What I can’t get an answer to

Here are some questions I can’t get an answer to.

  • What happened to Paris Is Burning and Winter Kept Us Warm, two titles I’ve put a lot of effort into

  • The question of the unwritten and laughable “criteria” for buying TV shows on DVD: Why does the library buy Star Trek in various instantiations, but not Space: 1999? The X-Files but not Twin Peaks? Marginal U.S. cable dramas (Mildred Pierce, Boss) but not Thirtysomething or Family? Battlestar Galactica but not its sequel, Caprica? (cf. Doctor Who/Torchwood)

  • How the library actually got copies of Paragraph 175 and Beyond Gay

  • Is TPL willing to cough up megabucks for the educational version of a documentary or just sit tight and wait for the retail version? (I think I know the answer: For NFB titles, maybe yes. Otherwise the library bides its time till the price drops, as happens with academic books from e.g. Routledge)

  • Why we can’t strike a Beguiling-like deal with Swipe Books

  • Replacing worn-out items with perennial demand, like Star Wars films

  • How to order a book series (in this case, Penguin Lines)

  • Why the library, despite telling me it never does so, buys single copies of anything (third languages excepted)

  • Should TPL buy the original Norwegian editions of Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle and A Man in Love? (Answer: Yes. Also, there’s a blue-form saga behind the former)

  • When Criterion comes out with an allegedly superior pressing of an old movie like La cage aux folles, do we stick with the pressing we already have?

And, most pressingly of all, why management puts the screws to frontline employees who try to help me. (Four known cases so far.)



What almost completely redeemed the blue-form suggestion process is getting a yes on the rather obscure collection of dance films by DV8 Physical Theatre.

I don’t know how everything lined up to make this happen, but one evening last century I awoke from a nap to find Jay Scott on TVO introducing some kind of movie. He was always doing that sort of thing before he had the bad taste to get the AIDS and die.

“Some kind of movie” here was Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men.

If you’re old you might admit to knowing nothing about dance but really liking La La La Human Steps whenever you see them on TV. Then you realize this is all from a previous lifetime and you should be using the past tense.

DV8 and (La)³ gave you the viewer a showy, raucous, unplodding kind of dance that, like a postmodern building, is easy to like. And easy to understand – or at least you walk away not feeling stupid or uncultured for having failed to understand it.

These two companies and a single quote from Morrissey have basically ruined my ability to enjoy a show like So You Think You Can Dance.

(With singers facing the audience) you see every emotion; this appeals to me… “This is the song, this is the voice, and this is the communication.” This appealed to me more than anything else.

I watch the usually screamingly gay kids on So You Think You Can Dance and I think, “What is the communication?”

The communication in Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men is ostensibly linked in some way to the true-crime saga of a British serial killer. (I later read the book about him.) But saying that is like saying Inglorious Bastards is about Nazi-hunters – partly true but irrelevant and deceptive if you keep repeating it.

This film gives a pessimistic view of the arc of the life of any urban gay man of the era. That era will die when we do, and “queers” not only are happy about that but are hastening our demise. But in the 1990s the life experience Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men presents was a real thing.

  • You start out in the bar. Again you could link back to Morrissey.

    Two men lean, elbows on wall, facing the same direction, with another man blurred in foreground

    Find me a better gay-bar sequence than this one here, with stunning music and a dance presentation so easy to understand you just feel good about yourself. That’s not gonna last.

    Four men, one just in underwear and shoes, dance in synchronization
  • This is dance theatre, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear dialogue or just be talked to, but you will be.

    Man in underwear sits on pedestal smoking a cigarette, while another man seems crammed into a closet-like illuminated space well behind him
  • We endlessly let each other down.

    Man hangs by one hand frmo overhead pipe
    Man in underwear looks apprehensively up at another man perched far overhead by a wall
  • And then, in the dark view of this film, we inevitably destroy each other and wind up as sad eldergays in bedsits listening to olde-tymey crooners on the Victrola. (Not pictured.)

I somehow remembered DV8 existed and somehow found two DVD compilations still in print and somehow TPL ordered two copies of one of them. I could say a measly two copies.

DV8 package

Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men is on the disc and confirms that the sole master recording of this film is in fact a standard-definition PAL videotape. Don’t expect much in the way of picture quality.

You’ll also easily understand and enjoy another film on the disc, Enter Achilles. I have a bang-up CBC interview with Lloyd Newson of DV8, in which he asks the remote camera crew some of the same question he’s asked, but that’s on an old videotape.

The third film in the collection, Strange Fish, was as unwatchable to me as Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men will be to most. DV8 cannot really do heterosexuality.

Bumping into Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men on TV led me to spend good money on admission tickets to the now-defunct Moving Pictures festival of dance films. I think you would also like the film by La La La Human Steps that I saw there, Velázquez’s Little Museum.

But gays, arts films on TV, and dance-film festivals are all artifacts from the past. Good thing we’ve got libraries.

