Thursday, May 12, 2005

Apropos of nothing, here are Three Cool Things I Like:

1. F for Fake. Criterion just issued this on DVD with a fuckload of scrumptious bonus stuff. As a kid, I was obsessed with Orson Welles, but only heard about this movie fairly recently; it's a "documentary essay" (Welles's term) about notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory; his biographer, Clifford Irving, who later wrote a phony Howard Hughes autobiography (and spent 14 months in federal prison for it); and the nature of fakery, up to and including Welles's career and the movie itself. Difficult to describe, harder to stop watching, and a masterpiece.

2. My Music. A book of 41 testimonials from ordinary people about music--how they listen to it, what it means to them, what they hear when they play it. Not a sit-down-and-read-it-all-the-way-through kind of deal; it's even boring in spots, like any random selection of 41 people is bound to be. But one of the few instances I've seen where people try to get to the bottom of music's appeal in a relatively unfettered manner.

3. John Leland's Singles columns in Spin, 1985-90 or so. I photocopied these a couple years ago from the Spin offices--nominally, I was researching the Prince book, but of course I couldn't leave it at that. In particular, the ones on Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise," the one on Milli Vanilli and "temporary music," and the one on Rolling Stone's top 100 singles and Roxanne Shante are as good as any pop criticism I've ever read. Leland went on to bigger things but I sort of wish he hadn't, because on the strength of rereading those pieces I'm beginning to wonder if he wasn't the best rock critic ever.

I may add more to this later.