Dusty's Cultural Curiosities

Graciously Wasted

grace-wastelandPeter Doherty: Grace/Wastelands (Astralwerks)

Who knew that UK rocker Pete, er Peter Doherty would reach thirty and actually still be capable of vital and dynamic music? Few in the music press thought that he'd live so long. Or that the best album of his career would be his first solo CD -- part shaggy romantic on a displaced busker's holiday. I never bought into the over-hype of his first punked-out band The Libertines, but I saw the potential in Pete's songwriting. Read more »

Killer B'z!

Back before I started writing, I managed this righteous hip-hop group from Newark. We should have been contenders, but things got wonky. And so it went.... A few weeks ago one of the Carroll brothers sent me this Youtube link to the first song -- "Killer B'z" (12" single) -- I produced for them on my label Krossover Records. Check out the inspired vocals by the legendary Fred Schneider of The B-52s. Hilarious. Enjoy, Dusty

Are We Not Men? We Are Puppets!

For those of you who don't know me personally, I'll let you in a little secret. I'm an alumnus of the same high school as the baddest basketball player on the planet. The Chosen One! That's right. Me and 'Bron graduated from Akron St. Vincent - St. Mary High School. Albeit I did a few more decades before him. Remember the "Lil" Penny Hardaway commercials from a few years back? Well, Nike has done it again. We Are All Witness! GO CAVS!!!


Your Mother Should Know!

Is it just another holiday designed to make us buy Hallmark cards or truly a day to pay homage to our beloved mothers? I awoke this morning and thought of my mother in Akron, and my wife slumbering next to me, the mother of my two children. How do we pay homage to their sacrifices, their nurturing comfort? Shall we sing the body electric? I will. I will play them music. I will share the majesty of rock and the sway of some forgotten classic. I will play "Mother" by John Lennon as well as "Mother" by Pink Floyd. I will remind my children to not let the fact that a woman named Anne Jarvis created the holiday at the turn of the 20th century get in the way of the celebration. Or that she chose the second Sunday in May for this glorious occasion. So even if your mother is no longer with you, or if your memories of her may not be as favorable as mine, sing out and celebrate Mother Earth, the earth goddess. Plant a sapling or talk a walk in the park. Paint a picture or ride your bike. Skip in the lane or row a boat. Or simply, dance to the music. What's your favorite song with the word "mother" in it? Leave your comments below. peace, Dusty


Stunt Bicyclist + Music = Inspired Art

Beauty in motion. Pro rider Danny MacAskill from Edinburgh will leave you gasping at his extreme bicycle ballet. Throw in a killer track by Band of Horses, one of my favorite bands, and you have the best viral video of the year. Ride on, Danny. peace, Dusty


Step Right Up...

lowside-waits-hoskins

Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits

I get the feeling that Tom Waits, like Dylan, loves to fuck with people. Remain the enigma, speak cryptically, keep folks guessing, slippin' and slidin', juking right and left. Much has been made of their artistry, but few -- writers and journalists -- know how they really tick. And I like that. It's refreshing to know that some of our most endearing and enduring cultural icons remain outside of the public's scrutiny by refusing to air their dirty laundry on their blogs and websites, tell-all autobiographies, and police rap sheets. Read more »

Sprung: Best Rock & Pop Music of Spring 2009

Light-Of-X"Time for my Spring Music Selections. I'm fixated on a rash of enchanting femme fatales that would make Nico smile. I've had quite a few opportunities to live with most of this music, having taken a much-needed break with the wife and kids in Vermont. A long drive to and from the mountains afforded me some quality listening time. Loaded up the iPod with a batch of new discs and just kept on chooglin'. These discs should help thaw the last bit of winter blues as we New Yorkers scramble for sunlight and the promise of warmer days. For those of you in more hospitable climates already witnessing early spring, they will be grand companions as well. Read more »

Let the Sun Shine In

sunshine-cleaningAmy Adams continues to dazzle in small, dignified movies, as she did in the indie features Junebug (2005) and again last year in Doubt (2008). Her characters barely registered with the masses, but certainly did with the critics and her peers. Add her latest character Rose Lorkowski in the delightful Sunshine Cleaning, which ranks up there with both of the above-mentioned Oscar-nominated performances.

