Quote of the Week: David Letterman

"I cannot sing, dance or act; what else would I be but a talk show host."

David Letterman (born 12 April 1947), American television host, comedian, writer, producer, and actor. After 33 years, he's the retired talk show host of The David Letterman Show.

Tomorrowland or George Clooney Pouts for 2 Hours and 10 Minutes

Warning: The plot of Brad (Ratatouille) Bird's Tomorrowland is an incomprehensible muddle. A Wachowski screenplay reimagined by William Burroughs would be easier to follow. I'm only telling you this out of kindness so you won't feel like a complete mental lummox when, as this action offering for pre-teen girls ever so slowly ends after 130 minutes, you realize you don't know what the fuck happened. Read more »

My Verona's Men

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Written by William Shakespeare Directed by Jessie Austrian and Ben Steinfeld
Fiasco Theater Theatre for a New Audience, Polonsky Shakespeare Center
262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn
April 24 - June 7, 2015

When Shakespeare is mentioned, one of the first plays to come to mind probably isn’t The Two Gentlemen of Verona, an early, comedic work that ends with one of those sudden character reversals common to early modern drama. If it is indeed Shakespeare’s first play, it is interesting to note that he bookended his theatrical career with another play focused on male friendship tested by conflict over a woman, The Two Noble Kinsmen, written in collaboration with John Fletcher. In Gentlemen, that conflict occurs when Proteus (Noah Brody) travels abroad and abandons his oft-sworn love for Julia (Jessie Austrian) in favor of an infatuation with Sylvia (Emily Young), the beloved of Proteus’s bosom friend, Valentine (Zachary Fine). Unfortunately for Valentine, Sylvia’s father (Andy Grotelueschen) prefers that she wed the wealthier Thurio (Paul L. Coffey), and betrayal, exile, and a rape threat follow before the couples return to what we are left to assume are their proper configurations. Read more »

The Immigrant Song

One Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
hrough September 7, 2015

One of the most startling impressions that one takes away from seeing the reunited Migration Series at the Museum of Modern Art is how current the paintings still feel current in a way that Céline still does, or Christopher Isherwood, or John Steinbeck -- documenters of a very specific moment of transition, faithfully recording sensitive observations. Jacob Lawrence’s cycle of sixty paintings on the subject of the Northern Migration is both a landmark work for an artist who was just twenty-three years old when he began it, and it is a work of historical importance in American art of the 20th Century.  Read more »

A Summer Wind...

The 30th anniversary of SummerStage kicked off last night at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park with the best touring band on the planet -- Tedeschi Trucks Band. And with the Allman Brothers officially retired, Mr. Trucks, and his wife Susan Tedeschi have easily replaced them as top dogs. Rolling Stone magazine may have ranked Derek Trucks the number 16th of the top 100 Guitarists of All Time, but in my book this virtuoso is a top five candidate. He so fluid, nimble, inventive, and identifiable on his Gibson SG that I would argue he's the best rock guitarist on the scene today. (Okay, feel free to prove me wrong with your comments below.) Yes, it's one thing to dominate on the jamband scene, but quite another to dominate the rock music biz. Read more »

I <3 NYORG

The Flatiron Hex
Created by James Godwin Directed and co-written by Tom Burnett
Dixon Place 161A Chrystie Street, NY, NY 10002
May 15-30, 2015

The best way to describe James Godwin's wildly inventive The Flatiron Hex is that it is like watching a big-budget summer sci-fi action-comedy performed by one man, with puppets and a couple of projectors. Making its world premier at Dixon Place, a space that grew out of salons held in Artistic Director Ellie Covan's living room and is primarily dedicated to helping artists create and develop new work, The Flatiron Hex brings to mind Neil Gaiman's American Gods and the works of William Gibson and Cory Doctorow, as well as films such as Night Watch and Hellboy, through a lens of 1940s and 50s hardboiled noir. Godwin, who made his own debut at Dixon Place in 1988, creates a future New York City, now known as NYORG, that exists as a self-contained realm walled off from other "tribes" such as New Jersey and operates on a mix of cyberpunk technology and shamanic magic. Read more »

Pitch Perfect 2: Female Trouble

Good news for Comingsoon.net's Joshua Starnes. He can recycle his critique of Pitch Perfect (2012) for its sequel: "Pitch Perfect isn't particularly bad. It isn't particularly anything. And that's what's most disappointing about it."

The low-costing original Pitch took in $113,042,075 worldwide on a production budget of $17 million, which deemed it the second highest grossing comedy/musical since 1984, losing the top spot only to School of Rock (2003). No wonder there is a follow-up. Read more »

Quote of the Week: B.B. King

"The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you."

B.B. King (16 September 1925 - 14 May 2015), known by his stage name B.B. King, was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. RIP, Mr. King, you are a blues legend.

The Farewell Party: Fun with Euthanasia

Is the media suddenly realizing that there are people who were born before 1945 who are still very much alive? And that there's a whole bunch of them? According to the 2010 census, if I read Wikipedia correctly, the figure clocks in at 28,282,721. Read more »

David Lindley - Live at The Cutting Room - 11 May 2015

For L.A.-based stringed instrument maestro David Lindley, the more obscure the stringed-instrument, the more inspiring. Employing a half-dozen guitar-like instruments (several custom-made Weissenborns, a black top Irish bouzouki with added frets, electric oud) in various open tunings, he effortless finger-picks his way into your head and heart. And his droll between-songs banter is both hilarious and informative. Having been employed by some of the world's most-beloved singer/songwriters, such as Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon, to name just two of my favorites, has definitely served his stage presence and chops quite effectively.  Read more »

RIP, Chris Burden

Performance artist Chris Burden died today, age 69. I think this video would be an appropriate obituary. The song "Joe The Lion" from David Bowie's Heroes album was about Chris Burden's early period performance work. He was known as one of the foremost performance artists of the '70s, often putting his body, literally, into his art.

Song of the Week: Dwight Yoakam - "Liar"

Dee-Wight Yoakam is back!!! And he's got the guitars and snarl ramped up to 11. "Liar" is a roots-rockin' barn burner off his latest long player Second Hand Heart. Hell, the whole album is one of his best in years. These tracks remind me of his early days when he toured with indie rockers Hüsker Dü. Had to turn it up to be heard!

Quote of the Week: Rudolf Steiner

"The basis of artistic creation is not what is, but what might be; not the real, but the possible." - Rudolf Steiner in The Aesthetics of Goethe's Worldview

Rudolf Steiner (27 February 1861 - 30 March 1925), Austrian mystic, philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist.

Peel Slowly and See

Bill Jensen: Transgressions
Through May 9, 2015

There was a time in modern music when the role of the artist changed from being the custodian of cultural knowledge to something more of an autobiographer. We might choose that moment in the late sixties when Lou Reed abandoned the writing of pop ditties about boys and girls, to focus on his own, more personal interests, like boys and girls and heroin. Read more »

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