RE/SEARCH, 20 Romolo #B, San Francisco CA 94133 | Call 415.362.1465 |

V. VALE RE/SEARCH NEWSLETTER NOV 2009: Books vs Interwebs, Originators vs Imitators


2. Watch our Counter Culture Hour NEW TIME 6 PM, featuring Hector Penalosa of 70s punk band, THE ZEROS — NOV 7, 2009 – now simulcast on-line and on Channel 29, SF. Also including Gilman Street show!
3. FORTHCOMING EVENTS – RE/Search will be present at some of these!
4. What We’ve Attended/What We’ve Been Reading/Seeing/Listening to/What We’ve Been Sent..
5. FILM REVIEWS – new column by Michael Raines
6. Leave this space blank…
7. Recommended Links- from Phil G. and others – thanks!
9. Feedback from Readers

1. MESSAGE FROM YOUR EDITOR, V. VALE: “‘Information Overload’ vs. ‘Encyclopedic Overview’ in the Age of the Tyranny of the Internet.”

Someone recently boasted to us, “I don’t have to remember anything anymore, because I can just look it up instantly on my iPhone.” And indeed, we were at dinner recently when the topic of “The President’s Analyst” came up (“Who directed it?”) and someone at the table, a graphic designer named Allan, within seconds produced the name of the overlooked genius [?] behind the film, “Theodore J. Flicker,” and proceeded to recite the cast, plot details, et al. However, who was the person at the table who had initially IDENTIFIED this “unknown prophetic masterpiece” of a film, out of the million films made to date? Well, it was Gerald V. Casale, one of the visionaries of the larger cultural philosophy behind the band DEVO.

We don’t have enough time to see every film, hear every musical recording, read every book and poem and essay written since the beginning of time (note: we’re not encompassing all the “live” human performances available these days). We need a guide who is reliable, trustworthy, free from vested interests — possessed of that rarest of all human facilities, DISCRIMINATION. Yet we want someone who is reasonably “encyclopedic.” We don’t have time to trust every person who passes themselves off as a guide, so we have to be exceedingly careful who we choose. And RE/Search has chosen just a handful: William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Surrealism, Situationism…

In “real life” we try to be as discriminating as possible who we “socialize” with. Personally, I’d rather socialize with a “book” ! (I treat books as people — I argue with them, identify their best ideas and quotations, muse over their most poetic sentences, etc. And I’m continually wondering how they might be Against the Status Quo.) As Burroughs put it [paraphrased], “Every conversation with someone creates a Third Mind.” Couple that thought with “Judge by results,” and a simple review of any social interaction (i.e., dinner, interview, chat, brief meet-and-greet) reveals the richness (or not) of the experience. We are always searching for new thoughts, new ideas, new film or book or music recommendations which will resonate with our outlook on life which is continually being tested and (hopefully) expanded and refined… But with gold, not dross…

Last night we had dinner with Jack Rabid who is the cultural critic behind The Big Takeover magazine — a project done out of his passion to discover “the best” of music being produced for the past thirty-some years, mostly in the context of the original spirit behind the International Punk Rock Cultural Revolution. Jack had just sent his 65th issue [!] to press, and he wanted to go to an Italian (as opposed to Chinese, or Thai, or Nouvelle Cuisine [does that category even exist anymore?!]) restaurant in our North Beach neighborhood. We went to our personal favorite (one seemingly avoided by tourists) and resumed talking “all over the map.” However, we were quickly overheard by our waiter, David, a red-haired British man from Bath, England, and during the evening — well, the restaurant was mostly deserted, sadly enough — he joined in our debates, which became quite spirited.

