Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Press release of the day: Thanks for the mailboxes and dustpans, black people!

Hoffman Estates, Ill. (January 29, 2008) — As part of our continuing commitment to diversity and the communities where we work and live, and in celebration of Black History Month, Kmart will host Kmart Share the Word, a series of in-store events and activities to pay tribute to African-American inventors. The events will highlight contributions to our everyday lives such as the mailbox and the dustpan. Kmart also will host celebrity workshops that cover a variety of topics, from fashion, beauty, health and fitness, to education, motivation, music and entertainment.

“Diversity is a business priority and is woven into the fabric of who we are,” said Don Germano, senior vice president and general manager of Kmart retail. “Kmart’s long-standing commitment to diversity is a natural extension of our core beliefs. As our nation celebrates Black History Month, we are proud to honor and pay tribute to the extraordinary contributions of African Americans, past and present.”

Someone actually invented the dustpan? According to, Lloyd P. Ray, who was African-American, put a handle on the dustpan to allow cleanup “without getting one’s hands dirty.” But this page lists 164 dustpan patents that preceded Ray’s. You can guess what it says about mailboxes.

Sub Pop at 20

The Seattle Times had a decent story on Sunday about Sub Pop’s 20th anniversary, including this list of its top sellers. It speaks well of Sub Pop that all but two were released this decade. No source for the data was given, but presumably it’s from the label itself, not SoundScan.

1. Nirvana, “Bleach” (1989), 1.6 million
2. Postal Service, “Give Up” (2003), 902,885
3. The Shins, “Oh, Inverted World” (2001), 547,274
4. The Shins, “Wincing the Night Away” (2007), 500,813
5. The Shins, “Chutes Too Narrow” (2003), 462,574
6. Hot Hot Heat, “Make Up the Breakdown” (2002), 282,141
7. Sunny Day Real Estate, “Diary” (1994), 226,388
8. Iron & Wine, “Our Endless Numbered Days” (2004), 220,157
9. Iron & Wine, “The Creek Drank the Cradle” (2002), 133,752
10. Iron & Wine, “The Shepherd’s Dog” (2007), 133,490

Jonathan Poneman: “I’ve signed bands to Sub Pop whose parents used to watch the original Sub Pop bands.”

(Via TDS.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

‘The paper was incorrect’

chud 1


A recent report on cannibalistic underground dwellers misstated the species designation of the creatures. They are humanoid, not human.


An article in the Metro section recently reported on a troglodyte population who lure or coerce people into city sewers and then eat them. Based on police reports and eyewitness interviews, the article characterized the underground dwellers as human. A correction in this space, prompted by a public announcement about the creatures, noted that they are humanoid, not human. In the announcement, the creatures were identified fully as Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.

As readers have pointed out, by definition CHUDs cannot be cannibals if they are not human. (At best they could be called man-eating, which would render the acronym of their name MEHUD.) This New York newspaper should have noticed the contradiction and consulted with experts on man-eating humanoid underground dwellers before accepting the terrorists’ self-appointed name, and additionally should have given the humanoids an opportunity to comment. The paper regrets the error.

Wish I could make it to this tonight

At Two Boots’ Pioneer Theater, 7 p.m. only.

But there ain’t no way. Screened from video, anyhow.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The artistry of rock: David Lee Roth


Unearthed: Diamond Dave’s isolated vocal track from “Runnin’ With the Devil.” Oh my.

(Thanks to Nick.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Voice from beyond: Ike Turner


On Dec. 12, I helped my colleague Jon Pareles report on the death of Ike Turner for an obituary. Times standards demand that we make every effort to confirm the news independently, and this was a high-priority obit that had come in late.

I was having trouble reaching family members or business reps with any credibility — one guy, whom I won’t name, refused to answer questions, telling me I don’t care whether accurate news was reported about his world-famous client — when a source gave me Ike’s home phone number. Here is the outgoing message; Ike also gave his cell number, which I called, and got another message.

RIP, burn in hell, etc.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Press release of the day: Journey retreats to the one place Steve Perry cannot hurt them


... which would be Second Life.


January 25, 2008 — On February 1, multi-Platinum rockers Journey will release their new Virtual Island in Second Life. A grand opening party is planned inside Second Life at the “Journey Rock Band” sim and will feature a meet and greet with band members. Live DJs will be spinning many of Journey’s classic hits, recorded studio and live performances, as well as lots of other great music for fans to party to! The grand opening party is scheduled to start at 10:00am ET/PT. The Journey Island region in Second Life is named “Journey Rock Band.” Learn more at

Journey has long been known for innovations in stage sets, so creating a Second Life Island for fans to enjoy was an easy decision. The Island features dedicated areas for each album along with audio and video presentations. There are also two venues on the island, the Escape Club and the Captured Amphitheater, where live SL events can be held.

Neil Schon and co. have been spending a lot of time pointing and clicking lately. Last month the band announced that they had found (the remarkably well Wiki-documented) Arnel Pineda, their latest in a long line of Perry replacements, via this incredible YouTube clip. on Megadeth?


Apparently there’s more to the federal economic stimulus plan than just tax relief and Fed rate cuts. Injecting some vintage thrash into the market, offers an exclusive interview with noted economics expert (and selfless neighbor) Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. (This follows Bankrate debriefings with Nikki Sixx and Liz Phair.)

Strangely they don’t talk about finance or investing at all, although Mustaine notes the elasticity of thrash demand due to the “whimsical involvement of fair-weather fans,” and reveals a phone number (619-717-2000) where he can be reached as part of “a service we have called ‘Say Now’ where the fans can call and leave me messages.”

I’m considering calling and asking him whether the Democrats caved too readily on Bush’s refusal to extend unemployment benefits and increase food stamps. Any suggestions?

