This is one of the most ridiculous, overblown, self-important movies ever, reduced to a single barcode. See all those peach-colored parts? That’s skin, baby. If you haven’t seen Zardoz, do so. It includes:
- The opening line (after an introduction): “THE PENIS IS EVIL. THE GUN IS GOOD.” (Said by a giant stone head, who then vomits guns.)
- Sean Connery (in his second movie after being James Bond) in a red diaper with red bandoliers.
- An incredibly dumb explanation as to why the movie is called Zardoz.
- A hilariously bad, and logistically confusing, ending scene of Sean Connery & his bride growing old together, and then turning into skeletons.
- A scene in which Sean Connery punches through a clear plastic sheet as a crowd gasps “NO! It cannot be done!”
- In the words of John Boorman (the writer/director, who had just won nominations for the mediocre movie “Deliverance”): “too many ideas”
I believe that it stands in that upper echelon of enjoyably bad movies, along with The Room, Birdemic: Shock & Awe, and Plan 9 from Outer Space.
I really need to see The Emerald Forest, because Deliverance/Zardoz/Exorcist II: The Heretic/Excalibur/The Emerald Forest/Hope & Glory may be the most bananas run of films for a director ever. Pioneering pulp director (see 1967’s Point Blank) cashes in his unexpected Oscar/box office cred to make one of the most baffling films ever (that list above is just the tip of the wackadoo iceberg), then tries to make amends with Hollywood except his brain is still dancing around in its underwear on Mars. His name now double poopie with the suits, he realizes his “ideas” come over better when attached to the Arthurian legend. Does well enough that he gets to makes a Powers Boothe movie in the jungle I haven’t seen (embarrassing to admit I haven’t seen a Powers Boothe movie). Then makes a beautiful, lively yet (dear god, especially for him) earthbound memoir about childhood in World War II. His next movie is a romcom starring Dabney Coleman (haven’t seen), so it’s not like the rollercoaster stopped there, too.
One thing all these movies have in common is that, when they start, it feels like you’re missing five minutes of exposition. Usually you catch up within ten, at least as much as you need to. Boorman rules.
Since Ian was nice enough to encourage it.
While it’s only right and natural so much attention is paid to Reed’s Godfather Of Punk & Indie innovations (he’s on that very short list of artists where entire subgenres come primarily from a single song he wrote and recorded), I spent so much of the ’90s looking at him as the godhead of Music I Like that I was really danger of taking his work for granted. What gets me about Lou now isn’t What He’s Responsible For (and all the love and hate punk & indie inspires), but What’s Responsible For Him; the remarkable breadth of influences he incorporated into his work and his belief that it could all cohere - or perhaps, his indifference to whether or not it would.
While my music collection is full of New Dylans who put their own twists on that nascent pop-rock singer-songwriter form, no one, not Mitchell, not Young, not Cohen, brought as much to the table as Reed. Doo wop, free jazz, hard rock, musique concrete, poetry - classical and beat, r&b, blues, European artsong, all of that and more is swimming around The Velvet Underground & Nico. He had a lot of help (Morrison to push for English major/r&b-fan values, Cale to push for classical/avant garde ones, an actual European artsinger in Nico, Tucker providing a truly novel, outsider pulse and Warhol providing crucial encouragement), but it was his songs this peculiar cabal had formed around. And he was the one that took them into experimental horror-rock on the 2nd album, confessional balladry on the 3rd and sell-out shoobydoo on the 4th. Even in those incredibly reductive descriptions, his bravery and self-confidence is transparent. By the time he went solo, his palette was incomparable, his technical failings guaranteeing he’d never slip into mere imitation; with that voice, the guy couldn’t help but put his stamp on everything.
I have so many anecdotes about what Lou Reed meant to me in my youth, and his death has brought back details and moments I haven’t thought about in years. But when someone grumbles about how annoying hipsters are, etc, etc, it’s this bravery I want them to appreciate.
Meant to post this late last night after posting the Spotify link (and haunting screencap of Lewis Largent and Mark Lanegan) but forgot. Sorry, phone users - tried to make this as dense as possible but I know it’s still a chore to scroll through, damn them for denying us jump-cuts on the app.
Like last time, it goes -
(issue date of debut on chart): Artist, “Song” (Chart Peak)
asterisk means not available on Spotify. Buckle up!
When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he put on a funny hat and said “everybody call me T-Bone Dupree now, OK? I’m a country singer named T-Bone Dupree,” for there were no more worlds to conquer.
- Hans Gruber
Life During Grungetime: Modern Rock Tracks ‘91-‘94
Aaaaand we’re back, with a playlist featuring every artist that made the Modern Rock Tracks Top 20 between Billboard issue date September 29, 1991 (the week “Smells Like Teen Spirit” first hit the chart - see my previous Modern Rock playlist) and August 6, 1994 (the week before Woodstock ‘94, alt’s big post-Cobain coming out party).
Despite the title and image above (screencap by me because it is shockingly hard to find a decent shot of Lewis Largent online), these 180+ tracks don’t represent some kind of superfuzz bigmuff monolith (Mudhoney’s “Suck You Dry” only reached #23!) Instead, you hear the industry’s gradual reception of the “please rock more, and be younger” memo. This was the dawn of Alternative Nation, before Modern Rock success inherently meant substantial crossover airplay. This is the time between The Pixies and Weezer. A time that begins with Big Audio Dynamite II and The Psychedelic Furs and ends with Big Audio and Love Spit Love. This is Jesus Jones at #1 for six weeks in 1993, with a song that didn’t even make the Hot 100, followed by a stretch that goes Shaggy-PSB-UB40-Big Country. I mean, what? (“All That She Wants” would also be on the playlist if I didn’t disqualify songs whose Hot 100 peak was within four places of their Modern Rock Tracks peak.)
I’ll post the full tracklisting in the wee hours of the night, but here are the artists whose qualifying songs are not available on Spotify: House Of Freaks, 5:30, This Picture, The Psychedelic Furs, Curve, Top, Cliffs Of Doneen, Midge Ure, The Origin, Ian McCulloch, Happyhead, Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart, Chris Mars, Utah Saints, Kitchens Of Distinction, Mary’s Danish Mark Curry, Peter Gabriel, Daniel Ash, Starclub, X, Trash Can Sinatras, An Emotional Fish, Deep Forest, Therapy?, One Dove, Dig, Fury In The Slaughterhouse, General Public, Stakka Bo, Cause & Effect, Frente! and the Dambuilders.
Read that list into a mirror at midnight and your clothes will grow three sizes bigger.