A sample: Q by David: “What’s your favorite record of all time?” A by Jack Rabid: “All the recordings of the Buzzcocks.” Well, that reply touched off an internal debate about how most of the lastingly “real” social-critical and personal/internal “issues” which songs can embody have pretty much all been touched upon by the Buzzcocks — more so than, say, the Sex Pistols or Clash or… We agreed that the Saints FIRST album was a classic (its hit single “Stranded” is a classic song of social alienation), but not the second, which had horns… Which were the best Clash songs? …

Curiously, David had no use for songs emanating from 80s Southern California bands, naming Social Distortion (That isn’t punk rock, that’s just anger. There has to be some ‘art’ in the writing of the songs.”) His attack on Black Flag roused the ire of Jack, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of all the band members, singers, songs, and history of almost every band ever associated with “Punk Rock,” and David got a fact-filled lecture… The whole evening was like a small roller-coaster tour of Punk Rock history from 1975 through the 80s. The first ground-breaking DEVO film, which presaged the entire genre of MTV, had been finished in **1975**! And yes, it seems like David Byrne of the Talking Heads had quite possibly appropriated the persona and dance moves of Mark Mothersbaugh in that film. You get the picture…

A true history of any social movement like Punk Rock would certainly attempt to identify “Who Did What, FIRST…” We want to identify and give voice to the ORIGINATORS, not the imitators… This was always a goal of SEARCH & DESTROY and RE/SEARCH…

RE the Internet; Jerry Connolly (SmartGuyRecords) said, “The Internet offers a more efficient way to f*ck people.” Briefly, it has made everything “free” — writing, music, filmmaking. Nobody has to pay for content anymore — you could spend the REST OF YOUR LIFE surfing the web for “free” everything! Which means that most of the content of the future will be created by trust-fund folks! Definitely, QUALITY is already being replaced by QUANTITY — it is truly the AGE OF QUANTITY now… which falls right into the trend known as DE-EVOLUTION…

At this point, the Grim Reaper of Time is knocking on our door, and this essay will have to be continued later (if there **IS** a “later”)… — Bon Voyage, fellow seekers! — V. Vale

2. Counter Culture Hour – NEW TIME – NOW ON AT 6:00 PM PACIFIC TIME
The Counter Culture Hour is also ON-LINE as well as on cable access San Francisco Channel 29 — 6:00pm Pacific Time, Sat November 7, 2009 ALSO on-line (simulcast) – at this link:

USA west coast: 6:00 PM Saturday, November 14th
USA east coast: 9:00 PM Saturday, November 14th
London: 2:00 AM Sunday, November 15th
Tokyo: 10:00 AM Sunday, November 15th
You get the picture…
Would you like to have a Counter Culture Hour showing in your town? Please write and ask us how you can do this.
This month’s episode features Hector Penalosa, a founder of the ZEROS (70s Punk band featured in our SEARCH & DESTROY magazine), including the Zeros’ recent show at Gilman Street this year.


() SUN NOV 15 marks the birthday of our major influence J.G. BALLARD — there is a private celebration and memorial honoring J.G. Ballard at the Tate Modern (JGB would have liked that) organized by his longterm agent Margaret Hanbury, at 11AM. More on this later…

() DEVO is on a major USA tour playing concerts of their first and third albums (which have been re-released both on VINYL, and CD w/extra tracks). The band has never sounded more energetic, with superb sound reproduction at live shows (much better than in the 70s at the Mabuhay). They also have a new album due to be released in a couple months or so, of all-new material. Here are the DEVO TOUR DATES:

() City Lights’ “Naked Lunch” anniversary celebration at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) Lecture Hall & Amnesia Bar:

FREE **Friday, November 20th, 2009, 7:00 P.M. William S. Burroughs: An Evening about the author of The Naked Lunch
Location: SFAI Lecture Hall – 800 Chestnut Street – San Francisco – CA – 94133 – Hosted by Jonah Raskin & Peter Maravelis – Opening statements by Lynn Hershman-Leeson – presentations by Bill Berkson, Diane di Prima, Oliver Harris, Ron Loewinsohn, Jonah Raskin, DJ Spooky, and others, followed by a roundtable discussion.

FREE **Saturday, November 21, 2009, 1:00 P.M.
From Interzone To The Western Lands: William S. Burroughs Remembered
Location: SFAI Lecture Hall, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
hosted by Peter Maravelis
William S. Burroughs and Naked Lunch are remembered by friends and afficionados of his work (including RE/SEARCH).
Participants: Charles Gatewood, V. Vale, Mel Clay, and Kathelin Gray
To be followed by a sampling of William S. Burroughs films and performance videos

FREE **Sunday, November 22, 2009, 7:00 P.M. – Naked Lunch REDUX – Location: Amnesia Bar, 853 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, in SF’s Mission District – hosted by Peter Maravelis – Local authors read excerpts from The Naked Lunch Participants: Mindy Bagdon, Craig Clevenger, Stephen Elliot, Marcus Ewert, Daphne Gottlieb, Alan Kauffman, Jon Longhi, Michael McClure, and Johnny Strike.

