Some years ago, San Antonio (my hometown) had a cheeky ad “campaign” which struck a little too close to home…which is to say, it was perfect.
Our neighbors to the north in Austin (my home of some 15 years) have cashed in on a perceived eccentricity which that college metropolis embodies (to a greater or lesser extent): Keep Austin Weird.
San Antonio’s riposte? Keep San Antonio Lame.
I shit you not.
And, thus, tonight…Bob Dylan in the Alamo City…and a dream come true for me…sort of. It took 17 years from when the album Time Out of Mind really convinced me of the man’s continued genius. Seventeen years. The amount of time it took Joyce to write Finnegans Wake. At my pace it will take me as long to read Finnegans Wake. But I digress…
It was poverty. I was a musician. Bob Dylan is/was/always will be my favorite living musician. I could never afford the exorbitant ticket prices. Tonight, luck was on my side…sort of.
The hoi polloi at tonight’s concert at the Majestic Theater disgusted me to an extreme degree. People 30 to 45 minutes late…standing in front of me. The incessant in and out of thirsty “fans” headed to the bar or shitter. And to top it off, a brother/sister duo behind me who wouldn’t shut the fuck up. Their never-ending running commentary finally snapped my patience as I turned around exasperated with a “I give up” look followed by the international pirate sign for throat-slitting. Sure, I felt bad about it afterwards…but goddamn, I am shocked by the sporting event etiquette which greeted the true poet laureate of the United States to my fair (foul) city.
And so, Masked and Anonymous…
I rewatched it earlier today. Such a fabulous film. One of a kind. Timeless. There are no words for the cutting dissertation of Bob Dylan in his pseudonym screenwriter persona Sergei Petrov. Larry Charles tags along as “Rene Fontaine” (cowriter) and as the cinematic auteur in charge of mise-en-scène.
I can’t really sum up how much Bob Dylan (as singer Jack Fate in this film) means to me. That’s why it pissed me off so much as people filed out early from tonight’s concert to beat the rush…as if the Spurs were down 10 with 30 seconds remaining. The bourgeois mass which sullied my night epitomize the artless throng which runs San Antone. Don’t be fooled by the River Walk. There is no life here. Looking for the zombie apocalypse? I can personally vouch that S.A. is chock-full of walking dead.
It is a prison. And only a shrill voice can pierce the malaise.
In so many ways, Masked and Anonymous is a prescient film. The flag. North American Union. The Midas-Judas Building. Dr. Benway: Psychiatrist. And John Goodman as a thinly-veiled Albert Grossman: Uncle Sweetheart.
Yes, the music industry is fucked. It is a wonder that Bob Dylan gets out there every night and slogs it out. In some ways, he is analogous to our Tim Duncan here in San Antonio (yes, our one pro sports team is truly the sole saving grace of this shithole…because they have class and are not obnoxious prima donnas).
Let’s give due to those vets who acted for the minimum recompense here:
Jeff Bridges as a slippery rock journalist.
Bruce Dern in a pithy role (powerfully acted) as Bridges’ editor.
Jessica Lange as a smoldering TV producer.
Penélope Cruz (so goddamned good in this) as a paranoid yet feather-light religious zealot.
Luke Wilson as Jack Fate’s old roadie. [Side note: I once walked up to Wilson in a Whole Foods and told him how much I appreciated his performance in this. As I was wearing a white, polyester suit in the dead of Texas summer, it goes without saying that I probably shocked the shit out of poor Mr. Wilson. He was, however, a good sport about the whole thing.]
Cheech Marin in 30 seconds (?) of pure genius…especially paired with the droll acting of Dylan.
Ed Harris as…Emmett Miller???
The list goes on and on…Chris Penn, Giovanni Ribisi (great segment on the bus), Christian Slater, Val Kilmer (slithy toves), Angela Bassett…
Of special note is Mickey Rourke as a bizarre mashup of George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales.
Somewhere between the positively fuck street of “Pay In Blood,” the agony of “Long and Wasted Years,” and the exiled ecstasy of “Autumn Leaves” Bob Dylan managed to transcend tonight at the Majestic. Maybe he was channeling his old buddy Doug Sahm. Nothing but a beer joint with a cloud machine.