Friday, June 19, 2009

Waffling About Watchdog, Weight and Woodstock

Sam Umland has written a wonderful response to my previous posting's 20th year announcement at his 60x50 blog. Always thoughtful reading here and I commend it to your attention above and beyond his VW musings, which include an overview of his and wife Becky's long and valued affiliation with the magazine.

We have been receiving numerous calls, even from our printer, inquiring about the status of VW 150. Donna promises to have it to the printer by Monday, so it should be a busy weekend here at Chez Watchdog. Today, with temps pushing to 100° here in Cincinnati, the air conditioner went back into my office window to facilitate speedier and more pleasurable editing of the contents of VW 151.

Also, though I did not mention it on Tuesday (when it would have shared the spotlight with VW's 19th anniversary), Diane Pfister and I finished our screenplay THE WEIGHT OF SALT AND SOUL that same day after four months of steady, intensive and almost exclusive labor. The following day we made some additional changes to the 181-page manuscript and sent it around to our agent and some friendly readers for feedback. Our plan is now to take a week off and decide what we want to do next.

Yesterday I watched four movies in a day (Robbe-Grillet's EDEN AND AFTER, the four-hour director's cut of WOODSTOCK in Blu-ray, JUNO and THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR), which is something I haven't done since... well, since I was who I used to be. I have owned a Grove Press hardcover of Marguerite Duras' novel THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR for close to thirty years and have wanted to see the movie for as long. It was a great disappointment, as I find Tony Richardson's films almost invariably are. I thought the controversial JUNO was refreshing, savvy fun with a commendably subtle edgy subplot (had I been directing, Jason Bateman would have pulled out a copy of THE HEADLESS EYES rather than THE WIZARD OF GORE, though), and EDEN AND AFTER gave such a brilliant slant to the rest of the day that I think watching an art film at 10 or 11 every morning might be just the way to start my day.

WOODSTOCK remains one of my favorite movies, and its non-musical elements are becoming more poignant and fascinating with age. The bottom end of the disc's 5.1 TrueHD mix attests to how dully or just plain badly most of the bassists at Woodstock actually played, but let's hear it for the select few who make the movie's subwoofering bearable and melodic: Bruce Barthol of Country Joe and the Fish, John Entwistle of The Who, Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone, and god of all bass gods, Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane. Speaking of the Airplane, the disc's second disc of supplements includes something else I have waited more than thirty years to see: one of the earliest live performances of the then-not-yet-released "Volunteers," which appeared on the original soundtrack album set but has never been included in any cut of the movie. Legend has it that most of the band got dosed from a water jug before taking the stage at dawn, and by this point in the set, Jorma Kaukonen's guitar playing had become pre-grunge sludge and Marty Balin, clearly tripping his balls off, sings the words with a passion he could still summon when the song was fresh.


  1. Donna LUcas9:10 PM

    I'd love to see a documentary about where the people are today who are in the Woodstock movie, and I don't mean the acts. Anybody doing this???

  2. I just read yesterday that VH-1 and The History Channel are collaborating on a two-hour Woodstock documentary which will air on the actual 40th anniversary of the festival. I believe interviews with attendees are part of the program. (People will think this comment was fixed because it is Donna and she's in the room next door to mine, but actually we have not yet had this discussion!)


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