I’m doing a collaborative journaling project with some of my Etsy friends, and today’s entry seemed fit for general consumption, so here it is.

We watched “Liberation Day” last night, a documentary about the concert in North Korea staged by the “radically ambiguous” ( i.e. hopefully ironically) pseudo-fascist Slovenian band, Laibach. It’s mind-blowingly weird, and more than a little depressing. It has been described as “the most bizarre concert ever,” which I can’t really argue. The fact that the concert happened at all is completely mystifying.

Laibach is David’s favorite band. They play sophisticated, industrial/classical/martial style music, and their lead vocalist, Milan Fras, sounds pretty much like my imagining of the prince of darkness. I think David finds their covers of sweet songs like “Let it Be” and “Across the Universe” refreshing. I get that. But it’s not exactly the kind of music I want to listen to while in my home with a cup of tea, crocheting.

In North Korea, after much confusion and censorship, they did covers of “Edelweiss” and “The Sound of Music.” Here’s their somewhat terrifying rendition of “My Favorite Things,” which we watched on Youtube, later.

The documentary was artistically filmed and had that disjointed/redacted character that all films that make it out of North Korea do. We had watched Álvaro Longoria’s “The Propaganda Game” a year or more ago, and it gave me that same eerie feeling of a dream you wish you could wake up from, and you keep realizing, “Fuck! This is real!” So, one North Korea film a year is enough for me, tops.

The weirdest parts of “Liberation Day” for me were the is he serious? comments made by Laibach’s Ivan Novak, who famously said in response to Orwell’s quote, “All art is propaganda,” “All propaganda is art.” You just don’t know whether he really thinks totalitarianism is a good idea, or if he’s being provocative. It’s discomfiting, but thought provoking, which I chose to think was his intention.

The North Korean audience looks about as thrilled by the performance as I imagine any given audience in fly-over Oklahoma or Montana* might look when presented with Laibach. How did they pick these audience members anyway? Was it a punishment or a treat? Did people just choose to come of their own accord? Did they love it, but carefully hide their emotions? Did they have post-Laibach stress? Were they monitored afterward? *Which brings to mind a question. Has talk radio created the propaganda equivalent of our own little North Korea, right in our midst?

Anyway, after checking the laundry, I realized I felt like crying. We call the movie you watch after the weird, upsetting one a palate cleanser. Last night’s palate cleanser was an episode of “Laugh In.” It was the first time I’d seen it since I was about 6 years old. That was a trip in itself. I could smell the warm polyester of our 1970s living room the minute Dan Rowan and Dick Martin started swizzling their martinis.

Afterward I went on a Spotify safari to find songs for next Wednesday’s ukulele cabaret play-along. I had decided on the theme “Good, Bad, Ugly” after hearing “Only the Good Die Young” on the oldies radio station in my car. Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” helped to wipe out the cobwebs of totalitarian ambiguity angst, followed by “You was a Good Ole Wagon, but you Done Broke Down.” I don’t think we’ll be doing any Laibach songs.

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