Originally published in: Overdose, Apr. 1975

Stoned at the Movies:
A Glance at Mere Reality

"You see, quad sound is the gimmick now. That's the way it's being sold. This is Phase I. Rock concerts are a natural for quad. Furthermore, it lets them stretch the concert boom bucks out. They didn't even have to truck their Stars around; just a can of film and a bunch of speakers."

"Yeah, but it's stretching things pretty thin. You can't just film a concert -- it's not the same thing."

"But you get a group like the Rolling Stones, or Pink Floyd, or Emerson Lake and Palmer -- they don't exactly hit town every week, you know. And it'd be dynamite in Casper, Wyoming. Who goes to movies anyway? Or, for that matter, concerts?"

"They're events. Don't you read St. Louis Today?"

"Fuck you."

"Look. You go to a concert or a film on some hype. You don't go to hear the music. A decent stereo and a pair of headphones would be much better. You go to participate in an event, a spectacle. Think how fucking sharp you are. How many people truck downtown to the symphony from Ladue just to be seen by their neighbors?"

"But what can you do when you're fagged out and fucked over? Get stoned and go on down to Kiel. Or get smashed and watch the Rolling Stones flick."

"Or just get smashed. But there's a difference between a concert and a film of that concert."

"W.B., right?"

"Yeah. A concert has an aura; each one is unique. You can tell your grandchildren, `I saw the Rolling Stones in Detroit in 1971.' What can you say about this film? `I saw it' -- so did twenty million other people."

"So it changes its class function -- Rolling Stones for the masses, right?"

"But it does more than that. The quad may sound just like the real thing, but the movie's no way near real life. Or maybe it's even too close. The camera finds its own object, its own special way of viewing things."

"Yeah, sixty minutes of Mick Jagger's crotch."

"More than that. You can't see shit at a concert. In the film you're right in the middle of the stage. The camera gets at an immediate reality and forces you to analyze it. Look at the lines in Jagger's face. See him try to work himself up to the act in `Brown Sugar,' when you can tell he'd really rather be doing anything else in the world. Watch Watts try not to miss a beat, or Bobby Keys blow his head off. Or Mick Taylor quietly, bored shitless, doing his job."

"And Jagger, at the end, once the audience is revealed and the day's work is over. Like he just beat his image."

"The film cuts both ways. It seeks to immortalize myth yet ends up tearing it apart. Jagger's vaunted sex-symbolism, for instance, the jerkiness, shot nerves, the sleek crotch-stuffed veneer."

"But the fans are left out -- they don't show until the ovation at the end."

"Yeah, that would have been more interesting."

"So, what's the point?"

"It's Lou Reed's conclusion again: Other people like us, we gotta work." [1]

"Pass the popcorn."

"Fuck you."

Anyhow, Ladies and Gentlemen -- The Rolling Stones, the incisive social commentary behind all this bullshit, is playing at the Brentwood. But if you really want to see what the chatter's about, for $2.45 you can probably score a copy of Walter Benjamin's Illumunations.

Jewell Wecker & Ariel Bender


1. "Sweet Jane," Rock n Roll Animal style, as opposed to simpler, funner days when Reed would sing, "Some people go out dancing/ While others, they gotta work." Reed's joined the others; Jagger has too.

Archaeological notes: May 10, 2002

This piece was stuck in a box inside my section of Overdose. Presumably that means I wrote it, or at least co-wrote it, probably with Don Malcolm. I don't have any recollection, although it's hard to deny authorship of anything written in St. Louis in 1974-75 that name drops Walter Benjamin. Jewell Wecker is a vaguely familiar pseudonym, and this Ariel Bender was never in Mott the Hoople.