Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's on your side. You know as much as it to you reveals. It flies, is money, and waits for no man. And it's our Super-Special Topic for The High Hat No. 10: It's Time.

Yes, 10! Can you believe it? Ten issues of America's little webzine that could! And we want YOU to be a part of this Ultra-Special Issue.

Of course, if you're not interested in writing about our Extra-Special Topic (Had we but world enough and it...), we're also interested in your thoughts on movies, music, tv, books and arts, and life itself.

Please send your pitches to highhatsubmissions@gmail.com by April 30th. We're looking for finished articles by May 15 so we can go to press in June. It is of the essence, so be on it!

Ever yours,
The Editors

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"a sort of clown"

Gary Wolf, "The Church of the Non-Believers," in Wired magazine. A profile of today's fiery evangelists of atheism (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris).

Sen. Kerry

I just want to say for the record that I don't believe for one second that anyone, not Tony Snow, not John McCain, not anyone, believes that Sen. Kerry's remarks yesterday were intended to denigrate the service of American soldiers.

Their cynicism, which is what produced the Iraqi quagmire (hereafter known as "Operation Botched Iraq Joke") in the first place, knows no bounds.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Best Movies of 2005

I wasn't planning on doing this again this year, but the Academy Awards nominations came out, and they made a few mistakes. Of course, thinking persons of conscience can disagree, and we do not seek quarrels but common ground with our brothers and sisters who would celebrate those works that have brought joy and illumination into their lives, but "Crash" my ass.

1. "Head-On"-- Fatih Akin wrote, directed, and stars in this sexually charged, inexplicably exhilirating movie about two lives that smash into each other at the bottom of the pile.

2. "Mysterious Skin"--Gregg Araki's early movies wanted more than anything to shock the bejesus out of the audience, but given how unlikely it is that you're going to shock anyone who left the house to see an NC-17-rated movie called "The Doom Generation", they just seemed kind of forlorn. Araki did grow more technically accomplished with every movie, though, and here, all that daring and proficiency are joined to a complicated, mature point of view to produce his first real movie--and his first truly shocking one. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, previously known as the kid from "Third Rock from the Sun", gives a beautiful, adult performance as an alluringly tainted hustler who remembers an incidence of child sexual abuse as his first romance.

3. "Rize"--David La Chappelle's documentary about Clown Dancers and Krumpers, people turning their anger and longing for transcendence in the face of urban cruelty and despair into performance art for the streets and kids' birthday parties. You'll laugh, you'll cry. For real/

4. "Grizzly Man"--Werner Herzog's best movie in at least twenty years, with a star as unlikely as Klaus Kinski or Bruno S.: Timothy Treadwell, self-glorifying failed celebrity as holy fool.

5. "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada"--If Tommy Lee Jones has looked suspiciously as if he had something else on his mind in some of his recent performances, it turns out that this is it: a modern Western, directed by and starring Jones, blessed and cursed with a unusual degree of adult resignation in the face of men's capacity for destructive stupidity, joined to a touching resolve to make the best of things anyway. The cinematographer, Chris Menges, is the best thing that's ever happened to the places where this movie was shot.

6. "Good Morning, Night"--The erratic Italian giant Marco Bellocchio spins a terrible, darkly comic fable out of the ne plus ultra of self-destructive "revolutionary" terrorism from the '70s, the Red Brigades' kidnapping and "execution" of Aldo Moro. Maya Sanso is unforgettable as the most confused and conscience-stricken of Moro's captors.

7. "The Best of Youth"--More recent Italian history, six hours and three decades' worth. Though the chalk dust in the actors' hair and the pillows under their shirts that are supposed to convince us that they've aged a lifetime by the end may raise a chuckle, this is epic-length narrative storytelling at its best, an engrossing and moving attempt to sum up and clarify recent history through the lives of a few people who, by the end, have earned the viewers' love.

8. "Serenity"--The pop geek event of the year, Joss Whedon's triumphant apotheosis of the genre mash-up of his cancelled TV series "Firefly" is sheer fun in a way undreamt of in George Lucas's imagination.

9. "2046"--Wong Kar-Wei's most dizzying celebration of his own romanticism and of the aura he constructs around Tony Leung and a few lucky pet actresses. You could try fighting it, but for your sake, I hope you lose.

10. "Ryan"--Chris Landreth's amazing fourteen-minute animated short about the gifted animator and drug-damaged lost soul Ryan Larkin is stunning and heartbreaking, and, with all due respect to such superior examples of the genre as "Capote" and "Walk the Line", the biopic of the year.

11. "Junebug"--The director Phil Morrison and the writer Angus MacLachlan's comedy-drama about family ties of love-hate and the Red / Blue state divide is rough-hewn and original, with a Star of Tomorrow performance by the ebullient Amy Adams.

