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House of Tudor 

Rejuvenated West Coast hip hop, Apocalyptic movement-theater, and Jack Palance as Fidel Castro

Wednesday, Jun 4 2003
On the cover of Young Miss America, Gold Chains' latest and greatest album, a collage of anorexic supermodel body parts, dripping in oversized diamond jewelry, reaches for a $10 bill. The image, like most of the music created by San Francisco's Topher LaFata, is at once a good laugh and a thoughtful indictment of society, style, and commerce. But you can't work up a sweat to artwork; what you need are the deep rhymes and smarmy beats of the Bay Area's self-proclaimed "bedroom commander," and Young Miss America does not disappoint. From the dancehall energy of "Code Red" to the funky Moog of "Several Times Defined" to the grinding laptop punk-hop of "What Are We Looking For" and the snack-daddy down-low beat of "Much Currency Flows," our gravel-voiced MC proves he's worth more than his weight in gold. And West Coast hip hop may have a new lease on life yet. Gold Chains celebrates his record release on Wednesday, June 4, at the Bottom of the Hill with Vahco and the Pleased opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8-10; call 621-4455.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!

This is all very fine and well for the Lamb (except maybe the slaughtering part); as for the rest of us, it amounts to a bugle-boy greeting followed by seven seals, seven plagues, four horsemen, two beasts, and a really, really bad time. Allegedly penned by the Apostle John while he was doing time in a Roman penal colony, the Book of Revelation is a graphic depiction of the end times included at the conclusion of many Christian Bibles. While it is one of the milder contributions to the Apocrypha -- those religious documents rejected by Jews and Protestants -- it remains an endless font for good horror movies and bad acid trips: oozing sores; oceans of blood; storms of fire, frogs, and ice; dragons with seven heads and 10 horns; and whores sitting in lakes of excrement with worms eating their entrails. (OK, that last one came from the Apocalypse of Peter, but still ....) Any way you cut it, the end of the world is juicy stuff, ripe for stage and screen and, in this case, one very peculiar children's mime. Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation is a one-man show by Northern Californian movement-theater artist Eliot Fintushel. A two-time recipient of the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts Solo Performer Award, Fintushel is also a theater instructor, a puppet maker, a science-fiction writer, and, it must said, a bit of a wack job. Who else would deliver a blow-by-blow account of the final battle of Armageddon while standing on his head, or stage Revelation in its entirety -- nearly 12,000 words -- by himself? Gardner Dozois, editor of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, has described Fintushel's writing as bizarre, biting, brilliant, and totally gonzo. Certainly, the same must be said of his stagecraft. Using masks, variant voices, ancient hymns, and precise physical allusions, Fintushel conjures the final days, embodying the Whore of Babylon, poor brother John, the Beast, the angels, the sinners, the saviors, and God himself with schizophrenic dexterity. It's a wonder he can sleep at night. Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation will be presented Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through June 28 at the Marsh (1062 Valencia near 22nd Street) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12-17; call 826-5750.

Not to be confused with Roman Polanski's uncharacteristically lighthearted comedy Che?, Che! is an even more unlikely docudrama based on the life of Cuban guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara, starring Omar Sharif in the title role and Jack Palance as Fidel Castro. Now it might be a little difficult to imagine Curly Washburn as Cuba's top revolutionary, or Hollywood's pre-eminent bridge expert as Latin America's brilliant guerrilla-warfare tactician, but director Richard Fleischer (known at the time for Doctor Dolittle and Fantastic Voyage) wasn't completely out of his mind. In 1969, Palance was best remembered for his roles in Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt and Richard Brooks' outlaw western The Professionals, and Sharif was eager to distance himself from the squishy star-maker Doctor Zhivago (his previous attempt, as the deadbeat gambler boyfriend in Funny Girl, only resulted in his being banned from screens in his native Egypt as a consequence of bedding Barbra Streisand on film). Combining the mainstream star power of Sharif, the cinema cool of Palance, and the credibility of formerly blacklisted screenwriter Michael Wilson (A Place in the Sun, Planet of the Apes, and Lawrence of Arabia), Fleischer thought he had something for everyone. What he had was a laughingstock. The hippie kids who worshipped Che Guevara as a patron saint couldn't forgive the casting; the lonely housewives who wanted tall, dark, and handsome couldn't cuddle up to the pathos; and Wilson disowned the picture because he felt changes in the script made Guevara look stupid. Still, more than 30 years later, film historian Leonard Maltin says you haven't lived until you see Palance play Fidel Castro, and I believe him. Che! screens on Friday, June 6, at the Werepad (2430 Third St. near 20th Street) with the anti-communist propaganda short Red Nightmare at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8; call 824-7334.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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