Vale’s Blog 2-5-08 Winston Smith, Charles Gatewood, “1984-type films” Catastrophism?
Ever notice how any encounter with an automobile fix-it garage is fraught with peril? Took our ’93 Saturn to Bob’s Auto on Columbus near Filbert and got an estimate for $40 to fix our non-working brake lights. Went back to get the car and the bill was $60! However, they claimed our brakes were “leaking brake fluid fast” (funny, we’ve driven it for weeks and didn’t notice any problem with the brakes) and quoted a price for $500 to fix the brakes, including the $60 brake lights repair. Well, don’t know about you, but to us $500 is like $5000.
I asked the guy if he would sell the car for us, and he brought over someone else … finally, they offered to just replace the leaking master brake cylinder(s)?? — wouldn’t replace the brake pads — and the bill would be $200. I said No, just sell the darn car, and the other guy said, “$180?” Don’t know why — surely logic wasn’t really being the operative principle here — but I agreed, and they said it would be ready tomorrow afternoon — they had to “order the part.” Of course, I have no way of knowing whether they really DO replace the actual part(s) in question. Mind you, I just had a major expensive brake job done about 3 years ago — and Bob’s claimed that the master brake cylinders had not been replaced, which of course were supposed to have been done: “It looks old.” Well, how do we ever know whether ANY parts had been replaced, including the brake pads? Grrr….
Went to the local cafe at the corner of Columbus at Filbert and asked the counter person if I could play the piano. She turned down the radio and I played a “flamenco” improvisation. The lowest “G” key was out, as well as a few critical keys in the top two octaves — guess this is “par for the course” for your average local cafe with a piano — but still, playing the piano got out some pent-up aggro I was feeling…
Charles Gatewood arrived at 5:40pm and brought the George Kuchar documentary on him titled “— Gomorrah” which we promptly watched. It was very funny and thorough, in an introductory way — a highly compressed, very funny, 20 minute small biopic demi-masterpiece. Content was x-rated, but not pornographic — all imagery made sense within the context of Charles being “America’s family photographer of the sexual underground … and also the tattoo/body piercing underground.” And more, of course — the sploshing underground, the blood sports underground, and anything else the urge for extreme behavior throws at Charles. I particularly liked the kindly face of the “Leopard Man” — a recluse whose face is completely tattooed like a leopard’s …
Sarah, Charles’s friend, arrived. Then Winston Smith and Chick Fontaine arrived with a masterpiece dinner — menu above. We sat down at the RE/Search dining table (where John Waters, and many others, have sat), and Sarah told us she uses Gmail as a backup system for all her writing — “anything I write, I email to myself — I have a Gmail account — and if my computer crashes, it’s still there” (apparently; she doesn’t use it for photos, video files which are too storage-intensive). “And I can access it at school, and use the school printers to print it out!” Hmm… Having recently lost a major amount of keyboarding on one of our computers — well, the next step is to get a Gmail account and START USING IT FOR BACKUP!
Winston talked about — if you get any “work” or “art sales” in Europe, be sure to get paid in EUROS, not dollars. And whatever you think your artwork should be priced at, just double or triple that figure!
Charles said, “If anyone makes a documentary about you, make sure that in the contract you get the right to keep all the proceeds from SMALL LOCAL SHOWINGS of the Documentary.” We agreed that you never ever seem to get the rights of FINAL EDIT of the documentary, even if it is about YOU. That seemed reasonable, actually.
Then we got the idea of telling Winston to make silkscreen versions of his collages with lots of white space around, and then, using a pen, make unique one-of-a-kind pieces by writing personal narratives or interpretations of the artwork above. Like, Allen Ginsberg did that with some of his B&W photos of other Beats — he hand-wrote, with a fountain pen (it looks like) little descriptions of the photo session, and of course autographed them. This is a cheap fast way of creating a one-of-a-kind UNIQUE ARTWORK out of a somewhat mass-produced silkscreen or lithograph. (Note: if you’re an artist and If you use this idea, please send us a unique “print” as a kind of royalty, to help support us — you think book publishing makes money these days?! NO.)
Charles told about his “prank” book that was published a long time ago by a major publisher — the title was something like “Take Great Photos with your Point-and-Shoot Camera.” Of course, all the photos were taken by a $2000 Nikon or Leica camera. His friend Marco Vassi [R.I.P.] who knew nothing about photography ghost-wrote all the text — although Charles edited it all for “correctness.” They invented several anecdotes, one being that “at the beginning of photography in the 1800s, rich people would ride around Paris with their entire carriage turned into a camera obscura, making movies of the landscape around them.” Etc. He did something similar for another book titled “People In Focus.” Have to get those!!
The conversation switched to how the George W. Bush uses language in the identical manner as in 1984: the act authorizing clear-cutting of old growth forests is titled “the Healthy Forests Initiative.” The anti-clean-air, pro-corporate-polluting act is called “Clear Skies.” Rich people donating art are given a huge tax-break, essentially subsidized by all the poor tax-paying citizens whose taxes fund edifices like San Francisco MOMA — they get “critics” to evaluate a piece of art they donate to MOMA at a hugely-over-inflated value (way more than they paid for it), then get an enormous tax deduction, so they essentially end up making huge amounts of money from this “donation.” Get it? The last straw is, the bill authorizing Bush Inc to illegally wiretap our phone conversations is titled “Freedom of Communication” act! Anyone read “1984″ lately?
Naturally, we all started thinking of “1984″ or future apocalypse or catastrophism films. 1984, both the old B&W version and the new version that came out in 1984. BRAZIL — there are 3 versions, including one with a happy ending, a long version, and the original theatrical release in 1985. Mad Max 2, aka The Road Warrior. On the Beach — both the Gregory Peck movie, and the great original novel. Omega Man w/Charlton Heston. Supposedly the remake with Will Smith titled “I Am Legend” was bad. Soylent Green. Panic in the Year Zero. Clockwork Orange. The indie film of J.G. Ballard’s “The Atrocity Exhibition.” Deadbeat at Dawn. Metropolis. Last Man on Earth. Dr. Strangelove. Fail-Safe. Defcom Four. Forbidden Zone. A Boy and His Dog. Videodrome. The Twonkie. Poltergeist. Troll Two.
Maybe the future has already been filmed. But which movie, or which combination of movies? We agreed there’s probably several websites devoted to future catastrophism films — anyone out there know which ones are the “best”? — V. Vale, RE/Search founder, www.researchpubs.com