Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #5-270

         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 5, Number 270

               Wednesday, 22 September 1999

Today's Topics:

               The Hall Of Bright Carvings
                 rumours of my return...
                    The Little Things
             and it makes your tongue yellow
                Carmen Sandiego XTC Track
                Homer quotes and nonsuch.
                    Mummer album cover
                   HAPPY BIRTHDAY D.G.
                     Iin Llike Fflynt
                 Homespun advance orders
                      quick thoughts
                       $1 Green Man
                 Extroverted, Christmas.
                       Paper & Iron
                   put my mind at ease
                Little Express Back Issues
                     Lounging around
               Let All the Children Boogie


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Message-ID: <>
From: "Duncan Kimball" <>
Subject: The Hall Of Bright Carvings
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 19:38:08 PDT

Dear Chalkers

I thought this was gonna be *way* off-topic, but a search of the Archive
revealed that this is an old thread, with an Andy connection. After decades
of waiting, I found out yesterday, to my utter delight, that the BBC is
currently in production with a lavish miniseries version of Mervyn Peake's
"Gormenghast" trilogy!

Looks like it's gonna be really good, and if the cast list on IMDB is to be
believed, it looks extremely promising:

Ian Richardson [Lord Groan]
Christopher Lee [Flay]
June Brown [Nanny Slagg]
Stephen Fry [Belgrove]
Richard "Pie In The Sky" Griffiths [Swelter] - perfect casting!!
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers [Steerpike]
Zoe Wanamaker [Clarice]

plus ... Celia Imrie, Windsor Davies, Spike Milligan, Warren Mitchell, John
Sessions, Fiona Shaw and Eric Sykes in as-yet unnamed parts.

Any UK Chalkers have more info about this?? I wanna know!

Great to see Christopher Lee still treading the boards. Pretty busy for a
77-year-old! I read that he has also been cast to play Saruman in Peter
Jackson's "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, which is about to start shooting in

May I digress on that subject? I was somewhat skeptical about LotR at first,
although I think Peter Jackson is an excellent choice to direct - apparently
he would only take it on if he could do it as three films. But over the
weekend I read a really interesting Q&A with Jackson, about his ideas and
intentions, and I'm starting to think that it could turn out really well.

(I'm a little concerned about the young American actors being cast as Frodo
and Sam. Let's hope they have a good dialogue coach - I can't really go for
the idea of Frodo with an American accent).

Although the budget has been a source of concern for Tolkien fans ($130
million for all three films) Jackson reckons the fact that it's being shot
entirely in NZ, will use many unknown actors, and employ LOTS of
cutting-edge CGI effects, means that this would be the equivalent of a
budget of about $350 million if it was made in the US. (Considering Miramax
wasted $85 million on the execrable "Lost In Space", I think it's a

The confirmed cast <> looks
pretty good, particularly Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Christopher Lee as
Saruman, and Ian Holm as Frodo. Currently the hot tip for the aprt of
Galadriel is Uma Thurman (though one early rumour tipped Kylie Minogue!).

One cool thing is that they will be using CGI to digitally "shrink" the
actors playing the Hobbit parts. Digital imaging company WETA (who do the
digital effects for "Xena" and "Hercules") are doing the CGI stuff.
According to Jackson they are creating a custom-made software system called
MASSIVE for the battle scenes, which will use AI programs to create
ultra-realistic battles between 'virtual' armies of 200,000 combatants!

(BTW - if you haven't already - have a look at the LotR offical site at to see some of the tantalising images they conjured
up to sell the project to Miramax.)

Well, that's enough. Sorry but I had to share that with someone. Most of the
people I work with don't even know who Mervyn Peake is.


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Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 00:05:32 -0400
From: David Oh <>
Subject: rumours of my return...

>David Oh is back and he calls himself fflynt!!!

the rumours of my return have been greatly exaggerated... until now, that
is. i can confirm that i am _not_ this fflynt person. quite frankly, i had
hoped the whole debate over posting style was deader than jfk... senior &

anyroad, a lot has happened to me in the last 6 months, too many to tell
here. besides, i don't wanna bore anyone... any more than usual.

