Before the end of the year haiku spree tomorrow and before plunging into the miasma of NSA leaks and ACA numbers, the yin and the yang of the Obama presidency, the Rude Pundit wants to wax bloggily about a few non-political things that got his juices flowing and gave him intellectual and emotional wood:
1. In Berlin, Germany, on the fifth floor of a plain building decorated to look like a Las Vegas hotel by way of Fellini, the Rude Pundit found himself seated at a table with five other people while a fat, bald man wearing only underwear kept bringing us food and telling us about himself. He was Gluttony. Then an evil clown, who was the Devil, came over and punished him by having him strip naked, get in a tub, and get pissed on by a female demon. As they walked away giggling, the nude, pissed on Gluttony asked all of us at the table why did we not speak up for him. It was one moment from the immersive theatre piece Club Inferno by the group Signa, much of which the Rude Pundit didn't understand as he wandered room to room, from circle to circle of Hell, but it was everything he loves about live performance: dangerous, confrontational, and unpredictable. He was fucked with and it was fucked up in the best way possible.
(Other theatre moments that stuck: The cast of Sarah Flood in Salem Mass at the Flea Theatre swimming around the stage like a pack of beavers in a river; Ian McKellen as Spooner, pleading to stay at the home of Patrick Stewart's Hirst, at the end of Harold Pinter's No Man's Land on Broadway.)
2. You hear about these things, maybe see them on YouTube or elsewhere, but you rarely get to see them when you're at a concert. But on a beautiful night on the Hudson River in Hoboken (yes, Hoboken), New Jersey, Wilco was wrapping up its set as part of the Americanarama concert. They invited out the previous acts, My Morning Jacket and Ryan Bingham. They joined guitarist Warren Haynes and Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter for a cathartic version of "All the Young Dudes."
(Runners-up: The Flaming Lips at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ, finally doing a show that was free of gimmicks and giant hamster balls and dancing aliens and just rocking your tits off. The Roots at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn, because if you've seen the Roots, you know why.)
3. Two movies about the end of the world where (spoiler, spoiler) the world actually ends. This Is the End was the funniest movie of the year because it embraced the douchiness of celebrity (and Danny McBride and James Franco arguing about who ejaculates hardest actually hurt). And The World's End had more to say about the lives of middle-aged men than a dozen navel-gazing indy flicks. Also, Nick Frost can pretty much do no wrong.
4. Speaking of Danny McBride, the end of his HBO series Eastbound and Down, where he plays a washed up baseball player whose raging ego makes him destroy his life constantly, was almost the equal of the finale of that other show everyone was talking about this year.
5. Street art, man. Tons of street art. From all over the place.