Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The first part of this post is about Olympia:

My mom, who lives in the New Jersey suburbs, has talked to me about Olympia and its whiteness, its lack of urbanity. I tried to defend it to her, because she hasn't really spent any time here, and only knows what I tell her about it. I kind of defended it in bad terms, which I'll now redefine. Olympia, despite its lack of any real minority population, still has this culture that my mom and a lot of people like her romanticize and associate with different races, that's a lot "warmer" and more "wild" and "open" than people's traditional experiences with their neighbors. Someone at the Capitol Theater told me, that after they'd introduced me to someone and I was a huge weirdo and then ran off, that the person I was introduced to said "That's what I like about the Capitol Theater. People here are so different than what I'm used to." At the time I was just confused, but then I realized the thing how I was being viewed. That's the Olympia I live in, though.

The thing is, because it's done by white people, it's more easily accepted and integrated, dealt with. Right now, I believe, the single most popular record in the country is the soundtrack to Juno, composed largely by Olympia resident Kimya Dawson. I have nothing against Kimya Dawson at all. I am generally wary of things that are that embraceable, for reasons that have nothing to do with the thing being embraced: They can't help being lovable.

Oh right, that's a thing I wanted to bring up, that apparently there was, like, a half-a-million-dollar offer to her to write a theme for Wal-Mart? She turned it down.

I look around Olympia and see a place being developed in weird ways from what it was when I moved here, five years ago. Five years ago means I am in no ways from here. In all likelihood, the people moving into these condos popping up have a greater claim to this area than I do, as they're probably from neighboring towns I've never been to. Olympia's a safe place, with a lot less meth use than those places, and probably better schools. Incidents of violence are rare.

That story I told of being forced into a fight by some drunk out-of-towners the other week was notable for its oddity. The only thing that might keep property values down is the stupid anarchist/activist graffiti that we all suspect is being done by rich college kids who have recently moved to town. They're all stupid, but fuck it, god bless them for being unpleasant.

Still, areas filled of junk cars and old greenhouses are all getting cleaned up to make way for town homes and condos. I can't blame it on the pleasantness. I can't even call it gentrification yet.

But I do feel there's a thing out there in the mass culture that I find kind of offputting, encroaching upon some kind of graveyard. It seems possible it'll do good things- please god let it get Obama elected- (I'm sure that comes out of left field completely) but it is, in itself, its own blandness. Obama is nowhere near as bland as the last two Democratic nominees for President, as a person, but I think I'm just put off by the general mechanism that sways the masses.

The second part of this post is about movies and comics and music and shit.

This new mainstream would need to lead to a new "________" (multiple choice fill in the blank for a series of synonyms, with a) being something like "independent sphere" b) "underground" c) "counterculture") that could travel farther. The whole soft indie comedy is starting to feel at this point like Pulp Fiction-inspired neonoirs started to feel after Memento came out. (I like Memento, I'm citing it as a last hurrah.) I'm imagining a psychedelia that's vaguely informed by stuff like The Holy Mountain and the recently viewed Sweet Movie, only this time with satire that's actually funny. I saw Daisies after an interview in Arthur with Jimmy Joe Roche promoting Ultimate Reality. Ultimate Reality isn't quite the sort of the thing I'm talking about, but it's on the right track. It might vaguely feel like a poor man's Paper Rad, rather than an offshoot of its more narrative directons. (Man, that complete Cold Heat book can't come out soon enough. That kind of stuff might be exactly what I'm talking about. Only I imagine a movie instead of a comic, due to cinema's ability to integrate myriad parts to form an overwhelming whole and thus be accessible and communicative.) I talk about this sort of stuff all the time on this blog.

In addition to that stuff, I really like the movies made by Powell And Pressburger, The Archers. I just saw The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp- I'd tried to watch it before and couldn't make it through it, but that movie's pretty good. I was reading this thing about their mission statement, their list of thoughts- one was that a filmmaker needs to a be a year ahead of not just his peers, but the general trends, because a film takes a year to make. So, there's that.

I talked about Chameleon Street and the idea of a black Orson Welles. It turns out that some people think of The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp as a British Citizen Kane. Which it is nowhere near as good as, but: People talked about There Will Be Blood as being like Citizen Kane in terms of its American-ness, its story of capitalism sort of creating and destroying a man. The Powell and Pressburger film should probably be viewed as a British alternative in terms of not being about capitalism at all, so much as it is about manners and gentlemanly decorum falling out of favor as time goes on. Which means its not as interesting. (Meanwhile, A Matter Of Life And Death is called the British Wizard Of Oz and is apparently Sammy Harkham's favorite film, and is completely unavailable in the U.S. on DVD.)

1 comment:

laura said...

"....it shows what’s at the core of this soundtrack- the exploitation and fetishization of childlike naivete (and the unexpectedly articulate wisdom there found), moving beyond interesting, beyond cute, into empty and nauseating self-absorption." this is something i read in someone's blog post about juno, where they talked a lot about the soundtrack. that quote does well to explain what i've come to dislike in and about olympia, which i realize is not the same as what you described. though i think it's part of it