Monday, August 11, 2008

The Curious Appeal of Totalitarianism

What is it about once Fascist nations that appeals to me so often? Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany. Oh, and I also love France and la belle femme Madame Sarkozy, so that may squelch my theory. But French colonialists and royalists were not exactly pussycats.

Anyways, over the past couple of days I've been embroiled in the simultaneous Criterion releases of Mishima's Patriotism and Paul Schrader's Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. The second disc of the latter has some really groovy extras. I've seen plenty of interviews in Japanese with Mr. M, but there is an intriguing BBC documentary packed with several interviews with him where he speaks where he speaks in English. Sitting in front of a small statue of Mercury, he speaks as if he's channeling Noel Coward and pronounces vulgar as VULL-garr. Why did I wait so long on these two? And why weren't they released as one set? Even more mystifying is why I waited so long to get Theo Bleckmann's Berlin. It's a really superb, dense, lengthy CD. Though released months ago, it's still not on iTunes and hard to track down in stores. I've loved little, strange Theo for quite some time. I have to admire someone whose collaborated with Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, the Estonian National Chorus and Phillip Glass among many others. This one time champion ice skater who does throat singing, robot voices for Speilberg and wacko new music/jazz, actually has a near sh0w tune voice on this album. Well, maybe a show where all the sets have Dr. Caligari angles, the lighting casts shades of green on everyone's skin, and there is an impending feeling of doom despite the cheery sound of pitch-perfect voices accompanied by cellos, a deftly precise piano and wailing faint scream in the distance. Hearing a man sing "Surabaya Johnny" seems to get at the essence of Brecht's words, perhaps words that Brecht might have felt in the person.

If you've not hear it, here is the link to the recent Terry Gross/Fresh Air interview with Theo. He's wonderfully fey and dark at the same time.

Speaking of once Fascist nations, would anyone like to go with me to Buenos Aires next July?

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