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. Read more »
Much 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 »
Some 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 »
When 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. Read more »
New 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 »
Never 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 »
I 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. Plus I've added music from my first three solo CDs and songs from GIANTfingers. Read more »
Cops. 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 »
Many 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 Weirâ€™s RatDog can play circles around most bands touring the world today. Read more »
Never 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 »
I'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." Read more »
Pixar's animated movies remain the benchmark for the movie galaxy. Their latest blockbuster, WALL-E, shatters all notions of how a movie can be rated "G" and still retain dignity and adult themes that resonate for everyone; in this case, how love can conquer fear and how "corporatization" is ruining our quality of life. Just the opposite of what most naive people really believe. When was the last time -- There Will Be Blood aside -- a movie featured no dialog for the first twenty minutes. Kudos to the meticulous direction of Andrew Stanton, who previously directed Finding Nemo, for keeping our eyes riveted to the screen. Read more »
Yesterday was a day for hanging out with friends. Dodging a thunderstorm, our Lit Editor Ken Krimstein, his wife Alex, and another couple drop by for Sunday afternoon cocktails. Alex suggests we grab a final meal at one of our favorite NYC haunts. The rest is captured here by Mr. K:
When is the passing of a restaurant a cultural event? When the restaurant is Florent, the 24/7 former meatchoppers' diner in the former meat-packing district that finally expired -- condo-ed and clothing designer shopped into submission -- June 29th. Read more »
by Peter Bagge (Dark Horse Comics)
If R. Crumb was the preeminent cartoonist to capture the ethos of the '60s and early '70s, then Peter Bagge is his successor in capturing American culture and society in the '90s and new millennium. His frenetic, caffeinated cartoon style brilliantly exposed the dysfunctional energy of slackers and Xers alike. His first solo title, Hate -- starring everyone's favorite loser, Buddy Bradley -- was my literary junkie's fix for all 30 glorious installments. Read more »
Do you ever truly leave your city of birth? Especially when you carve out your youth there, physically you may move on, but emotionally you can never escape. The flood of childhood memories may certainly be reduced to a random drip of good, bad, or indifferent, but the grasp of smells, tastes, and visions remain indelibly stamped in your psyche forever.
Guy Maddinâ€™s My Winnipeg, a lovingly twisted homage to his city, part historical documentary, part â€œreenactedâ€ childhood memories, is certainly one of the most inventive portraits by a filmmaker on his youth and memories. (It won Best Canadian film at the Toronto Film Festival.) Read more »