Bluntly Speaking: A Big Old Batch of Lemonade
There are a few annoying - none the less true - verbal clichés in the world; the most notorious of these phrases involving the fact that life is sure of few things but you can count on death and taxes.
I ad to that conundrum of truths a special human phenomenon – if you will - Jon Brion.
It’s been a few months since I was able to sally forth to Largo – Brion’s Friday evening menagerie of mayhem. I asked for a four-top table for a few friends who were in from various parts of the world and doing the film festival/awards season.
See, I feel, a good-deed-for-the-day is done when one tunes in , or turns on , another person to a soulful slice of rarebit in this hectic, often homogenized, world.
This small gathering of mine for de jour was a nice group of what they call in LA ”creatives.” They were I a sort-of micro-social gathering of the cogs of a fine film's production.
We had the obligatory actor (– who caused people of the public to stop and look at him in that RCA dog pose, wondering where they’d seen him - gawking but not speaking). Though tonight, sadly, his handsome face was radiating no light comedy. He wore an O'Neill face of a harmed heart; he has recently lost his wife, best friend and lover of 18 years, and was trying to emerge slowly back into the fold of society. We promised him great music and booze. The other representation at the tisch was an indie director. His current film is in the festival farmlands looking for love and distribution. His new adventure will have him off to Hawaii to film a new feature among the beauty. Me, the dreaded writer. And, rounding–off bevy of talent, - who ordered her first drink as we entered the club (ahem)- is my sister friend who happens to dabble in cinematography when she’s not literally sailing around the world (film festival to festival) in her 1940’s yacht, to traffic the flow of films, from port to port like a Columbian overlord works heroin (though the films in question actually meet her via fed ex in the port-of-destination– no sea swells and scurvy tales of faring the triangles for these celluloid yarns).
For their audio and cerebral pleasure I offered up my style of personal heroin. Jon Brion. I had to do something with my guests. We started at my house. I had a great cd Henry Rollins had burned for me – French music circa 1964 café rue. I was sharing. Little did I know how apropos this musical treasure was going to prove to be mon cheri j'adore.
Hmm, what does one do with the Capote-esque crowd that culminates for two eves, once a year-ish? The entertainment gene in me felt the pressure. Plus, we were here within the city of phony baloneys, bimbo conversants, and the dreading landscape of stretch Hummers. Yech. Inside is safer. I for one was content (as usual) staying in sanctuary with a good cd and chatting about world subjects till dawn's light. But I was the hostess – and we were low on flavor enhancing aperitifs…they needed to vacate and mingle among the bees.
“Ah yes!” I thought, “Guaranteed, artistical refuge!” I shall take them to Largo.
I admit, I used a bit of clout to arrange the table. Hey, my name is still good for some things, and we all deserved a bit of special treatment...
It had been a tough year for me too. I lost my dog-son of seventeen years (and I had to “make the decision”). I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis after a horrific motorcycle accident’s MRI revealed many answers to odd questions I’d passed over as quirky flashbacks. And started a dream job that will change my $25.00 a week living habit. Till now, due to demand, I "held on to pennies like a prisoner" as they say in the bonnie scotts.
Oddly, a guy I don’t even know has pretty much been my only reliable constant in the past year. I knew what was lacking in this Brave New – unmapped - World of mine, was an up-to-date shot of pure uncut Jon Brion music; I can count on this lad for a dose of smiles and giggles - without any relationship drama; the perfect date...
Hahahahaha. I digress.
We got to Largo sat and pre-show chatted.
The place was unusually electric – something was in store for the intimate group of believers. Brion’s play friends are of the exquisite set. I try not to scope the room; it’s so tacky ya know. There's always a recent celeb-of-the-week in the rustic shadows.
But, even though I was trying not to scope-out-the place, I could have sworn I saw Michel Gondry. Nah. “Hey,” I thought, “Is that Kayne West (again)?” Nah. Okay I had to stop half-sleeping/hallucinating and calmly sip the tall Guinness before me (served with the straw for my Howard Hughesian phobia of germ contact with the rim of the glass…). Chill-out chick.
Mr. Brion – who I have not seen in six months - gets up and has a terrible cold – of course that doesn’t stop him. Contrary. I instantly know this means (because I was a Friday-night Largo barfly-of-sorts over the past year and a half), Jon will be doing a lot of those wonderful head tripping solo-y guitar riddled self-feeding pieces. Of course the man plays alone any way – but I mean he takes a song turns it inside out, reverses a bit of its structure throws in a twang of cultural hoopla – a riff from another land for those listening – and trips the light fantastic into Sudafed land.
