Paul Fuzz Presents: Flew In From Miami Beach BOAC
Monday, September 25, 2006
  'Cabaret': An Anna Waits Tribute Review
Anna was unable to attend last Saturday's performance of Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre in London's glitzy West End due to illness, so I took her place on the understanding that in her absence I write a review of it for her and y'all to 'enjoy.' Quite frankly what I know about musical theatre you could write on the back of a postage stamp, and what you'ld write is 'I've seen Bugsy Malone a buncha times and really dig the Jesus Christ Superstar Soundtrack which is a lost progressive funk rock masterpiece,' apart from that I'm pretty much clueless, but what the hell, you gotta write about summfin other than Lester Bangs and The White Album sometime, huh? Here you are, then: CABARET, AN ANNA WAITS TRIBUTE REVIEW.

So the whole show was pretty much a bust. I mean, I don't know much about super-camp decedent Berlin naked Nazi musicals, but I know what I like. There was a buncha stuff I thought was lame, but winning awards for lameness was Anna Maxwell Martin, in the Minelli Sally Bowles role. She stunk the place up like a skunk. Apparently she was really good in Bleak House, which I'm told was some sorta big deal, personally I never caught it, I mean, jeez, BLEAK House? C'mon. FUN House, with Pat Sharp, that was a good show. I don't wanna watch a show about a BLEAK house, fercryingoutloud. ATOMIC House I mighta watched. Or ZOMBIE House, something like that. Anyway, I'm told she was real good in Bleak House, I never caught it, whatever, she was just awful in Cabaret. Y'know Helen Baxendale as Emily in 'Friends'? (Y'see how highbrow my reference points are? Missing Anna's review much? There's a Gwen Stefani reference coming up soon.) Well, Maxwell Martin's Bowles was exactly like that. Not sexy, funny or likeable enough. Shelia Hancock was brilliant though, she sang a song about a Pineapple which was really good, I wished there woulda been more songs about exotic fruits in the show, infact I wish that in general, songs about exotic fruits are cool, like that bit at the end of 'Holler Back Girl' by Gwen Stefani (Told ya!) when she spells out BANANA. The old chap who played Hancock's would-be husband, I didn't catch his name, but he was awesome too, I generally dig older actors (like the guy who plays Max Cherry in 'Jackie Brown,' who is der coolest), this chap carried an emotional weight the younger cast members couldn't match even if they'd have wanted too, and I really cheered up when these two were on stage, infact they lit up a stage which in every other respect was both figuratively and physically dull dull dull.

Yeah, the staging was dull. They use three stripped wire beds in different ways (f'instance as cages) for just about every scene, and there were some big sliding screens, that was pretty much it, all very STARK and MINIMALIST and, y'know, GREY, Anna Waits tells me that a recent version of Guys and Dolls was done in a similar ANTI-MUSICAL MUSICAL way, the whole 'it's not a musical, it's a a play with music' bit, I guess this approach has it's advocates, personally I don't think it's unreasonable to go see Cabaret and expect a little glitz, glitter 'n' glamour from it, seeing as I thought that was pretty much The Whole Point, and if you wanna consider this an experiment then I'd have to consider it a failed one. The problem is that as a play it ain't really up to much, which ain't a problem unless it is made to be a problem, which staging it like this it is. You are forced to judge it on a criteria it was not built to be judged on.

The last two minutes were pretty cool, some Nazis came on and knocked over big 6ft high letters spelling KABARET, the music got all echo-y and evil psychedelic (like, THE PARTY'S OVER, right? It's A BAD TRIP), then it finished and so what. The only other thing I guess worth mentioning is that five minutes into the show some naked guy ran on stage with his Johnson flapping about, which was quite an unwelcome shock to my delicate constitution. In conclusion -Nazis knocking stuff over and Pinapple songs: good / the Bleak House lady and Johnsons flapping about: bad.

