everything is illuminated

I am really ripping away today, but so what, nobody is watching the monkey juggle. To no one whatsoever, this is a another book report, this time on Jonathan Safran Foer, winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2002, with ‘Everything Is Illuminated’.
They say he is the best new writer in the world. I say he writes like he has diarrhea in his brain – that is a compliment, by the way. Off-handed, but still.

Safran Foer is one clever little Jew, the kind you very easily imagine you can imagine in your lazy mind. Neurotic, nerdy, skinny, badly dressed including fannypack, verbal like Woody Allen… but also imaginative and bold and bursting with brio and far too many ideas.
The b-b-b-book itself is a potpourri of comedy, tragedy, dashes of brilliance… and rather too much of boredom. Badabing badabong, just boring.
I am sure you can read the synopsis somewhere on the internet; I just feel that a story about searching his grandma in Ukraine is lame, no matter how well it is disguised behind brilliant language and originality. And why my o my why name a dog Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior? My teeth hurt from all the grinding.

Still, the guy is kosher, which means I can not wait until he writes something interesting. Shalom.

airport reading

About 5 am, Geneva airport. Heavy flu, sand in the eyes. Some old fool next to me is stretching his legs for awhile, which seems like perfectly normal behaviour at first. Then he gets up, starts playing with a plastic lid of some sorts, throwing it up in the air, running after it, dropping it on the floor. What the hell? This guy has gray hair, is probably 60, and plays around like a little kid. I shake my head in disbelief, and cracks open Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘Twilight Of The Idols’. Why am I punishing myself like this? Shouldn’t I be reading something simple, like Dan Brown, instead?

The plane is late. When is it not? Every vitriolic word of Nietzsche passes by in indifference. It seems to be some sort of a declaration of war on reason, psychology and theology. I read a passage, I get lost, I don’t understand. I read the passage again. The same thing happens. We don’t get along, Nietzsche and I. I start to wonder if he got along with anyone at all? We touch the ground in Amsterdam, for a four-hour transit of emptiness – these cheap tickets kill me. I prowl the Schiphol for a sweetspot, and finally come across an available lounge chair, where I can get my feet up. I pounce, like a tiger in white Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.
I can not get any sleep, although I am tired, which is no surprise to me. I am a lousy sleeper; when I actually sleep I sleep like an assassin. I watch some guy sit down in the chair next to me – in a matter of minutes he is pulling ZZZs like he is in paradise and talking to Jesus. It pisses me off in a royal way and I force myself to focus on ‘The Twilight Of Idols’.
Frankly, Nietzsche is not a poet. He writes with a heavy hammer, and bangs in his point of view, like I am the head of the nail. When I reach the end, I am relieved more than disappointed. Only poser-philosophers need apply.

What do I do next? I continue in great stubborn fashion with Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘The Anti-Christ’…. hahaha. At first I find myself taunting the author, but the more I read the warmer I get in my clothes.
The plane is yet again late, and I’m dead sure the times on the screens are more guidelines than a measurement of accuracy. I buy a couple of bottles of Campari and Pernod, and continue turning the pages inside the crammed aircraft. This book is marvellous.

I quote: “Man is God’s first blunder… Woman was God’s second blunder. Woman is in her essence serpent… every evil comes into the world through woman… Man became God’s rival, science makes equal to God – it is all over with priests and gods if man becomes scientific – God’s mortal terror. God’s answer… Man shall not think.”

While not a fluent book, it is, in fact, more than marvellous. It is important. The crap has been peeled away, and it is completely naked of bullshit, totally devoid of fraud. It is a revaluation of values from 1895 – and I’m going to mail George W Bush and the Abdullahs a copy of it.

walk the line

I’m sitting down in front of the fingertip alphabet immediately after watching Walk The Line, the chronicle of Johnny Cash’s life, so forgive me for feeling the way I feel – the words will be tainted by heartbleed, and come out all dramatic and sentimental and wrong and weird and wired. But I am a sensitive man; I can not help it, it just burns, burns, burns.

I love the movie. Everything about it. First second to last. One guitar string after the other. Screw plot and cinematography and manuscripts and I don’t care whatnotandhow – when the acting is what it truly can be and the legend even more, it comes alive… on the screen and inside the viewer, this viewer.

Joaquin Phoenix was robbed at Oscar night; take a hike, Capote. To step into those dark and damp shoes of Cash and fill ’em up like that, own singing included, is the cocky guts I dream about. Praise the lord justice was served in form of the golden statuette for Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. I fell in love with her the moment her perfect reflection hit my retinas. Did you see her whipping those country legs? And where the hell did those bite marks on my knuckles come from?

I am gasping from joy of bubbling life, but at the same time struck by melancholy and the infinite sadness. I can only guess how hard it is to beat your personal demons, and rise while everyone around you is dragging you down. Yeah, wait… I am lying… I can do a whole lot more than ‘guess’…

But if I may push my own demons aside for a minute, then let me tell you this. Walk The Line is essentially a love story surrounded by the greatest country music ever made and sung. Watching Johnny and June sing together are moments in time when you realize what beauty means, what contrast means, what harmony means, what heart and family means, what love is all about. And that is what it is all about, always. Just watching it makes a difference – so, watch it!

