Archive: December, 2007
"What do you want to do with your life?" There is only one acceptable answer to that question: “I Wanna Rock!” If you really mean it, that response will be accentuated by power chords so wicked they transform you into Dee Snider and propel overbearing authority figures through ceilings, windows, walls, and basketball hoops. Twisted Sister: The Video Years (not to be confused with the Theme Park years) collects all that anti-authoritarian footage from the big-haired, androgynously named hard rock band’s heyday. That “Hell Yeah!!!” you hear is the voice of your inner 5th grader rejoicing. The seven videos compiled on this disc are widely available on YouTube, so it’s live footage, guest spots (Bobcat Goldthwait!), and interviews with the band members (all filmed separately) that make this anthology compelling. Secrets are revealed (Dee Snider’s makeup took over an hour to apply before each show) and the band talk candidly about painting themselves into a corner with gimmicky videos that made them popular, but which ultimately destroyed their credibility. Most of this was covered in a Behind the Music episode, but it never hurts to apologize again for that torturous cover of “Leader of the Pack.” Revisiting “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and its companion piece, “I Wanna Rock” (both starring the incomparable Mark Metcalf) today, it is jarring that these videos with their slap-stick violence were once considered so dangerous and subversive that Snider was called to Capitol Hill to defend his (and our) right to free expression against the draconian Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). Sadly, the disc leaves out Twisted Sister’s classic lip syncing cameo of “Burn in Hell” from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Thankfully, The Video Years ends before this holiday turkey.
Borat: Touristic Guidings To Minor Nation of U.S. and A. and Borat: Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Such sad news it was to receive in the days preceding Christmas. It was the comedic rendition of a double murder when Sacha Baron Cohen announced that he’d be retiring both Ali G and Borat, two of his best known characters.
My first thought: Damn, but I guess he really couldn’t sneak up on Jewish B&B owners, slave-lovin’ southern frat boys or Bob Barr from the reigning regime party anymore, what with everybody on the face of earth realizing that 1) Borat wasn’t really a Kazakh reporter culturally off enough to call a feminist “pussycat” before urging her to smile and 2) Ali G wasn’t really a supa-def British talk-show host who somehow managed to talk the Philly PD into letting him pimp himself all over the police academy.
My second thought: No mention of Bruno, eh? Methinks there might be an expose on club owners who are rather certain house music could’ve not only staved off WWII, but might have had Hitler rethinking his evil ways.
In any event, they’re both gone, baby, and all we’re left with are DVD images of Borat inviting a barely dressed African-American Lady of the Evening over to a formal dinner on Secession Drive. And, of course, the two-in-one book released in November that, as you might guess from the titles, take a look at life in both the U.S. and A. and the glorious nation of Kazakhstan, the scourge of those asshole Uzbeks. (Published by Flying Dolphin Press, it’s cover price is $24.95. Unless you’re an asshole Canadian; if so, you’re paying an extra five bucks. Translate that into loonies or whatever on your own because our potassium’s superior.)
So anyway, it’s hard to really describe what this thing is. I mean, one book starts at the front cover and the other starts at the back cover and they meet in the middle.
You’d have to suspect that Cohen had a hand in it, because its unprofessional minimism (is that a word?) seems perfectly executed, like somebody whose wind-blown hair wasn’t blown dry by anything but a stylist who wanted to make it look perfectly unkempt.)
The text: Uneven, slanted and using different fonts – even within the same word.
The photos: Amateur quality. (Particularly those of Borat’s son Hooeylewis (he, of the ample man-meat in the movie Polaroids) and his late wife Ludmilla (she, of the utterly disturbing n00dz taken by his other son, Bilak).
And the content: Bound to please any Borat or Cohen fan. While there’s a lot of overlap with the movie, it adds depth to some of the details that would’ve been easy to miss thanks to the laughter in the theater. It also lays more waste to political correctness; I mean, name another comic who could get away with, in the blurb, asking, “Did you know that there are over 1,000 [American peoples] with chocolate colour skin? And that it natural, not makeups!?”
I’ll close with some nuggets gleaned from a read and suggest that, should you have a late Christmas with a Borat fan, use up one of those gift cards to buy them this. It’s good supplemental reading.
– Philadelphia is located in one of the largest homosexual pockets in the U. S. and A.