(Thanks to Tresider for the tip.)

‘Black Mirror’ video site

Pretty neat site just launched by the Arcade Fire. It’s an interactive video for the song “Black Mirror” (the domain,, is the title spelled backwards*). Interactive in the sense that as you watch you can toggle six audio channels: (1) lead vocal, (2) echoey percussion, (3) echoey bass, (4) echoey piano, (5) echoey, Davich Lynch-y backup vocals, and (6) strings. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, and it’s revealing. Video’s good too.


* I guess the “sleazy NYC sex” people beat them to the punch on

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Boredoms sign to Thrill Jockey

They had been on Vice, who seemed to have been very good to them. (And were the force behind “77BOADRUM.”) Why did they leave?


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

‘The Heavenly Jukebox’


Thanks to Coolfer Glenn for pointing out that this fascinating article by Charles C. Mann on the future of the music business, published in The Atlantic Monthly in 2000, is now available online. (The Atlantic no longer restricts access to its archives.) Glenn calls it “a very prescient examination of the issues surrounding the industry’s reaction to file-sharing and digital distribution.”

Some excerpts:

  • “Technophiles claim that the major labels, profitable concerns today, will rapidly cease to exist, because the Internet makes copying and distributing recorded music so fast, cheap, and easy that charging for it will effectively become impossible... Through their trade association, the Recording Industry Association of America, the labels are fighting back with every available weapon: litigation, lobbying, public relations, and, behind the trenches, jiggery-pokery with technical standards.”

  • “Compared with writers and filmmakers, musicians are both more imperiled by the Internet and better able to slip past the threat. The music industry seems to have less room to maneuver. In consequence, it has been pushing for decisive judicial and legislative action. The Internet will become a principal arena for the clash of ideas that the Founders believed necessary for democracy. Allowing the travails of a single industry — no matter how legitimate its concerns — to decide the architecture of that arena would be a folly that could take a long time to undo.”

  • “For better or worse, the star-maker machinery behind the popular song, as Joni Mitchell called it, is the aspect of the music industry that would be most imperiled by the effective loss of copyright to the Net. If the majors can’t reap the benefits of their marketing muscle, says Hal Varian, an economist and the dean of the School of Information Management and Systems, at Berkeley, ‘their current business model won’t survive.’ The impact on their profits could be devastating. Musicians have much less to lose, and much less to fear.”

One of the four parts of the article was included in the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2001 anthology.

Mann is a first-rate reporter of the old-school new-journalism type, the type that do a lot of research and know the art of storytelling. He’s also the author of one of my favorite recent nonfiction books, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.

2007: The year in live music

boredoms resize

In 2007 I saw 135 shows, not counting theater, TV tapings and some other nonmusical events. Here’s the list, with faves in bold itals. The hands-down winner is the Boredoms’ epochal “77BOADRUM” on 7/7. Runner-up: Dirty Projectors on 12/4. Worst is probably Mos Def on 1/17.

