Don’t Quit Your Day Jobs: When Actors Make Music

October 30, 2008
On the set of "Walk the Line," Joaquin Phoenix learned to explore his feelings.

On the set of "Walk the Line," Joaquin Phoenix learned to explore his feelings.

On Monday night, everyone’s favorite brooding Hollywood leading man, Joaquin Phoenix (pronounced JOHN-quin, if you’re my mother), announced at some red carpet event that he plans to hang up his acting shoes—permanently—and pursue music full time. Wha?!? I mean, while my first reaction was something along the lines of, cool! Maybe he’ll grow a huge beard and long hair, and brood even more! upon further thought, I quickly realized that this is, in fact, a terrible idea.

Why, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Phoenix learned to play guitar while preparing to play the Man in Black himself, Mr. Johnny Cash, in 2005’s predictable, yet engaging, “Walk the Line.” Over the course of this process, Phoenix apparently realized that the guitar can serve as an excellent form of self-expression, and subsequently decided that he had a lot of “demons” inside himself that he just needed to set to music. So, back in May, Phoenix announced he was cutting an album of original material with Tim Burgess of UK band The Charlatans.

Sounds great, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Audacity of Trope: Obama, Guggenheim, Emotion and Film

October 30, 2008

I’m not sure if you heard, but last night Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama bought a half hour of national air time to broadcast a bold “closing argument for the Everyman,” as the New York Times phrased it.  In the days leading up to the event many derided the stunt as the Obama Infomercial.  Clearly, they hadn’t been watching the same campaign over which the rest of the country swooned for nearly 700 days.

The Obama campaign for President will go down in American history as, to date, one of the most incredibly crafted and executed sojourns to the White House.  It is the first national political campaign to take place fully in the age of Web 2.0, building on the past successes of Howard Dean and forging a new blueprint for Baracking the Vote in an age of Facebook blasts and You Tube gaffes.  A half hour ad for Barack Obama during the fall prime time season on most of the major networks?  That’s not an infomercial; that’s an event.

I’ll let other sites tackle whether the spot was effective, whether it was compelling, whether it was fresh.  My vote isn’t up for negotiation 5 days before the election.  But policy and substance have never been the most alluring tenets of Obama for President.  It’s been style, flash, grandiosity and spectacle.  His campaign’s premise seems to be: You can be President if you often appear Presidential.  Much of that comes from character, eloquence, carriage and gait, understood.  But even more comes from lights, camera, sound and action.

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Attacks Palin; McCain Goes After Biden?

October 29, 2008

Traditionally in American politics, it is uncouth for a Presidential candidate to directly attack the Vice Presidential nominee of the opposing ticket.  Though this election season is many things, traditional it is not.

Wednesday morning the Obama campaign revealed a new ad attacking John McCain’s knowledge on economic issues.  Toward the end the ad includes an image of Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin winking during her debate with Sen. Joe Biden.  John McCain knows little about the economy, the ad says, and in 2007 he said he would choose a Vice President who could compensate for this deficiency.  His choice?  Winking Sarah Palin.

Not one to turn the other cheek, McCain today released his own ad attacking the “character” of Obama’s VP selection, Joe Biden.  With less than a week until the election, it appears the McCain campaign has forgone the October surprise and brought out the big guns, the kind that can get you rung up on weapons charges in Atlanta.

McCain Attack: Does Joe Biden Pal Around With Rappers?

BOOM. Esau Mwamwaya Finishes What Sean Paul Started.

October 28, 2008


Dance to the music of the pied piper of peace.

Dance to the music of the pied piper of peace.


There’s a little rumble in the earth.  It’s faint now, but it sounds like it’s getting closer.  Wait, I can see it now.  It’s a train, and it sounds like it’s chugging along to a beat.  Damn!  That’s a fresh beat choo-choo train!  It says Pop Music on the front and it’s got Phil Collins’ face painted on the side.  Is that M.I.A. on the train?!  Oh snap!  Is that Ezra from Vampire Weekend?  And Bonde do Role and Santogold???  Wait, stop!  Pharrell is tied to the train tracks and he’s screaming!  Oh no!  I think I’m inside Pharrell’s worst nightmare!  And it sounds like SHIMMERING, GLOBAL AFRO-POP.

Well I hope everyone packed their Pumas because we’re all going back to Africa like Marcus Garvey, except darker skinned and with a bigger smile.  And it’s about time.

