He has a radio program on WXOU out of Oakland University
Wild At Heart
Just picked up the year-end edition of Billboard magazine which includes listing of the best selling albums, songs and biggest charting artists for the year in various categories. I was a bit disappointed in the magazine this year because they left out a few categories in the magazine which were listed online. In the magazine, they didn’t list the best Blues and folk artists which I thought was a shame since they represent the basic roots of the rest of the music scene along with jazz. When you give three pages to the various subcategories of Latin music, I don’t see why these two categories can’t be given ½ a page. A was esp bummed because my girl Cyndi Lauper had the best selling Blues album of the year and came second for blues artist (based on total sales and bluesman Joe Bonamassa had 2 albums this year in the top 15 compared to Cyndi’s one) which I thought was a great accomplishment for an artist most people forget is still making really good and varied music.
On a sadder note in the music industry, Captain Beefheart recently passed away. Never commercially popular, he worked in experimental music second only to Zappa. His music combined blues, psychedelic and rock with jazz and experimental styles that influenced a wide range of musicians including the Minutemen, new Hall Of Fame inductee Tom Waits, John Cale, Red Hot Chili Peppers and PJ Harvey. One common thread among his followers is to give his albums repeat listenings to truly grasp what he was trying to accomplish. He is not an easy listen but taking the time is really worth it. The other notable Dec death in the music industry was improvisational American jazz saxophonist James Moody (noted for playing with Dizzy Gillespie).
Speaking of music, I just saw my friend’s band the Quitters who were fantastic. This is the first local Rochester band that I think competes with the best of the garage bands from Detroit. They formed originally in 1994 with a love of 60’s and 70’s rock N roll with a bit of punk thrown in for the fun of it. Some nice stuff and it was nice finding a new live music club and seeing an old friend. Me and the drummer Rob went to high school together in Spencerport. We hung out in different cliques and never really talked in high school at all. A few years after graduation, we ran into each other after a Bangles concert at the U of R campus and talked more then than during our 10+ years of school. Another 5 years later, I met his wife and the New York State Fair after a Cyndi Lauper performance. Another 5 years and when home for a visit, he was working at the Bop Shop (one of Rochester’s three great record stores) and he gave me a copy of his then band’s CD (the KISS influenced Veins) which I played for a bit on my radio show at WXOU. It is amazing how much in common we have that it really seems a shame we didn’t socialize more in high school but that is the way it goes. It makes one realize all the stupid things that can keep people from really getting to know people. You can check out this cool band at http://www.myspace.com/thequittersareking.
In other news, I was just thinking of how stupid this whole “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is. Does it really matter if someone defending our country and killing the bad guys is actually gay? All I really cares is if that the person is capable of doing his/her job and that they truly are dedicated to defending this country from guys like Bin Laden. How many WWI and WWII veterans were closet gays? Who cares!! I don’t. If a person puts a bullet in a terrorists head, I don’t care what their sexual, religious or any other orientation is. This country is based on freedom and that goes to sex, religion, speech, etc. When we really care about those other things, we do ourselves a big injustice. Caring that a dedicated soldier is gay is like having a heart attack and then questioning the doctor is he is gay before he saves your life or if you are caught in a burning building and asking the rescuing fireman is gay before he saves your ass. Such things are idiotic. Soldiers always talk about a code of honor so they should be so focused on taking care of the bad guys, they should just trust the people who are serving with them. If they have to question the sexual orientation of a fellow soldier, maybe they aren’t all they can be in the first place and should get out of the army. I like to think of all the times in the past where we have allowed these types of policies to influence us. How many good soldiers have not been allowed to serve this great nation because of certain factors beyond there control, such as skin color? You just have to look at the bravery of the of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War or the highly successful and decorated Tuskegee Airmen during WWII to show that stereotypes aren’t always pretty or accurate. If the country of greatest diversity can’t have that same diversity in it’s military, than that seems to somewhat diminish that service.
Upcoming recommended concerts for this week are mostly local acts but Detroit’s local music scene is better than most other cities combined:
Wednesday (12/22) – Light In August CD release party @ Pike Room
Thursday (12/23) – Taproot @ the Ritz (Warren), Mayer Hawthorne w/Macpodz @ Magic Stick, Insane Clown Posse @ St Andrews Hall
Sunday (12/26) – Hard Lessons @ St Andrews Hall
This weekend has also seen a few new films open up including “Tiny Furniture”. The film revolves around Aura, a recent college graduate, who returns home from her Midwest liberal arts college to her artist family’s Tribeca loft (her mom is a successful photographer). Aura comes in feeling down after a two year failed relationship, a film studies degree and a general lack of direction to where she wants her life to go. She reconnects with her old friends, one who hooks her up with a hostess job at a restaurant and chronicles her decent into relationships with two self-centered men (one a married chef at the restaurant and the other a youtube video celebrity). The film itself does a decent job with a cast of first-timers and relative unknowns. Director Lena Dunham actually uses her mom's loft and her actual mom and sister to play her mom and sister which is the true indie spirit. The movie has some wonderful scenes and I enjoy Dunham’s portrayal as a wandering spirit of sorts. Dunham should make the feminists happy as being a more natural body type in this movie but should be pissed at some of her decisions. And that is where my issue with this film lies. I want to become invested in this girl and at times I am, but then she does some truly slacker things which put me off. I can understand depression and how it works on people but it doesn’t seem evenly portrayed at times. Like how she let’s this youtube guy spend a week at her house when her mom’s away and basically let’s the place get trashed and then gets upset with her sister having a party with all her friends. I also would have liked more resolution with her sister who seems to disappear during the last quarter of the film and the friend from college she leaves hanging when she decides she rather live at home that with her best friend from college. That last bit is just left hanging and the film’s ending just seems anti-climatic and without any real closure or sense that the characters are moving on. Overall, this is going to be a love it or hate it film and a love of early Woody Allen might help. Not perfect but at least respectable. My grade is a B-.