>I heard "King for a Day" playing over the sound system in a mini mart the
other >day.Pretty cool.

at the supermarket where i get me groceries, i've heard "kfad" at least a
dozen times. it is strange, that; i never hear it on the local radio
stations, but i hear it frequently whilst shopping for grub!

meanwhile... better sharpen yer axe, dom, i will be posting to the digest
again & i'll be commenting on many of the topics that have been discussed
in my absence.  some of those topics include "my sgt. peppers" and "my top
5 xtc songs". i'll also finally post my thoughts on av1... 6 months after
the fact.

i'll close by posing a question to all:

how many copies of av1 have you bought for your friends?

so far i've bought 7 copies, including my own copy. i will, for sure, be
buying more.

peace & xtc


btw: a big hello to ted, jennifer& big ed (you know who you are). i haven't
forgotten about you, it's just been a very hectic & stressful 6 months.
expect a personal email soon & i'll fill you in on a few things.


Message-ID: <000e01bf03ea$a9427a40$>
From: "John Thomson" <>
Subject: The Little Things
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 23:34:58 -0500

The season is certainly beginning to change here in Iowa. So, while in the
mall looking for something warm to wear, I strolled into Eddie Bauer. The
store always plays their own tapes and imagine my surprise upon hearing,
"...Never been near a university..." I think I will record AV1 for them.


Message-ID: <>
From: "Megan Heller" <>
Subject: and it makes your tongue yellow
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 23:23:47 PDT

Charlie Buck hrmphed--

>A sad piece of news:
>A few years back, a good friend had bought me a can of a herbal >energy
>drink called "XTC", knowing I'd keep it on the shelf as a >collector's
>Yesterday, I recovered my stuff from my ex-house (where my ex-wife >lives -
>humpf), and someone had opened the can and drunk it! Now all >I have is a
>none-too-impressive empty can.

be content in knowing this-- whoever it was that drank it probably didn't
enjoy it.  I bought one of those from the convenience store at my university
a couple years ago (yeah, for the can) and I did drink it-- guarana juice, I
think it is?  Christ!  Didn't know I had quite that powerful a gag reflex.
Very very bitter.  Unpleasant.  And, despite the warnings on the can that it
was such a powerful energy drink, I got no effects (to my chagrin, since I
drank it the night that I did because I had reading to do).

wow, this post didn't have much of a point.  oh well.


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Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 07:05:49 -0400
From: Alfred Masciocchi <>
Organization: @Home Network
Subject: Carmen Sandiego XTC Track

I noticed the following item while browsing eBay:

What XTC track is on this disc and is it worthwhile?

Any comments appreciated.



Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 06:42:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: nross <>
Subject: Homer quotes and nonsuch.

Hey! I've a bunch of recommendations to make:

Thanks to Dan, I have listened to two different groups (people,
singers, whatever):

Rheostatics:(Introducing Happiness) Very good. At times, the singer
sounds like David Bowie.
Clever lyrics, funny song: Fan letter to Michael Jackson.

Fay Lovsky: Very interesting and fun to listen to. Sounds like
something from the forties.

Thanks to me, I have Belle and Sebastian (Boy With the Arab Strap) to
listen to!

Very mello. Really good. Ya'll would like it.

Boy... I am just sooooo verbose now, aren't I?

AND... of course, Thanks to Wes Long: the Colin Demo's!!!

Wow. Can someone tell me why the powers that be changed War Dance sooooo
very much from the demo?

The demo version kicks butt.

Damn, my vocabulary sucks today, oh well...

Well, thats it... I did include XTC content (Colin Demos) so I don't
deserve a reaming by the relevance police... but the spelling,
grammar, and vocabulary watchdogs have free reign, eh?


Marge, don't discourage the boy!  Weaseling out of things is important
to learn.  It's what separates us from the animals!  Except the weasel.
-- Homer Simpson

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Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 15:09:14 +0100
From: Jon Eva <>
Organization: Gallicrow Software
Subject: Mummer album cover

I stumbled across a picture which immediately reminded me of
the cover of Mummer.