When I imagine a global pop sensation coming to reality, the formula I’d guess would be: entrentched producer with an ear for ‘authentic’ sounds meets up with ‘authentic’ musician with a pop proclivity.  Authentic musician does his or her thing, and entrenched producer mashes it up with a dub beat and a rock sample.  BOOM.  Indie blogs rave, Fader Mag does a cover spread, mixtape drops, Rolling Stone loves it, YouTube views soar, Live Aid 2010 invites roll in, and a global pop sensation is born before the first LP is ever released.

In this case that’s pretty much how it all went down.  The Very Best is a collaboration between London Read the rest of this entry »

Nostalgia on the Block, NKOTB @ MSG 10/27/08

October 28, 2008

Call it what you want, baby, but I still call it love.

Last night the recently reunited New Kids on the Block played Madison Square Garden in New York City.  I personally did not attend; one New Kids show at Alpine Valley in 1989 was enough for me.  My sister, however, bought tickets the moment they went on sale six months ago, snuck out of work and caught most of their set.

Most people will probably scoff, roll their eyes or ironically titter at the thought of NKOTB reuniting to tour the world.  These guys, after all, are not only has beens, but also New Edition rip-offs, the Elvis to Bobby Brown’s Chuck Berry, who preceded the Boy Band craze of the ’90s.  What New Kids on the Block and bands reuniting represent, however, is something more than music, something more emotionally powerful and far more compelling as a lucrative commercial tool.  They represent the lure of Nostalgia.

Listening to NKOTB and seeing them perform live in concert isn’t about the now, it’s about the then.  Feeling what you felt at the age of 12, lip-syncing the Right Stuff into a flashlight as your microphone, honing the dance, running shoulder to shoulder with a crowd in search of lawn seats at an open outdoor amphitheater.  How were the New Kids last night?  It doesn’t matter since everyone in the sold-out Garden saw what they wanted to see – a flashback to their adolescence when time and markets didn’t matter.  There are no glasses rosier than the bifocals of nostalgia.  NKOTB is your fat girlfriend, the one only you can love.

Read the rest of this entry »

Preemptive Kibosh: The Ugly Sweater Holiday Party

October 28, 2008
OMGEE, I have this totally fancy idea!

OMGEE, I have this totally fancy idea!

The holiday season begins in earnest in a few weeks, which means a cavalcade of unwelcome rituals: standing in line a lot; smelling your wet coat as the snow from outside melts on it; conversations about why the BCS sucks.  If November and December were just about family, fun and Christ, we’d be totally down with the holiday season.  Shit, even Hindus like to feel warm and fuzzy inside while a Nor’easter assaults the finish on our decks.

Here’s the problem with ritual, though – it breeds unorginality and cliche.  Am I so jaded that I called Christmas cliche?  No, what you do in the privacy of your home to celebrate whatever holiday you choose to observe (Happy Diwali, Hindus!) is personal and therefore out of the purview of judgment.  Actually, that’s not completely true, but I’ll leave it to my boy Scalia to parse the nuance.  What I’m saying is every year we have to deal with the Holiday season and by extension the Holiday Party.  Holiday Parties, themselves, have enough packed into them to lace any week leading up to one with anxiety and concern.  How much should I drink?  Should I wear a tie?  If I don’t what will I wrap around my head at 11:30?

Then you have the boys and girls who raise the stakes.  Their holiday party needs a theme, and as we all know there are only 4 themes that exist for theme parties.

  1. Pimps and Hos
  2. Golf Pros and Tennis Hos
  3. CEOs and Corporate Hos
  4. An Ugly Sweater Party

Read the rest of this entry »

Hockey Mom / Pitbull (Jockin’ SP Remix) by Southern Mothers

October 28, 2008

Remember when on the Glow in the Dark Tour, ‘Ye played the new beat he made and Jay came out and ripped the first verse of Jockin’ Jay-Z?  Holy shit that was tight!  But yo, something had to be done.  Jay couldn’t even get his Icebergs on ’cause Noel Gallagher was on his nuts so bad.

Well, now it’s pitbulls that are getting jocked like Secretariat.  Fresh off the success of their Olafur Eliasson A Milli remix, Southern Mothers are back to defend Pitbulls against GOP slander.  With seven days until Obamageddon, we ask you, “What’s the difference between a Hockey Mom and a Pitbull?”  Turns out a lot.

Southern Mothers, “Hockey Mom / Pitbull (Jockin’ SP Remix)”

Music: Jockin’ Jay-Z

Lyrics: Southern Mothers

Book: JRB

Vid: Modern Jackass