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Moore Bullshit from Pitchfork
First of all, thanks for all of the encouraging responses to this petty crap. I intend to handle all of the suggested targets in due time. Right now, though, I'm once again aiming my little popgun at the barn door that is Pitchfork; specifically, our pal David "I could not hope to embrace the indie geek stereotype any" Moore. I stopped by the site yesterday and managed to make it all of three sentences into his review of some new TV on the Radio song before I started coughing up blood and had to go lie down. Let's take a look at an excerpt, shall we?

"TV on the Radio absorb stylistic conceits like a sponge, and 'New Health Rock' continues the band's persistent evolutionary development by adding a conceptual dance exterior to their already densely hybridized music. The song explores the impulses of dance music within the framework of existential art-rock. And lines like, 'Act like ya don't know/ Go where you want/ And if it rocks too hard/ Better drop it like it's hot,' find the balance between Camus and Cash Money Millionaires."

Let's start by giving this selection its due credit: perhaps accidentally, Moore has actually communicated some useful information to the reader here. Scrape away all the English-major babble and you can see that he’s used the word "dance" twice in two sentences. Now, people dance to lots of different kinds of music, of course, but given the context we can pretty much rule out "Hava Nagila" and shit like Swan Lake and surmise that TV on the Radio use some kind of repetitive rhythmic sounds in this song. It's left up to the reader to infer whether that's novel or significant, but hey — people read Pitchfork to reinforce what they already think, not actually find out about anything new. Moore knows this, and can safely assume the reader is already familiar with this band's work. I guess.

But then we start hitting speed bumps... Absorb like a sponge, eh? Hope he didn't spend too much time coming up with that. But whatever — when dealing with a writing style that so closely resembles a mechanical process for recycling cultural-studies clichés, you can’t get too surprised when the machine spits out some good old fashioned third-grade-styled boilerplate along with all the other shit. I'm not particularly offended by this, but, David, you should know that creative-writing professors at junior colleges nationwide just gave you a C.

Now, how about the use of "conceits?" The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, defines conceit chiefly as "a favorable and especially unduly high opinion of one's own abilities or worth." So... is TV on the Radio not as good as they think they are at, um, whatever it is they're doing? They're... conceited? Fucking conceited TV on the Radio. David Moore at Pitchfork hipped me to your game. See if I ever buy any more of your records, you dirty snobs.

Hmmm, what else? Well, we've got this "persistent evolutionary development." I think either "evolution" or "development" would've done fine on its own, but you know... At least it's persistent. Is someone trying to keep TV on the Radio from evolving or developing or whatever? If so, they're not successful — they persist! Oh, how they persist. Just look at them go. (By the way, have you noticed the big afro evolving away on that one guy? That shit is mad cool.)

Then we come to this "conceptual dance exterior," which confuses me. I guess it's good they kept it from, um, cluttering up the, uh, interior of the song. Except that it's apparently conceptual. So did they, you know, do it? Or just conceive it? The dance thing is there from the last sentence, so we'll just go with that and assume this whole exterior was never actually made tangible. Because, frankly, after reading that shit like four times I'm not sure where the inside ends and the outside begins on this bad boy, and now my head is starting to hurt.

I'm a big fan of this sentence: "The song explores the impulses of dance music within the framework of existential art-rock." I love it when people parody the kind of brainless, pretentious, content-free shit that's churned out by dull-witted, robotic cultural-studies students. I mean, you start going on about "exploring the impulses" and throw in a word or two like "existential" because it makes you look smart and... Huh? What's that? Oh. Um, never mind.

Finally, we come to the last sentence, where Moore deftly deploys the high/low culture juxtaposition, making sure everyone knows he's all up on that postmodernism everybody else in the MFA program talks about so much. Good work, man. But if anyone can find anything at all remotely related to Camus in the quoted lyrics, well... Keep it to yourself. Because your name is probably David Moore. Say, did I ever mention how I think it's odd that white people now have to quote a few random, meaningless lines in every review they write about music performed by black people? Who started that, anyway? Eh, you know what... I don't really give a shit.

