Friday, March 24, 2006

"Death Be Damned...Life!"

I'm writing this from a computer terminal in the library of the Virginia Fine Arts Museum in Richmond. I'm down here to play my solo guitar scores live to several piquant French surrealist short films from the 1920's (and one exquisite Russian film, Starewicz's "The Cameraman's Revenge" from 1912...well, he moved to Paris shortly after making this film in Moscow, and lived out the rest of his days there, so he's nominally French I suppose).

It's been a hectic week since my last posting, to put it father-in-law passed away hours after after writing that blog, and the funeral was last Sunday. I wrote a eulogy for Henry which the rabbi read in the cold bright winter light to the many mourners assembled at the cemetery in Bushey, and then helped shovel earth onto the sarcophagus. I sat with Caroline and her mother in her house for a couple days in a numb flattened-affect kind of stupor taking condolence calls, which were numerous (Henry Sinclair had many friends, as decent and as kind a man as he was). I came back from London a couple days ago, just in time to throw myself into intensive rehearsal mode in preparation for the show I'm playing here at the James River Film Festival tomorrow night (I haven't worked with these surrealist films since playing with them at the Mass MOCA 4 years...and while there is a good deal of improvisation in the program, there are many many specific cues I had to relearn).

But every cloud etc.--I used my last day in London to work in the studio on a new collaboration with The Grid (Dave Ball from Soft Cell's project with Richard Norris). Meanwhile I missed my gig with Jozef Van Wissem last Saturday in NYC (couldn't be helped obviously), he tells me that many fans showed up, which was nice to hear, but left when they heard that I wasn't performing, which made me feel really bad as Jos is such a good player solo.

Ray Harryhausen is down here in Richmond as another special guest of the festival, the genius stop motion-reanimator/magician of fantasy film classics of my youth such as "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad", and he's come with "Jason and the Argonauts", which I remember seeing on my 11th birthday, a still from which (Poseidon prying apart the Clashing Rocks) I used on the cover of the program notes for the second season (1971) of my "Things That Go Bump in the Night" horror film series which I ran with Bill Mosely up at Yale.(Remember showing this very same program to Peter Hammill at the Friars Club in Aylesbury in the summer of '73, when he was playing there solo). I met Ray Harryhausen up at the Walter Reade Theater in NYC last year where he was being feted by the Film Society of Center, and stood patiently in a long line of fans and well-wishers (including my pal and fellow horror-film buff Vernon Reid) before meeting the great man (as I've written before, Ray's type of stop-motion hand-crafted animation is true wizardry...CGI has no soul, to me)--and it's really nice that I'm going to have a chance to meet him again and hang with him (I wonder if he's ever seen the Starewicz film I'm playing to tomorrow night--a fantastic jape, an absurdist tale of insect lust, adultery and betrayal that uses the actual dried husks of grasshoppers and beetles as the articulated models. In 1912 yet).

The guys who run this festival sure know how to make my feel welcome (I played with "The Golem" here a couple years ago), and sure enough, I had no longer stepped off the plane this morning when my old pals Trent Nicholas (he was Scorsese's assistant before Kent Jones--Trent and Kent!) and Stephen Wilson whisked me straight off to the local barbecue hot spot Buzz and Ned's for some pulled pork sandwiches, fries, onion rings and lemonade (did this same bbq pig-out once with Denny Walley and Janet come to think of it in Atlanta before rehearsing Magic Band music)...yum. Simple things like working on something I enjoy (ie music), hunting down regional delicacies on the road (read local fast food grease)and and and "you can guess the rest", as Bryan Ferry sang, MAKE ME REALLY REALLY REALLY GLAD TO (STILL) BE was a running joke for years, I even mentioned this on the lead-in to the "Judgement at Midnight" track on my "Evangeline" album, but doing intensive soundtrack composing for producer Peter Bull at ABC News, it always seemed like I was accorded the most lurid, violent documentary thema to write to: the Exxon Valdex Alaskan oil spill, for instance, the sordid story of Ted Kacynzski (the Unabomber), a show on hand gun control in America, the Martin Luther King assassination, a looksee at the last 24 hours on Death Row for some poor bastard up at Angola State Penitentiary (former alma mater of Robert Pete Williams and Leadbelly)...yup, it seemed that whenever there was death in the air, some bright soul up at ABC would light up and say: "I wonder what Gary is doing!"

But I love (fails no birds) Life...




Blogger Allan said...

I am very much looking forward to that Richmond show- in about an hour! Yeah!

3/25/2006 8:43 PM  

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