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The mundane The profane The un-sane
© stonerphonic 2008 - 2010

If "pure, unadulterated bullshit on a stick" had a blog page,
then it would probably look something like [this]. (Actual quote, stonerphonic's mother)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

HEROES - Part 5: Cat Stevens

It's not time to make a change...

Y'know, when I look back over these pieces it's amazing that none of my heroes every actually uses their real names. Most of them have at least 3 or 4 pseudonyms or non-de-plumes they employ for varying purposes. And the scarier thought is that I often have done the same thing throughout my own life. Again as a line of demarcation, but sometimes it means more.

And Cat Stevens is no different. For me Cat Stevens falls into the same category as Malcolm X as far as the ability to change when change requires you to do so. The only difference is that Cat had a much bigger ego to deal with.

I draw a lot from Cat's passion. He put his whole heart into the words of his art. But hey, a lot of artists do that man, big deal. So yeah there has to be more involved...

I was very fortunate to have been brought up + nurtured in a very artistic, liberal and non-judgemental home environment. My sister is a conservatorium trained pianist who teaches piano in her spare time, and my father is president + chair of a number of keyboard clubs n south east Queensland, and collects old keyboards and organs as a hobby. My mother sings, and has an incredible vocal range, and I loved as a child to hide in another room and just listen to her without her knowing I was there, coz she just goes right off when she thinks no one's around.

As for me, my artistic flair is manifest across a very wide spectrum. If i can put two objects together two make a mark, I will. Pencil, paint, ink, charcoal, airbrush....anything. Of course I also love to make music, and went on to belt on keyboards, violins, guitars and then turntables. I also have an awesome collection of clay ocarinas, and even have a theremin for when i really wanna take it to another level. So, I had a good grounding and importantly, lots of encouragement to express myself. Couple all of this with the fact that my earliest childhood memories consist of my father reading to me, and if i could say thanks to my dad for only 1 thing, that would be it. It provided me with an avenue to intelligently direct my artistic passions and flair. Which, um, is what I'm doing now I guess!!!

But hey, what's all this got to do with Cat Stevens dude?

Well, growing up I was always different, and even though I got to always hang with the 'in' crowd, I never did quite fit in. And I always managed to defy accepted thought and standards -
Nobody had earrings, I got my ears pierced
Everybody got earrings, I took mine out...
I had really long hair, everybody else had short
They finally grew theirs, hell, I shaved mine clean off...
All my friends covered themselves in ink, i stayed clean of ink
They all want to get rid of their tatts now, ah, sucks to be you....

But hey, I didn't do that stuff just to be different. I did that stuff because that's where my heart was. And I wasn't worried about being different. I was worried about being me. 

And Cat Stevens did the same thing throughout his career. He constantly 'shot himself in the foot' from a corporate marketing point of view. And it's well known that he drove the industry executives insane because of either not following current musical market trends, or sticking with what was 'working' for him at the time. Yes Cat, what where you thinking? Creative expression and adventure? How foolish, considering the real aim of the music industry is how much money we can sell your ass for. Coz that's all the bean counters in the smoke filled boardrooms are concerned with. And of course the fans don't really care about the depth of artist's songs, which explains why we have Myley Cyrus selling out stadiums.

If you check out Cat's albums, you can clearly map out the progression, growth and change within the artist, even from the album titles themselves. And because he was writing about himself from his heart, you actually get to watch a person grow and change through his thoughts and feelings as laid out in the songs. How cool is that?

Bullshit man.
Big fucking deal starchild.
Heaps of dudes still do that kinda stuff today.
Hell, check out System Of A Down dude...

Um, yeah. Sure...

But (and this is the point), at the height of his career, his wealth, his fame, hell... even his ego, in 1976 at the end of his MAJIKAT Earth Tour, he walked off the stage and walked away from the entire industry. Literaly. Now, the reason behind why he walked away is common knowledge. He nearly drowned, did a deal with a higher power, made it out alive, and became a devout Muslim and then morphed into Yusuf Islam, who he still is today.

As I've stated before, I'm not interested in anyone's politics and religion. And I'm not interested in Cat's either. But, I do admire the fact that (regardless of being a right or wrong choice) the man made a promise, and he kept it. Regardless of the cost involved. And this promise cost him a lot. And that's what I find groovy about him. That kinda courage, to stick to your principles. To do what you promise despite the negative costs involved. That's hardcore. Coz keeping your promises is heaps important. It's about being true to yourself.



