U2 at Madison Square Garden, 30 July 2015

I finally did it: I saw U2 in concert.

I may have waited too long to catch the band in its prime, but its 37 years of experience -- without a personnel change -- and undiluted passion have made it one of the biggest concert draws for decades now, even if recent albums have been uneven in inspiration. Read more »

At Lincoln Center: Pedro Costa and His War on Narrative Film

In 1997, Pedro Costa (above), at the age of 38, began a trilogy exploring Portugal's impoverished, an undertaking that would continuously draw raves from the more erudite critics around the world. First came Ossos, which was pursued by In Vanda's Room (2000) and Colossal Youth (2006). These films, often showcasing the same characters, are sublimely visual, meditative masterworks that paint within shadows the seemingly plotless lives of the drug-addled inhabitants of a ghetto that is slowly being dismantled. Read more »

Favorite Guitarists - The Baddest of the Bad, Top 5!

So over on our Facebook Culture Catch page I asked our fans to list their five favorite living guitarists. For me, they still must be recording and touring and challenging themselves on the fretboard today, not yesterday. Our managing editor crushed me for not including Jimmy Page, who I hail as an unparelled innovator once upon a time. Hey, Steve, they have to be active and playing out right now. When was the last time Jimmy dropped a cool riff or run of memorable notes in a new song for anyone? He's certainly still capable. Here are my five favorite string benders in no particular ranking:

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Quote of the Week: Hunter S. Thompson

"If Sunday is the Lord's day, then Saturday belongs to the Devil. It is the only night of the week when he gives out Free passes to the Late show at the Too Much Fun Club."

Hunter S. Thompson (18 July 1937 - 20 February 2005), American journalist and author, and the founder of the gonzo journalism movement.

The Death of Feminism (Not Really!) or What Amy Schumer Did for Love?

Judd Apatow's Trainwreck doesn't truly merit its title until this comic venture totally goes off the blasted tracks in its final quarter. What starts out as a hilarious consideration of modern mating rituals, sort of a distaff take on Apatow's earlier comedies (e.g. 40-Year-Old Virgin; Knocked Up), winds up as a queasy quantum leap backwards into the pages of Marabel Morgan's 1973 multimillion bestseller, The Total Woman: Read more »

Video of the Week: Church of Betty - "Endure"

NSFW. So simple that it will hypnotize, but that's always been the case with many of NY-based Chris Rael's Church of Betty tunes. His new single "Endure" (from longplayer Swirled World) channels the raga spirit of George Harrison. The video directed by filmmaker/photograhper Jasmine Hirst has an edgy, East Village experimental quality that perfectly exploits the overall tone and texture. 25 years in and Church of Betty can still thrill.

Ready Player One!

Let's Play Play
Written by Ben Ferber
Directed by Todd Brian Backus
PowerOut, The Brick Theater, Brooklyn, NY
July 7-18, 2015

According to at least one survey, YouTube stars have greater name recognition than Hollywood A-listers with the under-18 set, who see them as more genuine and relatable: a more literal version of "Stars -- They’re Just Like Us!" Part of the seventh annual Game Play Festival at the Brick, which runs through July 25, Ben Ferber’s Let’s Play Play dives incisively into the corner of this web-based world that focuses on video gaming. It derives its title from a category of what are most commonly online videos in which players layer their own commentary over their video game play. The most well-known current example is 25-year-old Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, who is name-checked in the play's program and guest starred on the two-part 2014 season finale of South Park; otherwise known as PewDiePie, his YouTube channel boasts tens of millions of subscribers and billions of views. Read more »

A Theatrical Spectacle In Music

Thus Spoke the Spectacle
by Eric Goodman
Kraine Theater, NYC
March 29-August 30, 2015

Thus Spoke the Spectacle identifies itself as a "theatrical rock performance" and draws on writers such as Noam Chomsky, Marshall McLuhan, and, as the title suggests, Guy Debord and Friedrich Nietzsche. This multimedia performance brings those influences together with video and still imagery that is accompanied by creator Eric Goodman on guitar and vocals and Leo Friere on drums. Divided into ten songs, Goodman’s hourlong piece sets out to critique what Debord, in the title of one of his best-known works, calls the society of the spectacle, the elevation of the superficial that is presented by mass media and passively consumed by the audience. Read more »

