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June 16, 2006


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Anne Thompson tips us off to "Young American Bodies" -- a new (and popular, and NSFW) example of the latest audiovisual-through-time storytelling form: the ongoing webshort video series. I didn't love "YAB" myself, but it did leave me convinced that the webshort-series is a super-promising new format. Looking into the official Blowhards crystal ball, I see much ferment and excitement in the field, and I predict that great things will come of it.

I was much happier watching Neal Medlyn's zany and sweet "Land of Make Believe," a free-associating, eerily-comic performance-art jamboree. Medlyn's imagination is something to behold; his show (also an ongoing webshort series) is like "PeeWee Herman's Playhouse," but on a billionth the budget and with the perversity worn on its sleeve -- and proudly so. Kinky! Bizarre! Fun!

Speaking of web-video ... I continue to spend far too much time digging up old music-performance clips from YouTube. One of my favorite recent finds: the tough (look at that plaid shirt), hard-rockin' Big Mama Thornton doing her formidably funky/swampy version of "Hound Dog." You don't mess with Big Mama! -- who, by the way, recorded the song three years before Elvis Presley did.

I notice that surfing for and watching video on the web is already beginning to seem natural to me, while the ritual of sitting down before the TV has begun to feel staid and archaic. I wonder if the suits at the networks are terrified of what YouTube represents.

Here's Wikipedia's entry on Big Mama Thornton.



UPDATE: Agnostic has been prowling YouTube too. You can enjoy what he's turned up here, here, and here. Don't miss this one, which pretty much embodies all of today's visual / conceptual language. It has everything: lip-synching, thong-flashing, mugging for the camera, cute Japanimation eyes, MTV cutting, with all the ingredients Cuisinarted together on iMovie ... It's a bedroom-webcam aesthetic. It's also a whole new world, one that doesn't belong to anyone over the age of 25. To be fair, the clip is also amusing, cute, and well-done. Small discovery for today: As far as I've been able to tell, the song that has been lip-synched more often than any other is "Hey, Mickey." I wrote a little item about Toni Basil here.

posted by Michael at June 16, 2006


I love that Big Mama Thornton video. Too bad for all of us that Elvis's Hound Dog eclipsed hers. What a voice. What presence. I don't know what the significance of walking out with that huge pocketbook was (the way she handled it - so gingerly - made me wonder if there were explosives in there), but it was a masterstroke. All singers should walk on with gigantic pocketbooks. Or maybe they do already. I don't keep up with stuff much.

(Pardon my ineptitude ahead of time if this comment shows up twice.)

Posted by: Flutist on June 17, 2006 4:34 AM

I really love the whole YouTube thing, but unfortunately I think it's going to end up being a lot worse than the near public-service-utopia that it currently is. YouTube's spending a million dollars a month on bandwidth from ~10 million of VC and they don't seem to have a business model -- No advertising at all... Hard to believe the thing is sustainable...

Posted by: . on June 17, 2006 2:46 PM

Flutist -- You're right, that bit with the handbag is brilliant, even if it leaves you thinking "What's that all about?" I love the way Big Mama moves during the guitarist's solo too -- reminded me a bit of Belinda Carlisle, though god knows with a lot more earthiness. And the guitarist -- is he the coolest guy you've seen in weeks or what?

"." -- It'll be fascinating to see how the online-video thing shakes out, if it ever does really shake out. Is YouTube really that perilously financed? I should look into this, thanks for the tip ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 17, 2006 3:38 PM

This is a little slantwise, since I'm not the hip musician that you guys are, but I do have some stories about pocketbooks. The Queen always carries one, you know, and everyone wonders what's in it. Some disrepectful people claim she carries her diaphragm with her. But I take that pocketbook as a sign of propriety, like the hat.

I was asked to do a funeral for a grandmother here on the edge of Glacier Park who had a great fondness for a large red patent leather handbag. She packed it around with her all the time and at night put it beside her bed. The grandchildren (I'd help bury the grandfather earlier) agreed that she ought to have the red patent leather pocketbook in her coffin with her, but then they tried to think of what to put in it. These were quite worldly young adults. They had climbed Chief Mountain, which was sort of in their back yard, and had a pebble from the top. Also, they had been to Africa and climbed Kilimanjaro, so they had a pebble from that summit. The two pebbles were what they put in the pocketbook. Ever since, they have enjoyed fantasizing some future scientist digging up their gram, finding the red pocketbook intact (could a thing like that decay?) and trying to understand the significance and origins of the two pebbles. They were not a Native American family -- the name is Thronson.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on June 17, 2006 5:55 PM

Best video on YouTube...

Posted by: Eric White on June 17, 2006 7:57 PM

This short film shows more imagination than the last five Hollywood movies I've seen put together.

" I notice that surfing for and watching video on the web is already beginning to seem natural to me, while the ritual of sitting down before the TV has begun to feel staid and archaic."

I have the same feeling. I'd also include DVD commentaries among the new media. It's so nice to sit down and listen to civilized people discussing their area of expertise in a calm manner, and to be talked to like a human being instead of the half-witted collection of appetites and resentments which TV seems to be designed for. I can't even remember the last time I saw a commercial...

It's simply inconceivable that we spent decades with only three networks.

Posted by: Brian on June 17, 2006 10:42 PM

RE: youtube. I recall hearing someone this week on some radio show note that his kids rarely watch TV, but are big fans of youtube. TV execs are shaking a bit. On the other hand, there has been notable success in making hit shows like Lost available for download on itunes and elsewhere. So while some execs are shaking a new generation is rocking and rolling.

My youtube pick hit: 10 Things I hate about Commandments:

Posted by: Alec on June 18, 2006 1:00 AM

I think the plan is to make YouTube a giant fad (which is certainly working) and then sell it to Big Media or Google. Google Video has been something of a dud so maybe they'll buy it. Didn't News Corp just buy MySpace?

Brilliant move there. Fox News (also owned by News Corp) will get to run an endless supply of shocking MySpace America in moral decline etc stories. Which will drive up MySpace's traffic. Synergy!

Posted by: another Brian on June 18, 2006 9:54 PM

YouTube's business model is to be bought by a larger company, which it absolutely will be.

Posted by: the patriarch on June 19, 2006 11:10 AM

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