Well, there you go. Nine paragraphs of effort for four sentences of bullshit. Sigh. I guess the clods at Pitchfork win after all.


I've let this poor page lay fallow too long. My apologies. To make amends, here's the first, brief installment of something I intend to do a little more often:

This first idiocy is courtesy Pitchfork*, a music-oriented Web site featuring writing so bad that every visit there makes boners of hatred flower in my heart. Plus, I once submitted a thingy to see if I could write for them, and they were too busy sucking off David Foster Wallace to respond. Really, this site is the prime generator of exactly the sort of poncey, shallow, overwritten "ooh, look at me, I'm a sophomore English major with a thesaurus" stuff that passes for music criticism these days and turns me insane with rage. If you've ever picked up an issue of Skyscraper or any other slick-ish, nationally distributed indie mag and wondered who you should blame for the fact that everyone seems to care more about syllables than describing what the music sounds like, Pitchfork's your target.

Anyway, from a review of U2's single Vertigo, written by some fucknut named David Moore:

"The band sporadically adds a few grandiose flourishes: The Edge manages to drench the song's bridge in his trademark anthemic guitar stabs, and Bono momentarily stops preening and resumes brooding, belting out the song's climactic line ('I can feeeeel!') in heartfelt, self-glorifying agony."

David, I have a question. How do you drench something in stabs? I think you have that shit backwards. See, it works like this: first, I stab you in the face with my penis, and second, your blood drenches your issue of McSweeney's. In the future, try and keep this straight. Otherwise, I'm sealing off Conor Oberst's asshole, denying you your primary source of food.

Minor transgressions: "replete," "plethora."

*Also, a week or two ago some chucklehead over there writing about the new J. Robbins thing said Robbins played bass for the great Government Issue in the early '80s. This is a clear fact error — Robbins played with the band in its final incarnation, starting in 1985. It took me two seconds to find this out with Google. I hate this sloppy shit, and can only hope the culprit is one day forced to feast on the flesh of their own children.


Movie: CYCLO
A gut-punch whammy of seduction and cruelty in both concept and form. Crisp, vivid and shot in a gorgeous palette of desaturated greens, Cyclo is a very beautiful movie that tells the story of a young man both drawn into and revolted by the criminal underworld of modern Ho Chi Minh City. His sister simultaneously descends into prostitution and degradation in a parallel narrative. Each is unaware of each other's plight, despite being connected by the self-hating, poetry-writing thug (Hong Kong actor Tony Leung) who acts as their mentors.

There is a lot to like about this movie. The easy, naturalistic depiction of life in urban Vietnam, the alternately hypnotic and hallucinatory imagery, the slowly increasing sense of menace and dread, the careful visual rhymes, the disturbing and non-cathartic quality of its violence, its direct and unsentimental nature, its nuanced and adult approach to characterization — any one of these things would make the film worthwhile.

Refreshingly, director Anh Hung Tran has made a very moral movie in Cyclo. Not in the sense that the characters are archetypes of good or evil — far from it. Some of the most brutal acts here are carried out by people portrayed in a wholly sympathetic light. Their dissolution might be triggered by their emotional needs; needs caused by absent or abusive parents. But the important thing is that the characters are complicit in their own corruption, and for once blame doesn’t fall on that old Cultural Studies 101 canard, “evil” capitalism. Instead, people here are attracted to the sensuality of sex, the intoxication of drugs, the thrill and freedom of transgression and the feelings of power found in the seedy side of their world, just as they often are in everyday life. And, just as in everyday life, they suffer from ethical and moral entropy as a result. They’re not exploited innocents or driven into crime as a result of their indigence — they’re free-willed people making choices; choices with spiritual and physical consequence. Tran doesn’t patronize his characters, or his audience. This is a film by and for people with a grown-up view of the world.

If there’s one small criticism here, it’s that the soundtrack, though striking in its dissonance and beautiful in its own right, becomes a little overbearing at times, undermining the cool, placid nature of much of the film. It’s a bit hamfisted during violent moments — potentially distracting, and therefore in danger of reducing the horror the audience feels.


