Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today: The Best Albums of 1998

I was all set to share a list found in the recesses of my hard drive of my fave albums of 1998 until I discovered it was online at MTV.com here. So here's a minor tweak and reshuffle because Come On Over was 1997 and the Kim cuts drag down A Thousand Leaves. I make no apologies for the preponderance of anthologies and compilations. The 1990s was the great reissue decade (all hail Rhino's heyday!) and 1998 fell several stories from 1997's sugar high.

1. Queer to the Core!: Queer Rock From the Vaults! (Quick Nuts) - We still have no clue who released this bootleg plucked from the bins of Atomic Records in Milwaukee. But I've never been able to shake how it epitomizes the alternately frustrating and glorious position of the queer historian. More here and still for sale cheap on Discogs.

2. The Music in My Head: Indispensable Classics and Unknown Gems From the Golden Age of African Pop (Stern's Africa) - Still my favorite African pop compilation. I reviewed it and Mark Hudson's delirious novel to which it was the de facto soundtrack for the Chicago Reader.

3. American Pop: An Audio History (West Hill Audio Archives) - And still my favorite box set ever. Gawd, its nine discs continue to educate although my one-disc distillation sieves out the poppiest (and weirdest) (and punkiest) moments.

4. Fat Beats & Bra Straps: Battle Rhymes & Posse Cuts (Rhino) - 90% of the rap I quote comes from this vicious collection of gripes and disses. Bow down to her, bitch, cuz she's the shit: Roxanne Shanté.

5. A Night On South Bitch (Max) - The finest bitch tracks comp extant. I'll see you after the function!

6. Sean "Puffy" Combs: Changing The Sound of Popular Music (Bad Boy Promo) - Cheating. But these Puffy-helmed hits honor the man who helped make 1997 the greatest year for singles since 1981.

7. George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars: Dope Dogs (Dogone) -The first "real" album on the list by a man for whom the importance of The Album meant precious little.

8. The Perfect Beats: New York Electro Hip-Hop + Underground Dance Classics 1980-1985 (Rhino) - Four volumes proving not only that disco never died but that 1981 was the greatest year for singles ever.

9. Suckdog: Onward Suckdog Soldiers (Tray Full of Lab Mice) - Here for the 20-second masterprank "I Knelt 2day Where Jesus Knelt."

10. Unkle: Psyence Fiction (Mo' Wax/London) - For years it had been an open question which turntablists would be the first to sample Olivia Record rockers BeBe K'Roche, to paraphrase Eric Weisbard's Jungle Brothers entry in the Spin Alternative Record Guide.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Best Films of 2017