Here it is, the "cave where men are eaten" on Easter Island:

Here's a link to the Mummer page on Beatown so you can
compare the pictures:



Message-ID: <000c01bf0407$d164f580$>
From: "Steven Paul" <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 09:03:09 +0100

I just heard on the radio as I was driving in to work that today (September
21) is Dave Gregory's birthday.  So, Happy Birthday DG!!!!!


Message-ID: <>
From: Lawson Dominic <>
Subject: Iin Llike Fflynt
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 16:29:27 +0100

Oh dear. In fact, oh ****ing dear. You turn your back for five minutes and
what happens......?

>>hiy, my nme is eugene. i hve speech impediment tht i
will try to render s fithfully s possible by omitting
the from the following text.

And how we laughed! Jesus H Corbett, and people have the nerve to say my
posts are off-topic! Pah!

Seriously though, Eugene Fflynt (a likely story!), shut it! You heard.

Anyway, on a less oh-look-there's-a-halfwit note, I will be soiling a couple
of parts of America with my mean-spirited and ennervating snotfests in a
couple of weeks' time. From 9th October I will be in Washington DC for a few
days, being pleasured in a most unbecoming manner by that appalling gobshite
Todd Burntarse and assorted Chalkhillian lightweights. If anyone else is in
the area and wants to be taught how to drink properly, feel free to come
along. No pointing and laughing allowed - it's my haircut and I'm sticking
to it.

Contact Monsieur Derriere-Brulee if you're sad enough to want to meet me &
my girlfriend (who is, naturally, far more civilized than I) and don't tell
him I sent you!




Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 09:04:05 -0700 (PDT)
From: Tyler Hewitt <>
Subject: Homespun advance orders

THanks to the person who posted about the advance
ordering for Homespun on CD Now. It is on sale as an
advance order now for $12.49. Also, because I have
Yahoo e-mail (for all my fun stuff and internet
purchasing) I got an additional $5.00 off! CD Now
occasionally runs sales through Yahoo e-mail. You have
to click on a special address to get the additional

With shipping included, my price for Homespun was only

Let's get those credit cards busy...

(disclaimer: This is not meant as an endorsement of CD
Now, use of credit cards, Yahoo e-mail, or buying
anything. It is also not intended to offend anyone who
isnt an XTC completest or who dosent have the money to
buy every piece of music they hear recommended on this
list. It is intended only as a consumer tip for those
pre-inclined to buy this particular item. Everyone
happy now?)

(disclaimer II: The preceding disclaimer was an
admittedly weak attempt at humor. Those who may be
offended at my mock attempt at placating those who may
be offended at the main text of this message should
hope to have a life someday.)

Do You Yahoo!?
Bid and sell for free at


Message-ID: <>
From: "rob allen" <>
Subject: quick thoughts
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 09:42:18 PDT


I think "Thanks For Christmas" is outstanding. One of the few Xmas songs I
can take. Great, chiming 12 string guitar.

As for Colin's basslines...... hmmmm.... so many great ones.... but I gotta
go with "Mayor Of Simpleton". He's all over the fretboard and he's
propelling the song. Ace.

Carson, Ca

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Message-Id: <v03102801b40d4bfe7164@[]>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 10:04:19 -0700
From: Richard Pedretti-Allen <>
Subject: $1 Green Man

KL wrote:
>> I found a Green Man promo in San Francisco for $1.00.

John in Japan wrote:
>This reminds me of the so-called " fans " who had
>Andy and Colin sign bags full of stuff only to put all of it up for
>auction on Ebay . Sick stuff . It takes all kinds as they say but this
>sort of mega-capitalist braggadoccio horseshit goes against the spirit
>of not only this list , but the band we all love XTC . Any voiced
>support would help lower my blood pressure .

The medication you seek is called "Zestril."  20mg per day should do it but
you need to get this addressed.  High blood pressure is also known as the
"silent killer."

Millions of CDs are resold every day.  Typically everyone, barring the
initial consumer, makes a profit.  It can be marked up and resold until it
hits it's "ceiling price."  Each transaction falls into a category of
"Perceived Value."

