Category Archives: Uncategorized

RIP Adam Yauch: Some Personal Memories

I am sure I can’t add anything to all the professional obituaries of Adam Yauch, so I thought I’d add something a little more personal. Back in the early to mid-1980s, there were two musical movements happening in New York City that were important and influential to me and my friends (among many many others, of course). One, the Two Tone ska revival was destined to remain a subculture, albeit one that we embraced heartily. The second was Hip Hop.

As soon as we heard Rapper’s Delight, we were hooked and in those relatively early days of the genre, as some clubs slowly morphed from the discotheque model to a more hip hop-centered experience, it wasn’t unusual to see blacks, whites and Latinos all in the same club.

Not to digress too much into the economic and cultural makeup of New York in the early to mid-1980s, but it was certainly a different time and I found myself in a complicated social world that somehow merged my left-wing, hippy/socialist summer camp (Thoreau-in-Vermont) with the private school I attended (The United Nations International School, aka UNIS) and the NYC ska and hip hop communities. NYC was (and is) a large place, but if you were in certain high schools and of a certain mindset, your orbits were large, inclusive and on the surface or to an outsider, contradictory. Didn’t seem that way to us, though. Continue reading

Some thoughts on my favorite new band, Fun.

This is my favorite new band and I’m telling you all to go to You Tube, watch their stuff and then buy their CDs. Seriously. Now.

Even though “We Are Young” is a big hit (and an amazing song) I suggest you start with their debut  Aim and Ignite and then move on to Some Nights. Nate Reuss’s voice is extraordinary and the rest of the trio (Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff) play everything else, pretty much. Reuss uses his voice like an instrument and even the occasional use of the vocoder simply adds another instrument to the mix. Their first album, heavy on the string arrangements and personal storytelling in the lyrics brings  The Decemberists’ The Crane Wife to mind. (It’s not a concept album, though.)

I’ve only listened to Some Nights twice, so I hope to post a more complete review next week.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of videos. The first is an acoustic version of “We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)” which might actually knock me out more than the album version. First of all, Reuss and Monáe are so damn nice to look at, right? She’s absolutely stunning! I met her once, very briefly after a show at South by Southwest. After putting on an amazing, high-energy performance that knocked the audience on its ass, she was so wiped out that she could barely speak. Maybe she was saving her voice, but she suddenly seemed a small (she is a pretty slight young woman) and almost timid thing and genuinely awed by the fact that she’d just blown us all away. The second video is of a live performance of the beautiful ballad “The Gambler” from their first album.

Falling Skies Arrives on DVD/Blu-ray on June 5th

Attention men and women of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment:

Just in time for the TNT premiere of season 2 this summer, Warner Home Video has announced a release date of June 5th for the season 1 DVD and Blu-ray sets of one of my favorite new Sci-fi series of last year, Falling Skies. A fantastic balance of suspense and action with a healthy dollop of heebies and jeebies, Falling Skies was a welcome addition to the summer TV season. It ended the season as cable TV’s #1 new show of 2011 and if this preview is to be believed, season 2 looks to ratchet up the Skitter killing excitement!

An Evening at the 2012 ACE Eddie Awards

Until this year, the only big time film industry awards show I had ever been to was the Independent Spirit Awards and it’s been almost 10 years since the last time – and who can forget Elvis Costello’s “surprise” opening of the show with (“What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?”). I had never been invited to any of the guild awards shows and to be honest, I was pretty curious about them. We all know about the Golden Globes and how fun they seem to be (how many drunk winners can you remember over the years?) but what about the SAG awards? PGA? WGA? Well, this year I finally got invited to one and to my surprise, it was a lot of fun.

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A Bittersweet Return To Sundance: Great Films and an Even Greater Loss

This year, after an eleven year absence, I made my return to the Sundance Film Festival and yes, there were a lot of changes but as the saying goes, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! There were new hotels and condos, new restaurants and a much better transportation system but there were also the same old throngs of pseudo celebs and their hangers on that were only there for the gifting suites, club nights and seemed to not even know there were films being screened. Like I said, the more things change….

The Sundance lineup always looks good on paper. There are dozens of films from directors both new and unsung that virtually no one has seen, including one (Amy Berg’s West of Memphis) so fresh that producer Peter Jackson literally hand-carried the print to Utah from New Zealand!

A Singular Doc Experience

An emotional moment at the Q&A for Kirby Dick's "The Invisible War."

By the time the awards were handed out on Saturday night, it seemed like many categories had six or seven favorites, although a few were pretty obvious. One of those obvious winners (to me, anyway) was Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War which won the audience award for documentaries. A heart-breaking and shocking look at rape in the military, Dick’s film details the pain, shame, horror and lasting damage caused by the attacks and the shocking hypocrisy and cover-ups endorsed by the military establishment.

Why was it obvious to me that it would get the audience prize? Simple: I have never seen an audience reaction and a post-screening Q & A like this one. Not in over 20 years and well over 150 film festivals have I seen a crying standing ovation with an audience full of senators, US representatives and celebs, including Mary J. Blige, who is writing an original song for the film. Packed with stories and statistics that can do nothing but inspire action and outrage, The Invisible War is a perfect piece of advocacy filmmaking.

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