"HOW A GREAT BOXING NOVEL GOT THE MOVIE IT DESERVED"
Leonard Gardner’s ‘Fat City’ was his first and only novel, to describe it as a book about boxing would do it a disservice. It is a book about desperate, vulnerable, struggling human beings, some of who happen to box, because while the odds of success are long and unlikely it’s their last best hope.
Adapted beautifully to the screen by Gardner and John Huston—as described in this piece over at The Stacks. The film stars Stacy Keach, who’s performance is as impressive as any given by Gene Hackman or Dustin Hoffman in the 1970’s and a young Jeff Bridges—of ‘Last Picture’ Show vintage. It’s the rare instance in which an adaptation of a great novel—revered by writers far and wide, many of whom like Denis Johnson can recite every line—is an equally great film, every bit as moving and resonant
A Reference Of Female-Fronted Punk Rock: 1977-1989
My good friend Marc alerted me to this enormous homemade compilation, it spans twelve discs, many continents, and ranges from the iconic to the obscure. You can download the entire thing courtesy of the France based blog, Kängnäve.
A series of intimate closeups taken in and around Chicago during the early 80’s using a Polaroid camera. Barbara Crane’s amazing “Private Views” captures small details that suggest something much larger. See them all here.
The Brothers scored a minor hit with this 1968 Boo Records release. They also served as songwriting team, most notably for Ruby Andrews, penning most of the tracks she cut for the Chicago based Zodiac Records. Including “You Made A Believer (Out of Me), sampled by Q-Tip on “Won’t Trade”in 2008.
"The Fire Last Time: LIFE in Watts, 1966" - by Bill Ray
“The August 1965 Watts Riots (or Watts Rebellion, depending on one’s perspective and politics), were among the bloodiest, costliest and — in the five decades since they erupted — most analyzed uprisings of the notoriously unsettled mid-1960s. Ostensibly sparked by an aggressive traffic stop of a black motorist by white cops — but, in fact, the combustive result of decades of institutional racism and profound neglect on the part of the city’s power brokers — the six-day upheaval resulted in 34 deaths, more than 3,400 arrests and tens of millions of dollars in property damage (back when a million bucks still meant something). A year after the flames were put out and the smoke cleared from the southern California sky, LIFE revisited the scene of the devastation for a “special section” in its July 15, 1966, issue that the magazine called “Watts: Still Seething.” A good part of that special section featured a series of remarkable color photos made by Bill Ray on the streets of Watts: pictures of stylish, even dapper, young men making and hurling Molotov cocktails; of children at play in back yards and in rubble-strewn lots; of wary police and warier residents; of a community struggling to save itself from drugs, gangs, guns, idleness and decades of despair.”
Miloš Forman’s debut, generally credited with launching the Czech New Wave, is comprised of two short films, Audition and If There Were No Music. Both interweave footage of performance—brass band rehearsal and talent shows auditions—with a loose narrative. Like his work later in the decade both are playful, heartbreaking, and very funny as they chronicle youthful rebellion and the desire to escape the dreariness of every day life.
In 1970 the former teen pop star—best known for novelty songs like “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”—was twenty-seven and struggling to establish himself as a serious artist. He’d released Stay and Love Me All Summer the prior year and while it was still sunshine pop there was an unmistakeable melancholy and maturity not present in his early work. He hoped to continue his evolution and turned to Del Shannon to produce Brian Hyland, his self-titled effort on which “On the East Side” appeared. Shannon added a touch of psychedelica, pairing it with a power pop sensibility and sweeping string arrangements. The resulting album, which contained both covers and original material, sounded not unlike Shannon’s own records from the era. ‘On the East Side’, a collaboration between the two, would have seemed a cinch to become a huge pop hit. But the only track from the record to find any popular success was a cover of “Gypsy Woman” and so Hyland was dropped by his label and spent the rest of decade without a record deal.
I remember when I first saw The New World in a Brooklyn theater circa 2005 it struck that this final sequence, underscored by Wagner’s Das Rheingold, felt like something of a visual equivalent to the final passage of The Great Gatsby. Perhaps it was simply the literal reference by Fitzgerald to the ‘new world’, but more than that both evoke a promise and endless possibility that remains forever just out of reach, that we fail to grasp and squander because of our own failings and frailties.
“Eventually I shook free of my self-absorption and came to grasp what she was saying, aided by how slowly she was speaking. That summer her brother died—she was referring to his death as if we’d discussed it before—and she was looking through his stuff, records and books, deciding what to take with her when the family moved, she had found a notebook, a notebook from school, what grade she wasn’t sure, and it had numbers written all over its pages: 1066, 312, 1936, 1492, 800, 1776, etc. At first she didn’t know what these were, didn’t recognize them as years, significant years he probably had to memorize for a history test, and so had written the numbers again and again, filling an entire notebook with them, and she convinced herself that it was an elaborate coded message, a message to her. She must have known, she was sixteen, that this was impossible, but she had let herself be convinced, and the notebook became her treasured possession. She never attempted to decipher the code, the point was not to read the message; the point was that there was an ongoing conversation between her and her brother, an unconcluded correspondence.”
"Cemeteries in Bohemia are like gardens. The graves are covered with grass and colourful flowers. Modest tombstones are lost in the greenery. When the sun goes down, the cemetery sparkleswith tiny candles. It looks as though the dead are dancing at a children’s ball. Yes, a children’s ball, because the dead are as innocent as children. No matter how brutal life becomes, peace always reigns in the cemetery. Even in wartime, in Hitler’s time, in Stalin’s time, through all the occupations. When she felt low, she would get into the car, leave Prague far behind, and walk through one or another of the country cemeteries she loved so well. Against a backdrop of blue hills, they were as beautiful as a lullaby.
For Franz a cemetery was an ugly dump of stones and bones.”
— Milan Kundera "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"