("Perceived Value" hereinafter designated by "PV")  Seller 1 received the
promo CD free from the record company (Seller 1 PV=$.50).  Seller 1 sold it
to Store 1 for 50 cents (Store 1 PV=$1).  Buyer 1 thinks that $1 is a GREAT
price (Buyer 1 PV=$5) and that Buyer 2 would think that $5 was a fair
price.  Buyer 2 pays $4.00 (Buyer 2 PV =$5), is thrilled with their
purchase and everybody goes home happy.  Which one of these transactions
best represents a challenge to your sense of integrity and ethics?

There is no "Spirit Statement" or "Ethics Guidelines" for Chalkhills by
which to measure the integrity of a posting.  So anything that you have
conjured is your own little religion.  Most of us have taken our turn at
posting something that someone found objectionable or pitiful. (I think
this particular post makes number seven for me!)

What exactly can you report as fact regarding the integrity of "spirit" of
XTC as a band or it's individual members?  I am not seeking your
perceptions.  How about this?  XTC is composed of artists.  These artists
possess a compelling need to create art.  Then run off a million copies and
commercially distribute it.  Do you think they bent the needle on the
Integritometer?  It is a business and a way to make a living.

Would you have felt better if the Green Man promo was offered up on
Chalkhills rather than Ebay?  What if, after sending your check for what
you considered a fair selling price, the seller included a note with the CD
indicating that it was given to them?

(adopting a Pythonesque aristocratic haught) "Well, more fool me!  Can you
imagine?!  That Green Man CD was a promo!  The AUDACITY of that store to
charge for something that was once free!  What a fool that man was to pay
$1 for something that was free!  It should have been a lagniappe, at best!
My word!  DISSSgraceful!"

Whoa, here's another dilemma.  Many promo discs indicate that they are the
property of the record company. The person receiving the promo and that
retailer both sold something they were not legally able to sell.  Now KL is
in possession of stolen goods!

I didn't pay for my promo copies.  Can I sell them?  What ethical
guidelines must be considered before I sell them?  At what price?  OH NO!
I had Andy autograph them!   NOW WHAT DO I DO?

Okay, okay!  Stop kicking the soapbox.  I'll get down.

KL did nothing wrong.


p.s. There are people who have asked Andy to autograph bootlegs.  What do
you think of that?


Message-ID: <>
From: "Charlie Buck" <>
Subject: Extroverted, Christmas.
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 13:31:00 EDT

Thanks for your help.  I pickedup the album.  A little disapointed that it
was all mostly un finsihed songs, but none the less, I am glad I got it.
Cant wait till this homespun is out.  Anyway, I wanted your oppinions on AV.
  I have not got it yet.   I loved nonsuch, and I was one of the lucky (few
manybe?  I dont know) to buy a nice red X-Large Nonsuch shirt!

I only wore it once, but still, glad I have it!  Oh, one thing I hate about
older groups is that I ended up finisihing collections, just to get started
again.  I mean, I purchased all of the records, then tapes, and now filled
my collection on CD.  I'm not compulsive or anything, its just that I
figured, I had all the records and tapes so why not get the whole
collection.  And well, CD's are so much better so I had to start over when I
started collecting CD's (3 years ago, I was a little behind on the times)

Please forgive any mispellings or grammer, god forbid me making a simple
mistake!  I have recieved nice letters from people complaining how ignorent
I am for using the word Seen in place of saw.  Dear god I am so sorry, I
will never make it to your holiness kingdom now!....   Speaking of god, is
the group atheist?  I would think so.  I mean with "relgion free" and great
lines like that, I have always figured they were.  If you know, I would be
curious in finding out...

Lastly, I loved the 2 Christmas songs!  I thouhgt they were sarcastic as
hell songs, but maybe thats just me...

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Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 13:48:48 -0400
Subject: Paper & Iron

Chris said:

<<XTC content: No Language In Our Lungs is f***ing brilliant. Paper and
is growing on me rapidly.>>

Whoa, must make it hard to get dressed, eh? :~D
Sorry about that...seriously, I think SOME credit has to be given to Steve
Lillywhite for his production on Black Sea.
At the time he was also producing U2, The Psych Furs, and a small group in
Atlanta called The Brains (who would
strike it rich when Cyndi Lauper decided to record "Money Changes
Everything"...a little irony there).