10. Division Movement to Vungtau (Benjamin Crotty and Bertrand Dezoteux)
These enfants terribles dishonor 16mm footage sourced from the US National Archives of off-duty American soldiers in Vietnam c. 1966-1968 by inserting motion-captured anthropomorphic fruit. To quote Phil Coldiron in a dead-on summation for The Brooklyn Rail, "the pair throw stink bombs into...the boomer nostalgia that marks Vietnam as more than just another catastrophe in our idiot nation’s storied history of them" and, as such, would make a perfect coda to Ken Burns' The Vietnam War.
9. Tonsler Park (Kevin Jerome Everson)
An 80-minute observation at a polling precinct in Charlottesville, Virginia on November 8th, 2016 of the black bodies our legislatures are gerrymandering out of existence.
8. The Florida Project (Sean Baker)
With many parking lots to cross, the barely working poor at a motel in Anywhere, USA find no relief from noise, heat, and the fitfully sympathetic management.
7. The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
Not a requiem but rather an ode to cinema's embalming function. I see dead people indeed.
6. Ismael's Ghosts (director's cut) (Arnaud Desplechin)
24 Hour Psycho Back and Forth and To and Fro (Douglas Gordon)
Hitchcock is always with us. Desplechin retells Vertigo as four films in one for the ADD set while Gordon's 2008 installation (at the 21st St. Gagosian through February 3rd) features one 24-hour Psycho running forward while another adjoining one runs backward. I haven't had so much fun at a gallery-cum-cinema, well, ever! My friend Bill and I were like giddy children before this monument to a lifetime of close readings. "Wait - wasn't Vera Miles walking backwards away from the house at one point?" "Do you know the name of the actor who played the cop?" "Man, he held this shot a long time." "Let's stay to see Ted Knight!"
5. Zama (Lucretia Martel)
A welcome and criminally tardy return of the genius Martel for a tale about a victim of hope winding his way through various disorienting spaces, the most terrifying pictured below from a brief moment I won't soon forget.
4. Baby Driver (Edgar Wright)
Finally - a big-budget Hollywood action film/box-office smash I loved! And a far better musical than La La Land. I can't even: Ansel Elgort.
3. On Generation and Corruption (Takashi Makino)
Makino takes Maya Deren's concept of vertical editing to unprecedented depths as you dive into his blizzard of superimpositions.
2. Sleep Has Her House (Scott Barley)
So gorgeous, so uncompromising that I actually wept at the end. Sleep Has Her House evokes Edward Steichen's eerie Moonlight photos or maybe The Turin Horse devoid of humans. You can scarcely imagine the profilmic events Barley encountered even though the film was presumably shot on this planet. As of this writing and for shame, Sleep Has Her House has yet to have its New York (or even North American!) premiere.
1. SPF-18 (Alex Israel)
In a year when cinema kept dying and Twin Peaks: The Return was a film (or not), and streaming threatened the thingishness of things, SPF-18 suggests that such epistemological uncertainty is the natural order of art. This is a film alright. But it's also part of a multi-platform project comprised of, to quote the VIA Art Fund's sober description, "a feature-length film, soundtrack, artwork, digital outreach program, and accompanying high school curriculum." Apparently, Israel toured high schools with the film although I've yet to uncover evidence that this actually happened and any documentation thereof would compete with the film as a primary aesthetic object. The film features cameos by Keanu Reeves, Molly Ringwald, Rosanna Arquette, Pamela Anderson, and Goldie Hawn (as the narrator), a 1980s soundtrack including hits from Duran Duran, The Cars, and Yaz, several of Isreal's art works, and some of the most ridiculous aerial shots ever filmed. It's basically an after-school special about the need for beautiful teenagers to follow their creative muse. I have absolutely no clue how to position myself with respect to this thing and I imagine further inquiries into Israel's access and privilege will force my mind in one firm direction. But for now, this was the most head-spinning encounter with cinema (or whatever) I had all year. SPF-18 is available on Netflix as of this writing. Watch it, kay?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bonding Occurs Between Enraged Film Lovers At Sold-out Nathaniel Dorsky Anthology Screening

Manhattan, October 17 - In an atmosphere reminiscent of the good vibes outside Studio 54 amongst the folks who couldn't get in, only far more bittersweet, several film lovers in the lobby of Anthology Film Archives (32 2nd Ave.) managed to bond with one another despite their rage over not getting tickets to a sold-out screening of Nathaniel Dorsky's new films. Avant-garde enthusiasts who arrived as early at 7:00 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. screening were greeted with a "Dorsky Is Now Sold Out" sign, a phrase that soon took on an double meaning for the angry unfortunates.

Raising their hopes but also stoking their flames of rage was another sign reading "Maybe A Few Might Get In?" So a group of about 20 hopefuls waited in the lobby for word from an admittedly sympathetic Anthology employee about potential seating. Around 7:30 p.m. said employee announced that there were five aisle seats available which went to the names at the top of a long waiting list. But an occasion for revelry quickly turned sour since the announcement broke up several groups of friends. Kisses and hugs were exchanged with the unlucky as one loudmouth wondered aloud how they could possibly remain friends after this.

Two aspects of the evening contributed to the tense environment. Nathaniel Dorsky refuses to release his masterful films on DVD/Blu-ray so one must attend a rare screening in more privileged cities around the world in order to see them. Even worse, Anthology was screening (freakin') Eating Raoul (Paul Bartel, 1982) in their much larger theatre upstairs. Attendance figures for that 7:00 p.m. screening were not released by press time. But one could surmise that they could not have exceeded the turnout for Dorsky. Further compounding the offense is that Eating Raoul was a staple of early cable television and has been available not only on VHS but on a Criterion Blu-ray as well. The loudmouth asked the employee why the Dorsky films weren't shown in the larger theatre. "Nick (?) decided that they would work better in the smaller theatre," was the reply.