– Jews aren’t kept behind fences in Tixas or near Mount Rushmores
– America was second to putting a man on the moon – to Kazakhstan
– Borat doesn’t know where “most powerful warlord Arnold the Barbarian’s chram and testes are
– Cowboys, on average, have a 15.4 centimetre “phenis” (or chram)
– The favorite drink of Redindians is “delicious fruit cordial name Mountain Dew”
– “Very few American womens has pubis – they are trained to remove it themselves”
– If you want to hide from people of the Jewish faith, try New York City. There are only a dozen or so there
– Washington D.C. isn’t named after Denzel
– “Entrance code for lock on Liza Minellis (wawaweewa) gate is not between numbers 0 and 9873”
– Kazakhstan was created in 903 A.D. when it was pecked from the Great Egg by the Mighty Hawk Ukhtar
– The nation’s biggest porn star is Jonny the Monkey who, alas, recently went to meet his maker
– Horses can vote there; women cannot
– Their variation of soccer is called “kokpar,” and instead of a ball, they use a dead goat
– The biggest nightclub is named “Niteclub Superfuck;” women are expected to wear a muzzle
– As referenced in the movie, the nation’s biggest pop star is Korki Butchtek; he’s married to two 12-year olds. The book includes all the lyrics to his masterpiece, “Bing Bang”
– The two biggest movies there? “Attack of the Jew Claw” and “Help! There’s a Jew in My Kitchen!”
– If you go there, be sure to eat “Charazak” (braise black horse) and drink “Yurnak” (ferment horse urine) and
– Finally, the biggest tourist attraction is a 712.6-foot tall statue of “Melvin the Redeemer” in Astanta. Melvin is Mel Gibson.
|Devin Greenwood, champion|
1. Devin Greenwood Devin Greenwood (Treasure)
2. East Hundred Copper Street Performer (self-released)
3. GANG Guess What You’ll Find … (Hot Dog City)
4. Cynthia G. Mason Quitter’s Claim (High Two)
5. Birdie Busch Penny Arcade (Bar/None)
6. The Bee Team Hot Times USA (Our Neighborhood)
7. Amy Pickard & The Cradlers Cut from the Hopeless (self-released)
8. Gillian Grassie Serpentine (self-released)
9. Pony Pants Fives (Badmaster)
10. The Trolleyvox Your Secret Safe/Luzerne (Transit of Venus)
11. Illuminea Out of Our Mouths (High Two)
12. Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer Schematics (Reignition)
13. Fern Knight Music for Witches and Alchemists (VHF)
14. Grey Reverend A Startled Wish (Sugarcut)
15. Bitter Bitter Weeks Peace Is Burning Like a River (High Two)
16. Rarebirds Buried at Sea (self-released)
17. Milton & The Devils Party How Wicked We’ve Become (Transit of Venus)
18. Umlaut Umlaut (Space Hooker)
19. Fursaxa Alone in the Dark Wood (ATP)
20. Cheese on Bread The Search for Colonel Mustard (self-released)
21. Jill Scott The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3 (Hidden Beach)
(a) #1, #13 and #14 technically came out in the last six weeks of 2006, but why should they get the shaft just because no one pays attention to new releases at the end of the year?
(b) If live albums were eligible, I’d put Cassendre Xavier’s self-released Live at Tin Angel at #9 and move everything after that down a notch.
(c) #14 lives in Brooklyn now, but he lived in Philly when he made the record.
One of the things I miss the most about living in the suburbs is easy access to sledding trails. To this day, I'm still convinced that my friend Mike and I set the Havertown land-speed and distance record for a two-man toboggan at the local golf course (the secret is to wait until after dark when everything freezes over).
Luckily, even from the city or your office you can still get a bit of the sledding experience thanks to Line Rider. In the game, you get to draw lines (sounds fun already, doesn't it?) to create a course for a little dude on a runner sled to race across. It takes a little time to get the drawing tools down, but once you do, you'll be trying to get the dude to catch some serious air. The time and effort involved in making a good run reminds me a lot making courses out of those old plastic Matchbox car tracks or a jump over a flaming roll of toilet paper for your Evel Knievel stunt cycle. Of course, half the fun is when your dude bails and faceplants.
When you're done, make sure you check out the YouTube videos of the insane courses people make.
