Dance with me

CLICK FOR FULL SIZE IMAGE. OR LIGHTER ONE IN PAPER. Indigo's son dances with B-Girl Seoul at the B-Girl Be Summit Saturday. Photo by Jeff Luger. (Yeah, that's me standing in back with the press pass around my neck, behind Kuttin' Kandi, Jane Doe, and a bunch of other people. The exhibit continues through Saturday.)

2005 conversation at the Triple Rock:

"What happened to your blog? You should start doing it again. I like your writing. You write what you feel."

"I'll get back to it soon. Real life just intervened. My grandma died. My girlfriend's grandma died. My best friend is in the hospital. I've been really down, lately. But I'll be more rock and roll soon."

Juju dancer, your life is calling

1974 debut album by Sunny Adé (The Master Guitarist) & His African Beats on his own Sunny Alade Records label. Note the price tag: $4.00 at Eclipse Records in St. Paul! I want that shirt, too.

This year I began identifying way too much with Ray McKinnon's preacher character on HBO's Deadwood, whose sermons became progressively more deranged as his brain tumor got worse, though his metaphors actually made sense of the story. Near the end, he was preaching to cattle in the mud, while Al Swearengen, the show's villain, stared down at him from a balcony, amused but visibly moved, a cynic regarding a holyman, unable to dismiss him.

I guess I felt more crazy and pathetic in 2005, trying to fit the world into my story, trying to fit the events of the past four years, and the inadequacy of my response, into an idealism that nobody buys anymore. I spent much of this year saying: What's my story? What's my mission? I went out and danced when I could. Dancing makes the heart remember.

Then last night, I saw Batman Begins, and was taken back to a moment when I was very young, before I began believing in much of anything. I was 8 in the summer of 1978, when I picked up Detective Comics 472 at the corner drug store, and the Batman myth was already familiar to me through the TV show (on my friend's cable television) and Bob Kane's comics, available in a bound edition at the Madison Public Library.

This version of Batman, drawn by Marshall Rogers, is sometimes called the modern template for the character (though you wouldn't know it from the silly movies based on its stories). These comics rejected the camp of the TV show for a more realistic, Ian Fleming, gangster-hunting detective. But all the '70s Batmans connected with the early Kane idea of a figure who scared those that preyed on the fears of others.

I don't know why this idea was so powerful to me as a kid. Maybe because I had grown up with bullies around the corner, and was already developing a strong sense of right and wrong. Batman had no superpowers: Despite his wealth, he was a self-made superhero. Which is what I suppose we all want to be, sometimes. Before I had developed the analytical tools to take the story apart, it attached itself directly to my subconsciousness. Some part of me feels disappointed that I didn't grow up to be Batman.

Christian Bale's Batman is about turning that disappointment into a work week that redeems you. It's also about how pathetic revenge is, a subject addressed only obliquely in other post-9/11 superhero movies. Besides The Hulk, which I'll still defend if you get enough whiskey in me, Batman Begins is the least morally compromised of comics-hero adaptations. Batman does not kill. He does not take revenge. In fact, the movie does the comic one better, and addresses crime as a system, not just a character flaw. The movie admits class as a function of the machine grinding out murderers. (The Waynes, we are told, nearly bankrupted themselves trying to help the poor during Gotham's recent "Depression.")

This is only one way in which Batman Begins is a complete departure from a previously embarassing film franchise. I could mention Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, the laughs Morgan Freeman gets (and it's been a while) as Lucius Fox, the truly scary Scarecrow, and the revised Batmobile, which is very funny (though too bad Hans Zimmer didn't realize it when composing the humdrum chase music). The story is completely absorbing, and I can't wait to see it again.

But the heart of the story is Bruce Wayne. Like Ray McKinnon's Rev. H.W. Smith, Bale's maniac is just a fervent idealist who finds comfort in having something to do. Don't we all.

1977 album sleeve for Superstar Verse 1 by Sir Shina Adewale, a juju group formed that year by Segun Adewale and Sir Shina Peters. They look like they're having fun in those tube socks.

Things I've written about since I stopped blogging:

King Sunny Ade and the politics of juju, Mint Condition, the history of the Varsity Theater (updates here, here, and here), Wild Condition and Driver 23 director Rolf Belgum, Bruce Springsteen's new albumStern's Music closing, Lyrics Born, the Todd Haynes Dylan movieMarla Ruzicka, R.I.P., the Turf Club's Clown Lounge closing, Let It Be Records closingTulip Sweet breaking up, a weird article in The RakeDeadwood's theme song, celebrity blogging, Susie Bright on Andrea Dworkin, Atmosphere's live-band version, Stephanie Winter, The T.A.M.I. Show, Negroes With Guns, Guess Who, The Take, Mojados: Through the Night, the Soweto Gospel Choir, No Time For Cold Feet, Vagabunden Karawane, the latest U2 albumDessa Darling and Cecil Otter, the Midnight Evils, the new Go-Betweens, the new Low, the Walker Art Center, downtown clubs, and Low's battle with sanity. Maybe I know how Al feels.

Things I've written about comics:

Geek Squad: review of the first X-Men movie, review of X2: X-Men United, Kiss of the Spider-Man, Azarello and Risso: Backstory Goes Better with a Blowjob, The Vicious, Sweaty, Wonderful Thrill of Mexican Sex Comics, Of Micronauts and Men, It's a New World for Stan Lee's Superbeings in Long Underwear, Take the Paxil, Charlie Brown, The Very Voluptuous World of Comics Artist Gilbert Hernandez, The Mask: The Secret Identities of Rapper MF Doom, Artist of the Year: MF Doom, The Origin of Madvillain (comic), Freshman Disorientation (comic), Ben Affleck Finds a Risk Worth Taking in Daredevil, review of Daniel Clowes's Orgy Bound (scroll to bottom), Complete Comics Links at, The Hulk: Best Film of the Century So Far

From Sarah Sawyer's Critics Camp: Kids Tell Us What They Think of Summer Movies:

CP: Peter Scholtes at City Pages said in his blog that The Hulk is the best movie of the last ten years. What would you say to him?

MEGHAN: I'd say, "Look in your closet"--because it's full of comic books.

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