ltmurnau: (CX)
This is simultaneously too good to be true and possibly entirely true.
Clueless commentary on Laibach's history and intentions aside, here it is in the press.
I just hope nothing happens to the people in the DPRK who organized this - it's a bigger prank than Stephen Colbert's "in-persona" speech at the White House Correspondent's dinner, with greater consequences.

North Korea gig comes natural for Slovenian conceptual band Laibach
JULY 21, 2015 09:29 AM
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia - For a band inspired by art in totalitarian regimes, a gig in North Korea is a dream come true.
Slovenia's Laibach recently announced it will play two concerts in Pyongyang next month. The group is known for music described as a mixture of industrial rock and retro electronic, and for its use of authoritarian imagery, such as Soviet-era symbols, marches and dark uniforms.
The tour will coincide with the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula's liberation from Japanese colonization, and will include Laibach's own music as well as popular Korean songs, one of the band's founders, producer and spokesman Ivan Novak, told The Associated Press.
"Originally, we invited ourselves and then they invited us," Novak said.
Formed in 1980, when Slovenia was still part of Communist-run Yugoslavia, Laibach immediately stirred controversy with its name — German for Slovenia's capital city Ljubljana — and because it used a black cross as one of its symbols.
This alone was enough for an official ban by the regime born out of anti-fascist struggle during World War II. Laibach were still allowed occasional concerts until, in 1983, they locked the door of a concert hall and played the sound of a dog barking extremely loudly for almost half an hour.
For the next few years, Laibach concerts moved abroad. The group's visual style included wearing military uniforms on stage and toying with socialist and populist imagery while playing almost martial-style songs, sung in a husky, deep voice.
The band has six members, but only two — including Novak, who will be 57 in August, singer Milan Fras, a couple of years younger — have been there from the early years. Fras joined in 1983 after Laibach's first singer committed suicide.
Despite being criticized as too dark, the band has always insisted that it is exploring the relation between ideology, politics and art. One of its main slogans states that "art and totalitarianism do not exclude each other."
Over the years, Laibach has gained an important place on Slovenia's art scene. The band's retrospective currently is part of an exhibition of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (New Slovenian Art) movement at the Modern Gallery in Ljubljana.
Laibach members are professional musicians, some of whom teach music or take part in various art projects. Laibach has held more than 800 concerts throughout the world, while gigs at home are usually sold out, drawing up to few thousand people in a country of 2 million.
Novak said the band has always wanted to visit North Korea and remembers clearly the visit in 1977 to the country by then Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito. Novak rejected the possibility that the trip will amount to political support for the North Korean communist regime, viewed as an isolationist dictatorship in the West.
"We never support the regime anywhere where we perform ... but we do support the people who live there," Novak said. He explained that the band has found inspiration for its art in the country, citing events where people fill stadiums and hold up colorful cards in carefully choreographed displays to create giant images.
"All Korea is practicing superb pop art. Superb," he said. "From the point of view of art history, they should actually protect the whole country, they should put it in a museum of pop art."
Laibach concerts are planned Aug. 19 and 20 for an audience of 1,000 each day. Several pop singers and bands from South Korea have performed in the north in the past, while British singer David Thomas Broughton has said he performed once for expats in North Korea. Laibach's performance, however, will mark the first encounter with a visually charged band from the West.
"We will adjust and adapt our program to the Korean situation and audience," Novak said. "We will perform a gentle version of Laibach."
Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade, Serbia; Tong-hyung Kim and Hyung-jin Kim contributed from Seoul, South Korea.


Sep. 24th, 2012 10:27 am
ltmurnau: (Default)
"Don Draperetomania"
- the urge to flee the room when Mad Men is on the tube, because really, we're all better off that way.
ltmurnau: (Default)

I thought perhaps this might have been a word to describe the yummy spicy black bean soup I have been eating and eating and eating for the last three days, but no, it refers to the doctrine that Christ will rule bodily upon the earth for 1,000 years.

Oh well.


May. 15th, 2006 11:48 am
ltmurnau: (Default)
We worked out in the yard on Sunday.

A crow has started hanging around the house; I set out some stale bread for him as were were right out of well-aged carrion.

Lianne calls him "my familiar". If he becomes a fixture around the homestead, I'm going to call him Lt. Cawley.
ltmurnau: (Default)
I went to see "The Pianist", Polanski's new film, last night. Long and very sad, not sure if it deserved all the awards it got or will get but who am I to be critical?

