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Am pleased to report that Leila M. & Tired of Triangles, the “rock meets Middle Eastern” musical duo I’m in with fellow artist Leila Mesdaghi, has a new release, dubbed Gathered Tracks, that compiles all of our music to date in one place. It can be found on Spotify here, on iTunes here, and on Bandcamp here. For the occasion I put together new and improved, alternate mixes of two of the three tracks, and Leila provided one of her paintings for the cover art.

After an overly hot and muggy 2022, I’ve been enjoying the cooler weather down here as of late. Have got at least a couple of projects underway, in some shape or form, but it’ll probably be a while before anything emerges. In the meantime, here’s to a more even-keeled 2023.

Before this August draws to a close, I’m offering up one more release from my musical concern Tired of Triangles. As its title notes, “Z.F.G. (Revamped Version)” is a reworking of an earlier track, one that graced the B side of Kaji-Pup Records’ second release. This version is a marked improvement, in my view, in that it maintains what worked with the original while expanding upon it, but without things getting unwieldy or self-indulgent. A lot of work went into getting the balance just right. The scope of this song is more maximalist, not as naturalistic and downbeat as a lot of these other musical outings, but if one is in the mood for it, this is a fun one to crank up and let rip. It can be downloaded on Bandcamp here, is available on Spotify here, and is available on YouTube via the video below.

Now that I’m (sort of) caught up on sleep, I can duck in here for a moment and make mention of the New Tele Plays EP by Tired of Triangles. New Tele Plays consists of a trio of solo guitar pieces I’d been kicking around for a bit but didn’t get the opportunity to record until the early morning hours of July 27, when the mood seemed right. This is a stripped-down affair without any added production elements–just a dude playing a Telecaster through a small tube amp, for around five minutes. It can be downloaded on Bandcamp here, is available on Spotify here, and can be streamed via the below YouTube video. Enjoy…if such a thing might be up your alley.

Last Saturday night, July 23, I saw Steely Dan for the first time, at the rather nice Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. The show was stellar. Without the presence of the late Walter Becker, Donald Fagen and his backing band still put on a captivating set, one marked by uncommonly skilled musicianship that never felt self-indulgent or unfocused. I had a seat near the front and it was a treat to witness the full band bringing their A game. The funk was present; it rocked here and there; everyone was in the pocket, and it was the opposite of boring.

It’s worth noting that I haven’t always liked Steely Dan’s music. It can be an acquired taste, and hit differently depending on mood and context, as well as one’s age. Despite the band’s enduring popularity, their mode of soft jazzy rock (if you will) has been characterized as polarizing, owning in part to an incongruity at times between the disarming sounds at hand and lyrics (and subject matter) that might be described as acerbic. It was only about a year into the current pandemic, amid my forties, that things started to click, aided in no small part by my friend Will being a superfan. I would say that if someone attended a Steely Dan show like that of the other night and remained unconvinced, little else might sway them, as it was a flattering presentation and fun to behold–the real deal!

It was announced the other day that Janus Films has acquired the rights to the entire filmography of Jean Eustache. Which raises the question: is a Criterion boxset, something along the lines of The Complete Jean Eustache, in the works? This seems likely, though until the films get spine numbers or someone fills us non-insiders in, we won’t know for sure.

Either way, this news is extraordinary! A proper restoration and release of these films in some form has been long overdue. Painfully so, in fact. To date, I have only seen a few of them, but would rate them as among some of the best movies to have graced the latter half of the 20th Century. They’re that good.

