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How “new” and influential were Neu? Brian Eno’s ambient music was inspired by Michael Rother’s innovative use of texture in his guitar/electronics and Conny Plank’s innovative use of space in production. Subsequently David Bowie was influenced through Station to Station & Low/Heroes–in fact, “Heroes” was directly inspired by Neu’s song. The “motorik” groove had a deep effect on Joy Division (and on punk and post-punk, in general.) Later Radiohead would cop the Neu style during their own experimental phase (Kid A/Amnesiac).

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The most futuristic album ever made. THE perfect driving song.

Dark, deep, and searching, some of the greatest lyrics ever written. This song captures the modern human condition in photographic intensity.

“Yes, one hand on my suicide/One hand on the rose/I know you’ve heard it’s over now/And war must surely come/The cities they are broke in half/And the middle men are gone/But let me ask you one more time/O children of the dust/These hunters who are shrieking now/Do they speak for us?/And where do all these highways go/Now that we are free?/Why are the armies marching still/That were coming home to me?/The age of lust is giving birth/But both the parents ask the nurse/To tell them fairy tales on both sides of the glass/Now the infant with his cord/Is hauled in like a kite/And one eye filled with blueprints/One eye filled with night”

Heard those sickeningly sweet Christmas carols too many times in the retail store and had an unending headache? Watched those advertisements for saccharine Hallmark-style TV movies or maddeningly mediocre dumb comedies, romances, and family films at the local multiplex and wanted to tear your hair out? Sick of the holidays already and Christmas hasn’t even happened yet?

Here are five holiday films for those of us who don’t like the holidays.

The Gold Rush

Alaska, 1899.
Thanksgiving is spent eating shoes in a dilapidated cabin on the edge of a windswept cliff. Your cabin mate hallucinates that you are a giant chicken, due to hunger, and tries to take an axe to your head. New Years’ Eve is spent all alone pining for a woman who makes fun of you while you dream of dancing bread rolls.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Pacific Northwest, Turn-of-the-20th Century.
You’re just trying to start your small business (the American Dream), a brothel and gambling house in a tiny mining town called Presbyterian Church. The only woman you’re close to is a hooker who ignores you in favor of her opium pipe, and the big businessmen from Sears & Roebuck want to buy out the whole town. You refuse, of course, and the result is that bounty hunters are now gunning for you.

Blast of Silence

New York City, 1960.
It’s Christmastime and you’re in on the train from Cleveland with a straightforward assignment: a hit on a big-wig mobster. Of course, you’d like to live a normal life like everyone else but that’s impossible. One of your only contacts is a greasy fat slob who’s ready to rat on you and the only girl to ever show you attention rejects you. Plus, the Man now wants a hit out on you.

Black Christmas

Montreal, Quebec, early 1970s.
It’s winter break and the sorority is missing one of its members. A young girl has gone missing, as well. While everyone else is going home or leading normal lives, you’re stuck in this town telling your boyfriend that you want an abortion. The relationship is over. Also there’s a homicidal maniac stalking your sorority.

The Ice Storm

New Canaan, Connecticut, 1973.
It’s Thanksgiving break and you’re home from college. Your father awkwardly lectures you on masturbation and is sleeping with the neighbor, your parents’ marriage is on the skids and sliding further downward at a rapid pace, your little sister is sexually experimenting, and your two friends are pill popping. And it’s only going to get worse from there.

Golden Corners

Crawling towards the golden corner

Gramma at the fireside

Whirring of the clock on the mantel

Whistling of the north wind outside

As frost paints silver flowers on the glass

Gramma’s big grin beckons

To her outstretched arms

And your head drops on her shoulder

Softest pillow, no other compares

Snowball the white pomeranian

Barks and sheds his hairs

As you fade off to sleep unawares

 

Mist on the hill

What’s over there?

So you climb the fence

Stumble through the fog

Into the land of nowhere

Sudden sound above

A faltering wounded dove

That flits from branch to branch

Cooing its last breath

Till it falls to the ground below

A tear rolls down your cheek

Melting the patches of snow

Still remaining beneath

And another teardrop glistens

As the lark sits and listens

To your whispered whimpers

Dampness on your clothes

You reached for the rose

Twining round the trellis

Up and down the catherine wheel

And you didn’t mean to steal

But it was so very glowing

Red in the midst of gray

When you went out that morning

Into Gramma’s backyard to play

Now the wounds in your hands

Trickling blood from your palms

Reminds you of other thorns

Crowning saints’ heads begging alms

In that picture book inside

No place left to hide

You want to disappear

Down the dusty road

Or the dusky corridor

That golden corner of the picture

Where you, the bird, can finally soar

 

Easter Sunday

You and she

Set out past the daffodils

Searching for eggs

No map in hand

It’s more fun without one

Darting behind hedges

Peering within tree trunks

Like the rabbits

And then

A-ha!

I found one!

Robins chirping on the dewy grass

As you, like them, hopped past

Feet kicking up the worms

Hands flinging clods of dirt

Rounding golden corners of morning sunshine

Hurtling fast, like a flower, out of the earth

 

They found you

In the neighbor’s garden

Staring at stones

Content to stay there

For hours

All alone

Turning it round in your hand

As if in turning

You too will become stone

And Mother shakes you from your reverie

Daisies and dandelions in her hand

And she gives you a new white sphere

Exhales

You inhale and do the same

Whoosh!

The circle has exploded

Tiny white stars

Floating away down the neighborhood lanes

And you leave the neighbor’s garden for today

Time to go collecting in the creek

Mother guides you to the bottom

Where the oldest rocks stay

Where the water left long ago

Dried up as an apple sitting in the sun

Why is every rock gray?

Until the crack breaks

And your little jaw drops

A chalky sphere within

Same color as your skin

Rolls around between your fingers

And the sandy powder lingers

On the whirls in your fingertips

And a crazy laugh slips

Out from your pursed lips

And the fists that always grip

Loosen up

As you slide away

The fair is out today

School’s out for the summer

And a soft spring shower visits

Blue raincoat, red boots

You stomp through the puddles

Close your eyes

Running towards the skies

But always tripping

Over the cracks in the pavement

No problem

Now you know the secret

Golden corners require payment

 

That bird outside your window

Greets the warm dawn

So it’s time for you, as well

With magician’s robe on

Open the closet

Treasures be here

King’s sword does appear

Gather together the circle

Boys and girls scamper

Out of doors

Into the street

Out of the heat

Into the den to meet

Let the quest commence!

Jump over every fence!

No school anymore, so hence!

We shall conquer this neighborhood today

Tsk-tsk, you didn’t watch the clock

Evening came too soon

Cuts and bruises from your walk

To some faraway, distant dune

No reward when you return home

“Where have you been?!”

Punishment

Golden corners only last so long

Before they turn back into gray gutters

Where The Geese Go

Hearing the geese high above in the night sky as they fly south for the winter and November draws to its close. Reminds me of one of my favorite songs.

“For here we stand–hand to hand/Fighting for the promised land/Then you try to warn me/That there’s only one combination/One new sling/The same old rock.”