Good Art: Bad Art.

I decided that Sunday should be dedicated to all things spring cleaned.

I decided this a week ago.

My apartment has entered the vortex of baby shambles– some time ago now.

Many refer to this as the letting go of oneself.

Or laziness.

Or fatigue.

Either way you dice it– I adore cleanliness and my apartment has not been thoroughly detailed in weeks.

I was on my hands and knees in the shower just now with bleach and teatree oil and soap and suds, scrubbing for dear life, for dear white.

It may have been the bleach, or the red wine I deemed necessary to consume from a glass kept well away from the toilet bowl…


I got to remembering Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen’s Anthem.

I first heard of Philip Glass years ago via way of my dear friend Brad.

So when I happened upon an advertisement in the SMH one Saturday morning I cut the clip out, did some research and decided that I would get to the bottom of the relationship between Cohen and Glass– and if suitably impressed– I would book tickets for my father and I to see him at the Opera House for Fathers Day.

And a wee link for your perusal:

To cut a long story short; I was sufficiently impressed by the motivation on Glass’ part for wanting to pursue Cohen for this project. I really enjoyed the Q&A before the fact, whereby Glass relayed a number of stories about Cohen and he meeting and workshopping his ideas. On one particular evening, he said, Cohen invited him over to his apartment in New York and they spent the evening cooking and recording the entire contents of Cohen’s Book of Longing.

My all time favorite book, if you’ve only recently joined the fold of all things A Year With Leonard Cohen.

I liked the way he told his stories. I liked him.

But the performance itself, was abosulte sHiTe.

I adore Glass’ instrumental arrangements and have infinite respect for what he does as a craftsman. What I COULD NOT get my head around, however was cheesy, showtuned operatic performers singing Cohen’s songs. It not only urked me, it really, really upset me.

I think what makes Cohen such a lyrical fucking genious– though I use the term with reluctance– as I feel it’s often mis-used, is his sense of timing.

My favourite writers… and I always forget that favorite does not have a u in it– and wish it did– always leave you hanging. They always leave you with room for interpretation and make you question if you’ve even heard or read something right.

Leonard doesn’t tend to iterate his strongest lines. He may say them once or twice. Glass had his vocalists repeating the phrase:

You go your way

I’ll go your way too…

to the point of nauseam.

Leonard is cleverer than that. He’s sharp and he’s wise. Glass is really good at instrumentation.

Suffice to say I observed my father writhe and wriggle through all 2.5hrs of this disaster– and then bemoaned the entire production all the way home up the F3. The both of us admitting we’d have walked out had I not spent so much money, and he, not been given the ticket as a present.

I’ve titled this entry Good Art: Bad Art because what I really want the focus on is the beautiful parallels in all of this.

Tomorrow, myself and a registered 1,500 others will be posing nude for Spencer Tunicks’ ‘The Base’ to be shot on the Opera House steps at 4am.

I adore this man.

And having monitored a couple of his interviews this week on national broadcast radio, I adore him even more.

I long standing advocate of all things frightening, confronting and solitary I am particularly interested in how I will fair tomorrow.

I’ve shaved, I’ve preened, groomed and am about to paint my nails.

I hesitated to shave bits of me that bare the scars of surgeries past, and then caught myself in a moment– confronted by own my own confrontation– Cause that ain’t what’s art’s about.

I’ve got highways for stretch marks to show where I’ve grown.

– Ani Di Franco.

Wish me luck, eh…


One Response to “Good Art: Bad Art.”
  1. Brad says:

    Sorry to hear that. There’s an explanation, if not a justification, for Glass treating the music that way—repetition is his modus operandi, so it is unsurprising that he would be interested in experimenting with Cohen’s lyrics to see how far their meaning would stretch (that it turned out to be not very far, well…)

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