TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT January 2001

TOP TEN

Gary Indiana

Gary Indiana is at work on a forthcoming novel.

  1. JEAN-JACQUES SCHUHL, INGRID CAVEN

    (Paris: Gallimard) “I have a very small cult reputation to protect,” Jean-Jacques Schuhl protested to me a few months ago in Paris when he learned that he’d been nominated for the Prix Goncourt (and the four other top French literary prizes) for his first book in twenty-three years. Now that he’s won the Goncourt, this avatar of Duchampian wit and encyclopedic misanthropy will just have to live with a much bigger cult. Ingrid Caven, his novel, is named for the celebrated singer he lives with, the former wife of Rainer Fassbinder and muse of Yves Saint Laurent; La Caven returned to the concert stage in November, at the Théâtre de l’Odéon, in postmodern triumph, as a fictional character who sings. Ingrid Caven is not her biography, however, but a phantasmagorical riff on the social, political, and artistic history of our times, filtered through a meditation on stagecraft, the voice and attitude of the singer, the diva, the personae of history’s actors.

  2. P.J. HARVEY, STORIES FROM THE CITY, STORIES FROM THE SEA

    (Island Records) The grungily appealing Manhattan of Polly Harvey’s new album feels more like the Mudd Club ’70s than the plastic Starbucks shithole for rich college brats and i-biz billionaires that our fair city has become, but this is less a piece of nostalgia than a suggestion that the coming recession might be a lot more dirty fun than our recent “prosperity.”

  3. AMY TAUBIN, TAXI DRIVER

    (London: BFI Film Classics) This beautiful little book is a masterpiece of film analysis that’s as textured and sensuous as a really good novel. It ranges all over American politics, the post-Vietnam malaise that produced Travis Bickle, New York in the ’70s and New York today, masculinity and its rituals of violence. Taubin demonstrates that criticism, in certain hands, can be art of a very high order.

  4. MEG WEBSTER, WARPED FLOOR, LONG POOL, AND INTERACTING FALLS—PLAIN & SHOOTER

    (Paula Cooper Gallery) Webster’s recent installation had a raked array of undulating tiles you could walk and sit on, a horizontal ziggurat of plants and flowers sprouting out of metal basins at one end of a plastic-lined trench fed at the other end by dueling waterworks, one an arcing jet, the other a surging curtain. Webster’s sculpture oscillates between clean and artfully messy, soft and hard, dry and wet, nature and artifice, like an illustration of Lévi-Strauss’s concept of the contradictory as the secretly symbiotic. Eerily powerful work inflected with enough sly humor not to feel pushy.

  5. LYNN DAVIS

    (Edwynn Houk Gallery) The gigantic photographs Davis has been making for years, of monuments (Angkor Wat, etc.) and natural phenomena like icebergs, are particular for the silence they locate in a world of noise. Like her peers Robert Mapplethorpe and Peter Hujar, Davis has taken the possibilities of photography seriously, revealing how truly strange our ontological encounter with reality really is. Her new pictures of grandiose, threadbare, American-built ugliness (abandoned missile silos, skyscrapers) tell us everything about the world we’ve constructed, without judgment.

  6. CAMERON JAMIE, BB

    The most intense eighteen minutes of film since Jean Rouch’s Les Maîtres fous: Fight Club without the Hollywood patina, backyard violence set to music by the Melvins, violence as lethal chaos instead of the way it’s always pictured. Like Alex Bag, this artist is on to things nobody else ever thought to explore.

  7. GAVlN LAMBERT, MAINLY ABOUT LINDSAY ANDERSON

    (New York: Knopf) If you don’t know what an essential writer Gavin Lambert is, go back and read The Slide Area, Inside Daisy Clover, The Goodbye People, or his biography of Nazimova. Mainly About Lindsay Anderson is startling for its unsensationalized candor, its rational tone, its generosity and noncosmetic affection for its subject, its refusal of everything cheap and false in the genre of biography/autobiography. Lambert’s authorial voice is probably the most finely pitched of anybody writing now. He tells the honest truth without blinking, or blushing, or pretending that our everyday perversities are matters for scandal—and tells it beautifully.

  8. THE HOWARD STERN SHOW

    If you do as much 7-11 AM driving as I do, you can only pray you’re in a zone that gets Howard. The King of All Media’s free-associative deflation of American propaganda in all its coy and bullying forms—from movie stars yakking about their latest projects to politicians lying through their teeth—constantly gnaws at the corporate brackets squeezing the First Amendment into Silly Putty. Even when he’s dead wrong, he’s a national treasure.

  9. FRANK RICH, SATURDAY OP-ED COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

    An island of hilarious sanity in a sea of ideological doggerel and flatulent punditology.

  10. SPIKE LEE, BAMBOOZLED

    (New Line) Critics who pointed out how “preposterous” the premise of this movie is—a minstrel show is pushed onto prime time by a white TV producer (the always delicious Michael Rapaport) who thinks he’s blacker than the African Americans who work for him—clearly have no idea how poisonous and ugly race relations in America really are. This hallucinatory film tells the time with hideous accuracy. We’ve never relinquished slavery. We’ve just painted a different face on it.