CHARLEEN, dir. ROSS MCELWEE, 1978

valentine's day 2009: we saw SPARKS at royce hall, playing exotic creatures of the deep and kimono my house in their entirety, plus a generous handful of other hits in the encore. theatrical, inspiring, wonderful to watch. russell mael sounds amazing. and the crowd: a delightful mix of young people (a few in kimonos) and older diehards, including a plump woman i saw in the bathroom (lightwash denim long skirt and top; i might have pegged her as a fourth grade teacher) who i heard say, "there's no such thing as a bad sparks show." and there really isn't.


there was a large projection screen onstage. at the end of the first act, each of sparks' twenty-one albums appeared, and ron mael pretended to set fire to each album ceremoniously, one by one. he crouched at the bottom of each image with a lighter and watched every album (with the exception of the last!) burn up in digital flame. this was meant to be funny, i think, but it was touching, too. i wondered what it must have felt like for ron and russell to see their whole life's work set out before them, a career spanning multiple genres, reinventions and almost four decades, and all in front of a sold out, adoring, cheering crowd.

it's no wonder people still want to be rock stars.

KIRA is here! and she has a great place in los feliz. driving home from visiting her late last week, i took the winding roads to franklin all the way home, trailing the same car at a steady distance for a good portion of the way. the curves and slow speed made me feel like something out of double indemnity. the pursuit feeling. like i was getting away with it.

and then there's CHARLEEN. her namesake film reveals a more complicated, volatile woman than the charleen of sherman's march, but she's just so...something. something else. place your trust in those who laugh easily, especially at their own expense.