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July 2007
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October 2007

Battleshop Petomkin

A post at Idolator with a self-explanatory title -- "YouTube Users Post The Craziest Things" -- provides links to a smörgåsbord of musical stylings, ranging from New Order to Roxy Music to Miles and Coltrane, drawn from, yes, YouTube, in the course of which we learn that the Pet Shop Boys, of all people, created and performed a new score for that bulwark of Film Studies 101, Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin.  Some enterprising soul has taken the whole thing, as performed in Berlin in 2005, and posted it in 28 bite-sized video snippets

The YouTube upload has the triple drawbacks of (1) being on YouTube and thus of dubious video quality, (2) being handheld footage of a live performance, and (3) being in 28 bite-sized morsels.  However, a further search at France's Dailymotion turns up a good-quality version of the sequence at which one most wants to take a proper gander -- the Gunpowder 'n Baby Carriage extravaganza that is the Odessa Steps:

The PSBs' score seems not to have been all that well received when it premiered in 2004.  ("[D]ecidedly ho-hum and noodly," said the BBC.)  Should you wish to make up your own mind about it, there is no complete, synced DVD version, but a recording is available.  For the full experience, you might play it while watching the forthcoming 2-disc Kino edition of the film.  (Further details here.)

"Où Sont les Vingt Vents Avant l'Éléphant du Levant?"

Pardon my [nonsense] French.

Although there are those who would maintain that young* Zach Condon in his guise as the band Beirut has been overhyped since his debut last year with The Gulag Orkestar, I have succumbed and am sold on his talent and the fine sweet joy of his Balkanophilic music. 

By way of the front page at Daytrotter, I was directed to the clip below, in which we find Condon about a month ago in Paris performing at the premiere Soirée à Emporter de la Blogotheque, singing and flugeling away happily in the company of the real thing, Macedonia's Kocani Orkestar, in a medley of "A Sunday Smile" (from Beirut's forthcoming The Flying Club Cup) and the Kocanis' "Siki Siki Baba."  It makes for a mighty, high spirited noise, a Franco-Balkan Bacchanal:

#60.9 - 60.10 - Zach Condon feat. Kocani Orkestar - Sunday
(A lovely high resolution version of this video [DivX plugin required] is available for viewing at Blogothèque: les concerts à emporter.)

The audio from this performance, as well as a recording of "A Sunday Smile" from this year's SXSW festivities, can be had via Alan Wiliamson at +SIXEYES.   Large quantities of Beirut music also available for purchase and download via eMusic.

As a lagniappe, let's toss in the video for Beirut's "Elephant Gun," replete with faux mustaches, faux pachydermulous probosci, faux fin de siecle decadence, a confetti-clogged mandolin, and a horn line I may never be able to remove from my head.  Sing it, Zach!

Beirut   Elephant Gun

* At 21, Mr. Condon is all of a year older than my own eldest son.

Maas Media, or, What's a Sema For?

Lot49 Attention Pynchonophiles and fanciers of cryptography:

Thanks to an email from pal Rick, I am able to point you to this Mercury News article [reg. req'd] revealing the Sinister Secret of the San Jose Semaphore.  W.A.S.T.E no time in checking it out.  Missing the message of this courier would be a tragedy.

If you haven't, you should definitely read the book (no longer featuring the fine swingin' psychedelic cover  -- and somewhat misleading description -- at right, which is on the edition I've been reading and rereading these past decades.)  There is, naturally, a Wiki to assist the perplexed.

Video of the art work at work can be found on the "Media" page of the official San Jose Semaphore site.

Only vaguely related: Followers of late 70's New Wave will perhaps recall that "Semaphore Signals" is also an old Wreckless Eric tune.  With Ian Dury on drums!