Friday, April 08, 2005

Prouve It All Night

Was up at Yale, my alma mahler I mean mater, on Monday night, to see my old friend and former classmate Bob "Rocket" Rubin deliver a lecture and slide presentation on Jean Prouve (accent ecru), the modernist French architect and associate of Le Corbeau I mean Le Corbusier, hitherto uncharted mental terrain for most of us earthlings no doubt, Prouve (pronounced Proo-VAY, no accent mark on this computer) is not exactly a household word unless you hang yr hat in the stippled cement halls of the Yale Art and Architecture Building which is where Bob's lecture took place (well in the airless basement, Hastings Hall, to be exact--where I remember seeing Robert Mitchum and Dick Cavett in actual corporeal reality 30 some odd years ago at a Yale Law School Film Society Robert Mitchum retrospective, whose centerpiece was a screening of Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter, a great oddball scary experiment in expressionist Americana, that one). And Bob (Rubin, not Mitchum, who prouved to be the strong silent type) gave a superb talk, low-key but punchy nonetheless with a strong element of iconoclastic humor which he further leavened with lots of slides of French gas stations designed by JP, a Tin Tin cartoon showing the little tow-headed Belgeois sitting on a Prouve (rhymes with duvet) designed chair, and much more, while upstairs in the main gallery resplendent one could marvel at the miracle of an intact actual Jean Prouve pre-fab metal house, the Prouve objet trouve, nearly fully assembled which Bob, leading the revival in all things Prouvey and groovy, plucked from its Congolese home in dusty downtown Brazzaville, where it sat for many a year in utter desuetude, a neo-colonial artefact bereft of a benevolent caretaker...until my boy Bob stepped in. Now thanks to Bob's restoration efforts (he shipped the "house in the jungle" off to Paris for some grinding and polishing that swapped the grime of the tropics for some politesse francaise) one can behold the thing-in-itself, in all its holy glory-- one of only 3 Prouve houses ever constructed!--and can gawk at its shiny metallic purple armor I mean splendor and eye-popping facets (multiple porthole-like windows f'rinstance, not that far afield from the facade of NYC's trendy Maritime Hotel). The whole shebang should be fully assembled and out on the greensward abutting the Yale A&A Building in a few weeks time to coincide with the start of New Haven's famed tropical hot dog night (or perhaps it was the Vernal Equinox)--so sayeth Master of Ceremonies Dean Robert Stern, no small shakes as a master builder himself, and it was he who personally introduced my friend Bob to the packed, sweltering throngs (the temperature in the hall was appropriately tropical, yet Bob kept his cool throughout, a born bon vivant who by the way was wearing an incredible bespeckled bespoke silk shirt with polka polka polka dots, the absolut objective correlative to Prouve's poker-chip po-mo design). Oy vey (rhymes with Prouve), objective correlatives indeed (Yale English Lit Dept. jargon which I thought I had jettisoned 30 years ago comes 'a creeping back).

In summation, miss this exhibit at your peril! Definitely worth schlepping up to New Haven for!! Kudos to Bob for throwing light on such obscurantist architectonic treasure, an aesthetic impulse I share in lovingly recuperating musical diamonds-in-the-rough like The Five Keys' "Ling Ting Tong" (and come to think of it, it was Rubin who first hipped me to this early paean to reefer! "I smokum boo-dai-ay"... well, not no more) and The Ravens' (Les Corbeaux) fabulous "Mahzel Means Good Luck" (quiztime, boys 'n grrrrrrls: which ensemble I play with covers the former and on which Lucas album does yr truly cover the latter of these sacred touchstones of the living tongue-jive? First one to email the correct answer to wins an expensive hand-tooled day-glo copy of my new Golem DVD).

And boy was there some party afterwards at Dean Stern's magnifico loft overlooking the New Haven Green and the ramparts of the Old Campus (Free Bobby Seale!) A convivial concatenation of architects, art historians, academics, aesthetes and artistes (my old friend Don Shambroom, one of the finest painters of my g-g-g-g-generation was there, alongside Mark Lyon, a photographer/chronicler of la belle femme parisienne who has been my go-to guy in Paris for some years, and another ami ancien who I hadn't seen in awhile, Fred Iseman, an intellectual tummler of Falstaffian proportions, with his lovely companion Kate). Jean Prouve's daughter was there too, looking absolutely radiant now that her papa's legacy was on the ascendant thanks to my friend Bob Rubin. And I met some fascinating folks and made some new friends. Food was good too.

Now I gotta go play the guitar...


ps. forgot to mention ex post facto that in the crowd surrounding Gods at Monsters at SXSW in Texas a couple weeks ago was Big Mike, the benign major domo of Complete Music Services, my favorite rehearsal space in NYC, which I was first introduced to by Lou Reed,,,and also Pat Fulgoni, superb vocalist and leader of the UK band Kava Kava who sang "Procuress from Karmelitska Street" and another toe-tapper on my Ghosts of Prague album, recorded with my friend Richard "Faust" Mader in the Czech Republic mid-90's. Sorry guys!

also, just got some great pics of our SXSW gig taken by Julia "Ice Cream for" Crowe and will relay them over to webmistress Tanya who should boot them up in no time, keep watching this space... [Done, see the photos below! --Tanya]

lastly--I am soon to embark on a journey to London to clock the Cream reunion at Royal Albert Hall, also Van Der Graaf Generator's reunion at Royal Festival Hall later that week (met Peter Hammill on my first trip to London in '73); also to perform solo acoustic in London and Scotland; and also to meet with a couple of my favorite singers (a man and a woman, guess who) who individually fronted two of the greatest art-rock-dance bands of all times, and who collectively now lead a formidable new music project...

Gods and Monsters Rock SXSW, The Drink, Austin Texas, 3/19/05
Click on a photo to enlarge | (photos hosted by flickr)

photos above by Julia Crowe

more photos from SXSW...

Gary, Michael, Jason, Joey, and Ernie (Billy not visible)

Gary, Jason, Ami, Joey, Billy and Ernie

Gary, Jason, Ami, Joey and Ernie

Gary, Ami, Billy and Jason discuss the meaning of life overlooking 6th Street, Austin Texas


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