It’s getting late. I’m going to bed. In my own ring of fire.

ha-ha-harry callahan

This amused me for 11,3 seconds this morning (yes, I timed my chuckles). Some guy in Wisconsin recently tried to open an email-account at Yahoo!, but no matter how hard he tried, he just could not get it the way he wanted it – by using his surname, Callahan. The reason turned out to be the letters a-l-l-a-h inside his surname, or ‘god’ in Arabic.

Obviously I immediately imagined (and you can see how my mind works now) what Harry Callahan, a.k.a. tough cop Dirty Harry, would have done in the same situation. I’m betting he would’ve reached for his piece, (the heaviest handgun in the world), and locked his streetwise eyes on the computer, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, DO YA PUNK!?”

I am so easily influenced by my surroundings; I was watching Magnum Force yesterday, Dirty Harry the day before, and today I will most likely watch The Enforcer, and then I’ll save Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool for next week. Oh yeah, oh yeah, I am a boisterous owner of a bulldozing kit of a damn dirty dvd box – The Dirty Harry Collection, complete with a smoking Magnum .44 pictured on the front and back side of the box.

movie of the month

Once in awhile you discover gems from the past, but this once-in-awhile concept of time just seems to happen less and less frequently these days, so I am absolutely thrilled when it actually does. History: I remember reading about the British cult film “Withnail & I” in a Q magazine in the early nineties, and being impressed by the praises heaped. I had not heard a word about this film before – and not really afterwards, either… neither had anyone else – it seems to be a closely guarded secret of the British Isles. But I never forgot about it, and I am glad I didn’t. More than a decade later I buy it on dvd from play.com.

Withnail & I came out in 1987, produced by G Harrison. (Bless you, George). It is about two unemployed actors in London, late 1960s, who drown their frustration in booze, pills and lighter fluid. When Withnail’s Uncle Monty offers his cottage in the country, they escape the squalor of their horrible flat. They soon realize it is a mistake.
Withnail & I is hilarious, but at the same time insanely intelligent… and the craft of acting is wonderful, with every face in complete synchronicity with emotion, all the way along the watchtower. There is deep beauty in this light misery. Just listen to the British accent of Richard E. Grant (Withnail), every syllable licking your ear, confidently and elegantly wasted. It also comes with a matching soundtrack.

Buy it and do it now. Bruce Robinson’s semi-autobiographical tale is art, pure art, a supersplendid riot.

otis

So I was wondering the other day what the brouhaha was all about and I said to myself that something has to be done and indeed that is what I did when I downloaded the new ‘it’ indie band The Arctic Monkeys who are outselling just about everyone right now in Europe and then I just parked my ass and cocked my ears in anticipation and… and… I didn’t like it very much at all and in fact I think they are overrated and so much so that I forced myself to go another round on iTunes but it did not help at all and I got all hot in my head and just deleted all files that had anything to do with the Arctic Monkeys and this only proves one thing which is obviously that the only good apes are The Monkees.

Si si, man, I kinda cooled down, you know. Needed some sweet music for these ol’ trumpets that stick out the sides of the ol’ mug. Yah know what I kicked back with? Otis Redding, the one and not ‘only’ because that word is plain too cheap when talking about good Otis.
Right, the source to this treasure was my coffeedrinking pianoplaying littlest bro, a mad musical snob who made me listen to Otis until I had to give in and admit that I’d been a criminal for ignoring the r-r-raw soul man. Now Mr Redding is a regular in my iTunes library, or the hall of fame as I call it. Brothaman, I don’t care which album of his you listen to, just go bad & wild. But make sure you throw a big party in your brain when you listen to his version of Satisfaction (I Can’t Get No)… ooooh boy here we go… feet start paddling… arms rowing… I can’t sit still… Otis is taking me places right now… Aye canta getta nouu… saaatisfaaaactjon… oowwww!!!

ski jumping

“Lennä Nykäsen Matti, lennä… tule elävänä takaisin”. Last weekend I went to the local premiere of the Matti Nykänen movie – like the rest of the Finnish people I guess I wanted a few cheap laughs on Matti’s tab. The story of his life is a goldmine: world’s best skijumper on a neverending bender, turns singer, turns stripper – along the way, everything that can go wrong… you know it. But you can only throw so many tvs out the windows before you start shifting your ass in the seat. The film is pathetic, mostly because Nykänen’s life is so pathetic. A victim of circumstances? Indeed – but only because of his own chronic stupidity, forever to be unmatched by another human being as long as there is life.
God, I really hope the second part of his life turns out well in the end. However, I have an eerie feeling a long and quiet life is not in his repertoire. Bless you, Matti. I really laughed when you drove that lawnmover into the lake…