But I digress. Steve Lillywhite's drum production was superb, I love the
way he brings the pounding WAY up,
especially on Paper & Iron. That's a great one to CRANK UP!


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Message-id: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 14:07:36 -0400
Subject: put my mind at ease
From: (Rich Greenham)

Just recently got my mitts on the AV1 & 2 demos from North Cackalacky's
finest son (thanks to Wes Long!) -- these also included a number of James
& The Giant Peach demos...  Somebody refresh my memory:  Why didn't
Partridge get the nod on these songs?  They're wonderful!  Far better than
Randy Newman's stuff from the movie.

Next topic:  The best song on "Rag and Bone Buffet" has to be "The World
Is Full Of Angry Young Men".  One of Colin's finest.  I love that jazzy
shit!  The guitar work reminds me of Lenny Breau.  "Countdown to Christmas
Party Time" leaves me looking at my watch.  "Thanks For Christmas".  Makes
me believe in St. Nicholas all over again.  It's the first song outta the
stereo Christmas morning.  As much a part of Christmas as the inevitable
Terry's Chocolate Orange that I always seem to find stuffed into the toe
of my stocking!

Finally:  A few digests ago, someone posted a wish list for Testicular
Dinner Part 2: The Left Ball (my own title).  Whoever you were -- job well
done!  Particularly The Dave Matthews Band on "Yacht Dance".  Brilliant!
I've been hearing it in my head ever since I read that post.  Damned if I
can come up with a better match of band and song!

One last thing:  I've always thought that Colin's bass line on "Mayor of
Simpleton" is one of his best.  I've tried and tried and tried... But I've
never been able to match it.  Maybe my bass playing sucks!  I dunno.

Cheers to all!



Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 14:41:25 -0500
From: Ryan Walsh <>
Organization: Boston University
Subject: Little Express Back Issues


	I'm selling my collection of Little Express back issues on Ebay.
Here's the address:



Message-ID: <>
From: "Witter, Karl F" <>
Subject: Lounging around
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 15:52:07 -0400

Steven Paul says "I Can't Own Her" reminds him of Tony
Bennett and asks if it's a timeless classic to be put on
the shelf with the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, and the
more lilting parts of Sondheim. Okay, I added the names,
but I know what he means.

It doesn't sound like a "standard", in that it isn't a
song to be rerecorded and reinterpreted in dozens of
ways. My first comparison is to Frank Sinatra's
"It was a Very Good Year", which is not so much a tune,
but beyond the ordinary realm of musical terms I can think
of: Jazzy, swing, soul, even countable rhythm.

The result? Inimitable, indelible Sinatra stamp. Supper
club/cabaret intimate, which I mean as high compliment. And I
haven't heard of anyone else performing it; that would be
a "Sinatramania" imitation unless I miss my mark.

"I Can't Own Her" likewise is so very intimate and personal
as delivered by Andy. Imagine SCTV's "Todd Monroe" taking a
crack at it and you can imagine how something like this can
go very wrong.

Right on the button is the idea that it sounds like the Tony
Bennett of "Perfectly Frank" or "Steps in Time".

One last little bit on "the best lyric":

"What a year when the exams and crops all failed/
Of course you passed and you were never seen again."

Spend about an hour thinking of this couplet and everything it
means to a hardscrabble farmer's kid who can't wait to grow up
and get the hell out of town. Such economy of words speaks
volumes to the Dorothy Gale, Charles Starkweather or Karla
Zachanassian in all of us.

On that last train to Gullen,


Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 18:24:17 -0400
From: Harrison Sherwood <>
Subject: Let All the Children Boogie

I suppose I should go ahead and quote the entirety of #269 back into
this post so we can get a hilarious 1994-Usenet-style
recursive-nightmare thing going, a Dadaist self-destructing machine made
of stairstepping quote marks, but I bet every two-bit anarchy-merchant
on the list had exactly the same idea. I guess that's the silly sort of
crap that will happen when OUR ESTEEMED MODERATOR prattles on and on in
his XTC-lyric epigraph about "Working every hour that God made/So we can
fly away," hinting broadly at incipient vacationhood, then GOES AWAY AND
caught with his PANTS DOWN....

