Joshua Bell has always relished the showy repertoire that his virtuosity enables, and with good reason. His romantic ascent from Indiana farm boy to esteemed soloist, and his Midwestern good looks place him squarely at the center of popular classical interest. While Bell extends his crossover appeal by performing on soundtracks like the recent Angels and Demons, he has cemented his artistic status by winning prestigious awards, like the 2007 Avery Fisher Prize. His experiment in busking two years ago in the Washington D.C. metro has also invariably led to more intrigue.
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Believe it or not, it was all on purpose. The Pull-ups subplot. The visual gag revolving around the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy “destroying” the White House. Woody Harrelson’s pickle obsession. If you ever needed proof that director Roland Emmerich was an overripe auteur just waiting to be embraced by a Jerry Lewis-less French film hierarchy, look (or better yet, listen) no further than the hilarious commentary track contained on the DVD/Blu-ray release of last year’s epic guilty pleasure, 2012.
This Armageddon on amphetamines extravaganza, this Irwin Allen with a goiter gonzo entertainment was so deranged, so deliriously over the top, that you initially had to believe that some of said staged narrative surrealism was accidental. But no, Emmerich and his co-writer/co-conspirator Harald Kloser make it perfectly clear during their feature length discussion that every borderline buttheaded move - from Danny Glover’s glum President covered in soot to a bloated Russian ex-boxer and his mudbloop offpsring - was preplanned and intentional from the moment they first set fingers to laptop.
Over the past few years there has been a growing and vocal enthusiasm for English translations of international fiction. Publishers like New Directions and Dalkey Archives, encouraged by the popularity and success of writers like Robert Bolaño, have grown more active publishing translations. Book stores have started arranging their fiction shelves by country of origin. In 2007 the University of Rochester’s translation program founded the translation-centered web site Three Percent and the affiliated publishing company Open Books. In New York City, where I live, I have observed how the spread of digital information has created a community of readers, myself among them, that wants to explore contemporary currents in foreign literature while rediscovering internationally renowned writers like Clarice Lispector who are little known in the United States.
As a semi-regular feature on Re:Print I will be discussing translations—reviewing new releases, celebrating innovative publishing, and exploring issues and trends in the market. I plan on delving more deeply into these topics, but for this first entry I would like to highlight some recent news of note:
Maybe I have been focusing too much on HRO Exegesis lately, but: Is there something that’s supposed to be indie or “alt” about eating burritos in America that I am unaware of? Driven to desperate measures by the impassable slush everywhere in New York City, I went next door from my office building to Qdoba, a fast-food burrito chain, and playing over the speakers in the place was “Stillness Is the Move” by the Dirty Projectors. What is that about? I nearly choked on a cilantro leaf. And Chipotle, another haute-burrito chain, has long been in the habit of playing music by the likes of Wilco, Nick Cave, Neko Case, Tom Waits, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, etc., in their dining areas—perhaps a sneaky effort to quickly drive customers out and keep turnover sufficiently high.
Anyway, what is the explanation for this branding strategy? Is it an effort to make burritos seem safe for white people to eat, to accelerate the process by which Mexican food is demexified?
In 1976, Parliament, led by the incomparable George Clinton, released chapters one and two of a trilogy that changed the landscape of contemporary music. Mothership Connection and The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein proved that Parliament were Masters of the Form by pushing the boundaries of what funk music could be. 1977 found Clinton and his funk mob touring the country in perhaps the most elaborate stage show ever produced by a black musician. The tour reinforced the storylines of the two albums, and when the Mothership landed onstage each night, the band was lifted into the musical stratosphere.
Mothership Connection had recast Clinton and his musical peers, Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, and Bernie Worrell amongst many others, as otherworldly freethinkers descending from space onto a planet in desperate need of the free thought that funk music symbolized. The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein introduced their leader and his clones, who had come to help their listeners fight for this freedom. In 1977, Parliament didn’t release an album at all; they released a war, a final stand, the third part of the trilogy and an absolute musical masterpiece called Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome. It was the third album in a funk-tinged science fiction comic book trilogy that focused all of Parliament’s power, humor, and politics into 44 minutes of courageous musical climax.
// Notes from the Road
"The Joshua Tree tour highlights U2's classic album with an epic and unforgettable new experience.READ the article