Everyone is a little quirky in this quirky little film that borrows not only the producers, but part of the title, a beat-up old van, and everyone's current favorite grandpa, Alan Arkin, from their last quirky indie hit -- Little Miss Sunshine. Read more »

No Degrees of Separation

taking-chancelSix degrees, two degrees, no degrees. Kevin Bacon walks amongst us. If you live in N.Y.C. you will have seen him here or there. Ditto if you surf your TV for late night moving pictures. He is a chameleon in some ways. Appears in movies, maybe not in the forefront, that have defined Americans and our culture in every decade he has worked, and he has worked plenty, although you'd be hard-pressed to find fans and critics raining the same praise on him as they do his peer Sean Penn. Too bad, because he has maintained a steady and dignified career. From highbrow dramas to comedies, science fiction to horror flicks, and even animation (the voice of Balto). From Animal House in 1978, the original Friday the 13th in 1980, not to mention Diner and Footloose from that same decade, even my son's favorite dark monster comedy Tremors in 1990. Read more »

School's In

the_class_film.jpgThe teacher is often an unsung hero in modern soceity. Yet most of us can pick one teacher that made a huge difference during our developmental years. The French docudrama The Class (Entre les murs) honestly examines the minutia of a middle school in a lower-middle class, multi-ethnic school in Paris. It was the first French film to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes since 1987. Moreover, it's been shortlisted for a 2008 Academy Award nomination. This raw and visceral feature -- using real teachers and students -- by director Laurent Cantet exposes the harsh realities for any student, regardless of grade or background. Read more »

Spencer The Rover, RIP

john-martynHe had a voice and he knew how to slur it. Self-taught guitarist, it didn't matter whether he plucked an acoustic or feed it through a bank of electronic effects, his voice remained unique. Singer-songwriter Ian David McGeachy AKA John Martyn, born on the 28th of June 1948 in Surrey, raised in Glasgow, Scotland. Died of pneumonia in Ireland yesterday, the 29th of January 2009. To his legion of music fans and critics, he was revelatory and will be missed. Fame and riches would elude him here in the States. Thankfully, he was a national treasure in the U.K., even though he never cracked their top 40. So beloved he was finally appointed an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in New Year Honours this past December. Read more »

Obama Time!

progress

It was historic. President Barack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States. And regardless of your personal politics, it galvanized our nation and much of the free world. For many, it was the party of the decade, the century, and the dawning of a new age for our very young country. Over two million people descended on Washington, D.C. Scores of star-studded parties with musical guests performing in every musical genre. We say it was the dawning of a new era of smart culture. Thanks to the power of the Internet, something Team Obama has utilized so effectively, we streamed his event live. And if you were in D.C. on Tuesday night, we hope you enjoyed the festivities. Our friend Bob Weir was there with his reunited band the Grateful Dead, personally invited by President Obama to play the Mid-Atlantic Ball, one of the ten official inauguration balls. What a long strange trip, indeed! peace, Dusty Wright

Monsterous Sounds

beats-headphonesGuys love their gadgets. And if you're truly into music and incomparable sound reproduction, then excellent speakers and headphones are inevitably crucial to your listening experience. In these economically challenged days, most folks might not cotton to dropping $350 on a pair of headphones. For the serious audiophile, no big deal. Does it really matter that they were co-designed and endorsed by hip-hop impresario Dr. Dre? Not really. For the proof ultimately rests in what you hear and whether or not you like it. And when it comes to sound, Monster Cable places a premium on delivering the goods. Read more »

The Great Culture Round-Up of 2008!

the-poet-van-goghI covered many of my music picks in my Thanksgiving Round-Up, my Summer Hitlist, and Spring Picks. Plus Steve Holtje, our ace managing editor, and the rest of Culture Catch critics and writers have been on top of the whole spectrum of culture the entire year. Here's a sampling of some of my cherished cultural moments from this past year, alphabetically listed. I certainly missed some crucial art openings, didn't have enough time to read about 20 books sitting next to my desk, and didn't see a handful of "must-see" movies and plays. By no means can one person consume even just the smart culture available in New York, let alone the rest of the world. But still I believe I've witnessed enough to share some of my favorite moments, both real and digitally rendered. Enjoy.

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Stand By Me Around The World

Every so often I'll get an email with a link to a video that I feel compelled to share with friends, business colleagues, and even mutual critics. The video below was forwarded to me by our writer Ian Alterman a few weeks ago. It is one of those brilliant moments that can slap a smile on any cynic's face. And it got me thinking about the true power of music and how sharing it can be a grand and wonderful thing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Happy Holidays! peace, Dusty 

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