I’m not sure that American Beauty is my favorite movie, but I’m pretty sure it has soaked deeper into my brain than any other. Certain images and episodes come to mind all the time — the fight over the beer that was about to spill on the couch, the “I want to look good naked” line, the phrase “Lawrence Welk shit” among them. The idea that comes up most, however, is the plastic bag thing — the scene in which we watch two characters watch a video of a plastic bag blowing in the wind. As he takes in his videographic handiwork, the creepy but ultimately awesome next door neighbor kid delivers the movie’s best line:
“Sometimes, there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I just can’t take it, and my heart is going to cave in.”
Later, Kevin Spacey tells us from beyond the grave that in situations like that, he’s learned (omniscience is quite handy) to let the beauty flow through him “like rain,” instead of trying to bottle it up. They’re talking about the sublime, which I wrote about just a few weeks ago, but they’re also talking about the part of human nature that makes us want to contain things. To corral them. To own them. Last Tuesday, I ran headfirst into this impulse thanks to the Punch Brothers show at the National.
My iPhone’s been a real asshole lately. The battery life has tanked. It’s started shutting off unexpectedly in cold weather (“Oh, you’re trying to use Google Maps to navigate an unfamiliar city on foot in a snowstorm? Nap time, bitches!”). Speaking of naps, the sleep/wake button now requires an absurd amount of pressure, like a small and entirely un-fun version of that carnival game where you swing a sledgehammer to see how strong you are. Lately, its favorite trick has been refusing to send text messages or tweets for days at a time. Saturday — the day the Drive-By Truckers played at the National here in Richmond — happened to be one of those days. As a result, all my enthused mid-show exclamations went un-exclaimed.
In truth, it’s probably for the best. Looking back at the notes I took in my jerk phone’s Notes application, as well as the contents of my Twitter client’s drafts folder, I’m not sure my IPA-addled missives would have made much sense. All the same, I’d like to give a few of them a second chance and, since we’ve moved this party to the blogosphere, a little elaboration. We’ll call this Tweets That Never Were: Drive-By Truckers Edition.
Mark your calendars — on April 12, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra will paint the Altria Theater black (figuratively speaking, of course).
They’ll be partnering with Windborne Music for a “Music Of The Rolling Stones” program, complete with a full rock band, singer and a set list that, according to the Symphony’s website, contains “nearly all of the Stones’ number 1 hits.” I was curious about what went into a production like this, so I reached out to Windborne and talked with the company’s founder, Brent Havens. Arranging, conducting, and composing, Havens has developed nine of these symphonic rock programs (others include The Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd). He also composes for TV and film. He’s a busy dude.
We had a really interesting conversation, and you can read the highlights in this West End’s Best article.
What do backup dancers do? Backup dancers make the frontperson look good. They spice things up, they inject energy, they may display incredible talents, but it’s all done in the service of the star. In the video above, Hamilton Leithauser is the star — he takes the stage with a group of gals behind him, someone offstage tosses him the microphone, and off he goes. Lookin’ good. The video goes even further than that, because the first half has Leithauser hanging out in the dressing room before the dancers have even had a chance to slip on their sparkly outfits. Lookin’ meta good!
Could some of this frontman fourth wall breaking have to do with Leithauser’s situation vis-a-vis The Walkmen? With striking out on his own? Is some existential fat being chewed here? Maybe. But there’s another level I just love, and that level is Rostam Batmanglij.