Do you know how many electrons DIED because of your irresponsible gaffe,
John?  Bandwidth murderer! What's the Australian Army gonna think of
*that*, busy as they are at the moment?


So, anyway, some while back during a discussion of Seventies artists and
their relative influence on The History of Rock, some clear-eyed Chalkie
(Jesse, in #243, proving I know how to use a search tool), said, quite
simply and beautifully (and refreshingly free of those irksome capital
letters--in like fflynt and styling),

> if anyone wants to know, the most important rock performer of the 70s was
> david bowie.  thanks.  jesse.

I was rather busy at the time, so I didn't pursue it, but I had wanted
to stand up and applaud this admirable observation. Yet, like a sudden
blow to the back of the head with a sock full of peyote buttons, Jesse's
assertion raises more questions than it answers.

Yes, the Man of Average Tastes wants to reply, Yes of course, Bowie was
the most important rock performer of the Seventies...but *why*?  What
did Bowie do that others didn't? *That's* where things get interesting!

Now before we go on, I have a little admonitory finger-wagging to do.
Folks, we're a loose-knit Information Age collective, a sodality of
interest that depends entirely on the collaborative submission of
information to the group as a whole, the better to further our
understanding of our chosen topic (i.e., Phish). That means when you
come across a nugget of information that you think might be of interest
to the group, by all means call it to our attention!

Which is why I need to issue a collective smack to the back of the head
to the Two or Three Assembled, and, like an outraged drill sergeant,
bark the question, Why didn't you people *tell* me about this thing? How
did this collection of New Wave casualties, caulked to the brim with
geezers in their late thirties and early forties, every last
mother-loving one of whom has an ill-advised shag haircut in his or her
past, how the HELL did we let the 1998 Todd Haynes film "Velvet
Goldmine" ( go nearly COMPLETELY
UNMENTIONED in this forum?

Let's correct this unforgivable oversight toot sweet, shall we?

In order for this discussion to have its full effect, you're going to
need to turn to p. 210 in our hymnal (Song Stories) and contemplate for
a moment that side-splitting photo of The Helium Kidz in their Glam
glory, circa 1975. These bumpkins, posed in their homemade glitter gear,
trying desperately to exude some aura of mysterious and dangerous
otherworldliness and succeeding only in exuding the need to be home
before Mum notices her good feather boa is missing, these nominally
talented but misdirected yokels, poised right on the New-York-Dolls cusp
of Glam and Punk, show every sign of having been steeped in the Bowie
Conclusion, which had been broadcast at them nonstop for the last three
years, the Ziggy Stardust Era. They are, in a word, self-conscious.

That's not "self-conscious" in the sense of "uncomfortably conscious of
oneself as an object of the observation of others" (although Christ
knows they ought to be, in that pathetic getup!); rather, I mean the
word to signify that they are aware of themselves as visual
objects--they are musicians playing musical works of art, certainly, but
they also *personify* works of art. They adopt stage names, they wear
outlandish costumes--in effect, they take on a role, a different
personality, when they assume their mantles as Helium Kidz, and leave
behind Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding in the changing room backstage.
Rock Star as Art Object.

Before Bowie, this never happened.

After Bowie, this always happens.

Bowie was the figure in rock history who plunged the culture into its
Mannerist phase, who put great big wiggly Quote Marks around the figure
of the rock star, who encouraged the audience to project its own
interpretation on the Object--not the music alone, but the whole
package, the whole visible, audible, sensory-overload David Bowie Thing.
Up until Bowie, no one had ever successfully played with the *form* of
the rock star; no one had ever created an *artificial* pop star out of
whole cloth as a work of art. He introduced the concept of
Metacommentary into pop music. Andy Warhol? Silver Screen? Can't tell
'em apart at all!

   That's Decadent, with a Capital Dee
   Just like Hoscar said it should be!

So: "Velvet Goldmine."

