Friday, June 30, 2006

Finding old friends

I graduated from Poughkeepsie High School in 1972. That's the front entrance there, though our clothes weren't quite so baggy back then...A lot of people are, if they are at all, most nostalgic for their college days but for me it's always been high school. Part of that has to do simply with the people in and around my class, a really extraordinary group. Not just subjectively but also objectively in terms of academics. We shattered previously existing records for things like National Merit and Regents Scholarships. In the former, the prior year had set a record with something like eight finalists. I think we had 46. I mean it was ridiculous. But there was also a tremendous amount of creativity, especially in the arts, including some nascent film-making (Jeff Stein, later to direct "The Kids Are Alright" and a bunch of award-winning music vids was a classmate and we did a bunch of guerilla filming). But college happens, people disperse, there was no Internet or e-mail to keep in easy contact and we gradually lost track of each other. I kept in touch with a handful of friends from back then (and earlier) but there were a number of folk I was always very curious about, wondering what became of them. Others, in retrospect, seemed so clearly on a similar wavelength to mine that I'd think, "Why on earth didn't we stay in touch?"

We had a 20th reunion in 1992. It was rather bittersweet for me. Bitter in that most of the classmates I was seriously interested in seeing didn't show. Sweet in that some people who I probably hadn't thought of once since '72 did show and turned out to be extremely lovely. Still, '92 was slightly pre-Net and e-mail so most of us (as far as I know) once again drifted apart. Hasn't been another reunion.

Fast forward a few years to the point where most everyone has a PC at hand day and night and, of course, I would routinely search around to see if I could ascertain the activities of various folk of interest (a few from college--Vassar and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston--as well). It was fun detective work. You had to deal with common names and figure out methods of attack to narrow things down. Even though women my age were reasonably likely to retain their maiden names it wasn't always the case by any means, making searches far more difficult. But here and there, I'd find people, often still up around Poughkeepsie, sometimes far, far away.But I'd never pull the trigger as far as mailing them. It just seemed too weird to suddenly pop up after 25-30 years, saying hi. There's a lot of presumption involved: assuming the person would want to hear from you or, indeed, anyone from that era. Some people, I've found, prefer to close off certain periods for this or that reason. So, I googled around but kept the results to myself.

In early 2002, I went to the Classmates site, having encountered their annoying ads often enough. Of course, I went to the PHS area to see who was registered from my graduating year. By and large, the persons on board at the time weren't those I was particularly interested in but there was one glaring exception: Carol Pavitt. Now, I'd known Carol since we were 10 and had always been extremely fond of her (I recall being chastised by our 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Brousalian, for playing "footsie" with Carol underneath our desks!) and we'd been pretty close later on, especially in our senior year when we both worked on the yearbook (art) and school play (set design). I hadn't seen her since June, '72 but she was one of the main people who fell into that "why the hell hadn't we kept in touch?" category I mentioned above. Thinking back on her, we seemed to have so much in common, both interest- and personality-wise, that it was unthinkable that we wouldn't have remained close friends. But I had no idea why this hadn't occurred. Anyway, registration in the site was free, so I did.

About a month later, I received an e-mail. From Carol! Among other things, she wondered if I remembered her. Um, yes. Turns out she more or less felt the same way I did and, in fact, had had my phone # for 7-8 years but thought, guess what, it was too weird to just call. Arggh. When we met, down at a bar in the West Village, it was like we'd seen each other the week before, absolutely just hitting it off and picking things up as though 30 years hadn't intervened. She's an amazing, beautiful individual but I'll say no more lest she happen upon this page and die of embarrassment.

The experience of re-meeting Carol, though, gave me some encouragement about contacting select people on my own. I think the first (aside from, possibly, Marika Lagercrantz, another story for another time) was Rich K. and goes to show how certain assumptions may hold true in one case, not in another. Rich, in some ways, I thought of as a male equivalent to Carol, someone I grew very close to and who seemed, as near as I could reconstruct, likely to be very copasetic to my general outlook. He was a guitarist back then but picked up string bass in order to gain entrance to Oberlin which, at the time, didn't recognize electric guitar as a legit instrument. I recall messing around with his instruments on numerous occasions, once suggesting he try out the bass bow on the guitar. Way before I'd heard of Fred Frith! He'd gone out toward Minnesota back in the late 70s with Matt Spector, last I'd heard, and had been studying architecture. His name, it turns out, is pretty uncommon and googling on it produced listings for a fellow involved in metal stress testing for building projects. Had to be the same guy so I dropped a mail. It was the day Herbie Mann died. Rich, driving to work, heard this news and thought about when he'd played a guitar/flute duet with Cathy Rutgers and thinking of Cathy brought my name into his head (we were an item for a while). Then he gets to work, flips on his PC and sees an e-mail from me. Pretty cool. Sent a note back, apparently very pleased to be so contacted, gives a little summary of his activities and asks what I've been doing for the last 30 years. I, in turn, compose a relatively brief recap of the intervening decades and mail it back. That's the last I hear from him. Hmmm, I think, what's up with that? But, of course, I respect whatever the decision was and decide not to bother him further.