() T.D. Skatchit & Co. presents their first sound recording of Skatch music for your listening pleasure! First there was the Electric Light then The Talking Machine. Now witness The Skatchbox; a new musical invention by Thomas Skatchit. Built out of cardboard boxes and played with combs, this recession era wonder conjures up sounds previously unknown to man. ** T.D. Skatchit & Company CD Release Show – Friday, Nov 20, 2009 8:00 PM
Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street, Between 20th and 21st, SF.

() FRI NOV 13, 10pm, SF NEW YORK NIGHT TRAIN SOUL CLAP and DANCE-OFF “$100 dance contest all night dancing to DJs JONATHAN TOUBIN, IAN SVENONIUS, PAUL PAUL, PRIMO, and JELLO BIAFRA.” 111 Minna

Special surprise guests from The Art of Bleeding tread oh-so-gently on the fractured, lacerated toes of the health care issue at this long-runnning wig-preoccupied cabaret. Performances begin at 10pm with the wheezy hand-cranked sounds of Weasels Exist. Cabaret acts (including The Art of Bleeding) begin at 11pm. Other performers: Wig-Out impressaria Jean Natalia, Michael Lucid of Pretty Things, Creekbird, Penny Starr Jr., Machina Candeo, Eric Anthony, and Andrew Ableson. DJ My Little Pony closes out the evening, encouraging you to drag those crutches to the dance floor. Door: $8 w/ wig, $10 without. Location: 901 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

() HYPNODROME, SAN FRANCISCO: “AND by popular demand: Pearls Over Shanghai with original Cockettes members will continue through New Year’s Day 2010 – Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a must-see, a piece of San Francisco history brought into the present in lurid color. Great music written and performed by Richard “Scrumbly” Koldewyn.

Thrillpeddlers have been performing authentic Grand Guignol horror plays, fet1sh vignettes, and lights-out spookshows in San Francisco for more than 15 years.

** Have your next birthday celebration at Hypnodrome! **

() LOS ANGELES, Sun NOV 15, 4pm: Brendan Mullen Memorial: Nov 15, Echoplex **The memorial for Brendan Mullen. Echoplex (entrance at 1154 Glendale Boulevard, Echo Park, 90026; between Park and Montana avenues; there are city parking lots south of Sunset off of Lemoyne, Logan and Echo Park avenues and there will be valet parking). The memorial starts at 5 p.m., with an Irish wake to follow. (Funny, I thought he was Scottish!)

() OAKLAND, NOV 28, 8pm: West Oakie Turkey Shoot Benefit for the Golden Mean, Saturday, November 28 at 8:00pm @ Kraftworks **With the holiday spirit upon us it’s time for a good old fashioned turkey shoot and ho-down. Times is hard and we know not all of you can afford a turkey this year, so drop your last dollar on us and hope your aim is as good as you say. 3 birds will go home to the best shots of the night. While you’re waiting your turn to shoot, get liquored up at the Boiler Bar enjoy strange art vehicles and take in the sights of our stage. Featured Art: The Front Porch / Golden Mean / Electrobite / Wrecker – Featured Acts: EL RADIO FANTASTIQUE / The Easy Leaves / Mykee Ramen / Highlights of The Boiler Bar performers, Including JD Limelight, Tanzee, Denzel, & Jodi – Details: November 28th 2009, 8pm-2am @ 2600 Magnolia at 26th street in West Oakland (Enter through the Parking Lot Gate) $10 donation to support the Golden Mean – RE/SEARCH will attempt to be there!!