Once it was official that no one else beyond the lucky five would be getting in, the employee offered Dorsky bookmarks as a pathetic consolation prize. One particularly sad Dorsky fan was gifted the "Sold Out" sign (seen below). The loudmouth asked the employee to convey to Dorsky that we were pissed.

Nevertheless, the unlucky bonded over their misfortune. They wondered if buying a membership would get them in and then got even sadder that they didn't have a membership in the first place. Others discussed the genius of Dorsky while ruing the "necessity" of watching his masterpieces on film in a theatre. Genuine sorrys were exchanged as the supporters of the avant-garde dispersed morosely.

Brandishing a copy of Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," the loudmouth went on a harangue:

"Today, I hate the avant-garde. I traveled from The Bronx to see these films. Three hours wasted. I've crossed state lines to see avant-garde films. I am not the enemy. But now I will fight to get these films shown to the unprivileged who can't attend screenings in Manhattan or at Harvard. I now want to bootleg every film ever! Long live KG! Long live UbuWeb! Blu-rays for all. Myron Ort sells DVDs of his films online. So does Joseph Bernard whose films are at least as gorgeous as Dorsky's? Why can't Dorsky??? We get it. We know they should be experienced live in motion on film. We get that, say, Luther Price's films are about decay, that even their destruction is part of their aesthetic experience. But let us have that aesthetic experience! We're here in the auratic space that is Manhattan and Anthology and we can't see Dorsky films??? There's something rotten here!!!"

Eventually, the loudmouth found himself talking to no one outside on 2nd Ave. and he walked home alone slowly in the wrong direction.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

New York Film Festival Screenings 2017 2

Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)

Based on the novel by André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name gives new meaning to the phrase "coming-of-age story" (no spoilers but if you've read the book/early reviews, you know what I'm getting at). Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet, luminous) is a 17-year-old staying with his academic parents in 1983 Northern Italy. His professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg) brings in a twenty-something guest, Oliver (Armie Hammer, so godlike he could shame Zeus), to help with research and a furtive summer romance blossoms between Elio and Oliver. Guadagnino creates tension from this barely taboo scenario by cutting in the middle of various benign bucolic activities - horseplay in the lake, a countryside breakfast - and the resulting edgy drift carries the film for a good three quarters, particularly two ecstatic dances to The Psychedelic Furs' thematic "Love My Way." But as with André Téchiné's Being 17 from last year, the film grows more conventional inching towards a dénoument that clusters around the limp question of whether or not the two principals will remain together. Would that the final reel were lobbed off despite the nifty new wave ensemble (complete with ubiquitous Walkman) sported by Elio in the final scene (the only time he wears socks too, an admittedly idiosyncratic measure of the scene's conventionality). Girlfriends are conveniently dispensed with (a pernicious tendency in gay cinema), the father lets forth with overwritten Hallmark platitudes, and the repressed Jewishness (almost as central a subject as repressed homosexuality - his family are "Jews by discretion") is barely examined (and forget a class analysis of how these people came to enjoy such a halcyon summer in the first place). I much prefer My Hustler, Andy Warhol's 1965 masterpiece which stops rather than ends and stares right into the intersections between class and sexuality. Still, Call Me by Your Name perfectly captures the head rush of teenage homolust. And to paraphrase The Allman Brothers, eat that peach, baby!

(Lucrecia Martel's Zama was my first NYFF screening. But I'm still trying to process it.)

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

I didn't need to see Dunkirk in IMAX (or even 70MM)

By now, you've heard that you just HAVE to see Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017) in IMAX 70MM. And maybe you do. But I certainly didn't. 

According to this helpful article in Entertainment Weekly, "IMAX provides more of any given image for a viewer to see — ideal for films with vast, natural settings like Dunkirk." I saw Dunkirk in IMAX 70MM at AMC Lincoln Square 13 & IMAX (!) in Manhattan and can attest that "more" certainly doesn't mean "all." The image is so immense that you have to dive your head down to see the bottom of the screen and then sit back to take in the upper extremities. And the volume was so loud that it distorted the high end in several scenes of dialogue. Sometimes more is more and that's an annoyance.

