Summer Songs



Random snapshots as summer comes to an end here in Cineville:

-- I walk to weekend brunch and spot a young man playing banjo on the corner by the coffee shop, a dire sign. Some places mark the turning of the seasons by leaves changing, or football practices starting up again: here in Cineville, faux bluegrass players and sparsely populated political protests are our versions of a fall Punxsutawney Phil (do you think these earnest young gatekeepers of "old-timey music," as one flyer last year described it, will ever realize that O Brother Where Art Thou was being ironic?)

-- At the Cineville Market, enjoying a "summer club" sandwich (mmm, avacado), as a group of three elderly men and a serious-looking young woman discuss their environmental change plans. At least, I think that's what they're discussing, at rather loud volume, one table over; it's hard to say, as the thread seems to get lost in a web of sub-Sorkin references to Churchill, Castro, and "anticipating the future." The older, white-haired man in the Great Lakes Brewery shirt, sitting at the center of the table, seems to dominate the conversation; the young woman just smiles and nods a lot, and takes notes.

--Why does my laptop have a Poltergeist? This is the third time I've had to take it to the nice people at the Cineville College help desk. They are very friendly and extremely professional, but man...I hope this thing stops freezing soon. Marshall suspects it's an easily fixed software problem, and suggests I leave it for them to do "voodoo" on (his term). I'm forced into the network of computers in the library in order to check email and read blogs, at least until I get home.

--Wandering the library stacks to find articles to xerox and get online for class next month: eerie, quiet, practically empty, except for one older, bearded scholar, who gives me a suspicious look as I walk by (guess I'm lucky he didn't know I was searching for books on something as jejune as animation-- his eyes might've shot out piercing lasers or something). The Cineville College library has been undergoing renovations all summer, closing off the mezzainine level entrance, forcing us to head to the basement, then take elevators upwards to the stacks. I can see the men working outside, wandering around lumber and plastic barrels and scaffolding, the rhythm and detail of their work opaque to me. Of course, call numbers are opaque to me, too-- wait, I need to be on the FOURTH floor?? I do like the process of wandering, though, the possibility of finding a book that will toss your ideas in a completely new direction.

--Home: that Algonquin Round Table, ESPN's Around the Horn, is starting. Noted feminist Woody Paige is talking about the ethics of suspending someone (in this case, Michael Vick) from a job for bad behavior. Who says irony is dead?

Comments

dave said…
Ah yes, the end of summer. My own wanderings took me to see The Bourne Ultimatum today, where, behind me, as a very brutal fight sequence played out on screen, someone asked, nonchalantly, "What time is it?"

Also, regarding 24 Hour Party People, I just keep thinking of Coogan's line about his friend's band named Barrabus: "We want Barrabus!"
Cinephile said…
I always think of Coogan/Wilson's line about the pigeons: "they're like rats with wings!"

Haven't seen BU yet, but would like to. That's a great story about the person behind you: interesting to think of how the most visceral moments are also those that sometimes have the potential to take us out of the film (then again, Borne Ultimatum probably isn't the summer masterpiece that I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" was (:
digital_sextant said…
I think using the word jejune would nullify his eye-lasers.

Wait, did you say O, Brother! was ironic?
Cinephile said…
Yeah-- to me, the whole film is about the various shams (artistic, political, economic) that the trio find themselves enmeshed in (and also use to their advantage), and certainly the notion of them as a singing trio is one of those, which the film has a lot of fun with. I guess you could say that it reaches a kind of sincerity through its inauthenticity, in terms of how the music gets recognized and received, but that ambiguity/irony was lost in the rapturous reception the album received, which seemed predicated on hearing it as some sort of bluegrass/country masterpiece, and utterly "authentic" (real-life audiences, many of them desperate to be hip, therefore ironically replicating the rubes in the film, who fall for the same scam). I like the film a lot, and while I have no taste for bluegrass, I can appreciate that others might like the soundtrack: I just think it was funny it was hailed as this bulwark against contemporary pop, when the film uses the music quite differently.

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