Time was when I would post an inordinate amount of frankly stupid, incidental shit here on Flaming Pablum, be it a passing observation, an ill-considered rant or a windy manifesto. I’d take that a step further, once again, and say that the first couple of years were almost a complete waste of time. I don’t think I really found my voice here until 2007 or so.
I think a big factor in the topical streamlining of this weblog was social media. With multiple outlets wherein to express those observations, rants and idiotic asides, I could trim a bit of the fat on Flaming Pablum and keep it more cohesive and thematically sound, despite it essentially being a topically open-ended blog. Don’t get me wrong — I still post an unwieldy amount of trivial nonsense here, but I like to think it’s at least in keeping with an established vein.
This all said, I had a couple of instances in the last couple of days wherein I posted a pair of status updates on Facebook that both sorta blew up, relatively speaking. Upon reflection, I figured that one of them could be expounded upon here, so that’s what I’m doing.
Now that you’ve made it through the needlessly lengthy and entirely inconsequential preamble, let’s get down to it, shall we?
If you live in New York City, you should probably be used to seeing celebs out in the streets (if you’re paying attention, that is). Living downtown, especially, finds me spotting famous actors, musicians and public figures out on the street on a fairly regular basis. Over the weekend, for example, within the course of a single block, I walked past actor Ron Pearlman (he of “Hellboy,” “The City of Lost Children,” and myriad other roles) and Alec Baldwin. Actually, Baldwin lives a block away from me, so I see him and Hilaria quite regularly. He looks a lot older in person, by the way.
Nine times out of ten, I don’t say anything when I spot a star, although — of course — that depends on who it is. Regular readers might remember an old post wherein I recounted the cringe-worthy tale of accosting Joe Jackson (he of, say, “Steppin’ Out” and “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” fame, not Michael Jackson’s dad) on the 6 train and inadvertently ruining his day. Usually, it’s better just to leave them alone.
On Wednesday, however, I was walking east on 8th Street (on my way back from buying a new pair of running shoes), and I noticed a curiously familiar-looking figure walking my way. Otherwise lost in my headphones (listening to Earth A.D. by The Misfits) and the gorgeousness of the spring day, it didn’t dawn on me who this individual was until he was about three feet from me.
It was Dave Gahan, the lead singer of Depeche Mode.
While Depeche Mode may not be as divisive a name as, say, KISS, I know opinions are largely divided regarding their merits. Personally speaking, I’ve always really liked them, ever since my first viewing of the video for “Everything Counts” back in the balmy days of 1983. I followed them fairly ardently up through, I’d say, 1997’s Ultra. I sort of fell off after that record, but I still solidly count myself as a fan.
So, yeah, upon recognizing that it was Gahan, I couldn’t stop myself from exclaiming “Dave!” right when we were parallel. He turned with a bit of a start in my direction and caught me giving him a sort of half-wave, half-salute. “Hey, man,” he said with a smile and kept on walking west — maybe towards Electric Lady studios? Who knows? I’m entirely projecting, of course. Maybe he actually lives here.
That was it. There was no big meaningful exchange. He didn’t invite me along to a recording session or sign my copy of Speak & Spell. I neglected to disclose that “New Life” is my little boy’s favorite song. I didn’t get a scoop on anything.
That all said, spotting Dave Gahan on the streets of Manhattan seems like the perfect reason to exhume the video for Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth,” featuring a lovely, relatively vintage view of Manhattan as shot by iconic dutch shutterbug Anton Corbijn.
Here's that video now....
I actually wrote about this stylish clip back in 2008, in a round-up of NYC-centric rock videos. Here's what I had to say about it then.
For this single from 1989's Violator album, Depeche Mode and noted photographer Anton Corbijn decided to film the video for "Policy of Truth" in good ol' Manhattan. Here, we see the Mode lads flouncing about the near the Central Park Reservoir (when it still boasted the chain-link fence), the Meat Packing District, East River Park and even in the interior of the fabled P&G Bar on the Upper West Side, all the while attempting to imply that they're being cuckolded by the two brunette hotties. While the plot line may be roundly unconvincing, the shots of New York City sure are nice.
Honestly, that pretty much covers it, but in rediscovering it, it seems like Corbijn was really trying to tap into that black n' white sense of wonder about New York City arguably best captured by Woody Allen's "Manhattan."
Contrast that iconic romantic image with Corbin's shots at the Central Park Reservoir...
..and again with Andy Fletcher's tryst beneath the Williamsburg Bridge....
Maybe I'm reaching, but it certainly wouldn't have been the only video to pay homage to Woody's stylized vision of Manhattan (check out Vampire Weekend's clip for "Step").
Regardless, I still think it's an excellent video, not least for its fleeting depiction of the afore-cited P&G Bar on the Upper West Side, which vanished from that corner in 2009.
It soldiered on briefly at another U.W.S. location, but it, too, was forced to close in 2011.
Of course, "Policy of Truth" wasn't the only video Depeche Mode shot in NYC. There's also this one from the same album, which might give some a bit of a chill....