Today Cat Stevens uses his energies and money to finance education facilities for children in the UK. And as an adult educator myself, what better way to use your resources and expend yourself than by teaching, encouraging, inspiring and empowering tomorrow's leaders? Cat Stevens was very protective of his artistic output, and refused to have others dictate to him how his thoughts and feelings should be presented. And I admire that very much in a person. And that's kinda what I'm doing now. Sharing myself not as others would have me be, but rather it's me sharing myself as I truly am. It's all me....

Even the really boring crappy bits in there. That's me too...

Now, I don't recommend stuff to people, coz there's nothing worse than going "Dude, this rocks" to a mate, who then checks it out, misses the point and then says "nah, that sucked big time". So, I'm not gunna encourage you to check out a Cat Stevens album or anything. But hey, if you already have, or just so happen to check 1 out, let me know what you think. And for the real adventurous punters, there's always the movie 'Harold and Maude', which is the only movie Cat did the entire soundtrack for. A very, very black comedy. Very inspiring. And I know you've made the effort to see it now Ms Malvar, haven't you...

So, it's all about being true to yourself.
And others too.
Despite popularity.
Despite cost.

But hey, it's not time to make a change, just relax, take it easy. You're still young, that's your fault, there's so much you have to learn........ *(1)


NEXT WEEK: HEROES - Part 6 - Conscientious Objectors

If you're still here... thank you.

Please feel free to comment on my pieces. I willingly accept constructive criticism and comments on all my work. Hell, I'll take non-constructive criticism too. It's not life or death stuff y'know...

I believe in respect. I'm not asking you to agree with anything in this piece, but please allow me to have my opinion. Remember, I openly admit I don't read other peoples stuff. Hey, you don't have to read mine, and I'm happy to let you write yours.

Did i push your buttons? If I did, then share this shit with your friends.
Go on, hit that forward button...

All the words & mindless ramblings in BORDERLINE (c) 2008 - 2010 stonerphonic unless otherwise stated.
Find my punk ass - http://www.facebook.com/stonerphonic
Write my punk ass - stonerphonic@hotmail.com


* (1) Cat Stevens. Father and Son - "Tea for the Tillerman" (Island Records)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

FILM REVIEW - Profondo Rosso (1975)

Yea yea yea. I know. I promised a huge Argento-a-thon months & months ago in the form of a retrospective DVD box set film review of sorts. Been busy and went trippin the light fantastic. But I'm back. So... without further ado...

Let's have our asses some Argento, starting with DEEP RED...


Que the high pitched Moog intro...


1975's Profondo Rosso (also known as Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders) is probably Dario Argento's best know and most popular cinematic presentation amongst Giallo and Horror afecionados alike. Profondo Rosso provided Argento with international exposure, helped amass a legion of fans, and set industry standards for Thriller and Horror genres.

The original Italian version kicks in at 126 minutes worth of film, whereas a lot of US versions remove around 22 minutes worth of footage. Most footage removed includes the graphic violence, all humorous scenes, almost all of the 'romantic interludes' between David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi, and unfortunately part of the subplot regarding the house of the screaming child. Ripped off badly there my American friendos...

For the rest of the free world, the full-length Italian version (with English subtitles and one small cut by UK censors) is available on video in the UK. But for the hardcore Argento freaks out there, the only known widescreen print of this full-length Italian version can be found in... wait for it... Australia!!! This version is completely uncut and is screened on both SBS-TV and its pay-TV channel World Movies. And you thought all we had was Steve Irwin jumping on crocs and bloody kangaroos.


The basic story behind Profondo Rosso is we have music teacher Marcus Daly (Hemmings) as he investigates the violent murder of psychic medium Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril), which he witnesses in an apartment building. After his attempt to rescue the medium fails, Daly realises he could have seen the killer’s face among a group of portraits on the wall of the victim’s apartment but is unable to find or recognize it when the police arrive. Later in the film, he also initially overlooks another clue that causes him to discover a mouldering corpse walled up in a derelict house. In typical Argento fashion, one murder leads to a series of others as Daly’s obsession with this vital clue that he fails to understand endangers his life and that of everyone with whom he comes into contact. This inability of a character to interpret or comprehend what he has seen is a common theme in Argento’s films and was used repeatedly in Tenebrae.

