the new talkies / by mrm

On Friday, I went to see the neo-benshi/the new talkies performance at the De Young (free with student ID!). What might this be? Well may you ask. In the De Young's rather elegant cinema (elegant, that is, except for the overly flatulent leather chairs. Did no one test them out before they were installed? They're too new to be this noisy), a podium was set up stage right of the screen, and for 10-12 minutes a poet performed a piece over/in response to a scene or clips from a film of their choosing with the volume low or muted. I actually think that this could be huge in Poland, since they're already accustomed to having tv narrated. At any rate, there were 5 different pieces on Friday night. Far and away my favorite was Rodney Koeneke's interpretation of part of The Golem. I wish I had taken notes throughout. Instead, I sat there in dimly lit awe and enjoyment until I finally broke down and scribbled nearly-illegible notes in pencil on the edge of my program. Writing in the dark is a very special (and incredibly useful!) skill which I have yet to fully master. I managed to get:

"Moses begat laughing", and
"silence is asthma for moderns"

He periodically put on a quite good German accent, with a liberal dosing of Ah so's.

Unfortunately, I enjoyed the lyricism of this piece so much that nothing else cut the mustard in quite the same way. Douglas Kearney and Nicole McJamerson's take on Fantasia will prevent me from ever watching the section with the demon city in the same way again. They wittily re-imagined this part of the movie as a late, unfinished D.W. Griffith sequel to Birth of a Nation entitled Death of a City. Jen Hofer's reading of On the Beach left me chiefly with a desire to watch the original film, and Andrew Choate's piece on The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover made me chuckle (yes, there are times when I laugh without guffawing) with:

"canned food is anxiety/in its pure state./In the future/the things I need/will not be available/but I will be here" (line breaks mine; an asshole move, I know, but I think it reads better if you can imagine the pauses), and
"language is food./This is not a metaphor."

Lamentably, this is not a weekly or even monthly event, but apparently an annual one.