Friday, October 24, 2008

Who Can Really Deal with the Problem?

Odd as it may sound, I've always considered Laurie Anderson and Martha Stewart to be mirror images of each other. Both have monotone, detached voices devoid of emotion that are at once calming and disconcerting. Neither can stick to just one medium, and both were born in the 1950s. Laurie was a cheerleader and attended Columbia and Barnard, and Martha sells all the accessories that can make your home look like you went to those schools. Both can evoke the stance of a powerful business leader, but while Martha embraces French country ornament and pastels, Laurie is surrounded by stark and dark monochromes and highly industrial technology.

I went to see her Homeland show at Zellerbach in Berkeley this evening. A conversation over on Facebook with Kusala led me to fear it might be a four hour show. It was just two, and she had three curtain calls. Coming back for an encore she grabbed her string instrument to make some of us suspect that she might launch into "O, Superman" which becomes more biting with each passing year. Instead, it was just an acoustic instrumental as she pranced around the stage. At 61 she is still a wonderful prankster but put on a perfectly precise and disciplined show with an attention for detail that Martha would admire. The closest she came to "chatter" was introducing the musicians. She clearly is continuing to shape this show with up-to-the-second reference to McCain calling Rush Limbaugh a clown and then apologizing to the clowns, to many financial meltdown mentions and managing to get her biggest laugh when noting that the NRA was suggesting to women in Texas that they carry a hand gun in their purse but then qualifying -- with an apology that it might sound sexist -- that no woman in Texas would be able to find a gun in her purse.

The above tune got the biggest reaction, sort of the "dance hit" of the show, in a way.

The whole show was a nice relief to "this thing" we are stuck in, like a boil begging to be lanced, this anticipation of a dam about to burst, a mix of giddiness that Obama's win is imminent even though we will all be paupers, but that might be a glorious thing. This article in the current New York magazine grabs the whole thing more brilliantly than anything else I've read to date on the topic that unites all of us at the moment. Well, I guess it doesn't unite us with rich evangelicals who've weathered the stock roller coaster and are convinced that having an intellectual president that will make the French president look like a right wing radical is something to be concerned about.

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At 5:00 PM, Blogger joe said...

I didn't mean to mislead you into thinking it really was a 4-hour show -- it just felt like four hours to me, despite the fact that I have a great love for Mrs. Lou Reed. I'm still [mostly] glad I saw it, glad you enjoyed it, and I'm always looking forward to what she'll do next.

True story: the mother of one of my high school friends was a Barnard classmate of both La Martha and Erica Jong. Laurie must have been in a class a couple of years later.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Joe - I'm just picturing what it would have been like if Erica decided to start a catering firm and Martha wrote high-minded erotica.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

I never thought of the similarities btw martha and laurie, but you are right!

now laurie is a real maverick - and I'm glad she continues to push the envelop and still can push her audience to see things in new ways!


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