() Fri-Sat-Sun, Nov 13/14/15 12-6pm 635 8th St., SF – Fri 5pm Kevin Danaher. 6pm Medea Benjamin. – Sat 1pm Laura Flanders. 4pm Alan Greene Food. 5pm Caroline Casey tide turning. 6pm Paul Stamets Mushrooms can save the world. – Sun 12pm ecosystem rights. 1pm Starhawk letting the wilderness in. 3 raw vendors selling food Lydia’s, Cafe Gratitude, Blessings were selling food last year,

() SAT NOV 14 Noon, “KFC Boycott Action Please join us at KFC 510 Miller Ave. in Mill Valley to protest the horrible treatment and slaughter of chickens for meals at KFC. We have lots of posters and literature to distribute, or you can bring your own. Let’s stop the killing chickens and all animals! — Claire.” To subscribe to Bay Area Animal Rights Network please send blank email to:

() SUN NOV 15: Beach Clean-up 10am – 12pm Ocean Beach entrance – Stairway 17 in front of Golden Gate Park, SF. Description: Stairway 17 is directly across from the Beach Chalet Restaurant at 1000 Great Highway San Francisco, CA 94121

() SUN NOV 15: “the Official Green Fest After Party w/ DEAD PREZ” on Sun Nov 15, 8pm-4am “CORRECTED DATE 1015 Folsom featuring DEAD PREZ, Sake One, J-Boogie w/ Aima the Dreamer, David Satori, El Diablo & Sidecar Tommy of Beats Antique, Lotus Drops, Sweet Anomaly, Wisdom w/ DJ Skwint & Seasunz and many more!”.

() TUE NOV 17, SF: Gardening in Small, Urban Spaces 11/17/09 (Tues.) 6-7:30 pm @ SF Main Library Latino/Hispanic B, 100 Larkin St. (at Grove) Fred Bove, permaculturist and former director of Adult Education at Strybing Arboretum, will be at the Library to talk about gardening in small, urban spaces.This talk will take us beyond the herb garden on the kitchen counter to an awareness of the amount of produce that can be coaxed out of tiny spaces for little effort or money: potatoes on the Chronicle building, gardening outside of windows and porches in hanging bags in Cuba.

() FRI NOV 20, 8pm: ‘Mission Control Fundraising Sextravaganza!’

() FRI NOV 20 9pm, The Black Rock Arts Foundation presents their third annual fundraising event, The Artumnal Gathering. The Bently Reserve 400 Sansome St., SF, CA 94111 $35 presale online, $45 at the door.

() THUR DEC 3, 8pm sharp: Alessandra Celletti and Hans-Joachim Roedelius Live at Theatre 39, Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf — Advance Tickets available now at Amoeba SF and Berkeley! In San Francisco they will play at Theatre 39 at Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf. Alessandra will play a solo piano set of her own and other composers’ works and sing two songs. After a short intermission Alessandra and Roedelius will perform “Sustanza” with piano, electronics and sung or spoken vocals in English, German and Corsican. “Sustanza” ends with a reworking of “By this River” which was written as a Cluster & Eno song but was recorded by Eno as part of “Before and After Science”. A book/DVD signing will follow immediately after the concert.

() FRI NOV 13, 9pm: The Towne Dandies — Last Days of the British Raj: A post-Victorian tragi-comedy. Chez Poulet, 3359 Army(Cesar Chavez) @ Mission.

() PETALUMA: SAT NOV 21, 7 p.m. Loren Rhoads reads and discusses Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues at Copperfield’s Books, Petaluma, CA. Venue information:

() NOV 13-14, 8pm: The Bacchae: A Ritual of Coming Out. **The Circle of Dionysos proudly presents ritual theatre performances of The Bacchae: A Ritual of Coming Out onNovember 13-14, 2009, 8:00 p.m. at Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory at 1519 Mission Street in San Francisco. $20 donation is requested. No one turned away due to a lack of funds. Euripides’ ‘The Bacchae’ is one of the best known Greek Tragedies. It is the story of a confrontation between Dionysos, The God of Ecstasy and the repressive and patriarchal ruling family of Thebes. We cannot help but notice that it holds important parallels to the trials members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community face today when coming out. For more information please contact: Patricia Kevena Fili, 510-872-0568 &

() THUR NOV 12, 5:30pm: AN ART PROJECT BY JONATHON KEATS **PUBLIC RECEPTION. In the wake of global economic collapse, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats introduces a hedge against future catastrophe by creating a mirror economy designed to skyrocket as world markets plummet. The first holistic response to the great recession, this far-reaching financial innovation seeks to offset materialism with modern science, by exploiting the economic potential of antimatter. The trading desk of the First Bank of Antimatter opens on November 12th. Refreshments will be served.

