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Monday, January 29, 2007

"Recent Linear Landscapes"

While I have wide cultural interests, I try to keep this blog focused on architecture, urbanism and place.

Whether or not a link to the new video for "Recent Linear Landscapes" by local band Finn's Motel qualifies as germane to this blog is debatable. However, beyond the song title and the band name's reference to a place (a building, no less), the video features some amazing architectural backdrops including what may be the most interesting scene featuring an astronaut riding MetroLink yet.

Take three minutes away from land speculation, election-time race-baiting and other heady concerns and enter an odd and beautiful world. For those who want to keep it a bit pertinent, the video features acting by local architecture critic and photographer Toby Weiss in addition to the man playing that astronaut, Thomas Crone.


Anonymous said...

I watched it, but I don't get it.

Is the idea of a space man mowing a lawn part of a linear landscape?

What does a clown getting out of bed have to do with it?

Is part of the appeal supposed to be the abstract nature of it?

Then it must be very effective.

tobyweiss.com said...

The song is about the silent desperation of being stuck in a soulless office doing a boring job.

Going with the work day daydreaming subtext of the song, the songwriter (aka, "The Clown")imagined the things we said we wanted "to be" as kids. He then inserted those "fantasy" occupations going through the humdrum motions of preparing for and enduring a typical dull workday.

Joe and I are actually filmed in our actual 9-to-5 work offices. Tom probably really needed to mow his "linear landscape," i.e., his lawn :)

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

Wow, Toby.... I was totally feeling that (not to say anything about my boring job, but.. yeah).

Watching the video, I thought a lot about what I wanted to be when I was a little, little kid. I wanted to be a princess at one point, and at another point, I wanted to be a ballerina. When I got older, I thought I'd be a writer or an artist.

What did I do today for exactly 7.5 hours? I fed black and white documents into a scanner, hastily checked the files for missing pages, and posted them to websites for faculty using an electronic form. At a couple of exciting moments, I answered faculty phone calls and told them that yes, I was in fact in the middle of feeding their documents through a scanner.

In other words, I ain't exactly a ballerina and I am definitely not a princess, although I think about dancing sometimes when I am between paper jams. That's what this song is about.

I actually really, really liked it. I thought about this kind of stuff a lot two years ago when I worked at the children's library. Children's books show you clowns and astronauts and Cherokee princesses, and they assure you that you can be any one of those things if you want to. While reading these colorful, promise-laden books to kids, it was hard not to think about how my own adult daily life consisted of fun things like sorting laundry, grocery shopping, showering, and wondering where I'd get the money to pay the bills. Furthermore, my kids were mostly homeless, so Being An Astronaut is very different than doing homework and sleeping on a bug-ridden cot every night (And that's not quite what the song is about, but you get my point).

And of course, you don't have to "get" a work of art to enjoy it. This is also just an entertaining video, in my opinion. Part of the great thing about it is the sheer surreality and humor of the idea and image of an astronaut mowing his lawn with little yappy dogs running around.

To put it in less abstract terms relative to the content that you're used to reading on this blog: An astronaut mowing his lawn is not the same thing as, say, helping to finance the rehab of a block of half-collapsed old commercial buildings that everyone thought would be wrecked in a low-income neighborhood like mine, but both of those things are magic. I would not want to live in a city without old buildings, and just the same, I wouldn't want to live in a city without good local music and art (that makes me feel less bad about my day job, no less).

Anonymous said...

I get the clown and astronaut. It's the indian that makes no sense, if supposedly professions kids dream of fulfilling. She should have been a depressed ballerina.

Michael R. Allen said...

I think that the Indian makes perfect sense from the perspective of a boy who grew up watching TV say 25 years ago.