Category Archives: television

RIP Mark E. Smith (1957 – 2018)

Mark E. Smith was an English musician, known for his post-punk group the Fall, a renowned and idiosyncratic offshoot from the UK post-punk popular music scene.

His voice is reminiscent of Jonathan Richman and tracks such as “Big New Prinz” [above] are as weird and danceable as Richman’s “Roadrunner” for example.

On a personal note: the covered “Mr. Pharmacist” in 1986, at a time when I was into garage rock.

P.S. The train footage in the clip of “Big New Prinz” is an example of slow television.

Candace Bushnell @50

Candace Bushnell (born December 1 1958) is an American author and columnist based in New York City. She is best known for writing a sex column that was turned into a book, Sex and the City, which became the basis of the TV series, Sex and the City.

Set in New York City, the show’s focus is on four female characters, stereotypcally defined as Carrie the shopaholic, Miranda the cynic workaholic, Charlotte the hopeless romantic and Samantha the sexaholic. John Big, the male lead is the emotionally unavailable male afraid of commitment.

The show tackled socially relevant issues, often specifically dealing with well-to-do professional women in society in the late 1990s, and how changing roles and definitions for women affected the characters.

Well-to-do professional women constitute the trope of strong and independent women, connected to third-wave feminism. If one considers strong and independent women in history one arrives at Lilith, Joan of Arc, Catherine the Great, courtesans and George Sand. To encompass it all are women’s rights throughout history and in the 20th century: feminism. In the late 20th century there are Riot Grrrls and Girl Power.

On The Simpsons, Sex and the City was parodied as “Nookie in New York” with Marge’s sister saying “It’s a show about four straight women who act like gay men”.

“I’m mad as hell”

To Lichanos[1],

In answer to your comment[2], yes, it feels sometimes as if I have reached the limits of appreciative criticism.

I dedicate to you, Lichanos, Network, WCC #61.


Scrub to 2:48 for “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more

Softly from Paris

While completing my pages on Walerian Borowczyk, I came across the Série rose.


Trailer for the Série rose, alluding hidden and secret libraries, or, enfers, Giftschränke or remota.

Série rose: Les Chefs d’œuvre de la littérature érotique (literal English: pink series, the masterpieces of erotic literature) is a French television series of 28 episodes of 26 minutes each, produced by Pierre Grimblat and broadcast on French television channel FR3 from November 8 1986 to 1990.

The series consisted of adaptations of libertine fiction from the European literary canon, original authors included Marguerite of Navarre, Comte de Mirabeau, Nicolas Restif de La Bretonne, Anton Chekhov, Chaucer, Guy de Maupassant, Jean de La Fontaine, Théophile Gautier, Daniel Defoe and Aristophanes.

Directors included Belgian director Harry Kumel (Daughters of Darkness), French colleague Michel Boisrond (Cette sacrée gamine) and Polish director Walerian Borowczyk (The Beast). Harry Kumel‘s contributions were separately released as The Secrets Of Love: Three Rakish Tales. Walerian Borowczyk directed four episodes for the series: Almanach des adresses des demoiselles de Paris, Un traitement justifié, Le Lotus d’or, and L’Experte Halima.

Série rose was bought by German and South-American and American television where they were known as Erotisches zur Nacht or Softly from Paris (USA).

Most notable appearance is that of Pedro Almodóvar ensemble cast member Penélope Cruz.


The golden age of television


27 years ago today was the day of the first video clip every broadcast on MTV. The clip was “Video Killed the Radio Star,” directed by Russell Mulcahy, and it marked the debut of the channel on 1 August 1981, at 12:10 A.M. The single, a Trevor Horn (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) production, was already two years old, released in September 1979. The song celebrated the golden days of radio, talking of a singer whose career is cut short by television. Group member Trevor Horn has said that his lyrics were inspired by the J.G. Ballard short story The Sound-Sweep, in which the title character, a mute boy vacuuming up stray music in a world without it, comes upon an opera singer hiding in a sewer.