Ron English PopApp Scavenger Hunt

For those of you who may not know Ron English and his wonderful world of Popaganda, here's an amazing activation I co-produced with the fine folks at FuelFX. Besides a crazy scavenger hunt, Ron handpainted the world's largert AR (augmented reality) target/marker at Spider House during SXSW in Austin. That target as well as his handpainted Smiley Skull marker are still on display. If you download the "Ron English PopApp" for your iOS or Android device and point it at the Smiley Skull, it will come alive and talk to you! Check it out today. You can also download the app and point it at the image below and have some fun. Trust me, it's cooler than a jar full of Sea Monkeys! Read more »

Help, I'm Stuck In Jurassic Park!

Hold on to Your Butts
Directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker
Recent Cutbacks at the PIT (People’s Improv Theater), NYC
June 15-July 27, 2015

Over the just the past three weekends, Jurassic World, fueled by CGI and nostalgia, has rocketed somewhat unexpectedly to over half a billion dollars in domestic box office (only the fifth film ever to do so) and double that worldwide. The timing seems auspicious, then, for the current run of Hold on to Your Butts, Recent Cutbacks’ comedic homage to the ur-text in the Jurassic series. Over the course of an hour, Nick Abeel and Kyle Schaefer frenetically re-enact Jurassic Park on a bare stage, impersonating the entire cast -- human and non-human alike -- and accompanied by a live soundtrack and foley effects from Kelsey Didion, stationed stage right. Read more »

Happy 4th of July!

So for those of you who didn't make it to Chicago this weekend to witness the final chapter -- Fare Thee Well -- in The Grateful Dead's storied career, here's a 4th of July (Buffalo 7-4-89) show that will certainly make you smile. Check out Jerry shredding -- no kidding -- on "All Along The Watchtower". And it's not too late to buy their two final two pay-per-view gigs

What a wonderfully long, strange trip it has all been!

peace,

Dusty

Quote of the Week: Stanton Friedman

"Frankly I am sick and tired of the US Air Force lying to the public, the press, and members of Congress about UFOs."

Stanton T. Friedman (born July 29, 1934), professional ufologist who is the original civilian investigator of the Roswell incident. He worked as a nuclear physicist on research and development projects for several large companies.

Today is the 68th anniversary of the crash at Roswell in 1947!

Chris Squire's Musical Legacy

Chris "Fish" Squire, the heart and soul and, yes, the foundation of iconic prog-rock band Yes, passed away Saturday at the age of 67. He had been battling leukemia, and last month had left the band for the first time -- he is the only member to appear on every Yes album (21 studio albums and a plethora of concert recordings). Squire, who played with a pick, achieved his unique sound by rewiring his Rickenbacker bass to stereo and sending the output of the bass and treble pickups into separate amplifiers. His sound -- and, let it be remembered, his vocals, usually heard in harmony or counterpoint to lead vocalist Jon Anderson's, but still prominent enough to be immediately recognizable -- was integral to the classic Yes albums of the 1970s. Read more »

Röck Read Röund-Up

As I mentioned way back on this post from 2008, as much as I’ve tried to branch out, my tastes are pretty narrow when it comes to reading material.

I’d love to say that I’m broadly well-read when it comes to the more celebrated books of the day, but it’s just not true. If you’re looking to engage in a discussion about today’s most incisive fiction, you’re much better off speaking with my wife (who works in publishing) than one such as I. Truthfully, I’ve pretty much lost my taste for fiction almost entirely. Unless I have some vested interest (like, say, I know the author or it’s about something near and dear to me), I usually cannot muster up the interest to crack the binding. Read more »

Song of the Week: The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers - "MMLJ"

Given the state of guns and violence in America, and how the unspeakable insanity of a few can ruin lives of many, I present the healing calm of "MMLJ" by the L.A.-based The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. Heavenly Fire, their debut album, will be released on August 4th. Recorded with Matt Wignall (Cold War Kids, J. Roddy Walston and the Business) and led by the remarkable vocalist Kim Garcia, it won't be long before The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers become household names. You can catch them at upcoming festivals including Austin City Limits, the High Sierra Music Festival, and Pygmalion Music Festival.

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