1/10: Love Arcade @ Bowery Ballroom
1/10: Cold War Kids @ Pianos
1/17: Mos Def’s Big Band (Lincoln Center American Songbook) @ Allen Room
1/24: Camera Obscura, Essex Green @ Warsaw
2/2: Devendra Banhart, Vashti Bunyan, Vetiver, Adem, CocoRose, Cibelle (David Byrne Perspectives: “Welcome to Dreamland”) @ Carnegie Hall
2/3: Estrella Morente (World Music Institute Flamenco Festival) @ Town Hall
2/4: Haale, Alarm Will Sound, Camille (David Byrne Perspectives: “One Note”) @ Zankel Hall
2/7: Libby Johnson @ Rockwood Music Hall
2/7: Essie Jain, Mike Wexler @ Tonic
2/8: Calexico (Lincoln Center American Songbook) @ Allen Room
2/16: Arcade Fire @ Judson Memorial Church
2/17: Gang Gang Dance @ Studio B
3/19: Chris Daughtry @ Irving Plaza
3/24: Lightning Bolt, Barr, Marnie Stern @ 3rd Ward
3/30: “Festival of India: Colors of Rajasthan,” Gulabi Sapera and Party (World Music Institute) @ Symphony Space
3/30: Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra @ Zankel Hall
3/30: Rebuilding the Rights of Statues (ReTros) @ Luna Lounge
3/31: LCD Soundsystem, planningtorock @ Bowery Ballroom
4/4: Alfred Brendel (Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart) @ Carnegie Hall
4/5: Land of Talk, Mahogany @ Mercury Lounge
4/9: Iggy and the Stooges, Sistas in the Pit @ United Palace Theater
4/10: Klaxons, Bonde do Rôle @ Bowery Ballroom
4/11: Lily Allen, the Bird and the Bee @ Irving Plaza
4/13: The Locust, Daughters, Cattle Decapitation @ Rebel
4/13: Roky Erickson and the Explosives @ Southpaw
4/14: Jandek (w/ Tim Foljahn & Pete Nolan) @ Abrons Arts Center @ Henry Street Settlement
4/14: Cloud Cult, Young Galaxy @ Mercury Lounge
4/30: Lou Reed, Okkervil River @ Highline Ballroom
5/4: Northern State, Boyskout @ Galapagos
5/5: Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio (screening/concert, Tribeca Film Festival) @ Pace University
5/9: Arcade Fire, The National (High Line Festival) @ Radio City Music Hall
5/16: Spanish Harlem Orchestra @ SOB’s
5/17: Ken Nordine (High Line Festival) @ Kitchen
5/19: Ricky Gervais (High Line Festival) @ Theater at Madison Square Garden
5/22: Vinicio Capossela @ Joes Pub
5/22: Bebel Gilberto @ Gramercy
5/27: Brand New @ Bowery Ballroom
6/1: Animal Collective, Danielson @ South Street Seaport
6/9: Bee Thousand 33⅓ “microshow” w/ Marc Woodworth (Todd P.) @ Don Pedro’s
6/14: Welcome, Georgie James @ Mercury Lounge
6/14: Jealous Girlfriends, Woggles @ Pianos
6/17: The Whitest Kids U’ Know @ Pianos
6/19: Erik Friedlander @ Marquee
6/19: White Stripes, Citizens Band @ Irving Plaza
6/21: Richard Thompson, Ollabelle @ Celebrate Brooklyn
6/24: Superchunk, Oakley Hall @ McCarren Pool
6/24: Arms and Legs @ Cake Shop
7/7: Boredoms 77BOADRUM @ Brooklyn Bridge Park
7/11: Deerhunter, Ex Models @ Bowery Ballroom
7/12: The World Without Magic, Ford & Fitzroy @ Pianos
7/13: Menomena, Beat the Devil @ South Street Seaport
7/13: Jealous Girlfriends, Dappled Cities @ Mercury Lounge
7/17: Os Mutantes (Lincoln Center Festival) @ Rose Theater
7/17: Slint @ Webster Hall
7/20: Nick Lowe @ Housing Works Café
7/21: Siren Music Festival: M.I.A. etc. @ Coney Island
7/21: Gogol Bordello @ Irving Plaza
7/25: M.I.A. @ Studio B
7/26: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings @ Castle Clinton
7/27: Melvins @ Troubadour, LA
7/28: Rentals @ Spaceland, LA
8/12: Ted Leo, Thermals @ McCarren Pool
8/21: José González @ Spiegeltent
9/10: Dina Dean @ Rockwood Music Hall
9/10: Live Rock ’n’ Roll Karaoke @ Arlene Grocery
9/13: Ollabelle Taj Mahal people @ Banjo Jim’s
9/19: Nick Lowe, Holmes Brothers @ 7 World Trade Center
10/3: Modern Sky Festival day 2 (New Pants, Supermarket, Peng Tan, others) @ Haidian Park, Beijing
10/3: Joyside, Queen Sea Big Shark, Banana Monkey @ D-22, Beijing
10/4: Modern Sky Festival day 3 (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Carsick Cars, Arms and Legs, ReTros, S.A.W., 641, Submarine, The Young Kids, Tibet, Dead J, others) @ Haidian Park, Beijing
10/4: Notch festival (Kira Kira, Johann Johannsson) @ Yugongyishan, Beijing
10/5: ReTros, Birthday Boyz @ 2Kolegas, Beijing
10/6: Lonely China Day @ 2Kolegas, Beijing
10/7: Lie Tie Qiao (sax/drum improv) @ D-22, Beijing
10/9: Improv night (Yan Jun, etc.) @ 2Kolegas, Beijing
10/11: Birthday Boyz, Last Choice @ 4698, Changsha, China
10/12: Birthday Boyz @ Vox Bar, Wuhan, China
10/17: TK Webb and the Visions, Douglas Armour (CMJ) @ Glasslands Gallery
10/17: Fool’s Gold showcase w/ Cool Kids, Kid Sister, Nick Catchdubs (CMJ) @ Hiro Ballroom
10/18: We Are Wolves (CMJ) @ Fader CMJ space
10/18: Yo Majesty, Elk City (CMJ) @ Pianos
10/19: Yeasayer, Black Kids (CMJ) @ R Bar
10/19: Essie Jain, Leah Siegel (CMJ) @ Living Room
10/19: Sons and Daughters, Maccabees (CMJ) @ Bowery Ballroom
10/20: O’Death, Old Time Relijun (CMJ) @ The Yard, Brooklyn
10/20: White Willams (CMJ) @ Fader CMJ space
10/20: Justice (CMJ) @ Terminal 5
10/26: Brunettes, Wows @ Union Hall
10/27: Gamelan Cudamani @ Skirball Center @NYU
10/27: Bill Charlap Trio (Kenny Washington, Peter Washington) @ Village Vanguard
11/3: The Exit @ BAM (“BAM Takeover”)
11/4: Band of Horses, the Drones, Tyler Ramsey @ Terminal 5
11/12: Pipettes, Nicole Atkins @ Gramercy
11/16: Berlin Philharmonic (Kurtag, Mahler) @ Carnegie Hall
11/23: Black Dice, Sightings, Awesome Color @ Highline Ballroom
11/26: Julie Hardy @ 55 Bar
11/26: John Wolfington and friends: Tim Foljahn, Alexa Wilding @ Living Room (upstairs)
11/26: Antihoot: David L.K. Murphy, etc. @ Sidewalk Café
11/26: Jim Boggia, Jim Campilongo Electric Trio @ Living Room
11/26: Live Rock ’n’ Roll Karaoke @ Arlene Grocery
11/27: Cross Pollination #169: Bess Rogers, That Fleeting World @ Pianos
11/27: Michael Daves @ Rockwood Music Hall
11/28: Joel Frahm Trio (w/ John Ellis not Frahm) @ “The Salon at Arthur’s IP” (a.k.a. Arthur’s Invitations and Prints)
11/28: Tinariwen @ Other Music (in-store)
11/28: Defibulators @ Rodeo Bar
11/29: Dog Day @ Sound Fix Lounge
11/29: Howard Fishman @ Pete’s Candy Store
11/29: Anistar @ Zebulon
12/1: The Clean, Times New Viking, the Mad Scene @ Cake Shop
12/4: Ansel Matthews @ Zinc Bar
12/4: Terry Waldo @ Banjo Jim’s
12/4: Eli Degibri Trio @ Louis 649
12/4: Dirty Projectors, White Williams @ Bowery Ballroom
12/6: Taylor Mali, David L.K. Murphy @ Bowery Poetry Club
12/6: Old Time Jam with Zot’s Dream @ Freddy’s Back Room
12/6: Rachelle Garniez @ Barbès
12/6: Flying Lotus (not seen: El-P) @ Studio B
12/7: Harry Partch’s “Delusion of the Fury” @ Japan Society
12/8: Doc Marshalls @ Hill Country
12/11: Yo La Tengo @ Maxwells
12/12: Neil Young @ United Palace Theater
12/19: Trefoil @ St. Bartholomew
12/20: Harlem Blues and Jazz Band @ Trinity Church
12/20: Boys of St. Thomas Choir @ St. Thomas Church
12/21: Ethel etc. @ World Financial Center Winter Garden
12/27: “Roméo et Juliette” @ Metropolitan Opera
12/30: Chuck Berry @ B.B. King’s