But even if these imperfections were eliminated, the captains of industry will ensure that ideal conditions are forever receding in order to keep us spending money on the same thing. Can't visit all the parks at Disney World in a week? Then you'll need to go back. Think the recent reissue of Sgt. Pepper is perfection? Guess you haven't heard the white hot stamper currently going for $699.99 at the evocatively named Better Records. Did you see the face of Elvis at the IMAX 70MM of Dunkirk? Then you'll see the face of Jesus in IMAX with laser. Yes, it's not enough to see Dunkirk in plain ole IMAX because with IMAX laser projection, "a laser light force is used instead of a standard lamp, which broadens the color palette (blacks look darker, for instance), amplifies contrast for highlights and shadows, and brightens the image." The Entertainment Weekly article reports that the IMAX with laser presentation nearest to me is in Reading, MA over 200 miles away. But the IMAX site itself claims that AMC Lincoln Square 13's IMAX is indeed with laser. 

So hey - maybe I did see it in laser which would justify the $27.54 [sic] I spent on my ticket, right? Maybe I did see even more of the image, perhaps the most ever - endless colors and bottomless blacks as the IMAX laser advertising copy screams. But this pursuit of more and most and deeper feels like an unnatural impulse in my lifelong passion for cinema. I want to see more films not more of the few hungry dinosaurs on the block. If you want to chase after lasers or early pressings of Pepper, it's your time and money. Me, I'd trade my Dunkirk experience for a chance to see Larry Clark's rare Passing Through, missing from Lincoln Center's 1977 series starting Friday.

As for Dunkirk itself, perfectly fine. A sort of reverse Voyage of the Damned, it features an amazing score by Hanz Zimmer built on suffocating rhythm patterns rather than motivic development. And Nolan builds an unbearable sense of disorientation such that we don't know where or even when we are for a large part of the film, ping-ponging between disparate times and locations. But the last quarter becomes quite conventional as the various narrative strands congeal and the score heaves with pride. See it, by all means. But see some other damn films too, kay? Maybe something lacking vast, natural settings like The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant or a Nathaniel Dorsky film.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

But I’m A Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit, 1999)

I wrote this review for In Step (I think), a Milwaukee gay magazine/bar rag, at the time of the film's release. That "where else would we go" line really got under my skin. To quote Homer Simpson, I will *never* tire of the bar scene. But I did have friends who could not imagine life outside of it and by my late twenties when this was written, it became oppressive. In retrospect, the review captures that Midwest sense of inadequacy whereby you imagine a more varied life on the coasts when you were already living a perfectly fabulous one with cheap rent and great coffee. I'm sure I'd be more charitable to the film now (as I am to Milwaukee) but doubt I'd still like it much. D-minus. Wow!

But I'm A Cheerleader 
     Megan (Natasha Lyonne) is on the cheerleading squad in high school. She has a dreamy boyfriend, lots of friends…everything seems so sugar and spice. But both her friends and her parents (Bud Cort and Mink Stole) suspect that she is a lesbian and send her off with former homosexual Mike (RuPaul out of drag) to True Directions – a homosexual rehabilitation clinic run out of the home of its homophobic director Mary (Cathy Moriarty). Megan goes along with all the comic counseling and ridiculous programming until she meets fellow inmate Graham (Clea DuVall), a butch dyke who resists all of Mary's gay reversal techniques.
     Director Jamie Babbit's feature film debut, But I'm A Cheerleader, uses this backpatting framework for a putatively satirical investigation into stereotypes and how they smother us. To this end, she paints True Directions with vivid, hyper-real, even Lynchian colors…you know, to deconstruct what's considered normal male and female behavior and stuff. But because heterosexuality is presented as a pea-brained idealization in pink and blue, Babbit never gives you the impression that she has any idea how it's actually lived, e.g. in the lives of Megan's high school friends. It's a measure of how glib her conception is in that we never get to see Megan apply the lessons she's learned (and unlearned) back at school. By ignoring this site of the origin of normalization, Babbit never brings her "deconstruction" full circle which would have aimed it right back at heterosexuality where it belongs.
     Instead, we get a flabbergastingly impoverished view of homosexual resistance. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the scene where Graham and some other inmates escape after lights out. Megan reluctantly joins them but freaks out when she discovers that they took her to a gay bar to which Graham replies "Where else would we go?" Where else, indeed! The only thing this scene accomplishes is the reinforcement of a tired myth – the bar/club as actually constitutive of gay identity. Watching it in Milwaukee is doubly depressing given how so many gays and lesbians in this city do not even feel gay or lesbian if they haven't sufficiently barhopped over the weekend. I dig RuPaul and, especially, Mink Stole and do not have such a jaded view of gay bars as to ignore their frequently positive impact on political mobilization or education or emotional strength in numbers, etc. But the impossibility of imagining gay life outside of these smothering (that word again!) bearers of gayness is a formidable obstacle for queer identity politics. That But I'm A Cheerleader steers clear of this confrontation shows up its utter conventionality and ultimate uselessness.