() Fri, Dec 4, 7:30 pm, Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue at McAllister, San Francisco. LOST LANDSCAPES OF SAN FRANCISCO Curated and presented by Rick Prelinger, under the auspices of the Long Now Foundation Seminars About Long Term Thinking. Rick Prelinger, a guerrilla archivist who collects the uncollected and makes it accessible, presents the fourth of his annual Lost Landscapes of San Francisco screenings. As in past years, Lost Landscapes 4 will be an eclectic montage of rediscovered and rarely-seen film clips showing life, landscapes, labor and leisure in a vanished San Francisco as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and industrial filmmakers. This year’s Lost Landscapes will include much new and unseen material from Prelinger Archives and other collections, including newly discovered films shot by longtime San Francisco residents. Unlike most film screenings, Lost Landscapes relies on audience members for the soundtrack — we encourage viewers to interact with the film, shout out questions and identify mystery scenes. Prelinger will preface the screening with a brief talk on how historical memory is shifting away from mass culture towards individual expression, and what consequences will arise from the emerging massive matrix of personal records.

() LOS ANGELES, SAT DEC 5, 8pm: Alessandra Celletti & Hans-Joachim Roedelius Live at Zipper Hall, 200 South Grand Street (next to MOCA). In Los Angeles they will play at the futuristic Zipper Hall/Colburn School of Music downtown. Alessandra will play a solo piano set of her own and other composers’ works and sing two songs. After a short intermission Alessandra and Roedelius will perform “Sustanza” with two grand pianos, electronics and sung or spoken vocals in English, German and Corsican. (Please check the attached audio excerpt (“Our North”) which features Alessandra’s haunting vocal melted around the edges by the masterful electronics of Roedelius.) “Sustanza” ends with a reworking of “By this River” which was written as a Cluster & Eno song but recorded by Eno as part of “Before and After Science”. A book signing will follow immediately after the concert. Advance tickets are available at Amoeba in Hollywood. Buy now before the event sells out!

() FRI-SAT NOV 13-14, 7pm: The Go Go Spectacular It is the Theatrical extravaganza of the year! **LIVE ACTION 1960s VARIETY SHOW! Join us for an outrageous, theatrical tribute to the great 60’s variety shows like Laugh-In, Shindig, and Hullabaloo. The Go Go Spectacular will be an action-packed night filled with live performances by The Barbary Coasters and Deke Dickerson’s All Star Frat Band doing a special all go go set! Special guests, comedy, historic tributes to the 1960s by author Domenic Priore (Riot on Sunset Strip and Pop Surf Culture) and author Lynn Peril (Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons), vocal powerhouses Scotty from the Hi-Nobles and Alotta Boutte, Kitten on the Keys and Kellita of Hot Pink Feathers go all-out go go and as much shimmying and shaking as The Devil-Ettes and The Mini Skirt Mob can cram into two hours! The Brava Theatre, 2781 24th St, San Francisco $25 in advance, $35 at door.

() MON NOV 30 8pm, CLASSICAL REVOLUTION Presents JACK CURTIS DUBOWSKY ENSEMBLE with George Hurd Ensemble and Build (NYC) – a triple bill of post-classical composer ensembles. (Note: JACK CURTIS DUBOWSKY ENSEMBLE is on FIRST at 8PM. DOORS 730PM. Please arrive Promptly!) @ Café Du Nord 2170 Market Street, San Francisco CA 94114, Near Church Street MUNI Underground. Tel: 415 861 5016. This show is 21+. $10 BOX OFFICE: Tickets are available at the door. Tickets are available on online at


() FRI NOV 13 7pm, Grant’s Tomb Gallery & Guerilla Project.or present: Project: Kinkade Cannibalized! –An unflattering exhibition of augmented/destroyed/rehabilitated Thomas “The Painter of Light” Kinkade images. Winston Smith’s “Grant’s Tomb Gallery” 50-A Bannam Place San Francisco
(Near Corner of Union & Grant in North Beach)

