Some strange coincidences do occur in this world.
For instance, I just finished Walter Tevis’ novel The Man Who Fell to Earth. This book was written in 1963, 12 years before David Bowie starred in the movie version, and 9 years before Bowie wrote the song “Five Years,” in which he said that we have “five years left to cry in” before the world ends. Imagine my surprise, then, when I came across this passage:
Newton looked down at him. "Do you think there'll be a war?"
[Bryce] held the cigarette speculatively, then flipped it into the lake. It floated. "Aren't there three wars going on now? Or four?"
I haven’t written much about movies on this site, mainly because every movie that comes out now gets reviewed a thousand times, and who needs more? But yesterday I had an experience at the cinema so unpleasant that I want to share it, just to make sure no one else suffers the same fate.
It was Friday afternoon at the end of a not very good week, so I decided to treat myself by taking in a matinee of Woody Allen’s latest film, Match Point. What little I had heard about this film had led me to believe it was a romantic comedy involving tennis. I figured at worst I would get to spend two hours ogling the sublime she-creature we call Scarlett Johansson.
And there were some good opportunities for that, including a love scene in the rain and a scene of her angry and braless that made a strong impression. But what I didn’t expect was that—
WARNING: I am about to give away everything about Match Point (it would be generous to call it “spoiling”). So if you’re a purist who wants to see this movie without knowing where it’s going, read no further. On the other hand, if you’re a thinking, feeling human being who wants to avoid a dreadful shock, read on.
Brian Eno, Another Day on Earth
John Cale, Black Acetate
These two geezers have nothing left to prove to anybody; they could have retired to their country chateaus long ago, quite satisfied with their accomplishments. Come to think of it, their careers have been almost exactly parallel. Both first made a name for themselves in a vastly influential band that they left after two albums (Roxy Music for Eno, the Velvet Underground for Cale). In both cases, the band never sounded quite the same again, which is not to say that Roxy and the VU’s later albums were worse — just different. Cale and Eno were X factors who lent unique qualities to Roxy Music, The Velvet Underground and Nico, For Your Pleasure, and White Light/White Heat. Their contributions were musical, certainly — Eno with his synthesizers and tape machines, Cale with his viola, bass, and vocals — but also conceptual. Both are musical strategists with adventurous, and therefore restless, minds. This explains why they left their bands so soon, although the heavy shadows cast by Bryan Ferry and Lou Reed may have had something to do with it.
In the 70s, both Eno and Cale made a series of acclaimed solo albums while also finding time to produce landmark records by other people. Cale specialized in debut albums, which he produced for the Stooges, the Modern Lovers, Patti Smith, and, strangely enough, Squeeze. Eno, of course, produced Devo’s first album and beloved trilogies by David Bowie and Talking Heads. In the 80s, Eno made a bazillion dollars by producing huge-selling albums for U2, while Cale kind of dropped off the radar (mine anyway). According to the All-Music Guide, he released a bunch of albums that I’ve never heard — they could be great for all I know — and produced Happy Mondays’ Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out).
Two cowboys — we’ll call them Roy and Butch — are out riding on the south 40 one day when they stop to take a piss. They are whizzing happily into some bushes when a rattlesnake lunges out and bites Butch right on the tip of his penis.
Butch yelps in pain and surprise and falls to the ground. “What happened?” asks Roy.
“Damn snake bit me right on the johnson!” yells Butch. “What do I do, man?”
“I’ll Google it,” says Roy.
Please take a minute out of your busy schedule today to salute the late Captain Beefheart.
Don’t get me wrong; the man who was Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet, is still with us and turns 65 today. But there’s been no Captain since 1982, when Van Vliet decided he’d had enough of the Long Plastic Hallway and gave up the music business to become a painter. Which seems to have worked out well for him; he’s been far more successful in the art world, at least in standard career terms.
But still, we miss the Captain, don’t we? From psychedelic space boogie to avant-garde art-skronk, he stomped a terra all his own. I don’t think he’d mind me sharing with you a song from his out-of-print album Lick My Decals Off, Baby:
I Love You, You Big Dummy