Go play Line Rider here.
Above: Covering The Band
Fresh off his cover turn in CP, Brian Christinzio's BC Camplight headlined a four-band bill on a night that spit a freezing mist outside. It wasn't a record release (Christinzio's still nailing down a deal to release his big-across-the-pond Blink of a Nihilist), but three of Philly's most vital current bands — BC, Audible and Buried Beds — with NYC's Girl Friday opening, brought a near capacity crowd. Following a big, three-guitar, six-piece power-pop rave up from Audible, BC Camplight began setting up the stage. With Christinzio's penchant for theatrical overindulgence at his hometown shows well known (and a very visible lumpy blanket suspended from the balcony), there was a sense of bristling anticipation in the hot, hot air (seriously, Johnny Brenda's is a heat sink in the winter). Adam Arcuragi — Christinzio's friend and musical foil — planted himself in the crowd right in front of Brian's Christmas light-adorned piano. Brass instruments were tucked away strategically on the stage. And then the five-piece band launched into a set that included their star-making "Blood and Peanut Butter," "Suffer For Two," "Scare Me Sweetly," and a nifty little trick where they went straight from the swelling dirge "Officer Down" into Nihilist's most gripping tune, "Lord, I've Been On Fire." Christinzio took breaks to chat and, at one point, break open two piñata's with his fists and shower the crowd with candy. And then the big surprise. Two trumpeters and a trombonist took the stage and the band broke into a pitch-perfect rendition of The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Horns blared. The hulking Christinzio pounded his keys. Balloons floated through the air, and each time the chorus came around the club felt as if it were about to burst.
|Photos | Brian Howard|
There's not a lot to say about this game, but I thought it would be fitting around this time of year, especially since I forgot about it around Thanksgiving. Basically, you answer vocabulary questions (feels just like eighth grade again!), and if you get it right the site, which is run at no profit, donates 20 grains of rice to the World Food Programme. Every time you get a few questions correct, you'll move up a level and get increasingly harder questions. I think I topped out at around level 40, and that was thanks to a lot of guess work. If it's a slow work time for you, go feel good about yourself why you slack off and see if you know what a portmanteau is. Free Rice
|Photo | Matt Hotz|
If you stand front and center at a Ted Leo and the Pharmacists show, an airborne tambourine might nearly miss you. If you distract the band while setting up, Ted himself might mercilessly mock you. Shouting out a request might cause him to reenact an entire Bugs Bunny cartoon. And if you laugh at the drummer's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia reference, the band might just play "Day Man."
Thursday night at the Starlight Ballroom, they did all of the above. Ted Leo and his band mates always excel in a smaller venue, utilizing the charisma of the lead singer to diffuse unappealing situations like a broken snare, a rowdy group of hecklers or a faulty sound system. They also used the smaller crowd as an opportunity to play older material on this, the second leg of the band's post-Living with the Living tour. Songs like "Biomusicology" and "I'm A Ghost" made the play list, as well as most of 2004's Shake the Sheets.
Toward the end, Ted Leo thanked opening acts The Party Line and Kristeen Young and announced that they would not be returning on tour indefinitely due to a long-needed break. This was the cause of the heckling. Because without a regular visit from The Pharmacists, any fan starts to go through withdrawal.
This column touched on zombies a few months ago, but as far as I’m concerned it’s never to soon to revisit them. I stumbled across The Last Stand the other day, and it’s a nifty little bundle of zombie blasting, strategy and nerves made by Armor Games, which brought us the really fun Dark Cut 2 Civil War surgery simulator. In the game, you’ll take on the role of a nameless survivor of a zombie epidemic, holed up on one side of the screen behind a barrier of wood and metal scraps armed with only your trusty pistol. If you can make it to dawn and clear the first round of zombies, most of which are either of the lurching Shaun of the Dead or the rapid, fast-moving 28 Days Later variety, you’ll get 12 hours to spread between fixing your barrier, looking for new weapons, or searching for survivor (a little tip: I find that a six, four, two hour spread, respectively, works best). You’ll have to decide which strategy works best for you, and it can be tempting – and rewarding – to devote a lot of time to weapons hunting. If you find survivors, you can support up to six, and they’ll hang out behind your wall providing just a little help. After you acquire at least one additional weapon, you can pick your main and backup, switching between them in game with the spacebar. But, lookout, once you get the chainsaw surviving the required 20 days and nights to beat the game a cinch. Check out the game here.