Next week: Paul Fuzz continues his series of reviews of things he knows nothing about as he travels to Brussels to investigate the Belgian Films About Goats Festival.
Friday, September 15, 2006
  Extras: Good. Gervais: Shmuck
'Extras' was pretty funny & Cheggers is the new Pacino. But.

I'm bored as hell with Gervais. Guess what? Here's why, y'all.

.1. Patronising attitude towards Cheggers / Les Dennis. Like, yeah, you've saved 'em, Gervais. Well done. Saved 'em from degrading themselves with light entertainment and making lots of people happy on popular shows. I mean, shit, these cats were nobody without you, huh? And now look at 'em! On a high-brow, artistically accomplished auteur vehicle prime time show beloved of critics around the world! They should be kissing your feet in thanks, right? Jeez.

.2. Bile directed at 'broad' comedy. Shit, did you see last night's show? That bit with Jensen kissing Orlando Bloom in front of her annoying friend (herself one of the most caricature-ish, unrealistic Gervais creations yet)? The Jensen /annoying friend bit with the 'hilarious misunderstanding' about which stage hand guy fancied her? If this ain't broad I don't know what it is. When the ugly stage hand guy turned round there shoulda been a trumpet parp.
Meeoo-wah! I mean, Gervais can mumble all he wants about how Extras is intentionally an exercise in broad-er comedy than The Office, but the truth is that he sweats hate for traditional sit-com techniques from every pore, and scenes like these can at the very least be decribed as Gervais having his cake & etaing it too.

.3. Bile directed at The BBC. Inexplicable. The BBC made Gervais an international star. Allowed him to do pretty much whatever the hell he wanted. And he paints the Head Of Comedy as some sorta Hitler-esque evil. Where is this anger coming from? Where does he get the nerve? I mean, just be grateful you didn't have to go through the sorta crap your character here has to. It must be nice being an auteur, huh? Enjoy it! Lighten up! You ain't got nothin' to be mad about!

.4. Bile directed at The Public. AKA: The Ugliest Glimpse Of Gervais' Soul We've Had So Far. The scene with the audience dressed in sit-com catchphrase T-shirts, (nice device, Gervais, real subtle) laughing unthinkingly like the dumbasses they are at Gervais' character's catchphrase. YEAH! These people are SCUM, right, Gervais? Chavvy automatons grovelling in the swill of light entertainment, right? You can feed 'em any old shit and they'll just keep on' eatin', right? These people don't DESERVE Extras and The Office do they? Holy crap. It's one thing to dump on the BBC and Cheggers. It's another to dump on us. Unbelievable snobbery, frightening loathing of the public. (You could argue of course that the people really dumping on the public are the people putting out low-brow Dinnerladies-type garbage he pastiches, but Gervais is kidding himself if he thinks his attitude is any better.)

.5. Obscene arrogent self-indulgence. If I wanted to watch 30 minutes of Gervais bitching and whining about sit-comology, I'd borrow a tape of that Gervais / Larry David Self Congratulatory Back Slapping Smug-In from last year. I mean, seriously. We're all perfectly aware of Gervais' opinion of mainstream gentle comedy. We don't need him to write an entire show about it. This idea that there is BAD comedy & GOOD comedy is just pure jive.

Fundementally I enjoyed Extras, I laughed a couple of times, I thought Cheggers and Barry and Orlando were excellent, and I really like Jensen. But there was much here I found unforgivably self-regarding, bitter and wromg-headed.

