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Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

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Stooges Bass
Tuesday night, when I really should have been at home in bed, I went to a "Q&A" session with Laurie Anderson and evildoom_bunny in the acoustically-challenged BMW Edge Auditorium at Fed Square.

I'd had the tickets for months, and, darn it, the last two times she was here were 2002 and 1996, so I was determined to go.

Laurie Anderson, for those who don't know, is a "performance artist" for want of a better word from the US. She's also a fairly accomplished musician, so a lot of her work takes the form of musical performances of one sort or another.

Weirdly, in the early 80's she had a minor hit, particularly in the UK, with a song called "O Superman" (see below). It peaked at #2 in the singles charts.

Anyway, she's done a lot of other things since.

Laurie wandered out onto the stage of the theatre, and I couldn't help think that an eastern European grandmother (evildoom_bunny's grandmother being an excellent example) would have plied her with dense stews insisting she was too thin and needed more meat on her bones!

The place was packed, which I was interested to see - this town is full of people into obscure musicians. People other than myself. And the discussion revolved around a lot of extremely artistic topics. She'd recently been the Artist in Residence at NASA of all places. She wasn't sure what it meant, and nor were they! Some weird plans they have there too - a 5,000 year plan to move manufacturing and mining off the earths surface and leave people here to clean the place up. And a 10,000 year plan to green Mars. Because after all we've done such a good job of looking after this planet!

She also told an interesting story about the development of one of her shows. She felt like she was in a rut, so went out to do something things that made her Uncomfortable. Like living with some Amish farmers. And working in McDonalds(!) for a while. I liked the idea of being able to just get up and do this stuff for the hell of it and then making art about it... Damn it, I want out of my office!

I can't recall much else of what was talked about. I was a bit rooted, as I mentioned. I was also impressed that she is apparently an avid consumer of Art, and was at a show here the day her plane arrived.

I had a question all set to go, but two things caused me not to ask it. For starters, being knackered and high on cold medication made me very inarticulate. And then the question seemed terribly mundane given the course the discussion was taking - very friggin' high-brow and arty! Someone asked how she "say beauty expressed in art"! My question would have gone:

"I have a couple of your early tracks on a scratchy old tape. They're 'Time To Go (For Diego' and 'New York Social Life'. Have they ever been re-issued? And the second part of my question: how is Lou Reed?"

You can see - it all seemed hopelessly materialistic and Laurie-nerd :-)
(Rumour has it that she's been seeing Lou Reed since the late nineties. Which is kinda weird!)

After the Q&A session, on the big screen in the gap between ACMI and the Ian Potter Centre, they put "O Superman" on a loop. I kinda get the feeling "O Superman" is kinda a curse on Laurie, the same way I'm sure "The Ace of Spades" is to Motorhead - something successful you made a long, time ago. And somewhat overshadowing a lot of excellent stuff one had made since. Like "Language is a Virus" (See below also.)

Laurie is also responsible for the earliest and probably the only really interesting song about the 'net - from back in 1995. It's called Puppet Motel, from back before the net was all blogs and google etc.

We're also off to see her show "Homeland" on Friday. Yay!


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