The making of Julie Taymor's Across the Universe
continues on my corner and down the street. These photos:http://www.curbed.com/archives/2005/10/18/les_amazing_technicolor_dreamcoat_now_41_more_psychedelic.php#more
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.