In the Pink

Written by Aileen Torres on . Posted in Books, Posts.

I got a headache from reading Mark Blake’s Comfortably Numb:The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Not because the book is bad, but because I was caught in the hebetude, malaise and bitterness of the legendary band as a whole and as individuals. It’s like walking into emotional quicksand: a vicarious experience.You really do feel as if you’re being sucked into the drama.That’s a testament to Blake doing his job. Nothing in these pages is pretty, and the collective story doesn’t seem to be so much about rock stars as about human beings going through the trajectory of life: being young and having a dream, moving toward the realization of that dream, achieving success and then dealing with the emotional and psychological fallout.

The book talks about Pink Floyd’s music, but concentrates on the lives of David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright during their years together as well as those post-Waters, when Wright was sidelined.

The most surprising thing I came away with is that these guys were just plain bored most of the time. There they were, riding high on the success of Dark Side of the Moon; but they didn’t seem to care. And it wasn’t a punk attitude they were sporting—they weren’t flipping the bird to all the riches coming their way. Why would they? All that money bought houses in the countryside, fast cars and whatever else they wanted.Where would they go from there? Alright, so the band caught a case of ennui.

But its members did soldier on.The funniest moments in the book—and it’s not meant to be a comedic read—are spent detailing the excesses of Floyd’s road shows, which turned into theatrical extravaganzas bordering on the ridiculous. This Is Spinal Tap has got to be playing off some of this stuff.The road crew grew exponentially to accommodate the increase in special effects.They went crazy with the light shows.They planted explosives and forgot about them, only to have them blow up in strange places at the wrong time. And— here’s where I laughed out loud—they lost control of a giant inflatable pig on the one day that they decided not to have a marksman present to shoot it down in case it did escape.The damn thing flew away in the middle of a show, disturbing air traffic control and terrifying a field of cows as it landed somewhere in Kent. Why did they allow themselves such excess? They must have known they were bound to lose control, not to mention lots of money, on these elaborate set-ups. Blake writes that “there was a tacit understanding among all four that, in the absence of a sex-symbol frontman, such as Robert Plant or Mick Jagger, they’d better find other ways to hold an audience’s visual attention.”They may have overcompensated, but they sure did bring on the entertainment.

The Wall was no exception to the extravagant caravan tours, but it was definitely darker and drearier in content. To this day, I still can’t bring myself to sit through the entire film because it’s just so bleak. Waters actually thought it should’ve been bleaker: “Every minute was trying to be full of action. I found it a bit difficult to watch in a sitting. I’ve become kind of numbed by it.” That pretty much sums up the general state of Pink Floyd post-Dark Side of the Moon: comfortably numb. But the book isn’t meant to be upbeat. It’s a journalistic take on the band, and it reads like a history book. It’s respectful and revealing, but not in a scandalous way. Blake certainly brings the band’s imperfections to light, but he does so as a good reporter would. Those who aren’t too familiar with Pink Floyd will gain insight into Mason, Wright and Syd Barrett’s roles. Big fans will get a peek into the various dynamics among the band members.You’ll learn why, after all these years, they haven’t been able to bring themselves to reunite on more solid ground.

Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd
By Mark Blake (Da Capo Press), 432 pages

In the Pink

Written by Leonard Jacobs on . Posted in Posts, Theater.

For a certain sensibility, trashiness has always had a certain kind of coolness. Naturally it depends on what you mean by trashy: Your former obsession with “The Anna Nicole Show” may not be the same as my fascination with Britney Spears’ pudenda flashing around the globe.

So while Bridget Everett doesn’t have Spears’ sartorial flair in her subterranean zone (we guess), in At Least It’s Pink—subtitled “A Trashy Little Show”—she packages her trashiness, then flattens you with her talent.

Of medium height, blond, zaftig and likely on the scarier side of 30, At Least It’s Pink is a cabaret show on coke, or as Everett would phrase it, “really good shit.” And because she shares writing credit with Kenny Mellman (aka Herb of Kiki and Herb) and her director Michael Patrick King, writer/director/executive producer “Sex and the City,” it’s not the usual “Here I am, listen to me sing” silliness, but a trippy theatrical tramp through Everett’s trashy life.

Whether Everett still waitresses at Ruby Foo’s Uptown or really loves singing karaoke is hard to know. She does have a breathy, soulful, down-home, crushingly sensual voice that takes the original songs she and Mellman have written and sifts them for earthy humor and pointed moments until you’re either disgusted or laughing or both. “Canhole” is my favorite—halfway through, Everett unceremoniously drops her drawers, and there she is, in a leather bustier and not much else. She’s not the svelte American girl corporate America sells us, but the American woman as she is. Well, if women were to talk about trolling on the Web for well-hung men of color at 3 a.m.

Everett sings songs with titles like “Big Girl,” “Special Lady,” “2 For 1 Special” and “Back-Stabbing Bitch,” and if any sentiment creeps in, she destroys it—like a tornado decimating a trailer park.

Other elements help Pink differ from your typical cabaret act. For example, Everett’s first accompanist is an African-American fellow named Simon who may also be an object of her lust. Not long after her drawers have descended during “Canhole,” with Everett furiously jiggling her mountainous butt, Simon stops playing: No, baby, he’s not up for a “Baby Got Back” moment. And so he leaves. After an extended interlude with Everett interacting with the audience (I’ll keep secret what she does), Mellman enters in what seems like a final attempt to rein Everett in. He’ll fail, and you know it’s all staged, but you buy into the shtick anyway.

By the way, don’t underestimate Mellman’s contributions to the show. Furious hard-driving chords, lyrics that weirdly scan, flashes of scatological wit, the endless swigs that Everett takes from a bottle of something or other—these are all Kiki and Herb hallmarks. And while Kiki & Herb will always remain the king and queen of downtown subversion, this is subversion of a different sort. Everett isn’t like all the cabaret trash out there, with all that crooning of the same old tunes and reminding us why they’re the lesser lights of Broadway. Everett may be trashy shit, but the girl’s got game.

Through March 11. Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th St. (betw. 10th & 11th Aves.), 212-868-4444, $25.