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Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Time Event
The making of Julie Taymor's Across the Universe continues on my corner and down the street. These photos:


don't begin to show the amount of detail the set designers have put into these places. There are the vintage autos, for example: classic '60s Mustangs Day-Glo VW buses, and Chevys and Ramblers from the '50s. Bongs in the window of the corner deli transformed into a head shop. Paisley dresses in the fake vintage clothing store. Of course, in more than one way, they've got things cluelessly mixed up. My old friend Ron, who lives on my block, pointed out the picture of Malcolm X in the "Black Panther Party headquarters" storefront—rather unlikely, to say the least. And the display of albums in the record store, besides showing a few LPs that might actually be in a window back in the day, e.g., the Strangeloves' I Want Candy album (a great proto-garage stomper), is full of grade-Z lounge LPs that aren't even particularly good cover art--the vinyl equivalent of the books Nicholson Baker talks about in his article on books as furniture. Memo to production designer: Dudes, if you want a display of vintage psychedelia with great cover art, I'm available...

The most amusing thing to me was seeing a stack of fake Rat underground newspapers. These issues would seem to be those before the January 1970 office coup d'etat in which the paper was taken over by a group of feminist women including future Sisterhood Is Powerful author Robin Morgan, who "couldn't tolerate the paper's lifestyle emphasis aimed at young white straight males—sex-wanted ads, pornographic articles and graphics, and Rolling Stones coverage had begun to bury political reporting of any substance"* and future Weather Underground bomber Jane Alpert--who, appropriately, did a bit of ratting on her erstwhile colleagues after she was captured by the FBI.

But then, Taymor's film obviously harks back to a more idyllic '60s, a groovy Pepperland that would be preferable, as far as I'm concerned, to today's reality. Despite the occasional noise and the huge cranes, tracks, and cherry pickers clogging the streets, I, for one, will be sad when this Peter Max–manqué vision packs up and leaves. Though perhaps not all of it; some places claim to like the new paint jobs, and the big dragon on Alias restaurant may remain with us. I hope it does. After all, once one is touched by a psychedelic experience, one is never quite the same afterwards, and thus it should be with the landscape as well.

*Robin Morgan, Saturday's Child: A Memoir, New York: W. W. Norton, 2000.
More Pepperland
I saw them actually filming Across the Universe this afternoon. I was up the street at my home away from home and walked down the street past my house to meet up with B., my neighbor, who I haven't seen for a couple months since she was in Japan. I had to pause while a whole bunch of dancers busted a few moves to the accompaniment of a version of "Come Together" with a loud voice intoning "ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!" Most of the dancers were young and cute and dressed in paisley or Indian blouses, but there were a few older biker types mixed in too. They all did some move where they rapidly windmilled their arms like Pete Townshend. Then the PAs let me pass and B. and I went off to have coffee at S******ks so we wouldn't run into all the people we knew. For the time being the S-word has become a bit of a getaway for me, and it's open both earlier and later than my usual hangout. It's sometimes hard to get stuff done when I see so many people I really want to talk to. S******ks actually plays better music a lot of the time, too--a mix of classic modern jazz and doo-wop that is better than a lot of the whiny indie-rock and //gag// Coldplay that is sometimes favored by my local's employees. And they have comfy chairs, which I usually don't sit in when I need to spread out papers, which is most of the time, but they're there. they won't replace my fave place, but they're a nice alternative.

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