Late Screening

People are dancing to machines now. That’s what’s happening.

-Neil Young

I met Gia for dinner last night in the Village, and we had a great time catching up. She ended up getting some news that afternoon that would make the day a memorable one; the timing was perfect for a sibling celebration / commisseration over cocktails and antipasta.

Later, after she’d departed for her train, I came across the cinema with Neil Young on the billboard. X is back home for a spell and I thought, where have got to be? I bought a ticket for the 11:30pm show.

“Muddy Track” is a record of Neil’s 1986-7 European tour with Crazy Horse, at least half of which consists of his own personal home videos, shot on a classic 80s camcorder named Otto. Young keeps the camera rolling during band rehearsals and fights on the tour bus, and on the stage he places it on his amp stack, facing out to film the audience, as he and the band deliver massive, feedback-distorted rock and roll to rioting audiences.

Neil Young playing guitar
Neil rocking out
The film is rough and raw and depicts a tour disintegrating into chaos. It’s always raining. The band can’t learn a new tune, and argues over vocal arrangements. Television interviewers pepper Young with questions about his relevance, one of which sparks the quote above, where he complains about electronic  music.

The whole time, he keeps trusty Otto by his side, rolling tape. Alone in his hotel room, he films himself eating breakfast and talks about the last show. Crowds roar as he pans the camera across the audience, hundreds of arms reaching out from the mass of bodies crushed against the stage. And the steady, droning buzz of pulsing rock throughout.

I found myself watching with a smile as broad as the arc of the tour bus’s windshield wipers.

Life Imitates Farce

The military junta in Thailand arrested some youths for doing the “Hunger Games” salute outside a Bangkok theater during the film’s premiere.

The salute, which in the movies is a daring act of silent rebellion, began to appear here in the weeks after the May 22 coup. The authorities warned that anyone raising it in public could be subject to arrest.

A woman is arrested while doing the Hunger Games salute
Natchacha Kongudom, told reporters, “The three-finger sign is a sign to show that I am calling for my basic right to live my life.” Rungroj Yongrit/European Pressphoto Agency. Used without permission.

Talk about paranoia. The above image sort of looks like a group of friends going to see Mockingjay. But actually, the 3 women surrounding the protester are undercover cops. Who, apparently, were staking out the neighborhood cineplex.

The film was pulled from the theater. The kids were soon released from custody, but not before undergoing the kind of treatment which, in my day, my father often said I was in “serious” need:

Army officials later confirmed that the students were held for several hours for “attitude adjustment” and then released.

Ferguson

“The president should be ashamed it’s happening on his watch. Eric Holder should be ashamed… This governor should be ashamed… Every adult in this country should be ashamed that African-American children are being terrorized in the United States of America, [which] claims to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

-Pastor Michael McBride, of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California, speaking in Ferguson, MO to DemocracyNow.org. I couldn’t agree more. The scene below is not one that belongs in America, or anywhere.

police dressed as soldiers, with automatic rifles, body armor and gas masks, aim their weapons at a black man
Ferguson, MO. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, used without permission

Burma

Last fall when I visited the Wrisleys in Thailand, Jarrett and I flew to Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) for the weekend.

Although it was a short time in a single place, we met a lot of people and saw some very cool things in the city. Most impressive was surely the Shwedagon Pagoda, a giant golden dome at the center of the city and an important holy site for Burmese Buddhists.

Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

See my album of photos after the jump…

Continue reading