Grade: D-

—Kevin John

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Louie Louie and Jaws (Pazz & Jop essay)

Robert Christgau picked my 2004 Pazz & Jop comments as the lead essay, after his, for the Village Voice's Pazz issue that year. They've since disappeared from the interwebs. So voila!

"'Louie Louie' and Jaws"

My most shocking musical moment of 2004 came at the end of Todd Snider's "The Ballad of the Kingsmen." "I'm not trying to preach to ya," preaches Snider, and his recitative is stilted here, self-satisfied there. Evil music from "Louie Louie" to the collected works of Marilyn Manson and Eminem doesn't cause evildoing, it seems. But then Snider cuts the sermon off and croons a message to the kids courtesy of that famous perv Marvin Gaye (and don't think Snider chose his inspiration arbitrarily): "Let's get it on." And in that moment, he turns his sermon on its head. For if Snider could inspire the youth of America to start fucking, maybe he could inspire them to go on a shooting spree in high schools here or Iraq over there, end of song. And it's because Jack Ely jumbled the lyrics to "Louie Louie" in his jaw that anyone can bend it to their own agenda, even the FBI.

Kanye West managed to enunciate with his jaw wired shut. He needs clarity because The College Dropout is gospel music for the here and now consumer culture. West is here to remind us that in Dick Cheney's America, transcendence can only be had through money. Now that he's finally got some, the hyped-up Chaka and Luther samples testify to his giddiness as the Sunday morning choirs do to his thankfulness. And both will power our attempts to grab a little bit of that same kind of freedom. But unless you're Bill Gates and a few other lucky fuckers, transcendence is not eternal in this world. When the hits start drying up, Rocafella will remember the time when West was courting Capitol and proceed to kick him unceremoniously to the curb. That's why West asks Jesus to walk with him. Me, I don't have Jesus. I have this record. Around the time it came out, I learned that I'd been accepted as a PhD candidate at UT-Austin. You bet I was giddy and thankful. But I'm also terrified at the gamble. Sure, I have a better shot at freedom than the Gap workers of The College Dropout. But there's never any guarantee and not since Livin' Joy's "Don't Stop Movin'" have I heard such a thrilling articulation that hard work and brains (even genius) may not pay off.

Most of us try to make the gamble pay off by keeping the stakes low. Not Stephen Foster, who lost big time. Foster was stretching democracy to its limits in fancying himself a songwriter. If Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster were a testament to that spirit, it would have included contributions from Gino Washington and Biz Markie, Boy George and Iggy Stooge, Courtney Love and Axl Rose. Instead, Foster's anti-crybaby "No One To Love" could almost be conceived as an attack on the sensitive singer-songwriters assembled to reupholster his glory - Ron Sexsmith and David Ball, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Grey DeLisle, Raul Malo and Judith Edelman. But the utter safeness of these artists lends a mild yet undeniable drama to Foster's gorgeous melodies. This is an album for those of us who don't spend our lives grabbing at transcendence. It imbues playin' it safe with a sense of wonder and excitement indie whiners couldn't even begin to imagine.