Get back, or I'll knit you to death, I swear...

The killing of Helga Ulmann is prefaced by a child’s doggerel tune, the same music that accompanies the film’s opening sequence in which two shadowy figures struggle until one of them is stabbed to death. The music serves as the murderer’s calling card. When Daly hears it in his own apartment soon after becoming involved in the case he is able to foil his attacker. Later, he plays the tune to Giordani, a psychiatrist, who theorizes that the music is important because it probably played an integral part in a traumatic event in the killer's past. The doctor’s theory is of course correct, as the identity of the killer is finally revealed as Carlo’s insane mother Martha (Clara Calamai). When Carlo was still a child, he watched as she murdered her husband when he tried to have her committed, then entomb his body in a room of their house. Daly’s discovery of the corpse is one of the film’s most dramatic moments.


Mrs Bates, it's about your son Norman...

In the climax, Martha confronts Marcus and tries to kill him. Wielding a butchering knife, Martha chases him around the complex and into a room with an elevator. Marcus is stabbed in the shoulder by the knife, and kicks Martha toward the elevator shaft. A long necklace she wears catches in the bars of the shaft, leading to her death by decapitation when Daly summons the lift. The film ends with Daly staring into the resultant pool of blood.


Profondo Rosso follows fairly classic Italian Giallo plot lines, and as such for me is much more Argento Thriller than your Argento Horror styling. The film is violent (unless you're watching the US version... sorry...) and filled with massive amounts of suspense and "build up" moments, all focused of the machinations of murder. If you like your films with a fair degree of "ultra violence", for a 1970's film Profondo Rosso was certainly just that, ultra violent. Killing scenes were particularly drawn out and emphasised, and the blood flowed red. Stabbings, hot water scalding, bashings, decapitation, Profondo Rosso is replete with them all.


Argento was originally slated for the American History X remake 

One of the cooler directorial aspects used by Argento through the film is the presaging of events by other minor, or seemingly insignificant events. As an example, the bathtub murder is "played out" by an earlier scene when Daly is scalded by an espresso machine. The same is seen where a child’s doll hanging from a noose and a brief cut to a dog fight foretells the killer's demise at the end of the film. The chain worn around the killer's neck becomes entangled in the bars of an elevator and lifts the killer into the air until they are decapitated.

Shaun, You've got red on you...

With Profondo Rosso, Argento started implementing many techniques that would become his trademarks in films to come. The very noticeable usage of odd camera angles, rolling cameras, and weird lighting techniques found their first usage by Argento in Profondo Rosso. Too, Profondo Rosso was the 1st of a number of films Argento employed Italian Prog Rock band Goblin in to rip out a more than memorable musical score for. Go on. Admit it. Don't you wish YOU wrote and performed the opening musical score? Yea, me too...

As far as horror/ thriller/ slasher films go, it's more than a hoot. Even Argento himself had a ball making it, so the stories go. Not only did he direct the film and write the script, he did actually act in it too.  The closeup shots of the killer's hands, clad in black leather gloves, were performed by Argento. The film inspired him so much that he named his shop in Rome 'Profondo Rosso' after this film.

On the down side, on 16 May 2010 George A. Romero announced he planned the 3-D remake of Deep Red. The release is planned for 2011 an will completely screened in English-language. Let's hope it doesn't turn out like Romero's current utterly unforgivable excuse for a movie, Survival of the Dead (2010). Eeeehhhh.... 

No George, noooooooo......


Seriously kids, it's pretty damn hard to not give this piece of horror movie history anything but a perfect goddamn score. Even them hardass fuckers over at Rotten Tomatoes give this a damn perfect 100% rating. You honestly want me to go against that shit? Didn't think so...


Directed by  Dario Argento
Produced by Salvatore Argento
Cinematography by Luigi Kuveiller
Music by Goblin
Release date(s) March 7, 1975 (Italy) June 11, 1976 (US) January 18, 1980 (US re-release)

Running time 126 min


Written review and animated movie GIFs by stonerphonic © September 2010
All rights reserved
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