Fake Empire (Rankin Co., Miss.).

faked by Thursday, April 5th, 2007

It is rare that I make something and I’m proud of it: this is one of those times. The blank-white overcast sky that bleeds directly into the border; the ghost-signs of Pizza Hut and Winn-Dixie; the dull shine of the cordoned pumps at the Pump’n’Save: I love all of this, and it’s all in the same small shopping center, Reservoir Square, out by the rez. What was striking was how clean it all seemed. The oddity of seeing brand-new, gleaming strip malls nestled by empty spots like this is so jarring.

I nicked the title from a song on the new record by the National, which I am extremely excited about. The best thing worth reading on Stereogum lately (the only thing, say some of the more jaded) is their “Quit Your Day Job” feature, which interviews bands about the minimum wage life they’re often dodging or maintaining in the midst of touring and recording. The National is this week’s installment and the lengthy article features both “Fake Empire” and a new track from Boxer, “Theory of the Crows,” for downloading.

The closest they’re coming to our neck of the woods is the Earl, in Atlanta. I haven’t been there in seven or eight years, when Dr. Wagner and I caught a Rock*A*Teens show that, damn me to hell, I cannot remember because I was so drunk. I had driven in from Birmingham to see them—they were my favorite band at the time—and he and I blew it out so hard I remember all the damned opening acts but not the R*A*Ts! Apparently I sung along to all the songs the whole time, though. Whooosh. I had a flier from that show hanging up for years (it’s stuck over a LOST DOG flier poking out at the bottom, which is even better).

And for all you rock and rollers, if you haven’t heard the Hold Steady doing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” you ain’t been living. I’m no Twins fan—I dropped my love of baseball years ago—but their Minneapolis-centric version is fantastic.

There’s a lot of great one-off stuff floating around out there; the Merge Records tossed out a heartbreakingly lovely live track of Calexico doing the Arcade Fire’s “Ocean of Noise” that, even though the rip is a little sketchy, I just can’t stop listening to. Cat and I saw them play with Neko Case back in May of 2005 in Tempe, and even though I didn’t act like it then, it was quite transcendent: a Southwestern Wall of Sound that ached and thrummed in and out of yr bones.* I only have Feast of Wire and then every time I hear a song I realize I need to rush out and go buy more.

Of note to comics fans is that the Tate Museum’s magazine, Tate, Etc., has a lovely essay on American comics with spectacular highlights from Winsor McKay’s Little Nemo, Frank King’s Gasoline Alley, Harvey Kurtzman, and the King, Jack Kirby. I struggled last week to talk about Frank King. This Sunday page from November 4, 1928 is not an example of his exquisite time-lapse or geographical-spread comics, but rather his masterful use of color (indeed, this is a narrative about color) (in the same way the companion piece in the Tate, Etc. article is about shape and form):

And look at this example of Kirby magnificence, inked by Mike Royer for Marvel’s Devil Dinosaur #4 in 1978. Many would argue this isn’t even the King in his prime, but look at those deep blacks and that Kirby Krackle: did you know that some artists could summon technological psychedelia in black and white? And now imagine it as it is, life-size: this is a huge piece of art (a two-page spread), over two feet wide and two feet high.

The intricacy and shudderingly vital detail of the main figure—the evil spirit dinosaur—is so vivid that it almost overwhelms that it “is” something; it stops being a dinosaur and becomes an abstract representation more real than any “drawing” of it could be. (Note: The “Devil Dinosaur” of the title is actually at right, ridden by the small proto-human Moon Boy).

*The truth is more like I was exhausted from traveling and we were stone drunk. It also may be that I was an idiot because, at the time, we clearly adored the Bravery’s** show the next night much more, and let’s be honest, we only went to that because we were all eh, why not even though I was blown away by their live show, and their first record is now in my closet (with all the other records I can’t sell or throw out because they have a sentimental moment attached to them) while Calexico and Neko still get semi-regular play + love.

**Yeah, the Bravery. You can come over and crack my Replacements 12” single of “I Will Dare” over your knee tonight, because I deserve it.

3 Responses to “Fake Empire (Rankin Co., Miss.).”

  1. mavis says:

    You should be proud. This is beautiful. Those yellows…

  2. The Diplomat says:

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    per. bys. she. 1818.

  3. Oh—oh my gosh. That spread from Devil Dinosaur is AMAZING. I am even more deeply in love with your photo spread, though.