What the hell would make you jump off a high ass speaker into a crowd of crazed drunk and high fans (not saying ALL of them were)? After seeing Redman do just that last week at the Trocadero - that is the question I want answered. The Jersey native took the stage around 11:40 p.m. backed up by a DJ and 1 - 2 hypemen (who rhymed their own solo stuff at some point during the show). From the minute Redman grabbed the mic, it was on and poppin'. First of all, he rhymed live and direct - not over a damn CD. Secondly, he did a range from his catalog like "Tonight's the Night", "Whatever Man", "Freestyle Freestyle", "Pick It Up", "Put It Down", "So High" and "How to Roll A Blunt". Thirdly, his energy the entire set was on point. Even in a long sleeve tshirt, puffy jacket and jeans, Red never appeared tired. The full crowd was wild the entire time, but got extremely hype when the music crept on for "Time 4 Sum Aksion, "I'll Be Dat", and "Da Rockwilder" (Red let the audience sing Meth's part), which by the way, is the song he decided to jump off the speakers for. In between selections, Red did a bit of interacting with the audience like asking what city had the best weed, explaining his position on downloading (and I quote - "I don't have a problem with you previewing the song. I just ask that if you like it - go out and buy it"), the state of hip-hop (dropped names like Mos Def and Kweli still being true), claiming his love for Jill Scott, and the news that caused the crowd to go insane: Redman and Method Man are working on a Blackout album follow-up as well as the How High movie sequel. He noted how they both aren't putting anything else out until the album comes out. We'll see about that. This show helped restore my faith in rap shows. Minus the group of girls that tried to get backstage and the water being thrown (you have black female fans in the audience Red - NO MORE WATER ON OUR HAIR), the show was nice. His comedic personality and scattered stage presence gave the show an element of freshness. This is also the first time I've seen Redman live, so perhaps I'm a little biased on how dope it was..but that's okay - I'll be that. Redman MySpace More Photos from that show that I couldn't copy and paste here....
The rumors were true. The Clean were reuniting for a short run at the end of David Kilgour's U.S. tour.
Above: "Anything Could Happen"
The reality was even better. After a four-show run in NYC, the way-seminal The Clean — New York-dwelling Hamish Kilgour and still-antipodean David and Robert Scott — headed south thanks to the good work of Tom Lax: Siltbreeze records impresario and Philly's emmisary to the South Isle. While it was common knowledge that the Kilgour brothers would be in attendence, it wasn't so intuitive that Scott — a New Zealander not presently on tour — would be. It was to be, we were told, the first time The Clean would headline a show in Philadelphia in the band's nearly 30-year on-and-off existence. The band's reunion showed them to be something of New Zealand's kinder, gentler take on Dinosaur Jr — minus all the acrimony: the reluctant frontman/guitar hero (David to Dino's J. Mascis); the yeoman, good-natured drummer (Hamish to Murph); the bassist who'd go on to be as big a frontman as the guitarist (Scott and The Bats to Lou Barlow and Sebadoh). The trio was loose — a little rough in the early going — but soon hit its stride. David's jangly guitar and scrappy vocals, Scott's pulsing bass lines and cavernous, honeyed voice, and Hamish's slap-bang drumming and backing vocals combined so organically one could easily imagine this sound springing to life all those years in Dunedin. The band told jokes — mostly to each other — as they built momentum through the set, and while it was difficult to understand just what the heavily accented players were laughing about, they were clearly amusing each other.
They played about 15 songs between the main set and two quick encores (Hamish had to be at work in New York in the morning). Scott alternated between bass and a keyboard borrowed from opening act Times New Viking, and between background and lead vocals; David alternated between a six-string guitar and an odd rectangular 12-string; Hamish, a tambourine mounted alternately atop the bass drum and the high hat, rotated his kit 90 degrees midway through the set and stood behind his microphone to sing lead for one song. They played a set full of favorites, including "Anything Could Happen," "Clutch" and "Side On." And though they did not trot out the much-requested "Tally Ho," no one in the packed venue wandered out into the freezing early-Monday-morning rain feeling disappointed.
More photos after the jump...
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