like a Rolling Stone (YouTube can’t do this justice):

Point of View Point:

Drop (Do It Again):


A Short Post about Laurie Anderson

Not everybody knows Laurie Anderson, even during her most popular period, 1980-1986. So I have trawled YouTube to see what I could find for all y’alls education. Her most enduring track is 1980’s O Superman, her mesmerizing 8 minute opus that amazingly went to Number One in the UK in some sort of aberration of coolness. If you’ve never seen it, well:

Then there’s her 1984 album, Mister Heartbreak, which has a number of great tracks on it. But Sharkey’s Day was the only (?) video from it:

There’s some great moments of early video surrealism here.
Finally, there’s a great Stop Making Sense-like concert movie called Home of the Brave, which has yet to be released on DVD. In the meantime, here’s the Language Is a Virus video, which is a sort of trailer for the film. This remix of the song is not in the film, but was produced by Nile Rogers to promote it.
For an idea of what the film actually looks like, though, here’s one of the best songs, Smoke Rings. There’s several things I love here: the gameshow intro (a parody of a SNL skit); Anderson’s second microphone, which is connected to a echoey delay so she can sing a single high note into it and have it careen around the mix; the morphing of a smoke ring into a zero and then its binary opposite, a ‘1’, then turning into ‘911’; Anderson’s weird electronic sampler-violin at the end that make sawing, diving sounds.