photo manipulation by nacrowe
i always find it interesting how as a child you are able to identify quality in the art you are taken by without regard for things like context. as a pre-teen having just arrived in NIGERIA, i saw NICHOLAS RAY's iconic REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (WARNER BROS, 1955) and, like everyone else for several generations, was immediately hooked on JAMES DEAN and his emotional performance as a troubled young person attempting to find his way in a hostile new environment.
it felt like my situation. in the world of REBEL the locale was SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA hooliganism with knives, fast cars and macho posturing. for me it was living on a remote compound surrounded by the racist redneck offspring of TEXAS and LOUISIANA oilmen where the weapons were words and micro-aggressions against our AFRICAN hosts. it was hard to deal with.
after watching REBEL i quickly sought out ELIA KAZAN's cinemascope epic retelling of JOHN STEINBECK's CAIN and ABEL-inspired EAST OF EDEN (WARNER BROS, 1955) which similarly found DEAN's character a trouble miscreant in search of identity. the film finds his character seeking out his mother, the owner of a gambling-and-lord-knows-what-else establishment on the wrong side of town, who is the polar opposite of his preaching, holier-than-thou father, only to be rejected.
what i found compelling about the work of DEAN, then and now was his ability to capture the emotional integrity of a scene. in true METHOD ACTING fashion his acting was more about being, it was more about reacting. i appreciate tons of other actors that have followed his lead over the years including JOHNNY DEPP, DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, SEAN PENN, EDWARD NORTON, JOAQUIN PHEONIX and DENNIS HOPPER as well as his peers like MARLON BRANDO and MONTGOMERY CLIFT. what separates those two perfect touchstone performances was his intensity.
because of that he has been my favorite actor since childhood.
photo by nacrowe
this december 2017 episode of the NOWHERE FAST show that i was lucky enough to be asked to document has been a standout highlight of my time collaborating with KRISTIN and TOM over at MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC who have continually supported DEER GOD since its inception. and for that we are grateful to them.
this show was amazing because it showcased rare half-century old ROCKABILLY vinyl singles from obscure (and in many cases defunct) record labels that were curated and commented on by special guest BOZ BOORER of THE POLECATS and MORRISSEY fame. i mean seriously, what a treat that was.
being a total SMITHS/MORRISSEY fanboy i brought a relatively obscure live concert VHS tape to show BOORER and he graciously gave me some contest of how crazy the security was that night. for me that moment was made returning home stateside worth it.
it still blows my mind that TOM would be gracious enough to find a reason to have me around that night and again, we here at DEER GOD appreciate the station and their ongoing mission to engage the local arts community of STATEN ISLAND.
that being said, you should check out past episodes of NOWHERE FAST which are all archived HERE on this website. yessir, all 74 of them!
when i used to go on interviews for high school teaching gigs i would almost be guaranteed to be asked if given the choice what book i'd want to teach. my answer was always ALAN SILLITOE's novel about working class masculinity SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (1958) of which the legendary KARL REISZ film was based.
british kitchensink dramas of the 1960s tended to deal with working class-related themes such as class and domesticity, which for me makes them far more interesting and real than their american counterpart films. there is rawness to the subject matter as well as the production, as it is obvious these were made quickly at low cost.
but what drew me to both to the film and the book was this idea of exploring the performative nature of masculinity. in working class midlands england in the post-WWII period, where this films takes place, the main character ARTHUR SEATON struggles to come to terms with how to transcend his repetitive factor job and womanizing ways. for he doesn't get any satisfaction from his work and the only avenue for being dominant was swooning the bored housewives of what he deemed "slow husbands." its as if his conquests was more of a badge of honor to his male mates than an expression or projection of his will. essentially this behavior was a ironically a form of impotence.
i'm almost certain this dynamic, as well as the geographical and cultural similarities of nottingham (where the film takes place) to manchester are what drew a young MORRISSEY to transpose the line "why don't you ever take where it's lively and there's people" into THE SMITHS' iconic song THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT. just saying.
i saw this idea of male identity defined through work almost everywhere growing up but especially in the arab world, where at times you would see young men of immeasurable means doing dangerous things out of sheer boredom. this was in kuwait and since their financial, social and political connections were bulletproof, it was as if they had to develop a new pissing contest to set themselves apart. as a foreigner it was fascinating to watch and mock but at some level i really pitied them and their circumstance. it was like they were neglected and were in a dead-end.
this book and film present to me a dead-end scenario that is transcended through hard fought self-reflection. and for me that concept is one meaning that both the novel and film explore effectively: the need for self-analysis apart from your circumstances.
we couldn't be more excited to be filming a show on the 29th at GRAN TORINO in brooklyn that is being headlined by legendary POLECATS/MORRISSEY guitarist BOZ BOORER and his backing band THE BOZMEN (a.k.a. SCREAMIN' REBEL ANGELS). this will be such a treat.
rounding out the bill will be THE DIXONS and JOHN HOWIE JR AND THE ROSEWOOD BLUFF as well as dj sets by JODI HAM & TOM FERRIE of MAKERPARKRADIO.
promises to be a memorable night.
check out this interview TOM had with BOZ on his NOWHERE FAST radio show on MAKERPARKRADIO back in december of 2017 linked HERE.