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Monthly Archives: September 2006

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Gruesome Twosome: Country Cuties Edition

Lynn Anderson: “I’ve Been Everywhere”
LP: Uptown Country Girl, 1970 | BUY

Skeeter Davis: “There’s a Fool Born Every Minute”
RCA Victor records single, 1968 | BUY

Hey there y’all : today’s selections come through the courtesy of two of my favorite country singers. For a time it appeared that Lynn Anderson had it all — beauty pageant looks, talented songwriter ma (Liz), and she was a champion equestrian to boot! The tongue-twisting “I’ve Been Everywhere” dates from Lynn’s late ’60s tenure with Chart Records. Later on she’d move on to huge crossover success with “Rose Garden,” but I kind of like the rowdy, sexy image she projected on her earlier stuff. Pert Skeeter Davis might accurately be interpreted as a countrified Lesley Gore; most of her music consists of winsome vocals double-tracked over cushiony, Girl Group-ish productions (thanks to Nashville legend Chet Atkins). Her 1968 hit “There’s a Fool Born Every Minute” is no exception, an interesting contrast of downbeat lyrics and perky instrumentation. A new Skeeter CD comp, The Pop Hits Collection Vol. 2, has just been released on Taragon Records.

The Man Who Drew Everything

A charming book arrived at the chez scrubbles doorstep a couple of weeks ago — Blackstock’s Collections: The Drawings of an Autistic Savant published by Princeton Architectural Press. The book collects the artwork of one Gregory L. Blackstock, a sixty year old Seattleite who began making his obsessively detailed drawings of multiple items two decades ago. From what I could gather, the autistic Blackstock intently studies library books, then goes home and creates intricate drawings entirely from memory of the animals, buildings, vehicles or household objects he saw. Each drawing focuses on one subject (e.g. dozens of different saws, WWII U.S. bombers, or swallowtail butterflies), serving as visual evidence that several objects seen collectively have a strange power that one object by itself lacks. Some of his layouts are arranged in a lovely gridlike fashion or have an innate orderliness, drawn with a crude, thick hand (actually, his linework and blocky lettering most closely resembles the work of political cartoonist Mark Alan Stamaty). Blackstock’s Collections makes me gratified that the artist has gained recognition in the outsider art world and isn’t toiling in obscurity.

September 11th

I slept though the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. That morning I awoke to find a flustered Aaron Brown speaking on CNN, then an image of a World Trade Center tower with smoke coming out the top. A humungous cloud of smoke erupted from behind the burning tower, and before it could dissapate the worst came to mind. Like everybody else, I spent the day in a daze, numb. Frightened, wondering if this was happening in cities all over. The next day, I went through the digital photo archives at the newspaper where I worked at the time. I wanted to experience the photographs that many news outlets didn’t publish out of fear of upsetting their readers — not so much out of morbid curiosity as wanting to see as much of the whole picture as possible. Because you just know that, as time goes on, people will shape the events into what they want them to be. The weird, gloomy yet hyper-patriotic atmosphere of late 2001 played out that way.

Five years on, the memories of that awful day hang over us like a shadow. Although we try to ease the pain by focusing on examples of heroism and self-sacrifice (like in the two recent 9-11 feature films), we can’t get away from the sheer dread that day conjures. Images of the collapsing towers are still painful and have this nightmarish quality. It never really hits that, watching that, I’m witnessing a simultaneous mass death. Did that really happen? Maybe that’s why we can’t get away from it.

Depressingly, the last five years have unfolded exactly as I imagined they would immediately post-9-11. I knew that the president was going to exploit everything to suit his own agenda, and sure enough he did. We’re still in a war. Americans still feel unsafe. It might take ten, twenty years — or never — to get over it. I’ll get back to posting on happier subjects tomorrow, but it feels cathartic to write this down. Thanks for the indulgence.

Treasure Hunt

Over the weekend I started a new flickr group called Classic Disneyland Souvenirs. It’ll hopefully be a nice showcase for things like the 1957 Tom Sawyer Island map below (I’m still in the process of adding stuff). We already have 15 members and anyone is welcome. Tell your friends!

I Want and Gimme

If anybody has an extra $650 to blow on something, I would personally love to be gifted Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films from Janus and Criterion. My birthday is coming up next month, so you still have a few weeks to go. The title of this post, by the way, came from the nicknames that my grandmother used to give to my mom and aunt when they were wee tykes. Some things never change.

Oskar Fischinger on NPR

NPR’s Day to Day aired a good but too-brief segment on filmmaker Oskar Fischinger today. Fischinger’s influential animated shorts from the ’30s and ’40s translated the concept of abstract art into moving images; his Allegretto (1943) is a jazzy example shown below. And some of his work just recently came out on DVD! More info at The Fischinger Archive. Update: Allegretto has been removed from YouTube.