Earlier this year, quite surprisingly to me, I noticed a PM for me at Jazz Corner, checked it out an saw it was from the aforementioned Matt Spector. As it turned out, Matt hadn't been in touch with Rich for about ten years, made contact and Rich forwarded him my note (which he kept it seems...odd). Matt located me at JC. He's in town this week and we hope to get together sometime soon. What may have been the case with Rich and I've found to be, apparently, the case with some other people is that they've settled into one or another kind of middle class life and lifestyle after a youthful flirtation with the arts. When they encounter someone who, to one degree or another, has maintained involvement in art (not that I'm not also resolutely middle class), they get either defensive or shy away, perhaps thinking, "What am I going to talk to him about? My lawn?" It's too bad since, for my part, I'd never make any gross characterizations on that basis; many of my best friends are clueless about the sort of art I'm interested in. So what? But I've seen that reaction a few times...

What prompted this post was the following: One of the people I'd been very much interested in finding out about was Deb P. Deb graduated HS a year before me but, as a transfer student in 1970 or so (from Long Island, iirc) she split her courses between years, including mine. She was a lovely, lovely person, very much (in some ways) the hippie earth mother type. I was fairly smitten with her though we were only friends, she (*sniff*) going out with older guys, I think. I believe I last saw her around '76 and my last information, gathered from who knows where, was that she'd headed out California way to pursue ceramics. Her dad was one of the two most prominent activist ministers in Poughkeepsie (coincidentally--or not?--the other was Cathy's father) and my first job, when I was 16, was doing janitorial work in his church. In fact, the first time I smoked weed was with Deb's older brother Ken on the roof of said church. But I digress. The Parkers were an AFS (American Field Service) family and during my junior year were host to an Ugandan student named Petero Sabune, who I got to know a bit and who later went to Vassar where I'd see him occasionally. "Petero Sabune" is a far easier moniker to google on than "Deborah P" and I'd found (admittedly to my chagrin) that he'd become an Episcopalian minister in the NJ area and was currently the (or, at least, a) chaplain at Sing-Sing. OK, filed that info away as an interesting note. Yesterday, reading the Times on the way to work, I saw an article on a controversy within the Episcopalian Church which, with a vacancy in the area Bishopric, had nominated four people, one of them gay. The paper printed photos of the nominees and, lo and behold, there was Mr. Sabune! Hah, thought I, and naturally enough thought of Deb. Arriving to work, I had the ingenious idea of searching for her Dad who I'd been told (I think by Cathy's Dad a couple years back at her 50th birthday party) was still active. So I googled on "rev richard p" and was rewarded with several likely looking possibilities, including an e-address. Summoning up the courage necessary to initiate such an affront (and I still find it difficult), I sent him a note, explaining myself and asking, if he'd be so kind, to pass on a "hello" to Deb. Well, he did. A few hours later, I received a brief reply from Deb, thrilled and happy to have been so remembered. Waiting to hear further.

Very cool when things work out this way. Very nice when people turn out to still be as wonderful as you remember them

[edit] Shortly after posting the above, I had a fine conversation with Matt. Sounds exactly like he did (in a good way) 30-odd years ago. Great to hear.

