A powerful story of power.

*As I know you’ve all guessed from by vivid, red-blooded tales of life on the streets, I reside in a chest-thumping land of ribald adventure and sinewy attitude, chaos and ecstasy just inches away at any given second. It’s the kind of place where the local paper’s Best of 2004 award for Excellent Coffee went to the local gas station. That’s the brand of no-nonsense newspaper citation we prefer here; who has time for hoity-toity fancy caffeine trifles when a virile pot of petroleum black will do the trick just fine? But even the engorged throats of the caffeine addicts are far from immune to danger. Danger!

Why, just last night I was walking back home from the gas station, sipping my brew and munching on some of those new large-size M&Ms with the ‘adult’ color scheme (I bet some concerned parent will be pissed at the lack of a ‘Recommended for Mature Eaters’ warning - obscenity prosecutions will be everywhere!), when some dangerous youth on a bicycle whizzed right past me from behind.

I couldn’t say he came close to hitting me, and I actually didn’t entirely notice him at all, but I just know it was a deadly and rambunctious stunt, since he pedaled and pedaled and pedaled, to about 35 feet ahead of me, only to stop and turn around.

Bitch! Ha ha!!” he called from across the yawning void, and he pedaled away really quick.

My god.

So brutish and cruel was this young animal’s attack, so close was my brush with calamity, you’d think that my poor bones would instantly coalesce into a jelly of fear. But you know what? It made me stronger.

So I say: thank you.

Thank you, young man. Truly, you were the finest and most ferocious 15-year-old-riding-a-bike-who-sped-past-me-then-waited-until-he-was-at-a-really-safe-distance-and-called-me-a-bad-name-only-to-hasten-away-double-quick that I’ve ever ever known.

I hope you find true love.

*I do have a new review today, but it’s


And it’s not of an entirely new book (or even a comic), although I bet you haven’t seen it before. It’s the new issue (#15) of Mineshaft, a twice or thrice yearly journal of comics, poetry, photography, and more. It’s small, but filled with stuff from the likes of Robert Crumb, Kim and Simon Deitch, Frank Stack, and much more. See what you think, at Comic Book Galaxy.

*I also did a little more viewing of my avant-garde dvd, this time taking in the 27 minute Lot in Sodom, from 1933. The handy production notes trumpet it as one of the first American sound experimental films; that not really true, of course, since Dickson Experimental Sound Film dates back to 1895 and even has the word ‘experimental’ right in the title, so there can be no mistakes. Lot in Sodom was directed by James Selby Watson and Melville Webber; the duo had also collaborated on a 1928 short-form adaptation of The Fall of the House of Usher (currently housed in the Treasures From American Film Archives box set), which I personally found to be absurdly overblown in its abstract visual acrobatics, shadows and shapes and dissolves all over the place. You might think ‘absurd’ is a curious word to use in criticizing a film from the set that gave us Anemic Cinema, but while the Dada scene merrily forwarded nonsense as the only apt means of addressing the atrocities of the traditional sociopolitical/aesthetic sensibility, Watson and Webber offer a more sensitive, strainingly lyrical approach, a little too tied to the demands of straightfoward story, and stretching mightily to accommodate the audience. If any phrase could best describe their work it’d have to be ‘painfully earnest,’ and this dynamic duo generally don’t seem to notice how silly they can get.

But Lot in Sodom is a better film than their prior outing. It’s also apparently a landmark in gay cinema, and I can believe it; the first six or seven minutes are, after all, devoted to bare-chested (and occasionally bare-assed) citizens of Sodom jumping around, engaging in some sort of abstract bacchanal via the medium of interpretative dance, and the film generally appears to sympathize with them. Watson was a technical wizard, having developed his own means of advanced optical printing, and he indulges in layers and layers of dissolve and exposure, occasionally making his figures seem like little more than fleshy chests and legs, the visual back-flips seemingly endless. Lot, as one might expect from the story, is not interested in joining the fun. Eventually, a scary Angel of the Lord shows up wearing a black cloak and some serious eyeshadow, and everyone gathers around Lot’s home to scope out the new arrival; what they get in return is an Almighty-prompted lesson in reproduction, accomplished by having one of Lot’s daughters come out and doff her robes, while all sorts of blunt symbols are intercut and superimposed. At one point, Watson and Webber have the girl’s upper body positioned at the top of the frame, with an open temple door added below, a slithering snake thrusting itself across the entrance. Then we get shots of blossoms slowly opening, then images of rivers and streams saturating the buds. Due to the whole biblical motif, we’re spared the expected shorts of jackhammers and trains entering tunnels and Old Faithful erupting, although I’m sure the filmmakers were tempted. Then Lot’s daughter gives birth, I think. Anyway, as the story goes, there's fire from heaven and a pillar of salt and stuff. The end.

I’ll give it this: the model work and fire effects are excellent, and the soundtrack is pretty cool. Actually, as goofy and obvious as the film is today, it’s sort of tough not to love. I guess I’m just a bit more inclined toward the more mannered insanity of the Dada and/or Surrealist set, their clubby, chummy sense of small community in the Paris of the ’20s absent from the States, where filmmakers of an experimental disposition often had to work with even less avenue for exhibition, especially in the later dog days of the Great Depression.