Outside the US, nothing represented transcendence better than the funk carioca that hit these shores in 2004. From here, the snippet of "Louie Louie" heard on "Pique Ta" only deepened the winning chaos of . But a Brazilian friend tells me "favela" means "slum" and it’s my hope that the inexhaustible beats and rainbow samples lifted dancers up out of there, spiritually if not literally the Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats compilation. And for MIA, favela funk is literally a matter of life and death. Diplo sprinkles bits of the stuff in between her tracks on Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1 and it plays like a frightening extension of the pain of Claudine Clark's "Party Lights." Because here, mom has been replaced by a bank of faceless terrorists.

First Broadway Show Enjoyed, Loved Even!

I've always preferred the film musical over the stage musical for good old fashioned communist reasons - it's buckets cheaper and you can share it with more people. Vagaries of context can undoubtedly inform film reception. But in general, the 1962 film version of Gypsy you saw is the same one I saw and we can discuss it accordingly. When you tell us you had the privilege of seeing Ethel Merman in the original Broadway production of Gypsy, all we can do is hang on to your memories and maybe utter a bitter "jerk" under our breaths.

So I wasn't excited when a friend offered me in a block of tickets to see (it better be) Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! at the Shubert Theatre. The few touring shows I'd managed to take in around 2000 in Milwaukee (Cabaret, Sunset Boulevard with Petula Clark, and, was it?, The King and I) left me underwhelmed at best. And I despised the grotesquely distended 1969 film version of Hello, Dolly! featuring a ridiculously miscast/shoehorned-in Barbra Streisand. But I'd never been to a Broadway show. And I adored Midler's early 1970s pomo rewiring of popular music history even though she quickly abandoned this project for the schlocky half-measures and compromises of El Lay. So I went in expecting to get all haughty about a moribund art form and two and a half hours later left with tears in my eyes.

First, the bad. $152 for one ticket. Go around the corner to the AMC Empire 25 on 42nd St. and you can pay about $18 to see a first-run movie. Still a despicable price but you can see eight movies for one Dolly. Or better yet, trek down to my favorite movie theatre in New York City, Anthology Film Archives, and purchase a general admission ticket for $11 and see some of the greatest films ever made. As much as I loved my time at Dolly, it cannot match the out-of-body experience I had watching Mosaik Im Vertrauen (Peter Kubelka, 1955) at Anthology in September last year.

Also, the seats. We were in the last row of the mezzanine (my seat was K 23) and had a remarkably unobstructed view for such a thin field of vision. But we missed some action on the upper floor of Vandergelder's Hay and Feed Store and, worse, Dolly's entrance at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant. And the standing ovation completely obstructed the curtain call. But I followed the Broadway veteran (of several shows just that week!) in K 25 down the aisle to at least Row F to get a better view.

Overall, though, I remain stunned by how moved I was. It had little to do with Midler. I teared up when she asked her dead husband Ephraim to give her a sign that it was okay to marry Vandergelder. But the moments that really choked me up were, well,  good old fashioned communist ones -  ensemble numbers like "Before the Parade Passes By," "Hello, Dolly!," the finale, all amplified by Warren Carlyle's choreography, built on Gower Champion's original work, no less astonishing in the serpentine movements throughout the Hay and Feed Store during "It Takes A Woman" than in "The Waiters' Gallop." If we cry at melodramas because of the impossibility of communication, we do so at musicals for the opposite reason - that disparate people can come together like rama lama lama. And Midler's star wattage is crucial for this effect. Donna Murphy, whom I never even heard of until this weekend (chill, theatre queens), will no doubt sing the role better on Tuesdays as Midler herself would probably concede. But the ensemble effect of the musical subsumes even a supernova like Midler and for an overwhelming moment, we are all one.

It's a fleeting moment for sure, especially with $59 for the cheapest ticket. I certainly don't want to make common cause with the audience if they agree with Ben Brantley's contention in a depressing New York Times review that there was "a more innocent age of American history" or that camp doesn't exude "bone-deep affection and respect." And I definitely want to avoid the two psycho fans I encountered afterward whom I tried to convince that Midler had left the building and was whisked away in a car the nanosecond she left the stage. But the show taught me what it might feel like to make common cause with them and I am privileged to have witnessed it.

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