Monday, November 07, 2005

In Vine-o Veritas

I Saw It Through the Grapevine
I went to a film screening last night at my new favorite record store, Hampden's True Vine Records (1123 W. 36th Street), and afterwards I felt an epiphany. Anyone who's ever read Daniel Pinkwater knows what I mean. It's that feeling you get when you discover an alternate universe, or whatever you want to call a niche emporium - be it a bookstore, record store, coffee shop, bistro, or movie theater - that is off the beaten path, decidely non-mainstream, and supported by a devoted cognescetti. I felt like the characters Walter Galt, Winston Bongo and Rat in Pinkwater's Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death upon discovering the joys of "snarking out" to watch cool movies at the Snark Theater.

The film program, Visions of Excess, was organized by Peter Zahorecz of the Maryland Institute, College of Art (MICA), who, along with True Vine owner Ian Nagoski and a collective of area cineastes (Megan, Catherine Pancake, et. al.) take turns screening films of interest to the underground/hipster/art school crowd (pictured at right). Anyway, Peter is very knowledgeable about the films he screened, which are rare to the point of being virtually impossible to find anywhere but Canyon Cinema, and then only for rent. I had never seen a Kenneth Anger film before, but 1954's Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome impressed me with its visuals (including a rare screen appearance by Anais Nin) even if the plot left me bewildered. And I had never seen a George Kuchar film before, either, and appropriately lost my Kuchar-virginity to Eclipse of the Sun Virgin, which seemed to be a parody of the very type of (Kenneth Anger) film that preceded it. Great stuff, and very funny - it's obvious why everyone from Martha Colburn to John Waters is a fan.

To get on the True Vine mailing list, send an e-mail this way:

I Heard It Through the Grapevine
But mainly True Vine this is a cool record shop (and I do mean records- the vinyl stuff, though the Vine does stock a great collection of eclectic CDs as well) that reminds me of Atomic Books sans books and Normals sans books and with less vinyl. (Aesthetically, they are all on the same page. It's a belief that, as in The X Files, The Truth Is Out There. And it's in all fields - art, music, literature, what have you. The emphasis is on desemination of information of all kinds, and learning about the new, the unknown, the unsual.)

Anyway, True Vine has a nice bargain CD rack that I sorted through and found a $1 greatest hits compilation by Britain's powerpop Korgis (they really only had two hits, 1980's "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" - which was covered by Beck for the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind movie soundtrack - and 1979's "If I Had You," which was notable for the presence of Alan Wilder, later of Depeche Mode) and, better yet, Robyn Hitchcock's Robin Sings, in which Dylan devotee Hitch (he was hooked from the minute he heard "Desolation Row" as a teen and decided to write songs after being inspired by "Visions of Johanna") pays homage to The Master by re-enacting the legendary 1966 Royal Albert Hall concert in Manchester, England, when Dylan was touring with The Hawks (later to become The Band). This was the infamous "Judas" concert in which Dylan was taunted by a folkie heckler for "going electric" in the second set. Unfortunately Hitch doesn't re-enact Dylan's caustic retort, "I don't believe you, you're a liar!" Likewise, True Vine, like Dylan, is no false prophet; it's the real (cool) deal. Believe in it.


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