Mark Allen's Top Ten for 10/7/02:

1: Going to visit Jim in upstate New York over the weekend
    It was my first time to visit Jim in the *wow* Catskill Mountains. What a lifestyle! The town he lives in reminds me a lot of Durango, Colorado except with old hippies that have families and young squatter punk kids. Jim refers to it as very "crunchy" (as in 'granola'). It's fucking blissfull-y beautiful and fantastic is what it is. It was dingle kumquats and dingle pumpkins galore as we hiked and visited apple orchards and hiked and played with cats and hiked and ate hippie food and hiked and watched "What's Up Doc", "War of the Worlds", "Showgirls", "Picnic At Hanging Rock" and a documentary about haunted places in New York and hiked and snuggled and hiked and slept like babies in all the quiet-ness and hiked and went thrift store shopping (Jim scored a kick-ass 10 speed bike for $30) and hiked and rode our bikes at top speed through the "rail trail" (a 12 mile totally straight line that cuts straight through fantastic NY upstate breathtaking terrain) and hiked and ate wild berries and hiked and ate the bugs off each other's fur and hiked and rode white horses through fantastic sunset landscapes nude and hiked and killed deer with our bare hands and ate them and hiked and turned into gorillas and hiked and banged the bones on rocks and howled at the moon and hiked and saw a black rectangle on the side of a mountain and hiked and heard a spastic choir sound coming out of the black rectangle and hiked and took a colorful trip through space and got really stinky. It was only three days but it seemed like a story 1,000,000,000 years in the making.

2: My birthday cake to Jim
    Isn't it economical? For someone who bakes cakes for a living I think he was impressed... at least I don't think he'll ever forget it. I call it a "pile" cake. I was going for a kind of Frank Lloyd Wright kinda thing. It only cost about $5! The tin foil letters spell out "Happy Birthday Jim" all the way around the structure... just like the Guggenheim Museum!

3: Hayao Miyazaki's new animated film "Spirited Away"
    Jim and I went to see Hayao Miyazaki's much talked about new animated film Spirited Away on Wednesday night at the GREAT new Sunshine movie theater on Houston Street (it was kind of surreal because they were having some sort of premier for the new Jerry Sienfeld film Comedian at the same time in the theater, so when we bought our tickets and walked in it was all velvet ropes and flashing cameras and E! TV cameras and Colin Quinn getting interviewed ...and we were all '...huh?')
    It was a national sensation when it was released in Japan in 2001 (Japanese title: Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi) and you can see why... it's well done. I highly recommend the film. It's 100% entertaining from beginning to end, and the visuals, characters and scenes are genuinely dazzling, inventive and highly unpredictable. The film has a few cheese ball moments (it's quietly being presented by Disney in the US markets) but these are easy to wince through due to the amazingly unique surreal-ness of the rest of the picture... as well as it's finely tuned Aesop's Fable-ish life-experience-lesson code crossed with Freudian symbolism and general rampant "dream logic" that all taps into your subconscious and starts to creep you out and inspire you at the same time therefore emotionally flat-lining you. A very interesting and fun film! Well worth $10.

4: News of a "long lost" Royal Trux album that's "weirder" than their double album Twin Infinitives
    What's that you say? The now defunct Royal Trux, one of the most mind-bending and kick ass husband and wife music duos ever to exist between the mid-80's and 2000 has a "lost" album being released by their label, Drag City? It's from 1988 you say? Huh? It was the album given to the label right before they recorded Twin Infinitives? And it was deemed "too weird" to be released and so Royal Trux recorded Twin Infinitives instead - one of the most complexly fucked up and trippy double albums you could ever sunburn your mind with - and the label released THAT instead? Let me get this straight... an album "weirder" than Twin Infinitives was locked away in the vault all this time? "Too weird" compared to Twin Infinitives? Ooookaaaayyyyyy... calm down Mark.... when's it coming out? Soon? Okay... uh-huh... it's called Hand Of Glory you say? Mmmmhmmmm... It comes out real soon?
    The point between 1988's Luminous Dolphin / Cut You Lose tracks on The End of Music compilation all the way through to 1994's Mercury / Shockwave Rider 7" on Drag City was their "golden early period" worshiped by purists (their twisted/reverent flaunting of 'classic rock' styles after that only made them more strange and interesting). However, there was one infinite spot of white light on that "golden period" time line - and it was the Twin Infinitives double album... and indescribable talisman of everything transcendent and other dimensional. It's one of the most amazing records ever pressed to vinyl and later zapped to compact disc. The news that an album that was deemed too weird compared to that album, and shelved, and is now being un-earthed for salivating fans - either stinks of exploitative, shameless marketing to salivating nerds like me - or is an honest mini revelation. Either way I'm gonna be just like the Kathy Bated character in "Misery" - slapping my $12.99 on the counter at Other Music on the day it's released, smiling all bi-polar and schizophrenic - like - I - have - Neil - and - Jennifer - secretly - locked - away -in  - my - snow - bound - cabin and saying "Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie!" that album. And if I don't love it - a hobblin' I will go!!!! Wheeeeee! Misery's aliiiiiiveeeee! Wheeeeee!

