Wednesday, March 24, 2004

In the days when there were intermissions before the movie, the program for the first half was made up of newsreels, travelogues, trailers for forthcoming films & cartoons. Usually the cartoons were either Disney family pap or Looney Tunes "there's no such thing as death no matter how many bullets enter the body or how large the boulder is"; but there were also cartoons from UPA that were totally different to what the others were doing, that used animation as if it were another art form.

Non-violent & without the, usually racial, stereotypes used by the other cartoon makers, UPA gave us the characters of Mr Magoo & Gerald McBoing Boing as well as versions of Poe & Thurber's Unicorn in the Garden. But they also had occasional cartoons that could only be described as almost spontaneous happenings - little theme, no seeming purpose, just something going on & depicted in a singular way. The one I remember is of a drummer coming on screen, doing a drum solo & then walking off. I also remember that most of the audience didn't enjoy it.

What's reminded me of these cartoons is my reference below to John Lewis whose MJQ did a haunting recording, I think with Jimmy Giuffre on clarinet, of David Raskin's Serenade which was part of the score to Unicorn, & thinking about the processes & purpose of Bel Canto, a poem I recently posted to As/Is which is about drunken persimmons. I write a number of poems like this - or, perhaps more correctly, it's the Zen thing where the poem writes itself - & all I can offer up for their creation is that somewhere inside me there is a UPA studio turning out depictions of the occasional mad microseconds of my mind.

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