Hit List

July 12, 2020

Week Ten: FLICK | The Fits, 2016, directed by Anna Rose Holmer

The Fits, 2016, directed by Anna Rose Holmer, story by Anna Rose Holmer, Saela Davis, Lisa Kjerulff The Fits is a rare treat. It’s deeply considered without being pretentious, mesmerizing without sacrificing story, political without uttering a word of rhetoric. It also proves that a fantastic film can be created on a minuscule budget. This one weighs in at a featherweight, $168,000 which by the standards of practically any era of film making is chump change. It’s about eleven year old Toni who is training to be a boxer along with her older brother. Toni becomes enamored by a dance team that practices in a gymnasium close by, and eventually she trades her pugilistic ambitions for a spot on the team. But there’s something weird going on. One by one, dancers are afflicted with mysterious “fits” that have them seizing […]
June 14, 2020

Week Nine: SOUND | Tito – Quetzalcoatl (especially “Pecado y Muerte”) Los Wembler’s de Iquitos – La Danza Del Petrolero Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical – Las Oladas

(This post was meant to happen three weeks ago, so forgive the nonsensical opening, which made perfect sense when the ground was saturated. – Lump) Okay, one week of rain behind us…and another week of rain lies ahead. Rather than immersing myself and you, dear readers, in languid overcast vibes again, I aim to straight-up vaporize the clouds with flaming-hot HEAT from the Equatorial South. First up, we have a triumphant rascal of an album by Tito, a “progressive band” from 1977 Mexico and currently a favorite gem, mined from one of many late nights trawling YouTube. In its sub-30 minute expanse, Quetzalcoatl completely rewires my perception of Mexican music; It’s cinematic and psychedelic, tender, odd and improbably sprawling despite being a patchwork of cosmic synth vignettes. Interestingly, while drinking deep from the full album (easy and recommended), I started […]
June 14, 2020

Week Nine: PAPERBACK | Transbluesency, Selected Poems 1961-1995, by Amiri Baraka

Selected this week by artist/writer Chris Vitiello READING IS A PART OF ACTIVISM. Baraka never pulled a punch in his life and wrote terrific plays and collaborated with jazz musicians. He was controversial too – his poem “Somebody Blew Up America?” was criticized as anti-Semitic… and defended as anti-Zionist… and prompted the governor of New Jersey to end the poet laureate program for the state since he couldn’t legally fire Baraka from the post. Baraa was a giant and wrote fucking HARD. Get his books and seek out video online of him reading with musicians behind him. – CV
June 14, 2020

Week Nine: FLICK | Ganja and Hess, 1973, directed by Bill Gunn

There’s no way to pin Ganja and Hess down because it defies every expectation you might have for the exploitation horror flick that it’s promoted as. It’s about a wealthy anthropologist, Dr. Hess Green (played by Duane Jones of Night of the Living Dead fame) who is a vampire. Hess falls in love with his dead assistant’s widow, Ganja Meda, played by Marlene Clark (Billy D Williams’ wife at that time, in the real world). Its director, Bill Gunn was an African American playwright and novelist who, when approached to make this movie, had no interest in doing a vampire movie, and instead used the trope as a metaphor for addiction. The result is an exceptionally weird horror, romance that undercuts the unrelenting whiteness of the vampire myth and lampoons, with almost no effort, the painfully Eurocentric Hammer vampire films […]
June 14, 2020

Week Eight: SOUND | Bobby Beausoleil – Lucifer Rising Kali Malone – The Sacrificial Code

Inspired by the onslaught of overcast days this week, I’ve been diving deep into the dirge. The first selection is a procession of raw, lysergic New Age (or, perhaps more aptly, “dark age”) cuts (truly no pun intended) from Bobby Beausoleil, infamous member of the Manson family, and perpetrator of what would be the first in the Manson-related murders of 1969. While incarcerated in the 1970’s, Beausoleil formed The Magick Powerhouse of Oz band and arranged a score for Kenneth Anger’s film Lucifer Rising a perfect sonic amalgam of arthouse and grindhouse inclinations, Beausoleil’s kaleidoscopic score sprawls from medieval waltzes and dreamlike nocturnal synthscapes to lush psychedelia and acid-fried desert rock. While I’d prefer to not give Beausoleil this credit, what makes Lucifer Rising so compelling to me is its perfect distillation of the atrophying countercultural crescendo of the late […]
May 22, 2020

Week Eight: PAPERBACK | Hollywood Babylon, by Kenneth Anger

This week’s selection comes from artist/hedonist, Norman Gaille. This is THE classic compendium of old Hollywood scandals, written by child actor turned underground queer film legend and occultist, Kenneth Anger. Perversion is his forte, and this book is without question a necessary addendum to his films. It’s pretty outdated by today’s standards for shock, but it’s still wonderfully trashy, irreverent, sensational, and a lot of times, outright false. What I love is that all of the shit that Anger made up in this book, or rumors that he recounted without checking a single fact, are now ingrained in Hollywood urban legend. That’s a serious legacy, better than any painted masterpiece, sitting in moth balls in a stuffy museum. Read it in one sitting, then give it a place of prominence on the back of your toilet for your friends to […]
May 22, 2020