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Sightsong", Muhal's duet album from 1975 with the late Malachi Favors (pictured above) on the fine Italian label, Black Saint, is likely my personal favorite recording on which he's featured (along with the Art Ensemble's "Fanfare for the Warriors", I guess). At the time, the musicians from the AACM were really making their first major splash as far as the general public was concerned, the AEC releasing records on Atlantic, Braxton on Arista, etc., generally commandeering the position of the avant-garde in jazz. The AACM, of course, embraced the entirety of Great Black Music and it was to some degree a forceful statement of the fact that the first two tracks here are dedicated to Johnny Griffin and Wilbur Ware, two stalwarts of the Chicago bop hierarchy. The pieces are swinging, redolent of the blues and grooving, Favors making some of his most sublime music here, Abrams at his melodic best. Favors never quite received the acclaim he deserved in the Art Ensemble, preferring to provide the rich, solid bottom that held together the band's wildest forays, deferring attention to the august front line. But he had a tone and pulse that was unique. Each musician gets a solo feature on this disc and Favors', the wonderfully titled "Way Way Way Down Yonder", is just extraordinary, as deeply soulful and reverent-to-the-past bass playing as you'll ever want to hear. Short of Mingus, I'm not sure there's another bassist I'd rather bask in. Muhal's in great form throughout as well, to be sure, but when I think of "Sightsong", it's the little fellow with the elaborate facepaint I think of first. Thanks for all the beautiful music, Mr. Favors.
Of all the labels that documented the musicians active on the avant jazz end of the 70s loft scene which have yet to make the transfer from vinyl to disc, India Navigation has to be the one most in need of such. Checking around on Muhal's lovely solo recording, "Afrisong", I could only locate a tiny image of the original cover, which I've fuzzily enlarged here on the left. Apparently, at least this record (possibly others) have in fact been issued on disc in Japan (with different covers) though I've no idea whether they're boots or not. Among other fine items, you have The Revolutionary Ensemble's "Manhattan Cycles", David Murray's first (?) recording, "Flowers for Albert", Leroy Jenkins' solo violin concert (at Washington Square Church, iirc, and I was in attendance) and Anthony Davis' spectacular "Variations in Dream-Time", imho the best thing he ever did, even surpassing the lovely "Episteme". A pity these aren't more readily available.

"Afrisong" is a fine, ingratiating recording, showcasing Muhal's more pastoral, melodic style, not too many degrees removed from Abdullah Ibrahim (still known as Dollar Brand around this time, 1975).


Philip Samartzis - Unheard Spaces
Grundik Kasyansky - Light and Roundchair
Asher - Graceful Degradation
Asher - Directions


Ha Jin - War Trash


Tarkovsky - Zerkalo (Mirror)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Beautiful title, yes? A nice capsule description of one of the core AACM principles, also embodied in their slogan, "Great Black Music--Ancient to the Future". The recording, from 1975, is an odd smorgasbord, giving Abrams a chance to display seveal facets of his persona. This is good and bad. Abrams (who, by the way, I saw in the audience at the Viz Fest last week, looking pretty well at 75) has an insistent tendency toward an academicism offsetting his more blues-based material. I've never thought he quite manages to pull this off, generally speaking, the results overly dry and anemic. This might be the first recording of his in which these directions surface in compositions like "How Are You?" where singer Ella Jackson ululates bizarrely enough to cause one to wonder how, if at all, intentional it is. Pretty scary, one way or the other. "1 and 4 Plus 2 and 7" is tedious in another direction; you get the feeling Abrams thinks he has to imitate serialist composers to be taken seriously, a sad commentary if true.

However, the remainder of the disc is quite enjoyable, sometimes great. Muhal's romantic side appears on several of Side One's tracks, including a lovely trio with vibes, "Ballad for Old Souls". The real killer, though, is the final piece, "March of the Transients", which might be the single finest boppish work ever realized by an AACM musician. A wonderful, surging, strutting theme followed by one striking solo after another, all powered by some incredible drumming from the undersung Wilbur Campbell. Absolutely worth the price of the disc.