12. "Munich"--Steven Spielberg's strongest work in a long time, with an broader emotional palette than the very exciting but more monotonously dread-drenched "War of the Worlds." At a basic level, a superior large-scale thriller, it's a controversial statement only in the eyes of those who are scandalized by any public admission that it's an obvious truism that violence begets violence. It's a sad thing that right now, there seem to be a lot of those folks running around loose.

13. "El Crimen Perfecto"--With its Almodovar-tinged bright pop colors, fun-house gore and slapstick violence, Preston Sturges pace and a performance by Guillermo Toledo that marks him as the amoral lizard of a farce creator's dreams, Alec de la Iglesia's black comedy arrives too late in film history to be the midnight cult movie it deserves to be, but it leaves most classics of the midnight genre in the shade anyway.

14. & 15. "Oldboy" and "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance"--The first two installments of Chan-wook Park's "vengeance trillogy." We've yet to see whether the third installment, "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance", will be up to snuff, but he can already boast that he's come closer to delivering on the trilogy concept that George Lucas or the Wachowski brothers could.

They also served: "Batman Begins", "The Beat That My Heart Skipped", "40 Shades of Blue", "George A. Romero's Land of the Dead", "Corpse Bride", "William Eggleston in the Real World", "Ballets Russes", "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", "Brokeback Mountain", and the last third of "King Kong."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Here's my Top 10 Albums for 2005:

1. Animal Collective – Feels
2. Deerhoof – The Runners Four
3. Konono No. 1 – Congotronics
4. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
5. Andrew Bird – The Mysterious Production of Eggs
6. Broken Social Scene – s/t
7. Six Organs of Admittance – School of the Flower
8. Spoon – Gimme Fiction
9. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
10. The Decemberists – Picaresque

Also-rans: Devendra Banhart – Cripple Crow, Antony & The Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now, The Fiery Furnaces – EP, The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree, The Go-Betweens – Oceans Apart, The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday, Calexico/Iron & Wine – In the Reins, Eric Matthews – Six Kinds of Passion Looking For An Exit, Danger Doom – The Mouse and the Mask, Lyrics Born – Same !@#$ Different Day, Architecture In Helsinki – In Case We Die, Okkervil River – Black Sheep Boy, Clem Snide – The End of Love, Vashti Bunyan – Lookaftering

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Four Play

Cross-posted at listen:

Four jobs you've had in your life: Ladies' wear stock clerk; library technical assistant; grantswriter; teacher

Four movies you could watch over and over: The Searchers, Nashville, Godfather II, Chinatown

Four places you've lived: Poughkeepsie, Ithaca, Durham, Iowa Citry

Four TV shows you love to watch: Scrubs, Law & Order (mothership), Boomtown, 24

Four places you've been on vacation: Atlanta, Tampa, Chicago, New York

Four websites you visit daily: All of the sites on the listen blogroll plus dailykos, bopnews, Salon, Slate

Four of your favorite foods: fresh pasta with marinara sauce and cheese, various Indian dishes, black beans and rice, salad

Four places you'd rather be: Atlanta, New York, Italy, France

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

When The Saints Go Marching Out

Godspeed, New Orleans.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I saw Jandek play live last night. And apparently the world has decided that it might just go ahead and end today. Coincidence? I think not.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Politics of Star Wars

Leave it to me to start a thread about the latest low-brow blockbuster movie. But I saw "SW: Revenge of the Sith" last night and the parallels to the Age of Dubya are unmistakable. The Talent Show has a good thorough take on the subject.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Reading 'Lolita' in Tallahassee

Fine local opinion piece from the Tallahassee Democrat, 1 May 2005.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Late? Never?

So, because the HH had a delayed production schedule for a while there, we never got around to listing our top tens for 2004. Seeing how it's not yet May, anyone care to join me in listing them?

Top Ten of 2004
Hayden Childs

1. The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat (album). Read about it here.
2. Mission of Burma at La Zona Rosa, March 18 (live show). SXSW showcase. Roger Miller had ear protection headphones on and stood behind his amp, and all three played like they were 20 years old. Excellent.
3. Jandek played live in Scotland (Oct 17, live show)? Really? I wasn't there, but wow. I'm still speechless.
4. The Wire Season Three (tv show). Featuring the most complex characters and almost primordially compelling storylines of any show ever filmed, The Wire is the best thing about television.
5. Kill Bill Vol 2 (movie). Between this & the Fiery Furnaces, I'm apparently a sucker for form. I loved the hell out of both Kill Bills, both of which were more semi-philosophical set pieces and love letters to great filmmakers than stories. And yet, also like the FF, they carry the weight of brilliance operating in confusing times.
6. Brian Wilson with the Wondermints at the Backyard, Oct. 24 (live show). They played SMiLE in its entirety, making sounds more beautiful than most live bands could even conceive. I remember reading a review of the Pet Sounds tour that commented about the loss of wonder in seeing those sounds reproduced on stage. That guy was nuts; I'm still reeling from the sheer talent in evidence.
7. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs (album). Dude. Seriously. Campfire music on acid.
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (movie). This movie was near perfect. Lots has been written about it, but my only personal 2 cents is that it rips my heart out every time.
9. Deadwood Season One (tv show). It's Locke vs. Hobbes in the State of Nature. This show is about why philosophy is almost as important as soap, whiskey, and a sense of honor.
10. My wife's pregnancy (May 2004 - Feb 2005). Nah, this isn't really the least important of the great things in 2004 (and we're not going to mention the horrible, horrible political realities around us). I'm trying not to be overly sentimental, that's all. This one is just so far above the other stuff that it doesn't make sense in context. Our pregnancy months were amazing, almost as amazing as what came after.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