() THUR NOV 19 8pm Droneshift, a 2 hour drone: Many many musicians trading off in a seamless flow of sounds and textures! A must see/hear with a wide variety of acoustic and electronic instruments. Tickets: $6 – $10. The Luggage Store, SF — 1007 Market Street

() FRI NOV 13, 8pm: OVERLAPPING WORLDs: SUN CIRCLE / FILMS BY PAUL CLIPSON ; DATE PALMS / FILMS; ELM / VIDEO BY JON PORRAS. An evening of experimental sound, music and image. Artist’s Television Access, $7-10 — 992 Valencia Street (at 21st), San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 824-3890 —

() FREE! Nov 12 – Dec 19 | Opening Reception 11.12.09, 7-10 pm – JIGSAWMENTALLAMA: A group exhibition of work by: KEITH BOADWEE > SCOTT HEWICKER > ANNE MCGUIRE > AUSTIN MCQUINN > TOBAN NICHOLS > SONJA NILSSON > MARGARET TEDESCO > SKYE THORSTENSON > GRANT WORTH. With weekly screenings of film and video works by: KENNETH ANGER > HARRY DODGE & STANYA KAHN > CRAIG GOODMAN > SCOTT HEWICKER > KALUP LINZY > ANNE MCGUIRE > JACK SMITH > SKYE THORSTENSON > RYAN TRECARTIN. First Friday night screening event this Friday November 13th. Join us for an evening of film and video at DCP. The first installment in the weekly series features recent video works by: Scott Hewicker, Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn, Ryan Trecartin and a special film screening of Jack Smith’s legendary ‘Fl@ming Creatures’ (projected in 16mm – Courtesy of Canyon Cinema). Doors open at 7pm, program starts at 7.30pm sharp – seating is limited. Screening events are free and open to the general public on a space available basis. You may RSVP to reserve a seat. Please send an email to

4. What We’ve Attended/What We’ve Been Reading/Seeing/Listening to/What We’ve Been Sent

() The early classic DEVO albums have been reissued on virgin VINYL with of course full-size beautiful artwork. I don’t care what any critics say; vinyl sounds warmer and “better” to my ears than any CD. However, these albums have also been re-released on CD with (of course) bonus tracks. Find them at your local Amoeba store or order direct at the DEVO website!

() “Happy Fall, everyone. I just posted my article about my trip to the 2009 KROK Festival (with loads of photos) on my AWN blog spot. You can read it at Hope you all enjoy reading it and sailing down the river with me. – Nancy Denny-Phelps of Sprocket Ensemble”

() “I’VE SEEN FILMS ANNOUNCES” THE 2010 CALL FOR ENTRIES: “It’s time to put on your shorts!” Rutger Hauer challenges filmmakers to show him ”things never seen before”. He will personally award the winners during the Festival’s Award Evening. The deadline to submit films for the 2010 I’VE SEEN FILMS International Film Festival is Monday, April 5, 2010. The 2010 Festival edition competition – further to the main film categories – will include a special section dedicated to feature films and works dealing with themes and images from Arts (painting, sculpture, theater, poetry and literature).
Submission forms, Call for Entry document and complete information regarding eligibility and entry rules and regulations are available at: – The I’VE SEEN FILMS International Film Festival was founded in 2007 by Rutger Hauer and it aims to promote on a world-wide basis and also through the internet streaming medium the works of filmmakers desiring powerful exposure and visibility to their films.

() PHAT MAN DEE: TORCH OF BLUE. CD by Burning Man singer – – given to us at the Roxie Theatre Screening of DUST AND ILLUSIONS – great Burning Man documentary. This film is currently screening on the East Coast in the Boston – New York area – look for it!

() THE YES MEN SAVE THE WORLD is another poetic, beautiful documentary currently touring the USA – look for it in your town! It recently played the Roxie Theatre in S.F. Please note that the YES MEN are interviewed in RE/Search’s book PRANKS 2, available from www.

5. FILM REVIEW – new column by Michael Raines –
In Andrei Tarkovsky’s relatively short career, he managed to transcend experimental cinema, incorporating symbolism and mysticism into man’s physical relationship to nature. Tarkovsky committed his whole self to his work, while some how remaining elusive throughout his career. Although much has been written and speculated on this artist, few critics have been able to capture the meaning and mood of his films, while allowing the artist the revrence and respect of his often private and personal life.

