Slapped by Buddhist Monks and Beatniks

David Chase’s telegraphing of his symbolist intentions, in Sopranos episode one (Burroughs/Laswell song in opening sequence, prevalence of water imagery&sounds, eating sushi, etc), now comes clear with episode two: Tony will endure a spiritual ordeal while floating through an induced coma, bound to a purgatory where he’s slapped by Buddhist monks etc.

And although I’m a fan thru & thru, I can’t shake some dismay at the fact that Chase is slipping into the oldest soap opera cliche in TV Guide: The Coma. It’s right up there with jumping the shark. The star is put on ice while the secondaries work their acting chops. It’s induced drama. I’m slightly mollified by Edie Falco’s omnipotent acting skills, but c’mon. I expect better from the Sopranos. Kill him and move on. Putting Tony Soprano in limbo puts the viewers there too, and limbo ain’t cutting it as an hour of entertainment. Not to mention that Kubrick already did the hotel-like limbo in The Shining, and his version looms too large to not be distracting.

If they write terrorism into the script, I think I might barf. For no reason, that reminds me of a student I once had, guy lived in one of the roughest sections of the Bronx, grew up very harsh, and he was asked by another teacher if he was afraid to travel into lower Manhattan on the first anniversary of 9/11. His response “Shit, there’s terrorism in my neighborhood every day.

Luckily, I have two tracks here from the Beatnik Filmstars’ debut, Laid Back and English, and they’re still my favorites, now that I hear them again. “Missed” is guitar-fan heaven, almost Turkish in it’s winding lead, and “You Can’t Fake Sadness Like This” features a bassline that sounds like tubas calling for war.

I still recall the day in the mid-nineties when I received this one in the mail, to review for an underrated little rag called Oculus. They’ve put some stuff online (nothing of mine, thank god), but the best is here.

Blogging killed the ‘Zine star.

And for old times’ sake, pop over to Sub Pop and download Mudhoney’s new single. Makes me a little sad, a little happy, a little ambivalent. But you can’t beat their “senselessness is the best defense” chorus, as far as advice goes, when all the signifiers of spring start popping up. Especially for me: I’m not only a lapsed christian, I’m a lapsed MFA, which for a Presbyterian is like being a defrocked priest.

Beatnik Filmstars – Missed
Beatnik filmstars- You Can’t Fake Sadness Like This