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5/9/2002

FILM FLAM
We headed to Starlight Drive In last night and caught Spider Man. As degenerate SW put it, "meh." She was never a comic book fan, or a dorky male who can't get laid and got beat up by the high school jocks.
As a former, and sometimes current, all of the above, I thought they did a fair job with this film. They didn't take too much leeway with the characters, as I felt they did with the X-Men film, even if the
Green Goblin looked like a villain from the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. As long as they're not in costume they're fairly believable characters. Kirsten Dunst is luscious as MJ, the love interest of Peter Parker (though red hair doesn't suit her as well as blonde.)
And J. Jonah Jameson is fantastic. Peter Parker's narration sounds like he's a dark, moody kid but he doesn't come off that way on screen, which is exactly how he came off in the comic - your average teen trying to look cool, or at least unaffected, while struggling inside just to stay calm.
The plot is pure classic comic book drivel, but you don't go see a movie based on a comic, particularly a story you already know, for the plot do you? You want the action, the BIFF POW ZOT scenes, right?
Well once the tights go on things aren't so great.
It's almost entirely computer generated action and frankly I'd rather see some impressive stunt work than more not-quite-right computer generated Spidey swinging through NYC. Add in several fight sequences that looked like direct rip-offs of the goofier fly-by-wire scenes in The Matrix (which were direct rip-offs of Hong Kong action films) and you're likely to come away unimpressed with the action. There's not even that much of it, since much of the film is taken up explaining the backgrounds of characters with which you're probably already familiar. Even with all the backstory, the Green Goblin isn't given enough time to develop a good streak of evil actions before they're working their way towards the grand finale, and suddenly the movie is over, with all characters saying, ALMOST literally, "Just wait to see what happens in the sequel."
It's probably as good as the X-Men effort (which took too much leeway with the characters but made up for it with some fun action sequences), but even a former comic book addict and current dork like me has to concur with SW about Spider Man - meh.
At least there was no Jar Jar Binks.

EAR PLUGS
Finally elicited some response from the pro-jazz contingent I knew must be lurking out there:

>dearest editor, just go listen to some Charlie christian records.

I was thinking "Is that the best response you've got out there?
Sheesh, SOMEone step up to the plate!" when I got this from degenerate RVI:

While you may not appreciate jazz in any of its myriad forms (and no,
Virginia, Kenny G is not the pinnacle of the art), you might do well to pay it some respect at a distance. Without the acid jazz poured on the iron stranglehold of "standard" classical and popular music there probably never would have been any space for any of the experimental music of the twentieth century, from fusion to acid rock to punk to grunge. Whether any of those movements would admit it or not. Jazz is, at its best, the epitome of experimentation, alchemy, and even humor and disrespect for tradition. Of course, at its worst, it's elevator music. Jazz is more of a catch-all term, anyway, so far as I've ever been able to tell, that refers equally to Sun-Ra, Thelonius Monk, Tangerine Dream, and Big Band stuff, too.
And that's without going into the Latin influenced stuff, the French and other European variations, and so on. Plenty of "rock" is really just jazz with the syncopation worked out on an electric guitar rather than a piano or sax.
To reject jazz out of hand is like saying that because Sonny and Cher were rock stars, all rock sucks. There are just too many things that either are jazz or are jazz-inspired/influenced to throw all of it out - at least, if you're going to do so, admit it's a matter of personal taste and severe limitation of musical imagination in this one area - on your part. Very little good music, especially the creative, loud and chaotic kind, escapes a debt to the old beatniks of the 50's and artists like "Bird" Parker - or even Frank Zappa at a later stage. You like Top 40 shit? That's what most non-classical music would sound like if jazz hadn't been around to give it a run for its money and hold up a higher standard and outlet for creativity. Sure punk did that, too, but there wouldn't have been any punk if certain forms of jazz hadn't cleared the way for it in the first place.
And like most things, it's an acquired taste for God's sake, man, few people would be able to stomach the Immortal Lee County Killers without a fair amount of exposure to disjointed stuff prior to making its acquaintance. Same thing with jazz - if it all sounds to you like your kid wailing away on a busted harmonica at 7 AM, it might be because you've never made an effort to see what it's up to.
Personally, I spent many years thinking Picasso was full of shit until I slowed down and began to study his work and theories - and while I still don't like everything he made, my effort at suspending judgment until more understanding was available paid off in enriching my tiny artistic universe. I think the attitudes toward jazz in this zine could stand the same attempt at reform. If you make the attempt and it still sucks, at least you'll be able to appreciate it as a failed experiment that, nonetheless, had fruitful consequences. I don't know a damn thing about Music Midtown or any overpriced Atlanta music lounge other than I've never been even vaguely tempted to attend, but I do know you aren't giving jazz its due.
Degenerate RVI


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