Before I begin my review of HBO’s Painting with John, let me set the table, as it were.
In the weird world of entertainment, a triple threat is someone who can act, sing, and dance. Judy Garland is said to be the ultimate example of the rare and precious talent. On the other hand, some triple threats develop over time and are collaborative efforts. For example, Mickey Rooney, Micky Dolenz, and Mickey Rourke combined to make a triple threat that spanned nearly half a century.
In the political world, triple threats are a dime a dozen. Any decent politician worth their salt can act like they care about voters, sing the praises of new taxes, and dance around the issues.
Are triple threats threatened with extinction?
On the other hand, the modern equivalent of the circus sideshow, binge-worthy streaming series typically contain one-dimensional animal trainers or cosplay enthusiasts. If we stick with the sodium theme here for a second, most popular series contain all the hypertension and none of the flavour of salt.
Things have gotten so bad that a used car salesman is calling himself a “triple threat” because they are the largest dealer of used Buicks in the tri-state area.
The Lurie Vaccine offers the Relief we need
A triple threat to covid-era depression, Painting with John offers viewers a balm, a tonic, and an ointment for our pandemic ills of the cognitive variety. John Lurie, the painter in question, has the triple threat thing covered in spades. He’s an actor, musician, painter, television producer, and acclaimed fisher.
The only drawback to the Lurie vaccine is that there are only 6 shots to take. HBO calls them “episodes”, but don’t be put off by their highfalutin TV mumbo jumbo.
Is John Lurie an “Omni Threat”?
As if those talents weren’t already enough, Painting with John reveals Mr. Lurie to be a master of all trades, jack of none. Some might simply call Mr. Lurie a bullshit artist, an “Andy Kaufman come lately”, but I call bullshit on that. In the series we learn that Mr. Lurie is a drone pilot, botanist, explosions expert, nutritionist, missing persons expert, maestro, job creator of some note who is loved by his employees, and much, much, much more. (how’d you like that triple “much”? 2 much?)
Explosions with John
Lurie goes into vivid detail on how to blow up a kitchen. The ingredients are surprisingly simple. They include shrimp curie, an hour of sleep, and having a gas oven turned on for 20 minutes with the pilot light burnt out. Lurie walks away relatively unscathed. This is no small miracle because the explosion he engineered is the Caribbean equivalent of the 2020 Beirut explosion that was caused by 2,750 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate.
And speaking of miracles…
Caregiving with John
Lurie is not a vet, but he was a caregiver of an eel. In episode 3 of Painting with John, he recounts how the photography for the cover of his critically acclaimed jazz album Voice of Chunk came about.
During this time John served as a tour guide for the eel. He took it on a sightseeing tour of lower Manhattan that included visits to Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and Chelsea.
The eel eventually accomplished fantastic feats and was really the Jesus Christ of eels. In the hands of John Lurie, it became the Mirac-eel.
Mr. Lurie’s retelling of the events makes a convincing case for having a statue of the eel erected at 18th Street and 7th Avenue in NYC.
OK, who is ready for seconds?
painting by Mark Seabrook