What can’t Louis C.K. do?
A recent post by film writer Brad Becker-Parton over at Splitsider nicely summarized the filmmaking acumen of comedian/writer/director Louis C.K. Aside from his considerable talent in making people laugh, Louis’ skill with the camera uses the stylistic techniques of French New Wave cinema and surrealism (he cast David Lynch in a recent episode, for Peter’s sake) in his show, Louie, to re-contextualize his often-course humor into something deeper and more human.
I think it’s telling that, in addition to writing and starring and directing his hit TV show, C.K. also edited many of its early episodes. That’s a rare level of flexibility, but it’s also an example of the diverse set of skills artists can command in service to his vision. It’s an example that we see play itself out in other cultural arenas, where success often comes from the recombination of both concept and technical skill. Economists strike artistic gold through data visualization. Musicians put their engineering skills to use and make waves with prepared instruments or circuit bending. The writer who animates their own cartoon gets the Kickstarter funds. Perhaps it’s a side effect of the New Normal economy, where successes in any job market often hinge on internalizing one or two extra skills or duties. Or, perhaps it’s what artists have always done: deployed whatever resources and skills necessary to bring their vision to life, adding dimensions to their output that would otherwise be lost if handled by someone else.
Either way, C.K. draws heavy water in American culture because of what he says and why, but he also exemplifies the willingness to build disparate techniques into his personal repertoire, a fact that epitomizes a trope of American life: the willingness to roll up your sleeves and do something yourself, simply because no one else can or will. And for that, he’s even more impressive.
Banksy in New York
International street art superstar (and man of mystery [we’re sure he’s a man, right?]) Banksy is currently in the middle of a month-long New York City “residency,” Better Out Than In, and it’s turned Gotham on its ear. The cops are out to get him, people are stealing parts of his pieces, people are restoring his pieces, his 9/11 memorial piece is cliché/moving/ho-hum, the pop-up shop only sold three paintings, the van won’t start … in short, he’s been an apple of discord thrown into the middle of the Big Apple (Hyperallergic has been keeping close tabs, if you want the full story). How interesting that Banksy’s career has become this monumental, that his work isn’t nearly as disruptive as Banksy himself.
I have a pet theory about Banksy and it goes like this: Banksy isn’t one person. Or rather, he started out as one person and then passed it along to someone else when he got tired of it, just like Westley passed along the title of Dread Pirate Roberts to Inigo Montoya at the end of The Princess Bride.
Think about it.
A homemade carnival
About 40 years ago, a man in Battaglia, Italy, started a small restaurant under a tree with a couple jugs of wine and some meats. Shortly thereafter, he became enamored with welding and decided he would build a small carnival ride to attract people to the restaurant and give them something fun to do while they were there.
Forty years later, the area around the restaurant is bustling with small roller coasters, a big slide, and merry-go-rounds, all hand built by the same man. He’s the subject of this charming mini-doc and an inspiration to anyone, anywhere, who wants to take a crazy idea and run with it to the point of bliss: