Category: ageing


EMINENT HIPSTERS by Donald Fagen (Vintage Books, 2014)
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This book is a good antidote to clichéd rock memoirs suggesting life on the road is one extended party. Here there’s no sex, some prescription drugs and a bit of AOR.

The second part takes the form of a 2012 tour diary based on concerts across America performed with Michael ‘Doobie Brother’ McDonald and Boz Scaggs as The Dukes of September Rhythm Review.

It was written mostly to relieve the monotony of playing a series of gigs in mostly sub-par venues to aging punters and staying in soulless hotels.

Fagen coins the term Acute Tour Disorder (ATD) to describe the state of anxiety, paranoia, depression and physical discomfort he experiences. You have to wonder why he keeps going and he asks himself this same question at regular intervals. Continue reading

THE SAVAGES written & directed by Tamara Jenkins (USA, 2007)
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Though this movie received universal acclaim upon release, there were the inevitable naysayers. It’s interesting to read some of the negative comments. One says the story is depressing because it’s too much like real life while another says he was disappointed because he had expected a comedy.

I confess that, having glanced at the DVD cover image, I thought it would be more comic than dramatic. There are some amusing scenes but nothing to laugh out loud about. This is not so surprising since it touches upon a number heavy themes including sibling rivalry, mid-life crises, parental abuse and, most serious of all, dementia and dying. Not much cause for hilarity in this list!

It stars Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Wendy and Jon Savage. Both are single with messed up personal relationships, both have aspirations as writers and both are fundamentally unfulfilled. Continue reading

FRANCESCO DE GREGORI –  live at Nuova Teatro Carisport, Cesena, Italy 8th April 2016

degregoriThis concert is part of the ‘Amore e Furto’ (Love and Theft) tour – a reference to the subtitle of the  ‘De Gregori Canta Bob Dylan’ album released in 2015.

Needless to say, a fair proportion of the show is devoted to songs from this record which does such a valuable public service to Italians, particularly those who know Dylan only on the basis of a few of his ‘greatest hits’. The translations were obviously a labour of love and do an exemplary job of conveying the quirky poetry and socio-political thrust of Dylan’s language.

tickets.jpgThe varied choice of covers are drawn from the full range of Dylan’s career, evidence of the 65-year-old Italian singer-songwriter’s long-standing adoration of ‘His Bobness’. (Evidenced by the fact that he has also shared the bill with Dylan on a number of occasions).

De Gregori wisely steers clear of the more obvious selections so, for instance, there’s no ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ or ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. Inspired versions of Desolation Row (Via Della Povertà) and Not Dark Yet (Non è Buoi Ancora) reflect the inspirations of  beat language and the contemplations of mortality just as effectively. Continue reading

What makes Rabbit run

RABBIT, RUN by John Updike (Penguin Books, First published, 1971)

235845Powerful works of fiction are not dependent on the nobility or likability of the characters.

Two of my favorite fictional creationd are Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov from Crime And Punishment and Mervyn Peake’s Steerpike from the Gormenghast trilogy. Each are prime examples of men behaving badly motivated by a bitter and twisted ambition.  Their ruthless and murderous actions are deplorable but they are both fascinatingly complex characters.

Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom is in a wholly different kettle of fish. There is nothing endearing about him and the very banality of his failings mean that he barely qualifies as an anti-hero. He is not a killer, nor does he crave power but his selfishness, random lustfulness and frustration are ugly traits that infect the lives around him.

A one time basketball star, he is unable to come to terms with a humdrum life with a dead-end job and a dismal marriage. He wants out but has nowhere to run.

Updike’s cynical depiction of the human condition is so absolute that we are pitched into the mire of Rabbit’s squallid affairs without a moral compass. We are not required to condone or condemn his actions nor to sympathize when he hits rock bottom to the point that : “He feels underwater, caught in chains of transparent slime, ghosts of the urgent ejaculations he has spat into the mild bodies of women”. Continue reading

Alice_biblio“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream, Lingering in the golden gleam. Life, what is it but a dream?”

La Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena  are celebrating the 150th anniversary of  Alice In Wonderland with a small exhibition (curated by Giulia Quintabà & Maria Luisa Pieri).

This consists of book illustrations from a range of editions of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s timeless classic,  together with photographs, objects and brief biographical information.

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One of the illustrations for the Treviso Comic Book festival

34 designs are by artists in collaboration with the Treviso Comic Book Festival and these are far preferable to the sappy Disney style illustrations  in some of the books on display.

These do not top the original drawings by Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914) which are still the ones that best stand the test of time.

The surrealism and wonderful strangeness of Lewis Carroll’s work means that it’s a work that never really goes out of fashion and remains as popular with adults as with children. Continue reading

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