Chris Marker’s One Day In The Life of Andrei Arsenevich is like a defibrillator, pumping life back into the notorious auteur – often being held for ransom by the intellectually “undead”. One Day is structured in three sequences or parts, which although seemingly random at first, overlap and bleed into each other, creating a narrative more concerned with the nature of time and its relation to memory, than it is to inform or dramatize.

The documentary does not rely on a typical talking-head format, instead it’s a kind of “spy” movie – part expose`, part home movie, part essay. Showing the unavoidably profound, in the banality of the mundane. Like peering through a hole in the wall, and witnessing the last moments of a dying man.

One Day was made for the French film series Cinema de notre temps. Shot during the production of The Stranger, which, because of the accelerated growth of his cancer, proved to be Tarkovsky’s final film. Although the bulk of One Day was shot before his death in 1986, the official premiere wasn’t until 1999 on French Television.

Early into One Day we see Tarkovsky on the set of The Sacrifice, shooting the climax of the film. We are told in a narration track by Alexandra Stewart (a common voice in Marker’s films), that this is already the second attempt at filming the final sequence and that due to extreme circumstances – a house going up in flames – there will not be a third opportunity. It becomes apparent that to properly execute the scene, as intended by Tarkovsky, a combination of four elements – earth, wind, fire, and rain – must be linked together in one single take, while ensuring the protagonist hits his marks. Stewart explains that, “for Andrei, cinema worked best when fitting all action into a single frame. Where the tracking shot is no longer a moral issue but a metaphysical one.” We are then shown the final scene from The Sacrifice: a house on fire, flames blowing in the wind, the soft drizzle of rain, and the muddy terrain from which the house sits on. All the while the protagonist staggering about as his family runs into the foreground from a distance. We begin to understand Tarkovsky’s reoccurring theme involving man’s marriage with nature. This is further demonstrated at the end of the film when the young boy rests underneath a dead tree, looking up into the sky – almost the exact same image that began his career in Ivan’s Childhood.

Stewart explains, “The naïve American contemplates the sky with low-camera angles pointing upwards, while, the Russian, at least this particular Russian, settles and contemplates the earth with camera angles just above the characters, pointing downwards.” Tarkovsky is more fascinated with the use of film as a reflective device, than as a projective one. “Often the character himself confronts paintings, on true mirror, in accessible beauty; against which he must measure himself nonetheless,” says Stewart adding, “the reflection in the painting – a kind of double exposure- is a second approach to the mirror, than the mirror itself becomes a metaphor for painting.” We get the sense that for Tarkovsky, film is the new painting, the ultimate mirror in today’s time. Tarkovsky once said, “My goal is to place cinema on par with all the other arts.” One speculates if he meant ABOVE all the other arts.

Another segment of the film shows Tarkovsky on his deathbed, just months after the completion of principal photography on The Sacrifice. We watch as he supervises the editing of the final scene. It’s during these parts we meet Larisa, wife of Tarkovsky, and witness the reunion of Andrei Jr, and his father after a six-year separation. It’s an image that feels slightly familiar, all the more underlined when Stewart states, “This image conjured up other images, other films. As though all the children who inhabit his work had gathered at the bed-side of Andrei Tarkovsky, who was dying.” Later we see a scene in which Larisa exits their home, only to be met with rain outside. Seeing this she throws her arms up into the sky, looks past the camera, and proclaims, “ Like in The Mirror, like in Stalker…it’s raining!” It’s clear there is little distinction between Tarkovsky’s life and his work. Tarkovsky died at the Hartmann clinic in Paris on December 29th, at the age of 54. It was the start of a new year.

Tarkovsky once predicted, well before his career, that he would only complete seven films in his life. Whether this was a conscious goal or a rare insight, sadly, he did in fact only make seven films. But each film delivers a kind of religious experience, balancing between the subjective and the objective, as if you where both the character and the god. A perspective scarcely found in films made before or after him.

The documentary allows Tarkovsky to live – even if he is dying – as the audience watches select stages of his life unfold into a tapestry of isolated moments. The moments Marker gives priority over seem to attest more to his deep friendship and appreciation for Tarkovsky, with less of a focus on continuity and time line. Though we get glimpses into his films, with analytical commentary, it’s really the scenes with Tarkovsky, his family, and his relationship with his crew that speak to you.