Also check out Anna Wait's blog for a wider overview of the whole evening's comedy viewing.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006
  "They've bombed the f***king Pentagon too:" Incoherence of speech & emotion on 9/11
Whenever the subject of '9/11 memories' comes up Anna Waits (my kid sister, for those who don't know) will often recall how it was the first time I swore seriously in her presence, and I guess if you're gonna use the f-word in front of your kid sister for the first time you may as well do it while describing the events of that day. She quotes me accurately: "They've bombed the f***king Pentagon too." Not my most eloquent moment, I'm not generally a sweary guy unless I've had bit to drink and even then I'm not one to use 'f**k' as an adjective much, but who sat in front ofCNN that afternoon had access to an appropriate vocabulary or presence of mind to eloquently express their thoughts on what was unfolding before them? There was nothing one could say. All one could do was watch. The time for discussion would come soon enough, but while the dust settled there was nothing very usefull we could add to the mounting statistics.

One man who did say something a few days later was The Daily Show's 'anchorman,' the very great Mr Jon Stewart. The first Daily Show aired after 9/11 was a clips show, but the first half consisted of nothing but a rambling to-camera monologue by Stewart, which had him in turns breaking down, sobbing, making half-hearted jokes, and ruminating messily on America Freedom, Democracy etc etc...I just caught it on youtube (put in 'Daily Show September 2001'), and it's remarkable, a heart breaking, unique piece of television, one man grappling honestly with his emotions, politics, and the weight of history...I've considered Stewart a minor hero of mine for some time, but this is something else - he hits the right note not because he says exactly the right thing, but precisely because he doesn't really know what to say, and what he does say is often muddled and muddied by gut reaction and a lack of hard facts...just like the rest of us at that time. It's a human reaction. It's a New Yorker's reaction. And I guess it's also the reaction of a man who knows his job has been rendered completely insignificant, and simultaneously perhaps more valuable than he ever thought it could be. Over the next 5 years, the Bush administration's reaction to 9/11 would make The Daily Show perhaps the most important show on American television.

(Thanks to Anna Waits for the tip off on this.)


Friday, September 01, 2006
  Do Your Funky Thing
From 'The World's Rarest Funk 45s: sixteen heavyweight super-tough deep funk ultra rarities.'

Black Hammer. How awesome a name is that? The lost highway of rock 'n' soul music is littered with thousands of incredible bands Who Never Made The Big Time, and the re-issue industry is a busy one because - as the liner notes of this LP point out - "New Music Is Just Music You've Not Heard Before", and record freaks like me will happily spend the rest of our lives digging up and dusting off The Great Music That Time Forgot, which there appears to be an inexhaustable supply of. So calling your compilation 'The Worlds Rarest Funk 45s' is a pretty ballsy thing to do, specifically because no compilation can possibly live up to such a title: however rare the music contained on this LP may be you gotta figure that even as we speak, somebody scratching around their attic in Iowa has just uncovered a privately pressed one copy only acetate made by their uncle Doug in 1966 which is the Best Record You Never Heard.

That said, these records are certainly rare as hell, and if you wanted to get your hands on a copy of an original of any of 'em you'ld be looking at spending...1000s of pounds. Best of the lot - for my dollar - is Larry Ellis & Black Hammer's 'Funky Thing - pt 1.' It's an absolute monster: a super heavy psychedelic freak out which hits it & and quits in under 3 minutes...I've played it almost constantly for two days now. The first twenty seconds - an unaccompanied Hammond organ freaking out, some cat extolling us to "DO YOUR FUNKY THING" - is a Funk 45 intro in the elevated league of The Ebony Rythym Band's ' Soul Heart Transplant' ("I had a heart tansplant today...") and Mickey & The Soul Generation's 'Iron Leg' ("DUUURRRRR!"), and what follows - a churning groove tastier than momma's best fried chicken - is simply evil, in the best sense of the word.

I appreciate I'm posting into an indie vacuum here and ain't no cat gonna read this who could give two hoots 'bout some silly old funk record by a buncha guys they never heard of, but I'm digging the song so much I had to mention it. Maybe next time I'll review a Divine Comedy LP, huh?
IN GLORIOUS 3D FUZZ-O-VISION! A journey through the psychedelic world of cult movies, obsessive record collecting and pop-culture ephemera of all kinds. The Fuzziness is baked right in.

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