MELTASIA 2019

I went to a music festival last weekend, possibly the best weekend of my life, but I have had some good weekends here and there. The show was Rock & Roll with a classic 1950’s vibe. The Brooklyn Bluebirds rocked, that’s Andy Animal’s band, he organizes the event and I think it’s on his birthday weekend. Shit Horse freakin’rocked. Tandoori Knights were excellent. Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers produced and presented some great kids bands from the Paul Green Rock Academy.  I slept in a hammock, it rained, I walked around barefoot, swam in the Esopus Creek, saw some old friends, made some new ones. Rio the dog was there, somebody brought a big goat, that was cool. The art installations were really great, there was a vegan food vendor Berben & Wolff’s with locations in Albany and Troy. Brooke Deva was selling textiles and jewelry from India. The bands played late into the night and there were classic films being projected all day. 

Poetical Ravings

by Alexander Countey

We can never claim to be higher then another, never claim to have realized what others have not, never hold ourselves superior in any way to other humans, to other beings, we are all simply at different points in our paths, we are all simply in the same illusion, the commonality of the experience of the world, of the world we witness, the common illusion shared between all sentient beings in this world, is itself the proof of the unity of existence. This common illusion is the divine connection that hold us within our identity, into our ego, into this world. As Ram Dass so elegantly states it, “Don’t prolong the past, don’t invite the future, don’t alter innate wakefulness, don’t fear appearances.” We must neither attach to nor reject the world we witness. We must not get lost in the past experiences that, although they undeniably hold relevance into whom we identify ourselves as, what we believe, what brought us to this point, it must be viewed as neutral and equal as any other experience, as no better nor no worse than any other pathway. As each pathway is equally as valid, it must be observed as equally valid as every other experience. We must not take away or alter our focus to block out the world, it is too easy to be ignorant of what is around us, ignorant of the impact of our actions, ignorant to the world as it unfolds around us, our focus placed somewhere else, focused away from the world, so focused we become blind and ignore, focused to push away and reject the world, focus so strong on a single point that it becomes blind to all that is around.
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𝘉𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥 by Supreme

Supreme has brought skateboarding culture into high fashion here in New York City. Sometimes I wonder if any of the people waiting in line around the block on Lafayette and Prince St ready to drop $40 on a t-shirt actually skate. Some of them do!
These kids can skate!

Blessed like the skate videos that you can see on Thrasher except edited into a feature length film. Beautifully. With a great soundtrack.

Skating is hard work, and it takes balls. If you’re attempting new tricks, you fall a lot. It can take hundreds of tries to land something new. And Blessed takes the time to show some of that effort that can go into landing skateboard tricks.

There isn’t really a storyline, or much talking, barely any interviews in Blessed, but you do get a sense of the humble glory of street skateboarding. Like the dedication to perfection, and the high that comes from doing the impossible.

These kids own their streets. They take over parks, courthouse steps, driveways, alleyways, bomb down hills, fly down stairs, I don’t know if it looks hard, but it is.

These guys are athletes of the highest order.

I saw this at Cinema Village and was ready to pay to get in, but admission to this film was free that day. I was blessed.

A Star Is Born

Village East Cinema, NY
A Star Is Born opening credit

In the news yesterday, I noticed that Lady Gaga is engaged to be married. My only hope is that it works out better than it does for Ally in her 2018 film A Star Is Born. I liked this film, a romantic drama that was not quite a musical but featured some pretty good musical numbers; particularly her first song that she sings in French at the drag club. This film had character, and feeling, and glitz, and romance as imperfect as it can be. I think that Gaga had direct creative control over every element of the production, while some of the scriptwriting might have seemed forced it was actually the pop star’s own true voice.

The film is about Ally, who is a normal girl who lives with her dad in the suburbs. She works some service job in a high-end hotel and sings when she can at a drag bar in the city. It is in this drag bar where she’s discovered by the rock star Jack.  Jack is kind.  Jack is sensitive.  Jack knows how to ice a broken hand. His brother is the cowboy from Big Lebowski.     Don’t be Jack.

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Viking Destiny (2018)

Walking by Cinema Village yesterday, I checked the showtimes and was intrigued by a doc about space travel but there was this other film that only had two showtimes that day 11 am and 11 pm. So, passing over Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, which has better press and many showings, I determined to come back at 11pm to see Viking Destiny. I was the only person in the theater, which was alright, but disconcerting. Probably better than seeing Venom with one hundred twittering teenagers. This film is probably the best viking movie in recent memory. Like Valhalla Rising (2009) it features panoramic shots and odd long silences, but that may be a part of Scandinavian culture and filmmaking. Oh, but you believe in it. It has a weird philosophy, and doesn’t shy away from moralizing, but let me tell you the story. It presents as a saga, with Odin and Loki visiting mortals and swaying events to their greater goals.

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Kusama – Infinity

This week I went to the Film Forum on West Houston Street to see Kusuma – Infinity, which is showing through the end of this month. It’s about abstract impressionist painter from Japan. According to the press release: Yayoi Kusama “is the top-selling female artist in the world” although the film focused more on the difficulties she faced. Growing up in Japan during world war II, was a tumultuous time. All she wanted to do was paint, which was difficult choice at the time, she was expected to participate in manufacturing for the war, and go to secretary school, get a husband, all of that. She painted, and she wrote to Georgia Okieffe after seeing her Black Iris painting at an international exhibition. Good film, if you’re into 60’s abstract art.

Disobedience (2018)

I went to the movies today, and I didn’t know what I was seeing. I’d already seen Deadpool 2, and the new Star Wars film Solo, and really I needed to get off the street for a bit. I was biking through Williamsburg and stopped off at Nitehawk Cinema to just go see whatever.

Disobedience was playing. It’s a film about the death of a Rabbi, and the return of his daughter to the Jewish community in London. She had spent ten years in New York as a photographer, totally out of contact, doing art portraits, bar hopping, a secular life if you will.

Without giving so much away, or maybe I should, it’s about trying times and the social obligations that hold communities and families together. The main character returns for shivas, to find out that her childhood friend had married her father’s closest student. It’s a deep and personal look into the workings of an orthodox congregation.

The film opens to the Rabbi giving a sermon asking what is man? On the sixth day, either as an afterthought or crowning achievement, we are somewhere between the angels and beasts, in that we have free will. We are supposed to know what it is that g_d wants. Angels just do, they carry out the will of their creator. Animals simply exist and follow instinct. Man is created from clay and imbued with the breath of life and we are able to navigate complex decisions unlike any other kind of being, why do we make the choices that we do?

The film is also about a love affair and sexuality and loss, but the essence is an issue of what makes us who we are.