Tarkovsky stressed that, “cinema was the only art that operates with the concept of time. It is the fixing of reality, the fixing of time. “ It seems as though Marker’s interest in structure is synonyms with Tarkovsky’s. Marker’s use of masking images over images invokes a mood so similar to the feeling of memory-a kind of sea of combined thoughts, past and present experiences, that watching One Day feels like you dreamt it, or at least shared a memory with Tarkovsky himself. In short, a visual poem dedicated to the spirit of the man.

One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich is available on DVD (PAL ONLY), released by the British Film Institute. It can also be found on as a VHS-RIP.

6. Pretend this is a blank “space” for “meditation” …


() “Psychic computer shows your thoughts on screen – Times Online

() From JOE CARDUCCI: “The New Vulgate issue no. 19 is up. It’s got some news on Black Flag history, some military history, a Fotopoulos drawing, some photographs, links and a joke.

() “Two Cornish Rex cats perplexed by the Dreamachine, accompanied by the voice of William S Burroughs:

8. QUOTES from our RE/SEARCH J.G. BALLARD QUOTES book (still available):

() “People do the strangest things for the most trivial reasons.” – from COCAINE NIGHTS, quoted on p.387

() “The only definition of real happiness: to find yourself and be who you are.” ibid

() “Nothing is true. Nothing is untrue.” – ibid

() “You can do all the housework in five minutes if you don’t make a fet*sh of it.” – ibid

() “I think the chief enemy of creativity in the world today is that so much thinking is done for you.” – ibid

() “I detest postmodern architecture in any form whatsoever.” – ibid

() “I was searching for a different kind of magic.” – from DAY OF CREATION, quoted on p.387

() “If you compromise with your own obsessions — that way lies disaster.” – JGB QUOTES, p. 386


() “LENORE KANDEL PASSES AWAY AT 77: Lenore Kandel was one of the original poets in the SF scene. Her most famous work, “The Love Book” was seized by the authorities as pornographic for it’s frank sexual style which is one thing women were not supposed to write about. She was also featured in Kerouac’s novel “Big Sur” portrayed as Romana Swartz, a “big Rumanian monster beauty” along with her then-boyfriend Lew Welch as Dave Wain.”

() “Some of you know that I’ve been writing a book about independent film distribution and marketing inspired by my experiences releasing Bomb It. Well the book is about to land! It is titled Think Outside the Box Office The official release date is November 16th. I’m going to be doing some events – I’m the keynote speaker at the CPH:DOX Forum in Copenhagen on November 13th. Then in NY on the 17th I’m giving a presentation at the IFC Center and then on the 19th I’m speaking at DIY:DaysLA. I’ll be signing books at all of the events. More info below and on my blog. Thanks to all who have helped me on it!

“Indiewire will be putting out 3 of the chapters of the book for sneak previews in advance of the release. The first came out today (it will be on the front page for another hour or so): – I hope to see you at one of the events. I’ll be doing a book signing on the west side of Los Angeles in early December location TBD. ~ JON REISS. ”

() “Hi Vale, how’s it all going out there lately? I’ve been thinking about you and co- First with the death of JG Ballard, I went back to some of the books you’d given me and I had never gotten through, and finally polished a couple off, very satisfying. Then I saw your name in an Artforum article on him, which was very well-written if you haven’t seen it, there’s a pretty lengthy tribute section. Then I read that one of the members of Blue Cheer died, and thought of you again; finally I went to MOMA (I’m living in Brooklyn now) yesterday, and they had some exhibit on the overlap of music and visual art in seventies New York, and had a few volumes of Search and Destroy (I think 3-5) on display; apparently they’re in the permanent collection, pretty cool. Anyway, nothing important to say, just wanted to say hi. Have you thought any more about writing your memoirs? I don’t want you putting it off for twenty-five years and then getting senile. Do it! Ok, hope all is well, -Nate”

NOVEMBER 2009 RE/Search eNewsletter written by V. Vale & other contributors; mainly Brady Welch. Newsletter and website powered by
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