I finally saw the hobo graffiti documentary "Who is Bozo Texino?" last night. (I'd supply an IMDb link, but the work is so obscure one doesn't exist!) It was better than I thought; interesting. And there were a few shots - a tumbleweed rolling down some tracks as caught by a stationary camera, a boxcar mysteriously moving along a rail yard on its own power - that were almost poetic in an industrial sort of way.
I appreciated the fact that it was shot on black and white film stock using 8mm and 16mm cameras, often handheld. (How else does one get shots from aboard a moving freight train?) The film has a great classic look to it that wouldn't have been the case if color stock were used. It was also well edited. Some scenes were cleverly cut to coincide with rail noises.
A flaw with it is that its major premise - who is the hobo who draws the Bozo Texino graffiti on trains? - doesn't seem to be the major part of the work. It's almost an afterthought. In other words, the title premise isn't well defined in the film. But then, should we be expecting Ingmar Bergman's level of expertise from a hobo filmmaker? No. This is an excellent amateur work - rough edged, but it suits the material. I have seen far worse involving more resources from more respected filmmakers. I would like to see Bill Daniel make another hobo film.
(By the way, who is Bozo Texino? The answer is here.)
Back in Burbank, California, my hometown, my friend Mike has been digging up material on Joseph W. Fawkes. Who? The inventor of America's first aerial trolley, which detractors dubbed "Fawkes' Folly." Yesterday I dedicated my Burbankia update to this interesting man. We figured out where his celebrated quarter-mile trolley prototype ran, in 1907, and I found the patents for it in the U.S. Patent Office database. Mike dug up a 1964 article in a magazine and some census records. I think the Burbank historical society ought to put up a little sign commemorating the man, one of the San Fernando Valley's first crackpots. (There would be many, many more.)
I've been having scads of fun organizing my hundreds of mp3s using iTunes. Actually listening to them seems to be a secondary joy. But today I plan to finally give a good listening to four songs I somehow acquired seven or eight years ago: very early recordings by the band that later became The Blue Oyster Cult. (I omit the umlaut - too much trouble.)
I discovered the BOC in 1974 and have been a fan ever since. I saw them in concert five or six times. I was there getting hit by their laser beam show in the Long Beach Arena in 1976 when "Don't Fear the the Reaper" was a huge nationwide hit - the girl next to me couldn't keep her joint lit - and more recently watched them perform in the greatly reduced and crowded, smoky confines of Jaxx in Springfield. I even own a concert DVD. (The DTS mix sounds great - far better than live.) "On tour forever" is their motto.
Tyranny and mutation... tyranny and mutation...
I've always liked the arty perversity of their lyrics. "Catholic schoolgirls have thrown away their mascara/They chain themselves to the axles of big Mac trucks" is a favorite mental image. "Helpless people on subway trains/Scream bug-eyed when he (Godzilla) looks in on them" was rendered more funny by my pal Mike ("Helpless people on subway trains/Scream 'Oh, s--t!' when he looks in on them.") Heh. Still makes me laugh. Good one, Mike.
Or how about this invocation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, "Frontenac Chateau baby/I'll cross the frontier at ten/I got a whip in my hand baby/And a girl or a husky at leather's end...?" And I've always been intrigued by the botanical pursuits of the Quicklime Girl, reduction of the many from one - whatever that means. The Cult and I also see eye to eye on the subject of Joan Crawford - what a fright. She even makes policemen's eyes turn the color of frozen meat!
Showtime reads like the basis for a good film noir. And what about the haunted farmland lit by the Harvest Moon? (A far different landscape than the one lit by Neil Young's Harvest Moon.)
I could go on... Bob Dylan once claimed that Alice Cooper was an under-regarded songwriter. I think he could say the same for the guys in the Blue Oyster Cult.
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