Zoilus by Carl Wilson

Archive for July, 2007

20th-Century Cinema, RIP

July 31st, 2007


It’s an obvious point, but: Bergman and Antonioni in two days? Wow. Also, I had no idea Antonioni was five years older than Ingmar. I would have guessed the opposite, not only because the Italian seemed more active in later years but because Bergman made some of his great masterpieces in the ’50s while M.A. didn’t become prolific until the early 1960s.

I’ve had phases of infatuation with each of these filmmakers, especially with Antonioni’s early-sixties trilogy of emotional estrangement, L’Avventura, La Notte and L’Eclisse, but I do feel generationally removed from them in a way that leaves me more in mourning for an era - the greyscale landscape of European intellectuals reflecting on and reinventing existence, especially urban existence, after the War - than for the individual artists. (Whose lives were long and relatively blessed.) It does make me think of the later-1960s directors, whose work seems to me now less distant, more anticipatory of the era to follow, and how sad it will be when they begin to fall. Godard is 77… Are film directors an especially long-lived group? It seems like it, compared to, say, writers and visual artists. I suppose it requires more physical stamina just to be a film director in the first place: Miranda July was talking about this in an interview I recently heard, saying that the one thing she hadn’t anticipated about making a feature film compared to every other form she’d tried was that it seemed like an Olympic endurance event - she lost something like 20 pounds, which to look at her seems practically a medical emergency. The scribblers and the daubers, though they may have at least as many vices, don’t get the same regular workout. (Sculptors are always an exception.)

Guest Post: Mind-Expansion in Meaford

July 30th, 2007

Thereminist Dorit Chrysler appears this weekend at the Electric Eclectics festival.

In this post, Zoilus site helper and local bonne vivante Erella Ganon offers a suggestion for musical action this weekend. If you have access to the Globe and Mail archive site, you can see my article about last year’s inaugural Electric Eclectics festival here. - Carl W.

Irritainment, oh yes. My 13-year-old roommate keeps on threatening to make a video of paint drying. She’s serious about it, just as I am when I tell her it has already been done.

Let’s Paint TV is a Public Access TV show hosted by artist John Kilduff. Many of the shows involve him running on a treadmill, painting a portrait while accomplishing some otherwise mundane activity. Catch him frying pickles while multitasking as he interviews a poet, discussing Ivor Cutler. It would have been fun to see Kilduff on America’s Got Talent in June - imagine the comments about him from David Hasselhoff.

That this version of Art (note the capital letter) exists in the YouTube universe with a huge following is not remarkable, but that he’s coming to small-town Ontario to perform at the Electric Eclectics sound art and media festival is something to notice. Meaford, a sweet town in the picturesque Owen Sound area will be blown asunder for the long weekend, Aug. 3-5. There are sound poetry displays, music and other unusual happenings throughout the region. Most of it culminates at the Funny Farm, a private expanse on a hill that will be transformed for this three-day event. The original Funny Farm was in nearby Markdale, Ontario. A former inn was made into part-gallery, part-installation, part-funhouse over years of meticulous kitch collecting by artist Laura Kikauka. She’s very much involved with this festival - her husband is the creative director, composer Gordon Monahan.

The curatorial decisions for this festival have been made with an equal amount of imagination, sensitivity and enviable networking acumen. Most of these performers appear in public occasionally at best, such as theremin master Dorit Chrysler; filmmaker, composer and musician Tony Conrad; London, Ont., noise pioneers the Nihilist Spasm Band; Canadian cult songbird Mary Margaret O’Hara and many lesser-known artists.

Any part of the series is worth the price of admission, but the choice of staying over makes it more appealing since it is out of town. Camping is certainly not something that I think about often, but to be in the midst of like-minded folks who appreciate similar visual and aural art is a lure too hard to resist. No worry about drinking and driving - just stay in a tent; it doesn’t cost much more. And it’s certainly more entertaining than watching paint dry.