The year in records.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Press release of the day: Nice timing!


Guess who has a new album coming out next month? Mrs. (?!) Nicolas Sarkozy! It’s the American release of Carla Bruni’s second album, which came out in Europe last year and hit No. 1 in France. (And Switzerland, for what it’s worth.)

Just in case you didn’t know, she’s a hot former supermodel whom Sarkozy started seeing in public less than two months after divorcing his wife. Maybe Bruni’s not a dumb hot former supermodel, though. I’ve heard her first album and it wasn’t bad. And the songs on No Promises are based on poems by Yeats, Auden, Dickinson and some other poetical heavy hitters. (No word on whether there’s a 13-minute NWOBHM adaptation of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” however.)

Here’s the well-timed announcement:

Carla Bruni
No Promises
(Downtown Records; February 19th, 2008)

From an elegant beauty comes an elegant record: with the subtlety of a spring breeze and the delicacy of fine lace, Italian-born/French-raised chanteuse Carla Bruni has written a poignant record establishing her as an undeniably gorgeous new voice to American ears. With 2 previous records under her belt, heralded in her home of Europe, Bruni’s current creation, No Promises, will be her first English language album to hit US shores via NYC based label, Downtown Records (Gnarls Barkley, Cold War Kids). The record was released exclusively on Itunes and Barnes and Nobles on August 7th 2007, and now will see a wide release on February 19th, 2008.

No Promises is a true celebration of the English language, a tribute to the literary greats of our time. Carla’s fascination and deep appreciation of the language prompted her to make an album comprised of her favorite poems interpreting them into delicate and introspective songs. From Emily Dickinson’s “I Felt My Life With Both My Hands” to WH Auden’s “Lady Weeping At The Crossroads”, to William Butler Yeat’s “Those Dancing Days are Gone” and “Before The World Was Made,” the songs flow with understated emotion and a respectful interpretation that does not overstep its creators vision, instead enhancing and modernizing the time-tested lyricism of these shimmering works. All the while, Carla’s voice floats smoothly along the lines of prose, using the words of others to tell a story that is all her own.

No Promises has reached large success in Europe when it was released last year, selling over 400,000 copies world-wide, thus far. The media has paid it remarkable attention proclaiming such praises as, “Breathy, intimate and up close” (Music Week UK); “It’s a daring concept and remarkably it works” (The Times); “This coupled with her ethereal beauty and obvious passion for words can only endear her to the hearts of millions" (MSN). Bruni’s lilting, thoughtful tones beg comparisons with the likes of Francoise Hardy, Jane Birkin and Madeleine Peyroux, with breaths of fresh air and Paris in the spring.

Profound, potent and imbued with a delicate beauty, No Promises is a very special project from a very special artist. An album, if you like, of pure poetry.

[This is actually a few days old but I’ve been backed up.]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Press release of the day: Whaddaya know, Paris is shirtless



Kristin Cavallari celebrated her birthday last night at the launch of Midnight Music at Rande Gerber’s Stone Rose LA with all her closest friends including Paris Hilton, Elisha Cuthburt, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Cisco Adler and Fantastic Four star Chris Evans.

Photos can be found at:

CHECK OUT PARIS’ OUTFIT…….She forgot to put a shirt on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Press release of the day: Faith Hill’s high school softball injury won’t hold her back, goddammit

January 16, 2008 — Faith Hill, who has been recuperating from knee surgery, refuses to slow down. In fact, she’s not only been busy preparing for her participation in the MusiCares Aretha Franklin Tribute, but has continued recording her long overdue and much anticipated Christmas album for ’08.

A lateral release, realigning her knee-cap, Chondroplasty and a medial femoral chondyle (ouch) surely would have put most on the disabled list. But the singer doesn’t seem ready to be out very long.

Who has time to slow down? said Faith. Doctors had told me to stay off my feet for a bit and now I‘m following their rehab program. I intend to be back better and stronger, she added.

The surgery is the result of an old knee injury suffered while playing softball in high school and normal wear and tear over the years.

Faith has already been part of a hugely successful Christmas project. Her duet with Josh Groban,
The First Noel, appeared on the best-selling album of 2007, Groban’s Noel.

Personal note: Mr. Retzer goes to Sundance

american son

Huzzahs to Sam Retzer, fellow white man, Rudyland Records founder, Echo Park Music and Sound principal and Petitioners shredder-in-chief, who in his capacity as professional composer has a new film in competition at this year’s Sundance festival, which opens Thursday.

The flick is American Son, directed by Neil Abramson and starring thespian rapper Nick Cannon (above). Sam co-scored the film with Tim Boland, the Irish ying to Sam’s Central Virginia yang at Echo Park. The two also did Stomp the Yard, last year’s $61 million sleeper hit.