Metal artists the library really doesn’t collect

From reading the truly extensive and only sometimes grisly oral history Louder Than Hell, I know the library does not stock dozens of obscure metal artistes – nor should it really. But something else I know is how many significant such artistes it doesn’t carry:

  • Anthrax

  • Bad Brains

  • Corrosion of Conformity

  • Front Line Assembly

  • Ministry

  • White Zombie

It shocks me that the library does not have every Tool album, and what few it has are scanty in number and beaten to shit. Then there are 1980s alternative artists like Laibach, Cabaret Voltaire, and Anne Clark (no relation), now very hard to purchase in any way, shape, or form, let alone shrink-wrapped in quantity.

I have previously pointed out to the library (and discussed here) that the year-end Exclaim best-of rankings are basically shopping lists for various genres.

Next, we architect about dance music.

Batshit conspiracy documentaries at TPL

The library should, can, and does stock krazy konspiracy documentaries. What have we got already?

  • Several 9/11 features, including the central conspiracy documentary Loose Change; 9/11 in Plane Site; 9/11: Blueprint for Truth/The Architecture of Destruction.

    (11′09″01 is down to one circulating copy and the Naudets’ 9/11 down to two, which I think is an issue)

  • The End of America by Naomi Wolf

  • The truly baffling Zeitgeist and Zeitgeist Addendum (the latter positing that world monetary policy amounts to slavery; a friend of mine on the Inside who is black agreed with that proposition)

I say again: The library should stock krazy konspiracy documentaries. You the library user must – must! – have access to the widest feasible range of facts and opinions. In case you disagree with my statement here, ask yourself whether or not Fahrenheit 9/11 constitutes a conspiracy documentary or if it is somehow different because somebody rich and famous directed it and you’ve heard of it before and possibly even seen it, perhaps on mainstream TV channels. The equalizing power of the library puts famous documentarians on an equal footing with obscure ones whether or not their films are true, factually correct, plausible, respectable, or not.

I don’t have a clue how to find new or recent documentaries of this genre as they come out, nor would I expend the limited capital of blue suggestion forms on them. But here’s a fun one I thought of that isn’t in the collection: Kurt & Courtney.

Minor update

Yeah, hi. I don’t know what I’m doing with the library these days, or what it’s doing with me.

  • I keep telling you the Library Board is made up of pikers, seatfillers, pols, and lobbyists as far as the eye can see. Now we know its chair is willing to lie about driving drunk, albeit below the legal limit.

    All of these are the same people who:

    • Engineered a library strike, then sent the savings from that strike back to the city.

    • Then got the library’s budget cut.

    • Set up an advertising program one of whose first users was an ambulance-chasing personal-injury law firm (which refused to comment on that designation).

    • Started dinging people a buck for holds and for overdue DVDs, with the result that people are afraid to place holds and circulation is actually down for the first time in living memory.

    Should we also discuss the fact that it is now materially impossible for the public to comment in person or in writing on any issue before the Board at an immediately upcoming meeting? (This is the same Board that can and will refuse a written request to address it. How do I know? I’m the one they refused, after sitting around looking baffled at the request in the first place.)

  • Next?

    I still am waging this perverse cold war (I wouldn’t capitalize it) with Collections Development. That department and other petites fonctionnaires continue to swoop in and turn the screws on frontline staff who make the capital error of trying to help me. There is now an entire list of such staff harassed and countermanded by middle management – here as elsewhere, the most picayune yet power-mad stratum.

    I can only imagine how incensed CDD must be when we (not I – we) return rejected blue forms with an attached statement that, in effect, the reason for rejection was bullshit. This is the department that buys the TV series Gavin & Stacey, whatever that is, but deems Friday Night Lights and Southland inadmissible under criteria that actually aren’t published.

  • Levels of fuck-you in blue forms:

    1. Rejected

    2. 1 TRL reference-only

    3. 1 TRL, 1 NYCL

    Honourable mention: 1 TRL, 1 your branch

  • I was going to save this up till I actually had them in hand, but what the hell. There are two saving graces in this ongoing blue-form Kafka manqué.

  • Did you know they’re tagging the entire visible collection of the Reference Library in preparation for TPL’s new plan to facilitate wholesale theft of that branch’s irreplaceable items? You’d be surprised who inside the organization thinks this is the stupidest idea ever, in no small part because it is. You’d be even more surprised to learn that apparently the entirety of TPL management save one does not know what staff-only RFID checkout is despite its being in use in a dozen branches. That obviously means they do not know that staff-only is the correct configuration for the TRL Browsery.

Why don’t I take a break?

The last time I did that I missed the deadline to apply to become a boardmember. Now, we know that the lying – and now drug‑ and murder-implicated – executive administration would have smothered the thing in its cradle like a Somali crack baby, but I’m not making the same mistake twice.

In the back of my mind is always the following question: Will this be the week the library serves me with a notice that I am banned from its premises? While that would be the nuclear option, it is the only step they haven’t taken and I don’t put it past them. You wouldn’t believe the shit these graspers have tried to pull behind the scenes.

Want to go out for a soyaccino sometime? You’re buying.