the days of suede / blog
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  • Jeffrey Alan Bright

skinny arms ache to hold you

In the middle of 1991, shortly after Darke County re-ID'd into Myself a Living Torch, now-Harlan Bobo, Chris Green, Christopher Fisher and I made a music video. In an effort to showcase our rapidly evolving sound, and in a vain effort to participate in the MTV era (minus meaningful budget), we pooled our talents with the video art team of Scott Alexander and John Martin (aka the infamous Johnny Martino). At the time, Scott was our Minna Mansion upstairs neighbor — a multi-talented artist and musician known for video work, and also from the Dayton area — and John ran a small-scale video production studio out of an office space in San Francisco.

A few months prior, the band had completed a set of demo recordings at Tom Mallon's 350 Bryant Street Studio, among them a 60's psychedelia-tinged track titled "Do Big Men Really Run the World?" Playing up the song's challenge to traditional notions of masculinity and power structure, Alexander/Martino crafted a splashy, Warhol-esque pantomime intercut with mid-century "sensitive male" iconography — echoing the song's lyrical theme and content. The result had an undeniable pop art charm, but ultimately suffered from a poor audio track and the limitations of video technology at the time.

Recently, as a project of this archive, the video was resurrected from tape, given a cursory clean up, and paired with a freshly remastered sound. Viewed today, given advances in digital video over the ensuing three decades, the piece has a decidedly crude VHS flavor. But, considering the song's theme — that compassion and empathy can be glamorous, that sensitivity can be a burden not borne lightly — perhaps it's precisely this lo-res quality (call it "period appeal") that offers an antidote to the current era's barrage of super-slick imagery. Do the peddlers really think we all so easily deceived?

I'm deeply biased, of course, still I think the message and the essential question in the song continues to resonate. It has for at least 2,019 years, from a time when the original champion of sensitivity was persecuted and brutally executed in public for thoughts deemed incendiary enough in their truthfulness to topple an empire.

But enough tilting at human nature...

Now, 28 years later, MaLT's Alexander/Martino pop art video project can finally be experienced in a form resembling original intentions as we continue to ask the burning question. Jesus, tell me: Do big men really run the world?

See and judge for yourself. Visit MaLT's You Tube channel.

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