Conveying the value of the late Eustache’s work to someone who hasn’t seen any of it yet could be difficult. The writer-director seems to have often been preoccupied with emotional states related to matters of the heart, the messiness of male-female relations, but with a more pronounced irreverent streak and less philosophical remove than someone like Eric Rohmer. There’s also the residue of political malaise in the mix. Eustache’s films are cooler than most, sometimes embodying an idling French bohemianism that contemporary directors would have trouble duplicating while maintaining the same watchability. Rather than being flashy, overall the films feel a bit subdued, more true to life in their willingness to be patient with the characters, their peculiar beats, their thoughts and affect, and so on. The screenplays alone, at least those pertaining to the ones I’ve seen, are uncommonly well devised–Bernadette Lafont was on the money when she asserted that that of The Mother and the Whore is worthy of being published in book form. But all of the preceding is just a cursory, early-morning stab at accounting for why these films are deserving of one’s time, something that would (hopefully) become more apparent upon watching them.

Unfortunately what with Eustache’s work being largely out of circulation and underrepresented for so long, its stature has been obscured somewhat, if not exactly in limbo. These films being reissued in one form or another will be a corrective cinephiles the world over can embrace. So keep your eyes peeled!

This past Friday saw the release of a new single, “Stark Geography,” from Tired of Triangles, the on-and-off solo musical concern of mine that began sometime in the mid-2010s. It can be downloaded on Bandcamp here, as well as streamed on Spotify here, and via the YouTube video below.

The first Tired of Triangles CD, Up at 4 A.M., was less a definitive statement from me than an attempt to just put together a listenable enough batch of songs that would explore sentiments ranging from “angsty” and insular, to something akin to wee-hour jubilation, however subdued. This is relevant here because “Stark Geography” covers similar territory moodwise, though in this case the shift in tone occurs within a single piece rather than from one song to the next.

Have to duck in here for a second and give a tip of the hat to famed Italian actor Monica Vitti, who passed away today age 90. In her 35-year career Vitti acted in everything from arthouse titles to zany comedies, not to mention the occasional film that combined the two like Buñuel’s The Phantom of Liberty. Predictably enough, it’s her most well known work with Michelangelo Antonioni that I cherish above all. Am talking here about the monochromatic “Alienation Trilogy” (L’Avventura, La Notte, and L’Eclisse) that ushered in sixties European cinema like a lion (albeit an artfully understated one), as well as Red Desert, a colorful film that came out a couple of years later and directly addressed the toll one’s environment might take on her psyche.

These works have been somewhat divisive—they are complex, visually involved treatises on “adult” issues, largely within the bourgeois sphere, whose meanings can be elusive for many viewers. Ever since L’Avventura’s premier at Cannes in May of 1960, some in the film world have loved them while others have found them rankling. To someone like me who’s probably seen too many movies for his own good, I can say with confidence that I find this spate of films enduring and nothing short of essential. In conjunction with the films’ strong sense of place and eye for social observation, Vitti’s beauty, her demure and charisma, has a lot to do with why they’re exemplars of mid-century modernism, the kind of cinema that hadn’t quite existed until then. Simply put, Vitti could be a stunning presence, with facial expressions that could say more than words, often hinting at a discontent or longing under the surface.

While film culture is full of all sorts of underdogs and unsung heroes (behind and in front of the camera) who are worth exploring, in due time, there are some personalities who’ve left a huge mark on it and should be lauded as such. Monica Vitti is one such figure, the sort of actor who worked her way into many a cinephile’s DNA…and we’ve never been the same since. She will be missed.

Reading from Anthony De Mello’s bestseller Awareness, I encountered the following passage:

What I really enjoy is not you; it’s something that’s greater than both you and me. It is something that I discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn’t stop. When I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is also very delightful. And when I’m alone, it continues to play. There’s a great repertoire and it never ceases to play.

As we near the one-year mark of The Friends of Allan Renner’s initial release, almost all of the press related to the novel has been taken care of for the foreseeable future. I’ve genuinely enjoyed reading most of what people have had to say; a couple of dissenters were inevitable—it’s not a book for everyone—but the reviews to date have been largely positive.

But more to the point, while the book can be perceived from several different vectors of understanding, I feel that a good amount of ground has been covered by those who’ve taken the plunge during these first twelve months. In significant ways, these various takes have informed others’ views of the book, as well as my own, and for the better. So there’s something to feel thankful for.

