NYC Subway Time

October 11, 2018

With all the talk in the City about the poor and overcrowded state of the subways, I thought it would be a nice time to revisit this video of mine – 40 years old! – made as an homage to the trains.  It is followed by a clip paying homage to 2001 which uses some of the same visual themes.

I made the piece during a summer class in video at NYU.  The camera was about the size of a very large dictionary, and the the recording mechanism was slung over your shoulder and weighed a ton!  I converted the video from 3/4″ tape to DVD several years ago at a video restoration lab in San Francisco.

The late sequence of the train moving through the tunnel as the Saint-Saëns music builds to a climax links the piece to the following bit inspired by 2001 and my night driving on the NJ turnpike.  I have always been a time-space traveler! 🙂

These videos, and others I have made, are available on my MUNDO VIDEO!! page at this blog.


Kubrick’s “2001” is 50!

April 3, 2018

Blue Lagoon Redone

August 23, 2012

I visited the Blue Lagoon, one of the most popular tourist spots in Iceland.  Fun and nice, but a little weird, as are all hot spring resorts, I think.  Eerie blue water that is nice and warm, with pots of white silica clay to slather onto your body.  People wading about with clay-white faces, taking pictures of one another.

The pictures below show how it looked in 1998 and how it is today.  Gone is that bizarre industrial background that makes it seem like a science fiction set.  I kind of wish they had left it that way.

For those who want to avoid the pricey admission fee or the tourist scene at the Blue Lagoon, there is still the possibility of a refreshing soak in runoff from the many geothermal hiking areas around.  I don’t know why, but this just brings Chaucer to my mind.

Besides hiking and bathing, there are other amusements in hot-spring land.  Here are two people off to boil an egg in the runoff from a steaming borehole.

Much of the landscape around Reykjavik is rather forbidding, but I find it very beautiful.  It has large plains covered in black lava flows, with thick, uneven carpets of moss.

I suspect that Iceland may have been featured in the final landing sequence of Kubrick’s 2001.

This one looks like something out of Escher.

Over the Shoulder…

December 31, 2010

. . . and into the future, or the past.

I watched 2001:  A Space Odyssey again a week ago, as I do around this time of year, and noticed something new.  When Dave Bowman is in the pod preparing to blast off the door and enter the main ship through the airlock, he goes through a series of maneuvers and turns his back to the camera.  Briefly, he looks partly over his shoulder and then counts down.

Later, when he’s in the space-time-evolution-warp, he breaks a glass, bends down, and looks back over his shoulder to see what is making that breathing noise… It’s him, of course.  The movement of the body is the same.

Today, I felt myself making exactly that move as I looked over my shoulder to back out of a parking space, driving my little four-wheeled pod.

Happy New Year!

Brothers under the skin

March 1, 2010

"I do not avoid women but... I do deny them my essence. General Jack Ripper in Dr. Strangelove


Enfin, il faut garder son sperme, évidemment. Dépenser son sperme, c'est gaspiller son énergie vitale. Chaque éjaculation raccourcit notre vie.*

 * Finally, it is evident that one must save one’s sperm.  To spend one’s sperm is to waste one’s vital energy.  Each ejaculation shortens our lives. 

From La Vie Sexuelle d’Emmanuel Kant, J. P. Botul

The Christmas season is upon us…

December 25, 2009

click for original

…And unto us a child is born…

Background material to this picture here, and original source material here.   (Und auch hier..?]  And here’another star-baby:

The Wages of Fear

June 28, 2009


A French melodrama from 1953.  Does it detract from film to classify it that way?  A long film that is one sustained gut-punch with a blow to the head thrown in for good measure.

Four guys trapped in a miserable fleabag town in South America somewhere accept the  job of trucking nitrogycerine over 300 miles to an oil field where it’s desparately needed to blow out a raging derrick fire.  The pay is darn good, but the chances of being blown sky-high are too.  You get the situation, existential in the extreme…

The pretty waitress, played by director Clouzot’s wife, is dimwitted and abused, but then, aren’t all the characters?  They know it too – When one remarks that some fellow looks like a “walking corpse,” Mario (Yves Montand) replies, “You think we aren’t?”

The setup to the fatal drive is very long, and has a weird character.  Strange juxtapositions:  naked Indian natives taking showers; brutal fights in the one lousey bar in town; actors playing representatives and employees of the American oil company, S.O.C. who sound like they’re from…anywhere; social comment; anti-Americanism; socialistic criticism offered up in the vulgar comments of the miserable crew of losers and underworld thugs who consider the company’s offer – it’s pretty odd.  The four drivers slowly take their cargo of jerry cans filled with nitro on their joy ride to death or escape.

wages_3 wages_2

The film is remarkable for its handling of suspense sequences.  Each one revolves around a specific incident in the journey – a boulder in the road that must be carefully blown up with some nitro; a rough stretch of road that must be traversed at either very low speed or very high speed – to go in between means vibration and KABOOM; and the final obstacle, a crater left by the explosion of the lead truck fills with oil from the broken pipeline and must be carefully traversed.

Along the way, Jo, the criminal tough guy who sets himself up as mentor and partner to Mario, descends into jibbering cowardice.  The supercool Bimby and the likable Luigi (already dying of grey lung, shown with Mario above) are blown to Kingdom Come without warning.  Crossing the oil pool, Mario, fed up with Jo, and fearful that if he slows down, he will be helplessly stuck in the oil, knowingly runs over the leg of his erstwhile hero and pal (below).  It’s a dog eat dog world in the wage slave economy.


While they are trying to get the truck out of the oil, they must swim around in it – two men, are they men? – covered in black goo, they look like demons.  See what men are!!  Mario cradles the dying Jo on his shoulder as they are just about to reach the oil field.  They talk of neighborhoods in Paris they know.  They both are from the same area!  What about that tobacco shop?  What was next to it?  A lot..?  Wasn’t there a fence?  What was behind that fence?  I never saw what was there, says Jo.  As he dies, he cries out, “The fence, there’s nothing!!”  Alas, God is dead, and so is Jo.  Heavy…

After sleeping for a day and gettng cleaned up, Mario, $4000 richer (he got his pay and Jo’s – the oil company guys play fair even if they are exploitive and brutal profiteers) and in a spanking new S.O.C. uniform, jubilantly begins to drive back to the fleabag town, contemplating his escape to civilization.  The waitress hears the news by phone – the whole bar erupts in celebration – it’s a miracle that he made it!  They begin to dance to The Blue Danube Waltz.  Mario is listening to the waltz on the radio in the truck and is transported by the music.  He is dancing with the truck.  Twirling the wheel about, he swerves from side to side of the road with the music, he’s getting a bit carried away.

Yes, well, it had to end that way.  The waitress is dizzy with spinning and falls to the floor – an oddly mystical note in an otherwise brutally hardboiled film.  Simultaneously, Mario looses control, and his truck plunges off a precipice in a spectacular crash.  His lifeless hand clutches a Metro ticket to la Pigalle (the Paris red light district) his talisman of home, lovingly carried everywhere.

I was struck by the extended use of The Blue Danube – how could it fail to  bring to mind Kubrick’s 2001?  Both are examples of man-machine interactions set to music, both with ominous overtones, although in Kubrick, it takes a lot longer for the irony to be revealed.  Is there something about the waltz, the spinning, the evokes mechanistic imagery, people reduced to whirling elements in a clockwork escapement..?