American Son was highlighted in a New York Times story about the festival slate, and the Salt Lake Tribune, while kvetching over yet another movie with “American” in the title, gives it strong 10-to-1 odds in the dramatic category.

Bonne chance, dudes. Especially with getting into those private dinners and parties so exclusive they’re at “undisclosed locations.”

Steve ’n’ Robin: Career opportunities

Following up on our conversation about the downward spiral of disappointment and mediocrity that are the careers of Steve Martin and Robin Williams, here is a look at what both have on the docket. As you might expect, they are not planning to turn things around anytime soon.


  • Traitor (2008). He’s not acting in this, but is one of two writers (it was his “idea,” says IMDB) and is executive producing. Plot description doesn’t say much: “A special operative working with a terrorist group becomes the target of the CIA.” Variety adds a little: “Story centers on a former U.S. Special Forces operative who’s aiding terrorists, although it’s unclear where his loyalties actually lie.” Stars Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce. Could be good, right? Not so fast: director is one Jeffrey Nachmanoff, who co-wrote The Day After Tomorrow (and thinks the public can’t tell “what is real and what is fake” in it). Sigh.
  • Pink Panther 2 (2009). Somebody kill him please.
  • Old Dogs (2008). Buddy comedy with John Travolta, directed by the maestro who did Van Wilder. Also features Travolta’s daughter Ella. “Two friends and business partners find their lives turned upside down when strange circumstances lead to them being placed in the care of 7-year-old twins.” Did Danny DeVito turn this down? I also see that one of the two writers, David Weissman, has as one of his more prominent credits Dream a Little Dream 2.
  • The Krazees (2009). Family comedy co-written by a guy who was a PA on Jumanji. Based on a book for preschoolers. Plot: “Unable to deal with his daughter reaching puberty, a psychologist (Williams) has to get a handle on his emotions, which have come to life as different characters.” Expect lots of CGI.
Can they be saved?

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Nigeria scam gets lazy

Got this spam today. Amazing that they don’t even put in the effort anymore to camouflage it in some sort of escaping-from-Nigeria-so-please-wire-the-money-purple-monkey-dishwasher.


I want to ask your attention to receive money on my behalf. The purpose of my contacting you is because I need someone who can receive it for our mutual benefits.

On your response, I will send you the full details and more information about myself and the funds.

Yours sincerely,
Hector Botha.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Steve Martin vs. Robin Williams: Showdown of failure


The other night Jesse and I discussed the strange fact that Robin Williams and Steve Martin, two of the most brilliant and successful comedians of our time, have made so many poor, unfunny films that just don’t do justice to their talent. It’s especially inexplicable since both are rich and powerful and presumably have been able to make any film they’ve wanted for at least 20 years now.

In my opinion Martin has done far better: The Jerk, L.A. Story, Parenthood — all masterpieces. And he’s done well with Roxanne, Little Shop of Horrors and a bunch more. But Sgt. Bilko? Father of the Bride Part II? Cheaper by the Dozen 2? The Pink Panther?!

Williams’s career, in contrast, is a disgrace. Mrs. Doubtfire, Cadillac Man, Toys, Jack, Death to Smoochy, Hook, Patch Adams, Jumanji, Flubber, and who can forget RV — it’s just incontheivable that a man this supremely talented has never made a great comedy film, and I don’t think his many carpe diem parts (Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting, Good Morning, Vietnam) make up for this deficiency; rather, they just point to an easy crutch.

An interesting note: they’ve never been in a film together.

Jesse took it upon himself to compile, in the way that only he can, the following year-by-year, film-by-film comparison of Martin and Williams. It’s pretty sad. My comments, where I have them, are in [bracketed itals].
We will start by pointing out the feature film debuts of both of them, The Jerk (1979) and Popeye (1980). Both excellent films, but the critics would have The Jerk as the winner. Nevertheless, I will say they started out even. Let the games begin! [For the record, I note that Jesse has an unusual and very personal bias toward Popeye, a massive flop that had serious consequences for Williams, Robert Altman (director) and Robert Evans (producer). Also, I think it’s awesome that Martin’s role in The Muppet Movie (1979) is “Insolent Waiter.”]

Steve: Pennies From Heaven. Excellent underrated musical dark comedy.
Robin: Nothing. Probably still smarting from Popeye.
Winner: Steve by default.

Steve: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. Excellent noir homage/parody.
Robin: The World According to Garp. Worthwhile adaptation of Irving novel.
Winner: Tie. Critics may raise Garp over Plaid, but I value Plaid over Garp.

Steve: The Man With Two Brains. Good dark comedy some value as excellent.
Robin: The Survivors. Haven’t seen this, but it has Walter Matthau.
Winner: Tough, but I say tie. Fans aren’t overly ecstatic about Brains, and I’ve heard good things about Survivors.

Steve: All of Me. Classic comedy that propelled Steve into stardom. [Not sure why you think that — Martin was already a major comedy star. Note “King Tut,” “Wild and Crazy Guys” etc. from SNL in the ’70s.] The Lonely Guy. Funny film that tried to recapture brilliance of The Jerk.
Robin: Moscow on the Hudson. Very touching movie about Russian defector.
Winner: Tough. Stellar year for both, but although critics may have favored Moscow slightly more than All, All has withstood the test of time better. I will say Steve here, but only by the fact that he turned in the above-average Lonely Guy as well. [Agreed.]

Steve: Nothing, probably due to having served up two films last year.
Robin: Nothing as well. Lazy perhaps.