Week Eight: FLICK | Seconds 1966, directed by John Frankenheimer

This movie is one of a kind. For its star, Rock Hudson, and its director, John Frankenheimer, it represents an expansion of risk that goes well beyond what was, at the time, deemed reasonable for two Hollywood establishment super egos. The endeavor is a blend of science fiction, noir and horror that aims beyond the conceptual expectations of those genres. In it, a wealthy banker pays to be “reborn” by an underground identity reconstruction boutique that quietly caters to the miserable, rich. The all expense payed package gets him a fake death (cadaver included), extreme facial reconstruction, in-depth psychiatric evaluation and placement in the new life of his dreams with every detail fully considered. It’s a great premise; so weird and implausible that all is forgiven even as the jowly, sour, fuddy-duddy, played by John Randolf, enters the procedure with […]
May 15, 2020

Week Seven: SOUND | WITCH – Lazy Bones!! Drakker – Drakker

“If you’re feeling depressed, low, disturbed, irritable, out of sorts, sad, frustrated or wildly demented, then folks we suggest you seek out a quiet place, indulge in some soothing meditation and cut away that headache by listening to this inspirational album. To those of you who have been unkind and deliberately troublesome, we suggest you go jump in the lake specially featured for you on our cover.” – Liner notes for Lazy Bones!! This week I’ve chosen two records that exist against all odds– psychedelic sounds, heavy rockers and acid-tinged folk jams that were forged in the far stretches of the globe, in the shadows of volatile political factions, plagued by limited technological resources, raging health crises and desolate economic conditions. These records are manifestations of a radical and singular ambition to create in spite of impending oblivion. We Intend […]
May 15, 2020

Week Seven: PAPERBACK | Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle

This week’s PAPERBACK is for those of you who watch Dream Deceivers and feel it necessary to dip into more hopeful territory. Strangely, the remedy comes from the same story. This time it’s told with stirring empathy and a ton of forgotten, Eighties cultural references, in Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle. In his impressive first crack at a novel, Darnielle spins an engrossing and beautifully understated story around Sean, who is loosely based on James Vance. Sean is living on his own, years after his suicide attempt and the blame that followed, sustaining himself, financially and socially, through a mail-in subscription, role playing game he invented, called Trace Italian. He is also fighting his own lawsuit, by the parents of two kids who took Trace Italian literally and acted out seemingly innocuous instructions that got them killed. Sean […]
May 15, 2020

Week Seven: FLICK | Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs Judas Priest, 1992, directed by David Van Taylor

This is not an uplifting movie. It is a morbidly fascinating, true story that, if you were a teenager during the Eighties, will echo in your memory, either as a disturbing news broadcast that came and went, or if you were into Heavy Metal, as a legendary tale about the demonization of popular music. In 1985, Ray Belknap and James Vance carried out a suicide pact in a churchyard after listening to Judas Priest’s version of “Better By You, Better Than Me,” by Spooky Tooth. Ray succeeded in killing himself, but James did not, and he was grotesquely disfigured. The boys’ parents mounted a law suit against Judas Priest, claiming that the band had buried subliminal messages in their recording of the song that urged the impressionable young heshers to “Do it.” The film is about that lawsuit, which was […]
May 8, 2020

Week Six: SOUND | Connie Converse – I Have Considered the Lilies Connie Converse – Talkin’ Like You

This week’s theme: “Consider the lilies” or, “Unsolved Mysteries.” I’m no Robert Stack, but I can appreciate a good unsolved mystery as much as the next bored-at-home binger. Take for example Connie Converse, the pre-Dylan progenitor of wry, idiosyncratic and deeply personal folk in the early 60’s Greenwich Village scene. Reclusive and utterly bemused by the trappings of “normal” life, Converse penned a small but nevertheless poignant rucksack of songs about withdrawing from the world – songs that went largely unheard until the early aughts. Decisively, after a short-lived stint as a songstress and in the midst of a crumbling personal and professional life, Converse wrote to her family, laying out a plan to ensure that her bills and other responsibilities were taken care of and urging them to grant her the freedom to disappear: “Human society fascinates me & […]
May 8, 2020

Week Six: PAPERBACK | The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Curated this week by Lindsay Metivier Many of us read books to escape the reality of our day-to-day lives. I sometimes read for solace or boredom, and other times just want to be taken out of my own head and life and placed into someone updates else’s while I wait for my mug of Sleepytime tea, and/or glass of whiskey, and/or shot of NyQuil to kick in at the end of the day. Recently, feeling a little fractured and uncertain, I picked up The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis again, a book recommended to me by my good friend Ernie several years ago. A master of brevity, Lydia Davis’s short stories range between a few words to several pages. All gems full of dark humor, the mundane, and acute observations. She gets to the core of the meaningless meaning of […]