5: Steve Kim - the man who fired a 357 revolver into the air at the U. N. last Friday while passing out fliers
   *Pow! Pow!* "Hello everybody!" *Ka-bang! Pow! Ricochet... scrashhh! Pow!* "I've got some fliers about..." *Bang! Ka-pow!* *Scream - ahhhh run for it!* "...about human rights violations and the plight of the North Korean people!" *Bang! Bang!*  *Crash - run for it!* "Fliers everyone!" *Pow!* "If you'd like one please take one to learn more information!" *Pow! Pow! aaaahhhhh! Look out!* "Take a flier please and if you'd like to..." *Pow!* " about it some more I can let you know some more information about..." *Pow!* "...the plight of the North Korean people!" *Bang! Bang!* "Let's all just communicate okay!?" *Pow! Bang! Ahhhh get down!* *Pow!*

6: Scoring a vinyl copy of "John Denver's Greatest Hits Volume 2" in a weird, spooky thrift store in the Catskill Mountains for one dollar
    Yay! Why this and all the events surrounding it is one of the top ten things that happened to me this week is a mystery to all but me.

7: The serial killer random shooting mystery going on around Washington/Maryland right now
    Scary... weird... tragic... awful... creepy... astrological... dramatic... fascinating. I have started to think of people I know or have known in my life that may have gone over the edge. As Daria Nicolodi said in Dario Argento's 1982 film Tenebre; "I can't do this! Going through your address book looking for crazy people! It's crazy!" Do you find you're going through you past... card catalogue flipping through name after name after persona after gut feeling? Taking stock? Projecting?

8. Noticing the generational humor gap through the films "What's Up Doc?" and "Showgirls"
    Jim and I recently watched Peter Bogdonovich's 1972 screwball comedy masterpiece What's Up, Doc?on the same night that we watched Paul Verhoeven's 1995 "bad masterpiece" Showgirls.  If you haven't seen What's Up, Doc?... I highly recommend it (the same for Showgirls). What was so interesting is that during What's Up, Doc? we were laughing constantly... instinctively... and non-stop. We didn't even have to think about it... it was like Pavlov's dog... we just laughed and laughed... like in a trance (the repeated scenes of the jewel thief tripping and assaulting a green-gowned Mabel Albertson through the hotel hallways and elevators is one of the funniest ongoing scenes ever captured on film). While watching What's Up, Doc? we were in a trance... lost in the film... unaware of our surroundings. Our laughter was hearty and full bodied... it felt healthy and REAL. When we were watching Showgirls - which for all marketing purposes is being remembered as a "comedy" even though the masterful Verhoeven probably(?) didn't intend it that way - we were laughing too... but in a way that felt strained. We were highly aware of each other, our surroundings, our value systems and pop culture history in general as we watched the film. When we laughed it felt forced... like we felt we had to laugh as soon as something happened in the film that we signified as "needing to be mocked" or "delighting in mocking". Our laughter felt strained... forced... a bit unhealthy and kind of UN-REAL. But we were laughing just as hard. We laughed as much during each film... but it was interesting the way our minds, eyes and bodies were working as machines during each film to make us laugh. There's something about the generation gap that I can't quite put my finger on - but is there nonetheless.

9: Recording my latest two pieces for NPR on Wednesday
    Fresh off the train from the Catskills (where I rehearsed my two monologues over and over and over oblivious and out loud in a dramatic fashion much to the stares of other passengers) and with minutes to spare, and covered with twigs, leaves, centipedes and feces... I raced through Grand Central Station and  walked into the NPR offices in midtown. I plopped down in the studio chair with my notes in front of me all wrinkly and covered in bear tracks and hemp... and let'er rip.... I don't know if it was three days of mountain air or what, but the recording went very well... the engineer and producer (communicating with me through my headphones via telephone from Washington) were both laughing so hard through my second one they could barely tell me what to do. The first one I recorded should air Halloween day... since it has a Halloween theme (if it does, this will be my first one to air). The recording just went very, very well and I was very happy about it.

10: This photo
    I ain't sayin' a word...

(only one entry for this month)

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