Monday, December 31, 2007
Poppies won't ever blow away
NOTES from Chicago Sheraton, Xmas 2007
Everytime I leave New York I can't believe how "off" my rhythm with the rest of the country is. My image of it now is that you buy a TV and you bring it home and by the time you figure out how to access all the channels, all the channels are telling you need to buy a different TV and new channels.. and when all your money is gone and your room is so full of technology that all is left is the technology and you. Then someone comes and removes you; then all that is left is a device with your eyes and ears and mouth to intake imitation food and outtake imitation sound and soon not even that.
The question is where do they take you when you're trash? What's going on at the dump? That's where the action must be, even without Godfrey Parks.
I'm watching Wizard of Oz on TNT, and Ray Bolger would brave a whole boxful of matches to get some brains, and yet in America we're giving them away half price. We're letting the giant alien vacuum suck 'em on up out of us and peddle 'em off to any scarecrow with a wheelbarrow big enough to hold a ton... because that's the smallest increment we want to bother with. Now they're already at the Tin Man, and he wants a heart, and what's a heart to these people? It's the half-baked attempt to cater to pro-lifers that is the "other opinion" on Britney's sister's baby on CNN --which I flip to during the commercial. Let's not forget TNT itself which shows this film and has to constantly announce you're watching TNT and that SHREK is up next. SHREK is the most amazing of all these franchises in that it hiply eschews the archetypal subtext of "original" myths like Wizard of Oz. It also reduces any worrisome "human" element.
Cartoon voices of course can be drained of human elements via their constant relying on satirical imitations of other voices. Jack Black is the best intimation of this. He moves from one "fake voice" to another and if he does get left without a handy option and is forced to assume his own, all that's left is this high register bitch of a whine.
Rachel Ray is a classic example of someone whose "personality" has caught on with a big enough demographic to warrant having it preserved as it is filtered through the dehumanizing machine - all the actresses who have to audition to get their faces attached to the machine are ordered to strip their individuality away, but Rachel's is hurried through, under a fire blanket and flanked by bodyguards in sunglasses.
Back to the Wizard. I've been down I'll admit, but I perk up when I see Bert Lahr and his fey macho lion swagger. Then there's the drugs of the poppy fields, and of course the classic multi-exposure revolution of Dorothy's face when she gets knocked out in the tornado... the alter-dimensional re-imagining of the basic mythic wandering of the hero in the form of the heroine, this time in Dorothy form, Dorothy which is my 97 year-old grandmother's name, Dorothy, whom we're here to visit.
The modern updating of this coolest of all surviving American myths, what would they be needing to make them unique to our time? WILD AT HEART tried to reimagine the Wizard scenario as a run for your money road movie set to Barry Gifford dialogue; SILENCE OF THE LAMBS had Buffalo Bill sure to get a heart (in his fridge); and the scarecrow Lecter and the Jack Crawford the Lion.
This is your last chance, these Disney classics are going back into the vault. "Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?"
The fake laughter of "how we laugh the day away in the merry old land of Oz" with its couple of tra-la-las. Capitalism's evil is apparent in the actions of the wizard: pay no attention to man behind the forests, powering up his fleet of tractor tin men. The lion's song is all about scoring the bling; he wants satin, not cotton or14th St. chintz. The sign in front of the witch's forest reads: I'd turn back if I were you. It might read that, but what it says is something different. It's designed to enhance your fear and thus give your overcoming it all the more value.
"All in good time, dearie... all in good time." Has anyone ever said that phrase only once? Repetition is also the key to authenticity. We are so saturated with this film that we live it and speak it and breathe it (and if your brain said "reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it"). If we don't incorporate the film's symbols into our personal dream mythology maybe it is only because we haven't the will to make these things real. We should have an "Initiation of the Dorothy" theme park ride, wherein you pay money for your daughter to get banged on the head and sent to the Oz finishing school of instant-enlightenment. Instead she has to shave her head, join a lesbian youth gang, pop pills and drink vodka, or otherwise seek her own pre-prince's kiss oblivion. (and by prince here I mean, prince of the self, of her own unconscious, you dime-store feminist surface scratcher!)
There's no place like home is Dorothy's mantra. "There's no place like home" "There's no place like Ommmm" - after the search through the capitalist layers of meaning - where bling and long rides with champagne are just ruby slippers and baskets of goodies for grandma what big ass you have... what do we get to take home to NYC?
The smell of pig shit permanently part of the Chi-town landscape and long, long horizons, my dearie. Kansas is the bog of the soul. If you can love the pig shit, you are as close to free as any of us dare. Ride the train on over from the plains to the slaughterhouse, and give your black and white day-to-day the ruby red slip.
(Cue Marlon Brando harmonica music)