New cause for excitement these days (counting down to the release date of 07/21):

...which does look remarkably like some sort of tribute to:

It’ll include three new tunes: “Satan Wants Me,” “Michael Powell,” and “Bugger Bognor.”

“Michael Powell” doesn’t seem to have much to do with the great English film director it’s named after. In fact, initial report had its title as “The Mitford Sisters,” which seems more apt. Below are some lyrics I found floating around on the Internet, along with some biography.

“Born into the ranks of the minor aristocracy and educated at home by eccentric and perennially cash-strapped parents, Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah Mitford hardly seemed the types whose exploits would generate endless fodder for the sensationalist press. But when Diana left her wealthy young husband to take up with and eventually marry Sir Oswald Mosley, infamous leader of British fascism; when Unity became close friends with Adolf Hitler and a proponent of Nazism; when Jessica, a vocal Communist, eloped with a notorious cousin who was also a nephew of Winston Churchill; when Deborah married the Duke of Devonshire; and when both Nancy (Love in a Cold Climate) and Jessica (The American Way of Death) became acclaimed, bestselling authors, the world responded with avid, insatiable and at times alarmingly intrusive curiosity. But whether adored or reviled by their public, all the Mitford sisters were engaged with (and at times embodiments of) the major social and political issues of their time.”

"Michael Powell"

I’m just a horny devil, baby
But I know how to treat a lady
With my natural charm to save me
I’m ditching out to sea

Darling, your voice is like the Home Service
I’m like a test-match commentary
And to quote a line by Sir Walter Raleigh:
“I’m a horny devil, indeed”

Here come the Mitford sisters
They’re modern, they're unique
They sent us up something rotten
They’re such a little tease

Here comes Sir Oswald Mosley
Diana Mitford, Unity
gives a birthday kiss to Hitler
She’s such a little tease

She’s a horny devil like me
She’s hot stuff like me
And at heart I’m just an old romantic
After the war, we could get married
Throw away those dirty books forever
Darling, you’re all that I need

Here come the Mitford sisters
They’re noble- we’re effete
They sent us up something rotten
They’re such a little tease

Here comes Sir Oswald Mosley
Some boys kiss Unity
They’re really kissing Hitler
She’s such a little tease


Some beautiful words from director Ermanno Olmi in his director’s statement for Il Posto:

This is a harsh film, I am the first to admit; it was not meant to be light, but neither was it meant to point an accusing finger. My purpose was to portray the courage it takes to live through the colorless, gray days which are, in anyone’s life, the majority; the rare opportunities, too precious to be lost, for finding love; the subtle distinction between acceptance and resignation.

In so many ways, the film itself is an Italian equivalent to the beloved English “kitchen sink” films of the same decade (it was released in Italy in 1961), which are some of the most humanistically compelling, bittersweet examples of cinema from any time or place. It’s social observation as coming-of-age story in which the separate strands of our young hero’s life- his work aspirations, his love aspirations, his feeling of being outside- are hardly compartmentalized. Its clear, minimalistically framed black-and-white snapshot feel is perfect for the material, and I’d imagine it was hardly easy to pull off, however “simple” it looks.

Also watched, amongst too many other things to mention at the moment, Mikhael Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba, from 1962. I’d already been quite impressed with the liveliness of his earlier achievement, 1958’s The Cranes Are Flying- which totally dispelled my unfounded preconceptions of Cold War-era Eastern Bloc/Soviet cinema (me having always been led to believe that a state-repressed culture is a dead culture). Well, Cuba greatly expands upon the acrobatic camera of Cranes, and it’s narratively ambitious, to boot. It’s four class-conscious, pro-revolution stories are genuine Fidel propaganda, but it’s still exhilarating; Kalatozov focuses on the real people behind the revolution, not just its figurehead. It contains a spectacular single shot that begins at a rooftop beauty pageant and proceeds to travel down the side of a building to a swimming pool, where it lights upon a bikini-clad girl who moseys on into the water; it then follows her all the way down into an underwater shot. This progression of images was famously and precisely ripped off by P.T. Anderson (he openly admitted it, which I suppose makes it more a “tribute” than a “rip-off”) in the Boogie Nights pool scene.

This example of the procession, the chain, the flow of the pop-cultural river inspires a convoluted metaphor very relevant to this blog; I would like to swim freely in pop culture, but also to keep my head and never find myself drowning, as I have at certain low points in my life (the books and famous personalities, etc., that touch us can legitimately be considered our friends, I think, but perhaps should never be our only friends). Perhaps we must carefully but totally immerse ourselves in our culture, just as we do when we learn to swim, to gain and keep perspective and control, to learn our way around, assert our own real-life identities and experiences within it, and in that way enjoy the swim while keeping ourselves from going under.

For the past few days, I’ve been scarcely able to listen to anything but Sparks’s brilliant Kimono My House album, first released in 1974. I’ve had it forever, but it beckoned me from its alphabetically assigned place in the old CD collection. It’s a bit demented but extremely witty and catchy; imagine an opinionated leftist man possessed of a penchant for colorful verbosity and a Hitler mustache, along with the voice of Julie Andrews and the tone of Oscar Wilde, and you get a vaguely accurate picture. I finally ordered more seventies Sparks, Propaganda and Indiscreet, the albums immediately following Kimono, and A Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing, the one preceding it and the first Sparks album proper. If even half of the tunes contained therein match the brilliance of anything on Kimono, I’ll be in musical heaven.

I was first inspired to seek out Kimono My House because of a legend about it being the thirteen-year-old Morrissey’s favorite album (he still name-drops them frequently, and included a rare song of theirs on his Under the Influence compilation), so I’ll throw in a humorous exchange from a Q&A with Morrissey in the Mancunian mag City Life:

City Life: ”Eminem is the new Morrissey. Discuss.”

Morrissey: Pigfarmer’s Weekly is the new City Life . Discuss.”

Having begun with beautiful words, I’ll leave off with more, this time courtesy W.G. Sebald, from his architecturally obsessed novel Austerlitz (which I’ve only just begun):

”It is often our mightiest projects that most obviously betray the degree of our insecurity.”


”...for somehow we know by instinct that outsize buildings cast the shadow of their own destruction before them, and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins.”

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