Steve: Little Shop of Horrors. Small part in worthwhile adaptation. [A masterly cameo, I think. Martin is a vocal amateur, of course, but he nails the part.] ¡Three Amigos! Classic.
Robin: Club Paradise. Underrated film, low on laughs but high on charm. The Best Years of Our Lives. Bizarre “comedy” about a high school football reunion.
Winner: Steve, but he did not trounce Robin this year. [Nonsense. Little Shop of Horrors and Three Amigos? Come on, Steve by miles.]

Steve: Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Underrated classic. Roxanne. Overrated adaptation of Cyrano, but worthwhile nonetheless. [I think the reverse: Planes, Trains is overrated, Roxanne gets an A-.]
Robin: Good Morning, Vietnam. Overrated but still fairly good period comedy. Winner: Tie. Critics highly favored Vietnam, but also gave nods to Roxanne, and Planes has had the most durability. [Maybe so, but Vietnam was a massive hit. I’m inclined to agree on the tie, but that success is notable.]

Steve: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Classic.
Robin: Nothing.
Winner: Steve by default.

Steve: Parenthood. A good film when all comes down to it. [It’s a great one, especially for Martin, from “you’re an amalgam” on down.]
Robin: Dead Poets Society. Overrated, yes, but still a classic. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. A small part in a classic.
Winner: Robin. He got Oscar nods and people went gaga for Dead Poets, plus his turn in Munchausen allied him with another great film. [Dead Poets was a big one, but I call it a draw.]

Recap of the decade: Not counting default years, Steve leads by 2, which isn’t much. With defaults, 4. [My count would be Steve by 1, or by 3 counting defaults.]

Steve: My Blue Heaven. Not entirely unfunny, but not very strong either.
Robin: Awakenings. Serious drama via Oliver Sacks. Actually not that bad. Cadillac Man. Not entirely unfunny, but not very strong either.
Winner: Robin. While Cadillac and Heaven are very close in quality, Awakenings gives Robin a little more actor credit.

Steve: Father of the Bride. Not-bad retread of Parenthood style. [It’s well liked by girls and their moms, but I’d say it’s weak.] Grand Canyon. Haven’t seen this, but guessing not entirely bad. Sort of a sequel to The Big Chill. L.A. Story. Excellent later film that is a little of a mixed bag. [Strongly disagree. It’s a 10 out of 10 in my book, and an inspiration.]
Robin: Hook. Overly maligned. Actually not that bad. The Fisher King. Excellent Gilliam film. Dead Again. Haven’t seen this one, but guessing not entirely bad. [It’s not bad, but I don’t remember Williams’s part; he’s not one of the leads.]
Winner: Tough. Grand Canyon cancels out Dead Again. Bride cancels out Hook (although Hook is slightly better). Fisher King is slightly better than L.A. Story, so Robin by a hair. [I’d call it a draw. Fisher King may have been an important role for Williams, but I prefer L.A. Story, as noted. Also, Fisher King is a lesser version of the Dead Poets/Good Will Hunting role that was starting to become cookie cutter for Williams at this point.]

Steve: HouseSitter. Not very good but not terrible comedy with Goldie Hawn. Leap of Faith. Incredibly boring.
Robin: Aladdin. Good Disney flick, pretty funny. Shakes the Clown. Dark comedy that is not entirely bad, but not very good. Toys. Huge flop. Almost unwatchable.
Winner: If it hadn’t been for Toys, Robin would have trounced Steve this year. With the inclusion of Toys, I’d say tie.

Steve: Nothing.
Robin: Being Human. Strange multi-role drama. Mrs. Doubtfire. Highly successful and not that bad actually.
Winner: Robin by default. [I would call Doubtfire worthless, which means this is a draw.]

Steve: Mixed Nuts. Completely forgettable, but not godawful. Simple Twist of Fate. Mediocre remake of Silas Marner, à la Roxanne.
Robin: Nothing.
Winner: Steve by default, barely.

Steve: Father of the Bride Part II. Completely worthless sequel; not soul-crushing, just awful.
Robin: Jumanji. A nicely spirited family romp. Nine Months. Small part in decent family comedy. To Wong Foo. Worthless remake, but not soul-crushing. [Is it really a remake?]
Winner: Robin.

Steve: Sgt. Bilko. Stupid.
Robin: Jack. Pretty dumb. The Birdcage. Decent remake, but not great. Hamlet. Small part in pretty good adaptation. [I was curious so I looked it up: he plays Osric, a courtier. Very minor character.]
Winner: Robin.

Steve: The Spanish Prisoner. Pretty interesting drama, a good turn for Steve.
Robin: Good Will Hunting. Star turn for Robin, overrated but still pretty good. [ADDENDA: Flubber, a black hole of filmic suckiness, perhaps the reason it was missed the first time around. Deconstructing Harry, mediocre Woody Allen flick, don’t remember Williams’s role. Father’s Day, invisible “dad” comedy with Billy Crystal.]
Winner: Robin. [A real sourpuss would say Flubber cancels out Good Will Hunting. I don’t think so, but it’s certainly debatable: a decade later, Flubber still stands as nearly as great an embarrassment as Hunting was a success.]

Steve: Nothing.
Robin: Patch Adams. Pretty dead attempt at fusing Awakenings with Good Morning, Vietnam. What Dreams May Come. Incredibly overdone, but not soul-crushing bad.
Winner: No one. Neither of Robin’s films warrant a win by default.

Steve: Bowfinger. Startling return to form of sorts. Good film, if not great. The Out of Towners. Worthless remake.
Robin: Bicentennial Man. Horrid. Jakob the Liar. Worthless remake, but not without some merit at least. [How can it be worthless and yet not without merit? Also, I dont believe its a remake.]
Winner: Steve.

Recap of the decade: Robin by 4, not counting defaults. With defaults 5. Which means, with the previous decade, Robin is ahead by 2. [I put Williams ahead by 3 this decade. Total so far, Williams by 1, or Martin by 1 if counting defaults.]