See the full lineup here. - Erella Ganon


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Amigos Makin’ Art;
Plus, Happy 80th, John Ashbery

July 27th, 2007

P(re)-S. Thanks for all the limerickal steez. Keep ‘em comin’. And now…

Zoilus has frequently spoken of dear pal Misha Glouberman and the curious classes he teaches at the Misha Glouberman School of Learning, in various forms of improvisation, especially vocal, for non-musicians. Better than any account I can offer is this new short documentary about his latest class, based on John Zorn’s Cobra. The film is by Rose Bianchini:

Another friend, Cathy Gordon, has long been planning a project I find compelling/horrifying/beautiful: Five years after she separated from her husband of eight years, Steve, Cathy was finding herself continually avoiding finalizing the divorce. So she created a structure she felt would enable her to do it: On August 13, from 11:30 am to 7:30 pm, she is crawling across Toronto on her hands and knees, in her wedding dress, visiting a series of significant locations from her marriage, and at the final station, signing the divorce papers. She is documenting the whole process (including her current crawling training) on a new website that is more than worth a visit.


Finally, tomorrow, Sat. July 28, marks the 80th birthday of probably my favourite living writer, American poet John Ashbery. Mainly via Facebook, I’ve been organizing a “notional celebration,” just to encourage people to think of Ashbery with gratitude tomorrow, but that has developed as well into an actual, modest-scale celebration: At 3:30 pm, a few people are going to gather at Clinton’s bar in Toronto, pretend it’s the Cedar Tavern, quaff a few cocktails and read a little Ashbery. If you’re so inclined, join us. Or just raise a glass in that spirit tomorrow, wherever you are.

The segments of the trip swing open like an orange.
There is light in there and mystery and food.
Come see it.
Come not for me but it.
But if I am still there, grant that we may see each other.

- from “Just Walking Around,” A Wave, 1984

Sure Hope the Hanging Judge is Drunk!

July 26th, 2007

We hear, Idolatrices, and we aim to please:

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts

Where strippers and mobsters get cozy,
Big Jim loves both Lily and Rosie,
Which leads to some killin’,
A theft and … er, Dylan,
Is the Jack of Hearts Keyser Soze?

(For those just joining us, start here.)

Rice Scented in Our Absence:
Paul Haines, In Memorium

July 25th, 2007




- Paul Haines, What is free to a good home?

In keeping with this week’s unplanned poetry-and-music theme: My colleague Robert Everett Green has an excellent piece in today’s Globe and Mail, talking with Emily Haines (best known as the singer for Metric) about her new EP, What Is Free to a Good Home?, being launched tonight at Harbourfront, which is named after the above poem by her father, the teacher, poet, artist and music writer Paul Haines. Tonight also marks the release of Secret Carnival Workers, a collection that for the first time brings together Paul Haines’s poems, jazz-album liner notes, short fiction and other music writing, all united by his unique bodhisava-dada sensibility; the book was edited by Toronto composer and jazz critic Stuart Broomer, but it exists mainly thanks to Emily’s efforts, as Stuart told me - she is self-publishing it through a company called H.Pal, although Coach House is printing and distributing it. (Emily also spoke about her father this week to Dose and The National Post and wrote an essay about him for The Toronto Star.)

In honour of the occasion I’d like to reprint the memorial piece I wrote for Paul Haines in The Globe, awhile after his death four years ago, but never posted on this site.

His words fit into music ‘like fish in water’

Carl Wilson
The Globe & Mail
8 May 2003

Let’s sit right down and say how slowly the passing can appear to take/ When nothing in the form of everything is at stake.

Those lines by Ontario poet, teacher and video artist Paul Haines could have been his own funeral march, if somebody sang them loud-and-soft enough, the way they are on New York avant-jazz band Curlew’s 1993 album A Beautiful Western Saddle.

So could such works as Anti-Pondering or On the Way to Elsewhere and Here or What This Was Going to Suppose to Mean, many of them sung on the 1994 Haines anthology Darn It! Or the Michigan-born writer’s Canadian Poem, which declared, “The summer has/ aged and I’m/ getting dark/ earlier and/ earlier.”