I promise I won't go off on another rant, since this movie didn't bother me as much, but I did notice something about the main character and the structure of the movie that made me wonder about Polanski's ultimate message for us.

It is this: throughout the movie Szpilman (the pianist, main character) survives, but he does so only through other people. Despite his frequent vows of defiance (early in the movie when the Germans are first bombing Warsaw, he refuses to join the Army because he would rather die defending his home in Warsaw; in the first ghetto uprising in 1943 he does not participate other than by helping to hide pistols; and in the 1944 uprising he sits and watches the whole thing from the window of the apartment where he has been locked up, escaping only when a German tank blows a hole in the wall of the building) he does not actually do much to defend himself, strike back or even help the other members of his family (other than kissing ass to get his parents work permits that prove useless, and sucking up to a Jewish policeman to get his brother out of the slammer, for which his brother is very ungrateful).

When things go bad for him he relies on others to survive: he lives by playing piano in a restaurant frequented by the rich Jews in the ghetto, he gets tossed out of the lineup of people being loaded onto the train for Treblinka by a Jewish cop, he is hidden and fed in apartments in Warsaw kept by non-Jews, and at the end a German officer takes pity on him and feeds him until the Russians arrive.

So is Polanski's message that artists should be protected and sheltered in time of war (when culture is ostensibly most threatened) because they are artists? Or is he saying that we are all victims, and that it's all one whether we fight back or not, and if other people take care of you, good on ya? Or is he just retelling the story that Szpilman actually lived (the movie was adapted from his autobiography), proving that any life can be seen as a concatenation of random events and lucky or not-lucky breaks?

I also found the movie a little less than historically honest on two points.
One is that in the movie, the Germans are the ones doing all the random killing and beating and making people dance to klezmer music in the streets. What Polanski does not mention in the movie is that of all the occupied countries, Jews were most thoroughly eradicated in Poland, due to the efforts of the Jewish Gentile population who were at least as anti-Semitic as the Nazis. The Germans did not maintain a large garrison in Warsaw - most of their soldiers were off fighting the Russians in the East. Polish police and miscellaneous SS and SS-Polizei units were the most enthusiastic Jew hunters. Another point which is not stated in the movie is that in 1944 the Russian Army, having fought to within 20 miles of the Warsaw city limits, sat down where they were and waited for two months while the Germans were busy putting down the uprising in the ghetto. When the revolt had been crushed they moved forward again and took the city. Stalin's anti-Semitism is an establshed historical fact.

This is not to say the movie was thoroughly historically dishonest (like, say, Amistad, which was a barefaced lie presenting itself as history); by virtue of the medium, no movie can ever be 100% historically accurate.

But I don't want to go off on that much of a riff about it, these are rather minor points. As before, I am left wondering just what exactly Polanski wanted us to bring away from this beautiful and involving movie.

And now, for those of you who didn't catch the reference in the title, here is the joke (which I could not remember until I looked it up just now):

A man walks into a bar with a paper bag. He sits down and places the bag on the counter. The bartender walks up and asks:

"So whaddaya got in the bag?"

The man responded by reaching into the bag and pulling out a little man, about one foot high, and he sets him on the counter. He reaches back into the bag and this time pulls out a small piano, setting it on the counter as well. He reaches into the bag once again and pulls out a tiny piano bench, which he placed in front of the piano. The little man sits down at the piano and starts playing a piece by Mozart. Now the bartender is extremely curious about this odd sight, so he asks the man:

"Where the hell'd ya get that?"

The man responded by reaching into the paper bag, but this time he pulls out a magic lamp. He hands it to the bartender and says:

"Here. Rub it."

So the bartender rubs the lamp, and suddenly there's a gust of smoke, then a beautiful genie is standing before him.

"I will grant you one wish," she says.

The bartender gets excited by having a wish from a real genie. He had always dreamed about it, but now it's actually happening. So without even hesitating, he says:

"I want a million bucks."

So the genie nods her head and disappears in another gust of smoke. A few moments later, a duck walks into the bar. It is soon followed by another duck, then another. Pretty soon, the entire bar is filled with ducks. The bartender turns to the man and says:

"Y'know, I think your genie's a little deaf. I asked for a million BUCKS, not a million DUCKS."

To this the man responded:

"No shit! Do you really think, for just one moment, that I would have ever wished for a TWELVE INCH PIANIST?!!"


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