Steve: Joe Gould’s Secret. Under-the-radar small bit in what I hear is a good film.
Robin: Nothing.
Winner: No one. Steve’s small part is not a win by default.

Steve: Novocaine. From what I hear, mind-bogglingly pointless.
Robin: AI. Bit voice-over part in this monumental embarrassment.
Winner: No one. Robin has higher profile, but no one scores.

Steve: Nothing.
Robin: Death to Smoochy. Mixed reviews on this one. Insomnia. A very well done remake and great turn by Robin. [Really?] 24 Hour Photo. OK, not bad.
Winner: Robin by default.

Steve: Cheaper by the Dozen. Attempt to recapture Parenthood sales. Not good. Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Semi-acceptable family film. Bringing Down the House. Why?
Robin: Nothing.
Winner: It would be hard to say Steve by default here. So I’m not going to.

Steve: Nothing.
Robin: House of D. Barely seen drama that has been reviewed so-so. [Notable in that it was written and directed by David Duchovny.] The Final Cut. Another serious turn for Robin; hear it is so-so.
Winner: While Robin should maybe win by default, the fact that I’ve seen none of these is indication how nonexistent Robin was this year. So no one.

Steve: Cheaper By the Dozen 2. Why? Shopgirl. Although it got mixed reviews, it at least garnered better attention.
Robin: Robots. Big cartoon. OK. The Big White. Haven’t seen. Sounds so-so.
Winner: Steve. Only by a hair, due to Robots. And really it should be a tie. I mean, Cheaper By the Dozen 2 is a stinker. [I haven’t seen Shopgirl, but Martin deserves some credit since it’s based on a short book he wrote.]

Steve: The Pink Panther. Ouch.
Robin: Happy Feet. Good/great animated film. Man of the Year. This might be applied to Robin for how many films he’s in this year, but no. Night at the Museum. OK children’s film. RV. Horrid. The Night Listener. Another film like The Final Cut, 24 Hour Photo, etc., etc.
Winner: Robin. [RV cancels all. Another draw by mutual suck.]

Steve: Nothing.
Robin: License to Wed. Soul-crushing. August Rush. Horrid.
Winner: Steve by default. Better to do nothing then these films.

So far this decade, Robin by 1, but with defaults they are tied. [Actually, by your count they’re tied either way.] Add to it the other decades and Robin is ahead by 3. [By my own reckoning Martin is up 1 in the ’00s. All-time career totals ... they’re equal if default years are not counted, and Martin is up 2 if they are.]

Monday, January 7, 2008

Liam Finn

There’s yet more talent in the Finn family. Liam Finn, the 24-year-old son of Neil Finn from Crowded House, has a debut solo album, Ill Be Lightning, and it’s extraordinary. He has some of his father’s gift for concise, Beatles-esque melody, but like many younger singer-songwriters, his guiding star seems to be Elliott Smith: this is way wistful and way delicate, and I’m happy to report that while Liam seems to have a thing for lo-fi recording (or at least studio tricks that mimic it), he doesn’t get bogged down by gimmicks. Ill Be Lightning was released in New Zealand last summer, but it’s just getting its wide release now.

When I reviewed the latest Crowded House album, I noted the cloud of mortality and frustration that hung over it. While never direct, the lyrics (“Nobody wants to think about it/Nobody wants to talk about it”) suggest that the band, or at least Neil, was still dealing, two years later, with the suicide of Paul Hester, the band’s original drummer and a veteran of Split Enz.

One of the best songs on Liam’s album is “Gather to the Chapel,” and after a few listens I realized that it is another pained and shattered remembrance of Hester. It describes him as sort of a favorite uncle who took a dark turn, and I find it touching how Liam characterizes the depression as inexplicable yet understandable:

Your photo hung over the altar
Old friends dressed in black
It’s the first time I’ve seen you in ages
Hold on my old time bomb

When everyone gather to the chapel, to the chapel
Everyone loved you, yes everyone

I walk through the park where we hung out
Saw signs long ago
Try hard not to argue the obvious
Hold on our long term partner

Everyone gather to the chapel, to the chapel
Everyone loved you, yes everyone

You left us in the dark to cry

I plan to talk about it on WFUV on Jan. 22, the day it comes out in the U.S. on Yep Roc.

(Lyrics via this person.)

UPDATE: Review on WFUV, alongside Cat Power’s latest.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dear Book of Secrets

blinding lights of nic cage

Dear Book of Secrets,

Did nothing to-day. On Sat. Th.os Jef. visited with wines from France. All tasted same to me.

He relayed a problem at Phila.—— Adams demands citizenship for slaves. Apparently everybody responded by making the “pussy-whipped” gesture at him,—— but Tom suspects Yankee plot. I offered to have Adams whacked: cd easily be done by agents 355 or 721. I reminded him of what a beaut. job they did with Attucks.

Tom nearly agreed,—— but of course chickened out, saying something about integrity of new nation. I “pussy-whipped” him.

Your Most Humble Svt,——
G.eo W.ash

Dear Book of Secrets

gates french

Memo to Book—

I am gay.


The unhappiest backing band in the world ever

“All right guys, we’re going to try a few more takes here. Just stand there and sway a bit — just a teensy bit, we don’t want people getting seasick. Now let’s see those perms! And please, please don’t look like you’re into the music at all. That’s Journey’s bag, not ours. O.K., ‘All Out of Love,’ take 24. Rolling...”

Classic Eye

classic eye

(Via somebody.)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Dear Book of Secrets


Dear Book of Secrets,

I think I’m in love. Her name is M—— M——, and I just love to f—— her so much. Oh my God, BOS! She’s got incredible platinum hair, boobs out to here, and such a figure. Madonn’! She should be in pictures. Oh wait, she is! You have to see this girl with my d—— in her mouth. While Khrushchev is holding on the phone! It doesn’t get any better!

