Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004

Where Is My American Splendor

Is it troubling that I was able to relate a little too well with Harvey Pekar in American Splendor? Sure, I have better posture, a fuller head of hair and aren’t nearly as smooth with the ladies, but seeing this cranky, obsessive-compulsive, socially maladjusted character chronicling his day-to-day life for the consumption of total strangers hit a little close to home. But besides being a bit of a cautionary tale (yo Letterman, call me!) it was pretty damned entertaining as well. For those unfamiliar with the film, it’s basically a biopic of Mr Pekar, creator and writer of American Splendor, a long-running independent comic that chronicles his life as a file clerk and professional curmudgeon and illustrated by a rotating stable of artists. I’ve never read the comic myself – I have always preferred the more conventional mainstream comics – but have always been very aware of the esteem with which the book was regarded.

The movie is an interesting mix of live action dramatization with actors, some animation and documentary-style interviews with the real Harvey Pekar and his cast of characters. Paul Giamatti does a terrific job in recreating Pekar on-screen, more impressive when you consider that you get to contrast his portrayal with the genuine article over the course of the film. Using the original Letterman footage in the context of the film was also an inspired touch. It’s odd to consider this a comic book adaptation but I suppose it can’t be all costumed crimefighters and such. The balding social misfits need their day in the sun, too.

Stylus has gotten a facelift. It looks nicer now but the usability is still pretty crap, unfortunately. For example, their lead piece is The Producers, Part 2 wherein they profile some of the legendary (and not so legendary but still important) figures behind the scenes. Great idea, nice read. Where’s part one? No fucking idea. (Actually, I did find it here, but it wasn’t easy. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to link it off of part two of the article instead of having me dig through the entirety of the 2004 archives? I certainly think so).

I’ve been commenting on The Toronto Star’s series about growing up in various regions around Toronto, and for the third week in a row I have some connection to the city in question – this week, Scarborough. Scarberia. Land of strip malls and inspiration for Wayne’s World. I lived there from age three to ten and I moved away just before it began its ‘decline’ and earned its rough reputation, so I really don’t have any memories to speak of. I did move back for a four-month stint in 1995, though, and it wasn’t quite as I’d remembered it – hell, I remembered half of the city as it is now being farmland. I used to watch Breakfast Television before I left for work and make a mental note of where all the shootings and stabbings from the night before were in relation to my route to work. Okay, that’s an exaggeration – Scarborough isn’t that bad, I don’t think, though in relation to the rest of Toronto I suppose its earned it’s reputation as “the hood” of the city. Either way, I’m glad I got out when I did. If I was going to be bored out of my mind as an adolescent, I’d choose Oakville over Scarborough.

I spent much of yesterday afternoon playing with a couple of dogs at my brother’s fiancee’s sister’s house, one a corgi-lab mix and the other a hyperactive Jack Russel-chihuahua sorta thing. Talk about your pet therapy – there’s something immensely relaxing about just petting a dog for a while.

Wilco tonight. Am I excited? Yes, I think that I am.

np – Wheat / Hope & Adams

By : Frank Yang at 8:44 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. solace says:

    last nights show in Milwaukee smoked. def the best, or top 3 of all the times i’ve seen them. so much better than they were in 2001-2003, that lineup was a bit weak imo.

    don’t expect to hear much other than AGIB or YHF really, song or two from the rest, but that’s alright, other than a few more ST and Being There songs, i’d be ok w/ never hearing them do another AM tune honestly. course i say that as i’ve seen them play a lot of that album before, but still :)

    you’re going to be totally blown away by this new lineup, especially Nels.

    talked w/ Mike afterward, and he’s stoked to be playing such a small place after last night (3500-4000 vs. what, 600?)

    can’t wait to read your review :)

  2. Jealous says:

    I’m jealous. Never seen them and was hoping this to be the first time. Any ideas when and what venue they will be playing we they make the real concert appearence. Any ideas if the have been playing an covers on this tour>

  3. Frank says:

    sorry, no info about the next show. They’ve always come through town twice per album so I’d expect to see them back in the Spring maybe. Odds of them playing such a small venue again are remote – I’d say Massey Hall next time around? Hopefully?

    Past set lists can be found here:


    doesn’t look like there’s any covers.

  4. merckeda says:

    I am excited. I am so excited I think I might pee my pants. Are you that excited? I think you are, but you’re trying to play it cool. Then again, this is my first time seeing them.

  5. Frank says:

    I already peed my pants, so that’s sort of old news. Now I’m just kinda uncomfortable.

    This is my fourth time seeing them, but I hope that hasn’t made me jaded at all. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited.

  6. mike says:

    I should be excited to see Wilco[this is my first time], I want to feel excited, but right now all I’m feeling is hungry and tired…I’m sure all that will change once I get to the show tonight!

  7. david says:

    I thought American Splendor was truly inspired, it’s one of my favorite films of the past couple of years.

    I’m jealous, we haven’t seen Wilco this year, usually we’ve seen a couple of Tweedy solo shows by August.