Where'd the Future Go?

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:22

    would come back? Or about the tv set you hang on a wall, that shows news from a single, incontestable source? You can't tell me there's really no better way for a city to rid itself of its waste than via those ridiculous, lumbering trucks. Something is getting in the way of the blindingly white, sterile apartment unit with robot servants due each and every citizen of the 21st century (except the mole mutants). Our cargo must arrive!

    Though I'd be happy if just one Y2K prophet would deign to explain to me how a computer getting the date wrong causes the whole system to crash. Why would anyone believe that the machine thinks, "Wait, I can't count this high?better wipe out the hard drive!" If you'd pitched that cockamamie plot to a movie studio in 1959, '69, '79 or '89 they would've laughed your ass out the door.

    Some more reasonable predictions, which were in fact made into thought-provoking films, can be studied during this month-after-which-nothing-will-be-the-same, thanks to the American Museum of the Moving Image. It starts this Saturday (12/11) with Fritz Lang's Metropolis (with live music) at 1:30 and Terry Gilliam's Brazil (featuring a most prescient depiction of how annoying computers would become) at 4 p.m. On Sunday (12/12) it's Brazil at 1:30 and the no-voiceover, bleak-ending director's cut of Blade Runner at 4 p.m. In forthcoming weeks AMMI will screen the Godard double feature of Alphaville and La Jetee (the inspiration for Gilliam's 12 Monkeys), Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (both 12/18-19), Woody Allen's Sleeper, the original Planet of the Apes (both 12/26), Death Race 2000, Mad Max, Demolition Man and the supremely goofy 1936 H.G. Wells adaptation of Things to Come (all New Year's weekend). I've been pumping AMMI a lot lately, so let me just go all out and say Heimytown recommends the entire trip-to-Astoria, museum-plus-movie-then-Greek-food experience. If you go to see Brazil or La Jetee, especially, don't miss the exhibit on the third floor that allows visitors to create their very own Terry Gilliam-style animation. (35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria, 718-784-0077; take the R to Steinway St. or the N to Broadway and you're right there.)

    If the world does turn topsy-turvy on the 31st, and every extreme swings immediately to its bizarro opposite, I'll turn into Steven Seagal: a big, dumb and wealthy idol-worshipper. Better cancel my McSweeney's subscription (not that the thieving fuckwads who put out that zine send me my issues anyway). Seagal is the only major actor of conscience who does not appear in the new film epic about art and socialism in 1930s New York, Cradle Will Rock, which opens Friday. Writer/director Tim Robbins will sign copies of his book on the making of the movie, Wednesday at Union Square Barnes & Noble. (12/8, 7:30 p.m., 33 E. 17th St., betw. Park Ave. & B'way, 253-0810.)

    You can read Matt Seitz's review of Robbins' labor of love in this issue, but also know the story behind the story: NYPress' eternally bickering triumvirate of film critics finally found in Cradle Will Rock something to agree wholeheartedly upon; they only argued about who would get to pan it. I had high hopes for the film (it's got John Cusack as Nelson Rockefeller, Ruben Blades as Diego Rivera, Bill Murray as an antiunion ventriloquist, etc.) despite Susan Sarandon's horrendous Italian accent in the trailer and nagging, back-of-the-mind knowledge that moral lessons from Hollywood are like meat recipes from Jeff Dahmer, but it's unwise to bet $9.75 that Mssrs. Seitz, Cheshire and White are wrong all together. While we're forming consensus, let me agree with Seitz that Terrence Malick's first two movies get better the more times you see them on the big sceen, and?oh look!?Columbia's Miller Theater is showing both on Monday night. (Badlands at 6 p.m. and Days of Heaven at 8:30, 12/13, 2960 B'way at 116th St., 854-7799, $10, $5 st./s.c.) And I also want to second Armond White's review from a few weeks back and tell everyone seeking filmic entertainment that Three Kings is the most incisive action-adventure movie of the year, astonishingly honest in its portrayal of the effects of American foreign policy, and entertaining all the while. (See "Movie Clock" for theaters and times.)

    Three Kings also features the best Ice Cube performance since the one he turned in on N.W.A.'s battle-of-the-sexes classic "I Ain't Tha 1." Neither am I, but I spent a lot of energy defending that song (it's awesome), so don't think me a prude when I say that Cube's former crewmate Dr. Dre went way overboard with the bitches-and-hoze shtick on his long-awaited 2001. Unlike teenage N.W.A., family-man Dre isn't so into expressing himself anymore. Sure, thirtysomething Chuck Berry made great music by imitating the teenage mindset, and his lyrics were obscene by contemporary standards. But Berry shared with his audience a wild love for rhythm and rhyme, and that's what he emphasized. Behind Dre's target-marketing lies tremendous cynicism about the power of music. Dre believes the worst: that money and porn are stronger. Looking for a hiphop holiday gift? With uninspired melodies and hammy lyrics, 2001 makes for the low-budget equivalent of cash and a hooker.