Several weeks ago, I had what may well be my most fruitful (but also concise) one-on-one interaction with the press to date, in a Feathered Quill interview with reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott. It can be read here, and is worth your time if you’re at all sympathetic to the kind of art I like and like to make.

Last week saw a rundown of The Friends of Allan Renner from Tucker Lieberman of Independent Book Review, which can be read here. I especially like the following quote from it:

As the film audition points out, the meaning of a story is profoundly affected by the actor who interprets it. Indirectly, the reader of The Friends of Allan Renner is prompted to consider that these fictional events could have been told in various emotive voices for different purposes. It so happens that Andrae, the novelist, animates this story with a light, absurdist touch and wry detachment.

A little while back, voracious reader, reviewer, and author himself Matt McAvoy gave an honest take on the book here, from which the following kind words were taken:

An easygoing read, which actually felt a fair bit shorter than its lengthy word count. […] It is at times laugh-out-loud funny (imagine a stoner web designer going on the rampage with a mace) and at other times heartbreakingly poignant; Andrae is a tremendous author, who manages to pull off all of these different styles and moods. 

Also hailing from the UK, reviewer Charlotte Walker penned a nice little review of the book for the site LoveReading here, saying, among other things:

With references throughout the story to a ‘fateful day in 2017’ the plot strolls on, creating intrigue as you try to work out what’s going to happen to Allan. There are elements of science fiction but I think that this book demonstrates most strongly the bonds made by and between people. […] An innovative concept that I feel has been well executed and makes for an interesting read.

And in a review for Readers’ Favorite, which can be read here, critic K.C. Finn wrote:

Author Dave J. Andrae has crafted a most engrossing work of fiction that masterfully balances the surreal and the real, the sublime and the ridiculous, to deliver a humorous but poignant look at the meaning of modern life.

All in all I really do appreciate people taking the time to delve into it and offer their own perspectives. Any book bloggers or reviewers who’d like to do so going forward shouldn’t hesitate to visit my official my website here and get in touch.

Other things are underway, and it’s hard to tell if or when they’ll see the light of day. But in the meantime, have a swell rest of the year as we move toward 2022.

 

jeanpaulbelmondo

A quick requiescat in pace goes out to the one and only Jean-Paul Belmondo, former boxer, famed French actor who died this week aged 88. Belmondo rose to prominence in the late fifties opposite Jean Seberg as the hangdog gangster in Godard’s debut feature, Breathless, perhaps his most well known role to this day. But this breakout hit overshadowed at least a couple of other noteworthy early appearances, namely his role in Claude Sautet’s underseen Classe Tous Risques (a favorite of Jean-Pierre Melville, and for good reason) and a smaller but well played part in Marcel Carné’s Les Tricheurs, which is sorely in need of a reissue.

Early on, for his troubles, Belmondo earned comparisons to Bogart, though he was more of an athletic performer, a quality that would pair well with the more overtly action movie parts he’d take on in the seventies and eighties. But in the meantime he would act in a couple more Godard films, the prismatic musical romp, A Woman is a Woman, and the sardonic doomed-lovers-on-the-run effort, Pierrot Le Fou, both of which left a big mark on film culture and me personally. Among his many other credits he also worked with Resnais and Truffaut. Though Belmondo and Melville ended up having a falling out over one of the few unmistakable duds in Melville’s oeuvre, Magnet of Doom (only worth the bother after you’ve seen everything else), the actor and director worked on Leon Morin, Priest and Le Doulos, both of which are essential viewing.

Earlier this year I watched Henri Veneuil’s Fear Over the City, a movie worth watching for Belmondo’s death-defying stunts alone, and was absent-mindedly wondering what he’d been up to. He was always a talented and charismatic actor, something of a swashbuckling ladies man at times, with the bravado that implies, but never one to phone it in. He will be missed.