German director and possible homicidal maniac Werner Herzog’s wildly entertaining documentary on his relationship with batshit crazy actor Klaus Kinski. The two collaborated on five films: Aguirre, The Wrath of God; Fitzcarraldo; a remake of F.W. Murnau’s silent classic Nosferatu, the Vampire; Woyzeck and Cobra Verde.

The two I’ve seen, Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, are stunning. Both filmed on location in South America, they're basically broad metaphors for European colonialism, even if at one point in My Best Fiend Herzog disingenuously plays dumb on the subject when discussing Fitzcarraldo. Aguirre details the greed-fueled entropy of an Amazon expedition conducted by a doomed troop of Spanish conquistadors, while Fitzcarraldo depicts the struggles of a man trying to bring opera to the jungle, at one point employing a troop of potentially hostile Indians to haul a huge riverboat over a mountain.

Though depicting the colonialist impulse as myopic, obsessive and generally mad is the jumping-off point of these movies (having a verifiable lunatic like Kinski on board comes in handy here), there is, happily, as much nuance in these films as blame. In Fitzcarraldo, for example, the titular protagonist surprisingly triumphs in his pointless quest, delivering a climax that’s at once upbeat and slightly pathetic, not to mention filled with surreal beauty. The riveting, incendiary performances by Kinski, deliberate pace and lush imagery give these movies have a power and dramatic weight that extends their shelf life past what might be expected from the kind of simpleminded indictments churned out by liberal-arts colleges these days. And it makes the underlying message a lot more vivid and effective than it would be otherwise.

Herzog’s enthusiasm for actually going and fucking doing the really stupid things portrayed in these films not only fills the movies with a tangible, liquid dread (the crews faced very real dangers while filming and didn’t always come out unscathed), but reflects a willingness (or compulsion) to incriminate himself in the madness of colonialism. This adds a healthy shot of the kind of self-reflexive psychological grappling that makes film nerds and French people wig out as well as positions the movies as personal statements as much as political ones. My Best Fiend reinforces this several times — at one point a photographer who took pictures on the sets of these movies laughs and tells Herzog that he is the Fitzcarraldo character. So don't be put off thinking you're going to get some tedious commie lecture if you throw one of these on.

Anyway, the documentary opens with Herzog visiting a childhood residence; a former boarding house, also at one time occupied by Kinski, that’s now the home of a dignified elderly couple. Herzog takes a perverse delight in calmly relating stories of Kinski’s unappeasable, destructive tantrums to the horrified couple, giving hints as to his own Kinski-style penchant for cruelty and egoism. Throughout the endless, amusing and possibly apocryphal (at one point Herzog admits to helping Kinski write the colorful insults directed at Herzog in Kinski’s autobiography) stories of violence and conflict, the film continues to drive home the idea that Kinski served as Herzog’s (somewhat, ummm, let's say, more expressive) alter ego.

There seems to be no lack of evidence, here and elsewhere, that Kinski was a psychotic fruitloop, but I got the feeling while watching My Best Fiend that at least some part of it had to be a put-on. I mean, how could anyone outside of an asylum or prison be as fierce and intense as Kinski’s made out to be? And could a man as composed, soft-spoken and clearly talented as Herzog really force an actor to complete a film at gunpoint, or seriously contemplate murdering his most valuable collaborator with a firebomb? If half of this stuff is true, it’s a flat-out miracle these guys could function in society at all, much less produce such haunting works of art.
Kind of like a modern-day Aguirre, except this time Rambo shows up to wreck shit. It’s good. There are a lot of cool fights and The Rock gets his face humped by a monkey.
A goofy Hong Kong take on the Buffy TV show. I guess you don’t have to twist my pecker too hard to get me to watch a movie where cute little Asian girls fight vampires with bad-ass kung fu. Jackie Chan shows up for about five minutes and punches some stuff. I liked it.