Up until today, MTV remains my favorite television station, along with Arte.

See Golden Age of Television and Ode to MTV and the contemporary grotesque

Robert Rauschenberg (1925 – 2008)

Addio Rauschenberg

Retroactive I (1964) by Robert Rauschenberg

Photo from the Flickr collection of ALFAP

Robert Rauschenberg (October 22 1925May 12 2008) was an American artist who came to prominence in the 1950s transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art and best-known for such works as Retroactive I (1964) which “collaged” images of current events gathered from magazines and newspapers. A large press photograph of John F. Kennedy speaking at a televised news conference was the source for this screen print on canvas. He juxtaposed the image of Kennedy with another photo silkscreen of a parachuting astronaut. The overlapping, and seemingly disparate, composition creates a colorful visual commentary on a media-saturated culture struggling to come to grips with the television era. (see Susan Hapgood’s Neo-Dada, Redefining Art 1958-1962)

The painting was described by John Coulthart in 2008 as a work that could easily serve as an illustration to J. G. Ballard‘s The Atrocity Exhibition. Coulthart added that “Rauschenberg was one of a handful of artists who seemed to depict in visual terms what Ballard was describing in words. In this respect Robert Hughes’s discussion of the “landscape of media” [in The Shock of the New (1980)] (Ballard’s common phrase would be “media landscape”) is coincidental but significant.” [1]

Film lovers, good evening!

Or, world cinema classic #43


Man Bites Dog

After long and careful deliberation, I’ve decided against pronouncing this film a world cinema classic #43. Instead, I’ve chosen a 1992 film which was made in Belgium, and it’s probably one of the best-known Belgian films abroad of the late 20th century. The film dates of 1992 and much like the American film Natural Born Killers, is a satire on the media’s exploitation of graphic violence, only much better. Sadly, the director of this black mockumentary committed suicide two years ago, as often happens to very talented people with an appreciation of the darker side of life. Without further ado, I present you Man Bites Dog, one of the best features of the 1990s, a must-see feature film. As a seal of quality, it carries an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (such is the beneficial role of censorship organizations).

Introducing Chris Morris

The list of sensibilities published in my recent post on Grillet prompted a regular reader to alert me to the work of Chris Morris.

Sex for Houses

Chris Morris (born 1965) started his career on radio, the clip above is from his television work, which – so it is said – is a little less powerful than his radiophonic work, but works better on the blog format.

The clip is very disturbing and funny, it appropriates the tropes of reality TV shows.

I’ve long stopped watching television on a regular basis, but I have known periods of serious telephilia. The BBC has always been a haven to the telephile.

Recent British television I did enjoy (on Youtube) have included:

Don Giovanni on Arte TV last night

Yesterday evening I landed on Arte TV (a Franco-German TV network, which aims to promote quality programming related to the world of arts and culture) and today I found out that I was watching Mozart’s Don Giovanni which Arte describes as:

Revisité par René Jacobs et mis en scène par Vincent Boussard, le chef-d’oeuvre de Mozart renvoie singulièrement à notre époque. Un Don Giovanni qui mêle sensualité et violence, humour et tragédie.

The reason I kept on watching (I normally don’t go for opera) is twofold: 1. I have been listening since six months to state-run Belgian art/classical music/jazz radio station Klara so my ears have gotten used to these sounds; 2. the striking appearance of the decors (very reminiscent of the Dr. Caligari film of the 1920s) with the slanted angles and unusual lighting.

Wikipedia has this on Don Giovanni :

Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. It was premiered in Estates Theatre in Prague on October 29, 1787.

Don Juan is a legendary fictional libertine, whose story has been told many times by different authors. The name is sometimes used figuratively, as a synonym for “seducer“.

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote a large essay in his book Either/Or in which he – or at least one of his pseudonyms – defends the claim that Mozart’s Don Giovanni is the greatest work of art ever made.
The finale in which Don Giovanni refuses to repent has been a captivating philosophical and artistic topic for many writers including George Bernard Shaw, who in Man and Superman, parodied the opera.