    The brand-new ones from Rakim and Nas lack the musical cohesion of Dre's self-produced albums, but at least the inventor of New York rhyme flow and his anointed heir manifest some faith in hiphop's redemptive power. Why these stars don't stick with one producer per album is beyond me?the Best-of-the-Decade lists coming out now prove that the most beloved works of the genre still spring from tight MC/DJ teams. It's impossible to love an album that comes at you with 12 completely different flavors, searching for hits. For this reason Rakim's The Master (two Premier beats, three by Clark Kent, one by Big Jaz) and Nas' Nastradamus (one Premo, one Timbaland, one Havoc of Mobb Deep, four Dame Grease) are more overpriced skip-button rides for discerning hiphop heads?ever the redheaded stepchildren of the CD-buying public. (But don't miss that track Havoc produced for Nas. Called "Shoot 'em Up," it flows grimly to the melody from "Carol of the Bells." It's the punk-rock Christmas anthem of the year, hands down.)

    Better as a whole is Q-Tip's Amplified, which was produced by the former Tribe Called Quest star and his man Jay-Dee from Slum Village. A little over half the songs are as good as the album's two hit singles, "Vivrant Thing" and "Breathe and Stop." The rest are at least listenable. Q-Tip has damn near nothing to say besides that he's happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. Good for him, word, but good for us, too, because Tip's voice again evokes the joy and looseness conspicuously absent from the last two Tribe albums. With his and Jay-Dee's "hard but gentle" mixes?as busy as a measure of free-jazz yet as tightly focused as a JBs horn stab?surrounding that lovable voice, it conveys depth beyond his lyrics. If not for the work of another grownup from Queens, namely Pharoahe fuckin' Monch's phenomenally raucous Internal Affairs, Tip's Amplified would stand as 1999's nearest interpolation of a modern-day Chuck Berry record.

    Then again, how about that cover of "Round and Round" on the latest Dick's Picks Grateful Dead live CD? Well, it's certainly superlative in one way or another, and the same could be said for the event former Dead drummer Micky Hart will be participating in at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The 20th Anniversary Paul Winter Solstice show is a nondenominational theater-and-music spectacle, featuring Hart along with the Consort, African dance and drumming by Forces of Nature Ensemble and Anatolian percussionist Arto Tuncboyaciyan. (12/9-11, 7:30 p.m., plus Sat. matinee at 2 p.m., 1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St., 662-2133, $65 reserved seating or $38 general adm.) Now for those superlatives: the press release for the 20th Anniversary Paul Winter Solstice show notes that the C. of St. J. the D. is the World's Largest Gothic Cathedral. Also, said press release is the one of which The Most Copies Ever were sent to NYPress Listings, and it was also the Very First to deploy the word "Heimytown" in an otherwise formal setting.

    You won't hear anything so silly at Rocky Sullivan's prestigious reading series. This Wednesday host C.J. Sullivan will introduce Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer. As Jim "Slackjaw" Knipfel reports: "Ever since Kurt Vonnegut wrote the introduction for Lee Stringer's memoir of life as one of New York's homeless, Grand Central Winter, the two writers have been inextricably linked. Seven Stories Press, in fact, has just released Like Shaking Hands With God, the transcription of a very public conversation the two of them once had about the act of writing. To celebrate the book's release (as well as the upcoming release of Mr. Vonnegut's God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian, a collection of shorties he did for the NPR), the two of them will be making a few more public appearances together, reading from various works. They make an interesting matchup?cranky old Vonnegut, who just turned 77 and doesn't seem to be too happy with much of anything these days; and Stringer, the lively, outgoing former crack addict who's since gone on to travel the world and address the United Nations." Free tickets are required for this event, and it's too late to get one now, but if it's a cold night people who got tickets last week will bail, and maybe you'll get in. (12/8, 8 p.m., 129 Lexington Ave., betw. 28th & 29th Sts., 725-3871.)

    On Saturday night, the Roots, Vernon Reid, PM Dawn and N'Dea Davenport will collaborate on a start-to-finish performance of Prince's 1999 at BAM Opera House. Probably won't work, but ya gotta love the idea. (12/11, 7:30 p.m., 30 Lafayette Ave. at Fulton St., Brooklyn, 718-636-4100, $15-$35.) Refugees from cheesy carols and sentimental oratorios might also want to check out "The Sacred Music of Duke Ellington," performed by Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. (12/9-12 at Alice Tully Hall, 1941 B'way at 65th St., 721-6500, $45.)

    Yes, take refuge from futuremania in history, which perhaps offers the best preview of the world to come. Tuesday 12/14 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of George Washington, who as legend has it was the first to refer to residents of this city as "New Yorkers." Big Onion Walking Tours commemorates the day with a special historical tour of "Revolutionary New York," Saturday afternoon (12/11, 1 p.m., 439-1090 for info., $10). I once read Washington was blood-letted to death by his doctors. (Has anyone else ever heard that?) As I recall the story, he kept getting sicker the more blood they let, so they got a specialist, then a succession of ever more reputable physicians, each of whom would authoritatively remove greater and greater quantities of blood, until the patient died. Two hundred years ago this week?how's that for a millennial prophecy, New Yorkers?