On the evening of May 17, 1980, a middle-aged Welsh stonecutter named Rheinallt H. Rowlands sat despondently at his wooden kitchen table, drinking ale and eating a bowl of broth. The quarry where he had worked for the previous thirteen years had recently closed, and with no prospects for the future, Rowlands was slowly sinking into despair.
In 1981, MTV was born and the music video became a measured, constructed, and elevated art form, a thing I watched hungrily from my remove in the Midwest. But for more than a decade before that, David Bowie and the directors he worked with were experimenting with the medium, taking theatrics, music, and new (at the time) technology and bringing them together in a novel way.
Masked avengers are a strange, lonely breed: Batman, the Lone Ranger, Zorro, Wonder Woman. They operate as one-person operations, alienated from society and paperwork, at once heroic and existential.
I cant remember the last time I was asked about my Desert Island Discs, but for nearly twenty years my robotic response was the same: the two-LP Recommended Records Sampler (1982). There may have been more important compilations released in my lifetime, but I cant think of one at the moment.
Two pseudonymous British gentlemen lurk behind the band name Modern Shit. The first has used various vaguely absurd monikers over the years, including Amos, L. Voag, and Xentos Fray Bentos; the other has stuck with one improbable handle: Lepke Buchwater (no doubt meant to echo the name of legendary U.S. crime kingpin Lepke Buchalter).
While record stores provide a kind of human contact and communication that doesnt exist online, the thriving festival and concert scenes provide a real community that can never be replaced digitally.
First established after 9/11, when rampant xenophobia in the U.S. made visas for foreign musicians almost impossible to obtain, globalFEST this year showcased a smorgasbord of international music, with both relative unknowns and the kinds of world-class stars who fill gigantic stadiums at home.
Opera is a tough art for those who resist it, as I have done for most of my adult life.