New low for the NY Times

Despite all the articles that have carried Judith Miller's byline, this article on the "man date" may be the most idiotic thing that's ever appeared in the NY Times. Apparently, some reporter got it in her head that men who are friends may experience homosexual panic when seen together in public, and she decided to exploit this by a) christening it a "man date" and b) writing about straight men who hang out with nary a potential sexual conquest in sight in an absurdly lurid tone.

When women go to dinner together, do they call it a "woman date"? Is the only purpose of leaving the house or talking to another human being merely to get laid? More importantly, why is the most important newpaper in the country printing an article that stigmatizes homosexual men and inflames homosexual panic in straight men? D.U.M.B.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Slate mag has a new article titled "The Mall Goes Undercover: It now looks like a city street."

Like insecure teenagers, malls keep changing their style. They are ripping away their roofs and drywalled corridors; adding open-air plazas, sidewalks, and street-side parking; and rechristening themselves "lifestyle centers." ... They're also enormously successful—by the most recent count, there are about 130 lifestyle centers scattered around the country.

Including one near my house. I can never get used to the impermanence of cityscapes. When I moved here to Raleigh 16 years ago, North Hills was your standard issue indoor mall, and it seemed to be thriving. But it slid to the status of "the crappy mall" in town, to quote the movie Mallrats (at least I think that's the quote; you get an astonishing number of hits when you Google "Mallrats+crappy") then slid further, to 75%-vacant embarrassment. Then it cycled through a stage as pile of rubble, then mound of dirt, then place to watch giant cranes operating. Just before Christmas '04 it was reborn as North Hills Mall, the lifestyle center, with the external trappings of a comfortably lived-in but still vital urban neighborhood: awnings and wooden benches and cobblestone streets.

As the Slate piece points out, "The irony is almost too perfect: Malls are now being redesigned to resemble the downtown commercial districts they replaced." A true statement, as far as it goes. In the case of North Hills, the mall is the nucleus of a welter of new development, including a hotel and condos and office buildings. The goal is to supplement a residential area with a dense mixed-use area, with people working and living and playing in the same space. Locals have long divided Raleigh into two zones, inside the Beltline (the older neighborhoods and the downtown business district, including state government and NC State University) and outside the Beltline (the outlying residential areas--the 'burbs). Now the developer of North Hills is referring to it as "mid-town:" it is right smack on the Beltline (a.k.a. I-440, the loop expressway) and could develop into a hip happenin' downtown unto itself.

My initial response is to feel good about the change. A somewhat decrepit area has been transformed into a bustling one, with a cinema and restaurants and shopping, all within walking or biking distance from my home. Our property value is going to rise. Then I notice that the grimy auto mechanics' shop that I used regularly is gone--it struck the wrong aesthetic note. And I notice the rent-a-cops. It doesn't take long on the cobblestone streets of North Hills to feel the fakeness.

There's something a bit unhealthy about faux public places designed to attract rich people and make them feel comfortable. (At least the traditional mall didn't try to hide the fact that it was a shopping center.) The lifestyle center is a bizarre outgrowth of the suburban mentality: People want public space, even if making that space private is the only way to get it.

Our tagline says, Art is not a lifestyle. Addendum: A real community is not a lifestyle center.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Bring Out Your Duds

I don't know about where you live, but in my neighborhood, this past week sure has brought out the hack in the editorial cartoonists. Every day I open the paper that the kind folks at the deli were good enough to wrap my sandwich in, there's the same basic set-up: Gabriel at the gates of Heaven, consulting the book in reference to his newest applicant, to see if he should swing wide the doors or call the bouncer. One day it's John Paul II, another day it's Terri Sciavo ("Here, honey, have some water."), even Johnny Cochran ("We don't usually get lawyers up here..."), until all I could think of was that story that The New Yorker cartoon department once cleaned out its closet by running nothing but desert-island cartoons for one whole issue, and nobody even noticed. The Pope was a gimme, but I'm betting that if Pauly Shore had keeled over last week, he'd have been shuttled into position with the others. Sometimes you hit too comfortable a rhythm and it's just too hard to stop.