Random Thoughts: The Future Is Female
When I began this column two months ago there were no instructions, no guidelines, no restrictions. The only directive was to feature invigorating photos by our outstanding photographers. This week, some random Thanksgiving thoughts.
Until it was pointed out, I had forgotten that 45 years ago this past week Cat Stevens’ Tea For The Tillerman was released. I was fortunate to have seen him the day after Thanksgiving 1970 at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, where he and lead guitarist Alun Davies opened for Traffic. Traffic was critic’s darling then with Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, but it was Stevens who stole the show. I and my buddy, a fellow Free Press writer, flipped for the promo copy that was in the office. Then, when I went to my record store for Record Store Day, the manager gave me, you guessed it, a pristine original pressing of the album, complete with shrink wrap and store sticker.
I had also forgotten a piece of neat 1970s trivia until I read a piece in the Times today that reminded me that in 1975 I first saw the “The Future Is Female” T-shirt. Originally made for the first women’s bookstore in New York, Labyris Books, it has made a comeback this year in several guises, with luminaries such as Annie Clark (St. Vincent) wearing one around town. (Self-pomotion here: Ms. Clark is also the subject of my photograph that was recently accepted in my state’s bi-annual Juried Exhibition of Art — the first performance photo ever accepted.)
So, from music to books to film — in anticipation of Todd Haynes’ Carol this week I began reading the Highsmith novel The Price of Salt. Adapted by Phyllis Nagy and produced by Christine Vachon, who was twice a guest of a film festival when I was its director, its music was composed by Carter Burwell, who has done so many of the Coen Brothers’ pictures. That got me to thinking about music composed for films (as opposed to using familiar songs) and the use of sound to further a movie’s mood. So, I watched Mulholland Dr., by two recent evocative masters, David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, taking in its layered themes of women and fractured reality. From Eraserhead to Inland Empire, no one has employed sound quite like Lynch.
That brought me back to Carol’s lead actress, Cate Blanchett, and the first movie I saw her in, Oscar and Lucinda, in 1997, adapted by Laura Jones and directed by Gillian Anderson, who emerged on these shores with a bang in 1979 with My Brilliant Career, starring another actress of note, Judy Davis. Blanchett also portrayed the cryptic Dylan during his most fascinating years in Haynes’ I’m Not There.
To close on these random thoughts and tangents is perhaps the future most personified: Sally Potter’s 1992 adaptation of the Woolf novel, Orlando, starring Tilda Swinton, about being born a man and waking up one day to find she’s a woman.
So, I have touched on four of my favorite subjects, music, literature, cinema, and photography. Now the photographs of the week: Nikki Lane, Whitehorse, Melissa Etheridge, Aoife O’Donovan, Baskery, The Handsome Family, Patty Griffin, Sarah Jarosz, and Sara Watkins. The future, indeed.