This was an artist fluent in things that slip in and out of existence: a note, a laugh, a light, a life.

[... continues ...]


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Famous Poems Rewritten 2
(Modern Lovers Boogaloo)

July 24th, 2007


In response to yesterday’s song-as-limerick idea, my friend Matt Benz of Columbus, OH (formerly of great truckstop-rock band The Sovines, and one of the funniest people I know), responded: “The closest I’ve come is William Carlos Williams’s ‘The Red Wheelbarrow‘ as done by Jonathan Richman. It was called ‘Hey! Little Red Wheelbarrow!’ ” Of course, I immediately demanded the lyrics, and with Matt’s kind permission I’m sharing them with you. Further entries in either the famous-song-as-limerick or famous-poem-as-song-in-the-style-of-x genres are still delightedly encouraged.

Mr. Benz says: “You’ll have to imagine the voice, snap the fingers to a simple 4/4 time, sing a very simple melody and it’s something like this. In the key of G.”

Hey! Little Red Wheelbarrow!

Hey! Red wheelbarrow,
Red wheelbarrow,
Doncha know, doncha know,
So much depends on you.
Oh red wheelbarrow, hey!
So much depends on you.

Hey! Red wheelbarrow,
Red wheelbarrow,
Glazed with rain, glazed with rain water,
Oh, red wheelbarrow, hey!
Beside the white chickens.

And so much depends on you,
Yes, so much depends on you,
Oh, so much depends on you…
Maybe too much! (Alright now, dance, modern lovers, dance!)

(Instrumental break)

Hey! Red wheelbarrow,
Red wheelbarrow,
I remember the first time that I saw you there,
Glazed with rain water,
The chickens all around,
Making their clucking sound,
And I thought to myself
And I spoke it out loud:

I said, hey! Red wheelbarrow!
I said, hey! Red wheelbarrow!
So much depends on you,
Oh, little red wheelbarrow,
So much - too much - depends on you.
Red wheelbarrow, hey!

Hey! Red wheelbarrow,
Red wheelbarrow,
Doncha know, doncha know,
So much depends on you,
Oh, red wheelbarrow, hey!
So much depends on you,
So much depends on the
redwheelbarrowbesidethewhitechickens …
So much depends … on…you!

Famous Songs Rewritten as Limericks

July 23rd, 2007

Tickled by the link Bookninja (and Boing Boing) posted this morning to “Famous Poems Rewritten as Limericks,” I realized you could do the same with songs, so I whipped up the two examples below. They both kinda make the same joke, but I didn’t try very hard to cure their lameness because I figured their very imperfection might prompt a competitive spirit.

Stairway to Heaven
There’s some lady who’s going to the stars,
Via stairs, road, or wind, not by car.
I would say if I could
If she’s evil or good,
But it’s all drowned out in loud guitars.

Teenage Riot
Discord and confusion are looming
While a youth revolution is brewing:
Though its programme’s unclear,
There’ll be leather and beer,
And a lot of creative detuning.

Later: All right, another:

Norwegian Wood
Once J.L. met a girl with good floors,
Upon which they proceeded to score.
She had work (so she’s legal,
Which was rare for a Beatle),
But he still treated her like a whore.

We Hearby Submit that Pop Montreal
Change Its Name to ‘The Paradise on Earth Festival’

July 21st, 2007


B-a-n-a-n-a-s. I’m watching Raul Julia play New York New York on clarinet to his goats as Calibanos in Paul Mazursky’s The Tempest (I forgot that it was Molly Ringwald’s first film; she’s good in it! It’s not as bad as its reputation, not near). I decide to look in on the internasty, and what do I hear from the folks at Pop Montreal but this: Pere Ubu, Patti Smith, Mort Sahl, DJ/Rupture, Final Fantasy, Gary Lucas, Tagaq, The Federation, Half-Japanese, Qui with David Yow, and PAG in one festival? I’ve got one heavy-duty case of dropjaw.

