(The poetry starts around 1:23. Make sure you stick around for S&O’s “Beat Poets” song.)
Ringing Bell. Have you seen Ringing Bell? I can’t believe I didn’t know about this film until a few weeks ago.
Ringing Bell (Chirin no suzu) is a Japanese film released in 1978 by Sanrio, the very same company that gave us Hello Kitty.
Ringing Bell is about a cuddly little lamb (“Ringing Bell”) who is always getting lost, and whose mother therefore outfits him with (guess what?) a ringing bell.
Ringing Bell’s mother warns Ringing Bell not to venture beyond the paddock, for fear of the wolf who lurks out there, being the mortal enemy of the lamb!
Can you guess what happens to Ringing Bell?
OK so obviously I’ve got a lot of hygiene products; I’ll admit I’m a little obsessive. There’s a special story behind each and every one of them (à la Daniel Spoerri’s classic conceptual text An Anecdoted Topography of Chance), but I don’t know if you want to hear all of them. So I’ll stick to just the highlights …
I first learned about Robert Ashley through Peter Greenaway, thanks to his Four American Composers series. I rented all four videos because I was interested in John Cage and Philip Glass. I didn’t know who Meredith Monk was, or Robert Ashley.
As it turns out, the episode on Ashley interested me the most. I didn’t understand the opera being discussed, Perfect Lives, but I knew I had to hear and watch the whole thing. I took to the internet and discovered that I could order it directly from Lovely Music, on VHS. I did so. It cost me $100—but I had to hear it.
Few people I knew at the time had ever heard of Robert Ashley. When I moved to Illinois and met Mark Tardi and Jeremy M. Davies, we bonded in part over our shared love for Perfect Lives, “an opera for television” made in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It’s still not widely known. It’s still never been broadcast in its entirety in the US. But I’m not alone alone in regarding it one of the greatest operas and long poems in the English language. (John Cage wrote of it: “What about the Bible? And the Koran? It doesn’t matter. We have Perfect Lives.”)
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s AWP?
And for anyone not going (like myself), what are you doing instead this weekend? I’m thinking of going to see Marnie Stern, even though it’s an outdoor show and the forecast calls for snow.
If you’re looking for something to read, here’s a translation of Yi Sang’s short story “Record of a Consummation” (translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl & Walter K. Lew).
Short notice, but for those of you in Chicago, tomorrow night will see a plum event as the Danny’s Reading Series convenes, 7:30pm sharp at Danny’s in Bucktown (1951 W. Dickens, just off Damen). Reading will be Barry Schwabsky, Mark Yakitch, and the incomparable Virginia Konchan. As always, a DJ and dancing will follow.
A Field in England is finally getting a US release, starting today. It was probably my favorite new film of 2013, and it certainly contained my favorite scene of 2013 (the tent scene—watch at your own risk!).
Drafthouse Films is releasing it in select cities (but not Chicago, boo, hiss). It’s also available for digital download.
I’ve seen this movie maybe four times already, and you better believe I’ll be watching it again. And somewhere I have a mess of notes on it that I keep meaning to type up into something semi-coherent…