The boys have been good about keeping the whole thing quiet. But I’m worried that it’ll get out anyway. And Bobby said that M—— has been chatting a bit too loosely lately, getting bombed on pills or vodka or whatever and blabbing to whoever’s around, even reporters! (Blecch!)

So I decided: she has to die.



Dear Book of Secrets


Dear Book of Secrets,

I don’t understand why everybody has to be such a jerk to me. I’m the President of the United States! I take care of home! Me and my illegal cabal protect everybody from Evildoers and make (some) people lots and lots and lots of money! What’s the deal, people?!

So I think some of these so-called civil servants need to learn a lesson. This ungrateful bitch, the one who wrote the thing in the Times, what’s his name? Joe — Joe Wilson, Nilsson Schmilsson, or whatever. Turns out his girlfriend is, like, totally in the Company, and she’s “undercover.” (What, like Christine Keeler?!?)

m going to make sure that everybody knows her dirty little lies — well, maybe they’re not lies, but they’re not nice! — and how much of a clandestine little witch she is. I’ll copy a page from you, Book of Secrets, and plaster it all over the place, “Mean Girls” style, and then we’ll see how critical, how “factual” that old JoJo Dancer loser boyfriend of hers is! Fact-check this, jackass!


Dear Book of Secrets


Dear Book of Secrets,

Today was a really crazy day. First the Japanese were, like, total assholes and bombed a bunch of our ships in Hawaii. Hello! Inevitable retribution? Do they really think they can get away with that? It’s like, I don’t want to seem like a total vindictive bitch about it, but I have to do something, right?

That’s when I decided that we should do something to really try to put an end to all this chaotic warfare once and for all. Because it’s just going to get worse — first somebody disses you, then you bomb them, then somebody else goes on some genocidal psycho trip and kills 6 million Jews. So what if we had some big bomb that would just scare the bejeezus out of everybody, and, like, totally deter most future acts of military aggression?

So I had a meeting with some scientific guys, who said they could use atomic theory to come up with a new bomb. And I said, Oh yeah, the Germans are working on that too. And they were like, We know. And I was like, So get on it then. And they were like, We need a lot of money. And I was like, Fine, you have a blank check. And they were like, Where are you going to get all this money? And I was like, We’ll just steal it from what’s left of the Indians.

Book of Secrets, do you think this was a good thing to do? I mean, should we steal from these people, from whom we’ve already stolen so much? But like, losers weepers, right? I don’t know. I get so confused. Sometimes I just want to cry.



Thursday, January 3, 2008

Press release of the day: Amy Fisher, DJ



Formerly Known as ‘Long Island Lolita,’ Amy Fisher … To Mix Music as Guest DJ for the First time ever at Her Sex Tape Release Party celebrating it being the #1 Video in the Nation

New York, NY
­ Formerly known to the public as the Long Island Lolita, is an American woman convicted of the 1992 shooting of the wife of her lover (Joseph ‘Joey’ Buttafuoco) with whom she began an affair as a 16 year-old student at Kennedy High School in Bellmore, New York. Fisher served seven years in prison for aggravated assault and was released in 1999.

Amy Fisher is back and will be hitting the turntables as a guest DJ, Friday January 4, 2008 at 10pm at 513 W28th Street in Manhattan. Ms Fisher will be joined by NYC Club Guru ‘JE’ Englebert. The controversial sex video which Amy Fisher is featured will be displayed their. The tape was produced by the same company as the famed Paris Hilton tape. The Amy Fisher video is now the #1 video tape in the United States.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Boredoms tour dates


You have no excuse.

Sat 03/15 - Canes San Diego CA
Sun 03/16 - Henry Fonda Theater Los Angeles CA
Tue 03/18 - The Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco CA *
Thu 03/20 - Crystal Ballroom Portland OR
Fri 03/21 - Neumos Seattle WA
Tue 03/25 - First Avenue Minneapolis MN *
Wed 03/26 - Logan Square Auditorium Chicago IL
Sat 03/29 - Paradise Boston MA
Sun 03/30 - Terminal 5 New York NY *
Wed 04/02 - Starlight Ballroom Philadelphia PA
Thu 04/03 - 9:30 Club Washington DC

Asterisk: “in the round”

(News via BV. Photo via random Flickr.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hail to Bulgaria

According to the municipality of Kavarna, a city of 12,000 on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, there was quite a summit of metal grayhairs there on New Year’s Eve. The town rang in 2008 with a metal concert, “as has become traditional in recent years,” featuring Saxon, the Manowar hangers-on HolyHell, and a Bulgarian band called BTR.

The Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest of this party were none other than Joey DeMaio and Eric Adams of Manowar, who were ferried there by someone who is actually somewhat famous:

Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson himself flew the two to Varna Airport by the Iron Maiden jet, Dnevnik daily reported. Kavarna mayor Tsonko Tsonev said that it was the first time in history for the lead singer of one legendary band to fly another legendary band to Kavarna.
Also on hand: medics freed from a Libyan prison.

Apparently the boys from Buffalo have been spending a bit of time in Bulgaria lately. Part of Manowar arrived there a month ago to promote their newest DVD, Live in Bulgaria: Kaliakra Rock Fest 2007. And of course you’ve already gotten your tickets to see them at Kaliakra this July, right? Here’s a clip of Adams singing the Bulgarian national anthem, “Mila Rodino,”* at Kavarna last June:

*The lyrics are actually kind of Manowar-like:
Countless fighters fell
for our beloved nation,
Mother, give us manly strength
to carry on their course.