For the past couple of years film snobs have been jizzing all over Goodbye, South, Goodbye director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, because he’s from Taiwan and makes movies that are really slow. Well, near as I can tell, he’s good, and deserves your jizz. If you’ve ever wondered what a remake of Mean Streets would be like if it was set out in the sticks of China and Ozu directed it with Terence Malick doing cinematography, now you have your answer, I guess. (Please note that people who can’t handle really slow movies are stupid and worthy of neither friendship nor food.)
Movie: MUSA
Medieval Korean epic about a band of warriors that faces challenges while trying to get back home or something. These challenges cause many heads and arms to get lopped off.

Pretty much everybody you want is in this thing: hard-ass general who clings to authority after making some dumb decisions (he dies), hard-ass second-in-command who’s torn between loyalty to the general and recognition that the general is fucking up (he dies too), kick-ass slave guy whose kung-fu spear wins everybody’s respect despite him being from the low rung of whatever society Korea had back then (he dies as well), chipper young dude just starting out in life who has a pregnant wife back home so you don’t want him to die (but he does), cowardly scholar who eventually finds his courage in battle (and, in doing so, dies), bad-ass bad-guy chief who shows respect for the skills and valiance of the good guys (it don’t save them, or him for that matter), various soldiers who fret over whether they should take the easy way out to survive (they don’t, and die) and a burly Buddhist monk who at the end gives up Buddha or whatever and pulls a flaming tree out of the ground and conks about 30 guys in the head with it. Before getting killed.

There is also a low-key veteran that everybody starts to look to for decisions after the general turns out to be a dumb-ass (surprisingly enough, he lives) and a hot, bitchy princess (who, sadly, lives as well).

Anyway, they all have adventures and face challenges and wave around these huge swords and shoot arrows into each others’ faces and die. It’s good. It’s also 17 damn hours long.
Is there something about Asian movies that clouds people’s minds? Because despite getting decent reviews on nerd Web sites, this Hong Kong cop flick a total waste of time, unless you like cataloguing poorly executed Hong Kong cop-flick clichés. If this was made in the U.S. it would’ve starred the guy from American Ninja and gone straight to video. If you’ve watched and enjoyed this movie, you deserve to have a flaming penis punched through your skull.


Shinya Tsukamoto wrote and directed this. A long time ago I watched his movie Tetsuo, which had a guy with a metal weiner and reminded me of Sam Raimi directing an Einsturzende Neubauten video. Tetsuo's sequel Body Hammer, which I think was named after this New Orleans gay bar I woke up in once, reminded me of a retarded squirrel directing a piece of lint. Hiruko the Goblin returns to Tsukamoto's roots, reminding me of Sam Raimi directing Evil Dead II.

Anyway, Hiruko the Goblin mixes gore and slapstick and tells the story of some goblins. The goblins look like spiders with blue people-heads. Their goblin tomb is underneath a school, and they get loose in it during summer vacation. The goblins go gobblin' around, casting spells and causing problems and chopping off the heads of some high school students. A couple of excitable Japanese guys yell a lot and fight the goblins. The goblins try to put some poison mind-control goblin bukkake on them by way of their inevitably phallic, prehensile goblin tongues. When all this isn't going on, the hysterical Japanese people calm down for a minute or two and talk about the plot.

During all this music plays that sounds like Bob James covering "Axel F." There are a lot of goblin point-of-view shots where the camera races around low to the ground, in patented goblin-vision. Or, to be more accurate, Raimi-vision. Viewers will also notice a few moments of stop-motion animation that look like they were performed by Ray Harryhausen's toenail.

The one kid turns out to be the chosen gatekeeper dude. He casts the anti-goblin spell in the nick of time, and his dead goblin-ized girlfriend turns into a giant ectoplasmic dick and floats up to the stars. Things wrap up and the kid says goodbye to his goblin-fighting friend and starts to notice how clouds and fields of wheat are beautiful and shit. Sam Raimi shows up and demands a royalty check, despite the fact he made a fuckload of cash off Spider Man.