Finished the Gibson, a pretty good read, shedding some interesting light on advertising practices, whether current or near-future. If handled properly, could mae a neat little thriller movie.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Vision Festival. This was its 11th year now meaning, for me, that just about when it began, I was drastically losing a lot of interest in the genre of music it tends to showcase. That is, free jazz of the ecstatic variety. Combined with a high dosage of tawdry, new-age mysticism, miserable "poetry" and more-than-occasional forays into trite "interpretive" dance and they'd come up with a formula guaranteed to keep me at a distance. Nonetheless, I'd formed a strong personal connection with many posters at JazzCorner over the past 6-7 years and there developed something of a tradition for said posters to congregate in NYC around the time of the Vision Fest, thus causing me to attend a number of events in recent times. Even with a fairly cynical attitude going in, I do try to maintain an open mind (not always the easiest of tasks in the face of, um, performances by the likes of Budbill and Patricia Nicholson) and, amid a welter of humdrum, "spiritual" apotheoses, there would emerge the occasional marvelous concert. One such was, two-three years back, the Fred Anderson/Harrison Bankhead duo, an avalanche of creativity, of real free music by two masters. Last year's Nicole Mitchell quartet was similarly excellent, reminding me of a fine Randy Weston show sans the towering pianist. But wading through the dross was often a serious challenge. I still shudder at the recollection of an amazingly noodlesome outing by William Parker and Billy Bang, in which neither had more than 2 minutes worth of things to say, though that didn't stop them from playing for an hour or so. Worse, their performance was augmented by the aforementioned Ms. Nicholson. After 15 minutes or so of the most godawful "dancing" you'd ever want to witness, she exited to multiple sighs of relief....only to re-emergea little bit later, after a costume change (!), to flounce around for another exceedingly long time. The horror....

Undaunted and ever hopeful of experiencing the odd moment of bliss, I ventured down to the Orensanz Center once more last Thursday. Aside from having a few musicians on tap that evening who I was quite interested in hearing (Paul Rutherford and the duo of George Lewis/Bill Dixon in particular), the JC crowd in town this time included a couple of guys who I'd never met and very much wanted to: the illustrious Cem Zafir from Vancouver and the Yucatan's own free music acolyte, Gerardo Alejos (I may have his last name entirely wrong). We convended at Samba Le, a nice little Brazilian resturant (guided in all things gustatory by the ever-reliable Pete Cherches) where it was also a pleasure to re-meet Jan Strom, owner of Ayler Records, as well as Joe, Neil, Clay etc. JC vets all.

The Rutherford trio (with Torsten Muller on bass and Dylan Van der Schyff on drums) opened the evening and were, for myself, pretty disappointing. I understood later that Rutherford isn't in the best of health but it wasn't his playing as such that was the problem, much more the trite approach and banl structure. Absolutely nothing you couldn't have heard (better) 30-40 years ago. The same solo-y format, the same over-busyness, no appreciation for space or silence. Van der Schyff in particular was way too clatter-y and intrusive; Muller was the most interesting, but not enough. Desultory might be the general term I'm looking for. Cem and I decided to ditch the Coltrane tribute (which later reports indicated was rather good) to hoof over to The Stone for a Joey Baron/Ikue Mori set. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of either these days but for what he does, Baron does a damn fine job. He's a very traditional drummer I think; he's simply really, really good at being that and was a small joy to hear. Mori, on laptop, generated surprisingly clean and pretty boring sounds. Given what even pop-conscious musicians like Fennesz are doing with similar set-ups, I've no idea why she doesn't throw more dirt into the works but, as it stands, her contributions were notably weak. I recalled seeing her 7-8 years back at the Knit, playing electric keyboards in a quartet with Derek Bailey, Zorn and Kramer and she absolutely blew everyone off the stage. Dunno what's up now. In any case, I just sat against the wall (full house!) and enjoyed Baron's imaginative, if straight-ish, battery.

Back to Orensanz for the tail-end of the Day & Taxi set--sounded OK, though pretty sure it was something that wouldn't have held interest for me too long and settled in for Lewis/Dixon. A sheet was draped behind the stage for video projection. Might as well get this part out of the way: The video, presumably done by Dixon as it featured his paintings in large part, might be the single worst, most pretentious/amateurish piece of video-crap I've ever seen in my life. I mean, it was bad, bad, bad in ways I'd rather not even think about. Happily, my standard way of observing musical events is, in large part, with eyes closed so after determining that the nonsense on-screen wasn't likely to change in any appreciable manner, I lowered my lids. But the music....Lewis has long been my favorite trombonist, jazz or otherwise. His tone is just so gorgeous, his ideas deep. Dixon, otoh, I've gone back and forth on. I greatly appreciate his early work in Cecil Taylor's ensembles (Unit Structures and Conquistador!) as well as several of his own as a leader (Vade Mecum). Then again, as an avid, long-time listener to WKCR, I've often been subjected to "Bill Dixon Radio", multi-hour ruminations from his bastion in Bennington wherein Prof. Dixon blathers on about anything that comes to mind, generally in the manner of a self-righteous, pompous, effete ass. Well, I didn't have to listen to him talk that evening and his playing was superb, all the more so for an 82-year old. Unlike many of the so-called "free" bands, this was actually freely improvised music. Lewis interjected some low-level laptop noise and both musicians tended to stay in the soft zone, though navigating freely from higher to (very much) lower pitches. The music flowed without ever becoming too smooth, always retaining some granularity, each nudging the other into surprising areas. No silliness, no mystical nonsense--just a profound conversation.

