Aug 15, 2007

Go West

Moses and his staff

At The Daily Behemoth, Ben Fairhall mentions the oddly prophetic ability of the movie myth makers, seen with the 20/20 hindsight of 9/11. If there's one thing movies have taught us, it's that New York City is the most cursed spot on earth. I've seen it destroyed dozens of times: sudden ice ages, tsunamis and UFO's... you name it, NYC is No. 1 on the agenda. Aferrismoon commented that NYphobia might be by design - and if so, I wonder why? What is it about New York City?

NYC is gay mecca - the largest population of homosexuals on the planet (San Francisco pales in comparison). Gay consciousness was born in (new) Greenwich Village - the Stonewall riots of 1969. A few days ago, I happened to catch the Pet Shop Boys cover of 'Go West' and I was struck by the symbolic utopian imagery - the visualization of New York as a perfect city - gleaming white - the prostitute 'born again' as the virgin.

To the London based Pets, going West means going to New York, and the video leaves no symbolic stone unturned in its declaration of New York City as the promised land.

There where the air is free, we'll be what we want to be, Now if we make a stand, we'll find our promised land

This New York is nothing like the gritty reality. It's a 3D model of perfection. The only colors allowed are the primaries, no mixing, certainly no tacky poly-cotton blends. The presentation of Soviet utopian symbolism conjures visions of impossible dreams, lost causes and comrades in arms - sympathetic archetypes for the AIDS weary soldier of those times.

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, (Moses and Aaron), lead us across the Atlantic (River Jordan), from east to west. London to New York - three flights daily on the Virgin. Tennant sings "This is what we're gonna do!" as if it was a fact from the future - inevitable.

The prominent red star. Red, the planet Mars, and the pentagram, symbol of Venus - Venus and Mars reconciled - the divine hermaphrodite.

Lady Liberty, the symbol of freedom and NYC, but tinted red, hinting at her secret identity.

Go West is unapologetically martial (Martian) music, and in almost every scene the (Castro) clones are marching. I wonder... have we received our marching orders?


Utopian idealism is the source of much human misery. Hitler, Lenin, Bush... all idealists. Why do we fall for it every fucking time - hook, line and sinker? Maybe because instinctively, Platonically, we hope it exists... somewhere over the rainbow.

Early Christians were told to hold everything in common - the first Communists.

Macy's - the "flagship" store of NYC - has adopted the red star as its logo.

The (silver) surfers?


Bev said...

Great stuff Micheal thanks!
Have you heard of a UK band called the Cult?

Go West.....
All the best

Michael said...

Thanks Bev, much appreciated. I've heard of the Cult, but being a typical gay disco bunny of the 80's, I never actually listened to them. Thanks for the link.

FilmNoir23 said...

The Cult are is this article. Man, we are on the same wave this past week or two. I was just thinking about Macy's (the obvious Red Star), and the Thanksgiving Day parade (which Macy's has sponsored since the beginning? I think?). Don't want to jinx this year's event but it draws millions to the city...

aferrismoon said...

more like The Serfers - Serfs up and don't forget the Bored [ from a Dr. Chris Hyatt].
I find this pair of brit Pop puppies the flagship of bland. The only band that can cross monotone with a crescendo and invoke bored as a fashion accessory.
They were i suppose a product of Yuppiedom and can be forgiven for their office-pop tone-deaf vocal, cloudy day, disdainful-steely beat combo coolness. They seemed to me to herald the 'Grey-Gay' , clad in official suit, he was able to downsize companies with a brotherly arm on the shoulder -' Do take care darling ,I'm sure ther'll be something along soon'
Scuse my depleted uranium style cynicisme.

FilmNoir23 said...

I can't say that I was ever a Pet Shop Boys fan but this video is truly bizarre, mixed signals all over the place. Other than the colors from the beach balls, I was struck by the choice of Blue & Yellow as their "colors". Do you have any insight?

Michael said...

I always liked the Pets - they had this sort of melancholy, proto-trance sound that often suited my mood. However, I admit to being musically challenged - I generally don't catch a trend until at least a decade later.

I noticed the blue/yellow combo as well, but as yet, nothing has pinged. Anyone?

Thanks for the comments, much appreciated.

aferrismoon said...

Blue and Yellow are the town colours of Shrewsbury in England UK, and the colours of the flag of Ukraine.
The name Tennant has always had royalist leanings for me, Mustique belongs to the Tennant family though I have no idea whether Neil T has any relation to them or not.
I think PSB in a gay-club where everyones on the 'same' trip , where a DJ may mix it, and it's loud might be v.different to listening to it through the tinny radio or as background music.
Again a possible stereotype , the gay ones seem to enjoy their music more in the now, and are less serious about it than those 'serious' listeners of music. The gay party motto seems to be have fun first , drop the ident. At 'Str8' parties there would be groups of us who would only dance to certain sounds, which seems in retrospect a bit serious and contrived.
Gays seem able to deal with the whole Kitsch thing in a different way.
Blue and Yellow combo is rarely used, perhaps thats why. PSB seem to have been influenced by Kraftwerk and their robotisch-electronika, the Germans have produced a lot of influential electronic groups. Kraftwerk's sound influenced ' The Detroit Sound of Techno' [1988, I htink]. They used a lot of militaristic and machine techno-imagery and the deadpan vocals.
All the best from a music-snob

hoi polloi said...

So is this the explanation for the song "West End Girls" too. I've always loved that one and wondered what it meant

Michael said...

Good question. That was an earlier song, before the band came out, so I think the symbolism of words and lyrics are far more obscurely coded. To much work... but a fine song, I agree.

BTB said...

Very interesting take on Greenwich, Michael... I'd like to refer to this as soon as I return to the subject of the Village's SE10 namesake.

Best wishes

Michael said...

Hi Ben. In a way, London and New York are "twin" cities, and given my twin "fetish", it's interesting to look at them in that way.

Regards, M

Daedalus said...

Hi, I found your site while searching for red stars. I know this post is old, but I thought you'd find it interesting (if you didn't know about it) that in the midwest, people hang these stars on their houses. outside the city limits, i swear one in three houses has one of these giant stars on it. they call them "country stars." i want to ask them to hang swastikas next to them. it's the same idea.

Daedalus said...

p.s. i've recently returned to ohio after spending the last decade on the east and west coasts and in europe, so the stars are especially strange to me.

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