Monday, March 06, 2006

He do the police in funny voices...












I'm very tired today after the Oscar party I had last night here at the house (strange to have the party, then go to the actual venue a few blocks away, spinning in bed with the pounding cranial tequila hammers, waiting for S. to finish her Oscarly duties around 4AM).

I want to add that I think Robert Altman was spectacular. His voice was able to transmit so much right through the wonky and weird atmosphere of the Kodak theater and then shimmy through the airwaves, past a billion viewers' bullshit detectors and land a bullseye in our respect and friendship zones. Amazing. So simple, so complex. I thought my head was going to melt.

Jon Stewart was not able to navigate these strange waters so well, because the nature and success of his expressions (transmissions) are so dependent upon the exact configurations of his Daily Show set up. He couldn't rewrite his act to fit the strangeness of the event. And who can blame him for that... I thought he was a warm, funny, likable host. While I'm running through the show here, I should note that watching Lauren Bacall loose her train of thought and fall into a wordless catonic abyss in front of a billion people was close to what I imagine rounding a corner on the way to mail a letter and coming face to face with Death itself must be like. I think it is safe to say that she's closer to the void than she is to Hollywood. Then again, aren't we all?

If I stop to think about the human voice, I can get stuck there for a while. And that's even before you add singing to the mix. What gets me is the fact that voices are always naked, even when they are unnatural or affected or when telling lies. The words we utter are miraculously immediate and revealing likenesses (or filtered alterations) of the shifting winds of our non-verbal, involuntary consciousness. How strangely removed we seem from that place. How unaware we are of the process that takes a non-verbal urge and translates it into a verbal communication. The projected voice is the reality interface of a much larger expression machine, much of which lies submerged deep within our brain chemistry, and if you will, our soul.

On to the crackpot. I believe the reason I can play music fairly well or do dead-on vocal impressions of certain living beings is because I am able to absorb bits of visual and sonic DNA through my eyes and ears. It is very much a form of digestion. Once certain voices or melodies are consumed by the ears, the acids in my eardrums may choose to break down these sounds into their basic components, discarding the empty calories and extracting the core DNA audio or visual bits which are then reviewed by my brain, scanned, archived and then are made ready to be regurgitated. Playing music or doing funny voices is all about letting a specific piece of this DNA drop onto the turntable in your gut and allowing it to work its evocative magic on your system. When Maya Angelou's rolling round baritone comes out of me, it sounds like her not because I am imitating her, but because I am in possession of tiny bits of her unique character and can (if the mood is right) projectile vomit them back in to reality for your aural pleasure. On the visual front, it helps tremendously to look at someone's face, and to take note of their body language too, because there is of course also a whole separate world of DNA that the right set of eyes can digest too.

A free brand new Oprah Winfrey baseball hat to anyone who can tell me where the title of today's entry comes from...

2 Comments:

Anonymous brian said...

Thomas Stearns Eliot's "The Wasteland"... I mean, duh?!!!!
Okay, now gimme my hat ( oh and my silver binder clip that you still owe me.)
is your maya angelou better than david allan grier's hysterical impression? me wanna hear.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous brian said...

"He do the Policemen in Different Voices" was either the working title or Eliot's original title for The Wasteland. sumptin' like dat.

8:16 AM  

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