We Saw Dirty Projectors' Short Film, 'Hi Custodian'
Thursday night I joined a reasonably packed theatre of white people to catch Dave Longstreth's latest mindfuck, Hi Custodian. It included a lot of beautiful and bizarre footage, acting essentially like a giant music video for their absolutely fantastic record Swing Lo Magellan. I learned a lot of things from my evening at Landmark Sunshine Cinema, like that some Dirty Projectors fans are really super stupid, Longstreth has a great sense of humor, and I really need to purchase some linen dresses. Also, there is a person actually named Sparkle Hickey who lives in this world. When the first clap of “Offspring Are Blank” cracked, snapping the screen bright with colors, the idiot girl next to me gasped. Surprise, dummy, this film features music from their recent album. (Spoiler to those who missed my intro paragraph, so, um, sorry.) The quintet shot the whole ordeal in California, zig-zagging across the state's varied terrain and agonizing suburbs. That last mentioned locale included a carwash scene with bikini-clad, fully made-up babes, and possibly LeeAnn Rimes. Alongside the carwashers, religious clerics, nurses, and a dalmatian also made appearances. It made very little sense, therefore totally following Longstreth's style—it was gorgeous.
After the credits rolled, Pitchfork's Brandon Stosuy opened a Q&A with the band, and Directory of Photographer Bobby Bukowski. Longstreth could have been a major egomaniac, frothing mad bullshit about what we all had just experienced together. However, he immediately extinguished this possibility, referring to the short film with a wave of the hand as, “this weird thing.” Weird, indeed. “I thought we could make this a weird, surreal journey,” he said about his girlfriend and bandmate (and apparent wild animal summoner?) Amber Coffman's idea. He and the rest of the group shot the shit with the audience for a bit. And then the moment came that made me respect Longstreth the most.
The mic found its way beneath this pretentious, fro'd-out bro's giant, practiced mouth. (I really wanna know how many times he recited this question while staring blankly into the mirror, probably while fondling himself.) He asked Longstreth some three to five minute drivel including the phrase “redacting tablet of values.” He swallowed breath when finally finished, followed by Longstreth's exasperated, defeated, “Ugh...” The artist didn't respond in a mean, taunting way. I don't think he was trying to make a fan feel stupid, I feel like it was more humanizing. Longstreth has got to have some idea that although generally regarded as brilliant, his art is still pretty avant-garde on the grander stage, and he has a sense of humor about that. At the conclusion of his answer to Poofball Doucherson's original query, the maestro shrugged, “[The narrative]... well, it makes sense to me.” That's enough for me. And if nothing else, now Longstreth can rest easy knowing the image of him in a toxic waste management suit will forever reside in a couple special dozen's spank-bank.