On Friday, I skipped the Viz Fest proper but went out to Mo Pitkin's to attend a midnight jam session featuring Dennis Gonzalez. Dennis, in addition to being the only person I've ever met with exactly the same birthday as myself (08/15/54) is simply a fine, fine musician, open to all sorts of influences. His two sons, Aaron and Stefan (bass and drums) supply added fire in addition to tilting their Dad toward metal and noise on occasion. They were joined initially by tenor saxophonists Rodrigo Amado (from Portugal) and Remi Alvarez (from Mexico City), both very enjoyable players, the former possessing the odd but intriguing tendency to play slowly and softly no matter what the context of the piece. They worked their way through several exuberant numbers from the Yells at Eels songbook before being joined by Sabir Mateen (alto), Matt Lavelle (bass clarinet) and Ernest Dawkins (alto). Lavelle was rather weak but Mateen and, especially, Dawkins were in fine form, roaring away. Very good evening.

After an afternoon in dba's backyard and then downing possibly the best Cuban sandwich I've ever eaten (arggh...I forget the name of the place, south of Katz's) it was back to Orensanz. Steve Swell's moronically named Slammin' the Infinite was first up (Swell, trombone; Mateen, reeds; Jonathan Blum, piano; Mark Heyner, bass; Klaus Kugel, drums) who were fine in their high energy fashion and came up with a few attractive heads but, overall, eh. Very hard for me to care about this sort of thing these days. Roscoe Mitchell's quartet (Corey Wilkes, trumpet; Bankhead, bass; Vincent Davis, drums) was next and, again, they did what they do very well, but not substantively different than anything you could have heard from Mitchell since the mid-80s, including the circular breathing on soprano that he introduce on 1986's "The Flow of Things". Roscoe is an all-time favorite musician of mine, but I'm sure I'll be spending my future listening to him predominantly in the 1966-80 period (Sound to Snurdy).

Ah, but then Barre Philips and Joe Morris. Morris (pictured above) has been a rather cantankerous presence on Bagatellen for the past year or more, taking great exception to any number of things written about him, his music and some of his musical associates. None from me, btw. I bought his "Flip and Spike" disc when it appeared but wasn't too crazy about it and, to the best of my recollection, have heard little of his work in the interim aside from the odd thing on radio. I've usually enjoyed Philips' playing though I'm not at all up on his oeuvre, so I went into the performance perhaps not expecting all that much. But what a lovely show. As with Lewis/Dixon and unlike most other bands I caught, the pair actually freely improvised. It had all the traits of a subtle, warm, sometimes argumentative conversation, the two exchanging ideas politely, sometimes forcefully, always with great imagination. It ranged from extremely abstract to all but in-the-pocket, never forced in either direction, simply driven by what had just been said. Philips went through a gamut of techniques but, again, never with the sense of showboating. Morris, aside from the occasional harsh scrape or tap, plucked clean, quiet tones like some avant Jim Hall. Excellent work. Afterward, I went up to Morris (whom I'd never met) and whispered to be careful, that the Bagatellen spy contigent was in the house. He laughed and took it in the good humor it was intended. I overheard him say that it was one of the best sets he'd ever played. I don't doubt it.

So, by and large, the sets I caught this year were of far higher quality than in previous years. I'm sure some of that had to do with increased judiciousness on my part as to which ones to duly avoid but still, give credit where credit is due, they booked at least a couple of winners. We'll see about next year.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two weeks, no posts. Just busy, including three nights this past weekend attending variousVision Festival events and generally hanging out 'til all hours with friends into town for the occasion.