I also talked to actor David Call concerning the film. He plays Keith, the chef Aura gets involved with. The character seems to be generated from the beat poets as a guy who seems book smart but is also a real slacker with a love of doing drugs and cheating on his wife. David first got his start as “guy #1 at party” in the “Notorious Bettie Page” and has worked his way up since. Just last week, I was watching Season 2 of “Fringe” where he played Nick Lane (a person with special powers who gets killed in the other universe during a rescue attempt). He found that show really fun because he could use his special powers to kill people but tedious, “you shoot everything in ten different angles because of all the FX”.
David’s early life almost seems to have resonated with his character in this film. David wasn’t into acting early on but could have been stereotyped as a punk/skater who enjoyed music by bands such as NOFX, Crass, Bad Religion and Minor Threat. He also enjoyed skating but good luck was not to be found on the board as he broke his arm 3 times and was told he “would lose function in his arm if he did it again”. Not wanting to risk that type of injury, he realized he had no friends and started to read. He relates after a class reading “two girls came up to me who never spoke to me before” and he realized that simply “artists get girls”. And thus starts a career where he “can stay out all night if I want and it’s not a desk job”.
His film journey started with films like “Kids” and Fincher’s “Seven” and “Fight Club” and moved into classics like “A Clockwork Orange”, “Days Of Heaven”, “Badlands” and foreign films like the works of Truffaut.
He got involved with “Tiny Furniture” because Lena was a friend of his and called him up asking “I got a part for you. You are a pot smoking, porn obsessed chef who gets to fuck me in a pipe”. That description and the fact that a respected friend, Jody Lee Lipse, was doing cinematography sealed the deal for him. One criticism he did have of himself was that he wished he had tried harder in the film. He says on big budget Hollywood films, it is easy to slack off because of the attitude with Hollywood studios that don’t care about the project unless it makes a lot of money. As an actor, he prefers indie films like this where it is easier to bring his A game but admits after watching the film, he was amazed at the performances of the first time actors. “All my scenes are just me and Lena, but after I saw the film, I should’ve tried so much harder”. He thinks that the Lena got some really great performances from people not in the industry (esp Jemima Kirke as Charlotte) which reminds him why he prefers the indies. These people (in indie film) “are not getting paid anything but are very passionate about the material” while in bigger commercial films, everyone is in it just punches the clock”.
Asked to describe the film, he jokes they are calling it “the graduate with tits”. The film is based on real events in Lena’s (writer, actor and director) life and she made it “endearing, funny and compelling” and he admits “I don’t usually like this type of film” since they usually don’t “have an emotional reality which she (Lena) brings to the characters”. The film has already won some awards and has succeeded everyone’s expectations which are wonderful.
In his future, David would like to write and direct more. So far he has the short film “B.U.S.T.” about a brother and sister’s relationship before he gets redeployed back to Iraq under his belt and is hoping in the next few years to work on a feature film. He also wants to promote a small indie short entitled “Two Gates Of Sleep” which concerns two brothers who after preparing for their mother's imminent death, go on an arduous upriver journey to honor her final request. You can also see him playing the role of Ben Donovan on Season 4 of the “Gossip Girl”.
There is also the French Claire Denis film “White Material” about Maria, who is a White farmer who runs (with her husband, his father, and their son) a failing coffee plantation in an unnamed African country. Civil war has broken out and rebel soldiers, many of them child soldiers, are advancing on the area. Rebels on the radio advocate attacks on emblems of colonialism. Maria's workers leave, but she refuses to abandon the plantation, and searches for men to finish harvesting of the coffee. As she and her family await the inevitable, the tensions in their personal relationships, and in their relations with the African community, become exposed. Maria puts the farm in even more danger when she looks after a wounded rebel officer known as 'The Boxer'. I truly love the character of Maria (Isabelle Huppert), whose character has that nice mixture of bravery and recklessness as she holds on to her plantation as things are falling apart around her. She is simply a person who exists in an area that is falling apart and she can’t adapt or leave. The film does a great job showing an Africa of true beauty and danger though some of its characters are a bit weak. However, the scope of the film heals a lot of that and makes for a very moving and thought-provoking film that should be enjoyed by every viewer. My grade is a B+.
Well, have a Merry Christmas everyone and see you after the holidays.