Saturday, January 28, 2006

Well Grubbed, Old Raccoon!

Raccoons have been the subject of many a palaver round FD HQ of lates. The furry critters have been romping around around our attic, causing us to call on the services of one "JJ," a real Texas pest control man who has been setting up (humane, natch) traps and such around the homestead.

"JJ" has a droopy grey moustache and the demeanor of a frontier town drunken barber... like all such characters, he took an immediate shine to the old SB, creating some tense situations, on account of I couldn't understand a single word that came out of his mouth. Noticing guitars scattered around the living room, "JJ" attempted to build a bridge between himself and me. Alas, it was to be like the fabled Alaskan "bridge to nowhere." Ordinarily, I love the bonds that music helps strengthen between strangers, and I can usually go a long way to pretend that common ground exists where in reality it does not. But "JJ"'s idiosyncratic elocution, married with his failure to recognize that his burnout friends, such as "Crazy Dave," were not universally known personalities (diminishing the impact of points such as "I'm playing with Crazy Dave now!" ) really compromised the success of his attempts to bond with me. Oh man, now I am feeling guilty. But, I ask you, how do you properly respond to a wild-eyed exterminator proclaiming "I know over fifty songs!" and then staring you down, waiting for a suitably enthusiastic reaction?

Given the raccoon-demonium going on around here, it was a stroke of luck that I noticed on my travels over to the incredibly great Monthly Review online zine site an article by Michael Steinberg about the 1994 Studio Ghibli raccoon epic "Pom Poko." As Steinberg helpfully pointed out, the hard-to-see-in-the-USA film was to play on TCM Thursday night, so FF set the VCR on stun, and we got ready for some anti-capitalist animated raccoon bliss. All I had heard about this movie was that it involved raccoons resisting the encroachments of urban sprawl by attacking construction workers with their monstrously oversized testicles. Who doesn't like that? But as Steinberg points out, this film is much, much deeper than that, and its radical potentital lies as much in its choice of a community as protagonist rather than a questing individual. This is indeed one of the submerged tendencies in radical art making in the United States, with its insane commitment to possessive individualism and seemingly endless appetite for narratives about well-heeled narcissistic men working out their identities (Cameron Crowe, you better not be anywhere near the Bastille come the next revolution, buster.)

We will post more about "Pom Poko" once we have had more time to ponder its intricacies. But we should point out that Michael Steinberg's bio links to an interesting Rochester, NY literary collective, Cat's Out of The Bag, that is working on a project truly after Fluffy Dollars' proverbial heart: producing and distributing anti-capitalist comic book pamphlets in the style of Chick Publications' evangelical Christian tracts. We want to know more!

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