CULTURE TO GO

Linda Lovelace for President

Moore Video

          This re-discovered 1975 feature starts with a shot of the world's most famous porn queen, standing naked (and "naked" is the right word here) in front of a gigantic American flag. On the soundtrack an out-of-tune male chorus drunkenly warbles "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and a title guarantees the film will offend everyone "regardless of race, creed, or color." If this doesn't strike you as a promising beginning for a political sex comedy, let's just leave it at this: Linda Lovelace for President makes Benny Hill look like Noel Coward.

          Lovelace's campaign is managed by a Whitman Sampler of stereotypes--a priest, a Chinese Communist who does kung fu, a jive-talkin' hipster with a huge afro, a gay guy, a lesbian, a nearly blind bus driver played by Monkee Mickey Dolenz, a Nazi, and a Richard Nixon lookalike who spends the entire movie bribing little girls with candy--and thus perhaps not surprisingly, its political point, both as story and commentary, remains unclear.

          Director Claudio Guzman, who later did made-for-TV movies for ABC, unsuccessfully tries for a semi-documentary feel, allowing plenty of room for weird, unfunny clichés and what you might call single entendres. Joe E. Ross, evidently desperate for work after the cancellation of Car 54, Where Are You? more than a few years before, plays a political fixer who says stuff like, "We won't mention that your candidate had a nose job if you don't mention that our candidate has six toes--on each foot!" By the time former JFK impressionist Vaughan Meader shows up as a fundamentalist minister, the movie has totally disintegrated into non-narrativity--wisely and to its benefit, perhaps. The tasteless Linda Lovelace for President is the perfect antidote to the naked posturing of this year's presidential candidates. (Available from Moore Video, P.O. Box 5703, Richmond, VA 23220-0703; 804-745-9785) (A.S. Hamrah)

MUSIC

Yo La Tengo

Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo

Matador

          Odds-and-ends compilations rarely feature a band's best work, but surely that's the fun of them. There's a certain voyeuristic thrill in hearing all those weird B-sides, dusty outtakes, alternate versions, and obscure covers the band never thought to put on an album. But wait: Yo La Tengo is already weird, thoroughly alternative (even before alternative was big business), and have long made a practice of reworking other people's music (whether on their many EPs or their 1990 all-cover Fakebook album). What, then, is new about Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo, the group's 2-CD rarities collection? Well, the great thing about Yo La Tengo is, they sound new even when they're doing the same old thing.

          In an indie-rock genre that demands originality, Yo La Tengo have defiantly flirted with life as the coolest cover band in the world. Out of the attics and onto Genius + Love come renditions of songs by Wire, John Cale, Beat Happening, the Urinals, the Velvet Underground (who YLT depicted in the film I Shot Andy Warhol), Daniel Johnston (with Johnston providing lead vocals over the phone), and the Ramones (with an easy listening version of "Blitzkrieg Bop"). In addition, the album features cuts from the band in all its moods and periods between '88 and '95: the early dream-pop ("Fog Over Frisco"), the Velvety dark minimalism ("Walking Away From You"), the disciplined Sonic Youth guitar noise ("Evanescent Psychic Pez Drop"), plus an entire second disc of instrumentals. Thirty tracks in all, Genius + Love may be the first rarities collection to satisfy both the needs of obsessive completists and of beginners looking for an accurate introduction to the group. (Roni Sarig)

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