“Confirmed Artists, more to be announced:
Patti Smith, Cody Chesnutt, Pere Ubu
Half Japanese, Mort Sahl (who apparently is originally from Montreal - did you know this? I did not know this!)
Ron Sexsmith, Michel Pagliaro, Black Mountain, Oakley Hall
Sunset Rubdown, The National, A-Trak, Kid Sister
Caribou, Born Ruffians, Final Fantasy, Chromeo
Tiga, Bobby Conn, Yelle, Eric’s Trip, DJ/Rupture
Tony Rebel, Jr Kelly, Starvin Hungry, Bionic
Trigger Effect, Lotusland, Magnolia Electric Co., Chad VanGaalen
Grizzly Bear, The Watson Twins, MSTRKRFT, DJ Mehdi
Jay Reatard, Qui, Megasoid, Glitch Mob
The Cool Kids, Gary Lucas, Earlimart, Ndidi Onukwulu
Miracle Fortress, Taqaq, Fujiya and Miyagi,
Daedalus, Filastine, United Steel Workers of Montreal,
Barmitzvah Brothers, Fucked Up, Maga Bo, Georgie James,
Tiombe Lockhart, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Basia Bulat,
We’re Marching On and much more.”

The dates are Oct. 3-7. And it sounds like the Future of Music Coalition and McGill are going to put on a “Pop & Policy” conference at the same time. Please don’t come. That town ain’t big enough for the million of us.

Guest Post: Compassionate Consumption

July 18th, 2007


A message to the community from Matias Rozenberg of the Phonemes (Blocks Recording Club), Matias, and Consumption Records. Please help him out if you can! His email is matias890 at hotmail dot com - C.W.

Consumption is a label that releases music on donated cassettes utilising hand-decorated, recycled packaging. The music is sold not for money, but in exchange for art challenges. No money changes hands. Consumption Records concentrates on music originally recorded for the creators and their friends, with no intention of ever finding an audience.

The art challenge for a particular cassette is dependent on the cassette in question. ( For example, the CoraMichael tape will cost you 2 pubic hairs and some toenail clippings; Great Grandma Cassie’s tape cost a drawing of an eccentric relative; The Perfects tape cost a made-up-on-the-spot song which the band then re-recorded and released on their next album.) Consumption Records releases are only available in person, through unusual situations and over the mail.

Consumption Records is secretly celebrating its five-year anniversary.

I am moving from my very big house to a very tiny house. There is a shelf of Consumption materials and releases that cannot fit into my new home. also, there are several boxes of tapes that need storage. The stuff must be gone from my old place by August 1.

When I started Consumption Records, I vowed to myself I would keep it going for the rest of my life, or at the very least, for a significant amount of time, like no less than 30 years. This situation puts that vow in jeopardy.

So I am hoping that there must be one, if not several, responsible people reading this who has some space and would be happy to store a few things for the label.

If you are that person (or those people) please contact Matias Rozenberg via matias890 at hotmail dot com. Thank you!

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Aural Arrival

July 18th, 2007


There’s a new kid on the web-radio/web-lit crossover block, thanks to former House of Anansi impresario-editor Martha Sharpe (much missed in Toronto, currently domiciled in NYC) and Toronto publishing type David Ross: It’s Radio Press, the new home of pod-pliable literary commentary and fun’n'games. So far, poet Adam Sol presents Moby Dick in 5 minutes; Mavis Gallant and Toronto writer Erik Rutherford go on a gossipy walk through Paris; there’s a new story by Mark Anthony Jarman; Rick Moody talks about character creation and the canard of “likeability”; and contributors to Brick Magazine read their work. That’s about it for now but it’ll get more capacious - I hope to contribute at some point down the line, and there are big ideas about Radio Press fulfilling the second word in its mandate and eventually publishing print, too. Felicitations to the editors on the parturition of the long-gestated, bouncing baby site.

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