It was good. Hiruko the Goblin, not Spider Man. Well, Spider Man was good too. You know what I mean.
Black Samurai, despite being panned by someone who should know better — a certain Mr. Scott Adams, writing for the Web site Teleport City — was a delightful film that reminded me... Well, of a movie a certain Mr. Scott Adams would make if someone gave him a camera and about $35. And Jim Kelly. Considering Scott Adams lives for kung fu, pimps and hijinx, I have no idea why he shit all over this movie.

Jim Kelly is cool. In this movie he plays some kind of government agent. He's sure surly about something. Probably about wanting to do the right thing and be a kung-fu hero and stuff, but having to work for The Man to do it. He mistrusts The Man and scowls and mumbles about whitey a lot, but reluctantly carries on with his mission, which is to save some lady from a satan-voodoo guy on an island. He has adventures and wins in the end.

Jim Kelly was in Enter the Dragon, with Bruce Lee, and Three the Hard Way, with about two seconds of Jim Kelly putting the kung fu on some guys and two hours of driving around. Many moons ago my friend Ben and I watched another Jim Kelly flick, Hot Potato. I vaguely remember it as incomprehensible and stupid.

Black Samurai is incomprehensible and stupid as well. It is also wildly entertaining. In it you can see:

I think this all speaks for itself. Scott Adams, won't you please reconsider your pan of Black Samurai?
From Al Adamson, the man that brought you Black Samurai, comes Dynamite Brothers. "A film you don’t miss it!"

OK, maybe Dynamite Brothers doesn’t have the same brain-melting force of Black Samurai and other examples of the "a film you don’t miss it" genre, but it was still pretty good. (Oh, this genre was born more than 10 years ago, during a screening of the Ocean Shores VHS version of the classic Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave. A trailer preceeding the film exhorted viewers to watch War of the Shaolin Temple by splashing A FILM YOU DON'T MISS IT!!! across the screen. Who could argue with that? Anyway, for me this quickly became shorthand for films boasting more exuberance than coherence. Or competence.)

The basic premise of Dynamite Brothers is a pre-Rush Hour, post-whatever-that-Sidney-Poitier-movie-was-where-the-guys-were-chained-together-and-had-to-learn-to-work-together thing where a Chinese dude and a cool black guy are thrown together in expected circumstances and team up to fight... Uhhh... Shit... The mob? Rednecks? The Man? Oh, wait — I remember. They fight the Chinese guy’s evil brother, who croaked the guy’s wife back in China and fled to the U.S. to become a drug lord. He has an army of sadistic thugs. And the most fake-ass mustache you've ever seen.

Unlike Rush Hour or whatever, they don’t holler at each other or have to overcome racial differences or anything. They just start beating a lot of ass from the get-go. That’s one of the things I like about these two movies, Black Samurai and Dynamite Brothers — they just get right on to the shit. Fighting and sticking it to The Man.

Dynamite Brothers had a scene where the Chinese guy has a kung fu fight with a rattlesnake, leading me to believe that Al Adamson has some sort of vendetta against the animal kingdom. Sadly, no midgets, grass-skirt natives or Residents-inspired dance numbers. Unlike Black Samurai, though, the titties weren’t edited out.

In fact, it seemed a lot more cohesive in general than Black Samurai, though that isn’t saying much. But I’ve read that the version of Black Samurai available today was chopped up a lot. Dynamite Brothers still had a lot of audio glitches, and the film stock and transfer are pretty shitty, but that just gave it a nice cinema verite feel, kind of like genre pioneer Cotton Comes to Harlem and a lot of other low-budget, shot-on-location blaxploitation movies. I used to hate those "driving around" scenes that are in all those movies, but now I like ‘em. They remind me of early Godard hit-and-run shooting or something, and they keep the pace nice and relaxed. Wasn’t Three the Hard Way 80% just cruising around while the soundtrack played? Man, that sounds really good to me about now. I know they just did that shit to fill time, but it still looks art-house if you kind of squint and belabor the point to justify it.

The kung fu was OK, for an American movie. At least there was a lot of it.

Oh, the soundtrack was real good too. Lots of crazy funk and bongos with free-form analogue-synth splatter all over it. Kind of like Sun Ra jamming with Mandrill or something.

And that’s Dynamite Brothers for you.

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