Structured in much the same manner as "Citizen Kane" (in itself not an
insignificant fact), it follows the rise and fall of one Brian Slade,
loosely based on Bowie, who arranges to have himself mock-assassinated
on stage so he can disappear and leave behind only His Legend. The
Joseph Cotten analogue, the sympathetic reporter who is assigned to
track Slade down ten years later in the dreary Thatcherite Eighties,
attributes the awakening of his own sexual awareness to the liberation
he felt from Slade's own outrageous flouting of gender conventions.
Slade, a talented cynic who first performs rather morose if haunting
songs onstage in a dress, in the manner of "Man Who Sold the World"-era
Bowie, experiences a career-changing epiphany when he catches sight of
(and falls head over heels in lust for) Curt Wild, a dervish-like,
utterly uninhibited, raw savage from Detroit, based on, yes you guessed
it, Iggy Pop. The stage is set for the binary attraction and repulsion
between the two extreme personalities, between Slade's Apollonian
elegance and urbanity and Wild's naked Dionysian frenzy, between the two
forces that have tugged at rock music since Evvis from Mevvis first
wiggled his pevvis.

Wild is played with just astonishing sexual energy by Ewan MacGregor,
who has Iggy's stage mannerisms hilariously cold--his first appearance
in the film, performing "TV Eye" with such twitchy, manic intensity that
his pants fall down, is worth the entire price of admission. Watching
that sequence reminded me in no small way just why it is I love stupid,
crunchy three-chord music so much. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers plays Brian
Slade as a languid snake, utterly beautiful and utterly empty, given to
Wildean epigrams like, "Nothing makes one so vain as being told one is a
sinner!" Both actors apparently did all their own singing, which is
pretty amazing.

Don't come to "Velvet Goldmine" expecting a carefully researched and
historically accurate docu-drama of the Glam years. It deals with Myth,
not History.  In one scene, you are confronted with the slightly
puzzling spectacle of the Bowie figure fronting the Stooges-figure band
playing Brian Eno's "Baby's On Fire" while the Iggy-figure plays a sort
of lame stab at Robert Fripp's original hellfire-and-damnation guitar
solo while the Bowie-figure fellates his bridge pickup just like Dave-o
used to do to Mick Ronson during "Moonage Daydream." There is also a
fairly bemusing assertion that while there are lots of rock stars, the
really GOOD ones are all descended from Oscar Wilde, see, who came to
Earth in a spaceship. All the GOOD rock stars wear a little green
brooch--for easy identification in case you want to sleep with them,
apparently. That's perfectly OK: If you lived through that era, you saw
all the pictures in Trouser Press and Creem, and they're all sorta
blurred together anyway. (Fans of thermodynamics and Thomas Pynchon take
note: Brian Slade's alter-ego, his version of Ziggy Stardust, is named
"Maxwell Demon." Ho-ho.)

Oh, and the soundtrack. Oh, yeah! From the opening scene, which is set
to Eno's thrilling "Needle in the Camel's Eye," to an orgy scene set to
Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me?" with stops along the way at Lou
Reed, T. Rex, Cockney Rebel, Roxy Music, and Slade, this one had me
smiling and nodding in recognition at virtually every new scene. Dammit,
they really *did* made some good music in the Seventies. Too bad the
only thing anybody ever thinks of any more is that stupid plodding Led Zep.

One cautionary note: There's some fairly indiscriminate sex in this one,
so keep the kiddies away from it unless you want to do some Heavy
Explaining. At one point, I got a rise out of my wife when I leaned over
and whispered, "No, young Padawan! That way lies the Dark Side of the
Force!" and you'll have to rent the movie to guess where that was.

"Velvet Goldmine" is a wonderfully entertaining (and visually stunning)
explication of the Origins of XTC--or at least of the philosophical
landscape that rock music inhabited at the time that the Helium Kidz
were evolving into the fierce, spiky and angular unit called XTC. Can
the distance be so terribly far from the Starman to the Aliens at the
Foot of my Bed?

Harrison "Sodality Cracker" Sherwood

PS: I have now seen both Iggy Pop's and Ewan MacGregor's weenies.

PPS: Iggy's still the champ.


End of Chalkhills Digest #5-270

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