December 14-15, 2014

Sunday was Sunday. Monday was D’Angelo. All day. I left XDU on Sunday with a huge list of links to download most of what Relapse put out this year, and I haven’t touched any of them, because D’Angelo.

Sunday was for reading tweets in the aftermath of Saturday’s protest & the police crackdown. I made you a Storify of them.

I emailed Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield & asked him when the DPD got their LRAD. To his credit, his response was quick & complete:

The LRAD system was purchased earlier this year at a complete package cost of $17,355.  The LRAD device purchased was the small model and to describe it as a sonic weapon would be inaccurate.  The equipment was purchased to allow the police department to communicate audible orders to large crowds that are yelling or using music, drums, etc to drown out directives.  I approved the purchase under my contracting/purchasing authority which did not require City Council approval. Funds to purchase this equipment came from the Police Department Asses Forfeiture Fund. Let me know if this response does not answer your question.

I asked around & got a few responses from folks about the DPD’s use of their LRAD against protesters.

Based on those tweets & what other people have told me, it sounds like the DPD does use the LRAD for PA purposes, as Tom claimed in his email – I’ve been told that people heard orders to disperse coming from it. But it’s also very clear that they like to pipe ear-splitting high-pitched tones through it to disrupt protests & coerce protesters into dispersing.

Monday night we went to the Carolina Theatre to see The Night Porter, as part of this weird new “Film Acoustic” series, which is curated by this irritating self-aggrandizing film nerd/host guy, and which features musicians introducing movies that they find significant or influential in some way.

The Night Porter was selected and introduced by Wayne Coyne. I can’t imagine that the $20 tickets purchased by the ~100 people who attended were sufficient to pay Wayne to show up, but oh well. I hope the [taxpayer-owned] Carolina didn’t foot the bill for that one.

We went because neither of us had seen The Night Porter, and this seemed like a reasonably convenient way to correct that.

To be honest, we shouldn’t have bothered.

I didn’t have a visceral reaction to it – it’s fairly tame, by modern standards. I found it entertaining to sit there & speculate about the mindset of everyone involved when it was made. What did Italians think about Nazism in 1973? What did any of them think about exploitation, about dominance & submission, about misogyny? 

But that entertainment only sustained me for about 45 minutes of its 2-hour runtime. 

I came home & read Pauline Kael’s review (collected in Reeling; couldn’t find the full version online). She ripped it to shreds for being kind of lousy (it is), and for using concentration camp settings as backdrop/window dressing. She had nothing much nice to say about Dirk Bogarde or Charlotte Rampling. 

My problems with it were less aesthetic and more political; I went back and forth with myself trying to reason out whether it was an obscene patriarchal fantasy or a potentially legitimate depiction of how PTSD might play itself out within the framework that the plot sets up. Never really resolved that question.

Next month Lucinda Williams will be here to introduce Wise Blood, John Huston’s kind of wretched 1979 adaptation of the Flannery O’Connor novella. Brad Dourif, Harry Dean Stanton, Amy Wright, Ned Beatty; a kind of silly bluegrass soundtrack. It’s quite a piece of work, and has long been one of my favorite movies, despite the fact that in many ways it’s awful.

So I’ll be there. I hope the place is crammed with Lucinda Williams fans & I hope they all leave bewildered.

December 14-15, 2014

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