Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baby Snakes and Bruce Bickford

Baby Snakes is a film documenting Frank Zappa's 1977 Halloween concert at New York City's Palladium Theater. I saw it for the first time the other night and, even though I like Zappa, this documentary clocked in at just under 3 hours which made me want to punch my television set. It was way too long and I could care less about backstage hijinks. It did, however, make me realize two things that I'm very thankful for: 1)Frank Zappa is an amazing guitarist, which is even more frustrating considering he plays it all of ten minutes throughout the entire film; and 2)the most wonderful thing about this whole documentary is, hands down, the spotlight it shines on artist Bruce Bickford. My anger at the length of this film was tempered by the need to find out more about Bickford, which led me to a 2004 documentary film about his life entitled Monster Road.

Egos are quite a pet peeve of mine and there couldn't be a bigger gulf in egos as there is between watching Zappa's in Baby Snakes and Bickford's lack of one in Monster Road. I would argue that Bickford is one of the most important visual artists of our lifetime and yet, as the film points out, the guy can't find work. You would think that some current musical artist would seek him out to do a video but, then again, what else should you expect? The non-egotistical of the world don't exactly market themselves very well because, well, they don't have an ego.

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