As an audience member while he indulges his throbbing brain - and if you are remotely into letting your guard down – it’s a bit of a journey.
The table of four horsemen were positively just in the mood for this kind of excursion from Earth.
Brion whips up a set of musical magic (per usual) then invites MICHEL GONDRY jam. He also asked a great piano player to join in the dream – but as I was sick myself I missed the name of the talent…
Jon’s “real” audience knew and went beserk. I was happy a few near me didn’t recognize Gondry (so my musican faux pas was – could be - excused…)
Okay. Michel Gondry is my third favorite – living - director. I actually paid retail for his dvd collection (unheard of for me…). Those not in the know, know now – Gondry does all The White Strips videos, Bjork, my all-time favorite video of dissecting music via modern dance, and of course, likes to direct Charlie Kaufman scripts; a Renaissance man extraordinaire. Michel also plays drums …
Then the set-break. My guests, the director and actor depart in an almost post-coital fashion; beaming and all glowy, their steps (for a while) a tad lighter despite life's cruel jabs. My duty done.
But Alex and I stayed – determined to squash the sleep fairies that were parading in, slipping past Mike the door guy, trying to woo us back to out blankets and pillows.
We made it – barely. At about - I don't know 1:00am - Brion returns to the stage. Rips out a couple songs and decides it’s play time kids. He beckons Adam Levine to the stage. Adam dutifully wiggles through the expectant crowd. Next Kayne West. And as I dared to dream – yes – Michel Gondry joined the trio. They did a few West songs and odd a Chip and Dale cooing amongst the talents. As tired as I was, some how I still managed to drink in the spectacle. This was (believe it or not) the second time I’d caught West and Levine playing in the sandbox here.
When Gondry left the stage, and knowing he’s French, I amused myself by yelling as he passed, “ I love you man.” Like a girl-fan at a Lynard Skynard concert sans the lighter in hand waving.
Post concertette Gondry was hanging out in the corner – chatting. Flash bulbs were going off. Instead of departing with my dignity (an act I am incapable of here – as I continuing pull a Stan and practically throw up in Brion’s presence) I made the executive decision (for what ever reason) to be geek chic and coo at Mr. Gondry.
I stood in that dreadful “meet and great” line. When I was in his audience my mind betrayed me as (trying to be cool) I blurted out like a fandork, “ Thank you for everything you’ve ever done.” Hey, at least, I didn’t say the ever-confusing deal, “ Thanks for being.” Which, I personally think says it all, but folks tend to wait for - being what?
He was beside, Patricia Arquettetcroques (who was in Human Nature and is on Medium). Trying to be polite. And realizing another talent was before me. I said, (like an ass), “ Oh, and congratulations.” Her shows like number two or something. Then, as if the hole was not sinking swiftly enough, spotting Patricia’s guest, Liv Tyler, I said, “Oh, and you’re just stunning.” I felt like a rabbit from a Carroll play.
I tried to quickly back up into the dark comfort of the club, trying to shake off that morbidly shy realmscape I tend to go to amid extreme talent and dissipate into the evening with my friend, who just looked as if she understood I was actually tongue-tied, but had to say thank you to Mr. Gondry. Of course I’ve interviewed him. Though in truth, during the interview, (ala The Ladder 49 red carpet Robbie Robertson spotting and meltdown fiasco) I simply grinned like Id’ eaten one of Alice’s special brownies, and left hi thinking I must know someone high up to be here…
Folks, there are few folks that bring on this morphing schoolgirl persona in me: Brion, Burton, Gondry and Bardem.I need interaction therapy.
I slept with sugarplum notes and creshendoing backbeats wailing in my head; in other words, like a babe in a toy factory with a thousand dollar gift certificate during a 75% off sale.
Sure, there’s been a heaping helping of sucky mold infested lemon deals in my life this past year – but then this impish cusackmccartney styled man hits a few instruments and reminds you why you actually bother getting up everyday. Because, we lose a few we love, we trip through these sitcom like scenarios that convince you God’s playing a game of chess (for fun) with your life and then viola. You go to Largo; a womb like world of wonder – and Guinness on tap. Brion helps you make lemonade with life's sourest of lemons.
Go Buy Gondry stuff->
Emily Blunt's : Jon Brion CD Reviews/Interview and way more glee than should be legal->