David Byrne 1991The Mojo Cable Channel (formerly INHD) has been showing David Byrne's "True Stories" (1986) in heavy rotation. The movie is a surreal look at the transformation of Texas into a high-tech Mecca that explores life in the fictional town of Virgil. A highpoint of the movie is a dinner table demonstration of the wonders of capitalism by the late Spaulding Gray, who plays the man who brought high-tech industry to Virgil.

While people still do not wear clothing made of Astroturf and vacuuming robots are not yet humanoid, much of the movie was prophetic, as a visit to Austin will confirm. Byrne was clearly torn between the collectivist leanings of his lower Manhattan milieu and the wonders of technology that came from capitalism and made much of his art possible. (One of Byrne's more recent creations is PowerPoint art.) While Byrne clearly mocks the excesses of consumerism, he marvels at technology and the entrepreneurs who brought it to the masses. At one point, a cosmic Steve Jobs pronouncement is directly quoted.

The movie is all about music and features several tunes by Byrne's band at the time, The Talking Heads. Interestingly enough, many old Heads' tunes have received a new lease on life through technology. All the studio recordings have been remixed and re-released in 5.1 surround on DVD-A. I've listened to "Speaking in Tongues" and it is absolutely stunning.

Rating: One invisible hand up.


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