Saturday, November 21, 2009

Past and Future: Upper Crust, Star Trek

Last night’s Upper Crust performance opened — as I predicted — with lead singer Lord Ben Dover greeting us as “Colonial” Williamsburg and soon progressed to a near bout of fisticuffs, since some cretin in the audience beaned Lord Ben Dover with a beverage container. The amazing thing is that even though the singer demanded (in vain) that the culprit reveal himself and accept a thrashing, he managed to stay in character while enraged. And frankly, this is probably a good fight strategy: Insanity is frightening because of its unpredictability, and what is more insane than someone continuing to portray an eighteenth-century fop while vocally threatening to kill you? Well played, sir.

The rest of the performance was, of course, fraught with class issues, not only because of such memorable numbers as “Class Up the Ass,” “She Speaks the Vulgar Tongue,” “Rickshaw Boy,” “Finished with Finishing School,” “Let Them Eat Rock,” and (Nybakken’s request) “Rock n’ Roll Butler,” but because the drummer, apparently an actual milkman back in Boston (whereas Dover is an economist), is not allowed to attempt eighteenth-century patter, as he lacks the proper elite inflections.

Unbeknownst to me, Upper Crust was not the only old-fashioned force descending on NYC, as this weekend is apparently (coincidentally or not) the Dances of Vice festival for people enamored of past centuries’ costumery — or of neo-Victorian cartoonist/performance artist Dame Darcy’s presentation about sea shanties.

In a curious mixing of eras, at the Upper Crust concert I for the second time in the past few months bumped unexpectedly into 60s-rock DJ Kittybeat at the event, she having formerly co-hosted events with Dawn Eden, when rock rather than chastity was Dawn’s thing.


Meanwhile, in the future: Newsarama interviewed Star Trek movie writer Robert Orci, and he mentions

that R2D2 is briefly visible in rubble near the planet Vulcan. (Nabbing an image from Star Wars is only fair, since E.T. is briefly visible in the Republican Senate in one of the Star Wars prequels.) Here is the most musically-significant passage of the interview, though:

Orci: What else do we have…I want to get Spock’s harp in there. Don’t you want to see him playing the harp? And he could play, like…he could do Nirvana on the harp. Wouldn’t that be good?

Newsarama: That would be amazing.

Orci: [to publicist] Would you write that down? Nirvana on the harp? [laughs]

“Heart-Shaped Box” would work very well, I think. The reason this pleases me, though, is that I said years ago that Nirvana would have sounded good doing an acoustic cover of the “heading off to Eden, hey, brother” song that one of the naive space-hippies sings in the rather conservative episode of the 1960s Trek series in which the fruit of the edenic planet turns out to be poisonous. Angry it up a little and it could almost be the b-side of “About a Girl.”

More disturbing, though, I think Trek producer Damon Lindelof, here (in another Newsarama interview) reacting to an interview question about his use of non-linear narrative in Lost and potentially in the next Trek movie, is describing a very different Bourne Supremacy (or possibly even Bourne Identity?!?) than the one I saw. Did I miss something?

I remember for me, how exciting it was to see the first Bourne movie and go, oh my god, like the first half of this movie actually took place between a few of the scenes in the last movie, and now the entire context of him being across the street from Joan Allen take on…but if they had told me that before I went and saw the movie, oh this actually takes place between the cracks of the last movie, it would have made that discovery less organic. So I think what we like to do as storytellers is drop you in the middle of something and the question you ask yourself is, ‘Where am I in relation to the last time I left these guys? Could this be something, perhaps, something that pre-dated the adventures that they had in the last movie? Does it happen five years later? Is it happening two seconds later?’ Who knows? We’re not going to tell you.

Has working on Lost and Star Trek caused him to become unmoored in the timestream? Was this a special edition of The Bourne Hallucination that I missed?

In other Trek news, tomorrow I’ll remind you why you should race out and buy the December issue of GQ with the new Captain Kirk, Chris Pine, on it — or one of the other variant covers of this issue — in case you’ve forgotten to do so (hint: me, Rand — not the yeoman).


P.S. The most exciting strange lifeform I’ve seen in the past few days was a raccoon, way the heck over here on the Upper East Side, down at basement level in front of an apartment building on my block, probably wandered over from Central Park or Carl Schurz Park just north of me. An older immigrant woman, watching the beast along with her admirably calm golden retriever (who she also assured me likes cats), said she threw the raccoon cookies, and a little French girl called 311 on her cell phone to suggest they return him to a more wooded area (after expressing, only for a moment, hesitation about making the call because “I am French,” which almost caused me to start saying “Trois, un, un” before I realized she just meant she was nervous about explaining a weird situation to English-speaking authorities, but she proceeded to dial, and I headed home to avoid waiting a half hour for raccoon wranglers).

This marked only the sixth occasion on which I’ve seen a raccoon in Manhattan, all in or near Central Park: this Upper East Side wanderer, one sitting in a garbage can in back of Megan McArdle’s apartment back when she lived on the Upper West Side, one looking scruffy and possibly rabid near 72nd St. Central Park restrooms at night, one pitifully poking at another who appeared to have died from falling out of a tree, and twice whole families of them emerging at sundown from beneath the Central Park Boathouse, one of those scaring the willies out of me by pawing at food perilously close to an immense snapping turtle that apparently lives near the Boathouse — something to keep in mind before any crazed yuppie skinny-dipping adventure, for you urban-raised folk who don’t know that snapping turtles can break pool cues with a bite.

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