Wanted to mention a very fine book by the fellow at the left, Shusaku Endo, "Silence". Endo, a relatively rare Japanese Catholic, writes a novel documenting a Portuguese missionary's travails in Japan in the early 17th century as he and his cohorts attempt to convert the native heathen to the true faith, no easy task. Given his religion, I was extremely impressed at how even-handed he was balancing the beliefs and concerns of the missionaries against the native Japanese. You really had a hard time telling whose side, if any, Endo was on. While I myself, coming into all this with my own prejudices, tended to view the missionaries as just this side of insane, you obtained a real feel for the depth of their belief and conviction that their's was the right path. Of course, you also receive the (more rational) sense that the educated Japanese viewed Christianity as not only so much nonsense but entirely ill-fitting to their culture. However, given the iron-fisted manner which they ruled over the pesant class, one could easily see how they'd be ripe to embrace any belief system that offered a "way out". Beautifully written, beautifully thought out.

For a break of sorts, I picked up William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition"; halfway through and it's proving a fairly involving tech thriller.


Polwechsel - Archives of the North (hatOLOGY)
Gary Sisco & Pals - End of the Trail (Frederick)
Bruce Russell - 21st Century Field Hollers and Prison So ngs (w.m.o./r)
La Grieta - Hermana Hostia (w.m.o./r)
Charles Gayle - Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe (Ayler)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sometimes I really cringe when I think of the amount of beautiful movies I've never gotten around to seeing. Bad enough, all the wonderful music and amazing books I'll never get to, but somehow cinema seems to be more potentially graspable in terms of numbers. I mean, if only by virtue of what it takes to create a film, there can't be that many around that it's infeasible to actualy view them. Eventually.

When we were on W. 105th St. (1988-2001), we were fortunate enough to have, apparently, one of the best video stores in NYC right up the block. Simply called Movie Place, it placed near the top of the sort of rankings published in rags like New York every year. It was indeed a great place, with an especially rich "foreign" section (I hate the use of the term in this context, segregating non-US/British work like that, the same way it's done in music with "world" music, but...). Being an anal kinda guy, what I did was to simply browse the collection, sorted alphabetically, at least considering every selection, from A to Z. Often, I'd come across something I'd always meant to see, other times, the movie would simply look intriguing and I'd rent it. Saw a ton of fantastic films this way, things I'm sure I never would have gotten around to otherwise. I was never much of one for purchasing videos, however, largely because of their bulk (and subsequent lack of storage space) and also from a non-fondness for tapes as such, going back to a general aversion to cassettes. Come DVDs and I've recently been acquiring a few. I don't know the history of Criterion, if there is one, re: videos, but their DVD collection is pretty amazing and I've used that as a starting point. My first buy was Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublyev", probably my favorite film ever. My second was a bit more idiosyncratic, Bo Widerberg's "All Things Fair", entirely due to the appearance of Marika Lagercrantz, about whom more some other time. It turned out to be a fine movie anyway.

A few months ago, though, Kim's Video opened a branch here in Jersey City, in the otherwise sterile Newport/Pavonia area--something of a surprising but nonetheless welcome development. They do "odd" things like shelving their discs in order of the director's last name in addition to doing so by title. What a concept! They also carry the Criterion collection. A satisfying combo of anal and randomizing, I've been going down the alpha/title section, choosing films that appeal, for one reason or another. Uzo's "A Story of Floating Weeds" (both versions, 1934 and his own 1959 remake) was first--breathtakingly beautiful. Antonioni's "l'Avventura" came next, also fantastic (and something I bet I wouldn't have fully appreciated 20 years ago). I broke ranks to see Kobayashi's "Harakiri", magnificent. So much great Japanese cinema to see....So, I was batting pretty much 1.000.

Still am. Yesterday, I picked up Bresson's "Au Hasard Balthazar" which I watched this afternoon. Absolutely kicking myself in the ass not only for never having seen this but, to the best of my recollection, never having viewed a Bresson film at all. No excuses. What a gorgeous, deep, wonderful movie! So many lovely scenes, such depth of feeling, such visual beauty. I've grown fond of Donald Ritchie's commentary on these Criterion discs as well--a very perceptive fellow. This one includes an extensive interview with Bresson, done shortly after the film's premiere (along with comments by Godard, Malle and Marguerite Duras, as well as some of the cast) and he's just immensely impressive, clearly a substantial thinker. Need to investigate he and his work more...

Finished: Pamuk's 'Snow' - very good, very moving, very informative on Turkish culture and the religious/secular battles raging below the surface--for now--there.


Eliane Radigue - Elemental II (Rosa)
Scott Walker - The Drift (4AD)
Enore Zaffiri - La Voce ed il Sintetizzatore (Rossbin)