Poetic Memory: Buzz Osborne (List)

MP3s: The Melvins – The Bulls & The Bees EP

Roger “Buzz” Osborne may be The Melvins‘ sole remaining founding member, but he pretty much is The Melvins, so it doesn’t really matter anyway.

The metal maestro — whose nickname doesn’t gel with his signature crazy Afro — started the band in 1983, along with Matt Lukin (who has his very own Pearl Jam song) on bass and Mike Dillard on drums. Dillard left the group in 1984, and Lukin left in ’87 to form Mudhoney and live with Kurt Cobain.

The Melvins, in fact, influenced a number of seminal grunge-era bands such as Nirvana and Soundgarden, as well as other artists like Tool, Mastodon, and Isis.

Save for brief breaks here and there, Osborne and longtime drummer Dale Crover have kept the band going for the last 30 years, and the respect that they’ve earned as a musical pioneers has only grown. That’s why we were super-pleased to see that The Melvins will play the Casbah on April 14.

They’re touring to support their new EP, The Bulls & The Bees, which was released for free in March (link above). The band also plans to release a full-length this summer as Melvins Lite (Osborne, Crover, and Trevor Dunn of Mr.Bungle/Fantomas) via Mike Patton’s label Ipecac.

In anticipation of the show, we asked Buzz — an apparent cinephile but boob-tube abstainer — to send us a list of his influences. Little did we know that he’d turn in one of the coolest Poetic Memories yet: a rundown of his five favorite John Huston movies. Don’t miss this list, and don’t miss the band’s show on April 14.

Poetic Memory: Buzz Osborne

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948): Best movie EVER made. John Huston won the Academy Award for best director and for adapted screenplay, AND his father Walter Huston won Best Supporting Actor. This is everything I love about movies. GREAT storyline with super interesting characters, and filmed in glorious black and white. Everything looks BETTER in black and white! Humphrey Bogart plays the lead as Fred C. Dobbs and I believe there is a little bit of Fred C. Dobbs in all of us. Stanley Kubrick loved this movie. I’ve watched it at least 100 times, well maybe 90. I’m always surprised at the amount of people I meet who have never seen this movie. I tell them to see it as soon as possible, but I secretly think they are ignoramuses.

Fat City (1972): This move fucking rules! Filmed in Stockton, California, this is one of the most disturbing, depressing movies I’ve ever seen. It’s the story of a down-and-out fruit-picking boxer who drinks himself into the gutter. It’s like an unfunny Barfly. Stacy Keach is absolutely superb as the main character Billy Tully, and Susan Tyrrell was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. One of Huston’s finest. I’m guessing not a whole lot has changed in Stockton.

Wise Blood (1979): VERY weird movie that I’ve never grown tired of. It’s obvious after watching Wise Blood that this is the film that gave Harmony Korine a lot of the ideas he used in Gummo. If that’s true, then good for Mr. Korine! He could do a lot worse in the influence department. Wise Blood is based on a book by Flannery O’Connor by the same name and manages to stay true to the storyline despite the fact that they obviously filmed this thing on a shoestring budget.

Wise Blood is about an army vet named Hazel Motes who begins preaching in the streets about a new religion he’s created called “The Church of Truth Without Christ.” Motes eventually meets a slew of weirdos, one of which he ends up murdering. As Motes tries to escape, he is pulled over by a policeman who pushes his beat-up car into a swamp. This is the last straw for Motes and he returns home, blinds himself with lye, and starts wrapping barbed wire tightly around his chest and walking for miles with his shoes filled with sharp stones. All in order to “pay” for his sins.

In other words, it’s the makings for a great movie!

Huston directed this insane film when he was 73 years old! It’s details like these that reinforce my thinking of him as the best director of all time.

The Man Who Would be King (1975): A fantastic tale of high adventure taken from an 1888 Rudyard Kipling short story. The story was adapted for the screen by Huston and has a soundtrack by Maurice Jarre who also did the soundtrack for another great film called Lawrence of Arabia. The movie stars Michael Caine and Sean Connery. They decide to sign a pact with Christopher Plummer as their witness, to travel through the Khyber Pass and become “kings” of Kafiristan in order to gut the country of whatever riches they can get their hands on.

Eventually they arrive there, and through a series of strange events convince the dumb Kafiristan tribesmen that Connery is a “god.”

It all goes south when the — in actuality not-so-dumb — tribesmen figure it all out and crucify Caine and kill Connery. The movie ends with Caine — who is now a bedraggled derelict — returning to Plummer’s office to tell the story. He leaves Connery’s gold-crowned, severed head as proof. Absolutely splendid! Another Huston happy ending…

The Misfits (1961): AMAZING movie! Filmed in and outside of Reno, Nevada. The story of a recently divorced, naive loser played by Marilyn Monroe, two drifter cowboy losers played by Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift and a mechanic drifter loser played by Eli Wallach who all end up having drunken nervous breakdowns while on a high desert hunt for wild mustangs that they kill and sell for dog food. This was Monroe and Gable’s last film before they died, and almost the always-somewhat-soused Clift’s last film before he died four years later. Written FOR Monroe by her then-husband Arthur Miller. They divorced BEFORE the movie even premiered and she died a year or so later.

Marilyn is stunning in this, which is weird because rumor has it that she was a drugged-up nightmare on the set. Rumor also has it that working with the troublesome Monroe pushed Gable into an early grave, and he died BEFORE the movie even came out. Huston said he stayed in Reno during production and lost every dime he got paid to direct The Misfits at the casino.

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