Dusty's Cultural Curiosities

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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The Match Lives On Forever

The Wrestler

The world of BIG time wrestling is an enigmatic creature, part circus, part serious athletic prowess. A trainwreck waiting to happen. It places muscled freaks on display to satisfy the primal urges of their adorning fans, no less a spectacle than preening and prancing rock and rollers adoring stadium stages all over the land. Instead of windmill arm swings and high kicks, we get elbow smashes and body slams. It is this world that Mickey Rourke so convincingly inhabits in director Darren Aronofsky's riveting and raw feature The Wrestler that he has already been shortlisted for many year-end acting awards. To watch this hulking actor -- he put on 30 pounds of muscle and performed all of his wrestling moves and stunts -- is a truly exhilarating ride. Read more »

Pinup Fantasies

tea-leoniHollywood Pinups
by Timothy White (Collins Design)

Some of my most profound pubescent mam... er, memories were the sensual and voluptuous pulp illustrations by Alberto Vargas. His luscious renderings were fuel for any red-blooded male. New York photographer Timothy White created this photo book as a continued exploration of his 1994 commissioned homage for the 50th Anniversary of the Esquire Magazine's Varga Girl pinup. Housed in a delicious red slipcase with a glossy black flap jacket, this picture book is sumptuously executed. Read more »

I'm In with The IT Crowd

What is it about British sitcoms that rarely translate to their bastard offspring here in America? The Office being the lone exception thanks to Ricky Gervais's creative input and a stellar American cast including Rainn Wilson and Steve Carell. Shows such as Monty Python, The Young Ones, Blackadder, Absolutely Fabulous, Father Ted, Extras, and now The IT Crowd just can't be replicated in America. Oh, we own cop shows, as well we should, being a gun-totting, Second Amendment-right-to-keep-and-bear-arms society, but this type of broad-based, cross-collateralized comedy we have a tough time pulling off.  Read more »

Thanksgiving of My Content, Musically Speaking

elbow-seldom-seen-kidMuch has been made of the death of the CD and moving digital music to third party servers that deliver your favorites songs to desktops, laptops, mobile phones, MP3 players, flash drives, hard drives, and anything else that will hold that precious binary code. I still like my vinyl and CDs in the three-dimensional plane. I like being surrounded by the walls of music in my cramped, bulging domicile. I love randomly picking out a CD, cranking my stereo with a sound that can shake the bricks of my entire building. Read more »

Garden of Earthly Delights

eden-filmSome movies unfurl slowly. The characters draw you in and then gradually reveal themselves, allowing the audience to see, feel, and breathe their world through their point of view, regardless of how ugly or boring it may be. The indie movie Eden (Liberation Entertainment) is one such movie.

Irish director Declan Recks expertly adapts writer Eugene O'Brien's award-winning play about a marriage teetering on the brink of extinction while exposing the tedium and underlying staleness that many couples experience after growing too comfortable with each other. Read more »

And Now For Something Completely Different

converge-logoWhen will we get it right? When will we allow for the discourse to set in? When will we see that the rules don't apply anymore? The world is vast but the internet is faster. And you can be at two places at one time; or three and four with Skype or iChat. I've been preaching for the past three years that podcasting has leveled the playing field with the media giants. Digital content is streaming everywhere. And if you have a grand idea, people will find your binary code and bring it to their laptop, desktop, or mobile device. Matt the "Dancing Guy" did it. Senator Obama did it with fundraising, the most successful presidential fundraiser ever. Ricky Gervais did it with his podcast, the most successful ever. And Culture Catch is doing it with our brand of Smart Culture.

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Lipstick Traces

new-york-dolls-gruenNew York Dolls: Photographs by Bob Gruen
by Bob Gruen (Abrams Image)

To homophobic men, they appeared outrageously gender-challenged in makeup and spandex, but to those groupies who knew them, they were true macho dudes from the rock fringe culture of New Yawk. Sex and drugs and roll 'n' roll. More Rolling Stones raunch and primal then the calculated and effeminate glam of David Bowie or Jobriath. Read more »

Abraham Obama

ron-english-obamaNever subtle, Ron English approaches many of popular culture's most recognized icons with tongue planted firmly in cheek; and with a master's precision in execution. His image mash-ups are stellar "popaganda" visual editorials: Surreal images such as his Marilyn Monroe portrait with Mickey Mouse breasts, his fat Ronald McDonald seen in Super Size Me, and his Homer Simpson Jackson Pollack piece. Last night, his New York art dealer, Opera Gallery, hosted an opening to "hear the story behind the creation of this global image." The "this" referred to is Mr. English's Abraham Lincoln - Barack Obama fusion portrait. Read more »

Ghost Town Movie Tunes

Ghost-Town-coverI am very honored to have my song -- "I'm Still In Love (w/You)" -- in the new David Koepp directed romantic comedy Ghost Town starring Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, and Tea Leoni.

You can buy that song, along with the B side, "Love Lets You See" -- a jaunty little garage nugget I wrote for the end credits. Though it didn't make the movie, it's still a tasty piece of pop-rock confection. Or perhaps you'd like to sample music from my four solo CDs as well as songs from my cello-driven folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers.

Check out my tunes at AmazoniTunes, CD Baby, et al., today!

Thanks, Dusty Wright


Psycho Killer, Qu'est-ce Que C'est?

righteous-killCops. They're everywhere. All over my city. All over my TV set. On prime time, all over cable, syndicated reruns, at the movies. Good ones. Bad ones. Even the occasional psycho. There's the CSI franchise, the Law & Order franchise, reality cop shows, forensic shows, psychic detectives, even pet detectives. Makes a person wonder if we are truly in last days of a civilized society and whether the creative suits greenlighting this programming are so cynical about our society that they truly believe that criminals are running the asylum. I'm indifferent to most of it, save for my Tuesday night fix of FX's The Shield. Read more »

Don't Rat Me Out

ratdog.jpgMany jam bands can noodle one into a somnolent zombie. Begging the listener to either go along for the ride or drift off into a drug addled stupor. Most often these well meaning acts lack truly memorable material, material that can elevate your spirit, levitate you out of your seat and get you to dance at the top of your lungs. The Dead could do it and do it while they took you on a tour of our American music lexicon via their varied song selection. Bob Weir's RatDog can play circles around most bands touring the world today. Read more »

Art Mash Up

baseman_blueNever before have we witnessed such a collision of pop art with the world of marketing. From breath mints -- Hint Mint's artist series featuring Gary Baseman, Shag, Glenn Barr -- to limited edition collectible vinyl toys available at hip retailers such as Kid Robot -- Ron English, David Horvath, Frank Kozik, Baseman (image left, 7" Hot Cha Cha Cha Blue, 500 pieces) -- a whole cottage industry of graphic and subversive artists are augmenting their art careers by creating hip, edgy work that casual consumers can eat, play with, or in some cases even display next to their fine art collections. This is nothing new, as Warhol showed us back in the '60s with his Campbell's Soup Can series (1962). But today, their pervasiveness has given rise to a new kind of affordable collector. Read more »

Summer Hitlist 2008

santogold_coverI've been deluged with a ton of indie music this summer. Most of it is quite remarkably unmemorable. As we all know, anyone with a ProTools or Logic set up can record their magnum opus at home. But that does not make someone a songwriter, pop star, or an artist. I recently asked a young woman if she could name one band that was currently buzzing about New York that might have the career arc of Radiohead. Without missing a beat she said "no." She furthered, "There's just too much music, too much hype, and no monetary investment by the labels to sustain the really good indie bands."

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